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I’m just stroking his ego, really

I view myself as a strong, independent woman. I was fine being single. I don’t NEED Otto, you understand. I just WANT him. I like having him around, because he’s cute and funny and my rotten children often do not laugh at my lame jokes. But I could totally manage without him if I had to, despite his frequent assertions that I married him simply either for his health insurance or because I needed a lawn boy.

Once the freezer was cleaned out the other night, many items had been thrown away. Various mystery or in-need-of-disposal items, however, were in glass containers, and so we chucked them into the sink for defrosting so that the containers could be dumped out and then cleaned.

Yesterday—because my Pavlovian response to a big stack of dishes in the sink is to make an even bigger mess in the kitchen—I baked some “one-bowl muffins” which, true, only used one bowl, but also used my food processor and a bunch of other items, and filled the sink the rest of the way up. Once I got dinner going, I finally turned to cleaning up the carnage. I loaded the dishwasher, dumped out now-defrosted containers, washed items by hand, and then… turned on the garbage disposal when I was all done.

Did I mention, yesterday, all of the little containers of pesto in the back of the freezer? Darling tiny glass jars, each one juuuust small enough to slip down the drain unnoticed and be ground into a couple dozen jagged shards of glass while I cursed and leapt to turn off the disposal. Whoops. Nice work, me! So I’ll tell you that I don’t NEED Otto, but it’s a lie, because yesterday I needed him to extract all that broken glass and fix the garbage disposal. Or maybe I’m NOT a dumbass, and I just like making sure he feels needed. HARD TO TELL.

Whether I need him or not, soon it’s going to be just him and me again, so today I’m over at Alpha Mom planning for the future. (Not on my list: grinding up more pesto jars.)

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Christmas in July?

Every Christmas, Otto makes his family’s traditional Christmas cake, which is actually a recipe that yields TWO bundt cakes. If we have company or are up north visiting, both cakes are consumed. If we’re down here with just us four, one cake gets eaten and the other one gets wrapped and put into the freezer in the garage.

I liked the Christmas cake well enough when I was still eating wheat, but I did not… how shall we say… hold it in the same reverent esteem as Otto and his siblings do. And this is sacrilege, you understand, not to feel a deep devotion to the sacred Christmas cake. (It’s hard to explain to someone how nostalgia might augment a taste in a way that cannot be recreated for those who lack similar experience.) No matter—Monkey was only too willing to jump on the Christmas Cake Is the BEST! EVER! bandwagon with Otto, plus Chickadee isn’t exactly going to turn down an offer of cake, especially for breakfast.

This is all preface to saying that last week, I went to get something out of the garage freezer, and I saw the second Christmas cake in there, and decided it was time for second Christmas. I pulled the cake and set it on the kitchen counter.

“Is that… CHRISTMAS CAKE??” asked Monkey, licking his lips.

“Yep,” I said. “Merry Christmas!” My family proceeded to eat cake every morning until it was gone, and I felt like a hero without expending any effort, so I’m calling it a win all around. Plus I was patting myself on the back about how great it is to have that extra freezer. (more…)

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3 critter(s) tales, plus a redirect

1st Critter Tale: I swear (probably) this will be the last (most likely) thing I have to say this year about my garden and the squirrels, but I feel like this MUST be shared: Every single tomato in my garden is gone. GONE. In the space of about three days, the squirrels blew threw the red ones and got so annoyed about it, they also bit/tore down all of the remaining green ones. I have five giant tomato plants, all completely BARE. My beautiful tomatoes! It was like the scene in A Christmas Story after the Bumpus hounds destroy the turkey, except instead of “No turkey sandwiches… no turkey ala king…” I was wandering outside going “No tomato sauce… no BLTs… no caprese salad….”

squirrel-bite-squashI realize this is the first-worldliest of first world problems (I suppose I can buy tomatoes at the store or the Farmer’s Market, after all), but I am still hung up on the injustice of it. Especially because…

… with all of the tomatoes leveled, I figured the one saving grace would be that the squirrels were DONE. Oh, I’m adorable when I’m naive, no? Why, once the tomatoes are gone, why not start gnawing on the unripe squash? Bite each one a few times! Make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN they are not delicious, each and every one. That’s the ticket. Thanks, squirrels. You’re assholes. (more…)

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The dawn of a new era

If forced to keep it to a single word, these days, about how life is, or how the kids are, or how I feel in general, there’s no question that the most explanatory word I can grasp is WEIRD. Life feels weird. I feel weird.

