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Christmas in July?

Every Christmas, Otto makes his family’s traditional Christmas cake, which is actually a recipe that yields TWO bundt cakes. If we have company or are up north visiting, both cakes are consumed. If we’re down here with just us four, one cake gets eaten and the other one gets wrapped and put into the freezer in the garage.

I liked the Christmas cake well enough when I was still eating wheat, but I did not… how shall we say… hold it in the same reverent esteem as Otto and his siblings do. And this is sacrilege, you understand, not to feel a deep devotion to the sacred Christmas cake. (It’s hard to explain to someone how nostalgia might augment a taste in a way that cannot be recreated for those who lack similar experience.) No matter—Monkey was only too willing to jump on the Christmas Cake Is the BEST! EVER! bandwagon with Otto, plus Chickadee isn’t exactly going to turn down an offer of cake, especially for breakfast.

This is all preface to saying that last week, I went to get something out of the garage freezer, and I saw the second Christmas cake in there, and decided it was time for second Christmas. I pulled the cake and set it on the kitchen counter.

“Is that… CHRISTMAS CAKE??” asked Monkey, licking his lips.

“Yep,” I said. “Merry Christmas!” My family proceeded to eat cake every morning until it was gone, and I felt like a hero without expending any effort, so I’m calling it a win all around. Plus I was patting myself on the back about how great it is to have that extra freezer. (more…)

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Vegas, baby

So. Kira and I went to Vegas and took the town by storm!

Hahahahaaaaaaaaaaaa. Not really. But we had a good time.

It started like this: Every summer for the past 10 (!!) years or so, Kira and I have conspired to see one another. As ours is one of those “fake Internet friendships” where we simply met online while both of us were freshly divorced and newly wrecked, we’re not REAL friends, of course, but somehow at that first meeting long ago it turned out that neither of us was a pedophile living in a basement, and our friendship turned into a real boy, Geppetto (a real girl?), and we have been soulmates ever since. This is slightly inconvenient for our husbands, but not, because as wonderful as both of our husbands are (and believe you me, each was assessed in full by the non-marrying friend for worthiness prior to the actual gettin’ hitched part), neither of them wants to hear the sheer volume of words that pour from our mouths when we are in one another’s company.

We’ve somehow managed to visit once a year for a decade, even during the leanest years. Because it’s important. I will forever owe a debt of gratitude to Joshilyn for hosting us for that first girls’ weekend in 2005, during a time when I was depressed and directionless and had forgotten that sometimes girlfriends make it all better. Also, that was my first visit to Georgia, and at the time I had NO IDEA I’d be moving here not too long after. After that first time, we took turns visiting each other’s houses, but—I don’t know if you know this—we have rather a lot of children between us, and so there were always many small people in our faces during each visit. This isn’t AWFUL, you understand, but we felt like after a decade, we deserved a trip just for us. So earlier this year we pulled out a map and said, Hey, what’s between us? Maybe we can meet in the middle…? And so we planned to fly to… Texas. (more…)

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Floors, fluffy-buddies, and filth

Hey, remember when I painted my office? Like, a million years ago? And I was all excited about it but then we decided to order new flooring and we’ve been living life with my entire professional life (contents of my office; whatever) strewn all over the dining room and kitchen? The new floor is going in RIGHT NOW as I type. Finally.

Of course, I’m leaving town tomorrow. So, uh, either I’ll reassemble my office tonight before I go or my family can enjoy having my desk in the middle of the kitchen for a few more days. No biggie, right? Right.

