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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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Life is like a sticky banana

Bananas are a very tricky thing ’round here. They have to be ripe—but not TOO RIPE—and they cannot have any signs of bruising (because that’s not a thing that ever happens to bananas… oh, wait…) because that is Completely Unacceptable. This is where people who are new here assume that I have toddlers because HAHA no one over the age of 4 would be this picky about fruit, right? Yeah. No. (For the record, it is really only one child who is super-picky about the state of bananas, but then the OTHER child insists things like, “I don’t like watermelon” and WHO DOESN’T LIKE WATERMELON, THAT’S CRAZY so let’s call it a draw when assessing Which Teen Is More Insane When It Comes To Fruit, I guess.)

I don’t pack bananas in lunches all that often, on account of the whole It Must Be Banana Perfection thing, but every now and then the planets align and a perfect banana emerges. I will lovingly scoop it up, adorn it with a quick note a la The Bloggess (I did it once and then there was complaining if it didn’t happen every time), and place it INSIDE a large plastic container also housing a sandwich, so that the aforementioned pristine banana-ness may be maintained despite whatever trials and travails a lunch bag might encounter throughout the morning. Both children are aware that this constitutes an implicit Banana Contract wherein YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE BLESSED BANANA AND NOW YOU WILL EAT IT.

You can skip eating the crackers. You can leave the juice pouch. Heck, don’t even finish your sandwich. I don’t care! But eat the damn banana. Because perfection is fleeting. (more…)

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The greatness of terrible television

I watch way more TV than I probably should, and some of it is great, but a lot more of it is downright terrible. I’m okay with this. I don’t go out and get plastered or gamble; if watching stupid programming is my biggest flaw, I figure I’m doing okay.

Recently Chickadee got first me, and then Monkey, hooked on Girl Code. Have you seen it? It’s AWFUL. Just, like, cringeworthy in every possible way. It’s so bad, it’s FANTASTIC. If you’re not easily embarrassed and are looking for an open door to talk to your teens about sex and other uncomfortable topics, Girl Code is your show. It is MTV’s living, breathing answer to the timeless question, “Are most people really pretty gross?” (Answer: Yes. Yes, they are.)

So when someone wrote in to Alpha Mom to ask me about dating rules for my teenagers, I was ready. Because we watch Girl Code! And we talk about all kinds of stuff! And no, I still have no idea what I’m doing, not really, but I have an approach that—so far—seems to be working. Come on over? (And seriously, DVR Girl Code. You can either thank me or chew me out later.)

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