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Obnoxious, but sometimes with good reason

I spent the bulk of the past weekend and this week baking cookies. Some doughs I make and freeze for later baking. Some cookies I went ahead and baked and froze when they were done. Some I baked this week and refrigerated. And then—like EVERY SINGLE YEAR as if I’m just new to this whole thing—on Thursday I of course discovered that the number of Cookie Gifting Vessels I owned vs. the List Of Teachers was a mismatch, and off I went to buy more containers. At least that trip to the store broke up my day of finishing baking and dividing up everything and packaging it nicely and printing little cards and all of that.

Several people have asked me why I still bother to do this, now that the kids are in high school. Most people don’t, I guess. For one thing, I enjoy it, even though it makes for a rather nutty week. For another, I can’t just drop a wad of cash on every teacher who’s making a difference in my kids’ lives (even though sometimes I wish I could). A bunch of cookies seems like the very least I can do.

Someone asked me what they have to do to get on my cookie list. I said, “Teach at my kids’ school and don’t piss me off.” See? It’s easy. (And honestly, only once in many, many years have I ever skipped giving a gift to a specific teacher. It’s pretty hard to make me mad enough to where I withhold cookies.)

And yes, okay, part of why I do it is because sure, I can be a pain in the ass sometimes (pretend to be surprised), and I want to do something nice for the folks I may have irritated earlier in the year. I’m not one to opt for “not making waves” over what I think is right (again, just play along and act like that’s surprising). I will hold feet to the fire if I need to. But then I’ll make you cookies. It all evens out.

This brings us to my column this week at Alpha Mom, wherein a mom asks if she’s being too helicopter-y, and I get right up on my soap box about speaking up, loud and clear. It’s not about cookies, it’s about teaching our kids what is and isn’t okay.

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I’m ready for winter break

For some reason this past week has been… ummmm… more crazy than usual. It’s just that end-of-term nuttiness along with some other life events—some foreseen, some not—making it kind of a wild time. I’m looking forward to Christmas! Except mostly I am looking forward to the kids being off school and everyone having some down time. We totally know how to party ’round here (if by “party” you mean “watch Netflix,” and I do).

Of the 3,000 things which have already happened this week (HOW IS IT ONLY WEDNESDAY??), I will of course choose to tell you about the one that makes me look like the biggest, most inept tool. My gift to you! No charge! I’m sure we’ll look back and laugh someday.

So here you go: over on Alpha Mom, allow me to make you feel better about that time you didn’t think your kid was really all that hurt. I’ve come to learn that everyone has a good story in this vein, many more cringe-y than the one I’m going to tell you, but misery does love company.

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I have many questions

My life is confusing. I mean, I’m sure it’s no more confusing than anyone else’s, but I am easily perplexed. Sometimes I just randomly wonder about stuff, and other times I am genuinely flummoxed. Because it’s Monday and I am me, I’m just going to share some of my recent questions with you in no particular order. Feel free to offer insight, or just to let me know you’re confused along with me.

What is a reasonable expectation for a cheap hotel? Some background: Over the summer during our Collegevisitpalooza, Chickadee and I stayed at a perfectly serviceable, if unremarkable, hotel near her chosen college. The cost for the night was… around $100, I think. (Bear in mind this is not in a major metropolitan area, or anything. Small town, maybe 8-10 hotels from which to choose.) Last week we went for another visit and this time I went poking around online and chose a slightly cheaper option—about $60 for the night—because I am cheap and it was just a place to crash for the night and no biggie. Yeah. Um. They did indeed LEAVE THE LIGHT ON FOR US, but it quickly became clear that that was perhaps because 1) they didn’t want us to wait in the dark for the 10 minutes it took the manager to appear at the check-in desk, and 2) the light scares the roaches a little. It was… so gross. Like, I-checked-for-bedbugs gross. We were there for about 9 hours and we lived, obviously, but when I submitted a complaint via the website, all I got back was a “we are taking measures to rectify this issue” email. Am I out of line here, or should $60 still get you a roach-free room? (more…)

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Mean Mom, reporting for duty

In the continuing saga of Mir Gives Out Advice On The Internet Like She Knows Stuff Or Something, today at Alpha Mom I’m tackling the question of how to handle kids and parties where there may be drinking and/or drugs.

Spoiler alert: I am not the Cool Mom.

Also, I’ll offer this addendum: These days I have to talk more often and more in depth with my kids about how to narc without being found out, as both of them have attained Snitch: Expert Level. While their friends are good kids and there’s not a lot I worry about, I worry more about one of them being taken to task for narcing than I am about them drinking. So there’s that. At the same time, none of our kids are immune, so it’s worth discussing, and by that I mean an ongoing discussion.

… even if that discussion always ends with, “I’m the reason you drink, right, Mom?” (Yes, honey.)

