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It was a pretty good run

I cannot remember the last time Duncan bit someone. Rather: I couldn’t remember, BEFORE THIS WEEKEND. He’s so sweet! So calm! That whole “biting people” thing is but a distant memory…

… which came back again while we were watching football this weekend. Otto and I cheered over a play while Duncan snoozed between us on the couch; Duncan leapt awake from the commotion and began barking; I tried to rub his head to calm him down, and he was… uhhh… not calm, it turns out, because I put my hand on him and he promptly snarled and CHOMPed down on my fingers. So. Had to set the “XX DAYS SINCE BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS ME” counter back to zero on Saturday.

He’s so old and cranky and confused, this dog. But also really cute.


“Look at me, so cute and adorable and harmless-seeming. Bring your fingers over here, I’m hungry.”

Anyway, I lived. But Duncan may be getting some coal in his stocking this year. (What do you mean, it’s weird that my dogs have stockings?) This is the closest I’m going to get to a segue today with my still-sore bitten hand, so now if you’re thinking about Christmas (or other holiday shopping), you should head over to Alpha Mom to get some holiday shopping ideas for teens, because this time of year tends to fly by in a blur.

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I just wanted a fridge cart

Chickadee leaves for college in two weeks, in case you’re counting. I was counting, for quite a while there—I was counting down until a wonderful, mythical day when ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER as we worked through that less-than-halcyon time when your college-bound teenager suddenly morphs into a prickly, cranky, spoiled brat. I hear this is perfectly normal, and that my reaction of wanting to strangle her with my bare hands was also normal. That time came, and went, and now we are just finishing getting her ready and enjoying each others’ company. And realizing we are going to miss each other. A lot. So part of me wishes we were back in that place where everything was an argument, because emotions are stupid.


We all know I shopped for a solid year, seems like, making sure that my kid would have everything she could possibly need for her tiny dorm room for the next year. I was mostly-done months ago, and she and her roomies have collaborated and negotiated and everything has been worked out. We’ve had a mini-fridge—given to us by a generous friend whose kid no longer needs it—forever. The roommate is bringing a microwave. Perfect. And then I made the mistake of reading one of those lists of THINGS YOU MAY HAVE FORGOTTEN BUT YOUR COLLEGE FRESHMAN TOTALLY NEEDS MORE THAN OXYGEN kinds of lists, and it featured a fridge cart. You know, a little wheeled metal cube with mesh storage drawers and a wood top, perfectly sized to hold a dorm-size fridge. Dishes and snacks fit in the cart, it keeps the fridge off the floor and expands your storage, etc.

I thought I was done shopping, but I saw this thing and decided Chickie needed one. (Me: “Do you want a fridge cart?” Her: “A what, now?”) And because I am me, it turned into An Adventure. (more…)

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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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Mama’s got a new set of wheels

I have decided that time is a terribly confusing construct. There were years when it seemed to drag on and on and on and I was sure that my children would never grow up and we would be frozen in time, forever. Then I bought a new car and went to write about it and thought to myself, “Surely I have only owned the previous car for a few years, right?” So I went and looked it up and no, actually we bought my previous car almost six years ago. How is that even possible?? Also, how is it possible that we bought that car knowing it would someday go to Chickadee (and laughed about, at that time) and now said child is practically an adult? DARK MAGIC.

Anyway. I bought a new car. Did I mention that? I bought a new car and then I wrote all about it, sort of, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you could go read about it. I love my new car. It is ridiculous how much I love my new car, really. And I’m not just saying that because Otto programmed the display to pop up a picture of the dogs when I start the car up, either. Probably.

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Love in a time of stuff

I often refer to our housekeeping style as “tidy with hidden pockets of disaster.” We spend most of our family time in the kitchen and family room; those rooms are clean and orderly, for the most part. My office desk tends to suffer from pile-itis, but I’m working on that. I exhort the children to keep their spaces free of clutter, or at least not covered in dirty laundry, which in teenage parlance is the same thing. But I must confess that somewhere along the way, part of how we kept the main areas of the house looking reasonable was to dump anything “to be dealt with later” into our master bedroom, because really, who goes in there except us, anyway?

My last big bedroom clean-out was probably 5+ years ago, and the clutter crept back in, and about a week ago, Otto asked if maybe over the weekend we could work on digging out our room a little…? You could tell he was hesitant with the request, and “we” meant “mostly me,” as most of the junk was on my side, and was a combination of stuff belonging to me and the kids. Otto asks for very little, and I love him, and he was right, it was out of control, so I spent most of Saturday sorting, pitching, and rediscovering that, huh, our bedroom is pretty big. I felt super accomplished about it, too.

Of course, part of the motivation to get rid of stuff may have been that I am also in the process of accumulating more stuff. Shhhhh, don’t tell. Also, if you think I’m crazy, that’s okay, but over at Alpha Mom, I’m revealing how retail therapy is about more than shopping right now. I hope it works.

