Picture perfect

I think I may have mentioned here once or twice or seven billion times that I hate having my picture taken. I am not a photogenic human. (This is not the same, by the way, as saying I’m an unattractive human. This is not a self-esteem issue, merely a “the way my particular features tend to be caught in pictures is not flattering in spite of the fact that I’m an okay-looking person in real life” issue.)

My ex-husband is a very photogenic person, and so you can imagine my delight at discovering that nearly every candid photo of our offspring is amazing. Those cheekbones! Those lips! LOOK AT MY BEAUTIFUL BABIES! But a lifetime of living with me—the person who mugs for the camera so I’m obviously ridiculous rather than being caught “candidly” appearing to be inebriated, furious, or both—has, um, caused some issues. Chickadee does a beautiful “smile for the camera” on command, but then hates every single picture it produces for reasons that would never even cross a normal person’s mind (“this eye is squinty, see?”). (And for what it’s worth, she does a pretty masterful version of my own HERE’S ME OPENING MY MOUTH AND EYES AS BIG AS THEY GO hamminess, too.) Monkey is constitutionally incapable of smiling on command, which means we have some gorgeous candids and some absolutely painful “portraits.”

(Here let us pause while I reiterate that both of my children are gorgeous, which should go without saying, but I don’t want to get an angry phone call later.)

Marrying a photographer was an EXCELLENT idea, especially if the goal was to drive said photographer crazy with his ready-made family of people who hate to have their photos taken. (HAHA. HA. SORRY, OTTO, WE LOVE YOUUUUUU!) I do think he derives at least a little pleasure from seeing it’s not just him we’re impossible for, though. Now would be a good time for you to go read my post at Alpha Mom about Monkey’s senior portraits, and then when you’re done with that, come back, because I have a little surprise for you after the jump. (more…)

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Just be there, even if they sleep through it

This past weekend was Chickadee’s Fall Break from school, so she came home on Friday afternoon and is headed back today. Four entire days to love on my girl! Four entire days of quality time and family togetherness!

Sort of.

She got home around 4:30 on Friday and went to bed. She got up around 9:00 and had some dinner and watched TV with me for a little bit, then went back to bed. She slept until 2:00 pm (!!) on Saturday, then headed in to work a shift at 4:00, but then came right back home because they’d double-scheduled, and… went back to sleep. Sunday she slept until 1:00 pm, had some food, then went to take a nap. She was up to watch the debate with us on Sunday night. Monday she got up early to drop her car off for a repair, then Otto brought her back home and she went back to bed.

I dunno. I think it’s POSSIBLE she’s not getting enough sleep at school. Just a theory I’m working on. Call it a hunch, if you will.

We did get to spend some time together this morning. (Hooray for annoying little brothers; Monkey had to leave for campus at 7:30 and woke her up to say good-bye.) She helped me with today’s post for Alpha Mom, and I know this is going to come as a HUGE surprise, but I could not be more proud of the self-possessed young woman my daughter is becoming. I’d love to take the credit, but I suspect she’s just naturally awesome. Anyway, from her and from me, have a very happy National Coming Out Day today.

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Having a wonderful time, here’s some mail

Family Day at Chickadee’s school approacheth. In theory I think this is a great idea—some of those kids probably haven’t seen their folks since they left home, and some parents are probably dying to see their kid(s) in their school element. In practice, I see my kid plenty, and whoops, she’s actually going to be home that weekend, so it’s something we’ll be skipping, but whatever. It’s a nice thing the college does.

Here’s some preamble to what comes next: I don’t know if things have just changed everywhere since I was in school, of if Chickie’s college is unique in this, but it seems like there is a “come get your free stuff” table set up in their quad at least a couple of times a week. I enjoy following them on Twitter to see what they’re offering on any given day, mostly so that I can then text my child and say “ZOMG A FREE BOTTLE OF WATER FOR A SURVEY, QUICK, DITCH CLASS AND RUN TO THE QUAD.” I can only assume that my comments are super helpful. On the other hand, she and her friends avail themselves of most of these “free stuff” opportunities, and in addition to now owning a wardrobe comprised almost entirely of free t-shirts, I happen to know she went and toured some campus apartments purely for the free pizza coupon. Girl has priorities.

Anyway! In anticipation of Family Day, one day the table in the quad was a COME SEND YOUR FAMILY A POSTCARD AND URGE THEM TO COME VISIT thing. Because my child is always SO hard at work, she apparently stopped by the table to 1) take advantage of this glorious opportunity, 2) even though she already knew we wouldn’t be coming, and 3) made sure to send a postcard to everyone. EVERYONE.

