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Meanwhile, back at the clubhouse.

Since we can’t do ANYTHING half-ass, even chosing to live in the suburbs, we don’t just live in any subdivision.  We live in a sprawling behemoth of a mega subdivision, made up of lots (and I mean LOTS,) of smaller sections (sub-subdivisions?)  I have no clue what the correct term is, it’s foreign terminolgy to me, and I aim to actively attempt to keep it that way.  I’m convinced The Mr’s Texan upbringing kicked in when we were house hunting and he went with the “bigger is better” mentality when chosing a subdivision. That and the whole thing weaves around a golf course, and his country club upbringing makes him seek out golf courses like I seek a good brunch joint.

So a couple of times a year we get invites not only for events involving our little pocket neighborhood – we are in the smallest of the little sub-subdivisions, just an outer loop and an inner loop around a little “pocket park” as I was informed they are called, (see, you can’t UNlearn these words, people. ::cringe::)    On top of those events, there are also events for the entire ginormous sprawl of mega subdivision.  The two big ones being a 4th of July parade situation that we have avoided for 2 summers running now; and the annual holiday party at the golf course clubhouse.

This year I decided to suck it up and request 3 tickets (yep, it’s ticketed to keep out the riff raff, I guess,) to the latter.  The clubhouse is located midway between The Casa and my parents’ house, and it was a “NeNe Day” for Jr, so I decided I would request the early wave (oh yeah, they have to run the sucker in waves, like starting a race or touring an exhibit or something,) and we could just drop by and he would sit on Santa’s lap for a picture and we could call it a success.

Lol.   Lolololololololol.

Of course a wardrobe crisis took place, since I have no damn clue how to dress for ANYTHING out here, and am fully aware that I am “that one who wears an awful lot of black” to  other moms in the ‘hood.

Also,  it was cold as sin here last week.  I mean COLD.  As in – Keri cried a little during last weekend’s date night when getting into The Mr’s jeep after dinner, due to the dreaded FJS (Frozen Jeans Syndrome,  and don’t pretend you don’t know what it is.  It is hell.)   That kind of cold presents its own wardrobe issues, as you have to be warm in transport, and still able to deal with all the layers you might have to hang on to the entire time you revel. (But I digress. Horribly. As usual. )

Off we went, Jr in his tiny button-up shirt, and me in my casual-but-dressy tunic and completely impractical kicky booties (buried under giant coats, of course.)
The Mr chickened out completely. (Check mark in the “owes me one BIG TIME column, BTW.)

Inside the tastefully decorated clubhouse I pulled Jr off to the side, dislodged him from his winter layers, and stuffed them into my giant purse (hooray for the giant purse.)  I piled my coat on top of his and wedged the straps over my shoulder.

We got greeted and name-tagged and continued in the flow of people through the hall and into the great room.  The scene was one of complete and utter sensory overload – twinkly lights, holiday music, yummy smells rising from the containers of food as it was warmed by the sterno pots beneath the pan on the buffet.  But most of all the movement and noise and joy and bustle of kids.

Lots and lots of kids.

“SANTA!!!!”  Jr had spotted the man of the hour tucked into a corner by a ginormous Christmas tree. I surveyed the surroundings – families were shrugging off piles of coats and digging in to plates of food from the buffet at tables spread throughout the space, the line for Santa was only 2 deep.  I knew the second they all finished their meals, they would queue up for some lap time, so I maneuvered Jr into the line as fast as his 2.5 year old legs would go.  We chatted with the neighbors around us, and watched each child smiling and talking with Santa.   Secretly I was a little concerned that, much like riding the plastic horse at the supermarket or sitting in the airplane/firetruck/car thingy at the children’s haircut place, this was an experience he would be SUPER excited about in theory but totally freaked out by IRL.

However, after a moment of hesitation when his turn came, Jr climbed up on Santa’s lap, and informed him that he would like “presents” and that he was “2 years old” while I snapped pictures as fast as I could in the hope that one of the bajillion shots would be “the one.” (This is the true secret to kid photography – quantity. Take 50 pictures of every event, 3 will probably be keepers.)

Mission accomplished, right?  Except that by this time the yummy smells from the buffet were calling to both of us, and Jr was all “Cicken figgers now?”  Sure, what the hell, chicken fingers now, kiddo.  I steered him through the controlled chaos to the buffet and balanced a plate on my arm while using one eye to select some snacks and the other to watch him as he watched groups of older kids making merry in various ways around the room.   Plate full, I turned my attention to the seating situation. It had filled up completely.  The santa first plan had backfired!  Crap.

