Nerd Night: Amish Sour Cream Raspberry Bars

In a world which no longer makes sense, at least we always have Nerd Night. Except… we DON’T always have Nerd Night, because as our nerds get older and life intervenes, Nerd Night is often canceled or moved, and while there has MOSTLY been Nerd Night, I’ve often baked the same treats a second time and also completely forgotten to share recipes when I didn’t. It’s been on-again, off-again, and I’m disorganized. But! New year! New Nerd Nights! New recipes!! (Pay no attention to our crumbling world! Look, I have sugar and butter!)

I pretty much drowned my family and anyone else who came near in a variety of cookies for the holidays and beyond. Then I wrapped it up with a decadent birthday cake AND our favorite imitation-Cinnabon-but-from-scratch cinnamon rolls. By the time yesterday rolled around, it felt like we’d all been bathing in sugar and chocolate and cinnamon for three weeks straight. I couldn’t just give up and send carrot sticks—nerds need some quick carbs to fight the barbarians, after all—but I knew I wanted something with some fruit in it so that we could at least PRETEND it wasn’t another glob of fat and sugar. After searching around online I came across this recipe, and I knew I had a can of raspberry pie filling in the pantry that could work, plus with a few other tweaks this would feel like a break from those other treats, even though (let’s be honest) it’s still, essentially, a glob of fat and sugar. But with raspberries! And OATS, which are totally healthy!


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Happy birthday; get out

Yesterday, my WIDDLE TINY BAYBEE BOY turned 17. This is impossible, of course, because in my mind’s eye he is still 3 or 4, tops, running through the house with his blankie tied around his neck as a cape, so that he can exercise his full power as SuperBoy.

I realize this is ridiculous, as he has been neither tiny nor SuperBoy for years. These days, he runs through the house screeching like the mighty eagle he purports to be (I cannot explain this), and his wingspan is mighty and I do not remember eagles having scruffy goatees, but YOU ARE DEFINITELY GROUNDED.

He submitted his senior quote and is still impatiently waiting to hear from one college, and yet after dragging around for most of the break I finally took him to the pediatrician the day before his birthday (happy birthday—here’s a sinus infection!) and he thanked me as he always does, always has, even though the voice doing the thanking is a lot lower than it used to be (“Thanks for taking such good care of me, Mom”). He is older and bigger but also still my tenderhearted empath, worried about everyone else and keenly aware that I struggle with the reality of his time with us almost being over.

Still, I had to push through my ambivalence to present him with the proper celebration, which at this juncture is fondly referred to in family parlance as the GET OUT birthday. (more…)

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New year, new… something

Man, what a long, strange winter break this has been. Monkey goes back to school tomorrow, and I feel like we have simultaneously been both on break for several months AND like he just got out of school yesterday. Everything is off-kilter. We didn’t celebrate Christmas until the 28th (scheduling issues); Chickadee was home from campus pretty early in December, but has had her own schedule of events in which the rest of us are relegated to cameo appearances; the pervasive feeling of not-quite-real that’s been clinging to everything since November has only intensified.

Everything just feels WEIRD. I keep waiting for “normal,” and normal never comes. I’ve been here before, of course, but this particular round of WHAT IS LIFE, ANYWAY? seems like the longest and strangest, yet.

New Year’s Eve came and we played Cards Against Humanity and made root beer floats and wished each other a happy new year when the ball dropped at midnight. I also commented aloud that just ONCE I’d like to see said ball break free at the last moment and plunge into the unsuspecting crowd—I thought I was being funny! Because HAHA!—and the menfolk glared at me in horror and Chickie promptly inserted my not-so-quotable moment into her Snapchat story. I’m not sure how to feel about any of that.

And then it was New Year’s Day, and time for vision boards. (more…)

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Here is a happy thing

2016 continues to be a never-ending dumpster fire and I’m not going to tell you what to do with yourself, but I have found baking more cookies to be very therapeutic. Our entire house is now filled with cookies. Crowded, yes, but on the other hand: Cookies! Plus, my eldest apparently has half a dozen pals from college coming to stay with us for a few days, and I suspect I can count on them to take care of my cookie problem.

Anyhoo. Here is a good thing to do when you are feeling like everything is terrible: Get on a plane. Fly across the country. Sneak into the kitchen of your best friend on the night before her at-long-last graduation from college and pop out from behind her son and make her scream. I highly recommend this. In fact, that’s just what I did last Thursday and it was awesome.

