partying like its 1997

The other night I was lying in bed, trying with all my might to pull my comforter up. It was hung up on something, and I was pulling so hard that my hand slipped off, and I wound up punching myself in the face.

That's a pretty accurate visual of how our week has gone.

We've had rain for days. Weeks? This entire month is blur of precipitation and cabin fever, so I don't even know. On Tuesday, God had mercy on us. The rain stopped, and it reached SEVENTY FOUR DEGREES. In February! This is unheard of. We spent the entire day outside. I took Gracie to the park in our new town, and she ran around for hours until I had to quite literally drag her off the slide and force her into the car. After lunch and a quiet time that was anything but quiet, we went back outside. We must have been a sight to our neighbors. Even though it was warm, G insisted on wearing her snowman pajamas and winter boots. She had a picnic for Mickey and Minnie on the front porch and later dragged out pillows and blankets so they could nap. It gave me a taste of what summer will be like in our new house, and I am so excited. We wound up at a friend's house down the street for a little bit before dinner, where Gracie glued herself to the swing set. Am I the only one who gets queasy pushing a kid on the swings? I spent my entire childhood on the swings and never felt sick, but I can't even push Gracie for more than a minute without feeling motion sick.

It can only mean one thing: I'm getting old.

Don't scoff. I have further proof.

On Wednesday morning, the temperatures plunged and the rain started up again. I wanted to cry. I looked at the radar, and there was a line of rain moving up from Texas, all the way to Canada. We're not far from Canada, meaning we have to endure the entire band of rain the length of the US. I texted James the picture and told him I found it depressing. "Says Miss I Love Rain," he replied.

I used to harp on and on about my love of rain, but THINGS HAVE CHANGED. I mean, I still cherish a rainy day after a slew of sunny ones, but rainy days as a mom are not even remotely the same things as rainy days as a not mom. Before Gracie was born and I was working, I loved rainy days. You know that episode of The Office where they take bets on long it will take Phyllis to say all her rainy day cliches?

I was that person. I would sit in my cubicle next to the window, with a warm mug of coffee or tea, listening to music, and basking in the coziness. I LOVED IT. If I was at home, I would curl up with a book, make some soup, live it up. Now? It means another endless day of entertaining a toddler full of energy.  It means I suddenly find myself scrubbing windowsills at 10:00 in the morning in my pajamas because I'm so antsy I can't deal.

Not only was it raining, but Gracie woke up with a nasty cold. It was a hard day from the very start. I got out of the shower to find Gracie running toward me, clutching my Samantha American Girl doll in her snotty hands. "Wook, mama! I can pway wiff it!"

My Samantha doll was my most cherished possession for years. I didn't get her until I was 8 years old. Even past my doll days and through high school, I kept her sitting on a shelf in my closet. I could never bring myself to box her up until my parents moved and I had no choice. I've had her in a box in Gracie's closet until we moved. The box was moved to the spare room, and Gracie found her. I've been keeping her in case I ever had a little girl, and also because I would probably still play with her if it was within social norms.

I've thought over and over about passing on my American Girl doll to my daughter someday. There would be a ceremony. It would be very official. I would explain how VERY special and important this doll is, how we must treat her with the utmost respect her Victorian sensibilities demand. It would be like those father/son bonding moments, when the dad hands over some badge or pocket knife or gun or what have you that's been in the family for generations. It would be that kind of somber but exhilarating, age-appropriate moment that we would look back on fondly.

Instead, I was soaking wet with a towel wrapped around me, when my mucous-soaked two-year-old waved her around in front of me. This is not the sacred moment I had envisioned for so long. In horror, I started to tell her to put mommy's special doll back, until I realized she was happy and playing despite not feeling well. I needed a little break from the clinginess and whining, so I said "guess what! I have something else you can play with too." I pulled a box down from her closet that held a wicker table and chairs made just for American Girl dolls. Before I knew what was happening, Samantha and another doll were having a tea party. And I got an hour to myself while she played.

It was during this unprecedented hour to myself that I realized..I've had Samantha for TWENTY YEARS. 20!!! My own mother even teased me and told me that must mean I'm old. I remember the day I got her and years of playing with her (and dressing up as her) so vividly it could be yesterday. Though yesterday, my 2 year old daughter was busy changing Samantha's diaper over and over.

Yesterday morning, we had to stay home from Bible Study. It's the one time during the week I can be around other adults and listen to stimulating conversation. It's my one reprieve. My girl was coughing nonstop and still a snot factory, and I was not about to be responsible for the spread of germs. We stayed home, and I was bummed. I pulled out another box I had come across while cleaning. It was full of beanie babies. Gracie dumped them out, took the four cat beanie babies, pretended to change their diapers, actually tried to dress them in her pajamas, and put them down for naps. It looked like 1997 threw up all over her room. Not to alarm you, but 1997 was 21 years ago.

And now you know why I made cookies this week.