Needless to say, when I grabbed the mail yesterday, I was delighted. (more…)

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It was a pretty good run

I cannot remember the last time Duncan bit someone. Rather: I couldn’t remember, BEFORE THIS WEEKEND. He’s so sweet! So calm! That whole “biting people” thing is but a distant memory…

… which came back again while we were watching football this weekend. Otto and I cheered over a play while Duncan snoozed between us on the couch; Duncan leapt awake from the commotion and began barking; I tried to rub his head to calm him down, and he was… uhhh… not calm, it turns out, because I put my hand on him and he promptly snarled and CHOMPed down on my fingers. So. Had to set the “XX DAYS SINCE BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS ME” counter back to zero on Saturday.

He’s so old and cranky and confused, this dog. But also really cute.


“Look at me, so cute and adorable and harmless-seeming. Bring your fingers over here, I’m hungry.”

Anyway, I lived. But Duncan may be getting some coal in his stocking this year. (What do you mean, it’s weird that my dogs have stockings?) This is the closest I’m going to get to a segue today with my still-sore bitten hand, so now if you’re thinking about Christmas (or other holiday shopping), you should head over to Alpha Mom to get some holiday shopping ideas for teens, because this time of year tends to fly by in a blur.

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Both falling apart and coming together

I just realized the last thing I wrote about was my eye infection (Hi, I’m Mir, and I’m SEXXXXXYYYYY), and then I promptly went silent for another week because my neck was all jacked up.

Longtime readers may recall that 11 years ago I crashed my car into a dump truck and the dump truck definitely won. Chickadee still has the smile-shaped scar and I still have a neck that periodically greets me in the morning with HEY REMEMBER WHEN WE HAD WHIPLASH? LET’S DO THAT WHOLE “CAN’T MOVE” THING AGAIN. So the eye thing responded well to antibiotics and then I woke up with my neck locked; if you would like to hear someone complain about how getting old sucks, I am available for parties. Our chiropractor retired, so I ended up complaining for a while and then a friend-of-a-friend was kind enough to do an emergency yamuna session with me that let my neck know it was okay to stop being a complete dick. I now own my own yamuna ball and everything. (I may or may not have named the ball. DON’T JUDGE ME.)

Anyway. For the moment, all is well. I’m sure another body part will give out in a day or two, but let’s not think about that.

Having only recently been restored to health and then having watched the debate on Monday night, I decided it was time for me to be very clear, out loud, about where I stand. Yesterday I wrote you this piece for Alpha Mom, and while I don’t imagine anyone who’s ever spoken to me is surprised to hear that I’m voting for Clinton, I felt moved to declare that I’m doing so enthusiastically and with a lot of hope. I’m not going to be silent or polite about it anymore.


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Ahoy, mateys!

I’m about THIS CLOSE to wearing an eye patch and calling it a day. I hardly ever wear makeup, right? Like, I’ll wear it when I dress up. Which is almost never. For some reason at the beginning of this week I was digging for something in my bathroom drawer and found some mascara I forgot I had (my first mistake) and was all, “Oh! I’ll put some of this on.” So I did.

And then I woke up with an eye infection the next morning. Because of course.

I threw away the mascara. I’ve been doing warm compresses and medicated eye wipes (did you know this was a thing? it’s a thing!) and trying not to touch my face and and also whining A LOT about how my eye hurts and burns and itches and did I mention? MY EYE? WHICH IS CLEARLY INFECTED?

After one too many jokes from friends about the eye patch I am surely destined for, I went to the doctor today. Now that I’m on antibiotics I guess today is probably my last day to make pirate jokes, alas.

While I was gone this week trying really hard not to touch my eye, I wrote a couple of posts over at Alpha Mom. One is about what matters to me now that I’m solidly middle-aged and the other is (in response to a reader question) all about how homeschooling can be all kinds of different things. So, um, you can go read those and I won’t make ye walk the plank. Arrrrrrrr.

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What you see is what you get

It’s been a pet peeve of mine for forever, the way people sometimes recoil from labels or admitting that there’s anything less-than-perfect about themselves or their special snowflakes. So it should come as no surprise that I have some things to say on the topic of whether or not special-needs students should disclose in their college application essays.

I know. You’re shocked. It’s shocking.

[Sidebar: Maybe less of a good idea to discuss your laundry habits, as I’m not sure a certain child of mine would’ve been accepted to her school if they knew that she just didn’t do laundry the entire first month. This weekend we had a rather spirited discussion about the number of undergarments in said laundry (hint: not as many as there should’ve been, given the number of days away) wherein she INSISTED that some of her laundry must’ve still been at the dorm, and later she went back and threw her roommate under the bus to save herself: I got a phone call informing me that AT LEAST she’d brought her sheets home to wash, whereas the roommate had gone home without hers and still hadn’t changed them. In summary, be yourself but BE YOURSELF OVER THERE WITH SOME FEBREEZE, PLEASE.]

