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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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In case audio is your thing…

… I cannot remember if I have mentioned here or not that I’m going to be in The Vagina Monologues again this year. But in case I hadn’t, before, there ya go. Now I have. This may not mean a thing to you (maybe you live very far away; maybe you are opposed to vaginas for some reason), but this morning I was on a local podcast along with one of our directors to talk about and promote the upcoming show. And you could listen to it, if you wanted to, to hear how much MORE awkward I am in real life (hard to believe, I know).

Bear in mind that I got a phone call late last night asking me if I could step in today, because our other director was going to be unavailable and my schedule is flexible and also I am a sucker. I said sure, because why not? Then we got there this morning and had settled into our chairs and Andrew was about to start recording and Audey was all, “And I want you to do part of your monologue, too.” OH. OKAY. NO SWEAT. I did it, but, uh, surprise! (This is a lovely building the newspaper offices are in. I have very much enjoyed talking about Eve Ensler’s important work. Sure, I’d be happy to start moaning and let you record it.)

You can listen to the podcast here (or download it, if you’re fancy like that). If you’re local, please come to our show! And if you’re not, please consider visiting the V-Day Event Locator to find a local production to attend in February. All productions of The Vagina Monologues are fundraisers for organizations dedicated to preventing violence against women—see a fun show, support a great cause.

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We need to talk about kale

Well I, myself, need to talk about kale. Maybe you don’t. But you’re here and I do, so we’re going to talk about kale.

[Possible alternatives to talking about kale: Talking about the fact that I just got 10″ of hair chopped off and now I have no idea how the hell to manage my hair, because even though I was tired of just putting it up in a massive bun every day, that doesn’t mean I’ve figured out how to do an actual hairstyle ever in my life; talking about the fact that my kids are going on yet another school trip and this morning when I was trying to assist Monkey with his packing he got RIGHTEOUSLY PISSED OFF at me for not letting him do it on his own and it was so age-appropriate but also so aggravating that I had to hide in my office to both take some deep breaths and giggle; talking about how Duncan is ONCE AGAIN becoming allergic to the food he’s eating and I’m switching the dogs to another option, but in the meantime he is itchy and unhappy and his ears smell like cheese. In other words: You really wanna hear me talk about kale.]

Kale is stupid. I mean, I know not everyone is into salads, but I happen to quite like salad-things, and I love, like really LOVE spinach (honest and for true), but kale continues to infuriate me. I KNOW it’s a superfood, I KNOW it’s good for me, blah blah blah, yes, got it. Still: kale is stupid. Kale mocks me with its pretentiousness. Kale can be made palatable but it is SO MUCH WORK and in the end, what? You’ve found a cure for cancer? Celebrated a job well done? Helped the homeless?? No. You’ve eaten some kale. Whoop-de-do. (more…)

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We made you some things

Hey, remember how my kid came down with something flu-ish on Christmas? Because of course she did? And then a week went by and figured it was just her, so on New Year’s Eve Day when we were making vision boards and I wasn’t feeling so hot, I figured it was no big deal… right up until it became clear that yes indeed, I was going to be ringing in the new year with a fever and a lot of grumpiness. Oh well.

I don’t know what sort of virus it is (was), but I finished up my board in bed, yesterday, and today I am up but moving kind of slow. That’s fine. While I go drink a whole lotta water and work on putting Christmas away, I have three things for you.

Thing the first: A really hard question over at Alpha Mom, which you may find interesting if you have younger, dating teens.

Thing the second: My vision board for this year (click to embiggen).
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Thing the third: Chickadee’s board for this year (click to embiggen). (Shared with permission and my favorite, favorite one of hers ever. 2016 may just be amazing, friends.)
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While we build our boat

How was your Christmas? Ours was lovely, just before the family scattered on their various journeys, and right now I am struggling to get back into “real life” mode while ALSO dealing with the fact that we’re under a flash flood warning and our yard has turned into a river (thanks, Obama!). This means that the dogs are all manner of freaked out—Duncan likes to bark to let me know he heard thunder, which is SUPER USEFUL—and also because they are delicate flowers, they don’t want to go outside in the rain and mud. And that’s fine, if they want to learn how to use a toilet, but apparently that’s not an option.