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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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Totally not getting dressed today

Greetings from my very quiet, very not-filled-with-frantic-cooking house. I am busy working in my pajamas and the dogs are very busy holding down the floor in my office, and this is very much like a lot of other days in my life because, hey, freelancing is all about not having to put on real pants. But it is also unlike other days because USUALLY on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I am baking and prepping while the teenagers alternately complain that there is nothing to eat and insist they’re not hungry yet.

This year, though, I got a good night’s sleep last night while my children stayed up all night on a bus with a hundred of their closest pals. (Sounds super fun, right? FOR THEM.) This morning I got a rapid series of texts from one teen proclaiming the greatness of coffee and the other one is ignoring me completely, but is, in the wise words of an adult on his bus, “grumpier than George Costanza’s dad.” Oh. Well, then. I’m sure once they get to a crowded, noisy hotel he’ll perk right up! HAHAHAHAAAAAA.

So I wrote you this post at Alpha Mom, yesterday, before they left, and I stand by it. It’s weird, not having them here. But it’s okay. They’re having a big adventure and I am having a little extra quiet time to think about how marvelous it is that they are. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Getting through a rough patch

Everything is fine. In the grand scheme, that is. Everyone’s basically okay, there’s nothing here we can’t handle, and yet… it’s been a hard week or two for various reasons. I’m finding that the interesting thing about being a family who’s weathered some Serious Shit is that when a problem crops up, you’d think (correction: I’D think) that we’d sort of go, “Oh hey, no biggie, we’ve handled WAY worse than this!”

The reality is that a problem crops up and everyone melts into a puddle of OH GOD NO NOT THIS AGAIN because emotions have a way of beating out rational thought, every time. It’s just plain hard, having someone you love hurting, and when it’s not an easy fix (or even, sometimes, an identifiable cause) and your family unit has spent so much of its life prostrate to emotional wreckage, problems can feel bigger than they are.

Oh, look. I just used a lot of words to say, “Don’t panic, we’re fine, but I can’t fix everything for everyone with a magic wand and that sucks.” This is totally different than your experience as a parent, I am sure. HAHAHA.

Anyway! In the midst of this I read a hundred different iterations of articles reporting on this new(ish) study about kids and religion and generosity, and as usual, I have some thoughts. I’m over at Alpha Mom wondering if I’ve failed my kids, because I spend an awful lot of time wondering if I’ve failed my kids. It’s my favorite hobby! (That word favorite may not mean what I’m using it to mean, here….)

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It was a very merry Halloween

For some reason, we don’t really get trick-or-treaters at our house. This means I buy a bunch of candy “just in case” and then no one comes and then a month later I wonder why I’m fat. It’s a mystery! I wonder if I’ll ever solve it!

Nonetheless, some Halloween merriment did commence. Monkey had been declaring himself the symbol of American freedom for months, so it was a natural choice for AP Dress-Up Day for him to go as, well, the symbol of American freedom:

monkey-eagle

(I think his teacher liked it. At least, midday I got a text asking where I’d gotten the wings. I’m going to assume Monkey got his extra credit.)

Chickadee and a pal spent the night watching Saw, and I earned bonus Cool Mom points the next day when they went looking for Saw 2 on Netflix only to discover the Saw movies had, apparently, only been available until Halloween, and I went ahead and rented it for them on Amazon. The thing that’s nice about having a nearly-18-year-old child with similarly nearly-adult friends is that I don’t have to stop and think, “Is this movie appropriate?” Instead I can simply think, “Can I possibly curry favor by aiding and abetting the viewing of this terrible movie?” It’s great.

Anyway, that sort of got me thinking about the passage of time and other such “my baaaaaaaybeeeeeees are growing up!” sorts of things, so today I’m waxing nostalgic over at Alpha Mom about how much things and have changed (and some ways in which they haven’t).

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Breaking: Old dog learns new trick

That would be me; I’m the old dog. In this instance, anyway. Duncan is ALSO an old dog, but I don’t think he’s learned any new tricks lately, unless you want to count the fact that he has recently started barking at the oven in the evenings. (Chances are, with his limited vision, he’s seeing some movement in the form of his reflection and getting startled and thinking someone is there. Or, if you like the kids’ explanation, it’s that Duncan Donut has realized his long-lost twin brother Krispy Kreme is trapped inside the oven. KRISPY. IN THE OVEN. Get it? My children are terrible people. They make me so proud.)

grumpy-dunc

Gratuitous grumpy couch-faced dog shot.

So… wait, what were we talking about? Oh! Right!! Me learning a new trick. It’s called butting the hell out. It’s difficult to master but I think I’m getting it. Slowly. Check it out over at Alpha Mom, if you’re so inclined.

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You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry

Actually… most of you probably WOULD like me when I’m angry. But other people… not so much.

Anyway, I’m trying to cool down, but: I’m angry. Every day, in a dozen tiny ways, the world misunderstands my kids. That’s the nature of the beast and my mantra is to assume people are generally well-meaning and kind, and ignorance isn’t malice, after all. But every now and then, the ignorance is hard to bear.

I dusted off my soap box for this one, because disability is not laziness, and teachers—of all people!—should know that. C’mon. It’s 2015.

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