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*insert band geek gang symbol here*

Some people love the Christmas season, others twirl around with glee in the early spring when the flowers begin to bloom. Me, I think mid-summer is the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone else is all “It’s so hot! It’s so rainy! I can’t believe school’s starting soon!” And then I’m over here on cloud nine, all, “IT’S BAND CAMP SEASON, BITCHES!”

Band camp is a miracle, wrapped in jubilation, taking the covert form of teenagers who are happy and too tired to be difficult.

Sure, getting up early and packing lunches again isn’t really something any of us missed, but it’s worth it. Chickadee’s in her happy place. Monkey’s stretching himself and finding his way. The groundwork is being laid for an awesome return to school and busy, happy fall days. I like it. Nope, scratch that. I love it.

And hey! This one time, at band camp? I wrote about my continuing love for band camp and all things marching band at Alpha Mom. Long live marching band, man.

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Gluten-free thug life

Someone asked me the other day how long I’ve been gluten-free, and I couldn’t remember. I ended up sounding like a complete moron, I’m sure (this would be different from the hundred other ways I normally sound like a complete moron…), with my response of, “Oh, you know, a bunch of years? Maybe 4 years? Wait, 5 years? 3 years? I MISS REAL PIZZA.” [I just looked it up. 5 years!! Whoa.]

It’s been a long time, is all. And I feel better and my skin isn’t falling off anymore and so that’s all great. I appreciate not being a giant wad of eczema.

In the beginning I tried my hand at various wheat-free substitutes, and spent a lot of money on the gluten-free versions of foods, but it became clear in very short order that:
1) Gluten-free imitations of normally gluten-free foods tend not to taste very good,
and
2) Specialty gluten-free products cost twice as much as their wheat-filled counterparts, either to buy pre-made or to make, myself.

As a bonus: 3) Anything that should be wheaty which is now gluten-free and actually tastes good is generally laden with sugar and salt and fat (yum yum) and really bad for you.

So mostly I just skip the normally-wheat-containing foods. (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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Here, I brought you this snow. It melted.

I wanted to bring you back something awesome from our trip to Breckenridge, but I realized after we got home that I brought back… nothing, really. I mean, I remembered the kids, but to be fair, we’d brought them with us in the first place and I figured the people renting out the house we stayed in might be mad if we left them behind. I managed to buy my children 0 souvenirs from our super fun family vacation week. Zilch. Nada. I DID want to buy them a couple of I GOT HIGH IN BRECKENRIDGE t-shirts that we kept seeing everywhere (it’s nearly 10,000 feet, you know), but for SOME reason Otto kept vetoing that and giving me a funny look whenever I said it. I can’t imagine why.

Weeks before we left, my parents suggested to us that we look into getting some altitude sickness medication to bring with us. Apparently there’s something available by prescription, and I agreed that that was a good idea, meanwhile thinking to myself, “Medication? Does it bring you closer to sea level? How does that even work??” Also I then got distracted by all of the work I needed to finish before we left and the fact that (stewards of awesome timing that we are) we ended up purchasing Monkey some new bedroom furniture just days before we departed and that meant an evening spent assembling and moving things and selling his old bed and then the countless bewildering discussions between my youngest and me where he insisted that he loved his new furniture and wasn’t bothered by the change at all, but could I please just get him exactly the same bedding (y’know, the bedding that is only available in twin size) OR allow him to continue using the current twin sheets/blankets on his new full bed. Because that’s logical. (Autism! Motto: Progress ain’t linear, parents.) I got busy, is the point, and we never got a prescription, but I was sure that was no big deal.

Spoiler: We all got sick. (more…)

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Oh, the places we went!

I feel like I could probably write an excellent Dr. Seuss-esque book about some of our recent adventures, although small children might not find them as entertaining as I’d like.

Into the kayak you’ll go,
You’ll plan to go slow…
But oh, the river goes fast,
Until sanity’s flown past!
And then you might need a plaster cast.

I kid, of course. No one is injured. Much. (Otto doesn’t want to talk about it, though.) But we did go kayaking. And then I wrote about it for Alpha Mom. You should read it, maybe.

(Also, I am mulling over Things I Can Write About because I know it’s been a while. The next post may be Things I Spent Money On, because if there’s anything better than a person navel-gazing about their life, it’s a person navel-gazing while talking about gratuitous consumerism.)

