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Chicken and parsnips and college

College sounds like a terrible addition to a chicken and parsnips dish. It would make it taste funny! But I am a poor planner and so I am jamming two wholly unrelated things together, plus I am giving you a recipe I sort of Frankenstein-ed together just because I liked it. Hey, you get what you pay for, here.

First, college: It’s that magical time of year when everyone with a high school senior is freaking out about college applications, so I wrote about it for Alpha Mom. You should probably go read it if college applications are in your kid’s future, because if I learned anything while asking around, it was that College Insanity has this pernicious habit of making itself look totally reasonable to its victims. To wit: Some people told me with COMPLETELY STRAIGHT FACES that their kid applied to 20+ schools. TWENTY. OR MORE. They didn’t think that was weird at all. That’s because crazy doesn’t know it’s crazy, but don’t worry, because I’m only too happy to point out how utterly bonkers that is.

Second, I made a super yummy dinner last night and it made me happy, though I discovered on Facebook that apparently parsnips are quite polarizing. People seem to either love them or hate them. Me, I love them. Otto, too. Chickadee had an alternate meal because we were eating animals, and then Monkey was very suspicious and told me the parsnips “taste like nothing” so I told him to shut up and eat his nothing. (I kid. I didn’t tell him to shut up.) If you’d like the recipe and a lot of parenthetical commentary, read on. (more…)

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Problems I can solve

I find it very tempting, when bad things happen in the world, to become furious with everyone and everything and assume that life is hopeless and awful, etc. But I’m trying to figure out how not to do that, so much.

Yesterday Monkey called me from school because he was unwell, and I tried to focus—step by step—on all of the good things this showed me. Yay for a kid who has become able to identify problems even though his own body is often a mystery to him! Yay for ease of communication to relay that information! Yay for flexibility of schedule (me) and health insurance (us) and transportation (despite the fact that Chickadee now drives my car way more often than I do) to take him to the doctor! Yay for meds! And yay for being able to follow specific, useful steps towards making sure my child is safe and healthy, at least for now.

It helped, a little. Not much, you understand. But some.

Before all of that happened yesterday, I put up a new piece over at Alpha Mom, but then the news about the latest school shooting broke and I couldn’t see interrupting that with this. So you get it today, albeit now you get it along with the disclaimer that I’m feeling sad and helpless about the stuff I CAN’T solve, but I’m trying to cling to what I can. Like helping my kid when he needs me, or dispensing advice about how to handle mean girls. It’s not enough. But it’s what I’ve got.

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Back to pretending to know stuff

Back in Real Job Land, I continue to be paid to act like I know things about parenting. Ha! This is the greatest scam in the whole world. Uh. I mean. Wow, I AM SUPER KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT STUFF. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

Can you imagine how excited I was when that whole study about how teenage girls are more successful when their mothers are nagging bitches came out? Posing aside, I can nag like nobody’s business. I’m sure you’ve never figured that out about me. And while I have learned in spades that I cannot simply bend my children to my will (but I’d be down for that if it worked…), sometimes I just cannot shut my mouth. So. I nag. I have nagged. I continue to nag. And so when we recently went to Senior Parent Night at the high school and they spent 45 minutes telling us YOUR CHILD MUST TAKE THIS TEST and YOUR CHILD MUST MAKE THESE DECISIONS and HERE ARE COMMON DEADLINES I sat there, perfectly smug, because know what? I AM THE WORLD CHAMPION OF NAGGING. I am the naggiest. Someday, probably soon, Chickadee is going to stab me in my sleep, but when that happens, I will die knowing that she already finished applying to college before Senior Parent Night. So. I’ll be dead, I guess, but self-satisfied and confident in my decision to nag.

I learned a few things over the summer as I nagged my child through the process of figuring out how to proceed, I think. A lot of that “essential college application rules” stuff is… nonsense, or at the very least, not one-size-fits-all. Over at Alpha Mom I’m busting the most common myths, because no one should have to freak out over what should be a manageable—and even exciting—process.

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Working on growing up

I spent all summer avoiding thinking about work, and now summer is over and I have to be an adult again. Being an adult is highly overrated.

It turns out that if you’re trying to shepherd a couple of kids toward adulthood, though, you kind of have to have a grasp of it, yourself. At least, that’s the idea. So I keep working on it, FOR THE CHILDREN, even though I would much rather… read a book, or bake something, or bathe my cat. And you know I’m allergic to cats (even the imaginary ones I don’t really own).

