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Here we are adulting

Hey! How was your weekend? Didja do anything fun? Things were pretty uneventful ’round here.

I mean, um, I’m pretty sure there wasn’t anything good on TV, though my firstborn did graduate from high school. That was pretty much the most exciting thing ever for a million reasons, chief among them that I will do almost anything to see her looking as happy and proud of herself as she did on Saturday. It got even better on Sunday, when everything was over and we bid the relatives adieu and commenced spending the entire day lounging around in our pajamas. Not that the rest of it wasn’t great, you understand, but that day of communal couch-potato-ing was sort of like the collective exhale. It was glorious.

My parents were here, and Otto’s godmother, and after graduation we threw a small not-a-party because Chickadee did not WANT a party, so we compromised with “we are just inviting some of OUR friends to come drink some sangria and eat fancy cheese and hang out, you can show up or not.” Originally she said she would probably be elsewhere, but oddly enough, she ended up spending most of the evening with us, leaving to attend another party for about an hour (they had cake, so: priorities), but mostly sitting outside with the rest of us, feet tucked up underneath her, phone constantly in hand, looking every inch the incredible young woman ready to take on the world who she’s somehow become.

Lest you think everything has changed, however, rest easy. Be ye not alarmed! The Chickadee we know and love is still herself in this new “adult” form. (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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That about sums it up

As we continue barreling down the road to graduation (AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE), life refuses to stop, regardless of the MANY MANY FEELS that seem to be popping up everywhere. Sheesh.

To top it off, today is Otto’s and my 9th anniversary. I’m not entirely sure why he’s still here, but I do bake a lot of cookies and stuff, so who knows. He continues to be my anchor in the very best sense of the metaphor: my strength, my favorite, my dependable partner in everything, really, but most notably in late-night-television-watching-and-tormenting-the-dogs-with-popcorn. Everyone should have an Otto. But not MY Otto, because I’m using him and you can’t have him. (Uh, I’m going to stop talking about this now. He might catch on that although I love him madly, he can surely do better.)

I do have a post over at Alpha Mom for you today, all about the current whirlwind, but first I’m going to share a photo because 1) my daughter is gorgeous, no? and 2) in the history of senior quotes, in my unbiased opinion this is the most true and perfect one that ever there was. That kid is gonna be okay.

chickie-yb-quote

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Testing, testing

School is almost over (!!!) for the year, and my kids are deep in exams. The great state of Georgia (and most of the country, it seems) is eager to make sure that No Child Is Left Untested, so between SLOs and EOCTs (Student Learning Objectives and End of Course Tests) and APs (Advanced Placement), I’m pretty sure classes are over and the only thing the kids are currently learning is how many kids can actually walk right off campus with a single test pass. On the rare occasions when they find themselves in class WITHOUT a test, they seem to be engaging in the time-honored learning traditions of 1) watching movies and 2) eating snacks.

With all of this test mania going on, you’d think they’d be studying their little butts off, but you’d be… incorrect. And I am relieved to know that I am not the only person who is struggling with teens who don’t feel the need to study. More on this SUPER-FUN phenomenon over at Alpha Mom.

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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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Nerd Night: Spicy Gingered Carrot Cake

This weekend I Planted All The Things and Baked All The Things and also managed to burn a spectacular burn across my arm in an impossible location while I was rotating the pans in the oven for this cake. I am talented! Now on my left arm, my tattoo is busy scaling/flaking (“SOON I SHALL REVEAL MY TRUE FORM!” I keep screeching at the children, who have long suspected I am actually Cthulhu underneath all the gray hair and under-eye bags), and on my right arm, I have a 2″ long blister. I’m a mess.

I’m such a disaster, I never even told you to go read my latest advice column over at Alpha Mom, which you should really read if you have a high school senior in your house you are thinking about drowning like an unwanted kitten. (Not that I’ve ever had such thoughts. More than once every few minutes.)

ANYWAY. Recently I scored a deal on a metric butt-ton of ginger chips (I think I paid, like, $7ish for 6 bags) and when it arrived I was all, “Whoa. That’s kind of a lot of ginger chips.” Personally, I love all things ginger and will happily eat crystallized ginger like this straight from the bag, but I knew it would be a harder sell to get the kids to eat it. So: Carrot cake! Surely that would work. Yes? Yes!

ginger-carrot-cake (more…)

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Nerd Night: Banana Pudding Bars (and bonus mom-ery)

Nerd Night was on hiatus for a few weeks (Easter and other scheduling issues), and lo, there was much sadness across the land. “Why aren’t you baking us delicious sugary things?” lamented my spawn. It was tragic, truly.

Sometimes I get a wild hair about a certain kind of recipe, and other times a recipe just sort… suggests itself to me. Like, two weeks ago, Nilla Wafers were the Penny Item the day I went grocery shopping, so I ended up with a box of those. And then a week ago, Jello Pudding mixes were B1G1. So I figured I’d make a good ol’ southern banana pudding, but of course both of my children actually don’t like banana pudding because “the texture is weird with pudding and chunks all together,” so I found this recipe for banana pudding bars, instead. If you look at their photo, and then look at mine, you’ll see that mine don’t look anything like theirs, for some reason.

banana-pudding-bars

Why? I have no idea. I made the recipe as directed save for three minor changes: 1) I used the entire box of Nilla Wafers (and a little extra butter) for the crust, because what was I going to do with extra Nilla Wafers?, 2) instead of two eggs, I used one egg and one banana (more banana flavor = more betterer), and 3) I added extra white chocolate chips because yum. Also, the recipe says to bake the whole thing for 10-12 minutes (after the crust pre-bake) and that is a DIRTY LYING LIE, because I ended up baking it for… at least 30 minutes. Maybe 35. I think that was just a typo, honestly.

