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On pushing, and not

I tell you what: you think, when your kids are little, that when they’re bigger, it’ll be easier. HAHAHAHA. You look forward to self-sufficiency and assume it will magically appear in exactly the right proportions at the right time. This is because parenting damages your brain. When you’re dealing with a child who goes floppy and boneless when it’s time to put on their shoes, you imagine that someday they will make good, responsible decisions as a direct result of your calmly reiterating instructions for the tenth time and your remarkable restraint in not strangling them with their own shoelaces at that pivotal moment. You envision a day when that same child will race towards adulthood with glee.

Hahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!

As they get older it only gets more complicated. You have to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to “encourage” and when to back down, when to just go take a nap because an old country song is stuck in your head. It’s HARD.

Recent developments ’round here include me finally explaining to Monkey that we are going to stop pushing him to drive, but we’re also going to expect him to figure out how own transportation more often than not, and also I am finally ready to tell you about how we are the absolute meanest when it comes to summer employment. (Don’t worry, it has a mostly happy ending.)

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Yep, it’s summer

This morning I removed the season’s first rodent from the pool. It was just as much fun as you might imagine! And that’s how I know that summer has well and truly arrived. It’s not summer until something drowns.

Also, my garden is giving me fits. APPARENTLY I planted a bunch of bum seeds for my beans and cucumbers, and because I am a very slow learner—and also because we have squirrels and feral cats roaming around and sometimes digging in my beds—I replanted with those same seeds several times before admitting that they simply weren’t going to grow. Finally I admitted defeat and bought new seeds. Now I have bean sprouts! But my cucumbers are still struggling. And I have a butternut squash vine that sprung out of nowhere as a volunteer from last year’s leftovers, I think, and one eggplant that’s thriving and one eggplant that is being eaten by I’m not sure what. The tomatoes and peppers and basil and zucchini are all coming along. Something keeps digging in my herb box (though the MIIIIIIINT is forever undisturbed). In short: GROWING FOOD IS HAAAAAARD.

In other news, I recently scored this shirt for Monkey at Goodwill for $2 and it makes me laugh every time I see it. The lab he’s working in this summer requires that he wear long pants (and a variety of other safety gear, depending on what he’s doing), which meant I spent some quality time on Memorial Day frantically shopping for suitable lightweight pants for him (HEY did you know Old Navy’s size 18 pants are ridiculously long and slim, thus suitable for man-sized string beans, and also that sometimes they get marked down to around $4?), and now he heads off every day looking super professional except for the part where he’s always wearing a ridiculous t-shirt. I may or may not be buying him more ridiculous t-shirts just because this tickles me.

In the meantime, it’s been a while since I did an advice column for Alpha Mom, but today’s topic is helping your teen stick with an activity when the other kids are sucking the joy out of it, and I’m not gonna lie—I am so, so glad that 50% of my children are now done with high school.

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I want my money back

There isn’t really a good way to “top” graduation, so a smarter family would not try, but we are nothing if not sort of dumb. Chickadee graduated on Saturday and then yesterday she had her wisdom teeth out. INSERT SAD TROMBONE HERE.

The bad news is that I was ready for post-anesthesia hilarity—I had been told not to videotape anything, but I made no promises—and I was disappointed. For all of her larger-than-life antics while completely sober (and let us not forget that her last oral surgery was a Party with a capital P), this procedure was anticlimactic. All she wanted to do after was sleep. She muttered and murmured and tried to curl up for a nap no matter where she was (the operating chair, the car, the couch). No fun video for us! What’s the POINT if your drugged child isn’t weird?

The good news is that I have vivid memories of the awful time I had after my own wisdom teeth removal at the same age, and she seems to be faring MUCH better. She spent the remainder of yesterday tucked in on the couch, obediently taking her pain meds and nibbling at pudding and ice cream when directed, dozing and Netflix-ing interchangeably, and slept through the night save for when I woke her up for more drugs. Her swelling is minimal. She’s having discomfort, sure, but she’s doing really well. I think she’ll be fine by the weekend.