In short: it’s wet and dark and muddy and loud and I am running out of Nature’s Miracle. (If you don’t know what that is, consider yourself lucky. I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.)

I wrote you a post over at Alpha Mom, though, and I had plenty of time to write it because I haven’t seen my kid in days. Well, that’s an exaggeration: she tends to surface for food and Netflix binging, but as we continue the Countdown To Launch, we just opened up a whole new world of freedom here. It’s all so weird. I mean, she’s like, I dunno, 10 years old, right? Yeah.

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Obnoxious, but sometimes with good reason

I spent the bulk of the past weekend and this week baking cookies. Some doughs I make and freeze for later baking. Some cookies I went ahead and baked and froze when they were done. Some I baked this week and refrigerated. And then—like EVERY SINGLE YEAR as if I’m just new to this whole thing—on Thursday I of course discovered that the number of Cookie Gifting Vessels I owned vs. the List Of Teachers was a mismatch, and off I went to buy more containers. At least that trip to the store broke up my day of finishing baking and dividing up everything and packaging it nicely and printing little cards and all of that.

Several people have asked me why I still bother to do this, now that the kids are in high school. Most people don’t, I guess. For one thing, I enjoy it, even though it makes for a rather nutty week. For another, I can’t just drop a wad of cash on every teacher who’s making a difference in my kids’ lives (even though sometimes I wish I could). A bunch of cookies seems like the very least I can do.

Someone asked me what they have to do to get on my cookie list. I said, “Teach at my kids’ school and don’t piss me off.” See? It’s easy. (And honestly, only once in many, many years have I ever skipped giving a gift to a specific teacher. It’s pretty hard to make me mad enough to where I withhold cookies.)

And yes, okay, part of why I do it is because sure, I can be a pain in the ass sometimes (pretend to be surprised), and I want to do something nice for the folks I may have irritated earlier in the year. I’m not one to opt for “not making waves” over what I think is right (again, just play along and act like that’s surprising). I will hold feet to the fire if I need to. But then I’ll make you cookies. It all evens out.

This brings us to my column this week at Alpha Mom, wherein a mom asks if she’s being too helicopter-y, and I get right up on my soap box about speaking up, loud and clear. It’s not about cookies, it’s about teaching our kids what is and isn’t okay.

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I have many questions

My life is confusing. I mean, I’m sure it’s no more confusing than anyone else’s, but I am easily perplexed. Sometimes I just randomly wonder about stuff, and other times I am genuinely flummoxed. Because it’s Monday and I am me, I’m just going to share some of my recent questions with you in no particular order. Feel free to offer insight, or just to let me know you’re confused along with me.

What is a reasonable expectation for a cheap hotel? Some background: Over the summer during our Collegevisitpalooza, Chickadee and I stayed at a perfectly serviceable, if unremarkable, hotel near her chosen college. The cost for the night was… around $100, I think. (Bear in mind this is not in a major metropolitan area, or anything. Small town, maybe 8-10 hotels from which to choose.) Last week we went for another visit and this time I went poking around online and chose a slightly cheaper option—about $60 for the night—because I am cheap and it was just a place to crash for the night and no biggie. Yeah. Um. They did indeed LEAVE THE LIGHT ON FOR US, but it quickly became clear that that was perhaps because 1) they didn’t want us to wait in the dark for the 10 minutes it took the manager to appear at the check-in desk, and 2) the light scares the roaches a little. It was… so gross. Like, I-checked-for-bedbugs gross. We were there for about 9 hours and we lived, obviously, but when I submitted a complaint via the website, all I got back was a “we are taking measures to rectify this issue” email. Am I out of line here, or should $60 still get you a roach-free room? (more…)

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Never a dull moment

I really thought that once Chickadee got her license, my life would become less complicated. Like: immediately, and exponentially less complicated. Because everyone knows that just when you feel like your kids have reached an age of relative self-sufficiency, you are then relegated to 24/7 chauffeur status for years while they are too old for you to micromanage their lives but too young to handle their own transportation.