“Cickin figger mommy?”  The delightful smell of the plump, warm chicken pieces on our plate was weakening Jr’s toddler sense of reason.  We had to get some food into his tiny face pronto.  I found an out of the way corner and we plopped down on the floor in the glow of a group of battery-powered “candles,” and shared some chicken finger. (BTW – the. BEST. chicken finger. EVAH.  I don’t know what the hell they coated that chicken in, but damn it was tasty.)  Midway through his second finger, Jr caught sight of the cookie decorating station and chucked his chicken in my direction.

“CHRISTMASSSS COOOKEHHHHHH!!!!”  He was on his feet and heading toward the table.  In my haste I grabbed up my coat (spread out to sit on,) put it on, folded the paper plate up around the chicken, and not seeing any other place to put it, stuffed the package in the pocket of my puffy coat. (oh Keri.)

Off we went to the cookie decorating table, where Jr created a masterpiece “for daddy” and then one for himself, which he piled HIGH with green frosting.  I let him go nuts. What the hell, he is having fun, let him sugar it up this once.  I crafted a to-go container for “daddy’s cookie” out of more paper plates, pushed Jr’s coat aside in my purse, and secured the cookie package in the depths of the bag.

By then the seating had started to open up, and there was NO WAY that pile of green frosting was going to be protected by my paper plate constructions, so I asked ” want to eat your cookie here, Smoosh?”  Duh – toddler must. eat. cookie. ASAP.  Good deal.   On our way to a table I grabbed a glass of wine from the bar (Merry Christmas, momma Keri,) and we sat near the tree where Santa was still listening to wishlists of the subdivision kiddos, looking out the window over the golf course with its trees sparkling in white lights.  I watched Jr carefully flip his cookie over in his two little toddler hands, and slowly eat it all up – frosting side down.  (Smart kid.)

He got frosting on his nose.  We giggled.  We watched Santa and looked at the tree and sung “Jingle Bells” softly to each other while the chaos around us faded into a kind of background-y holiday hum.

He was happy, I was happy.  Eventually we piled on our layers and headed back out into the cold night.  It didn’t feel quite so cold as we crunched through the snowy parking lot to the M.U.V.

I survived the mega subdivision holiday gathering.

We came, we saw (Santa) and I came home with a really happy kid.   Not to mention a pocketful of chicken and a Christmas cookie in my purse.

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Observations from the Pool

The pool.

I hear angels sing when I even think of it.
The Tree House had a good pool – it wasn’t over-the-top fancy, but it also was fantastically under-utilized by the majority of the building, leaving me and a small group of smarties to soothe away our mid-August urban angst without jockeying for position too much. (My “position” was under the big old tree that drooped in from off the street over the wall, shading my pastiness pale loveliness from the direct sun.)
Granted – since Jr. joined the scene pool time has two different versions – the one where he is with me and we have a giant bag of puddle-jumpers (Google it, until two days ago I had no idea these things had an actual name, but it is THE toddler pool accessory to sport, fo’ sho,) and graham crackers and SPF 1000 (ok, that’s always been in my bag – I really am pretty much translucent;) and the one where I am having “me” time, which involves magazines and a family-sized single-serving of some sort of “sangria” that I mixed up with random crap from the kitchen and cheap chardonnay.

Regardless – the pool is VERY important. So when we set out to drag the whole part-and-parcel of the fam out here, I impressed upon Alyssa-the-wonder-realtor that finding a subdivision with a pool was muy importante.
She came through, bless here realtor-y little heart, and we have a great pool, with HEAPS of shade for our chalky selves, complete with baby pool for Jr. (I know, I know, THE PEE! THE SNOT! THE GAWD-KNOWS-WHAT-ELSE! But seriously, he’s two, he likes a smaller body of water. I am down with that.)
That being said – the view from under the pergola at a suburban subdivision pool is a far cry from my shaded corner of urban respite, where the gossipy gay couple from the 8th floor floated off last night’s hangover face down on rafts in the deep end, and the just-starting-out married kids from the 1st floor shared generic ciggys under the perpetually-about-to-break umbrella at the aging picnic table.

What an eyeful I have now.

My first thought after plunking my towel down to stake claim on a lounger during a solo recon trip last summer was “Has the mom population of my hometown always been so taunt, tight, tanned and toned!?”
(Holy ta-tas, mamas- You Go Girls!!)

