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Picture perfect

I think I may have mentioned here once or twice or seven billion times that I hate having my picture taken. I am not a photogenic human. (This is not the same, by the way, as saying I’m an unattractive human. This is not a self-esteem issue, merely a “the way my particular features tend to be caught in pictures is not flattering in spite of the fact that I’m an okay-looking person in real life” issue.)

My ex-husband is a very photogenic person, and so you can imagine my delight at discovering that nearly every candid photo of our offspring is amazing. Those cheekbones! Those lips! LOOK AT MY BEAUTIFUL BABIES! But a lifetime of living with me—the person who mugs for the camera so I’m obviously ridiculous rather than being caught “candidly” appearing to be inebriated, furious, or both—has, um, caused some issues. Chickadee does a beautiful “smile for the camera” on command, but then hates every single picture it produces for reasons that would never even cross a normal person’s mind (“this eye is squinty, see?”). (And for what it’s worth, she does a pretty masterful version of my own HERE’S ME OPENING MY MOUTH AND EYES AS BIG AS THEY GO hamminess, too.) Monkey is constitutionally incapable of smiling on command, which means we have some gorgeous candids and some absolutely painful “portraits.”

(Here let us pause while I reiterate that both of my children are gorgeous, which should go without saying, but I don’t want to get an angry phone call later.)

Marrying a photographer was an EXCELLENT idea, especially if the goal was to drive said photographer crazy with his ready-made family of people who hate to have their photos taken. (HAHA. HA. SORRY, OTTO, WE LOVE YOUUUUUU!) I do think he derives at least a little pleasure from seeing it’s not just him we’re impossible for, though. Now would be a good time for you to go read my post at Alpha Mom about Monkey’s senior portraits, and then when you’re done with that, come back, because I have a little surprise for you after the jump. (more…)

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Just be there, even if they sleep through it

This past weekend was Chickadee’s Fall Break from school, so she came home on Friday afternoon and is headed back today. Four entire days to love on my girl! Four entire days of quality time and family togetherness!

Sort of.

She got home around 4:30 on Friday and went to bed. She got up around 9:00 and had some dinner and watched TV with me for a little bit, then went back to bed. She slept until 2:00 pm (!!) on Saturday, then headed in to work a shift at 4:00, but then came right back home because they’d double-scheduled, and… went back to sleep. Sunday she slept until 1:00 pm, had some food, then went to take a nap. She was up to watch the debate with us on Sunday night. Monday she got up early to drop her car off for a repair, then Otto brought her back home and she went back to bed.

I dunno. I think it’s POSSIBLE she’s not getting enough sleep at school. Just a theory I’m working on. Call it a hunch, if you will.

We did get to spend some time together this morning. (Hooray for annoying little brothers; Monkey had to leave for campus at 7:30 and woke her up to say good-bye.) She helped me with today’s post for Alpha Mom, and I know this is going to come as a HUGE surprise, but I could not be more proud of the self-possessed young woman my daughter is becoming. I’d love to take the credit, but I suspect she’s just naturally awesome. Anyway, from her and from me, have a very happy National Coming Out Day today.

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Having a wonderful time, here’s some mail

Family Day at Chickadee’s school approacheth. In theory I think this is a great idea—some of those kids probably haven’t seen their folks since they left home, and some parents are probably dying to see their kid(s) in their school element. In practice, I see my kid plenty, and whoops, she’s actually going to be home that weekend, so it’s something we’ll be skipping, but whatever. It’s a nice thing the college does.

Here’s some preamble to what comes next: I don’t know if things have just changed everywhere since I was in school, of if Chickie’s college is unique in this, but it seems like there is a “come get your free stuff” table set up in their quad at least a couple of times a week. I enjoy following them on Twitter to see what they’re offering on any given day, mostly so that I can then text my child and say “ZOMG A FREE BOTTLE OF WATER FOR A SURVEY, QUICK, DITCH CLASS AND RUN TO THE QUAD.” I can only assume that my comments are super helpful. On the other hand, she and her friends avail themselves of most of these “free stuff” opportunities, and in addition to now owning a wardrobe comprised almost entirely of free t-shirts, I happen to know she went and toured some campus apartments purely for the free pizza coupon. Girl has priorities.

Anyway! In anticipation of Family Day, one day the table in the quad was a COME SEND YOUR FAMILY A POSTCARD AND URGE THEM TO COME VISIT thing. Because my child is always SO hard at work, she apparently stopped by the table to 1) take advantage of this glorious opportunity, 2) even though she already knew we wouldn’t be coming, and 3) made sure to send a postcard to everyone. EVERYONE.

