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Batten down those dryer sheets

Welcome to another episode of, “Well hello there, I am not in fact dead, I have just been busy elsewhere and also I suck.” I have baked things for Nerd Night! I have fitted one hundred smelly teenagers for band uniforms! (That’s not a slam; we do fittings during practice and they’re practicing outside and it’s hot and seriously, please send air freshener.) I have Cleaned Things and Dealt With Broken Things and said “let me know how I can help” and actually meant it, which means I have been doing lots of things which are probably uninteresting to anyone other than the folks I am helping, but whatever.

Chickadee is loving college. Monkey is loving his time on our local campus, too, and this week submitted his last college application (!!!), meaning that now we just sit back and wait and see what happens. I feel like both kids were young- and middle-teens with various issues and that time period stretched out in whatever the opposite of dog years would be; each of those hard years seemed to last at least a decade, while I wondered if we would ever be through it. Now that they are both upper-teens and doing well, time is going WOOSH right past us in a blur. It’s early to submit applications, for example, but if I blink, we’ll be at graduation. So.

My darling daughter was already slated to take a trip home this weekend, meaning I’d be seeing her for the first time in a month (not counting FaceTime…), and I was like a kid counting down to Christmas morning. She’d finish class at 2:00 and get her stuff and be home before dinner! SO GREAT! And then—I don’t know if you’ve heard that there’s a hurricane trying to eat the southeastern US right now?—the phone rang before 6:00 this morning and it was a robocall letting us know that classes were canceled for the day due to the storm. Which: thanks? Instead of waiting for dinnertime, my (supposedly) fully functional adult child stumbled into my office around 9:30, still in her pajamas, with a car full of laundry, and yay for her being home ahead of the storm. BUT I DIDN’T NEED TO KNOW THIS BEFORE DAWN. Also when you see that it is 1) way too early and 2) the caller ID says it’s your kid’s college calling, that has a way of making you (me) release all the adrenaline in the world while you steel for Terrible News, and then when it turns out to be a robocall, you might be kind of angry. And jumpy. Because adrenaline.

All’s well that ends well, I suppose. Except the laundry, because that’s never going to end. (No, she hasn’t done laundry at school even once. In a whole month. I KNOW.)

While I was off doing other things, I did write a couple of posts over at Alpha Mom. First, I am admitting that my neuroses about my career choices and salary know no bounds, and then yesterday I answered a reader question about transitioning from homeschooling to public school. You could go read those while I fold laundry, if you wanted.

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Back to the grind

Otto has this thing about asking me how my day was. I mean, he really wants to know, I’m sure. But he asks when he gets home and he often asks at dinner and sometimes he asks when we sit down on the couch later to watch TV, and he almost always asks again when we turn out the light and get into bed at night. It’s endearing the first fifty-seven thousand times. Last night when he asked me for the third time that evening I snapped, “YOU ALREADY ASKED ME THAT” both because I’m a terrible person AND because half the time, I have no freaking clue how my day was. How was my day? What did I do all day? WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE???

I don’t think this is a kid-away-at-college thing. I think this is a Mir-is-a-somewhat-disorganized-dumbass thing. I do a certain amount of work each day, of course, but then I also find myself saying things like “Oh, I went grocery shopping!” like that’s some sort of major achievement. Um. Yay me? Yes, we have orange juice and a fresh loaf of bread! TRULY I AM A MARVEL! And if I manage to both do laundry AND put it away, well, I don’t require a standing ovation or anything, but if you must….

Summer was flying by the seat of our pants. Now that school is back in session, I’m trying to get us back on schedule. I’ve found that making dinner sacred again (you know, around marching band and everything else…) is usually a good anchor, so to that end, I’m over at Alpha Mom sharing my 10 Commandments of Drama-Free School Night Dinners. If you must know, last night we had chicken chili (made in the crock pot, natch), the leftovers of which will be nachos later this week. Tonight we’re having savory (gluten-free) cheddar buckwheat waffles topped with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, and onions in a white wine reduction. I can’t swear that cooking dinner is the reason my family still puts up with me, but I have my suspicions.

