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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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Highs and lows even out

Sometimes people ask me about the secret to success when it comes to a blended family, and usually I laugh and laugh and then ask them what they mean by “success,” and also, have they actually MET my family…?

But I think I’ve figured it out. The key is to make All Things Family mimic the child’s natural propensity for mood shifts. Even-tempered kid? Keep things on a nice, regular keel. Not-so-even-tempered kid? Hit the outlet mall.

Where else can you go where—when your mother inquires about where to find that shirt in the window, and when the sales associate informs her that that’s the last one, but she’s welcome to have it—you find yourself dying of embarrassment as your mother steps into the window in front of God and everyone and starts dismantling a mannequin? And then your stepfather moves in to take some pictures of your mother making ridiculous faces with a disembodied plastic arm draped around her shoulders?

But then just when you’ve determined you cannot possibly live under these sorts of conditions, that very same mother (with the shirt she ripped off the mannequin, thankyouverymuch) waits in line at Aeropostale for, like, 45 minutes just to buy you some cool jeans while your stepfather waits in the car (thank God).

There you go. Free of charge, the secret to blending your family (and also picky-teen-approved jeans for $6): The outlet mall.

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We have been assimilated

I post a lot of Amazon grocery deals over at Want Not, largely because we have never belonged to a warehouse club and this has always been the cheapest way for me to, say, buy enough Cheez-Its to last my children more than a week without having to take out a home equity loan. Nearly every time I post something I think is a super great deal, though, someone invariably comments, “Oh, it’s less than that at Costco.” And then I make a voodoo doll out of that commenter.

Kidding! (How could I possibly make a voodoo doll without a piece of their hair?) I respond patiently, as I always do, that some of us live in the boonies and do not have a local Costco. I DO NOT HAVE A LOCAL COSTCO. Yes, I understand that it is the Mecca of all things wonderful, but I don’t have one, so just leave me be with my cases of cereal bars from Amazon, okay?!

But… there’s a Costco in towards Atlanta, about an hour from here. And every now and then, Otto and I talk about how even if we only went out there every few months, it might be worth it…? We used to do that with Trader Joe’s, after all. We’d take coolers and go stock up a few times a year. Somehow—perhaps our recent thumbs up from the financial advisor left us feeling like we had too much money?—we decided It Was Time. (more…)

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The joy of poppin’ tags

This week over at Alpha Mom, I’ve written about the best way to go thrifting with your teen. It does not include any information about my daughter’s penchant for going straight for the neon-green hooker heels and dancing around in them declaring, “I’M A PRETTY LAYDEEEEEEEE!” (which, now that I think of it, seems like a glaring omission). I did, however, manage to piss off a commenter pretty much immediately, because when I say “this is the rule in our family,” OBVIOUSLY what I am saying is “I am judging you for doing anything differently and you should get really mad and leave me an angry comment.”

Oh, Internet. Never change! It’s okay, I can soothe my battered soul over at Goodwill.

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How I make it all even out

Ah, glorious springtime! The birds are chirping! The lizards are leaping! The pollen is… pollening. Yes.

Like any other red-blooded American family, this time of year means that we are committed to cleaning and repairing various facets of our dwelling, because everyone knows that warmer weather + tax return = copious swearing from someone on a ladder. That’s just how it works.

I feel like every time we set out to do “a little project” it turns into our own special brand of “there’s a hole in the bucket.” (Why yes, I’ve noted this before, because it’s been happening for years.) This has a three-pronged effect of making me insane, because 1) the MONEY part of it makes me panicked and neurotic no matter how much mental preparation I’ve done and even if all the necessary money was set aside beforehand, 2) the TIME aspect just adds to the fun as I become convinced that life will never be normal again, and 3) the MESS is just the final, OCD cherry on the losing-my-marbles sundae.

Perhaps Otto and I need to have our own home improvement show. He can be all calm and capable and get stuff done while I run around pointing at holes in the wall and crying. (more…)

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Various wondrous things

Okay, “wondrous” might be overselling it a bit. There are varying degrees of wondrous. Like, there’s a whole spectrum of interesting that spans all the way from “truly wondrous” on down to “WTFness.” And I will leave it to you to place the following along that continuum as needed.

[Sidebar: Let us pause for a moment to acknowledge that anything you hear from me today or for the next several weeks will be completely allergy-addled. I woke up this morning and had to chisel my face open. For a few minutes I thought maybe I had pinkeye, but no, it’s just regular ol’ allergies. I guess. Everything and everyone I love is currently coated in a thin layer of yellow grit, and my eyes—long my favorite facial feature—are buried somewhere behind the crusty, puffy skin that has conveniently swollen to twice its normal eyebag size all the way to HOLY HELL WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE. The pollen is taking over the woooooorlllld! And I am very cranky about it.]

