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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The beauty, it’s genetic

I should have known the second I posted about sitting in the new dog bed to encourage Duncan to love it that someone would ask for a picture. And because I live to serve and also have zero dignity, well, why not? Besides, I thought it was time to really embrace my exquisite, graceful beauty, and lay claim to my child’s, too.

Here I am:
mir-in-dog-bed

Duncan was perplexed. Possibly because classy is my middle name.

And here’s my girl:
unicorn-hair-spin

We are practically twins, no?

Oh, did you happen to notice that awesome hair? Don’t worry, I’ve got the whole scoop on how to do unicorn hair over at Alpha Mom, if you want to check it out once you’re done marveling over how two people can look SO MUCH ALIKE. It’s uncanny, I know.

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3 critter(s) tales, plus a redirect

1st Critter Tale: I swear (probably) this will be the last (most likely) thing I have to say this year about my garden and the squirrels, but I feel like this MUST be shared: Every single tomato in my garden is gone. GONE. In the space of about three days, the squirrels blew threw the red ones and got so annoyed about it, they also bit/tore down all of the remaining green ones. I have five giant tomato plants, all completely BARE. My beautiful tomatoes! It was like the scene in A Christmas Story after the Bumpus hounds destroy the turkey, except instead of “No turkey sandwiches… no turkey ala king…” I was wandering outside going “No tomato sauce… no BLTs… no caprese salad….”

squirrel-bite-squashI realize this is the first-worldliest of first world problems (I suppose I can buy tomatoes at the store or the Farmer’s Market, after all), but I am still hung up on the injustice of it. Especially because…

… with all of the tomatoes leveled, I figured the one saving grace would be that the squirrels were DONE. Oh, I’m adorable when I’m naive, no? Why, once the tomatoes are gone, why not start gnawing on the unripe squash? Bite each one a few times! Make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN they are not delicious, each and every one. That’s the ticket. Thanks, squirrels. You’re assholes. (more…)

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The dawn of a new era

If forced to keep it to a single word, these days, about how life is, or how the kids are, or how I feel in general, there’s no question that the most explanatory word I can grasp is WEIRD. Life feels weird. I feel weird.

Visiting a bunch of college campuses made it all real, I suppose, except it didn’t make it any less weird. Chickadee is a senior. Monkey is a junior. After years of just-get-through-today we are now firmly in plan-for-your-future mode and it should be GREAT, yes? It is. There were times I didn’t know if we’d ever make it to this point, so it IS great, and we celebrate (quietly, without any sudden movements, so as not to scare anyone or upset whatever deities were kind enough to see us through to this point), but it still feels surreal. It’s easy to talk about a mythological “someday” and even if it’s all you ever wanted, it’s still strange for “someday” to become “right now.”

So, the good: Seeing Chickadee think about her future with excitement. That is VERY good. Seeing her passionate about goals—which, to be honest, is something that’s been missing for her for years—that’s awesome. There is nothing but excitement and pride for me in getting to watch her figure this stuff out. It’s not 100% smooth sailing and there have been and will be disappointments along the way, but that’s exciting, too, because she’s dealing with this thing we call NORMAL LIFE and figuring out how to ride the waves instead of just rolling over on her back and floating or (worse) shrugging and resigning herself to drowning. She’s swimming, swimming, swimming, and I don’t know that it’s fair to want any more than that. (more…)

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It was nice while it lasted

We have lived in Georgia for eight years. I’ve been growing vegetables here for seven years. I’ve battled slugs, aphids, thrips, and the dreaded tomato horn worms. I’ve set up rain barrels and coaxed plants along in the constant 100+ temperatures. And never, EVER, before this year did I have any problems with my tomatoes simply disappearing.

Never before did tomatoes simply start appearing atop the fence.

Never before did my husband set up a video camera to catch the shameless thieves, until now:

Unmasking the tomato thieves from woulda on Vimeo.

It’s mid-July and I’ve already processed about a gallon of tomato sauce. But that might be it, because right now my plants are BARE.

Have I mentioned that I hate squirrels? I really, REALLY hate squirrels.

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We interrupt these tomatoes for seriousness

I would really like to keep discussing my tomatoes (or lack thereof), but it’s time for another installment of “Mir pretends to know stuff over at Alpha Mom.” Today’s column comes from a reader question about getting appropriate mental health care for a teen in need, and I really, REALLY wish I had less experience in this area. Even with years of experience, there is no magic bullet, and that’s a bummer.