  1. Some toys just never get old.
    I still have my stuff dog I used to sleep with when I was 8 ... to when I got married ;) But I'm 46 now so do the math & figure how old that thing is :)
    I'm so over the rain here too - we're already in all sorts of warnings with floods & we still have 2 days ahead of MORE STUPID RAIN!!!!!!!
    Hope your little sweetie is feeling better soon -if anything, for your sanity ;)

  2. I have a Samantha doll too! I bought her with my own money and was so proud. That’s funny you mention rainy days, because it’s super rainy here today and I do love it! It’s cozy and I have my tea and my lamp on. But I can see how being inside with a toddler for multiple days at a time could be difficult! Glad you had a nice day at the park.

  3. I love this so much! I had the same thought about my Samantha and Molly dolls... but now they are both naked, tangled, and spread eagle in a toy box. btw, someone brought this call for submissions to my attention—i feel like you could beef up that Samantha story and submit it! http://www.hippocampusmagazine.com/submissions/

    on a semi-related note, my friend was telling me about her Swedish neighbors, and some kind of Christmas tradition they did that involved a wreath with candles on it. I was like, DUH, KIRSTEN HAD THAT CROWN.

    1. okay wait, i gave you a link to the general submissions page. there is a specific call for an essay about a keepsake: https://t.co/Jwo4f6SChm

  4. That’s so neat that you have toys from your childhood that you can pass down to Gracie. I can’t think of a single thing that I still own from when I was a kid. My mom has/had a big box of Golden Books that I would kill to have but my sister laid claim to them years ago. The only thing I can think of is my boxed set of the Narnia books but I don’t think Imogen will be ready for those for a while!

    I hope your rain stops soon!!! I fully understand the cooped up feeling. It’s bad enough with a 7 month old, I feel like it’ll be even worse next winter with an 18 month old.

  5. I love the idea of passing down cherished toys to your kids. I have a wooden dinosaur that holds crayons that my grandpa made that I can't wait for Jackson to be able to use!

    I'm sick of the rain too. There was a time when I enjoyed an excuse to stay inside under a blanket but this stretch of gross weather has meant keeping all of my preschoolers inside for many days at a time and which is just not good for anyone.

    I get super motion sick sitting on a swing now. When did that happen?!

  6. That's so great that you guys had a beautiful day to recover from the weather! Being cooped up with a toddler all day is no joke. We've had a pretty cold winter for Oklahoma (but no snow-my meteorologist acquaintance told us at church today that if we don't get any snow before the end of "snow season," Oklahoma City will have had the non-snowiest winter since the 1930s). And on Tuesday it got really cold and icy, and most of the city closed down by Thursday. Today it was a big event for me when we finally left the house to drive across town in the pouring rain. I'm just grateful that the sun came out earlier this afternoon!

    Oh man, I'm sorry to hear that you won't be able to do a special ritual with handing on the doll! At least you were able to get an hour to yourself. And I'm sure she will treasure that doll as she gets older! My AG dolls are packed away somewhere at my parents' house, and even though I don't have any daughters yet, I still want to find them on the off-chance that I do have a girl someday...or just for me to hold. Sometimes I re-read the AG books before bed as a comforting nostalgic way to prepare for sleep :)

  7. That is too crazy to think about. It feels like the 90’s should only have been a couple of years ago.

    This story is way too cute! I’m glad G is having fun!!!

    1. Right?? I had heart palpitations when I did that math. How were the 90s that long ago? As I kid, I remember my parents talking about things from their childhood/young adult years being dated. I couldn’t fathom anything from my life being dated. And now...😭😭😭

  8. "Don't scoff. I have further proof." I. Love. You.

  9. I loved my American Girl! I had Felicity. My mom made me read all of the books for all the dolls and then I could ask Santa for my favorite, and I distinctly remember going to bed on Christmas Eve when I was 7, never so sure of anything as I was that Santa would bring me Felicity! I still have her and all of her outfits and accessories!

    We were looking at cars online this weekend because mine is getting up there in miles, and Matt COULD NOT believe the prices. He said, "I remember when a nice new car cost $15,000!" I said, "Matt, we are getting OLD!!!" LOL!

  10. I had Samantha, but I was already 12 by the time I got her..I think because my parents wanted to wait and give me and my next sister AG dolls at the same time. Which is annoying if you're a couple years older than the other one. Not gonna lie, in college I went on a trip to Chicago and Michigan Ave. and while all the other college students were probably shopping in much cooler stores, I was running around the AG store, giddy as anything. And when Angel and I went to Mall of America...first stop...AG store. Those dolls are the coolest.

  11. You're right, rainy days as a mom are pretty hard. There's only so much you can do cooped up inside!

  12. Parker has been stuck in the house for months. MONTHS. Reason number 185 why I'm excited to move to a warmer climate. I don't care if it's raining, he can play outside all day every day. Suit up, kid.

    We've had a round of colds go through our house, too. Did you know a two year old can get a man cold?


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