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Not sick, and slightly useful

I spent last week in a grudging state of malingering. Malingerment? Whatever. I was not SICK sick, you understand. I was not so ill that I could take to my bed without guilt, but I had a cold (THANKS, KIDS!) and just didn’t feel 100%. I got up in the morning and packed lunches and did the other morning routine things, then tried to work for a while and often ended up taking a nap at some point and trying to work some more and then making dinner. And I felt really stupid about it all, because: not sick. Not really. Just a little puny, that’s all.

[Aside: Now that I am officially Working Less my inherent tendency towards crippling guilt has kicked into overdrive. Not bringing in the big bucks? WE’LL HAVE LOVINGLY PREPARED HOMEMADE MEALS AND CLEAN BATHROOMS! Because if I’m not singlehandedly taking care of the mortgage, by God, there WILL be from-scratch focaccia with dinner! So what if I have to wash my hands twelve times while I’m making it because of all the nose-blowing and whatnot? I WILL COOK FOR YOU AND YOU WILL APPRECIATE IT. Also I appear to have made myself entirely too useful at the high school; I blinked and found myself holding no fewer than three positions requiring actual thought and action. I’m dumb.]

It was sort of a long week, is my point. Life didn’t stop and I wasn’t sick enough to opt out, so I just dragged along until I started feeling better on Friday. This meant, of course, that I tried to Do All The Things over the weekend and now today I’m tired and cranky. This whole being an adult thing seems overrated. (more…)

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As my denial comes to an end

I don’t know if you know this, but APPARENTLY simply refusing to think about the realities of having a child applying to college/graduating/getting out of Dodge doesn’t stop it from happening. We are gearing up to start Chickadee’s senior year and I have many, many feels. SO MANY FEELS. But I have to pretend I don’t, because, GOD, MOM, STOP. So it’ll just be our little secret, Internet. I know you won’t tell anyone.

We went through the Cabinet Of School Supplies last week and determined that we still had plenty of pencils left over from the last time we bought a gazillion-pack, but we needed loose-leaf paper, and spiral notebooks, and a few other things. All items were picked up or ordered. And then we were at Costco buying All The Maple Syrup this weekend and they had 2-packs of pillows and I thought, Huh, that’s a good price, and we’re here, and she’ll need pillows for her dorm room. It seemed reasonable. The next thing I knew, I’d ordered her a duvet after arranging with a local crafty friend to have a duvet cover custom-made because EITHER my child is extremely picky and wants something that doesn’t exist in the world in duvet cover form OR this is my lame way of making sure she knows HER MOMMY LOVES HER even after she leaves. Or both. Whatever.

The countdown is on, and I still have no idea what I’m doing. Only now there’s an expiration date on my influence. Fantastic! This prompted me to expound on my cluelessness even further over at Alpha Mom today, because ready or not, senior year is going to be a challenge for both of us (more me than her).

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Ain’t no party like a clearance sale party

First: THANK YOU to everyone who responded to yesterday’s post. I found it very helpful, and the girlchild read all your responses as well. I love having a collective brain-trust to draw on so that it’s not always just WELL MOM THAT WAS JUST YOU. Turns out that nearly every female I know has a story of Mean Girls Back In The Day, which is sad, but also somewhat validating. So thank you for sharing your stories.

Second: How many posts can I write about shopping at thrift stores? A bunch, it turns out. Especially when I’ve just scored huge at a ridiculous sale. You can check out my latest at Alpha Mom, though it’s less about shopping and more about what my kid teaches me while we do. She’s turning out pretty great, that girl of mine. (And that brand-new Elie Tahari blouse I got for a buck isn’t so bad, either.)

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I would like a weekend from my weekend

Traditionally the weekend is a time to relax and unwind, to sleep in and do Super Fun Things. I mean… I assume that’s a tradition for some people? We’re terrible at that in general, though I do hold the whole “sleep in” part pretty sacred. (As I said to Otto just last night, it’s not so much that I view getting up early and packing lunches all school year long as a burden, it’s just that by May I am completely OVER it.) Anyway, sometimes we aren’t so great with the whole “Super Fun Things” notion, what with the kids’ various activities and need to be with people other than us, GOD, MOM, because we’re so terrible, plus the whole thing where Duncan has to eat every few hours, and of course the problem of me being a hermit.

All of this is preamble to say that we had a very busy weekend and I am EXHAUSTED. Delicate flowers are sturdier than me. I managed to combine two things in the most stupid way possible, but it all worked out okay in the end.

Thing the first: You may recall that a long, long time ago, we replaced our deck and added a screened-in portion and then I commenced freaking out about furniture for it for… ummm… forever. We did finally buy a table and chairs, followed a bit later by a Craigslist adventure wherein we eventually drove nearly an hour to purchase a dubious wicker seating set that was not so much “indoor/outdoor” as it was “indoor but look, put it outdoors and now it’s outdoor!” This set was… not ideal… but the price was right, you understand. (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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