Nerd Night: Mexican Chocolate Bomb Cookies

After a long, harsh (not really) summer, Nerd Night has returned! Even that is a lie, sort of—there were sporadic Nerd Nights this summer, they just couldn’t do it every week. And actually, the current campaign started last week, but I was too busy trying to get my child to pack for college and clean her room to share that recipe. (But: soft cherry chocolate chip cookies, in case someone feels they cannot live without that recipe. Happy to share it, if so.) Last night, though, that felt like the first “normal” Nerd Night in a while.

But… Chickie wasn’t here. Clearly this leaves behind a void, yes? A void which can only be filled with chocolate and sugar.

I went searching for something with chocolate and buttermilk, because I happen to know that buttermilk makes all things chocolate even chocolate-y-er (totally a word), and also soft and silky. When I came upon Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen’s recipe I knew it would be delicious as-is, but I was feeling feisty. My version has a spicy Mexican kick. This cookie is soft and super-chocolatey, with a lingering hint of cayenne. The plate came back empty. I’m thinking it worked.

mex-choc-cookies (more…)

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It is done (and no one cried)

Y’all. We made it. Chickadee’s at college.

Now is the appropriate time for an AMEN and a HALLELUJAH and any other celebratory exclamation of your choosing. This was a long road and I would’ve happily changed MANY MANY parts of it, given the option, but in the end it led her right where she needed to be. Have I mentioned how proud I am of this kid? She astounds me every day.

So yes, it is bittersweet. But everyone warned us we’d all be bawling and I said NUH UH and everyone did the whole “Just you wait” and guess what? It was great. I’m not going to tell you my eyes weren’t a little glossy by the time we said goodbye, but the overwhelming feeling for us (and I think her, too) was joy. This was a Very Big Deal.

Everything JUUUUUUST fit in her car, save for her fridge, which worked out just fine; she and I left at the ass-crack of dawn in her car, and Otto came later with the fridge. This is because yesterday was insane: It was move-in day for Chickie, yes, but her assigned unloading time was exactly the same time as Monkey’s first class at our local university. So while I was pulling up to the curb and a veritable swarm of student volunteers descended on the car (no joke; we pulled up, gave her room number, and the crew head barked out the number and twenty seconds later the car was picked CLEAN. By the time I parked and returned to the dorm, she was checked in and everything she owned was in her room), Monkey was bounding up the steps towards Calculus.

Move-in was smooth. Monkey’s assessment of Calc (shared later), however, was “Everyone seemed to be sleeping and it’s also way too easy.” (My kind, supportive response: “Not everyone is a morning person like you, and maybe don’t assume the whole class is going to be easy from your experience on the very first day, Mr. Hubris.”) (more…)

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Live from the House of Pop-Tarts

We move Chickadee into her dorm tomorrow. TOMORROW. Today is taking approximately 593 hours, in case you were wondering, but also she is not done packing because GEEZ MOM IN A MINUTE. As for me, about a month ago I bought a case of Pop-Tarts from Amazon as part of Operation Stock The Dorm With Snacks—this was a moment of weakness, as I am staunchly anti-toaster-pastry and found them gross even when I could still eat wheat—and hid it in the back of the pantry. BUT THEN. The pediatrician got on my case about Monkey being so skinny, so I dug out a couple of boxes and suggested he snack on them, and then suddenly most of the case was gone because it turns out that both of my children are addicted to Pop-Tarts. Hence yesterday’s emergency grocery trip to buy MORE Pop-Tarts. (Did you know that if you type Pop-Tarts enough times it stops looking like words? True story.)

So. Chickadee and her Pop-Tart stash move in tomorrow. Yesterday was Monkey’s first day of school. And you know what that means:


Please enjoy this picture, not just because my PRESHUSSSS WIDDLE BABYKINS is apparently part Yeti, but because this shoe photo is the end of an era. It’s the last shoe photo for the last first day, because he just started the last senior year.