Needless to say, when I grabbed the mail yesterday, I was delighted. (more…)

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Batten down those dryer sheets

Welcome to another episode of, “Well hello there, I am not in fact dead, I have just been busy elsewhere and also I suck.” I have baked things for Nerd Night! I have fitted one hundred smelly teenagers for band uniforms! (That’s not a slam; we do fittings during practice and they’re practicing outside and it’s hot and seriously, please send air freshener.) I have Cleaned Things and Dealt With Broken Things and said “let me know how I can help” and actually meant it, which means I have been doing lots of things which are probably uninteresting to anyone other than the folks I am helping, but whatever.

Chickadee is loving college. Monkey is loving his time on our local campus, too, and this week submitted his last college application (!!!), meaning that now we just sit back and wait and see what happens. I feel like both kids were young- and middle-teens with various issues and that time period stretched out in whatever the opposite of dog years would be; each of those hard years seemed to last at least a decade, while I wondered if we would ever be through it. Now that they are both upper-teens and doing well, time is going WOOSH right past us in a blur. It’s early to submit applications, for example, but if I blink, we’ll be at graduation. So.

My darling daughter was already slated to take a trip home this weekend, meaning I’d be seeing her for the first time in a month (not counting FaceTime…), and I was like a kid counting down to Christmas morning. She’d finish class at 2:00 and get her stuff and be home before dinner! SO GREAT! And then—I don’t know if you’ve heard that there’s a hurricane trying to eat the southeastern US right now?—the phone rang before 6:00 this morning and it was a robocall letting us know that classes were canceled for the day due to the storm. Which: thanks? Instead of waiting for dinnertime, my (supposedly) fully functional adult child stumbled into my office around 9:30, still in her pajamas, with a car full of laundry, and yay for her being home ahead of the storm. BUT I DIDN’T NEED TO KNOW THIS BEFORE DAWN. Also when you see that it is 1) way too early and 2) the caller ID says it’s your kid’s college calling, that has a way of making you (me) release all the adrenaline in the world while you steel for Terrible News, and then when it turns out to be a robocall, you might be kind of angry. And jumpy. Because adrenaline.

All’s well that ends well, I suppose. Except the laundry, because that’s never going to end. (No, she hasn’t done laundry at school even once. In a whole month. I KNOW.)

While I was off doing other things, I did write a couple of posts over at Alpha Mom. First, I am admitting that my neuroses about my career choices and salary know no bounds, and then yesterday I answered a reader question about transitioning from homeschooling to public school. You could go read those while I fold laundry, if you wanted.

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We are all adjusting

After a summer that seemed to pass in a blink, we’re back on a school schedule that has Otto and Monkey heading out the door at 7:30, most days, and often not returning until late in the evening. Classes have started for Chickie, too, and she was kind enough to remember that I needed a picture on the first day.


(Why yes, it IS 95+ degrees and a bazillion percent humidity here every day, still. Don’t you wear skinny jeans and combat boots in that sort of lovely weather? No? WEIRD.)

Each of us is figuring out our new schedule, our new space, this next stage. I am still marveling over how smooth of a transition it’s been, although that doesn’t mean it’s easy, just that it’s bearable. I’ll take it.

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It is done (and no one cried)

Y’all. We made it. Chickadee’s at college.

Now is the appropriate time for an AMEN and a HALLELUJAH and any other celebratory exclamation of your choosing. This was a long road and I would’ve happily changed MANY MANY parts of it, given the option, but in the end it led her right where she needed to be. Have I mentioned how proud I am of this kid? She astounds me every day.

So yes, it is bittersweet. But everyone warned us we’d all be bawling and I said NUH UH and everyone did the whole “Just you wait” and guess what? It was great. I’m not going to tell you my eyes weren’t a little glossy by the time we said goodbye, but the overwhelming feeling for us (and I think her, too) was joy. This was a Very Big Deal.

Everything JUUUUUUST fit in her car, save for her fridge, which worked out just fine; she and I left at the ass-crack of dawn in her car, and Otto came later with the fridge. This is because yesterday was insane: It was move-in day for Chickie, yes, but her assigned unloading time was exactly the same time as Monkey’s first class at our local university. So while I was pulling up to the curb and a veritable swarm of student volunteers descended on the car (no joke; we pulled up, gave her room number, and the crew head barked out the number and twenty seconds later the car was picked CLEAN. By the time I parked and returned to the dorm, she was checked in and everything she owned was in her room), Monkey was bounding up the steps towards Calculus.