Normally I would’ve been terribly impatient about it all, but because life is never dull around here, I’ve been quite busy… cleaning up poop and worrying that Duncan is dying. (Does this seem like a recurring theme? Because wasn’t he just sick a few weeks ago??) Over the last week Duncan was once again kind of lethargic and off and he stopped jumping up on the furniture to be with us and then he started having accidents in the house… and of course it was a holiday weekend so the vet was closed. He didn’t really scare me until the night (on the weekend! of course!) when he refused to get up to come to bed, even, but slept in the crate in the family room all night because he didn’t want to move. I’m not going to lie; I went to bed that night wondering if he was a lot sicker than we thought and maybe the next day would bring a terrible discovery… but… he slept all night and was happy to see us in the morning. After a few bad days he rallied and now he seems to be fine. Stinker. (more…)

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Lessons learned (veggie/college edition)

We returned from our whirlwind campus touring trip with the realization that yes, Virginia, this college thing is truly right around the corner and Big Decisions need to be made. That is both exciting and unnerving. And every time I try to remind myself that everything will work out just fine, I remember that once we get Chickadee through this process I have to start it all over again with Monkey, like, immediately.

Needless to say, we came home and I said “Oh, we don’t have any food!” and went to the store and promptly purchased All The Ice Cream. I think that’s reasonable, under the circumstances.

Also while we were gone, it rained a ton (on the heels of it having been approximately a billion degrees), so my garden is… experiencing growing pains. Specifically, all of my beautiful nearly-ripe tomatoes proceeded to split and in many cases, fall right off the vine. Still, I’m not complaining. Even ugly tomatoes can be turned into delicious tomato sauce.

gardenhaul-063015

This morning’s haul. Those are three types of tomatoes plus Japanese eggplant (and yes, I’m happy to see you, har har).

There was the matter of discovering HALF a tomato dangling from a vine, one day, and that was bizarre (my beds are in a fenced area), but then later that night we let Licorice out and she came back smelling VERY TOMATO-Y and the other half had vanished and, well, SOMEONE is now answering to “rotten tomato-faced thief.”

So clearly I’m no help on the gardening front, but if you’re curious about my take on questions to ask while touring colleges, I’ve got you covered over at Alpha Mom.

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Hole in the bucket (once more with feeling)

Have I mentioned that I am slightly… er… underemployed at the moment? And how that’s just fine, because I haven’t had a slow period in over a decade, and it’s summer, and we are doing Fun Things and years and years of being completely mentally ill about money mean that I can slack for a little while and we won’t be in financial dire straits or anything? And it’s all good, no problems, what a lovely and much needed break, we just have to be a little more careful and it’s no problem?

Well. I have all this TIME on my hands, now. Time I don’t normally have. Wouldn’t a lull in work be the PERFECT time to paint my office finally? Plus Monkey was going to be away for a while and then Otto went off on a trip and it was just me and Chickadee and, yes, sure, Orange Is The New Black wasn’t going to watch itself, but we finished it in two days (it was the weekend! GIRLS’ WEEKEND with bonding and lesbian prisoners, DUH) and then the following Monday I picked up my special-order, made-from-unicorn-horn-and-fairy-dust paint, and it was time to get down to business. Surely this would be NOTHING like previous DIY projects of snowballing magnitude, right? Right!

Allow me to tell you in words how the pre-painting prep went: I discovered that I have a lot of crap in my office. A LOT OF CRAP. I had a weird giant shelf on the wall that ultimately had to be unbolted and then chiseled off, and I have a giant desk and a filing cabinet and endless bookshelves and a coat rack and and and AND. We emptied most of the office into the dining room, and moved the remaining few big things (desk, futon couch) into the center of the room. It was… not fun, but we got it done. Next up was spackling and sanding. Then I started taping trim while Chickadee removed outlet plates, and that’s when I realized two very important things. (more…)

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Making our own food and entertainment

Here in Georgia it was rainy, rainy, rainy for a while and now the temperature is hovering around 100 all this week. In other words: My garden is going bananas and it’s HOOOOOOOOOT (um, very hot, not hoot) out and I’m getting a little loopy.

Yesterday I went out first thing in the morning to water, and discovered that as soon as the soil was soft, several of my tomato plants wanted to fall over. (They have cages! and stakes! and twine! and yes, I spend more time/energy on those damn tomatoes than my children, but the tomatoes never tell me I’m ruining their lives.) There’s really nothing like wrestling plants into submission at 6:30 in the morning when it’s already 80 degrees and 5 billion percent humidity out, lemme tell you. While I was doing that, I discovered that one of my basil plants was about ready to take over Atlanta, so I cut it down and made a delicious pesto that afternoon.

