Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Carla finally decided on her birthday plans: we will do an escape room. I am… skeptical. But the people who run the escape room venue seem confident that the kids will have a blast even if they don’t “escape.” 

Carla also kind of wants a loose spy/detective theme which is… challenging to find décor for. So I am still working on that. I’m leaning toward all-black décor (the escape room facility has a party room) and then buying the kids dark sunglassesspy notebooks and invisible-ink pensmagnifying glasses, and fake mustaches as party favors. Maybe if I am really on top of things I will give each kid a manila folder with some spy/detective stuff in it – like “how to choose your spy name” and “crack this code” type games. We’ll see. 

For her cake, Carla initially wanted a chocolate cake with lemon curd. My dear, sweet husband, upon hearing this choice, reacted with a Gross Face and a loud, “YUCK” (sigh) and so she rethought her choice and now just wants a chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting. Listen, I was game to try chocolate with lemon curd! Chocolate: good! Lemon curd: good! (Joey Tribbiani voice.) But… maybe this will be better. For her party, I plan to make black velvet cupcakes – to complement the spy/detective theme – and top them with these adorable magnifying glass toppers. I will order these black cupcake carriers so that kids can take the cupcakes home (in case Covid transmission continues to be high when Carla’s birthday party comes around). (Everyone will wear masks during the party and escape room.)

Carla has only two gift requests, which we fulfilled. And my husband and I came up with a few other ideas that we think she’ll love.

A Barbie motorcycle: I don’t know WHY, but this has been on her wish list for at least a year. I finally found this one in stock at Walmart, and was glad to order it for her.  It’s kind of tame for a motorcycle, but it does come with a dog which she will like.

image from Walmart.com

A 3-D pen: I am honestly not looking forward to finding 3-D creations all over the house, but this has been Carla’s TOP REQUEST for the past couple of months. Whenever I ask what she wants for her birthday, this is it. And I know she will love it.

image from amazon.com

With only two specific requests, my husband and I have been tossing around some other ideas that we think she might enjoy. 

A new board game: I’ve heard so many great things about Ticket to Ride, and have had it in my cart for previous gift-giving occasions… I think we’ll finally get it for her.

image from amazon.com

A LEGO activity kit: Carla still loves LEGO, and this Gear Bots kit seems really fun. (And less expensive than a LEGO set.)

image from amazon.com

A joke book: Santa Claus brought my husband a book of dad jokes last Christmas, and Carla honestly gets more of a kick out of them than anyone else. So perhaps she needs her own book of jokes to thrill us with. Maybe she will bring it on the road trip and get us all chuckling along with her.

image from amazon.com

Animal erasers: These little “desk pets” were all the rage in third grade, and I know Carla would love to have her own eraser menagerie.

image from amazon.com

A book of birds: Carla LOVES birds, and when we go for walks together she often regales me with facts about the birds we see. I think she would get hours of enjoyment out of this atlas of amazing birds

image from amazon.com

A book of beasts: When I was looking for bird books, I came across this book of forgotten beasts and I’m guessing it would also spark Carla’s interest.

image from amazon.com

A set of bath bombs: My husband is opposed to this gift (it is too expensive for what it is, he says, and he’s not wrong), but I think Carla – who is newly obsessed with Pokemon – would LOVE these Pokemon bath bombs. (I tried watching one of the Pokemon TV shows she has been so into lately and I don’t get it. At all. But she will regale me for as long as I will listen with amazing feats of electrical types and ground types and water types. None of it makes any sense to me.)

image from amazon.com

A shaved ice machine: This is another impractical/expensive idea that my husband’s voice of prudence will probably overrule… but Carla loves shaved ice and would LOVE making her own snow cones.

image from amazon.com

An art case: Not that we don’t already possess THOUSANDS of crayons and markers and colored pencils, but this case of drawing supplies would be SO fun. I remember having something like this when I was a kid, and it was a highly prized possession. I also think it would be good to bring along on the road trip; a good way to keep all the utensils tidy and contained.

image from amazon.com

A fun new novel: I am always trying to encourage Carla’s (limited) desire to read, and this Swistle-recommended novel combines several of Carla’s interests. 

image from amazon.com

A reading timer: This is something I’ve considered before – and it would probably make a better stocking stuffer than a birthday gift. But I think Carla would enjoy timing herself as she reads.

image from amazon.com

A sewing book: Carla hasn’t spent a lot of time sewing recently, and I hate to think of her sewing machine sitting there unused. Maybe this book would reignite her interest?

image from amazon.com

A decoder set: Considering that Carla is interested in spy/detective stuff recently, I wonder if she might enjoy this decoder activity set. This would be another good Road Trip! option, too.

image from amazon.com

A fingerprint kit: Along similar lines, this fingerprinting kit might be a lot of fun.

image from amazon.com

If you have (or have had) a nine-year-old in your life, what have been some of the top gifts they’ve enjoyed?

Don’t Care

I have reached the point in my life where I am finally – FINALLY – concerned enough about sun damage to wear a hat when I go outside. It took awhile. I blame the delay in part on my dislike of the way I look in a hat. I just look… dumb. My ears flop out of the sides of the cap in a weird and mildly uncomfortable way. Plus my head seems like it’s a little too small for most ball caps? I don’t know. I have friends who look very cute and sporty in ball caps, but I am not one of those people. 

My husband agrees with my assessment, and mocks me mercilessly anytime I don a cap. Don’t even get me started on anything floppy.

But I have reached a pleasing milestone, which is that I don’t care. I wear shorts with my thick, cellulite-spangled thighs hanging out for all to see, and I have a ball cap on my head, and a fanny pack around my waist. Basically Peak Mom, but not, like, Cute Mom, who could get away with wearing that exact same outfit while somehow looking chic and stylish. Cute Mom I am not. No, Peak Mom as in the stereotype that sitcoms and SNL poke fun at.

But I don’t care. This outfit is practical. It provides maximum sun protection. I can carry my phone and keys and a mask in the fanny pack. 

I have heard mythologies about this magical point in adulthood when you stop caring about things that were once desperately important to you. This is the one area where I have achieved the Don’t Care attitude. 

Well, okay. I also no longer care whether people think I am weird/political/hysterical for wearing a mask in public. So two areas of Don’t Careitude.