(How did this happen??? I blame Pop-Tarts.)

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A happy ending after all

Guess what I have. Go on! GUESS!!


(If none of this makes any sense, go back and read my last post. It took the whole village—or maybe several villages, and at least several warehouses—but we now have one entire, undamaged fridge cart. If just the hashtag part doesn’t make sense, don’t worry about it. I’M A COOL MOM.) (I am so not a cool mom.)

With that squared away, the packing up for college continues apace. More accurately, the forced death march of room cleaning is happening. And lest you think “death march” is my usual hyperbole, let me just tell you that this weekend our AC went out upstairs (of course it did, because it had been almost two whole weeks since the AC died DOWNstairs) (but yes, I am very glad that two-story houses in the south have separate units so that you’re not trapped in hell when one breaks) and still I made Chickadee do some cleaning. We emptied out her entire desk while it was 90+ degrees up there, with two fans going. We ate ice cream once it was done, though. I’m not a TOTAL monster.

My kids are in a great place right now, both of them. If you’ve been reading here for any time at all, you know that’s a huge thing (and something I probably shouldn’t even be saying out loud, much less writing down). There’s always a part of me that’s going to be tender and prone to bruising when it comes to comparing parenting notes, though. So today at Alpha Mom you’re getting a brain-dump on what those of us whose parenting plans go awry struggle with, often in silence, and nearly always in private.

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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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Everything is terrible (not really)

It occurred to me that I forgot to tell you about my recent Bread Adventures.

If you’ve been reading here forever and also have an uncanny memory for stupid details of other people’s lives, you may recall that many, many years ago I discovered how easy it was to bake bread, and also how DELICIOUS said bread was, and I began baking bread all the time. In fact, I stopped buying sandwich bread altogether, because I just baked it here at home and it was a billion times better. Sandwich loaf bread from the store is—to me—a necessary vehicle for sandwich fillings, but… meh. Homemade bread, on the other hand, is yummy and good for sandwiches and also just random stuffing into one’s mouth. So I began eating LOTS of bread when I started doing all that baking, and shortly thereafter was when my skin and my general health went berserk and I did an elimination diet and ended up discovering my body is not so fond of wheat, actually. Surprise!

Once I determined that I couldn’t eat the bread I was baking, I stopped. We went back to store-bought bread. I still baked bread for the rest of the family occasionally (rolls to go with dinner or focaccia for pasta or what have you), but I didn’t bother with sandwich bread. Lo these many years I have avoided wheat and my long-suffering family has made do with stuff from the store. (Their disappointment is likely tempered by all of the Nerd Night baking I still do, you understand.)

And then… I made a sourdough starter. Because I’m a dummy. Look; it wasn’t my FAULT. There were suddenly a million articles about how EASY it was and how SCIENCE-Y the process is and before I knew it, I had a bubbling jar of goo convincing me I needed to bake bread ALL THE DAMN TIME. (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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On pushing, and not

I tell you what: you think, when your kids are little, that when they’re bigger, it’ll be easier. HAHAHAHA. You look forward to self-sufficiency and assume it will magically appear in exactly the right proportions at the right time. This is because parenting damages your brain. When you’re dealing with a child who goes floppy and boneless when it’s time to put on their shoes, you imagine that someday they will make good, responsible decisions as a direct result of your calmly reiterating instructions for the tenth time and your remarkable restraint in not strangling them with their own shoelaces at that pivotal moment. You envision a day when that same child will race towards adulthood with glee.


As they get older it only gets more complicated. You have to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to “encourage” and when to back down, when to just go take a nap because an old country song is stuck in your head. It’s HARD.

Recent developments ’round here include me finally explaining to Monkey that we are going to stop pushing him to drive, but we’re also going to expect him to figure out how own transportation more often than not, and also I am finally ready to tell you about how we are the absolute meanest when it comes to summer employment. (Don’t worry, it has a mostly happy ending.)

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