Packs of tweens and teens migrate daily to the suburban oaisis – I feel like a zoologist observing their interactions from behind my giant sunglasses- or like there should be National Geographic documentary narration dubbed in: “Here we get a close up view of a small pack of middle schoolous tween-angstivous as they undertake their complex social interactions. This group comes to the water each day seeking pizza and a chance to cool down. We observe the group, but when they are in herd formation, interaction can be risky.”

The Mr. does not pool. At least not at this moment in his life. Growing up in the ‘burbs of Houston, he pooled it up plenty in his youth, but currently it is not his thing.
This would irritate me more, except I want to reach out and flick some of the dads I see at the pool with their families, much of the time. The entrance of said family into the pool area pretty much says it all: Here comes dad – 50 feet in front of everyone, carrying nothing, not looking back at all, just walking. Trailing behind might be an older kid, carrying his or her own towel and water bottle. Way behind that is mom – holding the hand of a toddler wearing one water-wing who REALLY wants to run/jump/something else dangerous. On top of her is piled every possible thing that the entire family might need for the day; towels and duckie floaties and a picnic basket and goggles and sunblock and hats and so much other crap that you mistake her for a pack mule as she wrestles her load along, clinging to toddler’s hand and drilling holes in the back of her far-off husband’s neck.
It’s cool honey, you go golf it up. I’ll skip that scene, thanks.

Incidentally, tattoos go over even better here than at the rec center. Do not be alarmed, neighbors!
I just want to cool my own kiddo off in the pee baby pool and do all I can to assure that he understands the awesome that is the pool.

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Time flies?

It’s been a year.
I knew we were close to the date, but wasn’t sure exactly until we got our automated “it’s been a year since you closed on your home!” email from our realtor.

I guess I should stop saying I “just moved back” now, eh?

Still a total fish out of water, but I did finally find a hair stylist I love (if I moved, she’d totes be commute worthy,) and we see a lot more Grayton than we do Mega Coon (YOU BASTARD,) of late;  as predicted I haven’t suffered from a lack of 2 a.m. grocery access, and we continue to grow a list of freaking awesome restaurants and funky shops that are local and amazing.
In addition,  we are sneezing distance from achingly delish humanely produced Beef, Bison, Eggs, Poultry,  Lamb, and Cheese and the pricing is better because I drive to them instead of them driving to the farmers market in the city. (Mmmmmm….meeeeeeeat.)

I’ve even cracked my way into the good graces of one of the neighborhood SAHMs. (Well, Jr did really,  they have a kiddo his age and she’s been warm in welcoming us to come play a bit after my working-mom self collects Jr from daycare. )
Guess they figure we aren’t going anywhere;  and that crazy blonde lady isn’t going to stop running all over the hood with her tattoos hanging out, dragging her punk band t-shirt wearing toddler behind her in the wagon looking for some playdate action, so they are giving in.

A few months into this family exodus from our urban beginnings, a like-minded coworker told me that although her current address wasn’t her ideal abode locale, it is about blooming where you are planted.

Maybe, just maybe, that is what I am learning to do.

(But seriously… it’s a minivan, not a tank, “ladies.”  Let’s keep it cool out there –  the waterpark/library/grocery store/dance class/what-the-hell-EVER you are late to isn’t going anywhere, and there will be 800 free parking spots for that monstrosity when you roll up.)

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Who I was when I was here before.

The scary-ass truth of the whole mess is that this town made me who I am – I am forcing it to own up, even if it doesn’t want to.

Because before I was the walking mound of dorkbomb awesome I am today,  I was Tiny Me – one half of the town fixture set of sweet little blonde twins riding bikes and going to dance class and selling Girl Scout cookies and generally doing our gleeful little girl thang in the Colorado sunshine of our safe and friendly hometown. (Gosh we were cute.)

Time passed – and I was Teenage Me.  Not really a bad thing, unless you are my mom (sorry, mommy…  love you.  Seriously.)  Even then – in all my teenage angst – I was still very connected to our growing burg.  I sat on the Coordinators’ board at the local teen center from 6-12th grade. Hell my graduation speech was about how our little town had grown up with my class.

I got to try on all the different identities that appealed to my fickle Gemini teenage girl self – here where mountains-meet-prairie-meet-civilization they all made perfect sense.

-Wanna-be College Kid Me, in her Birkenstocks and wool socks baking in the sun over a cup of coffee and some pretentious novel on University Hill, nursing the broken heart of my  College Boy first love lost and buzzing back and forth to Boulder in a rusted out $600.00 Honda Civic covered in political bumper stickers. All “student council VP” and “I’m SO testing out of this class and graduating early” and overwhelming desire to get things started already.