I am eager to unlock new things I don’t care about. In no particular order, I am hopeful that someday, I will no longer care so deeply about:

  • My body shape/size/weight. I am making baby steps toward this one. 
  • Whether doctors think I am asking too many questions, leading me to leave one or several topics I wanted to discuss off my list. 
  • Small injustices – like getting home only to find that the restaurant didn’t include the sauce I paid $0.75 for… or having someone misunderstand the lanes at the bank, and cut in front of me at the ATM… or having someone cut me off in traffic.
  • Errors I made and awkward things I said literally decades ago.
  • What my parents think of my life decisions. 
  • Whether I am “using” my education.
  • What people think of my “career” choice.
  • How my house/clothing/car/cleanliness compare to those of others. 
  • Whether I talked too much/enough and/or said the right things and/or sounded stupid at [fill in the blank].
  • Leaving the house with mascara on.
  • How I look whilst exercising.

Based on the women I know who are older… there’s hope for some a very few of these, and not for others. 

In what areas have you achieved Don’t Care perfection? And in which areas are you hopeful to achieve this state of being at some future point?

Road Trip! Snacks

In response to my recent Road Trip! post, several people mentioned snacks – a couple offered specifics; others were more general.

But it made me realize that I am Very Eager to discuss Road Trip! snacks. 

When I was a kid, my dad would buy rolls of Necco Wafers and hand them around. We had to take the wafer we were offered, so there was always the immense danger of getting the licorice flavored one. He was also a big fan of Planters Heat Peanuts. My mom, I seem to remember, perhaps incorrectly, enjoyed things like Chex Mix. 

For me, a Road Trip! is all about the chips. Aside from tortilla chips (which I eat occasionally), I hardly ever buy chips. This is because I LOVE chips and will eat an entire bag in one sitting. So chips are a real treat for me, and that’s my go-to snack for Road Trips. My favorites are Barbecue LaysMiss Vickie’s Jalapeno, and Doritos Salsa Verde, the latter being a variety I don’t see in gas stations that often anymore. 

I have also recently become… well, obsessed isn’t the right word for it. Infatuated with? Yes. I have recently become infatuated with Skinnypop, despite the irritating name. My daughter got me into it; I think parents often buy individual bags of Skinnypop for birthday party snacks, and maybe they offer Skinnypop as one of the snacks at school; I’m not quite sure about anything that goes on in my kid’s life when I’m not around. Anyway, she liked Skinnypop first and asked for it enough that I ended up trying it. Now we buy it by the giant package at Costco. I love it. Don’t get me wrong – I would much prefer a giant bowl of freshly popped popcorn drenched – drenched – in butter, but Skinnypop is really quite delicious. So I might consider adding it to my Road Trip! snack repertoire.

While I am much more interested in salty things than in sweet things, sometimes the best chaser for a bag of spicy chips is a bag of Twizzler Nibs. Or maybe a Milky Way Midnight bar. 

And I rarely ever drink soda these days, but I do love a nice frosty bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. 

I may or may not indulge in my traditional Road Trip! snacks on this particular Road Trip!. They are not, as you might have already intuited, keto friendly. But my husband has already decided that he is NOT sticking to keto while we are on our trip, and that makes it much harder for me to stick to it. 

If I stick to it, though, I will survive by eating copious amounts of Zero Sugar York Peppermint Patties and Zero Sugar Reese’s Miniature Cups which Swistle has been recommending for a long time and I just recently tried. They are SO GOOD and do not taste like keto food; they taste like treats.

(I have yet to find keto chips I like. I tried the Quest Chili Lime chips, which were WONDERFULLY crunchy and had a nice chili lime flavor. But the chili lime flavor, though strong, was not strong enough to disguise the flavor of the chips themselves which I find to be oddly bitter.)

Speaking of my husband: I feel like I should KNOW what kind of Road Trip! snacks are his favorite. But I… have no idea. Maybe he doesn’t have one or two repeat snacks that he always eats? Maybe he goes for a wide variety? Maybe I am so hyperfocused on my own snacking that I become completely oblivious to those around me? I am not sure. Honestly, I don’t even know what I would buy for him if he sent me into the gas station with instructions to pick him out a snack. Some.. Sun Chips? That seems like the wrong answer. 

My daughter LOVES snacks and LOVES treats, so you know she is going to have many, many requests. If I were to choose something for her, I’d probably pick a trifecta of Cheetos or Cheez-Its, something weird (like a plunger shaped lollipop that you dip into a toilet bowl filled with sugar – yes, this is something she purchased with her own money recently), and something sweet. She likes most (all???) sweets, so I’m not even sure what I would choose for her, but I think she would probably like it.

Now, I have been speaking mainly of gas station treats. But Road Trips! are an opportunity to eat fun fast food, too. If you like fast food. I don’t particularly care for it, I have to say. So usually I vote for Arby’s so I can at least order curly fries. When I was a kid, Subway was our fast food stop of choice, and I do enjoy a six inch Spicy Italian sub on whole wheat with no cheese, plenty of spicy mustard. I don’t know if I would enjoy it quite as much now. But I suppose we will have a chance to find out! 

So now it is your turn! Tell me, in detail, your FAVORITE Road Trip! snacks – sweet, savory, and any other category. 

The Teenage Years

One of the most difficult aspects of parenting (for a highly-anxious, prone-to-catastrophizing person like me) is that there is an endless number of potential issues to contend with, and that so many of them come up without warning or context, leaving you to wonder, Is this a normal variation that is just part of a typical childhood? Or is this pathological and requires intervention? 

I don’t even know what to give as an example, because the things seem to come entirely out of the blue and I have ZERO idea how to handle them. But things like lying or bed wetting or stuttering – all things that could be Just A Phase, or could be Signs Of A More Complex Problem, but you don’t know until you know, I guess? I hate that. I want to be able to ask my mom or go on Google and hear/read, “A small percentage (5 to 13%) of children DO tend to turn purple at some point, usually between the ages of 6 and 11, but sometimes as early as age 3. Sometimes the hue leans a bit more toward blue or a bit more toward magenta; it typically fades after six months, but can last for up to two years. Avoiding crucifers during this time can truncate the duration. If your child’s skin develops yellow polka dots during the purple phase, take them immediately to the doctor.” 

Like, just CLEAR and COMFORTING information that says, this is not super common, but it DOES happen, and here’s what to watch for if you are concerned it’s taking an atypical turn… Why can’t there be that for every possible variation of child behavior? WHY. 

(I know why.)

Anyway, what I am hoping to discuss currently is The Teenage Years. 

