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Once there’s car bling, it’s official

When Chickadee decided on Tinytown College (not its real name), we made several trips to campus before she began her time there. Every time, we went to the bookstore and accumulated more Overpriced Licensed Stuff™, of course, including shirts for the whole family, which was ESPECIALLY important because we have since discovered that perhaps the REAL reason Chickie picked this school is because every occasion merits a free shirt. She has the shirts that we bought her and a shirt for every activity she’s in and a shirt she got at freshman orientation and a shirt for her dorm and a shirt for the Honors program and a shirt for having accumulated shirts and don’t forget the free shirts for things she doesn’t even belong to which are apparently rained down on campus at regular intervals. (Me: “Where did you even get that? You don’t live in that apartment complex.” Her: “Well, yeah, but they were giving them out in the quad, soooo….”)

Chickadee also owns a licensed lanyard, TC-mascot-themed earbuds, some sort of Terrible Towel-esque scrap of cloth (hilarious, as this school doesn’t have any Division 1 sports teams), and so on. MANY MANY MANY licensed Tinytown College THINGS.

(In case you’re wondering, I also received a licensed mug for taking her to their scholarship competition and a licensed logo imitation Tervis tumbler for taking her to orientation. That seems like a fair return on the tens of thousands of dollars we pay them, right? Sure!)

What I did not buy, initially, was a decal for my car. I don’t know that it was a conscious decision. I just… didn’t. It didn’t occur to me, I guess? I was too busy gasping for air once I saw the price tag on the “TC MOM” shirt my child insisted I needed? Who knows. When she left for college, my car did not yet proclaim OH HEY I RAISED A CHILD TO SEMI-FUNCTIONALITY AND COLLEGE ATTENDANCE IN ANOTHER TOWN yet, or, you know, via shorthand: Tinytown College. (more…)

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Learn a little, screw up a little, rinse, repeat

Otto and I spent most of the spring and part of the summer talking about, planning for, and perhaps-a-little-too-gleefully anticipating our empty nest. It’s not that we don’t adore the children—of course we do!—it’s just that… one, we’ve never been “just us” the way a traditional first-marriage couple gets to be, and two, have you met my children? They’re amazing, but I’m tired. We’re tired. It’s been a long nineteen something years since I first surrendered myself to motherhood.

Raising kids on a completely normal/expected trajectory is hard, I assume. I mean, people tell me that it is and I believe them. I don’t know about that, firsthand, on account of my children have never been normal. (I say that with love, you understand.) So: normal childrearing is hard. Childrearing with divorce and remarriage and special needs and giftedness and trauma and mental illness is HARD. And yes, sure, it’s the toughest job I’ll ever love and all of that, but: hard. No one gazes into the eyes of their newborn and thinks, “Wow, I can hardly wait until the first time he swears at the principal,” or “She’s so precious, it’s hard to believe that someday she’ll have a middle-of-the-night nightmare/flashback/sleepwalking episode and flee the house and wake up barefoot and distraught in the middle of oncoming traffic while we and the police are searching for her!”

It has been worth every single moment and every gray hair. (And I’m not just saying that because my kids will read this, even.) But we are tired. So of course we saw what seemed to be a logical endpoint and upcoming reprieve and we were giddy. And then it didn’t happen. (more…)

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Irma and others

Don’t try to have a conversation with me this week. I will, at some point, mutter darkly about throwing away five pounds of PERFECTLY GOOD shrimp. It will not need to be relevant to the conversation for me to bring this up, either. I am bitter and it’s stupid that I’m bitter and yet: five pounds of shrimp. It’s become the focal point of every feeling I’ve had the past few months.

But let’s back up.

When I last left off, we were mostly all about Monkey’s immediate needs and making sure he was okay. It was all… well, it was a lot. Me imitating Oprah and randomly pointing and shouting “YOU get an ulcer, and YOU get an ulcer, and YOOOUUUU GET AN ULCER!” did little to alleviate either his immediate health crisis or his mood, which is just crazy because I am exactly like Oprah but he never seemed all that excited about the ulcer. But time (and meds and modified diet) heals a lot, and although we are all still working on the game plan for moving forward next semester, Monkey is Monkey again.

