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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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Who says romance is dead?

Exactly eight years ago, right about now I was getting my hair done in preparation for taking another crack at the whole ’til-death-do-us-part thing. That feels simultaneously about a million years ago AND just a few weeks ago. Time is weird like that.

As is his style, Otto swooped into the kitchen this morning with a small flourish and a big, “Happy Familyversary!” and an extremely thoughtful gift for me and a family gift for all of us. He is the BEST. (Did you know that the 8th anniversary is pottery? I got a beautiful piece and we’re all going to a wheel class at a local studio next week to make our own creations, too. Again, I say: HE IS THE BEST.)

Because I suck, I confess that often I don’t get him an anniversary gift at all because I suffer from Gift Anxiety and his presentations to the three of us each year are always so thoughtful and amazing I feel like I cannot possibly compete. But something spoke to me this year, something I think he needs to have at this point in our marriage, and so I actually have a little something for him. Rather… it’s arriving today. Shipping was slow. So:

Me: I have something for you. But you have to wait until tonight.
Him: Oh?
Chickadee: GROSS.
Me: Ha! Not that, something else. It’s arriving tonight.
Him: Oh. [He sounded a little disappointed.]
Me: But hey, THAT TOO, if you want.
Chickadee: EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

It’s actually more romantic when you can squick out the nearest teen. I’m pretty sure that’s a thing.

Happy anniversary, honey! Whaddaya say we go out to dinner tonight and find an innocuous way to mortify both children in public to further cement our love and kick off the next eight years together?

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Coffee and not-so-snappy one-liners

It’s been… kind of a hard month. February, man. February just blows chunks, under the best of circumstances. I don’t know why, but we should probably just accept that as fact. The days are short, the weather is wonky, etc. (Mind you, I do not miss the endless days of snow we had in February up north, but even here in Georgia, the weather is confused and unpredictable. TIME FOR A SNOW DAY = no snow at all. SUPER WARM DAY is then followed by CARNIVAL OF ICE, and so on.)

The other day, Otto and I were headed out to An Unpleasant Event (first rule of Vague Club: We capitalize things to pretend we’re not being vague) and it was even worse than necessary because we were out of coffee. THAT IS HOW BADLY FEBRUARY SUCKETH, we ran out of coffee beans and no one noticed and/or had the fortitude to replenish our stash in a timely manner. And now we were faced with heading into hard things without caffeine… unless we stopped for coffee. (Otto is a problem solver. I was all OH NOES, NO COFFEE, EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE, whereas Otto said, “We can stop and get coffee.” This is why I love him.) (more…)

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Maybe it’s just… February

The other day a dear friend said something along the lines of “Maybe I’m not a horrible person and maybe the world isn’t awful. Maybe it’s just February.” (I am paraphrasing a little, I think.) This struck a chord with me, because everything does seem particularly awful right now, but doesn’t it EVERY February? And aren’t I just as surprised, every single time, to discover that JUST POSSIBLY it’s a Calendar Thing rather than a Life Sucks Thing?

I am a slow learner, is my point.

Calendar or not, this “short” month is feeling particularly long, not the least of which because it always seems to be in February when I decide that’s IT, I am really going to get in shape now, seriously, I am, because my pants don’t fit and it’s cold out and I require pants. The problem is that at various daily intervals I also decide I require: cookies, chips, a second helping of whatever I had a good-sized serving of already, or a Random Piece Of Cheese. I’m not one of those “I work out daily and eat right and goshdarnitall I cannot figure out why I’m not losing weight” kinds of people. I am one of those “I do not exercise nearly enough and also I eat constantly so SURPRISE, I weigh more than I should but, you know, Sour Patch Kids are delicious” kinds of people. I start working on it (daily exercise! sensible eating!) and then life gets hard and I remember that chocolate makes everything better. Whoops.

Anyway, I’ve decided that yes, I’m totally going to blame it on February. Why not? Hey February, you are disgruntled and a little pudgy. You remind me of myself! Let’s be friends. Or let’s just move on to March. Whatever. But first: a moment to pause and appreciate Valentine’s Day. (more…)

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If I had a few million dollars

Otto picked up a handful of lottery tickets last week. The Powerball or whatever it’s called was up to… I don’t even know what. 250 frajillion? It was a lot of money. And while I firmly believe lottery tickets to be a tax on people who are bad at math, we could spare a few bucks for the fun of what-if-ing for a few days.

Spoiler: We didn’t win. My dreams of lounging on a divan all day—eating bon bons and directing underlings to peel grapes for me—have been dashed. (Related: We don’t own a divan.)