It seems that I have had MULTIPLE encounters lately with adults who like to say, “Just wait until she’s a teenager.” Sometimes, this is in response to Extreme Sassafras (why is there only one S on the end of this word??) on the part of my child, who sometimes turns up the sass factor because she has the mistaken impression that people find it charming/funny. Well. Some people do, in fact, find it charming and funny, which I find tiresome and irritating. But they don’t have to experience True Sass on a daily basis, so I suppose I should give them a break. Sometimes, this baffling warning comes in response to witnessing/discussing something lovely that my kid does – like how she still holds my hand (sometimes) when we’re walking, or how she’ll still sit on my lap while I read to her, or how she still loves to run up and fling herself at people she cares about for a big hug. “Just wait until she’s a teenager,” they’ll intone, this time with a tenor of pre-wistfulness or knowledgeable sadness.

I am familiar with the “cherish the moment” faction. And I am familiar with the “better sleep now, because you won’t sleep again once the baby’s born!” faction. And I am familiar with the concept of people who either forget how much they disliked being forewarned about things you can literally do nothing about or who feel in their heart of hearts that they have somehow encountered The One Person who has gone an entire lifetime without encountering the concept of a phase of life that literally all people go through. People are just… going to do this. From now until the end of time, probably. And yet, I still find this so irritating I want to scream. 

Probably it is because I am growing increasingly anxious/fearful of The Teenage Years with every passing day. 

And also, I am irritated because it feels inescapably gendered. I don’t think my friend who has sons gets “Just wait until he’s a teenager”ed every five minutes. Plus, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say things in knowing, faux-concerned voices about how a person (usually the father) is going to endure life with THREE TEENAGE DAUGHTERS, as if that is just the absolute worst thing that any human can live through. 

But mainly, I am irritated because I cannot do anything about it. Nothing. If we are very lucky, my daughter will grow and age and at some point become A Teenager. That is a thing that happens. I cannot prolong her not-a-teenager years any more than I can prolong my own youth. 

I am not discounting the very real effects of hormonal changes on young adults! I realize that teenagers CAN be moody and distant and disrespectful and all the terrible things! I get it! Puberty is an actual phenomenon that changes people’s behavior!  

But I am just super annoyed at the people who keep saying, “Just you wait.” WHAT am I supposed to do with that information? Cherish every non-teenage moment, I suppose. 

Today, I am going to make two lists. One list of things that I can look FORWARD to about the teenage years, and a list of things that I want to address when my daughter is a teen. Preferably, my husband and I would discuss and have a plan for these things well in advance, but to be honest, they seem both so horrifying and so far away that I am struggling to focus on them. 

Things About the Teenage Years to Look Forward To

  • Having a kid who can drive herself to / from places (I recognize that this is also a negative point, because I cannot fathom my precious baby a) operating an enormous motor vehicle or b) driving around in the world with so many oblivious idiots)
  • Being able to watch ALL (most) movies together
  • Prom
  • Having more time to myself / more silence (“Just you wait,” says the knowing post-teenage parent, “When she’s a teenager you’ll find yourself LONGING for the days when she talked nonstop for four straight hours.”)
  • Fewer toys cluttering up the house
  • Real conversations 
  • No need for a babysitter
  • Another cook in the house
  • No more playdates – or, at least, not being in charge of scheduling/organizing playdates and enduring the unbearable awkwardness of interacting with parents I don’t know 
  • No longer needing to be the communication bridge between my kid and her friends

Things I Want to Figure Out How to Address

  • Social media
  • Phone / screen time
  • Peer pressure around sex / drugs / alcohol / social media / appearance
  • Sexual assault
  • Driving, with and without friends
  • Spending the night at other kids’ houses
  • Romantic relationships

Well, these lists both seem too short. I did consult a few online lists along the lines of “Great Things About Having a Teen!” Some of them – like enjoying shopping together, or sharing clothing and makeup – seem difficult to predict; I don’t know if Carla will care about shopping or clothing or makeup. And I want to emphasize academics and career-planning, but I’m not sure how to do so in a way that prioritizes Carla’s personality/goals rather than emphasizing the values I grew up with, so I’m not putting it on the list currently. I will continue to think about these topics and add to the lists as I come up with new items. Let me know what you would include. (And if you have any good books about anticipating / raising teenagers, I would be interested in those!)

In the meantime, I ordered this book over the weekend: 

image from amazon.com

While Carla is not quite nine, we are knocking on nine’s door. I am really hoping that the heretofore kind, measured Louise Bates Ames doesn’t say anything akin to, “Just WAIT until she’s a teenager.”

Well, I feel really overwhelmed with reasons to buy things lately. This is both exhilarating (wheee!!! permission to shop!) and anxiety-producing (everything is SO expensive). We keep thinking of things to buy for our upcoming Road Trip! and Carla’s ninth birthday is fast approaching… but before I can properly deal with finalizing THOSE purchases, I need to pause and consider Father’s Day. 

My husband and father and father-in-law are ALL exceedingly difficult to buy gifts for. They all tend to buy the things they want when they want them, which means that they already HAVE everything. Plus, their interests (music, cars, golf) lend themselves to tchotchkes or wildly expensive investment pieces… and not much in between. Plus plus, to buy anything meaningful for their areas of interest requires an in-depth knowledge of a) that particular hobby and b) what they already have. Which results in me having No Idea Ever what to get any of them.

And yet! We must persevere! 

Sleep Buds: I’m going to start with the most expensive item, and that is because I can recommend it myself. My husband got me a pair of these sleep buds for Mother’s Day, and they are wonderful. They connect to an app on your phone that allows you choose soothing sounds and then you fall asleep with these soothing, noise-canceling sounds in your ears. They are wonderful for me because I am a very light sleeper. If you have a person in your life who has trouble falling asleep or who is a light sleeper or both, I highly recommend these. 

image from amazon.com

Puzzle: My husband loves puzzles. He also has a million puzzles, several of which he has yet to complete. But… it seems like puzzles are similar to books and video games, in that you can’t really have too many. In fact, it’s nice to have a pile waiting for you so you can look forward to a new one… and it’s nice to have a couple to choose from, depending on your mood. At least, this is how I am justifying buying my husband YET ANOTHER puzzle. This Ravensburger puzzle has a mystery-solving element that sounds fun – but which also sounds different from the (very fun) mystery-solving element of the Magic Puzzle Company puzzles (which my husband loves). 

image from amazon.com

Bike Computer: Since my husband got me such an extravagant gift for Mother’s Day, I feel sort of compelled to return the favor. And I think he might enjoy being able to track his speed and distance when we go biking. This Garmin bike computer looks like it tracks all sorts of fun data.

image from amazon.com

Speed and Cadence Monitor: Or maybe he would prefer these speed and cadence monitors instead. Still plenty of data he can nerd out to.