We spend a lot of time talking about our kids growing up and changing, and not a lot of time talking about how our lives and goals and callings tend to change right alongside them as we’re busy focusing on their needs. Maybe I’m just having a mid-life crisis, but I’m doing a bit of “what’s next?” over her and wondering if I truly know what I want to be when I grow up. I don’t have the answer (yet), but over at Alpha Mom I can at least tell you that I am for sure in good company in my confusion.

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Still recovering, but…

… it’s a good day, y’know? I like rainbows and they seem to be everywhere.

So just a quickie redirect, today: I thought folks would be tired of hearing about teaching a kid to drive, but I got a question about it at Alpha Mom, so check it out if you’re in that stage of life. (Spoiler: No, holding the dashboard with one hand and your face with the other is not the proper driver training position.)

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… but I play one on the Internet

So I told my children this morning that I was going to be writing an advice column for Alpha Mom as a “teen expert,” fully expecting them to laugh and laugh, but instead they both just looked… puzzled. Like, it wasn’t even FUNNY that I’m pretending to know what I’m doing, it’s just SUPER PERPLEXING. [Is your ego getting out of hand? Try TEENAGERS! They’ll knock you down a few pegs in no time!]

Nevertheless, we’re forging ahead (thanks, in part, to your positive support when I first asked if you’d read it), and the first one is up today. Woohoo! You can hop on over there to read about transitioning your ADHD kid to middle school, which is a scary proposition under even the best of circumstances.

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Dorkin’ it up, travel edition

So, some of you know that about 8 months ago I took a new job. This turned into An Actual Grown Up Job Job (as opposed to Sure It’s A Grown Up Freelance Job But Pants Are Still Optional Job), and that’s the very abbreviated version of how yours truly, possibly the crankiest person to walk the planet, totally ended up drinking the Happier Kool-Aid. It’s awesome.

Less awesome: Happier is in Boston, and I live 1,000 miles away. Boston is great, but Georgia is where I keep all my stuff and my dogs and my family, so up until now I have spent a lot of time on Google Hangouts with my coworkers, trying to stay in the loop on everything while my dogs seized every conference opportunity to decide to bark at nothing.

So! The planets finally aligned and we planned a trip for me to come to headquarters. (That’s a lie; the planets never align, but basically I bought a plane ticket and wrote MOM IS GONE; GO ASK OTTO on the family calendar and called it good.) At long last, yesterday it was time to leave. My excitement wasn’t even overshadowed by the knowledge that I was likely to do any number of stupid things on my way; I was THAT excited.

But of course I did manage to make the most of my trip. (more…)

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Ready, set, read

Perhaps my favorite yearly assignment in writing for Alpha Mom is the chance to do a summer reading round-up—nothing makes a bookworm happier than talking books, after all, except maybe talking books that are shaping the next generation of bookworms.

[Aside: I am so glad my kids love to read. I’m also glad they’ve developed such excellent taste in books that I find myself reading their picks more often than not. It’s like having a couple of librarians in-house, albeit somewhat cranky and messy librarians.]

Without further ado, I’m pleased to offer up this year’s summer reading round-up for teens, with thanks to my kids for letting me borrow their books. Also, endless thanks to the Powers That Be that I don’t have to contend with anyone reading Twilight or anything else that would just make me sad.

Come on over and tell us what you and your kids are reading, too. We’re always happy to have more recommendations!

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Kind of like real grown-ups

I went to Mom 2.0 this past weekend, and it was a verrrry interesting trip for me. In 10 years (!!) of blogging and freelancing and working for various clients, this is the first time I’ve gone to a conference as a representative of my employer rather than as just a freelancer looking for work, and that was very different. I’m still adjusting to this new phase of my career and still kind of looking around and going, “Is this my life? Are you SURE?” It’s all awesome, but I don’t know if you’ve maybe noticed that I’m not always so good with change…? Shocking, I know. It’s a secret. Don’t tell.

Anyway. In addition to the work weirdness of it all, Otto was busy being SuperDad (er, SuperStepDad?) here at home, which made my job about 10000% easier. The kids even seemed to still like him when I returned, so I feel confident in declaring him to have magical powers. And of course, I wrote about it for Alpha Mom, too.

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The best-laid plans

Or, Things I did wrong recently.

Or, Life is hard because I am dumb.

Or, Allow me to make you feel better about your life choices.

I keep telling myself that I should just come over here and post some dog pictures and call it a day—after all, who needs content when you have furballs, right?—but it hasn’t happened and now all of that procrastination has paid off, because it turns out that while no one day has been blog-worthy, lately, taken in sum total I have a veritable epic of life-and-how-to-do-it-wrong to share.

Every day is a new opportunity to do something else stupid, as I always say. (I never say that. I should, though.) Without further ado, various illustrations of my suitability (or lack thereof) as a functional adult: (more…)

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