Lately it feels like Otto and I talk about money a LOT. Part of this is the looming college thing, and gearing up to complete a FAFSA so that the government can tell us that if only we were to stop paying our mortgage or eating, we could certainly afford to send Chickadee to any college she likes. Part of it is the fact that both kids will be licensed drivers before we know it (pardon me while I breathe into a paper bag…) and will we want another car? Another two cars? WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY CARS?? And our car insurance recently got confused and sent us a bill which covered having a licensed teen driver (neither of them are licensed yet) and said bill caused my face to melt off and me to suggest a number of high-earning but not entirely legal career paths to said expensive teenager. Part of it is that some dear friends of ours are about to begin a kitchen renovation and OH ENVY UPON ENVY, happy for them (for real), but we would like to redo OUR kitchen, and should we? Could we? The only thing that costs more than a kitchen renovation is, I don’t know, a combination face lift/tummy tuck/breast implant surgery, and Otto’s boobs are already beyond reproach.

We have enough money for everything we truly need, and then some, because “need” is not the same as “want.” I get that. No complaints; we are lucky. (more…)

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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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Second time’s the charm?

Have I mentioned lately that my husband is awesome? Because he is. He’s my favorite. And I don’t know if it’s his inherent awesomeness (probably) or the fact that this is my second marriage (possibly) or some combination therein, but I spend a lot of time considering what sort of example of life partnership we’re setting for the kids.

I hope it’s a good one. (Though if it can’t be good, I at least hope it’s entertaining.)

So I’m over at Alpha Mom, considering how my various baggage and divorce and now very-happily-married self shows my kids about love and respect. Probably I should’ve let Otto write his side of that. He might tell a different story, but I hope it would be at least somewhat similar. (Or maybe he’s an excellent actor and his story would begin with “HELP, PLEASE SAVE ME!”)

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Almost like a horror movie

Last night Otto and I were lying in bed after a very long day. Usually that’s when we have our best conversations, you know—side by side in the dark, chatting about nothing and everything just before we drift off for the night. But on those long, hard days, we just kind of sink into the silence and both try to pretend sleep is coming.

“Well,” I said, finally, desperate to find a bright spot before the inevitable next few hours of insomnia, “at least spring is coming! Listen to all of those peepers!”* It was true, the frog symphony outside was impressive, given how chilly it’s been. If I closed my eyes and emptied my head, it sounded like it was almost summer. “It’s weird there’s so many, already,” I continued, “when it’s been so cold.”

“Yeah,” agreed Otto. My conversational opening had been scintillating, clearly.

We continued listening, and then… it stopped. I don’t mean it trailed off, I mean one minute there was PEEPpeepPEEPPEEPpeepPEEP and the next minute: dead silence.

“What happened?” I said, my voice dropping to a whisper without conscious intention. “Why’d they stop? Why did they ALL stop? That’s weird, right?”

Poor Otto, he just wanted to sleep and he had no idea he’d married a neurotic frog detective.

“Maybe there’s a BEAR!” I said. “Do bears eat frogs? Are frogs afraid of bears??”

“Maybe there’s a feral neighborhood cat,” Otto answered, with a sigh. That made more sense, I guess. Still, that transition from cacophony to silence was unnerving. Then again, I pretty much find everything unnerving these days. “One time,” Otto murmured, rolling over, “we were home… and there was a BEAR!”

That made me laugh. And one by one, the peepers started up again.

*If you’re a city slicker or otherwise confused by “peepers”, they sound like this.

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Dear kids: don’t read this one

Today over at Alpha Mom I’m sharing the naked truth about keeping romance alive when you have teenagers. Spoiler: It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be (and not in a “that’s what she said” kind of way, either). This would be a good time for nosey children of mine who like to read my blog to NOT go read that particular post. Consider yourselves warned.

By way of apology, I offer you this picture of my breakfast.

(They let me eat about half of it.)

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Just a little older and a lot wiser than me

Today is Otto’s birthday. I wish he had more than one each year, because Otto is the kind of man who is content to tend to everyone else and put his own needs on the back burner to make sure that everyone else is okay. He deserves way more than 24 hours of being the Man Of Honor.

Of course, we kicked off his birthday week early with the gift of mucus. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Remember how, before you lived with kids, you never got sick? No? Me neither. Here, I got you a box of decongestant. The GOOD kind, the kind I had to hand my first-born over to the pharmacist for. I’m sort of going to miss Chickie, but as she’s the one who brought this plague home, it seemed only fair. (Also, the pharmacist looked kind of scared.)

Anyway. Where was I going with this? (Woooo, I may have opened the decongestant box already. Good stuff, man. MY DESK IS SPROUTING FEATHERS.) Ah, yes. The point is that Otto is incredible and we don’t celebrate him nearly often enough. So today for his birthday I get to embarrass him. (more…)

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