Tonight when Otto asks how my day was, I’ll reply with grace and love, “It was delightful. Shut up and eat your fancy waffles.”

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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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Not dead! But still disappointing!

If you’ve been feeling let down because I haven’t been writing here much this summer, know that you’re in good company—most of my family is annoyed with me as well. First I received a phone call from my father asking me if I was still alive, and if so, if everything was alright, because “when you don’t blog for more than a week I get worried.”

Next, I received a text from my eldest (who was in the next room at the time), because although she will happily walk miles to catch Pokemon, apparently ungluing her ass from the couch to speak to me in person is too much effort.


I guess what I’m saying is: If you’re bothered, get in line. But I’m well aware that I suck. So! A brief(ish) (lies) summary of what’s been happening in my life since we last spoke, and it’s going to be SCINTILLATING, I’m sure. (more…)

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#*%^(! squirrels, man

Hey, remember last year, how the squirrels got into my tomatoes for the first time in forever, and I had unfairly blamed Licorice for a while before I figured it out, and then it became clear that the squirrels were just looking for water?

Good times. And by “good,” I of course mean “rage-inducing.” By the end of the summer we’d already used up all of the tomato sauce I’d made, on account of having only made a few pitiful batches. Most of my tomatoes were stolen.

Well. THIS YEAR would be different. Sure, it was dry out for a while, but then it rained for, like, a week straight. NO PROBLEM! Those pesky squirrels wouldn’t need to decimate my tomatoes, right? HA. HAHA. MY OPTIMISM IS CHARMING AND DELUSIONAL.


This specimen comes from the lone box up on the porch, the ONE plant I thought would remain undisturbed. And yesterday when Otto went out to let Licorice into the dog run, a squirrel chattered at him from INSIDE THE BOX and then dropped this and scampered away. Fucker. (Note the companion jalapeño which was sampled and discarded. I hope it gave him heartburn.)

In conclusion, I have no idea how to reliably keep squirrels out of my garden and I am cranky about it. On the other hand, I have lots of suggestions on how to take care of your marriage while life gets in the way, which is only because 1) life is always getting in the way, 2) life is less annoying that squirrels, and 3) Otto is the best and my favorite.

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Weirdest summer ever

I had grand plans for this summer. I did. This is the Last Summer, our last chance to operate as a family unit of 4 (if you believe the books with titles like Letting Your College Freshman Go and Once They Leave They’re Gone; Whoops! Just Kidding! They’re Back and Still Ungrateful and It’s Perfectly Normal: Why Your Child Becomes an Asshole Before Moving Out) and Do Things.

Except. Well, hey, we’re Doing Things. Many things. ALL THE THINGS! Just… not so much as a family unit, it seems. Everyone’s working. None of our schedules seem to sync up. When we finally have a day when no one has to go do anything, we retreat to separate corners of the house, doing our own things. (For me: quietly, without talking to other humans. For the kids: sometimes talking to their friends, but definitely not to us parents.) Eventually Otto coaxes the rest of us out with promises of ice cream, but it’s not exactly the picture of family togetherness ’round here at the moment, is my point.

Otto was all “We can do it! We can take a vacation! Let me just look at the calendar!” And the only time he could come up with was, like, 36 hours in-between two other things. He insisted that would be great. Um. Maybe not?

I’m sure everything is really great and fantastic, actually, I am just cranky because I’m tired. (more…)

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Things we do

Summer is in full swing! I know this because 1) it is hot and sticky outside and 2) I spend a fair amount of my life wondering why I don’t have more time now that school is out and DEAR GOD WHY AM I STILL PACKING LUNCHES??


So some things have changed, and others remain maddeningly the same.

In no particular order, here are some of the things our family now does:

Update the calendar in the kitchen. Remember how summer is relaxed and easier? HAHAHAHAAAAAAA nope. My school-year routine is to take down the calendar on the first of the month and fill it in, but now that both of my children have jobs with variables, we seem to be spending a lot more time filling things in and wondering when there is time to do various other things. Also I apparently need to make sure that my daughter sees every doctor in the world before she leaves for college, because it’s important to refill prescriptions/get new contact lenses/have a meningitis booster shot/get teeth cleaned/etc. before you move to a different planet. (Okay FINE, she’s going to be less than 2 hours away. Details.) Also let us not forget that now we have to record things like Chickie’s school breaks (never at the same time as Monkey/Otto’s school breaks, natch) as well as trying to coordinate her being available to come home for things like her brother’s Senior Night and such. Fun!