image from amazon.com

Breakfast Sandwich Maker: I keep going back and forth on this one. On the one hand, my husband said recently that we absolutely do not need another kitchen appliance. On the other hand, he really likes to make himself breakfast sandwiches on the weekend, and this breakfast sandwich maker would do ALL the work for him.

image from amazon.com

Pajamas: My husband loves his loungewear, and he could use another pair of pajama pants. I wonder if he would like this full pajama set. Then again, he just got me a set of pajamas for Mother’s Day, so I don’t want to seem like I am copying him.

image from Nordstrom.com

Exercise Shirt: Every time we go to the sporting goods store lately, my husband wanders over to the section of exercise clothes. He’s really gotten into working out recently, and I can’t decide if getting him an exercise shirt would reinforce that hobby or give him the impression that I think he SHOULD be working out. Seems dicey.

image from amazon.com

Coffee Equipment: My husband is a coffee connoisseur and therefore already has ALL the coffee equipment in the world. Chemex pour over coffee maker? Yes. Moccamaster drip coffee machine? Yeppers. Burr coffee grinder? Of course. But he doesn’t have this Vietnamese coffee maker, so I am definitely getting it for him. How are any of these different from anything else? I have no idea. 

image from nguyencoffeesupply.com

Books: My husband has ENOUGH books, but my father and father-in-law are both avid readers. Here are two recent releases that I’m considering for them: Sleepwalk by Dan Chaon and City on Fire by Don Winslow.

Baseball Stadium Map Glasses: While I’m not 100% sold on getting these beer steins with maps of iconic MLB stadiums, I do think it would be a really fun gift for a baseball fan. 

image from uncommongoods.com

Contour Gauge Tool: My father is a tool fanatic, and I think he would really enjoy this measuring tool that adjusts itself to the contours of the item being measured. Just watching the marketing video that accompanies the listing made ME want it. 

image from amazon.com

Radiohead T-Shirt: It’s been 25 years since OK Computer was released. For those of us who find that album to be both seminal and iconic, this t-shirt would be a really fun gift. 

image from amazon.com

Matching Kid/Dad Socks: While my husband does NOT need any more socks (Carla, recently, after pairing and putting a bunch of her father’s socks away in his drawer: “WOW, Dad has TOO MANY socks.”), the matching-socks-for-kids-and-dad gift is one that he and Carla have both LOVED in the past. I think they have three pairs of matching socks, and they find it so fun and hilarious to wear matching socks. If you have a kid of the age to find this wonderfully fun, I highly recommend it.

image from amazon.com

Digital Air Compressor: I got this portable car tire inflator for my husband this past Christmas; his car perennially has low air pressure in its tires and he was sick of stopping at the gas station all the time. (He tells me he hasn’t had a single instance of low tire pressure since receiving this gift.) I thought it was kind of a boring, practical gift, but my husband loved it.

image from amazon.com

Jokes Book: Another Christmas gift I am re-upping for Father’s Day is this book of dad jokes. My husband got a big kick out of it, and our daughter LOVES it. 

image from amazon.com

Unique Game: I got DropMix for my husband last Father’s Day and it has been a big hit. It’s a game that allows you to mix your own songs, based on a bunch of musical elements that play when you add cards to different sections of the game board. It is really fun, good for the whole family, and is technologically fascinating.

image from amazon.com

Candy Tasting Box: One of the best gifts I’ve ever given is this boutique tasting box from Sugarfina. SO FUN, like a little Father’s Day Advent calendar. But this three-piece Bento box would be fun, too.

image from sugarfina.com

What are you getting for the fathers in your life this Father’s Day?

I DID IT. Based on your supportive comments and gentle nudges toward action, I talked to my neighbor about her lovely lunch invitation.  First, I resolved to talk to her about it. Next, I cobbled together a script from several commenters’ suggestions, and I practiced it in the car and in the shower. Then, I waited for the Right Opportunity.

Carla provided me with a very nice segue – she was playing with the neighbor’s dog, and I needed her to come home to eat lunch. So I walked next door to fetch her. The neighbor came out and said hello, and I told her the reason for my appearance. Then I made my little speech: “Speaking of lunch, I was thinking about your kind invitation that we have lunch together, and I was so delighted by the offer that I said yes without thinking, but the truth is, Carla and I have so many silly food restrictions between us it’s not really worth getting into, and I was wondering if we could do something a little simpler, like afternoon tea or lemonade?” When I practiced it, I was Breezy and Casual and I had a little self-deprecating laugh in there, plus I also had a line about how of COURSE we wanted to spend time with her… and I also wanted to offer to bring homemade cookies or something… but it all came out in a rush and I forgot some of it. Oh well. At least I got out the important part which was LUNCH WILL NOT GO WELL.

Her immediate reaction was, “Oh no, sometimes I give Carla food when she comes over!” and so I had to reassure her that I didn’t mean allergies, but rather that Carla is the pickiest person on the planet. (Deftly trying to put the bulk of the blame on Carla’s food restrictions rather than my own.) Here is where Carla chimed in and informed our neighbor that I HATE tomatoes. So I am clearly not blameless. 

Once I had assured her she wasn’t doing something egregious by feeding my child cherries and red peppers, she seemed to relax a bit. She asked if something like tea and biscuits would be fine and I said that would be lovely and we discussed possible dates (though didn’t settle on anything specific). I am… so relieved. THANK YOU for helping me figure out the right way to handle this sticky situation. 

Now I can turn my Food Frets toward camp. 

Carla is attending a new camp this summer, and they don’t offer meals. So we will be packing a lunch. This is fine

Now that she is nearly NINE (which is nearly TEN, omg), I am looking forward to forcing encouraging Carla to make her own lunch (with supervision). We discussed some potential ideas for lunches, and her Ideal Lunch is a Lunchable. She only eats the ham Lunchable, and she only eats the ham, the cookies, and the crackers. She refuses to eat the cheese. If I pack her slices of other cheese – specifically cheddar that I have cut for her – she will eat that. 

So I was banking on sending her with Lunchables each day, and that if Lunchables become unavailable (again), or if she gets sick of them, we can pack a bagel and cream cheese with some pepperoni.

To round out her lunch, I would add other things she eats, like pickles and grapes and berries and grape tomatoes and red peppers and sugar snap peas. 

So I felt pretty good about our options. 

Then we got a note from camp that said NO PORK PRODUCTS. 

AHHHHHHHHH 

What now???

I suppose what we have to do is revert to PBJ. The camp is not a nut-free campus, so peanut butter is an option. Carla also enjoys eats sun butter, so she (and I) can make sandwiches every day. Carla eats sun butter sandwiches at school all year long, so I know she WILL eat them. But the last time I tried to make her one, she complained because my sandwiches weren’t the SAME as the ones at school. 

