I just wanted a fridge cart

Chickadee leaves for college in two weeks, in case you’re counting. I was counting, for quite a while there—I was counting down until a wonderful, mythical day when ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER as we worked through that less-than-halcyon time when your college-bound teenager suddenly morphs into a prickly, cranky, spoiled brat. I hear this is perfectly normal, and that my reaction of wanting to strangle her with my bare hands was also normal. That time came, and went, and now we are just finishing getting her ready and enjoying each others’ company. And realizing we are going to miss each other. A lot. So part of me wishes we were back in that place where everything was an argument, because emotions are stupid.

Anyway.

We all know I shopped for a solid year, seems like, making sure that my kid would have everything she could possibly need for her tiny dorm room for the next year. I was mostly-done months ago, and she and her roomies have collaborated and negotiated and everything has been worked out. We’ve had a mini-fridge—given to us by a generous friend whose kid no longer needs it—forever. The roommate is bringing a microwave. Perfect. And then I made the mistake of reading one of those lists of THINGS YOU MAY HAVE FORGOTTEN BUT YOUR COLLEGE FRESHMAN TOTALLY NEEDS MORE THAN OXYGEN kinds of lists, and it featured a fridge cart. You know, a little wheeled metal cube with mesh storage drawers and a wood top, perfectly sized to hold a dorm-size fridge. Dishes and snacks fit in the cart, it keeps the fridge off the floor and expands your storage, etc.

I thought I was done shopping, but I saw this thing and decided Chickie needed one. (Me: “Do you want a fridge cart?” Her: “A what, now?”) And because I am me, it turned into An Adventure. (more…)

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Not dead! But still disappointing!

If you’ve been feeling let down because I haven’t been writing here much this summer, know that you’re in good company—most of my family is annoyed with me as well. First I received a phone call from my father asking me if I was still alive, and if so, if everything was alright, because “when you don’t blog for more than a week I get worried.”

Next, I received a text from my eldest (who was in the next room at the time), because although she will happily walk miles to catch Pokemon, apparently ungluing her ass from the couch to speak to me in person is too much effort.

12-days-no-blog

I guess what I’m saying is: If you’re bothered, get in line. But I’m well aware that I suck. So! A brief(ish) (lies) summary of what’s been happening in my life since we last spoke, and it’s going to be SCINTILLATING, I’m sure. (more…)

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Everything is terrible (not really)

It occurred to me that I forgot to tell you about my recent Bread Adventures.

If you’ve been reading here forever and also have an uncanny memory for stupid details of other people’s lives, you may recall that many, many years ago I discovered how easy it was to bake bread, and also how DELICIOUS said bread was, and I began baking bread all the time. In fact, I stopped buying sandwich bread altogether, because I just baked it here at home and it was a billion times better. Sandwich loaf bread from the store is—to me—a necessary vehicle for sandwich fillings, but… meh. Homemade bread, on the other hand, is yummy and good for sandwiches and also just random stuffing into one’s mouth. So I began eating LOTS of bread when I started doing all that baking, and shortly thereafter was when my skin and my general health went berserk and I did an elimination diet and ended up discovering my body is not so fond of wheat, actually. Surprise!

Once I determined that I couldn’t eat the bread I was baking, I stopped. We went back to store-bought bread. I still baked bread for the rest of the family occasionally (rolls to go with dinner or focaccia for pasta or what have you), but I didn’t bother with sandwich bread. Lo these many years I have avoided wheat and my long-suffering family has made do with stuff from the store. (Their disappointment is likely tempered by all of the Nerd Night baking I still do, you understand.)

And then… I made a sourdough starter. Because I’m a dummy. Look; it wasn’t my FAULT. There were suddenly a million articles about how EASY it was and how SCIENCE-Y the process is and before I knew it, I had a bubbling jar of goo convincing me I needed to bake bread ALL THE DAMN TIME. (more…)

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#*%^(! squirrels, man

Hey, remember last year, how the squirrels got into my tomatoes for the first time in forever, and I had unfairly blamed Licorice for a while before I figured it out, and then it became clear that the squirrels were just looking for water?