Before all of that happened, though, I wrote you a post over at Alpha Mom and forgot to tell you. Whoops! In summary: I am waiting for the moment when everything feels different, but maybe that’s not how it works, after all.

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Some things just suck

I’ve been whining about our unfinished bathroom for… several weeks, at least, by now. What a mess! What an inconvenience! A first world problem, to be sure, but ugh. So annoying. And I’ve been trying really, really hard to gain some perspective on this, because it’s not that big of a deal.

The good news is that today we have a mirror! Not that I haven’t ABSOLUTELY LOVED Monkey coming downstairs every day with rumpled hair after his shower—soliloquizing on how maybe no one has noticed, but their bathroom STILL DOESN’T HAVE A MIRROR—to grump his way into my office bathroom and make himself presentable. I thought today the mirror and frame and remaining finish work was going to be completed, but HAHAHA of course not. The vanity needs some final touches that involve something called a “finishing kit” which is on backorder. Still: progress.

The bad news is that, much as you should never pray for patience, you should never sit around telling yourself to get a grip and get some perspective, this isn’t really a huge issue, because then surely life will hand you something harder. Nearly 18 years into this parenting gig, and I still haven’t figured out how to keep my kids’ hearts from being broken. I’m, like, a perpetually unfinished bathroom. SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR.

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So close, and yet so far

Greetings from Day 17 of our 5-day bathroom remodel. HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA. HAAAAAAA. HA. Ahem.

It was the vanity, you see. Not vanity like hubris sort of vanity, but the physical cabinet/counter/sink thingie, and it was backordered, and so we had to wait. I mean, let’s pretend that’s why, and forget about the tiling and retiling and the third time the tile got done, finally. Because the tile looks great! The floor is lovely! The shower is complete! And we even have a working toilet! Let’s ignore the antibacterial soap pump on the edge of the tub because we have no sink. In fact, I’m pretty sure my kids are ignoring it, so why not?

Also let us not speak of the day the painters came and swore it was “all done” and later I found giant swaths of missing paint. “Sometimes when you’re painting a lot you just get tunnel vision,” said our contractor.

“Or complete blindness?” I suggested, looking for a more reasonable explanation. I mean, I do a fair amount of painting for someone who isn’t a painter. (I actually love to paint. It’s the one home improvement task I totally enjoy.) Never in the history of my painting various rooms in various homes have I ever packed up my brushes and rollers with a triumphant, “DONE!” only to discover that I’d missed huge patches of walls. Silly me, I figured if you PAINT FOR A LIVING that’s the sort of thing which… wouldn’t happen. Obviously I do not understand the grueling reality of having to use your eyeballs to survey your professional work.

It’s possible that a wee bit of bitterness is starting to set in. (more…)

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I bet my Monday was Monday-er than yours

Yesterday was rife with complaints about the time change and how Monday is so completely awful and now it’s Monday-plus-a-time-change and EVERYTHING IS THE WORST. I was busy bathroom-wrangling, or rather, trying to wrangle what’s happening with the bathroom and the contractors and when oh when might we have a working bathroom up there… does anyone know? Plus there was the usual work stuff and getting the kids back to school stuff and some other stuff and I remember thinking, yesterday afternoon, that it was a pretty terrible day and I would be very glad once it was over.

But then it got worse, which was—oddly enough—also when it got better. Sometimes you just need a reminder about what really matters, I guess. (At least I do.)

You can read more about it over at Alpha Mom, though I’ll go ahead and give you the spoiler: Everyone’s fine. And, as my dad always says: Never a dull moment.

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Death by remodeling

We’re renovating the upstairs bathroom this week. More accurately, this week I am trying to keep the dogs from going insane while a crew makes a lot of noise and a big mess. So far it doesn’t look much like a bathroom, but I have high hopes. Also, it was supposed to be finished by tomorrow. HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA.

