I have poor planning skills

Having children just a year apart in school has its advantages, sometimes—they often do the same activities at the same time, and this year when so many things are broken into a 9th/10th night and an 11th/12th night, we only have to go once—but somehow I forgot about the whole TWO KIDS HEADING TO COLLEGE AT NEARLY THE SAME TIME thing.

It’s not fair, really. I am constantly gauging and assessing Chickadee’s experiences this year to help us make decisions about how to handle things with Monkey. This is (surprise!) resulting in a litany of “But how come HE doesn’t have to—” and “but when I was a junior—” and the occasional “But Chickie didn’t—” and that’s SUPER FUN. I’m really beginning to understand how people with 4 or more children end up with the oldest and the youngest feeling like they were raised by completely different people. Live and learn! Or live and give up! Either way!

Lucky for me, years of raising “different” kids and having my perception of what’s truly important in life challenged for… oh… years on end (NOT THAT I’M BITTER) has left me in an interesting place when it comes to college prep. Specifically: any time I read an article about how to get your kid into the BEST school for the BEST life, I laugh and laugh and laugh. In fact, I think I’m going to be writing up my very own ESSENTIAL COLLEGE PREP TIMELINE for Alpha Mom very soon, but I promise it’s not going to look anything like what you’re used to.

In the meantime, here’s my take on what’s wrong with the GOGOGO mentality of pushing kids to focus on college from a young age, and I’m sure you’ll be shocked to read that I don’t think pressure is the only path to excellence. Spoiler alert: You don’t get to go to college with them, folks. Maybe let them figure most of it out on their own.

Comments { 2 }

Nerd Night: Blueberry Citrus Streusel Bars

For some reason, there are several cans of fruit pie filling in my pantry. I’m not sure why. It’s not the sort of thing I generally buy, and I have only the vaguest of memories of discussing having some for camping to go with this cast iron “hobo pie maker” thing that Otto owns and loves (even before I could no longer eat wheat, the idea of sticking some Wonder bread and pie filling into a campfire was not all that appealing to me, but whatever). Anyway, after a multi-week hiatus from Nerd Night, I opened the pantry yesterday and decided I need to use up some of that canned fruit. But a pie would be too obvious.

I found this recipe, which seemed like a decent start. Sweet berries, plus a creamy citrus layer and crunchy topping. Mmmm. It called for fresh blueberries rather than pie filling, so I modified the crust to make it heartier because I knew the canned stuff would be gloopier (technical baking term). I upped the oats, some, and subbed in some whole wheat flour, and I think it worked out.

blueberry-bar-close

They’re pretty, anyway. (more…)

Comments { 4 }

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…)

Comments { 51 }

Mama’s got a new set of wheels

I have decided that time is a terribly confusing construct. There were years when it seemed to drag on and on and on and I was sure that my children would never grow up and we would be frozen in time, forever. Then I bought a new car and went to write about it and thought to myself, “Surely I have only owned the previous car for a few years, right?” So I went and looked it up and no, actually we bought my previous car almost six years ago. How is that even possible?? Also, how is it possible that we bought that car knowing it would someday go to Chickadee (and laughed about, at that time) and now said child is practically an adult? DARK MAGIC.

Anyway. I bought a new car. Did I mention that? I bought a new car and then I wrote all about it, sort of, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you could go read about it. I love my new car. It is ridiculous how much I love my new car, really. And I’m not just saying that because Otto programmed the display to pop up a picture of the dogs when I start the car up, either. Probably.

Comments { 4 }

Sir, that is not how you (but you do)

I don’t want to alarm everyone (LIES; I would like you to please be just as alarmed as I am), but it appears that my youngest precious babykins is now officially 16 years old, which is impossible, because I just gave birth to him a couple of years ago. Clearly there is some black magic at work here, and I would like it to cease and desist immediately.

Part of this is my fault. Well… technically it’s all my fault (Parenting! Because guilt is forever!), but one particular part of it is especially my fault. Remember when Monkey skipped a grade? That seemed like such a good idea at the time. Blah blah blah appropriate academic challenge, blah blah blah more mature peers, blah blah blah HA HA HA MOM YOU FORGOT THAT GIVES YOU ONE LESS YEAR WITH YOUR KID, DUMMY. So: my fault. Also my fault that somehow it never occurred to me that we would spend the better part of this year getting Chickadee ready to launch and then once she’s out of the house we’d have to turn around and do it all over again RIGHT AWAY with him. Or, more specifically: We’d be spending a lot of time this year saying, “We need to do XYZ with Chickie. Heck, let’s go ahead and do it with Monkey, too, because he’s only a year behind.”

Chickadee got luggage for Christmas. (MERRY CHRISTMAS, GET OUT!) Monkey got his own set this morning for his birthday. (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GET OUT!) (And then I bit my tongue because NO NO DON’T GO YOU’RE NOT READY. Mmmmmph.) This afternoon we are headed to the bank to open his first checking account so that he can blow his birthday money on fast living without having to clear it through me. (Fast living = online gaming and D&D manuals, of course.) (more…)

Comments { 11 }

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).
mir-vboard-2016-small

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.)
chickie-vboard-2016-small

Comments { 5 }

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.

Comments { 8 }

Merry Christmas to all, and to all good cookies

It’s been a long time since I could say this, but: It’s been a pretty good year. I would like to lose 10 (20) pounds and I would like Duncan to stop getting ear infections and Licorice’s breath to smell less like she just ate a bunch of cat poop (yep, the feral cats in our neighborhood are still around…) and for Otto to have a little less stress in his life and for my kids to start understanding how amazing they really are and also maybe for them to strike the phrase “in a minute” from their vocabularies… but… things are good. These are minor quibbles.

To celebrate, I made a million cookies, and also I wrote you this as an attempt to explain. This year, this place where my family has finally landed, it feels like a quilt of tiny miracles after a looooooong stint of sifting through scraps and broken thread. One cookie has seen us through years of heartbreak and happiness, and this year is no different.

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate, and merry Chinese food, if you don’t. Thanks for being here. I hope you have everything you need this year, and cookies to see you through if for some reason you don’t, yet.

Comments { 3 }

Nerd Night: Chocolate Gingerbread Bundt with Double Bourbon Glazes

I must confess: We didn’t actually have Nerd Night this week. School finished up on Friday and people were already scattering for winter break, so we’re on hiatus for a few weeks, which sent my youngest into something akin to the Nerdling DTs. (I got a serious of texts from him last week during AP Physics—good to know he’s paying such great attention during class—breathlessly informing me that the Pathfinder Society website indicated there was a game night at a restaurant downtown that night and he didn’t have any homework and could he please go even though it was a school night because really Pathfinder is his favorite and Nerd Night was suspended and if he didn’t go he wouldn’t get to game for WEEKS and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE could he?) (I said yes. He had a great time, even though after he told me with judgy eyebrows that most of his fellow gamers were, you know, DRINKING BEER. I reminded him that sometimes even nerds grow up to enjoy an adult beverage from time to time, and as long as they can still roll initiative without spilling anything, that’s okay.)

So this one is just a recent success from a few weeks ago, selected both for its holiday cheer and the fact that—let’s not forget—it’s a couple of fantastic adults who are opening their home to a pack of oddball teenagers every week, and they deserve everything wonderful. Sometimes that wonderfulness involves bourbon. Like the week I made this cake.

choc-gingerbread-bundt
(more…)

Comments { 6 }

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.

Comments { 5 }
Design by LEAP