Weary sigh. 

I suppose I can just send her with the equivalent of Snack Dinner, but for lunch. But I am just not sure what the protein situation will be in that case. Snack Dinner usually has pepperoni or a couple of chicken nuggets or two.

I wonder if she would eat cold chicken nuggets (hork)? 

The reason that I am fretting about this is two-fold.

The first fold is that the camp really made a Big Deal about ensuring that we sent a LOT of food with our kids to camp. They emphasized that we should send MORE than we think – like, enough food for a week rather than a day. The kids work so hard and are so active, they are ravenous when they get to lunchtime. So I want to a) comply with the rules and b) make sure my particular kid is getting enough sustenance. 

The second fold is that Carla already eats next to nothing for lunch. I assume she eats something at school each day, although her reports are sporadic and often sound like, “Oh yeah, I ate a hamburger bun and a slice of American cheese.” So I am already facing an uphill climb when it comes to getting her to eat. I want to stack all the odds in my favor by ensuring her lunches are full of things she LIKES, not just things she tolerates. 

Well. I am not really asking for ideas, because I feel like it will be an exercise in frustration. (You, reasonably: “Send her with some chickpeas! Or beans! Or hummus! Or tuna salad! Or turkey! Or a protein drink!” and I will cringe at you while shaking my head because she will not touch ANY of that, and the list is endless.) (I am going to buy some turkey pepperoni and see if Carla will deign to try it.) I am just whining. New camp, new frets. 

My husband and I are busy planning our Road Trip! for later this summer and a fun part of that is considering what we need (“need”) to buy to make the Road Trip! as fun as possible.  This is going to be a LONG road trip, taking place over the course of ten days. So it’s not your normal drive to Grandma’s house. Well, in our case, it IS a drive to Grandma’s house but Grandma’s house is on the other side of the country so it will take quite some time to get there and get home.

So far, here’s what we have bought:

A little backseat organizer for Carla. She can use it to set up her iPad, so she can watch without straining her neck (My current plan is to enforce the two-hours-of-screen-time-per-day restriction we have, even though she will be in the car. We’ll see how long this lasts. But I grew up with a father who continually asked me to look at the scenery while we were driving, and – despite the fact that I found it very irritating at the time – I seem to have absorbed that philosophy to a cellular level.) (Also, when I was a kid, I read books and played with a Gameboy on a teensy screen and never suffered from “neck strain,” so Carla doesn’t really NEED a specific organizer to address this non-problem.) Right. We are talking about the organizer, not about my inherited road trip ascetism. She can use it to store… things. Colored pencils? A stuffed animal? Masks? Snacks? I don’t really know WHAT things, but she does tend to accumulate a lot of stuff, and my husband cannot stand a messy car (I resigned myself to a messy car long ago), so the entire organizer is really for my husband’s sanity.  My husband really wanted to get one of the organizers that had a little fold down tray, but ***MORBID THOUGHTS ALERT*** my mind instantly went to decapitation in case of a car accident because that is how my brain works, and I managed to persuade him to find something else.

image from amazon.com

A foldable, waterproof trash can that can hang off the back of one of the front seats. Again, this is mainly for my husband’s sanity. My whole life, I have been perfectly fine using a plastic bag from a gas station to collect snack wrappers and soda cans, and tossing it at the next gas station where you inevitably pick up a new one. But my husband enjoys having the exact right thing for every situation, and if it is helping him feel excited about the trip, and if it helps reduce his stress/irritation during the trip, then I am all for it. 

image from amazon.com

Road trip journal. This is also for Carla. One thing that I do NOT have trouble spending money on is Fun Travel Treats. One thing I remember with such fond joy about trips with my parents is that my mom always made these little kits full of fun surprises that we could open during the trip. Usually they would include things like a fresh tablet of drawing paper and a brand-new package of colored pencils or markers, maybe a new Barbie, a new book, a workbook of some sort, or maybe a book of paper dolls. OMG – do paper dolls still exist? I don’t think Carla has ever encountered a paper doll, and I wonder if she would like them? Wow. I have gotten really off topic. Anyway: I LOVED these little treats, and they made the travel part of trips so much more fun, and so I like to get Carla little treats as well. My husband doesn’t really get this, though, so I have to wheedle a bit. Like, he would disapprove of a new pack of colored pencils because Carla already has a million colored pencils. He just doesn’t understand that part of the cache is that the pencils are NEW. ANYWAY I keep trying to redirect myself and it is like pulling a jumbo jet with a jump rope tied to its nose. We got this road trip journal for Carla as a Fun Travel Treat. She likes journals (at least, she likes the idea of journals; she is my daughter through and through) and I am hoping this will help her feel engaged with the trip. 

image from amazon.com

A family card game for the car. Admittedly, I may be the only one of the three of us who has any interest in this Loaded Questions game. But it sounds fun, to me, and I like the idea of being able to play a game together that doesn’t involve a screen. 

image from amazon.com

An audiobook. I think we have settled on A Wrinkle in Time or the fifth Harry Potter book. 

A fun snack. I chanced upon a display of vegan peanut butter caramel coated popcorn the last time I was at Trader Joe’s and grabbed a bag. I may end up kicking myself for not grabbing multiple bags. But we will SAVE IT for our Road Trip! and I am anticipating that at the very least it will be fun to try.

image from traderjoes.com

Things we are still considering, but haven’t yet purchased:

A fresh tablet of drawing paper. Carla loves to draw, and I know how absolutely wonderful it is to have a FRESH tablet of drawing paper, ready to be filled with creations. 

image from amazon.com

travel atlas. I think this would be fun, but am not 100% sure Carla would read most of it. Plus, how many giant books do we need rattling around in the car with us?

image from amazon.com

A cooler. My husband is CONVINCED that we need a cooler. Again, I direct you to my childhood, during which we never needed a cooler. Now, maybe a cooler would be nice, but in that case, I petition for a VERY CHEAP cooler. My husband, on the other hand, wants a Yeti cooler that costs – I SHIT YOU NOT – $350. My very blunt response to that was, “I will never be okay with spending $350 on a cooler.” I told him that my upper range for cooler expenditure is $50. It does not matter if the Yeti cooler keeps ice from melting for three weeks. We do not need that kind of cooling duration.  Now, I can fully imagine people for whom the $350 Yeti cooler is practical or a necessity. If you make your living as an ice fisherperson, perhaps; or if you live in the Australian Outback. And other situations, surely. But for me, it is a Startling Expense TM Swistle and I cannot do it. My husband has done extensive research – which involved us going to a sporting goods store and looking at physical coolers, so we could see which size would work best for our very limited needs – and I think we have landed on this one. It is within my $50 threshold, and I DO think having a cooler will be useful for other situations I have yet to consider. 

image from amazon.com

Another family game. Carla and her friends love playing Would You Rather? and it might be a fun way for the three of us to interact while we drive… but then again, it’s fairly easy to come up with questions on your own. I don’t know. Still debating. 

image from amazon.com

A travel pillow. I tend to fall asleep immediately in the car, but then my head continually sags forward onto my chest and then snaps up and then sags forward and then snaps up ad infinitum. I would LOVE to find a travel pillow that keeps my head from doing this, but I feel like I have tried ALL the travel pillows and I have yet to find one that works, so I am not terribly hopeful. 