Fight over who gets to do laundry when. We used to have a system, man. It worked. There are only 4 of us, so it’s not like it should be complicated. But for some reason now everyone runs out of clean socks at the same time and starts bellowing about how THIS IS THE ONLY TIME I HAVE TO DO THIS (except me; I’m flexible, but the kids, not so much). Oddly enough—try to contain your shock—no one is interested in fighting over who gets the privilege of unloading the dishwasher. Weird. (more…)

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It’s all about moderation

I mentioned that I’ve been making bread again, right? The thing about homemade bread is that… then you have a lot of bread lying around. Weird how that works. And my first few batches of homemade sourdough didn’t rise quite as much as I wanted them to, plus they weren’t terribly sour, which means they were excellent for things like toast but not so much for things like sandwiches. You know what else homemade, dense bread like that is great for? Overnight French toast.

If you’ve never made this before, go make this overnight bananas foster French toast immediately. And look, I’m not gonna lie… I made this for my kids for dinner, because my children need more calories shoved down their gullets, but this is not health food. (I made it with homemade wheat bread so I’m okay with it.) Just don’t think about it too hard; it has BANANAS which are HEALTHY.

Me serving my kids French toast for dinner: Questionable parenting. Me trying to help a reader grappling with sensitive teenage identity issues: Hopefully better parenting, but I guess only time will tell. And I feel like balancing some compassion and understanding with carbs has its place, too.

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Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’…

I feel like we are busy all the time and there are a million things happening at once AND YET I am also somehow getting nothing done. This is… probably not good. Some of it is under my control and some of it is genuinely not, but even the stuff I can control is often being replaced by other, perhaps less pressing, things. Because I’m a dumbass.

Thought: “Oh, I should really work on revising my resume.”
Action: Revising my resume.
Action: Spend a week cultivating my own sourdough starter, commence various baking experiments, throw away a few loaves, eventually produce decent sandwich bread for my family.

Thought: “Right, we have all those things to schedule this summer. I should get on that.”
Action: Scheduling those things.
Action: Scheduling things for the 300 volunteer committees I am somehow serving on, as well as finally submitting some receipts for reimbursement because a year ago I bought some candy for the concessions stand to sell and I just remembered.

So basically I am about a year behind on… stuff… and in the meantime MAH BAYBEE is graduating in less than two months and MAH OTHER BAYBEE is also doing non-baby things and I am verklempt. So! A few recent snippets: (more…)

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By my fingernails

I called my dad from the car today—both because my ridiculous new car makes it easy and because who has time for an actual phone call with words unless it’s en route to someplace?—and he told me that he is really enjoying the Nerd Night posts, and thinking about which desserts he would like me to make for him. “Oh yeah?” I said. “Which one piqued your interest?”

“I think maybe that fruit-covered cheesecake,” he said. “Only, when you make it for me, could you maybe not drop it on the floor?” Yea, verily, I was offended. I explained with multiple huffs that I DID NOT DROP IT ON THE FLOOR, I merely whacked it into the toaster oven AND THEN CAUGHT IT. Sheesh.

But we laughed, anyway, because what is more ME than baking a beautiful cheesecake and mangling it at the last minute? Probably nothing. It’s a pretty good life metaphor right now, and everything seems to be racing past me at breakneck speed, and here I am in the middle of it, peeling back tinfoil. Or something. I’ve been thinking about how I deal with everyone around me being so busy, and my solution is to slow down, for better or for worse. (That link will take you to read more on Alpha Mom, if you’re so inclined.)

I hung up with Dad and went where I was going and did what I needed to do and then headed home in some very ugly weather. Internally I was mumbling and grumbling about how gross it is outside, but then it occurred to me that maybe I’d see a rainbow. And you know what? I did. I pulled over and took a picture of it, even. Sometimes slowing down has its perks.


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