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Batten down those dryer sheets

Welcome to another episode of, “Well hello there, I am not in fact dead, I have just been busy elsewhere and also I suck.” I have baked things for Nerd Night! I have fitted one hundred smelly teenagers for band uniforms! (That’s not a slam; we do fittings during practice and they’re practicing outside and it’s hot and seriously, please send air freshener.) I have Cleaned Things and Dealt With Broken Things and said “let me know how I can help” and actually meant it, which means I have been doing lots of things which are probably uninteresting to anyone other than the folks I am helping, but whatever.

Chickadee is loving college. Monkey is loving his time on our local campus, too, and this week submitted his last college application (!!!), meaning that now we just sit back and wait and see what happens. I feel like both kids were young- and middle-teens with various issues and that time period stretched out in whatever the opposite of dog years would be; each of those hard years seemed to last at least a decade, while I wondered if we would ever be through it. Now that they are both upper-teens and doing well, time is going WOOSH right past us in a blur. It’s early to submit applications, for example, but if I blink, we’ll be at graduation. So.

My darling daughter was already slated to take a trip home this weekend, meaning I’d be seeing her for the first time in a month (not counting FaceTime…), and I was like a kid counting down to Christmas morning. She’d finish class at 2:00 and get her stuff and be home before dinner! SO GREAT! And then—I don’t know if you’ve heard that there’s a hurricane trying to eat the southeastern US right now?—the phone rang before 6:00 this morning and it was a robocall letting us know that classes were canceled for the day due to the storm. Which: thanks? Instead of waiting for dinnertime, my (supposedly) fully functional adult child stumbled into my office around 9:30, still in her pajamas, with a car full of laundry, and yay for her being home ahead of the storm. BUT I DIDN’T NEED TO KNOW THIS BEFORE DAWN. Also when you see that it is 1) way too early and 2) the caller ID says it’s your kid’s college calling, that has a way of making you (me) release all the adrenaline in the world while you steel for Terrible News, and then when it turns out to be a robocall, you might be kind of angry. And jumpy. Because adrenaline.

All’s well that ends well, I suppose. Except the laundry, because that’s never going to end. (No, she hasn’t done laundry at school even once. In a whole month. I KNOW.)

While I was off doing other things, I did write a couple of posts over at Alpha Mom. First, I am admitting that my neuroses about my career choices and salary know no bounds, and then yesterday I answered a reader question about transitioning from homeschooling to public school. You could go read those while I fold laundry, if you wanted.

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Back to the grind

Otto has this thing about asking me how my day was. I mean, he really wants to know, I’m sure. But he asks when he gets home and he often asks at dinner and sometimes he asks when we sit down on the couch later to watch TV, and he almost always asks again when we turn out the light and get into bed at night. It’s endearing the first fifty-seven thousand times. Last night when he asked me for the third time that evening I snapped, “YOU ALREADY ASKED ME THAT” both because I’m a terrible person AND because half the time, I have no freaking clue how my day was. How was my day? What did I do all day? WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE???

I don’t think this is a kid-away-at-college thing. I think this is a Mir-is-a-somewhat-disorganized-dumbass thing. I do a certain amount of work each day, of course, but then I also find myself saying things like “Oh, I went grocery shopping!” like that’s some sort of major achievement. Um. Yay me? Yes, we have orange juice and a fresh loaf of bread! TRULY I AM A MARVEL! And if I manage to both do laundry AND put it away, well, I don’t require a standing ovation or anything, but if you must….

Summer was flying by the seat of our pants. Now that school is back in session, I’m trying to get us back on schedule. I’ve found that making dinner sacred again (you know, around marching band and everything else…) is usually a good anchor, so to that end, I’m over at Alpha Mom sharing my 10 Commandments of Drama-Free School Night Dinners. If you must know, last night we had chicken chili (made in the crock pot, natch), the leftovers of which will be nachos later this week. Tonight we’re having savory (gluten-free) cheddar buckwheat waffles topped with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, and onions in a white wine reduction. I can’t swear that cooking dinner is the reason my family still puts up with me, but I have my suspicions.

Tonight when Otto asks how my day was, I’ll reply with grace and love, “It was delightful. Shut up and eat your fancy waffles.”

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We are all adjusting

After a summer that seemed to pass in a blink, we’re back on a school schedule that has Otto and Monkey heading out the door at 7:30, most days, and often not returning until late in the evening. Classes have started for Chickie, too, and she was kind enough to remember that I needed a picture on the first day.


(Why yes, it IS 95+ degrees and a bazillion percent humidity here every day, still. Don’t you wear skinny jeans and combat boots in that sort of lovely weather? No? WEIRD.)

Each of us is figuring out our new schedule, our new space, this next stage. I am still marveling over how smooth of a transition it’s been, although that doesn’t mean it’s easy, just that it’s bearable. I’ll take it.

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