A set of paper dolls. They DO still make paper dolls! I am not sure if Carla would like them – but at least she would find them briefly diverting. Now, do I go for the Anne of Green Gables version? The Little Women version? The Nancy Drew version? Carla might like this “fashions of Edith Head” version best – she is very into fashion design lately. Ah, but it looks like it requires scissors (rather than the pieces being perforated), and Carla isn’t going to know who any of the subjects are (Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland). So maybe we won’t do paper dolls after all. At least not for this trip. 

What are some of the Utmost Necessities you’ve found useful on a Road Trip!? 

I have always dreamed extremely vivid – and usually super violent – dreams. But it’s been a long while since I’ve remembered any. 

This past week, I’ve had two that stuck with me after the fact. 

In one, I dreamed I was in an enclosure hiding from bears. The bears WERE going to attack, and if anyone wasn’t in the enclosure, they WOULD be mauled. There were other people who kept coming into my enclosure, but no one seemed to grasp the fact that BEARS CAN OPEN DOORS, and so they were leaving all the doors unlocked, so I had to keep going around and around to all the doors, locking them and shooting meaningful, grim looks to my fellow enclosees, none of whom seemed capable of grasping the fact that MAULING WAS IMMINENT. There were a LOT of doors, and the enclosure kept expanding. At one point, I went outside into a fenced-in area. The fences had barbed wire on top of them, but they were all only about two feet tall so that a really determined bear could simply step over them. 

I think we can all deduce what particular anxiety THAT dream is about.

The other dream is less memorable, and less perilous. But no less upsetting, for me. In the dream, I dropped Carla off at someone’s house for a playdate, and the mother invited me in to join everyone for a snack. The snack was bananas (which I do not eat), but Carla hissed at me, “You have to be polite.” So I ate a piece of a banana. And the host cut off another slice of banana, so I ate that too. And another. And another. Even though I haven’t eaten a banana since… preschool? I can still feel that mushy, sickly sweetness in my mouth. 

This dream, too, has a direct source. Our lovely neighbor has invited me and Carla over for lunch. The date is still pending, but oh my goodness I wish I could get out of it! 

Eating at other people’s homes has always been a HUGE source of anxiety for me. While I do eat a large variety of foods, I have a lot of super picky aversions. It’s not as easy as saying, “Oh, I have an allergy to X” and then the host just doesn’t cook with X. The list is so long I could not even hope to cover it all.

I remember, as a kid, DREADING going over to other people’s houses to eat. Just absolutely finding it awful. I have a vivid memory of sitting at a friend’s dining table with her whole family as they ate what was, I’m sure, a perfectly lovely meal, and I was just choked with anxiety because I did not want to eat any of it. And I tried to eat things here and there – the bread, maybe – and my friend’s mother was scolding me to clean my plate. It was awful. I don’t think I ever ate at that friend’s house again. In fact, unless someone was clearly and definitely serving pizza or tacos, I don’t think I ever ate at ANYONE’s house again.

I will never do the ”clean your plate” thing to Carla and I will never force one of her friends in my care to eat something she doesn’t want to. But that’s children. I am a grown adult. I should be able to go to someone’s house and eat the food. And yet. It is very anxiety producing, because I am equally afraid that a) I will have to eat something I dislike or b) I will offend the host by rejecting something I do not want to eat. 

I would say that my husband and I only rarely eat at other people’s houses. We have two sets of friends with whom we dine occasionally, and I feel like they are close enough friends that I can say, “No, I don’t eat lamb” when they ask, in advance of the dinner, if we eat lamb chops. (I say it regretfully, and embarrassedly, but with great relief.) But with the vast majority of people, you just show up! And eat the food they serve! I remember going to a new friend’s house and they served an absolutely beautiful meal of which the main course was chicken parmesan. Each breast was just smothered in tomatoes, which is probably my Number One Most Reviled Food. I cannot eat tomatoes; I have tried. I think I tried to be surreptitious in how I scraped them off the chicken, and then I helped wash the dishes, and I am SO hopeful that the host didn’t notice. (I am guessing the host noticed; I would notice. I would then, as host, fret that the food was bad or that I’d made something unpalatable to one of the guests.) Another time, we went to a friend’s house and she served chili with chunks of tomatoes in it. I ate around the tomatoes, but it’s so hard to do that in an unnoticeable way, and yet I cannot eat the tomatoes. I WISH I COULD. If I had access to a genie, and could only make selfish and self-serving wishes, I am pretty sure “make it so I love tomatoes” would be one of them.  

All this talk about tomatoes is making me queasy.

Along the same lines: Carla eats nothing. She is FAR more picky than I am and has not developed the techniques I have honed over the years for eating things she doesn’t like but can stand, or taking (as my mother-in-law calls it) a no-thank-you portion of something she doesn’t want, or trying something that doesn’t look appealing, or swiftly moving an item to her husband’s plate for him to eat instead.  

So now, this lovely, wonderful woman has extended this lovely invitation… to two people who eat NOTHING… and I not only have to somehow overcome my own anxieties about eating but also model good guest behavior to my child. Ugh ugh ugh. (What if she serves egg salad, a food I do not think I could force myself to eat??? Or some kind of lunch meat??? Or almost any normal lunch food????????)

Is there any way, after I have already said, “Oh that sounds lovely” to the neighbor, to now go back and say something like, “Carla and I have a bunch of really fussy food aversions – would it be possible to come have a glass of lemonade instead?” Is there any way?????? There isn’t, is there. I can almost picture her face falling as we reject her LOVELY invitation. Which is almost – but not quite – as bad as facing the Unknown Food. 

Podiatry Talk

In highly exciting news, I have recently had occasion to visit a podiatrist for the first time. 