At the same time, Chickadee was getting ready to head back to school, and I needed to be there for her, too. In particular, I needed to sit in her room while she cleaned it. Because my adult daughter is a toddler and cannot accomplish household tasks without me prodding her continuously loves me so much. Ahem. And somehow, Chickadee owns more STUFF than anyone else in our family, so the room clean-out we did last year before she moved away was amazing and then over the course of the year (take one thing, leave twelve more on every visit…) and the final move-back-with-a-dorm-room’s-worth-of-stuff-while-deathly-ill somehow culminated in four times as much stuff as we’d started with, seemed like. (more…)

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News you can use (for… umm… something?)

Chickadee has been giving me a hard time lately about the blog. “You never write,” she complains. “Why don’t you write anymore?”

I look at her, and she looks at me, and I shrug. Sometimes I follow it up with the usual excuses—I don’t want to violate anyone’s privacy; my life is pretty boring; there’s other stuff that’s more important right now. Those things are true, but another truth lies between us, unspoken: It has been a hard summer, for all of us, but especially between her and me. And the kids are theoretical adults (or close to it; heavy emphasis on “theoretical,” too) and whatever I may struggle with relative to them might’ve been a funny anecdote when they were little, but not so much, now.

Still. She asks more often when things have been difficult between us. She wants affirmation that I still love her, but it is easier to needle me about my blog than to admit she is affected by anything I might do. Dear Chickie: I still love you. For the love of all things holy, please clean your room and the bathroom and maybe eat something with some protein in it and perhaps consider generally working on taking care of yourself and being kind to those around you. Love, Mom.

Anyway, she is right, a number of things HAVE happened, and we are long overdue for an update, so I will try to hit the highlights here as best I can. I do not promise that any of it is interesting, but what can I say? You always get what you pay for, with me. (more…)

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Hello yes hi we are alive

A very patient reader pointed out over on the Facebook page that I never updated after the last post (about Chickadee being in the hospital). I’m sorry! I wasn’t trying to be a giant jerkface, but it just happens naturally, I guess. So, to clarify:

1) I suck.
2) Chickie was in the hospital for 5 days and then was released to us.
3) She is feeling a billion and twelve percent better than she did during the acute phase which landed her in the hospital.
4) She does, however, still have mono, which means…
5) … she sleeps roughly 16 hours/day, and…
6) … she had to resign from her summer job, and…
7) … her liver is still Not Happy and being tested every couple of weeks, and…
8) … she is well enough to do things she likes but not well enough to unload the dishwasher, okay??

We are getting on each others’ nerves but she is recovering. And I will take squabbles about the dishes all summer long over literally carrying my child into the ER because she’s too sick to walk. So. Practical take: Also let us not forget that timing-wise this was pretty much best case scenario; if she’d gotten sick earlier in the semester it would’ve been catastrophic. Opportunity to torment our child take: Jokes about who your kid was swapping spit with while away at college never get old!

So that’s that. Everyone lived and the folks at the hospital were great, but we sure are glad to be home. (more…)

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Because I am a delicate, delicate flower

Hello! All last week I kept thinking, “Oh, I finally have something to write about! I shall write! About it! All of it!” And all was very busy and before I knew it, 1) time had passed, 2) I had not written about any of it, and 3) “it” had become far more than one post could reasonably hold, even if you’re me, the person who believes that brevity is when you eliminate three adverbs from your 3,500-word post.

The good news is that this means you’re in for several posts in a row, assuming that a piano doesn’t fall out of the sky and flatten me, cartoon-villain-style, before I can manage them all. I’m not saying I EXPECT a piano to fall on me, you understand. I’m just saying I’m me and it could happen. Also I want the excuse out there in case it does. (“See? She must’ve had a premonition or something.”)

I think I’ll work backwards, in part because I want to cover what’s freshest in my mind, and in part because the most recent thing is the grossest, and I’d like to just get that out of the way. There are no pictures in this story because I love you all and also because I don’t want to make my father faint. I come by my delicate flower-ness honestly, it seems. So don’t worry that you’ll suddenly have your eyeballs assaulted with visual proof. I shall just stick to DESCRIBING this lovely incident for your entertainment. Buckle up! (more…)

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There are two types of people in this world

Listen, I understand that genetics are complicated and sometimes recessive genes do funky things and all of that, but I’ve recently made a horrifying discovery about my offspring. I’m not the tidiest person in the world, not by a long shot—I tend to have tidy areas of the house and then a few small dumping grounds (see also: my desk, my bathroom counter). It’s been a lifelong (their lives, not mine) struggle to be okay with a certain amount of mess in my kids’ rooms, because that’s their own space and there’s a line between “my standards” and “health hazard” and they have to both avoid Ebola and learn for themselves. I get all of that.

