It’s a little-known fact…

… that there are actually FIVE horsemen of the Apocalypse. No one really likes to talk about the fifth guy, though, because he doesn’t technically ride a horse. He rides an elliptical.

(He’s in killer shape, but has a hard time keeping up with the other four. You understand.)

I bring this up because I’ve apparently become one of those people who exercises. I’m not sure how it happened, but clearly it’s a sign of the Apocalypse. Before the world ends, I figured I would write about it for Alpha Mom. The end days are nigh! Thank goodness I’ll now have the stamina to run from the terror for a while.

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Gluten-free thug life

Someone asked me the other day how long I’ve been gluten-free, and I couldn’t remember. I ended up sounding like a complete moron, I’m sure (this would be different from the hundred other ways I normally sound like a complete moron…), with my response of, “Oh, you know, a bunch of years? Maybe 4 years? Wait, 5 years? 3 years? I MISS REAL PIZZA.” [I just looked it up. 5 years!! Whoa.]

It’s been a long time, is all. And I feel better and my skin isn’t falling off anymore and so that’s all great. I appreciate not being a giant wad of eczema.

In the beginning I tried my hand at various wheat-free substitutes, and spent a lot of money on the gluten-free versions of foods, but it became clear in very short order that:
1) Gluten-free imitations of normally gluten-free foods tend not to taste very good,
and
2) Specialty gluten-free products cost twice as much as their wheat-filled counterparts, either to buy pre-made or to make, myself.

As a bonus: 3) Anything that should be wheaty which is now gluten-free and actually tastes good is generally laden with sugar and salt and fat (yum yum) and really bad for you.

So mostly I just skip the normally-wheat-containing foods. (more…)

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Pardon me while I distract myself

I actually had this whole funny little post planned about The Day Of The Mystery Puddle—it appeared in the middle of the kitchen and we started playing Dog, Garbage Bag Leak, or Oblivious Child Spill—but before I had a chance to write it, Duncan commenced peeing all over the place and generally behaving unwell. At that point the puddle seemed less amusing and more like something I should’ve been more alarmed by in the first place, y’know?

Anyway. Duncan is also kind of lumpy and bumpy (“Age!” said the vet, the first time I pointed it out. “Or maybe something else! Who knows!”) and checking him over revealed one of his bumps had significantly expanded. No bueno. Off to the vet he went, first thing Monday morning, and now he’s in surgery. We’re waiting to hear whether this is a small expensive annoyance or a big expensive heartbreak (or something in-between).

So! I’m working! And shopping! And not thinking about my smushy babykins having dubious lumps extracted! It seemed like a perfect time to share some shopping tips for hard-to-fit-teens over at Alpha Mom as a distraction. You could come read it, and then we could be distracted, together.

[Edited to add: Duncan came through the surgery just fine, and other than an abscess and couple of fatty deposits the vet found nothing we need to worry about. He (the dog, not the vet) spent the night fairly confused and this morning is mighty angry that we won't let him eat his stitches. We lucked out.]

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Ready, set, read

Perhaps my favorite yearly assignment in writing for Alpha Mom is the chance to do a summer reading round-up—nothing makes a bookworm happier than talking books, after all, except maybe talking books that are shaping the next generation of bookworms.

[Aside: I am so glad my kids love to read. I'm also glad they've developed such excellent taste in books that I find myself reading their picks more often than not. It's like having a couple of librarians in-house, albeit somewhat cranky and messy librarians.]

Without further ado, I’m pleased to offer up this year’s summer reading round-up for teens, with thanks to my kids for letting me borrow their books. Also, endless thanks to the Powers That Be that I don’t have to contend with anyone reading Twilight or anything else that would just make me sad.

Come on over and tell us what you and your kids are reading, too. We’re always happy to have more recommendations!

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Here, I brought you this snow. It melted.

I wanted to bring you back something awesome from our trip to Breckenridge, but I realized after we got home that I brought back… nothing, really. I mean, I remembered the kids, but to be fair, we’d brought them with us in the first place and I figured the people renting out the house we stayed in might be mad if we left them behind. I managed to buy my children 0 souvenirs from our super fun family vacation week. Zilch. Nada. I DID want to buy them a couple of I GOT HIGH IN BRECKENRIDGE t-shirts that we kept seeing everywhere (it’s nearly 10,000 feet, you know), but for SOME reason Otto kept vetoing that and giving me a funny look whenever I said it. I can’t imagine why.

Weeks before we left, my parents suggested to us that we look into getting some altitude sickness medication to bring with us. Apparently there’s something available by prescription, and I agreed that that was a good idea, meanwhile thinking to myself, “Medication? Does it bring you closer to sea level? How does that even work??” Also I then got distracted by all of the work I needed to finish before we left and the fact that (stewards of awesome timing that we are) we ended up purchasing Monkey some new bedroom furniture just days before we departed and that meant an evening spent assembling and moving things and selling his old bed and then the countless bewildering discussions between my youngest and me where he insisted that he loved his new furniture and wasn’t bothered by the change at all, but could I please just get him exactly the same bedding (y’know, the bedding that is only available in twin size) OR allow him to continue using the current twin sheets/blankets on his new full bed. Because that’s logical. (Autism! Motto: Progress ain’t linear, parents.) I got busy, is the point, and we never got a prescription, but I was sure that was no big deal.