Kira (you remember Kira) and I started college around the same time, and I graduated in 1992, and she just graduated on Friday. One way to look at this is that I was somehow more organized or something, having finished in the expected timeframe. But I prefer to view it as Kira being utterly Kira, having allowed everyone else’s needs to take precedent while she selflessly put her own pursuits aside for… oh, 23 years or so. I did things the usual, boring way. She did things her way, which is how it came to pass that her oldest, halfway through college himself, now, picked me up at the airport and snuck me into their house after I’d spent two weeks going on and on to her about HOW BAD I FELT about not being able to be there for her graduation. She was totally fooled. I am a horrible person.

So she screamed, and then she cried, and then I felt bad for a couple of minutes. (“No no! Don’t cry! There’s no crying!”) Then I was super excited to be there for the weekend. (more…)

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We are all my little dog and her coat

It’s a very good thing I never actually promise to come back to writing here regularly. I think about it—a lot—but in the end, it doesn’t seem to happen. Oh well. Hey! This blog is worth EXACTLY what you paid for it! (So there.)

Things are rolling along, here, and everything is both going WHOOSH TOO FAST and also OMGGGGGGG SO SLOW. You know how Hermione has a time turner in the Harry Potter books so she can be in multiple places at once? Imagine I had one of those time turners and then I somehow ran it over with my car and tried to use it, anyway. Everything is taking too long but is over before I had a chance to pay attention. It’s an odd place to be, with everything in flux and me never sure what day it is or what’s going on. I mean, tomorrow is December. How did that even happen?

Thanksgiving was a cozy affair with enough food to feed an army, and I gained several pounds this past week while I sat at the computer working and eating ALL THE STUFFING AND GRAVY. I need to stop gorging on leftovers. The best way to make sure that happens is to eat all the leftovers so there are none for me to eat, right? Right! (#LOGIC) Chickadee came home with a carful of laundry and germs, and after sleeping and generally swanning around for the week, headed back to school and left her little brother hacking and wheezing with the crud she’d so thoughtfully shared. Otto and I are both run down and feel like we’re fighting off illness, but maybe we’re just tired. Hard to know. The stuffing is all gone, now, so I have switched to endless cups of ginger tea and whispered exhortations to the universe that I would really rather not be sick right now.

Let us have a brief State of Casa Mir Address, shall we? (more…)

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Hi

Hey. How are you?

I’ve been better. I’m guessing a lot of you feel the same. Maybe some of you don’t. I am mostly fighting a constant battle against waves of exhaustion and dread, and then doing super productive things like reminding myself that going onto social media makes me feel a little less alone BUT THEN I run into something that makes me hate everyone and I feel even worse, so I definitely shouldn’t do that; so I don’t, for like, maybe a whole hour, but then I do, and then everything is terrible all over again. Wow, I think, I should STOP DOING THAT THING THAT MAKES ME FEEL BAD. Yes. And then I open Twitter an hour later. (I’m not very smart.)

Rather than rehashing a lot of excellent and thoughtful takes on what’s happening in our world right now, I will just refer you to this post by my lovely friend Jean and leave it at that.

There were a few other things going on in my head before the election, too, and I’m trying to figure out how/what/when to talk about some of that, but it all pales in comparison and feels selfish and indulgent (um, hello, having a blaaaaahg) so I dunno. We’ll see. In the meantime I am working on finding pockets of normalcy, few and far between though they may be. Here’s One Good Thing: next week I get to have Chickadee home for almost the whole week! Just in case your college freshman is coming home and you, too, are desperately trying to figure out how to pretend the world is still normal, I wrote you a handy guide. Enjoy.

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Let’s give ’em something to taco ’bout…

Today’s the day, people. We made it. Election Day! Now we all just have to make it to tomorrow, sans heart attacks. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….

In the meantime, may I remind you that it’s Tuesday? As in… TACO TUESDAY.

I can think of no better Tuesday in the history of (wo)mankind to well and fully commit to Taco Tuesday. Can you?

I’ve got your taco recipes right here, in case you need some inspiration. Until there’s a taco truck on every corner, you can just make yours at home, I guess. Enjoy!