Of course, while I was prepping the basil, we discovered several stowaways. Ants and weird beetles get smushed, sorry. But it turned out that we had two baby praying mantises (discovered at different times) and those required careful study and filming and transportation back out to nature. Maybe this is only funny to us (we have watched it at least a dozen times and it’s only getting funnier), but first I “ruined” Chickadee’s film, then the mantis did. Bear in mind that this fella is about half an inch long. Enjoy!

Baby Praying Mantis! from woulda on Vimeo.

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Making things is both awesome and scary

Whenever my children are being buttheads—and trust me when I tell you this happens plenty often—the default tension-defuser is for said child to declare, “YOU MADE A THING!” Translation: “I’m a butthead, but you made me, so clearly this is your fault.” (Monkey also loves to follow it up with a gesture towards his sister and the addition of “You made TWO things!” Har har.) And it’s true, I made two things which are apparently now full-fledged individuals whom I cannot control. TERRIFYING.

I feel compelled to make LOTS of things. Some of them work out, some don’t. Some are successful, some not. Some are scary, like when I decided it would be a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC idea to purchase this mushroom-growing kit because HOW FUN! Mind you, I am the only person in our immediate family who even LIKES mushrooms. But SCIENCE! We watered it and peered at it for about a week, wondering if our kit was a dud. But then… look, I’m just going to hide this under the fold in case fungus freaks you out. It’s freaky. But if you dare, click through and behold the FUNGIPOCALYPSE. (more…)

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Berries, berries, berries, berries

We have reached the portion of our program where I am completely ready for school to be done and the only thing I care about very much is going strawberry picking. What can I say? 1) It’s not a terribly long season and 2) I’m a strawberry glutton. There are worse habits to have, I’m sure.

Monkey has started peering into his lunch bag each morning and saying, “Whaddaya know? STRAWBERRIES! I’M SHOCKED!” But it’s not a complaint, because what sort of weirdo would complain about fresh strawberries?? (Do not tell me the sad tale of your second cousin’s girlfriend’s cousin who was deathly allergic to strawberries. I know those people exist, and I am sad for them.)

If you need me, I will be in my kitchen, which looks like a crime scene, and I will be happy. If you need more words about strawberries (you do!) and some great recipes, come on over to Alpha Mom. Spoiler: Tonight for dessert we’re having strawberry basil frozen yogurt. YESSSSSSSSSSSS.

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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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I know that it is spring because…

… every time I let the dogs out, Licorice comes back in covered in twigs and leaves and mysterious little burrs, all “I’M A WILD ANIMAL! YOU CAN’T TAME ME!” Meanwhile, Duncan comes back inside sneezing. Because he is a delicate puppy-flower, and he has hay fever.

… both children are suddenly complaining that they “don’t have any clothes that fit,” as if it’s somehow MY fault that they grew since last year. Also, at 15 and 17, they seem unable to grasp the concept that 10 minutes before the bus comes is not the most optimal time to start demanding I find them some larger shorts. (I’m good, but I’m not THAT good.) I bought Monkey 5 new pairs of shorts after confirming that, yes, every pair of shorts he had magically shrunk over the winter. The first morning he wore a pair, I asked him if they felt alright and he said, “Yes, they’re comfortable and easy to wear!” This prompted a conversation about the extreme (comparative) difficulty of wearing jeans (don’t ask me; I’m just as confused as you are), and for WEEKS he then appeared in the kitchen each morning, struck a pose, and announced that his shorts were easy to wear. I really have no idea what that’s about but it makes me laugh every time.

… tiny ants. TINY ANTS IN MY HOUSE EVERYWHERE OMG MAKE IT STOP.

… everyone suddenly seems very interested in their grades. I am amused by this. I mean, you couldn’t be bothered for the last 9 months, why start caring now? Er, I mean… great job, kids…? (Related: I think we’re all ready for this school year to be over.) (more…)

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