Anyway. Wondrous. Wondrous! Yes, the miracles of ordinary life keep bowling me over. Allow me to knock you down with them as well. Don’t worry, there’s a nice soft pollen-drift right behind you to cushion your fall. (more…)

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Poppin’ tags, suburban style

Know what Chickadee loves? Let’s take a brief quiz:

A) When I sing and dance along with Thrift Shop any time it comes on the radio.
B) When I refer to visiting our local Goodwill as “poppin’ tags.”
C) When I respond to any compliment on my attire—however slight—with a deep, booming, “I LOOK IN-CRED-UH-BULL!”
D) All of the above.
E) None of the above, and P.S., it’s not nice to taunt the teenager.

[Your quiz will not be graded. I am too busy cutting the plastic tag thingies off our latest haul. But here’s Licorice’s favorite video version as a reward for playing along.]

The thing is, I’ve been a thrift store shopper since I was a teen with babysitting money in my pocket. The fact that there’s now a popular song about it doesn’t automatically transform me into a hipster. (Especially when you consider that my most frequent purchases at Goodwill are t-shirts which still have their original store tags. I’m not after your “cool, old” stuff so much as I’m after the bargain on stuff I hope you don’t realize I got at Goodwill. Thank goodness I’m not telling the entire Internet that’s where I got my “expensive” clothes. Um. Oops?) Really the only thing that’s different now is that my kids think it’s cool instead of embarrassing. (more…)

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Just another wild weekend

It seems like—particularly after the first full week of reintegrating ourselves as a family of four and everyone managing work and school and stuff—the weekend should be a time to relax and unwind and simply have fun. We should… sleep! Watch television! Meet up with friends and simply hang around with no set goals in mind!

Well, I’m sure that’s what SHOULD have happened. You know, if I wasn’t such a giant meaniehead. But you know… I am Mom, hear me suck the fun out of everything. HOORAY!

It actually started with poor, long-suffering Otto. I’m sure Otto would’ve LOVED to loll around this weekend and watch cars go around in circles on the television. Instead, he got up at o’dark thirty on Saturday and started driving north. My covert flute escapades have nothing on what customers at some random Dairy Queen in Virginia must’ve seen on Saturday afternoon when Otto met up with my ex and transferred the rest of Chickie’s belongings to his car. So, really, Otto drove for about 17 hours straight, which means that everything else that happened here was leisurely in comparison. Right? Right. (more…)

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The little black pants that could

I may have mentioned a few (dozen) times that I’m in a play this week…? Possibly? And one of the super things about putting on a production of The Vagina Monologues is that it really doesn’t require any sort of set or costuming or anything. Basically the director picks a theme for what the cast will wear and then everyone goes home and pulls something out of their closet and whatever. Boom. Done.

Last year we had to wear black, purple and gray, in whatever combinations we wanted. That was really easy, frankly, since I wear those three colors kind of a lot, anyway. This did not stop me, however, from going out last year and buying some, umm, SPECIAL pants for the show. In my defense, they were on clearance. Also in my defense, I was doing the “angry vagina” monologue and I really wanted to wear something kind of hardcore that I would never ordinarily wear. Further in my defense, SHUT UP, it is TOTALLY not weird that I bought some faux snakeskin black, shiny skinny jeans.

[Chickadee was horrified. Like, asked me over and over to confirm that I would never, ever, under any circumstances, wear them “for real” any time other than the show. Her horror amused me, but not to the point where I wore them anywhere else. Because they are ridiculous and that was the point.] (more…)

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Keeping me grounded

My Prednisone-fueled pace for 2013 continues unabated. I don’t know that I’m actually accomplishing anything beyond what a normal, functioning adult should be doing—possibly the last year has left me with a bar that is not so much low as it is smashed-on-the-ground and therefore easy to clear—but it certainly FEELS like I am Getting Crap Done in various areas of my life.

And yet, between cleaning things and getting work done and spending hours on the phone with the government (that’s… a whole ‘nother story for another time, and it shall be called Medicaid May Actually Be A Unicorn) and Getting Healthy Again (This Time With Feeling) and on and on and so forth, I have been a bit lax about doing some of those… shall we say… elusive “nice things for myself.”

So today, I did. I went out to lunch with a friend! And on my way home I stopped in at a consignment shop where I brought some stuff a looooong time ago, and lo, I had credit to spend, and before I knew what was happening, my “find a sensible black purse” mission had been supplanted by “OOOOH PURPLE!” and I was walking out of there with a “magenta leather” bag I clearly needed to have. LOOK AT ME, being wild and crazy. A purple purse! I may as well dance naked in the pale moonlight! (No, I am not getting out often enough; why do you ask?) [Edited to add: I did some research because I am NOT a Purse Person and was curious what I’d gotten. It’s this Coach Alexandra, from a 2009 (?) line.]

When I picked up Monkey from school, he pointed to my new bag on his seat and said, “What’s that?”

“My new purse!” I said, ever so pleased with myself. “It’s my favorite color!”

“You’re dressed head to toe in your favorite color,” he observed, with a small smirk. This was perplexing, as I’m not wearing any purple today at all. I’m wearing blue jeans and a black shirt. My face must’ve registered my confusion, because with a sweep of his arm, he proclaimed, “BRUISE. Now that you have that bag, the look is complete.”

So, uh, apparently my favorite color is “bruise.” He’s not wrong. (But I did enjoy that hour or so of feeling all sassy before I was schooled….)

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