-Angry New Wave Me,  bangs spiked straight up in the air with a mixture of egg whites and Aqua Net, Smiths t-shirt and worn out Vans cast off from the skater boy next door – smoking cigarettes under the street lamp in the middle of our tiny street with the rest of the suburban hood rats trying so hard to rebel.  (Gasp! SMOKER!! Don’t worry – grown up Keri did give it up.)  So much attitude and black eyeliner, I am lucky both came off as I got older.

-Country Sunshine Me,  cowboy boots and boot cut jeans and the reason the Bull-Riders Only logo (about 1 inch big) is tattooed on my left shoulder – not that you notice with the others that have come along since. Throwing my overnight bag in the back of the Cherokee and hauling up to Cheyenne with my oldest friend for some family hospitality and country boys, Thelma and Louise style. (Well, sans the whole “death” thing… you know.)  Hitting up the tiny county rodeos with my dad, farmer tans deepening as we walked the stalls looking the livestock up and down.

And a bajillion little mini-personas that came and went, no-harm-no-foul, as we all went through our days growing up here.  Convening at the Country Kitchen Cafe, or the 7-11, or (for the most private and sacredly secret conferences,) the hill where the water tower (now towers) presides over the town spreading out before it – where we could stand and stare out and speak into the drop off, not looking at the other person, knowing the wind might well blow the words away if we weren’t quite ready to have them truly known.

If you consider all of those versions of me – then City Me  Current Me, makes perfect sense.  An enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a sarcastic comment, peppered with tattoos, cozied in a cardigan, rocking a pair of well worn-in cowboy boots.

I may be marinated in 17 years of city grit, but I am the monster they created here.

When I think of it like that – it is actually REALLY easy to want Jr to have every bit of the same.

Awww – she got sappy.  LAME!!

( Add that to the description: “wrapped in sappieness.”  I am uncontrollably, unabashedly sappy – and it is always a sneaker, Ninja-style Sap attack that leaves people going “awww man, she did it AGAIN!  I need another beer if she is gonna get that way about stuff.”  I know.  I just don’t care.)


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Honk all you want, mini-van road warriors, I am NOT pulling forward in to the crosswalk at a red light.
Crosswalks in the suburbs are like a really fat line drivers think you stop in the middle of or something.
To be fair, when young-and-stupid me lit-out for the “big city” years ago, this was actually a habit I had to unlearn. After all, I had spent over 3 years driving around in the very town where we now dwell.
:::shudder, SMH, shudder:::: (the disbelief still sneaks up on me sometimes.)
I distinctly remember a few red light stops that involved angry bike messengers, winos, punkers-in-groups, etc, banging on a portion of my old Cherokee, gesturing toward the crosswalk my front tires were resting firmly in, and giving me the “WTF!?” angry eyes.
I learned quick, the crosswalk is actually supposed to be available for use to those trying to get across the street (go figure, right?) and was not designed as a space for motorists to let their vehicles creep into as they grew impatient for green-means-go.
I actually assumed that with the HUMONGAZOID growth of this particular burg, the crosswalk-as-stop-zone thing would have phased out of the driving pattern around her.

Stopping completely behind the crosswalk frequently results in horrifying moments when I look in the rearview and panic as I watch the dummy behind me hauling A up to the rear of Frederico Escapé (yes, my car has a name,) and seriously doubting that the offending idiot is going to be capable of executing a complete stop without mangling my “Native” bumper sticker.
Not only that, but as I go to shoot the universally understood “narrowing eye daggers” to alert said late-stopper to the fact that I KNOW you were doing wrong, buddy, that look is always answered with the aforementioned “WTF!?” angry eyes!! In the minds of my fellow motorists in the burbs, I am the problem because I stopped short. I even got a HONK once, as if I had stopped half a block back and started fishing in back for my kid’s binky or something. (Oh wait, I am the only one who DOESN’T do that around these parts.– a move which seems totally acceptable out here.)
Basically, if they can’t see a herd of middle-schoolers heading toward the crosswalk, protected by the flashing lights of a “school zone,” the crosswalk doesn’t exist in the minds of these people – you have to make a HUGE SCENE about staking a claim on the crosswalk as a pedestrian, or it is fair game for every driver out here.
Well TOO BAD, Suckers – because I am not picking up what you are putting down when it comes to this.
Look out, I might just decide to come up to your window and explain, using more than dagger eyes, just how it all works.


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