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The ongoing conversation…

I’ve been writing here for coming up on ten (!!) years, and I can still count my very favorite posts on a single hand. That means either that those posts are beyond stupendous and/or meaningful, or that a lot of what I write here is utter drivel. Let’s not think about it too hard.

One of incidents that will always hold a special place of combined hilarity and horror in my mind was detailed in this post from seven years ago wherein my darling daughter discovered that the human body is terrifying and disgusting.

A lot of time has passed, and I still ever-awkward in my sharing of Information I Think You Need when it comes to my kids. Probably they will never forgive me. Nevertheless, over at Alpha Mom I’m tackling the age-old topic of teenage dating, and yes, my children still wish I would just shut up, already.

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The more you know!

As promised earlier, here’s a handy-dandy FAQ I made for you to help in getting through this season of fundraising with good cheer.

Hint: Be nice to the kids who come knocking on your door, even if you’re not buying anything.

Also: Can I interest you in some grapefruit…?

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Making memories, scarring bystanders

So before I forget, allow me to direct you to my latest recipe over at Alpha Mom, the perfect option if you kind of secretly love old-fashioned chicken casserole type things but are 1) gluten-free, 2) a fan of spices other than salt, and 3) religiously opposed to recipes that involve canned soup. This one is our alternative to chicken pot pie, but it’s topped with (gluten-free) cornbread. If you’re not gluten-free, make the cornbread with regular flour; I don’t judge.

Also, have you ever noticed that sometimes you ask me questions, or say “hey, can we see a picture of that?” and I don’t answer or produce? It’s very rare that this is intentional. It’s a lot less “no, you can’t have that” and a lot more “sure, let me just… oh, cookies!” And sometimes it’s more that someone says something like, “Oh, what oil-controlling moisturizer do you use?” and I realize that I hate my oil-controlling moisturizer and don’t want to recommend it to anyone. Stuff like that.

But when I mention Otto taking pictures of something, y’all KNOW there’s photographic evidence. And despite the fact that he’s an awesome photographer, I am not the most photogenic person in the world all the time. (TRY TO CONCEAL YOUR SHOCK.) Most of the time, I don’t share pictures. But sometimes, I guess I must. (more…)

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Highs and lows even out

Sometimes people ask me about the secret to success when it comes to a blended family, and usually I laugh and laugh and then ask them what they mean by “success,” and also, have they actually MET my family…?

But I think I’ve figured it out. The key is to make All Things Family mimic the child’s natural propensity for mood shifts. Even-tempered kid? Keep things on a nice, regular keel. Not-so-even-tempered kid? Hit the outlet mall.

Where else can you go where—when your mother inquires about where to find that shirt in the window, and when the sales associate informs her that that’s the last one, but she’s welcome to have it—you find yourself dying of embarrassment as your mother steps into the window in front of God and everyone and starts dismantling a mannequin? And then your stepfather moves in to take some pictures of your mother making ridiculous faces with a disembodied plastic arm draped around her shoulders?

But then just when you’ve determined you cannot possibly live under these sorts of conditions, that very same mother (with the shirt she ripped off the mannequin, thankyouverymuch) waits in line at Aeropostale for, like, 45 minutes just to buy you some cool jeans while your stepfather waits in the car (thank God).

There you go. Free of charge, the secret to blending your family (and also picky-teen-approved jeans for $6): The outlet mall.

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The root of all evil… and puppies

I think we all know I’ve been a little out of sorts for a bit. (“O RILLY?” you say, because you are mostly nice and only a little wanting to poke fun at my uncharacteristic use of understatement.) Various… things… and medications… have left me feeling… well, let’s say… unfulfilled.

["Hey Mom," said a child of mine, a few days ago, "I've been reading your blog and apparently you hate everyone and everything. How's that going?" Testament to my priorities: I just felt self-satisfied that this information was obtained from my blog when said child LIVES WITH ME. I must be doing a FANTASTIC job of pretending NOT to hate everyone! (Also I did not smack my beautiful child, even though the fruit of my loins was making fun of me when I am busy having MANY MANY FEELS. I feel that I deserve... maybe not a medal, but perhaps a merit badge of some sort? Someone should really invent an entire line of "surviving teens" badges. I smell a new Etsy shop!]

