Angela Amman

Empty shelves

school shoppingThe real countdown to the first day of school became obvious when we scrambled over to Target for a few things on a school supply list that changed this week. I’d thought I’d finished ahead of time this year, but I should have known the premature self-back-patting would come around to mock me. Still, the changes weren’t major, and I’m not going to complain about another chance to wander the school supply aisle.

Michigan public schools start after Labor Day, which is apparently one of the last start days in the whole Facebook universe, so I expected to have trouble finding the exact colors of the notebooks we needed, but this made me giggle. I left Target without notebooks but with a few other things — of course — and found the rest of what we needed at Staples.

The shelves, though, they remind me of how my writing’s been lately. The words are there, but they’re in my head or in notebooks. We’re squeezing the sunshine out of summer, and I have other work deadlines, and I don’t think many of my words will hit the screen anytime soon.

I’m ok with that, for now. Everything changes next week when Dylan steps into a kindergarten classroom.

I’m going to have to be ok with that, too.

For now, it’s empty shelves and lots of the Annie 2014 soundtrack and LEGO building and sweaty bike rides and getting sprayed with the hose.

The inevitable end of summer looms, but I’m starting to catch a glimpse of the beauty creeping near the horizon of fall.


Changing carousels

All tigers, all the time at the Comerica Park carousel

All tigers, all the time at the Comerica Park carousel

We’ve done so much this summer, and I’ve been fairly terrible about documenting all of it. Time feels strange during summer months, stretching and contracting when I least expect it.

We keep going on things that go around and around without really getting anywhere, but soon we’re stopping, jumping off the carousel,starting a new school year, and setting new goals for ourselves.

Comerica Park Ferris wheel, where the kids saw their first MLB game this summer with our friends from San Jose

Comerica Park Ferris wheel, where the kids saw their first MLB game this summer with our friends from San Jose

I don’t know what the year holds.

For the first time, both kids will be in school all day. I feel like my days will open up in unexpected ways, but I also know time has a habit of bending around corners, hiding out of my grasp.

Self-discipline suddenly seems imperative in a way it hasn’t in years. I expect the kids to make their hours in school count, and I need to expect the same of myself.

The carousel at our happy place, the Detroit Zoo

The carousel at our happy place, the Detroit Zoo

The first few weeks might involve playing a bit of catch up as we all adjust to this new schedule and set of responsibilities. But there’s not much time to absorb the learning curve. Once we hop onto this year’s merry-go-round, we’re going to have to figure out things quickly.

I know we can do it, just as soon as we all choose which animal we want to focus on this year.

How was your summer? Are all of your photos sitting in a virtual heap of an unsorted folder like mine?

Birthday musings

Sweetheart BakeryThe day started with my snooze button, birthday snuggles, and cake for breakfast and ended with an episode of Freaks & Geeks — a show that reminds me of how much closer I am to a sitcom mom than a sitcom high-school student.

In between those moments, the rest of the day slipped away in the way summer days do.

I wondered if anyone has suffocated on the overwhelming, chlorinated humidity of the high school pool during swim lessons.

My mom served mini-cupcakes, a sequel to the perfectly frosted cake we ate on Friday — except for that final sliver I saved for today’s breakfast. Dylan pulled closed the curtains while they watched 101 Dalmations with their cousin, Eleanor. They giggled at puppies, and I slid away through the front door and got drenched running in a summer shower I misjudged as finishing when it was just getting started.

We went to dinner at new-to-us restaurant, where Abbey wrinkled her nose at the smell of my wine. We took turns passing around my writing notebook for games of Hangman and waited too long to order, for our food, for our bill. The kids danced next to the table, and we didn’t mind because we were on the patio, and dancing is better than whining.

I opened a new book and listened countless times to a musical card festooned with prairie dogs and a Garth Brooks song.


The kids circled each other and bickered and pulled at my hands, because they love that it’s my birthday but haven’t yet figured out how to change their behavior as a quiet sort of gift — and that’s ok.

Edging closer to forty, I’m torn between celebrating birthdays and growing melancholy at how quickly time moves through my fingers. Surrounded by the three people I love the most in the world, I’m reminded that next year I’m not likely to remember how long our meal took or how much the kids fought over LEGO wheels.

I just hope I remember their excitement at my musical card, the way they laughed as they danced, and the way Ryan and I sat together, lucky to be in this life we’re building for another year.

When a house needs a doll salon

imaginative playShe paints with broad strokes and big ideas, and she makes messes I struggle to let be until she’s finished with one of her games.

Our house has been in chaos, renovations on top of renovations, and there are too many things in too many places. The kids see it as an adventure — beds in the playroom! — and maybe a chance to get away with tossing toys in random corners because I can’t tell the difference.

In a house where the kitchen had the only clear walkway from room to room, I hadn’t wanted to let the doll salon last more than five minutes. Still, I consented to a tour, where my girl pointed out a doll waiting for an appointment, where another checked in both the doll and her pet. At some salons, it seems, girls can bring their dogs for services as well.

The detail in the salon caught my breath a little. In my rush to do something else around the house, I hadn’t noticed her cutting small pieces of paper for “tickets” or the way she’d painstakingly placed a towel on the floor or procured a piece of plastic wrap for the hair cape to keep the water from dampening the dolls’ clothes.

playing with dolls

The doll salon stayed. After dinner we took it down together, carefully separating what she wanted to keep from what could be recycled, sorting hair supplies into storage bags. I marveled at the careful way she took care of her dolls, remembering the tips she’d heard and read online.

I paused, amidst the chaos, and remembered all of the work we’re doing on the house is in the interest of creating a home, a place for them to feel safe and secure and loved.

Some days a home needs a doll salon.

Things are being put together, slowly or with quick flurries that involve climbing the same stairs again and again. Furniture is back where it belongs. Walls are painted. The small things remain — organizing, figuring out what to do with stuff from closets that piled onto each other as Dylan played musical bedrooms, wooden trim. Those things, those little things, probably won’t get finished with the urgency of the bigger things, and that’s ok.

We will go to the playground to swing and finish the never-ending laundry of summer. We will walk into our home and be grateful for the people inside, for the dolls, for the mess that makes it ours.

NaBloPoMo July 2015

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