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This was supposed to be a more formal post

So I agreed last week to write A Political Post for an organization I love, and then this week happened and this week was a complete jerkface and I ended up doing… um, almost nothing I was supposed to. At all. As in: I got up this morning and did a week’s worth of dishes, because it was that kind of a week. SUPER FUN! (And here we mean “fun like a root canal.”)

Anyway, that’s not your problem, that’s mine. I’m dealing with it. Turns out that time and coffee heals all wounds, or at least dulls them to the point of manageability.

A different sort of person would then come here and implore you to vote, if you haven’t, yet, and keep partisan opinions out of it. But I am me and if you’ve been reading here for any amount of time at all I cannot imagine you’re shocked to learn that I find The Orange One Who Shall Not Be Named to be the most terrifying “politician” to emerge in my lifetime, and besides, I already told you I’m an enthusiastic Clinton supporter. Not a “well she’s the lesser of two evils” supporter, but a wildly enthusiastic, I-think-she-is-smart-and-dedicated (and yes, not infallible, but neither is anyone), I-cannot-wait-to-say-Madame-President, supporter.

Again: I cannot imagine this is a surprise for anyone who’s ever read me before. If it is, and if you find that offensive, okay. I’m not for everyone.

If you’re willing to read on, I have a few more things to add. (more…)

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Pictures and critters and stuff (oh my)

When I last left you, we were discussing pictures. Specifically: my son’s inability to pose for them without acting as if being waterboarded.

No matter! We had a few more opportunities to get a good shot of him, and while I wouldn’t say my hopes were high, they were… highER. Because surely it couldn’t get worse. HAHAHAHAHA.

First, we had Senior Night for football/band. At halftime the seniors line up with their parents, names are called, the announcer reads off something the senior has shared about their after-high-school plans (I swear I am not making this up: one of our seniors put down that they were hoping to become a carrot; I thought I misheard, BUT NO), we walk across the field, the senior gets a rose, a picture is taken, and off we go.

This is a fun little ritual to mark the end of the last season of marching band, and of course last year I had Some Big Feels as Chickadee ended her time there, but this year I found myself having Many Many Giant Feels as Monkey fell into line, because this was the LAST LAST time and six years of marching band is just about over. (For her, it was the end of a beloved and truly formative activity that sustained her through the most difficult years of her life. For him, it was the end of something he’d stuck with for years despite a lot of ups and downs, and represented tremendous personal growth that often occurred in spite of himself.) Add in a hefty dose of MAH BAYBEEEEEE and you understand my state of mind, here, perhaps.

And on a purely logistical note, the weather here is nutso right now, so that made everything more complicated. (more…)

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Picture perfect

I think I may have mentioned here once or twice or seven billion times that I hate having my picture taken. I am not a photogenic human. (This is not the same, by the way, as saying I’m an unattractive human. This is not a self-esteem issue, merely a “the way my particular features tend to be caught in pictures is not flattering in spite of the fact that I’m an okay-looking person in real life” issue.)

My ex-husband is a very photogenic person, and so you can imagine my delight at discovering that nearly every candid photo of our offspring is amazing. Those cheekbones! Those lips! LOOK AT MY BEAUTIFUL BABIES! But a lifetime of living with me—the person who mugs for the camera so I’m obviously ridiculous rather than being caught “candidly” appearing to be inebriated, furious, or both—has, um, caused some issues. Chickadee does a beautiful “smile for the camera” on command, but then hates every single picture it produces for reasons that would never even cross a normal person’s mind (“this eye is squinty, see?”). (And for what it’s worth, she does a pretty masterful version of my own HERE’S ME OPENING MY MOUTH AND EYES AS BIG AS THEY GO hamminess, too.) Monkey is constitutionally incapable of smiling on command, which means we have some gorgeous candids and some absolutely painful “portraits.”

(Here let us pause while I reiterate that both of my children are gorgeous, which should go without saying, but I don’t want to get an angry phone call later.)

Marrying a photographer was an EXCELLENT idea, especially if the goal was to drive said photographer crazy with his ready-made family of people who hate to have their photos taken. (HAHA. HA. SORRY, OTTO, WE LOVE YOUUUUUU!) I do think he derives at least a little pleasure from seeing it’s not just him we’re impossible for, though. Now would be a good time for you to go read my post at Alpha Mom about Monkey’s senior portraits, and then when you’re done with that, come back, because I have a little surprise for you after the jump. (more…)

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