But if you’re interested in my tips for navigating our broken mental health system as an advocate for your kid and staying sane while you do it, you can check them out over there.

Tomorrow I’ll have a scintillating (okay, maybe not) update on the tomatoes.

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A case of mistaken identity

Forgive me, Internet, for I have sinned. I have leapt to conclusions and impugned the good name of an innocent. In short: I am a monster.

Remember when I told you that Licorice has been eating my tomatoes? Tomatoes were ripped in half, still dangling from the vine, and never in all of our years with her has Licorice bothered my garden boxes, but here she was, strolling inside with tomato guts hanging from her muzzle. Of course I took this evidence to be indisputable. Clearly, she had become a rotten, rotten tomato-stealer. FOR SHAME. At first it was just a single tomato, here or there. Then a couple of days ago, my garden turned into a veritable wasteland.

We went from the occasional appearance of something like this…

tomato-carnage-1

… to multiple casualties. Behold: (more…)

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Dental hygiene: Well, crap edition

Help, my face is numb.

Backing up: What better way to create a gentle reentry into normal life after a relaxing getaway than to visit the dentist?

Backing up even further: Once upon a time, we were Visit The Dentist Every Six Months Like Clockwork people. I believe in good oral health, truly. But… at some point I had to cancel a cleaning for Chickie because she was in the hospital (yes, this was years ago, I KNOW I SUCK THANKS) and then our dentist stopped taking our insurance and the rest of us stopped going and hadn’t found a new dentist, and somehow—presto, chango, lazy-o—years elapsed and none of us had been to the dentist. Whoops. It wasn’t intentional, it just sort of… happened. So the good news is that we finally got our crap together and Otto went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago and the kids and I went yesterday.

The bad news is that I had a cracked filling and Chickadee needs to have her wisdom teeth out and Monkey came back from his cleaning with a hearty, “Here, Mom, I brought you some gingivitis!”

They had a cancelation for today, so I got my filling fixed, but I am pretty sure my entire face was injected with novocaine. I can’t stop playing with my lower lip, because it’s just this flubby slab of numbness. Fun!

While I go continue to marvel at the never-ending entertainment that is proper dental attention, you could go over to Alpha Mom and read all about how I love Snapchat. No, really. I do. No numb lips required, even.

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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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Greetings from Sin City

I helped Otto put several large pieces of furniture (such as my giant L-shaped desk, which was serving as the world’s jankiest island in our kitchen during the floor install) back into my office once the floor was FINALLY completed at about 9:00 on Monday night.

[Aside: Apparently the installing parent company called with a “courtesy post-project satisfaction survey” and Otto shared that we had not expected installation in a small room to take… nearly 11 hours. He said that the woman on the phone was horrified.]

Was my darling husband hanging shelves and such at 10:00 that night? Yep. But eventually most of the big stuff was back in there and we said “good enough” and collapsed into bed. Then I left the next morning and I am now in Las Vegas with Kira, which is a whole ‘nother story I’ll tell you about soon, because it starts, of course, with me being insufferable during planning, and ends with me being insufferable while walking around our giant hotel and saying not-at-all weird things like “I THINK I SAW THAT RESTAURANT ON CSI ONCE” and “Do ALL the people in the casino look miserable or just the extremely sad people playing slots?” I’m super fun. Also? Otto was all “You should go see the Hoover Dam!” and we are all “Hey, they have alcoholic milkshakes here!” So.

Also please note that Kira’s and my love for one another is an enduring, beautiful thing, especially when our room reservation got screwed up and instead of the two queen beds we SHOULD’ve had, we were given a room with a king bed. “Do you want to be the big spoon or the little spoon?” I asked my longtime friend.

“Touch me while I’m sleeping and you’ll draw back a stump,” she replied, full of the sweetness and adoration I’ve come to enjoy over the years.

While I go figure out how to do Vegas exactly wrong (we are not gambling or sightseeing, but mostly just talking a lot, which I guess we could’ve done anywhere, but definitely nowhere as SHINY as this place), you can check out the latest installment of me blathering about teen driving over at Alpha Mom. Only this time, we tried to make it useful: I made up a driving contract you might find useful. I hope it helps. Also I hope we can figure out how to get out of the hotel today. (It’s good to have goals.)

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