Um. I am still hoping it might be done next week. Or this year. Something. My usual way of coping with the grossness my offspring proliferate in their bathroom is to… just never go in there. But until that bathroom is done, they have to use the bathroom I use. Let’s just say my motivation to do whatever the contractors need right now is VERY HIGH.

I wrote about the ongoing renovation over at Alpha Mom, because my brain is rotted from doing things like going to the hardware store and having twenty-minute-long conversations about whether the satin nickel and the brushed stainless are actually different colors.

Then to take my mind off of the fact that I got a great deal on a killer light fixture only to discover that the bulbs it requires are 1) not included and 2) almost as expensive as the fixture itself, I also tackled another teen advice column question, because I am excellent at advising you on what to do with your kids, but terrible at picking out lighting.

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Nerd Night: Boston Cream Pie (and other things)

We had some scrambling to get Nerd Night rescheduled, this week, which prompted our friendly neighborhood Dungeon Master to share this with the group:

interesting-nerd-nightIt’s possible it made me laugh louder and longer than was strictly necessary, but I admit to nothing.

Now, normally my argument against rescheduling or canceling Nerd Night is that MONKEY WILL BE SO DISAPPOINTED, but when the subject of canceling last night or moving it to today came up, this time, like the doting mother I am, I was all YOU CANNOT CANCEL I AM ALREADY MAKING A COMPLICATED CAKE. See, Boston Cream Pie (motto: not actually pie!) is not hard to make, but it does require a bunch of steps, and because I am a planner, I had already made the custard when word came in that we might be canceling. Schedules were rearranged and they’re gaming today, thank goodness, because I do NOT need this in my house this week:

bos-cream-side (more…)

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Merry Christmas to all, and to all good cookies

It’s been a long time since I could say this, but: It’s been a pretty good year. I would like to lose 10 (20) pounds and I would like Duncan to stop getting ear infections and Licorice’s breath to smell less like she just ate a bunch of cat poop (yep, the feral cats in our neighborhood are still around…) and for Otto to have a little less stress in his life and for my kids to start understanding how amazing they really are and also maybe for them to strike the phrase “in a minute” from their vocabularies… but… things are good. These are minor quibbles.

To celebrate, I made a million cookies, and also I wrote you this as an attempt to explain. This year, this place where my family has finally landed, it feels like a quilt of tiny miracles after a looooooong stint of sifting through scraps and broken thread. One cookie has seen us through years of heartbreak and happiness, and this year is no different.

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate, and merry Chinese food, if you don’t. Thanks for being here. I hope you have everything you need this year, and cookies to see you through if for some reason you don’t, yet.

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More on fear

Y’all are great. I love that when I ask random questions you have all sorts of answers for me. And yes, I appreciate all of them. I am now 1) smarter about hotels, 2) hoarding cookie recipes, and 3) slightly less worried about loft beds. See? IT TAKES A VILLAGE.

I did get to thinking about the whole bed thing some more, yesterday, and I wrote a post for Alpha Mom and then never got around to linking it because both of my children decided yesterday would be an excellent day to fall deathly ill. Fantastic! But today one is back at school and the other is sleeping peacefully and now I remembered. Here you go! It’s about worrying and fear and a little bit about getting your kid ready for college.

[Bonus anecdote from last week’s college visit: During a parents’ informational session, someone asked about on-campus parking, which seemed reasonable to me, but then their follow-up question was about the availability of electric charging stations (for the record: there are none because this is rural Georgia, not San Francisco). I could not stop giggling, and as I was in a large room of very earnest parents, I had to sort of sink my face into the scarf I was wearing while I tried to regain my composure. To the credit of the people running the session, none of them laughed. I was REALLY HOPING someone would say something like, “I’m sorry, but your precious snowflake may need to trade in that Tesla before coming to campus,” but alas. I won’t even buy my kid a car and that question hit my funny bone. To be fair, it was towards the end of a very long day and also I am a child.]

If you want to skip straight to the bottom line, here it is: We can’t keep our kids safe, any of us. My goal is simply to find an acceptable level of fear and risk and learn to live with it.

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