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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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Here, have some toast in a pretty bowl

Monkey is not recovering as quickly as I’d hoped, plus he doesn’t really like to be coddled when sick. Well, he likes me to fetch him things, sometimes, but for the most part he just wants to lie down in a dark room and cough in a way that makes me wonder if maybe he has tuberculosis rather than the flu. My constant, “Honey, do you need anything?” prodding is both annoying to him and doesn’t fulfill my need to MAKE IT BETTER, so I have to content myself with making toast, mostly. In case you were wondering, yes, I DO spread the butter all the way to the edges. Because LOVE.

I did manage to sneak out briefly because the other kid (still not sick! everyone knock on wood!) has an upcoming school competition for which she requires pantyhose. (Apparently the competition is taking place in 1985….) Confused by the bright orb in the sky and the fresh air around me, I drove to my closest Big Box Store to procure said pantyhose, and then decided to actually LOOK AT SOME BOWLS just in case there was something wonderful there. And there was!


(Here you understand “wonderful” to mean “colorful and cheap.”) We are now the proud owners of 6 new bowls which are NEARLY the same size as the rest of our bowls, and these are rainbow-y and make me happy, plus they were $2 apiece. I will remind myself of this when I start breaking them. Or maybe you will remind me? Thanks.

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A fitting end to the summer (part 2)

I think I promised you some super-exciting content about our last visit to Costco. (I tell you what, this blog is worth EXACTLY what you’re paying for it. Such value!)

Before that, though, apparently I am falling down on my chronicling duties by not verifying that 1) my children went back to school and 2) they were wearing shoes when they did it. Here you go:


[Obvious from the picture: My darling vegetarian has thus far refused to let me buy her leather boots, which means she wears these crappy ones that fall apart and make her look homeless. I’m not saying she doesn’t rock that particular look—she’s pretty cool and all—but lord, child, let me buy you some decent shoes. Not obvious from the picture: Monkey’s shoes are, for the first time, larger than his sister’s (I think his heels are just further back).] (more…)

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Pardon me while I distract myself

I actually had this whole funny little post planned about The Day Of The Mystery Puddle—it appeared in the middle of the kitchen and we started playing Dog, Garbage Bag Leak, or Oblivious Child Spill—but before I had a chance to write it, Duncan commenced peeing all over the place and generally behaving unwell. At that point the puddle seemed less amusing and more like something I should’ve been more alarmed by in the first place, y’know?

Anyway. Duncan is also kind of lumpy and bumpy (“Age!” said the vet, the first time I pointed it out. “Or maybe something else! Who knows!”) and checking him over revealed one of his bumps had significantly expanded. No bueno. Off to the vet he went, first thing Monday morning, and now he’s in surgery. We’re waiting to hear whether this is a small expensive annoyance or a big expensive heartbreak (or something in-between).

So! I’m working! And shopping! And not thinking about my smushy babykins having dubious lumps extracted! It seemed like a perfect time to share some shopping tips for hard-to-fit-teens over at Alpha Mom as a distraction. You could come read it, and then we could be distracted, together.

[Edited to add: Duncan came through the surgery just fine, and other than an abscess and couple of fatty deposits the vet found nothing we need to worry about. He (the dog, not the vet) spent the night fairly confused and this morning is mighty angry that we won’t let him eat his stitches. We lucked out.]

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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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