There are two distinct money-related phenomena that occur when I’m trying to cope with feeling like this, and although they are in some ways total opposites, I’m living proof that they can exist at the same time and feel like they make total sense. I’m just super talented that way. (more…)

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Seriously, quit it

Today I am tired of all the ways in which my family of special snowflakes is so extra snowflakey and specialish. Today I just want to be a regular family with regular issues and all of the same stuff that everyone deals with because half-grown humans are dealing with hormone poisoning and incomplete frontal lobes.

This means you get to delight in the one way in which our family is just like any other, and that means that over at Alpha Mom I’m helping you to clarify when you’re allowed to exist and when your teenager needs you to just stop it, seriously, GOD MOM.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to shopping for a Cloak of Invisibility.

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Making you feel superior again

Sometimes I share stories because it’s something I want to be sure to remember, myself. Sometimes I share stories because I think they’re funny. Sometimes, there’s something that causes me to have MANY MANY FEELS and then part of the way I deal with that is by sharing (either for solidarity or because misery loves company or whatever).

And then, sometimes, I’m just here to make you feel better about your own parenting choices. Just another service I offer!

This went up at Alpha Mom yesterday, and already a couple of commenters called it an excellent “Pinterest antidote,” which made me laugh. So, if you have any sort of packed-lunch-related guilt, allow me to show you what goes into a real-life, picky teen’s lunch box.

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Avert your eyes

I continue to be a giant barrel of fun wrapped up in a drooling, spontaneous nap. Perhaps I should try to enter a new line of work, such as mattress tester. (Not that I’d be all that good at it; turns out I can sleep just about anywhere.)

Now I have a new thing to keep me awake, though! Woooooo! Lucky me.

Have I ever mentioned (once or a hundred times) that I have terrible skin? More specifically, I have finicky, easily insulted skin, as befits a delicate flower such as myself. As a teenager I had the occasional pimple, no big deal, but my acne has continued to worsen in adulthood until it was joined by rosacea and wrinkles, and it’s a veritable PARTY OF HORRORS on my face these days. I’m used to it, and for the most part I’m able to keep things under control.

It’s all part of the joy of being a woman, right? I use the special face wash with the fancy facial scrubbing sonic brush doohickey, then I coat my face in special serum made from the tears of unicorns, then I apply a moisturizer that both hydrates AND controls oil (magic!), and finally I apply spot treatment to any active zits and Holy Hell You Look Tired And Old undereye-de-bagging cream to the circles under my eyes. As one does. And then if I’m feeling really fancy (and haven’t fallen asleep yet…), I put on makeup. (more…)

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Raising kids is not for wimps

I have two sort-of-parenting-related things for you today:

1) I’m coming clean and I’ve donned my fireproof suit; over at Alpha Mom I’m explaining why I feel justified in snooping on my children. Now I just sit back and wait for someone to explain to me why I’m a terrible person, right? Because that’s how the Internet works.

2) While I am merely angering random people online, some other folks are doing awesome charitable things while being rockstars. For the entire month of October, my friends Asha Dornfest and Christine Koh (co-authors of Minimalist Parenting) are donating 100% of royalties from books purchased via this link to WOMEN AT RISK, an Ethiopian organization that helps women lift themselves out of prostitution. Their book is fantastic, anyway, and this is an easy way to extend your charitable reach for a worthy cause. Go buy a book. Heck, buy two—they’re small.

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It turns out my life is dull

I don’t know if my life used to be more interesting than it is now, or if I just used to believe it to be more interesting. (Maybe don’t tell me. Allow me my fantasy that my life was once better than it is now.) I keep thinking, “I’ll write once something fascinating happens.” But guess what! I suppose this is middle age, yes? When you realize that your life is just not all that exciting…?

(To be fair, I actually had that epiphany over the weekend when Otto was watching Formula One and I plunked myself down on the couch next to him. The coverage cut to a new thermal imaging camera they’re using to show how hot the tires get on the track, and at the same time both of us went, “Ooooooooooh!” That was when I realized that what passes for excitement in your 40s is really nothing like what you imagined when you were younger. It was also when I realized that true love is also a far cry from what I once assumed.)

So until something thrilling happens (haaaa), you get snippets. (more…)

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