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Another month, another series of mostly minutiae

Has it been another month? It has! I don’t understand how this keeps happening, and yet, here we are. Time has passed, some interesting things have happened and other not-so-interesting, and life marches on, etc.

I’ve made a number of desserts for Nerd Night this year and shared almost none of them with you because I’m a big jerk. Also because they’ve mostly been fine but unexciting. However! I am the sort of person who buys buttermilk for a recipe and then spends the next however-long trying to find recipes with which to use up said buttermilk, because most of the time when you Google “buttermilk recipes” you end up with things which call for a tablespoon or a quarter cup of buttermilk, and then the next thing you know, you’re looking for another recipe. Sometimes you just want a chocolate cake or a gooey pie or a cookie filled with caramel and chocolate, of course, but a couple of weeks ago I came across Teaspoon Bake Shop’s oatmeal cake recipe and made it for Nerd Night. Monkey was effusive in his praise—most likely because he is a fan of maple-glazed donuts and I suspect this tasted like that—but also, this uses a lot of buttermilk and quite a lot of oats, which means that yes, it’s cake, but it’s also relatively healthy. Cake without guilt! And it uses up buttermilk! If I could eat wheat, I suspect I would have a slice of this with a cup of coffee in the morning without apology. (My tips: First of all, I doubled the recipe for a full 9″x13″ cake pan, and second, all of those oats and buttermilk would be somewhat negated, then, by 4 sticks of butter, so I used 2 sticks of butter and a third cup of coconut oil, instead, to both cut the fat overall and use a “healthy” fat for part of it.) It’s a very simple/easy recipe and in no way “fancy,” but I recommend it.

Cake aside, here’s what else has been going on: (more…)

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That (other) time my kid got into college

Perhaps you remember when Chickadee figured out what she wanted out of a college and then made it happen, and I was over the moon because not just YAY COLLEGE but also YAY LOOK AT YOU ADULTING and YAY YOU MADE IT and such. It was a time of MANY FEELS, many capital letters, and me randomly getting weepy and saying I AM JUST SO PROUD OF YOU to her at the most inopportune and (one assumes) embarrassing times. I’m sure she loved it.

All of that was very exciting. It remains exciting, actually. If you think I don’t periodically get teary and LOOK AT YOU GO all over again with her, you don’t know me very well. And let us note for the record that she had both her acceptance and her scholarship ahead of the winter break, and I perhaps didn’t appreciate how awesome that was at the time. (This is called foreshadowing.)

So when it came time to start the whole process with Monkey, it was old hat. Right? Right. No biggie. All fine. Nothing to worry about at all. I knew the drill, he required a bit more cajoling all in all, but hey, no problem. I dragged him to Atlanta to visit a campus I thought he’d like and over the course of about two weeks—with the actual campus visit in the middle—he went from, “I just don’t know that I’d be comfortable leaving town” to “I see now why you wanted me to visit” to “I guess I’ll apply” to “That is absolutely my first choice school.” Wonderful! Except! Oh my, so many things had not occurred to me when I had the SO BRILLIANT notion that I would just “introduce” him to this school that would be perfect for him. Allow me to count the ways…. (more…)

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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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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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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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Recent discoveries, in no particular order

Graduation is on Saturday, and so I will just be over here Cleaning All The Things and Cooking All The Things and Crying About All The Things, if you need me. However, I’ll leave you with a few items I’ve noticed of late, because I am nothing if not helpful.

1) Wishing you could lose a little weight, but feeling stupid for being shallow and wishing you could lose a little weight? Solution: Have one of those fancy keep-track-of-everyone’s-profile bathroom scales, and then one day while trying to flick some lint off the scale with your toe before weighing yourself, somehow accidentally tell it you’re profile 4 (your husband’s) instead of profile 3 (you). You will be whatever weight you are, BUT then it will cheerfully inform you you’ve lost 75 pounds since you last weighed yourself! You’re welcome.

2) Go make this as pasta salad immediately for every summer barbecue and event henceforth if you like avocados. Use a more pasta-salad-y (totally a word) pasta; I did gluten-free penne. Add grape tomatoes, too. But it’s basically avocado pesto and it tastes like summer and you can customize however you like. (Do it cold. COLD. I tasted it warm and it was weird. Do cold. And add LOTS of lemon juice so it doesn’t brown.)

3) My 18-year-old graduates in just a few days and it turns out she still doesn’t know how time works. Should I be worried? We had an argument (full disclosure: arguing is kind of what we do) because she asked to go out with a friend “this morning” because “they’ll be busy this afternoon” and I said okay and then she said she’d be home for dinner and I had to explain that she was asking to go out ALL DAY and she insisted that “this afternoon” means “dinnertime” and then my head exploded. THAT IS NOT HOW TIME WORKS. But okay.