Spoiler: We all got sick. (more…)

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A time to plant, a time to complain

I have a love/hate relationship with my garden, as many of you know. Mostly it’s love. Really. I love growing my own food, and I love the excuse to go outside and graze like a cow. (Ummmm. Maybe not like a cow. I don’t stand out there and eat grass, or anything. But I’ve been known to park myself by the cherry tomatoes, is all I’m saying.)

On the flip side, I do hate bugs. All bugs. Many, many bugs. And I’m not super-fond of my yearly “quality time with the children” fantasy being disrupted with petty concerns like “It’s HOT OUT HERE!” and “I’m getting eaten by mosquitoes!” and “Why do you hate us?” Is a little help in the garden so much to ask? Oh, well.

Regardless, I do think there’s enormous value in growing food with kids, no matter how whiny they are. (The kids. Not the food. If your food is whiny, you’re doing it wrong.) So I wrote about it for Alpha Mom, and I hope you might try it yourself if you haven’t already. There’s nothing quite like a salad from your own back yard, trust me. (Also there’s nothing quite like a child gazing up at you in adoration and saying, “I thought this was a really stupid idea but I guess it’s okay after all because you made those dumb zucchini into brownies.”)

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I think he might be a cat

I keep trying to figure out how to tell you all of the cool stuff about our trip in some sort of logical way (i.e., in an order that makes sense, and also in such a way as to not sound like a privileged asshole, because HEY fun family vacation my dad paid for, that’s some serious good fortune right there), and I still haven’t figured it out. To at least begin, I figured it might be best to start to start at the end.

Actually, first let’s go to BEFORE we left, then we’ll talk about what happened when we got back.

Back when we decided to adopt Duncan, part of the impetus came from this incessant anthropomorphizing I engage in, which led me to believe that Licorice really “needed” a “sibling.” (Both of these words in quotes to acknowledge that I’m ridiculous. I KNOW. Shut up.) Anyway, I’m mostly home, but EVERY NOW AND THEN we spent a whole day out of the house or… we go on vacation. Wouldn’t it be nice for Licorice to have another dog with her for those rare occasions? Like, say, when we go to Colorado for 10 days and leave her at the kennel? Surely it would. One dog alone at the kennel might assume she’s been abandoned and be stressed out in unfamiliar surroundings, while TWO dogs at the kennel would cost an entire mortgage payment be comforted by one another and be less stressed. Surely. Right? (more…)

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We are windburned and jetlagged and happy

I promise I will actually write about our vacation… ummm… sometime. I will. Once I’m all caught up on the real work I have to do from being away for all that time. (Real Job Benefit: Having honest-to-goodness vacation time. Real Job Drawback: Having a giant pile of work waiting for you when you return from that work-free time.) We did all sorts of fun things in Colorado, and my life flashed before my eyes as I careened down a mountain, even. (Best part: Not dying!)

While you’re waiting, the good news is that after Breckenridge we hopped over to Denver to visit Kira, and ten people in a house together—twelve, if you count her folks, who live in an attached apartment—with a dog and a cat and a pen full of baby chickens is… kind of a lot. In the best possible way, you understand, but it’s also just quite noisy. I was a little worried Otto wouldn’t recover, but he seems to have. Anyway, you can read more about that part of the trip at Alpha Mom, while I go do worky stuff and apply aloe to this super-sexy farmer burn I have going on.

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Please send oxygen

Greetings from the beautiful Rocky Mountains, where my family is gasping for breath, as one does on vacation in a place where there is a shortage of air. I was not informed that we’d be spending the first few days of our vacation with the equivalent of terrible hangovers, or I certainly would’ve had a lot more to drink so at least it would’ve felt productive having such an intense headache.

Anyway, we’re having our every-two-years-ly giant family gathering, and aside from the whole not being able to breathe thing, we’re having a grand time. You can read more about our adventures thus far over at Alpha Mom, and you don’t even have to climb to 9,600 feet to do it. (I mean, unless you want to, in which case, knock yourself out.)

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Go ahead, shimmy down the stairs

The first rule of the Internet is: You don’t talk about the Internet.

Wait. That’s something else. Whoops!

No, the first rule of the Internet is: You don’t announce when you’re going out of town, because surely someone in your Facebook feed whom you haven’t seen in person since 1986 or some random blog reader who suspects you have really awesome socks will break into your house while you’re gone, so pretend you’re not traveling. (Socks? That seems improbable. As does some random robbing us, which is sort of the point.)

Anyhoo. In the past I’ve always been sort of vague about trips because I’m paranoid and whatever, but no more! HEY INTERNET, we’re going on a family trip. C’mon over and try to break into our house, if you like. You’ll recognize it because it’s the one with a dozen PROTECTED BY OFFICIAL-SOUNDING ALARM SYSTEM COMPANY signs all over it, now. This is because 1) we recently has the Official-Sounding Alarm System Company spend a fun-filled day here drilling holes into pretty much everything and 2) I’m pretty fond of my socks and don’t want them stolen.

The dogs are at the Puppy Spa (why yes, we did opt for the “daily nature walk” for Licorice—only Licorice, as a “daily nature carry” was not offered for Duncan—and afternoon Frosty Paws treats for both dogs) and a friend has been enlisted to water the vegetables if it doesn’t rain and I am pretty sure that if anyone so much as breathes sideways on the exterior of the house, it will blare sirens and call the police and maybe even spontaneously combust. (more…)

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