Good times. And by “good,” I of course mean “rage-inducing.” By the end of the summer we’d already used up all of the tomato sauce I’d made, on account of having only made a few pitiful batches. Most of my tomatoes were stolen.

Well. THIS YEAR would be different. Sure, it was dry out for a while, but then it rained for, like, a week straight. NO PROBLEM! Those pesky squirrels wouldn’t need to decimate my tomatoes, right? HA. HAHA. MY OPTIMISM IS CHARMING AND DELUSIONAL.

squirreled-tomato

This specimen comes from the lone box up on the porch, the ONE plant I thought would remain undisturbed. And yesterday when Otto went out to let Licorice into the dog run, a squirrel chattered at him from INSIDE THE BOX and then dropped this and scampered away. Fucker. (Note the companion jalapeño which was sampled and discarded. I hope it gave him heartburn.)

In conclusion, I have no idea how to reliably keep squirrels out of my garden and I am cranky about it. On the other hand, I have lots of suggestions on how to take care of your marriage while life gets in the way, which is only because 1) life is always getting in the way, 2) life is less annoying that squirrels, and 3) Otto is the best and my favorite.

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Weirdest summer ever

I had grand plans for this summer. I did. This is the Last Summer, our last chance to operate as a family unit of 4 (if you believe the books with titles like Letting Your College Freshman Go and Once They Leave They’re Gone; Whoops! Just Kidding! They’re Back and Still Ungrateful and It’s Perfectly Normal: Why Your Child Becomes an Asshole Before Moving Out) and Do Things.

Except. Well, hey, we’re Doing Things. Many things. ALL THE THINGS! Just… not so much as a family unit, it seems. Everyone’s working. None of our schedules seem to sync up. When we finally have a day when no one has to go do anything, we retreat to separate corners of the house, doing our own things. (For me: quietly, without talking to other humans. For the kids: sometimes talking to their friends, but definitely not to us parents.) Eventually Otto coaxes the rest of us out with promises of ice cream, but it’s not exactly the picture of family togetherness ’round here at the moment, is my point.

Otto was all “We can do it! We can take a vacation! Let me just look at the calendar!” And the only time he could come up with was, like, 36 hours in-between two other things. He insisted that would be great. Um. Maybe not?

I’m sure everything is really great and fantastic, actually, I am just cranky because I’m tired. (more…)

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On pushing, and not

I tell you what: you think, when your kids are little, that when they’re bigger, it’ll be easier. HAHAHAHA. You look forward to self-sufficiency and assume it will magically appear in exactly the right proportions at the right time. This is because parenting damages your brain. When you’re dealing with a child who goes floppy and boneless when it’s time to put on their shoes, you imagine that someday they will make good, responsible decisions as a direct result of your calmly reiterating instructions for the tenth time and your remarkable restraint in not strangling them with their own shoelaces at that pivotal moment. You envision a day when that same child will race towards adulthood with glee.

Hahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!

As they get older it only gets more complicated. You have to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to “encourage” and when to back down, when to just go take a nap because an old country song is stuck in your head. It’s HARD.

Recent developments ’round here include me finally explaining to Monkey that we are going to stop pushing him to drive, but we’re also going to expect him to figure out how own transportation more often than not, and also I am finally ready to tell you about how we are the absolute meanest when it comes to summer employment. (Don’t worry, it has a mostly happy ending.)

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Because everyone LOVES politics!

By the time this next presidential election is over, I never want to talk about politics again. Ever. Or at least for a day or two.

I have mixed feelings about politics in general. It’s complicated. (Related: I called my senators during the filibuster last night, and because I’m polite I left my name and number along with my message. Neither of them has called back. I am relieved, but also annoyed.)