Relatedly, I want to talk about my foot. The thought of doing so bores me almost to tears, so I feel deep empathy for YOU, whose foot it is not. The thing is, it has been causing me enormous grief for months now and I better just talk about it and get it over with. 

Sometime in December of 2021, I started having heel pain when I woke up. It would be worst when I first got out of bed, then would gradually subside throughout the day. My runner friend told me it sounded like plantar fasciitis, which is a term with vowels that look incorrect even when I know they’re in the right places. I looked up plantar fasciitis and found some stretching exercises to do; I did them; they seemed to work. 

But then after maybe a week or so, the exercises stopped being effective. And the pain got worse and worse, so that any time I sat down (and as a person who writes for most of the day, I sit a LOT) and then tried to stand, I would hobble around with serious pain. It started waking me up in the night. It started affecting my ability to drive (I would get sharp shooting pains in my arch when I pushed on the gas or the brake). It made it difficult/painful for me to do my preferred type of exercise (walking). 

I went to a podiatrist, who seems very knowledgeable and who came highly recommended. But it seemed to me that the podiatrist relies a little too heavily on ME and not heavily enough on measurable facts. I suppose that’s how most of medicine is, isn’t it. If I say I have sinus pain and I’m miserable, and the doctor presses on my forehead and under my cheekbones and asks if it hurts, she has to take my word for it that it does. A gastroenterologist has to rely on your report of stomach/intestinal pain. But I hate that. I do. I want to be able to go to a doctor and say, “I am in pain” and for them to be able to VERIFY that, scientifically. I want them to have calipers that measure the pain so they can nod and say, “Yes, I see, this is clearly a Level 5 pain.” rather than making me the sole reporter of painfulness. For one thing, I feel like I have a low threshold for pain, so that what might be excruciating for me would be just a little twinge for you. And I don’t want to overreact to pain, or come across in any way like I am overexaggerating. I want it to be quantifiable. It’s NOT, but oh well. 

The podiatrist did press on my foot to see if I reacted, which I did. And he used an ultrasound machine to check… something. I’m not sure, but he did measure something and record those measurements. (He also took an X-ray, to ensure I didn’t have any fractures or cancer.) (Brief digression: I have been having pain in both feet, but one is much more severe than the other. When I checked in, I explained this. The receptionist said she would send me for an X-ray right away, and did I want X-rays of both feet or one? Um. I don’t know? I feel like that is not the kind of decision I, the non-doctor, am qualified to make? I did say that I would do whatever the doctor recommended, and the receptionist said, “It’s really up to you.” So I told her we could focus on just the one because the pain in the other foot is – currently – livable. But then the whole time I was getting my foot X-rayed I was feeling panicky that I had made the wrong choice, and what if I needed to come BACK in a few months and do it all again, and pay extra to get the other foot X-rayed when I could have gotten it all done at once? I had to use some coping thoughts like, “less radiation NOW is better, when I may not ever need a X-ray for the other foot.” And, “I made the best choice I could in the moment, and there is nothing I can do now.” And, “maybe it would end up costing the same anyway; I don’t know if they charge per foot or per visit, so who knows.” And, “I am fortunate to have health insurance and a health savings account, and this is what those things are for.” I had a good hearty wait before the X-ray technician was ready for me, so I got a chance to repeat these coping thoughts several times. (And panickedly wonder whether I could ask the X-ray tech to do both feet, or ask if I could call up to the doctor and alter the order.) It turned out okay, and if I need another X-ray of the other foot at some time in the future, so be it. But I really wish that the DOCTOR would have said, “Well, I really think that we should focus on the one foot that’s causing you the most trouble.” Or “Well, this thing can develop quickly so if you are having even a little trouble, let’s treat the other foot too.”) 

This is a very complainy post about my podiatrist, when really he seemed very nice. I guess I just get very anxious about doctors’ visits. I don’t want to waste the doctor’s time, I don’t want to overestimate the problem, or make A Big Deal when it’s not a big deal, I don’t want to spend a lot of health savings account money when I could really just be at home icing my foot, you know? 

Anyway. After the podiatrist evaluated my foot, he gave me a little mini lecture about what plantar fasciitis is, using a plaster foot as a visual aid, and I thought it was very useful and interesting and then promptly forgot everything he told me. He then gave me a splint to wear on my foot while sleeping (“gave” – it cost $75; it is possible I could have bought one myself elsewhere for much cheaper, but I did not) and a prescription for a steroid/anti-inflammatory drug, and scheduled an appointment for me to come back in just over a week. 

The first day of the steroid, I had excruciating bone pain in ALL my bones. That was deeply unpleasant. But on days two and three, the bone pain had subsided and I had almost NO PAIN in my afflicted foot. It was MIRACULOUS. Then, as I “stepped down” the dosage of the steroid over the next week, the pain returned. It was dispiriting, to say the least.

Not to mention that the splint for my foot is not… super. It wraps around the ball of my foot and then has a stiff arm that goes up the outside of my shin, and tightens around my calf. Kind of like a shin guard, only a bit more flexible. It keeps my foot in a slightly flexed position, which is not uncomfortable. The edges of the Velcro closure scratch my toes though, and I find it very difficult to sleep with the thing on my leg. Plus, I absolutely cannot walk on it, so I have to remove the whole splint every time I get up to go to the bathroom which is at least twice per night. (Each time, I try to undo the Velcro as quickly as possible, so that I don’t wake my husband. I feel like the sound of Velcro reluctantly parting from itself would be a highly unpleasant way to wake up in the middle of the night.)

When I went back to the podiatrist, the medical assistant asked me how things had gone, and I told her: my foot was definitely better than it was before, but it was not great. She said, “What percentage has your pain been reduced?”

What? Ugh. While I was just whining a few paragraphs ago about wanting quantitative measurements of medical issues, I do not want to be the one who provides them. I am at a loss for how to evaluate things like this. If you ask me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10, I usually have NO IDEA how to do that. Like, I have in my head the worst pain I have ever experienced, so I assign that a 10. But then… it’s very difficult to know where other things fall. Primarily because pain is so immediate, and because the perception of pain fades with time. Right now, it HURTS, and it’s bearable or not.

Anyway, I told her that maybe the pain was 20% better – which was a wild guess on my part – and she said, Wow, okay, that’s not good. If you had said it was a 70% improvement, maybe we could give you another round of the steroid, but the next step is usually an injection. 

Now, I had heard about the injection before I ever made my first appointment with the podiatrist. The person who recommended him had had an injection for my exact problem, and it seemed like that was the treatment, so the steroid/splint treatment I received was a surprise to me. I’d been prepared from the get go for an injection, and the podiatrist had mentioned at my first appointment that if the steroid/splint didn’t work, I would probably need an injection. So I was anticipating an injection. 