The children report these were “dense and banana-y and delicious.” (They should be, as one pan contains 3+ sticks of butter.) Monkey also added his highest praise of “The texture is very pleasing.”

Now here’s something that has nothing at all to do with baking: (more…)

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It’s all about moderation

I mentioned that I’ve been making bread again, right? The thing about homemade bread is that… then you have a lot of bread lying around. Weird how that works. And my first few batches of homemade sourdough didn’t rise quite as much as I wanted them to, plus they weren’t terribly sour, which means they were excellent for things like toast but not so much for things like sandwiches. You know what else homemade, dense bread like that is great for? Overnight French toast.

If you’ve never made this before, go make this overnight bananas foster French toast immediately. And look, I’m not gonna lie… I made this for my kids for dinner, because my children need more calories shoved down their gullets, but this is not health food. (I made it with homemade wheat bread so I’m okay with it.) Just don’t think about it too hard; it has BANANAS which are HEALTHY.

Me serving my kids French toast for dinner: Questionable parenting. Me trying to help a reader grappling with sensitive teenage identity issues: Hopefully better parenting, but I guess only time will tell. And I feel like balancing some compassion and understanding with carbs has its place, too.

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Blood, sweat, and tears. Mostly blood.

“Hey Mir,” you say, because you think it’s funny by now, “is your bathroom renovation done?”

“Ha!” I reply. “HahahaHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” I howl, and eventually you run in the other direction because I am a little deranged at this point, and frankly, scary.

I know I’ve mentioned before that I find Snapchat useful for staying connected to Chickadee, but there was something immensely satisfying about sending her this snap yesterday, childish though it may have been. (Listen, I was told the drywall guy was coming first thing, then when I inquired around 11 as to what was going on, I was told he’d be coming at 2. I worked out and got into the shower at 1 sharp, and of course my doorbell rang at 1:05. The dogs went ballistic and I answered my door in my robe in the middle of the day like some sort of dilettante.)

So, no, BUT THANKS FOR ASKING, the bathroom isn’t done. We’re closer, though. The tiling is complete (the third time was the charm, it turns out, though the fact that they had to undo/redo some of the tile twice is something I want you to bear in mind if I am murdered any time soon), so we have a floor and a shower and a toilet, and today the painters are coming, which THEORETICALLY means that tomorrow we can actually start using the bathroom again, provided that no one is too bothered by the fact that we don’t yet have a sink. (The vanity was backordered, apparently. Hilarious, because we literally ordered the cheapest possible option and standard everything. Either the whole world is as cheap as we are, or something else is going on. Best not to ponder.)

Bearing in mind that my role in this renovation is limited to shopping—perhaps my favorite sport—and very little actual physical labor, it may be surprising to learn that I am sustaining reno-related injuries, but I’ve always been an over-achiever. (more…)

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This is a week (a week a week a week)

It’s one of those unwritten rules—similar to how bringing an umbrella with you keeps it from raining—that if you have Something Big happening, a million other things will have to happen at the same time, because it is not enough to deal with that ONE thing. Of course.

So: Our production of The Vagina Monologues opens tonight, which means Chickadee and I have been spending long hours at rehearsal, AND Otto has about a dozen extra things going at work, AND Monkey is under the weather AND every committee I am on for school needs something from me right now AND a great job opportunity fell in my lap (but from a Luddite organization which apparently needs a paper resume rather than just looking at my LinkedIn), AND it’s been raining so SOMEONE has been pooping on the floor rather than getting their paws wet (geez, Otto, get it together), AND AND AND AND.

And: I am tired. It’s gonna be a looooong charge through the weekend. (Hopefully a good one, but still.)

Last night was our final dress rehearsal, our first JUST KEEP GOING, THIS IS IT run, and when we do the show at UGA, we perform in the chapel, which is a lovely old building. There are TEENY wings for the chapel stage, and a small bathroom on only one side. If your assignment is to wait in the other wing and you have to pee? TOO BAD. But… last night my darling daughter decided to make a just-before-curtain bathroom run, and we’d just had a few words and I was worried she was mad at me, so I tapped on the door to try to talk to her and she told me to go away. “We’re about to START,” I said, finally, worried she was so pissed off she was going to miss her cue. In fact, she didn’t come out for her first cue, but then I had to go over to the other wing and just trust that she’d emerge in time for the next one. Time passed, and about twenty minutes later I got a text from her, asking where I was. Turns out, the very old door to the very old bathroom is having some issues, and she’d actually been trapped inside (without her phone). She hadn’t wanted to make a lot of noise because we were running the show, so she resorted to quiet tapping until another cast member noticed and was able to free her. She’d spent what I’m sure felt like a very long time in there convinced she was going to miss the whole show and maybe have to live in that crummy bathroom. So. Um. Everything is going to be perfect tonight, I’m sure, because the ridiculous awful thing has already happened! Hooray!!

In the meantime, Monkey and I are still figuring out what he needs when he’s sick, and you can read about that over at Alpha Mom, if you’re so inclined.

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