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Sweets for my sweet

It happened again, last night… the inevitable pre-birthday sadness. This is the first year you tried to put it into words: It’s too big of a deal, too much pressure to be a happy day and too many eyes on you. You didn’t want it. Don’t want it.

“I look at the past year, the past three years, and… nothing’s changed,” you said, voice low as we lay on the floor of my office together, pretending to be starfish, because for some reason that made talking easier. “I’m still me. I haven’t fixed anything.”

“Of course you’re still you,” I said, trying to keep the alarm out of my voice. “That’s a GOOD thing! And things have changed. It’s just not changing as fast as you want.” I flung out my starfish arms and struck what I hoped was an evocative starfish pose, drawing a small smile as my reward.

I don’t write about you much anymore, kiddo. I want to. My fingers itch, sometimes, poised over the keyboard, desperate to share something wonderful or terrible so that someone will say, “Us, too!” This new habit of holding back (or writing, when I must, but not sharing) makes me feel a bit unmoored, sometimes, but it’s what we need. (more…)

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Thou shall suck it up and talk about it

There’s this magical time period when your little kids start becoming more self-sufficient and fun to do things with that do not involve Candyland or being a pretty pretty princess, and for a few years, you can totally be lulled into feeling like being a parent is totally awesome and not that hard after all.

And then they become teenagers. (SURPRISE!) So then you’ll find yourself saying things you never imagined would need saying, and doing things like putting a condom on a banana and then watching your kid eat the banana afterward because, hey, that’s a very safe banana and it shouldn’t go to waste.

Yep.

In an effort to spread the horror joy, I’m over at Alpha Mom today, outlining the commandments of talking to your teens about sex.

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Waking up is hard to do

I commented to someone the other day that I really never know how to react to the (often placating) usage of the phrase “All teens do that, it’s totally normal.” Do they/is it really? On the one hand, I don’t appreciate challenges we face due to my kids’ “extras” being brushed off as no biggie; but on the other hand, it turns out that I have no idea what normal teens do. It’s doubtful that I was ever a normal anything, myself, and my kids are not neurotypical, so how the heck am I supposed to know if they’re being normal teens or being their special snowflakey pain-in-the-butt YOONIQUE selves?

The one thing I have managed to learn is that a little humor brought to even the most aggravating situation can help a lot. I’m sure the kids don’t think it helps them as much as it helps me, but it helps me not to strangle them, so it’s all good.

Without further ado: Feel free to head over to Alpha Mom for the ballad of the school morning teen.

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Attack of the giant toddlers

Come closer, so that I can share a great secret of the universe. I just figured it out, because I’m brilliant, and so naturally the next logical step is to share it with all of my closest friends on the Internet.

Here it is: Teenagers are a lot easier to deal with when you realize they are just overgrown toddlers. (I KNOW. I was super impressed with me, too.)

Over at Alpha Mom, I’m expounding on this great revelation, because my teens may be LOOKING more like adults, but their behavior is giving me deja vu.

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Sometimes I am a delightful jerkface

I think I have discussed here before a certain… shall we say… philosophy difference in parenting between myself and my children’s father. Said difference manifests in a hundred different ways, but one of the most frustrating for me has been—and mind you, we’ve been divorced for ELEVEN FREAKING YEARS—this pervasive feeling that, as the custodial parent, I do most of the “hard” stuff and he gets to do the “fun” stuff. This is not a problem unique to us, of course. But as someone who really enjoys giving gifts to people I love, it has been a small but sharp point of contention all this time that I’ve essentially been unable to give “good” gifts to the kids since the split. Because the other person in this equation 1) buys stuff for them constantly and 2) is willing to spend way, WAY more money than I am.

This is perhaps a silly thing to get annoyed about, and I know that, too. Also, things have changed over the years, and that whole mythical “figuring out some basic truths about the way different people move through the world” thing that everyone told me would eventually come to pass is happening now, and so the sting of “I never get to be the hero” has lessened, of course. Still: Every electronic or “big” treasured thing my children own did not come from Otto and me. And that’s fine, but it can make occasions worthy of present-giving kind of challenging.

It’s fun to give someone something that makes them happy. I like to make my children happy. Lord knows I don’t get a lot of opportunities to balance out the “WHY ARE THERE DIRTY SOCKS ON THE COUCH?” and “ARE YOU TRYING TO FAIL THIS CLASS OR CAN YOU JUST NOT BE BOTHERED?” moments. (more…)

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