Nevertheless, when you’re trying to raise kids to be good global citizens, the “pretend it doesn’t exist” option is… probably not a good choice. So today I’m attempting to field a question about how to talk politics with your teen, particularly when they’re prone to parroting what they hear. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’ve got a few ideas.

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Lest you think he never misbehaves

Hey, remember when I used to write regularly about all the cute/sweet stuff my husband did? (Hey, remember when I used to write regularly, period? You hush.) He is still cute and sweet. He is still my favorite, especially when I get to see him, which is not all that often, because he’s a busy guy. For example, he was just away on a work trip being a rock star, and I’m super proud of him, but also I totally let Duncan have his side of the bed while he was gone, because Duncan never abandons me just to go “teach” and “learn” and “be a good citizen of the world.” (Duncan’s interests lie mainly in “leading you to the kibble container and pretending you forgot to feed him” and “snoring” and “pretending not to like it when you rub his belly.”)

Duncan is also willing to snuggle in bed, which gives him a slight edge over Otto (who—as you may recall—requires a boundary area), but Otto smells better and hardly ever wakes me up by incessantly licking my feet, sooooo… yeah.

Anyway, the point is (I swear I had a point…) that Otto is swell and I like him a whole lot, and he is very nearly infallible in all of the ways which matter. (In the ways in which it doesn’t matter at all, he still gives me plenty of fodder. For example: The other night he pulled some grapes out of the fridge and made several displeased noises before I asked what his problem was, and he said, “Ugh, these grapes are moldy.” Before I could respond, he added, “Do you want me to keep them or should I toss them?” Yes, Otto, please hang on to those moldy grapes. I have a special recipe for rotting fruit! It starts with moldy grapes and ends with DUDE WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK ME THAT?)

And because I haven’t told you an Otto story in quite a while, I thought I’d offer up a doozy because yesterday was a very long day.

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Trying to brightside

I don’t know about you, but for me, reading the news lately is pretty much making me hate everyone and everything.

My perspective on recent events is neither new nor substantially different than the many smart people who’ve already written about what’s going on, but when has that ever stopped me, before? If you have kids and you’re following the Brock Turner case, I humbly offer you some talking points for your family to try to eke a tiny bit of good (education) out of something awful (miscarriage of justice).

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Things we do

Summer is in full swing! I know this because 1) it is hot and sticky outside and 2) I spend a fair amount of my life wondering why I don’t have more time now that school is out and DEAR GOD WHY AM I STILL PACKING LUNCHES??

Ahem.

So some things have changed, and others remain maddeningly the same.

In no particular order, here are some of the things our family now does:

Update the calendar in the kitchen. Remember how summer is relaxed and easier? HAHAHAHAAAAAAA nope. My school-year routine is to take down the calendar on the first of the month and fill it in, but now that both of my children have jobs with variables, we seem to be spending a lot more time filling things in and wondering when there is time to do various other things. Also I apparently need to make sure that my daughter sees every doctor in the world before she leaves for college, because it’s important to refill prescriptions/get new contact lenses/have a meningitis booster shot/get teeth cleaned/etc. before you move to a different planet. (Okay FINE, she’s going to be less than 2 hours away. Details.) Also let us not forget that now we have to record things like Chickie’s school breaks (never at the same time as Monkey/Otto’s school breaks, natch) as well as trying to coordinate her being available to come home for things like her brother’s Senior Night and such. Fun!

Fight over who gets to do laundry when. We used to have a system, man. It worked. There are only 4 of us, so it’s not like it should be complicated. But for some reason now everyone runs out of clean socks at the same time and starts bellowing about how THIS IS THE ONLY TIME I HAVE TO DO THIS (except me; I’m flexible, but the kids, not so much). Oddly enough—try to contain your shock—no one is interested in fighting over who gets the privilege of unloading the dishwasher. Weird. (more…)

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