And when it became clear that Chickadee never pairs her socks, I kind of gave her a pass on account of the mixing-and-matching she tends to do with said socks. Also, she’s a slob, so no surprise there. But Monkey is much less of a slob and I have only recently discovered that he also no longer pairs his socks. SOCK DRAWERS GONE WILD. Honestly, why wouldn’t you pair your socks?? I do not understand. This is beyond the pale.

(I feel better, now that I’ve shared that with you.)

Other than lecturing my children about their sock habits, not all that much is happening here. BUT I did write some stuff over at Alpha Mom for you recently, so feel free to check it out. First, if you’re not tired of hearing me gush about how exciting it is to have finally get diagnosed with and treated for ADHD, I have a few more things to say about that. And second, if you—like me, and lots of other folks—are starting to plan for a college launch, you’re likely wondering how to pick the right meal plan for your freshman. But please do not ask me how to get your college student to pair their socks, because I clearly have no idea.

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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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We are all my little dog and her coat

It’s a very good thing I never actually promise to come back to writing here regularly. I think about it—a lot—but in the end, it doesn’t seem to happen. Oh well. Hey! This blog is worth EXACTLY what you paid for it! (So there.)

Things are rolling along, here, and everything is both going WHOOSH TOO FAST and also OMGGGGGGG SO SLOW. You know how Hermione has a time turner in the Harry Potter books so she can be in multiple places at once? Imagine I had one of those time turners and then I somehow ran it over with my car and tried to use it, anyway. Everything is taking too long but is over before I had a chance to pay attention. It’s an odd place to be, with everything in flux and me never sure what day it is or what’s going on. I mean, tomorrow is December. How did that even happen?

Thanksgiving was a cozy affair with enough food to feed an army, and I gained several pounds this past week while I sat at the computer working and eating ALL THE STUFFING AND GRAVY. I need to stop gorging on leftovers. The best way to make sure that happens is to eat all the leftovers so there are none for me to eat, right? Right! (#LOGIC) Chickadee came home with a carful of laundry and germs, and after sleeping and generally swanning around for the week, headed back to school and left her little brother hacking and wheezing with the crud she’d so thoughtfully shared. Otto and I are both run down and feel like we’re fighting off illness, but maybe we’re just tired. Hard to know. The stuffing is all gone, now, so I have switched to endless cups of ginger tea and whispered exhortations to the universe that I would really rather not be sick right now.

Let us have a brief State of Casa Mir Address, shall we? (more…)

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Hi

Hey. How are you?

I’ve been better. I’m guessing a lot of you feel the same. Maybe some of you don’t. I am mostly fighting a constant battle against waves of exhaustion and dread, and then doing super productive things like reminding myself that going onto social media makes me feel a little less alone BUT THEN I run into something that makes me hate everyone and I feel even worse, so I definitely shouldn’t do that; so I don’t, for like, maybe a whole hour, but then I do, and then everything is terrible all over again. Wow, I think, I should STOP DOING THAT THING THAT MAKES ME FEEL BAD. Yes. And then I open Twitter an hour later. (I’m not very smart.)

Rather than rehashing a lot of excellent and thoughtful takes on what’s happening in our world right now, I will just refer you to this post by my lovely friend Jean and leave it at that.

There were a few other things going on in my head before the election, too, and I’m trying to figure out how/what/when to talk about some of that, but it all pales in comparison and feels selfish and indulgent (um, hello, having a blaaaaahg) so I dunno. We’ll see. In the meantime I am working on finding pockets of normalcy, few and far between though they may be. Here’s One Good Thing: next week I get to have Chickadee home for almost the whole week! Just in case your college freshman is coming home and you, too, are desperately trying to figure out how to pretend the world is still normal, I wrote you a handy guide. Enjoy.

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