4) You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but it turns out you can teach a young Monkey how to drive. Add it to the long list of ways in which he just keeps on being awesome.

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More reasons why I am a little high strung

Did I mention that I—like every other person in the world who likes to cook and bake and who gets periodically sucked into food trends—made some sourdough starter a while back? I did, and now I have returned to that place where I don’t buy bread, I just make a couple of loaves every week. That’s all good and well (I enjoy doing it, the family seems to enjoy eating it, and it’s both cheaper and more nutritious than the stuff from the store), plus I’m experimenting with making other stuff (sourdough pizza crust! sourdough garlic knots! sourdough oh look I’m making something else I can’t eat but you guys enjoy it!) and generally feeling JUST LIKE a homesteader of yore. (You know, if said homesteader had a wheat allergy, drove a hybrid, and had a couple of very spoiled lap dogs.)

Anyway. This morning I went to make some dough for this week’s bread and got my beloved KitchenAid going and I turned my back on it to do something else and shortly thereafter the mixer WALKED OFF THE COUNTER AND CRASHED TO THE FLOOR. It unplugged itself and everything. The results, in no particular order: I had a minor heart attack, the floor was both gouged AND cracked (awesome), I panicked that the mixer was broken (it still works but… I think I need to have it looked at), and I swore a lot at the bread dough. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS, STUPID SOURDOUGH.

Also (this is not related but it’s another reason I’m high strung), I am busy trying to get my kid ready for a dorm when most “what to buy” lists aren’t geared towards kids who would not, say, remember their own heads if they weren’t attached. So I came up with a supplemental list for those of us whose kids need a little extra support.

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In a word: OOF

In the ever-losing game of balancing out the time I spend with each kid so that neither assumes I love the other better—or both of them assume I love the other better, but I feel pretty confident that they are being ridiculous drama llamas—I was thrilled to discover that the day after Chickadee’s birthday, there was going to be a screening of Autism in Love at our local indie cinema.

“Hey Monkey, would you like to go see this documentary with me? I think it’ll be pretty interesting.” I was braced for a shrug or a swift refusal (this would, after all, cut into his gaming time…), but to my delight he agreed right away. (I also invited the rest of the family, by the way. But it ended up just being Monkey and me, which was fine.)

This movie caused me to have A Lot Of Feelings, both because of the movie itself and how Monkey reacted to it. The premise is simple: they follow four autistic adults who are either in or want to be in romantic relationships. Two of them are a couple, one is married (but his wife is in the hospital with end-stage ovarian cancer, and it’s unclear if they ever lived truly independently), and the youngest of the bunch is a young man who really wants a girlfriend but is struggling with… well, everything, seems like, but especially that.

There are highs and lows in the film, but it was the ride home that was most interesting. (more…)

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In lieu of Nerd Night goodies…

… all I have for you today is this. (There was no Nerd Night this weekend, alas.)

Monkey began texting me about some injustice in class, but it quickly devolved into the following. And for the record, this went on for quite a while even after this. It’s a good thing I’m fond of that kid.

monkey-fish-puns

(Eventually I told him I had to go. He responded, “Sea you later! I’ll reef you abalone now.” Internet, HOW DO WE TEACH HIM TO USE HIS POWERS FOR GOOD?)

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Lessons learned (a.k.a. maybe ask)

You know that I always bake for school meetings, right? And for when my kids go off to their weekly gaming night? I love to bake. I can no longer actually EAT most of what I bake, but that’s okay. It makes me happy to feed other people. Funny story: usually at the holidays I start making cookies at the beginning of the month and bake all month (sometimes making/freezing dough to bake later, sometimes baking cookies and freezing them) so that we can give out goodie baskets at school before the winter break. That’s not the funny part. The funny part is that I just found out that one of the teachers we’ve been giving cookies to—ready for this?—has a wheat allergy. She didn’t tell me (and assumedly doesn’t know that I’m also allergic); one of the kids figured it out.

I felt terrible, of course. Our past gifts were useless and perhaps we seemed thoughtless. What if she hates us now?? (I’m glad I didn’t overreact or anything.) But I didn’t know! So today I emailed and asked some questions (Celiac or allergy? Is cross-contamination an issue? Do you even like sweets??) in preparation for Cookie Season. That was well-received and now I know how to proceed. It’s almost like… things go better when you get clarification. WEIRD.

This is a clumsy lead-in to my post today at Alpha Mom, in which I learn that what I think about a situation matters a whole lot less than what the person actually IN the situation thinks about it. Again: WEIRD. Who knew?

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