Move-in was smooth. Monkey’s assessment of Calc (shared later), however, was “Everyone seemed to be sleeping and it’s also way too easy.” (My kind, supportive response: “Not everyone is a morning person like you, and maybe don’t assume the whole class is going to be easy from your experience on the very first day, Mr. Hubris.”) (more…)

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Live from the House of Pop-Tarts

We move Chickadee into her dorm tomorrow. TOMORROW. Today is taking approximately 593 hours, in case you were wondering, but also she is not done packing because GEEZ MOM IN A MINUTE. As for me, about a month ago I bought a case of Pop-Tarts from Amazon as part of Operation Stock The Dorm With Snacks—this was a moment of weakness, as I am staunchly anti-toaster-pastry and found them gross even when I could still eat wheat—and hid it in the back of the pantry. BUT THEN. The pediatrician got on my case about Monkey being so skinny, so I dug out a couple of boxes and suggested he snack on them, and then suddenly most of the case was gone because it turns out that both of my children are addicted to Pop-Tarts. Hence yesterday’s emergency grocery trip to buy MORE Pop-Tarts. (Did you know that if you type Pop-Tarts enough times it stops looking like words? True story.)

So. Chickadee and her Pop-Tart stash move in tomorrow. Yesterday was Monkey’s first day of school. And you know what that means:


Please enjoy this picture, not just because my PRESHUSSSS WIDDLE BABYKINS is apparently part Yeti, but because this shoe photo is the end of an era. It’s the last shoe photo for the last first day, because he just started the last senior year.

(How did this happen??? I blame Pop-Tarts.)

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A happy ending after all

Guess what I have. Go on! GUESS!!


(If none of this makes any sense, go back and read my last post. It took the whole village—or maybe several villages, and at least several warehouses—but we now have one entire, undamaged fridge cart. If just the hashtag part doesn’t make sense, don’t worry about it. I’M A COOL MOM.) (I am so not a cool mom.)

With that squared away, the packing up for college continues apace. More accurately, the forced death march of room cleaning is happening. And lest you think “death march” is my usual hyperbole, let me just tell you that this weekend our AC went out upstairs (of course it did, because it had been almost two whole weeks since the AC died DOWNstairs) (but yes, I am very glad that two-story houses in the south have separate units so that you’re not trapped in hell when one breaks) and still I made Chickadee do some cleaning. We emptied out her entire desk while it was 90+ degrees up there, with two fans going. We ate ice cream once it was done, though. I’m not a TOTAL monster.

My kids are in a great place right now, both of them. If you’ve been reading here for any time at all, you know that’s a huge thing (and something I probably shouldn’t even be saying out loud, much less writing down). There’s always a part of me that’s going to be tender and prone to bruising when it comes to comparing parenting notes, though. So today at Alpha Mom you’re getting a brain-dump on what those of us whose parenting plans go awry struggle with, often in silence, and nearly always in private.

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Not dead! But still disappointing!

If you’ve been feeling let down because I haven’t been writing here much this summer, know that you’re in good company—most of my family is annoyed with me as well. First I received a phone call from my father asking me if I was still alive, and if so, if everything was alright, because “when you don’t blog for more than a week I get worried.”

Next, I received a text from my eldest (who was in the next room at the time), because although she will happily walk miles to catch Pokemon, apparently ungluing her ass from the couch to speak to me in person is too much effort.


I guess what I’m saying is: If you’re bothered, get in line. But I’m well aware that I suck. So! A brief(ish) (lies) summary of what’s been happening in my life since we last spoke, and it’s going to be SCINTILLATING, I’m sure. (more…)

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Everything is terrible (not really)

It occurred to me that I forgot to tell you about my recent Bread Adventures.

If you’ve been reading here forever and also have an uncanny memory for stupid details of other people’s lives, you may recall that many, many years ago I discovered how easy it was to bake bread, and also how DELICIOUS said bread was, and I began baking bread all the time. In fact, I stopped buying sandwich bread altogether, because I just baked it here at home and it was a billion times better. Sandwich loaf bread from the store is—to me—a necessary vehicle for sandwich fillings, but… meh. Homemade bread, on the other hand, is yummy and good for sandwiches and also just random stuffing into one’s mouth. So I began eating LOTS of bread when I started doing all that baking, and shortly thereafter was when my skin and my general health went berserk and I did an elimination diet and ended up discovering my body is not so fond of wheat, actually. Surprise!

Once I determined that I couldn’t eat the bread I was baking, I stopped. We went back to store-bought bread. I still baked bread for the rest of the family occasionally (rolls to go with dinner or focaccia for pasta or what have you), but I didn’t bother with sandwich bread. Lo these many years I have avoided wheat and my long-suffering family has made do with stuff from the store. (Their disappointment is likely tempered by all of the Nerd Night baking I still do, you understand.)

And then… I made a sourdough starter. Because I’m a dummy. Look; it wasn’t my FAULT. There were suddenly a million articles about how EASY it was and how SCIENCE-Y the process is and before I knew it, I had a bubbling jar of goo convincing me I needed to bake bread ALL THE DAMN TIME. (more…)

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