Visiting a bunch of college campuses made it all real, I suppose, except it didn’t make it any less weird. Chickadee is a senior. Monkey is a junior. After years of just-get-through-today we are now firmly in plan-for-your-future mode and it should be GREAT, yes? It is. There were times I didn’t know if we’d ever make it to this point, so it IS great, and we celebrate (quietly, without any sudden movements, so as not to scare anyone or upset whatever deities were kind enough to see us through to this point), but it still feels surreal. It’s easy to talk about a mythological “someday” and even if it’s all you ever wanted, it’s still strange for “someday” to become “right now.”

So, the good: Seeing Chickadee think about her future with excitement. That is VERY good. Seeing her passionate about goals—which, to be honest, is something that’s been missing for her for years—that’s awesome. There is nothing but excitement and pride for me in getting to watch her figure this stuff out. It’s not 100% smooth sailing and there have been and will be disappointments along the way, but that’s exciting, too, because she’s dealing with this thing we call NORMAL LIFE and figuring out how to ride the waves instead of just rolling over on her back and floating or (worse) shrugging and resigning herself to drowning. She’s swimming, swimming, swimming, and I don’t know that it’s fair to want any more than that. (more…)

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We interrupt these tomatoes for seriousness

I would really like to keep discussing my tomatoes (or lack thereof), but it’s time for another installment of “Mir pretends to know stuff over at Alpha Mom.” Today’s column comes from a reader question about getting appropriate mental health care for a teen in need, and I really, REALLY wish I had less experience in this area. Even with years of experience, there is no magic bullet, and that’s a bummer.

But if you’re interested in my tips for navigating our broken mental health system as an advocate for your kid and staying sane while you do it, you can check them out over there.

Tomorrow I’ll have a scintillating (okay, maybe not) update on the tomatoes.

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Floors, fluffy-buddies, and filth

Hey, remember when I painted my office? Like, a million years ago? And I was all excited about it but then we decided to order new flooring and we’ve been living life with my entire professional life (contents of my office; whatever) strewn all over the dining room and kitchen? The new floor is going in RIGHT NOW as I type. Finally.

Of course, I’m leaving town tomorrow. So, uh, either I’ll reassemble my office tonight before I go or my family can enjoy having my desk in the middle of the kitchen for a few more days. No biggie, right? Right.

Normally I would’ve been terribly impatient about it all, but because life is never dull around here, I’ve been quite busy… cleaning up poop and worrying that Duncan is dying. (Does this seem like a recurring theme? Because wasn’t he just sick a few weeks ago??) Over the last week Duncan was once again kind of lethargic and off and he stopped jumping up on the furniture to be with us and then he started having accidents in the house… and of course it was a holiday weekend so the vet was closed. He didn’t really scare me until the night (on the weekend! of course!) when he refused to get up to come to bed, even, but slept in the crate in the family room all night because he didn’t want to move. I’m not going to lie; I went to bed that night wondering if he was a lot sicker than we thought and maybe the next day would bring a terrible discovery… but… he slept all night and was happy to see us in the morning. After a few bad days he rallied and now he seems to be fine. Stinker. (more…)

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Lessons learned (veggie/college edition)

We returned from our whirlwind campus touring trip with the realization that yes, Virginia, this college thing is truly right around the corner and Big Decisions need to be made. That is both exciting and unnerving. And every time I try to remind myself that everything will work out just fine, I remember that once we get Chickadee through this process I have to start it all over again with Monkey, like, immediately.

Needless to say, we came home and I said “Oh, we don’t have any food!” and went to the store and promptly purchased All The Ice Cream. I think that’s reasonable, under the circumstances.

Also while we were gone, it rained a ton (on the heels of it having been approximately a billion degrees), so my garden is… experiencing growing pains. Specifically, all of my beautiful nearly-ripe tomatoes proceeded to split and in many cases, fall right off the vine. Still, I’m not complaining. Even ugly tomatoes can be turned into delicious tomato sauce.

gardenhaul-063015

This morning’s haul. Those are three types of tomatoes plus Japanese eggplant (and yes, I’m happy to see you, har har).

There was the matter of discovering HALF a tomato dangling from a vine, one day, and that was bizarre (my beds are in a fenced area), but then later that night we let Licorice out and she came back smelling VERY TOMATO-Y and the other half had vanished and, well, SOMEONE is now answering to “rotten tomato-faced thief.”

So clearly I’m no help on the gardening front, but if you’re curious about my take on questions to ask while touring colleges, I’ve got you covered over at Alpha Mom.