The medical assistant left and when the doctor came in, he said, “I hear you were begging for the injection.” Which made my eyes go all wide until I realized he was joking. THEN he told me that a lot of people say the injection is the worst pain they have ever had; that women who have delivered multiple children say it’s much worse than childbirth. (Not the most reassuring way to begin the injection discussion, Doc!) But, he went on, he has never had any patient say that to HIM. HIS injections are painless, and he uses a specific method that makes them so.  

So now I had two things to hold in my head: 1. That some people find this injection to be excruciating and 2. That I could not in any way tell this guy if it WAS, because he would not believe me. 

He put up a little curtain, separating my eyes from from my foot, which is a weird way to phrase that but I am leaving it, and sprayed my foot with what he called a “cold spray.” THAT was pretty uncomfortable, but bearable. And then he started the injection, which took several minutes and was also fairly uncomfortable but bearable. I had to do some deep breathing, and had to clutch my arms across my chest quite tightly to get through it, and there was some tear-prickling at my eyes, but no actual tears. (At one point, he asked if I was doing Lamaze breathing back there, which made me feel quite embarrassed. He went on to say if I left with a baby, we’d each have a lot of explaining to do, har har har, and as I mulled THAT ONE over for awhile, while trying not to breathe so audibly, I came to the conclusion that I probably wasn’t breathing THAT hard, and that instead the Lamaze thing was probably a bit he does for lots of his patients.) (I feel as though, in describing this to you, I am describing this doctor quite unfavorably. I definitely do NOT jive with his sense of humor, although I can see how many patients would find him hilarious and delightful. But I did feel that he was a good listener, and that he cared that I was in pain, and that he wasn’t judging my particular level of pain tolerance, and that he was determined to resolve the problem. AND that he was an experienced and knowledgeable practitioner.)

Anyway. The injection was FAR from the most painful thing I’ve endured. Dental procedures are much, much worse. But afterward, my foot was sore and I kept getting these little shooting pains in my heel and walking was about as uncomfortable as it had been before I saw the podiatrist. 

The injection did HELP, for a while. The next day, my foot felt significantly better. But I am nearly a week out from the first injection and I am back to hobbling around when I wake up/stand up after sitting for awhile. 

And yes, I said “first injection” because the podiatrist mentioned that, for a LOT of people, one injection resolves the issue completely. But for some people, it doesn’t. And that we needed to resign ourselves (he didn’t say resign; I think he said “commit.” Resign feels more accurate for me, though.) to THREE injections before we pursued a different path. He didn’t even mention what the next path would be, so I’m trying to borrow some of his confidence that the second or, gulp, third injection will do the trick. I am NOT looking forward to another injection. Last time, I had the added anxiety of not knowing what to expect. But now I have a different type of anxiety because I DO know. And it’s hard to go into something, knowing it will result in pain. 

This feels like the kind of thing I had better get used to, as I age. More and more parts of me are going to fail. More and more parts of my body are going to experience pain. I am not pleased about it, but I recognize that this is just A Part of Aging. And I’m really very lucky. I can still walk. I can still exercise, even if doing so is slower and causes residual pain. I can afford to treat it. Hopefully my marriage can withstand my ongoing crankiness/hobbling. 

Window Shades

We tackled a little home project over the weekend that was very satisfying: we replaced several of the window shades.

The previous owners had installed these soft, white cellular shades on all the windows on the upper floor of our house, and we never changed them. They are the kind that have a plastic tab at the bottom, and you use that to pull them down or push them up. They are inoffensive looking (to me) and they filter the light nicely – by which I mean they dim the rooms but don’t make them dark – and they offer privacy. 

Over the past, oh, year or so, they have begun to show signs of age. The shade in our bathroom stopped working fully. You can pull it down to its full length, but it declines to rise more than halfway. Then a little horizontal tear appeared in the shade in Carla’s room. And then, this weekend, the one in my bedroom just collapsed, fully, leaving the entire window naked. I wish I had taken a photo of it. It was quite comical, like an old timey slapstick film where a character’s old timey bathing costume pools around his knees. 

Typically, household failures of this sort follow a trajectory of “oh no!” and some poking and prodding to see how to correct the issue, maybe even some light googling, and then we learn to live with the thing, and now everywhere I turn things are broken. It’s not a great way to live, but it is difficult to deviate from so well-worn a path. 

However. This shade failure was, to me, an emergency. The shade is in our bedroom and the window it covers looks out over our street. And in no way do I want my across the street neighbors or any passersby on the sidewalk to be able to look up and a) see me in bed or b) witness me crossing the bedroom in my pajamas, which is often only a T-shirt. My husband tried to duct tape the shade in place the first night, but it kept falling off in the middle of the night. So we googled and I pushed and we went to Lowe’s and bought replacement shades. 

I would have purchased the same shades again, but ours came from J.C. Penney and I don’t know where a J.C. Penney is, in relation to my home; nor am I sure they currently sell home goods. I suppose I could look it up but I am choosing ignorance. What we did purchase were the shades our local Lowe’s had in stock. They look virtually identical to the ones we had. 

The installation is simple enough: You drill a couple of little brackets into the window frame (we were able to use some of the holes from the previous shades’ brackets) and then you clip the shade into the brackets and voila! All done. (I wonder if my husband would want you to know that clipping the shades into the brackets is NOT as simple as it should be, and that the brackets can be stiff and difficult to clip into place. But in THEORY it is very simple.)

We got a kind of shade that you can cut to size. We measured the windows so we could cut them, but when we were standing in the shades aisle of Lowe’s, I got a little nervous about altering the shade permanently before we were able to see if we could hang them. Luckily, the shades they had in stock were only about five inches wider than our windows, which I figured wouldn’t look too weird. Also in the plus column for not cutting them to size was the fact that there was a cutting station in the shade aisle and it said “Out of Order” on a big red sign. 

We got the shades (they were more expensive than I expected – about $80ish a piece) and brought them home and my husband and Carla installed them while I made dinner. They look fabulous (by which I mean they look exactly like the previous shades did) and the one in the bathroom WORKS and I am very pleased. 

Extra pleasing is that we got a blackout shade for Carla’s room. We have been talking about getting blackout curtains/shades for her room since she was about a year old, which is when we discovered her propensity for rising with the sun. And now we DID it, and I am writing this at 8:30 in the morning and she is STILL ASLEEP, which is unheard of. 

We have yet to install curtains on any of the windows on the lower floor. But maybe the success of this little project will spur us on.