To some extent it’s true that things are easier now, in the sense that I am no longer driving back and forth to school more often than not, because I can let the kids take my car and they do many of the same activities, and then I can just wait at home in my apron to serve them a hot meal they don’t want when they get back. (I almost never wear an apron, so that part is hyperbole.) And while Chickie doesn’t have her own car, we happen to have a spare (you know, the haul-the-camping-trailer truck which, now that the camper is gone, is mostly the haul-the-Costco-shopping-trip truck), so it’s not a hardship to let her take my car and leave me out of the daily GOTTA GO TO THIS THING AND THEN GO THERE BE HOME LATER BYEEEEEE thing.

On the other hand, sometimes the kids don’t have the same activity, and sometimes they still need me for something other than rides (the NERVE), and I’m supposed to be working on work stuff and I am also working on book stuff (shhhhhh; the first rule of HolyshitIamwritingabook Club is that we don’t talk about HolyshitIamwritingabook Club) and I am trying to get back to exercising regularly and it’s getting colder so I need to cook and bake stuff to make the house warmer (that’s totally a thing) and sometimes the dogs need me to play with them. Stuff is still going on, is my point. And mostly it’s manageable.

The thing is, it’s a delicate balance, and it doesn’t take much to upset it. CUE OMINOUS MUSIC. (more…)

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Chicken and parsnips and college

College sounds like a terrible addition to a chicken and parsnips dish. It would make it taste funny! But I am a poor planner and so I am jamming two wholly unrelated things together, plus I am giving you a recipe I sort of Frankenstein-ed together just because I liked it. Hey, you get what you pay for, here.

First, college: It’s that magical time of year when everyone with a high school senior is freaking out about college applications, so I wrote about it for Alpha Mom. You should probably go read it if college applications are in your kid’s future, because if I learned anything while asking around, it was that College Insanity has this pernicious habit of making itself look totally reasonable to its victims. To wit: Some people told me with COMPLETELY STRAIGHT FACES that their kid applied to 20+ schools. TWENTY. OR MORE. They didn’t think that was weird at all. That’s because crazy doesn’t know it’s crazy, but don’t worry, because I’m only too happy to point out how utterly bonkers that is.

Second, I made a super yummy dinner last night and it made me happy, though I discovered on Facebook that apparently parsnips are quite polarizing. People seem to either love them or hate them. Me, I love them. Otto, too. Chickadee had an alternate meal because we were eating animals, and then Monkey was very suspicious and told me the parsnips “taste like nothing” so I told him to shut up and eat his nothing. (I kid. I didn’t tell him to shut up.) If you’d like the recipe and a lot of parenthetical commentary, read on. (more…)

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Life is like a sticky banana

Bananas are a very tricky thing ’round here. They have to be ripe—but not TOO RIPE—and they cannot have any signs of bruising (because that’s not a thing that ever happens to bananas… oh, wait…) because that is Completely Unacceptable. This is where people who are new here assume that I have toddlers because HAHA no one over the age of 4 would be this picky about fruit, right? Yeah. No. (For the record, it is really only one child who is super-picky about the state of bananas, but then the OTHER child insists things like, “I don’t like watermelon” and WHO DOESN’T LIKE WATERMELON, THAT’S CRAZY so let’s call it a draw when assessing Which Teen Is More Insane When It Comes To Fruit, I guess.)

I don’t pack bananas in lunches all that often, on account of the whole It Must Be Banana Perfection thing, but every now and then the planets align and a perfect banana emerges. I will lovingly scoop it up, adorn it with a quick note a la The Bloggess (I did it once and then there was complaining if it didn’t happen every time), and place it INSIDE a large plastic container also housing a sandwich, so that the aforementioned pristine banana-ness may be maintained despite whatever trials and travails a lunch bag might encounter throughout the morning. Both children are aware that this constitutes an implicit Banana Contract wherein YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE BLESSED BANANA AND NOW YOU WILL EAT IT.

You can skip eating the crackers. You can leave the juice pouch. Heck, don’t even finish your sandwich. I don’t care! But eat the damn banana. Because perfection is fleeting. (more…)

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