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Hole in the bucket (once more with feeling)

Have I mentioned that I am slightly… er… underemployed at the moment? And how that’s just fine, because I haven’t had a slow period in over a decade, and it’s summer, and we are doing Fun Things and years and years of being completely mentally ill about money mean that I can slack for a little while and we won’t be in financial dire straits or anything? And it’s all good, no problems, what a lovely and much needed break, we just have to be a little more careful and it’s no problem?

Well. I have all this TIME on my hands, now. Time I don’t normally have. Wouldn’t a lull in work be the PERFECT time to paint my office finally? Plus Monkey was going to be away for a while and then Otto went off on a trip and it was just me and Chickadee and, yes, sure, Orange Is The New Black wasn’t going to watch itself, but we finished it in two days (it was the weekend! GIRLS’ WEEKEND with bonding and lesbian prisoners, DUH) and then the following Monday I picked up my special-order, made-from-unicorn-horn-and-fairy-dust paint, and it was time to get down to business. Surely this would be NOTHING like previous DIY projects of snowballing magnitude, right? Right!

Allow me to tell you in words how the pre-painting prep went: I discovered that I have a lot of crap in my office. A LOT OF CRAP. I had a weird giant shelf on the wall that ultimately had to be unbolted and then chiseled off, and I have a giant desk and a filing cabinet and endless bookshelves and a coat rack and and and AND. We emptied most of the office into the dining room, and moved the remaining few big things (desk, futon couch) into the center of the room. It was… not fun, but we got it done. Next up was spackling and sanding. Then I started taping trim while Chickadee removed outlet plates, and that’s when I realized two very important things. (more…)

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In other words, totally normal stuff

Life has been uneventful here, of late. Yep. Nothing’s happening. Booooring. In the last month:

1) I got laid off.
2) School ended, and I now have a senior and a junior and SHUT YOUR MOUTH I DO NOT.
3) Chickadee got a job.
4) Monkey continues to insist he does NOT need to learn how to drive, despite a deadline of this week for our trip to the DMV to test for his permit.
5) We sold our camper.
6) We opened the pool and paid the children each a dollar to plunge into the cold water, as is our custom.
7) It rained a bunch and my garden is going berserk.
8) My dad and stepmom came to visit.
9) My dad and stepmom brought us the plague, which frankly was a shitty hostess gift, I have to say.
10) The dogs continue to be ridiculous and gross but we still love them.

Because I know each of these things is SUPER EXCITING, I shall elaborate. Lucky you! I’ll even spray this entire post with Lysol, because I’m still sick and I would hate to give it to you. (more…)

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Admitting ignorance is the first step

Remember the old saying about how a kid’s parents get dumber and dumber until the kid is an adult and then—magically—the parents start getting smart again? We’re going through that right now, and I always thought it meant that hahaha, the kids would think I was dumb when really I wasn’t, BUT NO, I’ve come to believe that I am truly losing brain cells as they get older. My poor kids, and their dumb ol’ mom who can barely function anymore.

For a while there, Monkey was very fond of declaring, “It’s okay, I’m a doctor!” in response to any sort of doubting of his ability. This morphed into, “It’s okay, I’m a DOG-tor!” (usually while holding a dog, natch), and now it seems like everyone in the family uses it as an all-purpose response. Well. The other day I tried to say “It’s okay, I’m a DOG-tor!” and it came out more like, “It’s okay, I’m a dog door!” and now Chickadee is fond of saying, “It’s okay, Monkey, Mom is a dog door.” I have no idea what any of that means, but there you have it. How dumb am I? I am SO DUMB, I am now a dog door. (May I show you to the run? It’s lovely out there.)

In the meantime, my children only increase in their ingenuity. About a week ago I discovered Chickadee’s watch left on my desk after the kids headed to school, so I sent her a picture of it with the caption, “OH NO!” She replied with this image, and the caption “IT’S OKAY, I GOT THIS.” Because of course.

All of this is a long preface to two things. The first thing is that driver training continues apace even though I am really dumb, and you should go read about it over on Alpha Mom if you are so inclined. The second thing is that we’re thinking of launching an advice column over on Alpha Mom sort of like Amalah’s Advice Smackdown, but for questions specifically about older kids and teens/young adults instead of little kid stuff. Would you read that? Would you ask stuff? Would you ask stuff and read it even if I—clueless and confused much of the time—was the one writing it? Any and all feedback welcome, and if you’d rather just send in a question because you think it’s such a great idea, hit me up at alphamomteens@gmail.com. (Have I mentioned lately that you’re my favorite? You totally are.)

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