Because everyone LOVES politics!

By the time this next presidential election is over, I never want to talk about politics again. Ever. Or at least for a day or two.

I have mixed feelings about politics in general. It’s complicated. (Related: I called my senators during the filibuster last night, and because I’m polite I left my name and number along with my message. Neither of them has called back. I am relieved, but also annoyed.)

Nevertheless, when you’re trying to raise kids to be good global citizens, the “pretend it doesn’t exist” option is… probably not a good choice. So today I’m attempting to field a question about how to talk politics with your teen, particularly when they’re prone to parroting what they hear. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’ve got a few ideas.

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Lest you think he never misbehaves

Hey, remember when I used to write regularly about all the cute/sweet stuff my husband did? (Hey, remember when I used to write regularly, period? You hush.) He is still cute and sweet. He is still my favorite, especially when I get to see him, which is not all that often, because he’s a busy guy. For example, he was just away on a work trip being a rock star, and I’m super proud of him, but also I totally let Duncan have his side of the bed while he was gone, because Duncan never abandons me just to go “teach” and “learn” and “be a good citizen of the world.” (Duncan’s interests lie mainly in “leading you to the kibble container and pretending you forgot to feed him” and “snoring” and “pretending not to like it when you rub his belly.”)

Duncan is also willing to snuggle in bed, which gives him a slight edge over Otto (who—as you may recall—requires a boundary area), but Otto smells better and hardly ever wakes me up by incessantly licking my feet, sooooo… yeah.

Anyway, the point is (I swear I had a point…) that Otto is swell and I like him a whole lot, and he is very nearly infallible in all of the ways which matter. (In the ways in which it doesn’t matter at all, he still gives me plenty of fodder. For example: The other night he pulled some grapes out of the fridge and made several displeased noises before I asked what his problem was, and he said, “Ugh, these grapes are moldy.” Before I could respond, he added, “Do you want me to keep them or should I toss them?” Yes, Otto, please hang on to those moldy grapes. I have a special recipe for rotting fruit! It starts with moldy grapes and ends with DUDE WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK ME THAT?)

And because I haven’t told you an Otto story in quite a while, I thought I’d offer up a doozy because yesterday was a very long day.

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Trying to brightside

I don’t know about you, but for me, reading the news lately is pretty much making me hate everyone and everything.

My perspective on recent events is neither new nor substantially different than the many smart people who’ve already written about what’s going on, but when has that ever stopped me, before? If you have kids and you’re following the Brock Turner case, I humbly offer you some talking points for your family to try to eke a tiny bit of good (education) out of something awful (miscarriage of justice).

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Things we do

Summer is in full swing! I know this because 1) it is hot and sticky outside and 2) I spend a fair amount of my life wondering why I don’t have more time now that school is out and DEAR GOD WHY AM I STILL PACKING LUNCHES??


So some things have changed, and others remain maddeningly the same.

In no particular order, here are some of the things our family now does:

Update the calendar in the kitchen. Remember how summer is relaxed and easier? HAHAHAHAAAAAAA nope. My school-year routine is to take down the calendar on the first of the month and fill it in, but now that both of my children have jobs with variables, we seem to be spending a lot more time filling things in and wondering when there is time to do various other things. Also I apparently need to make sure that my daughter sees every doctor in the world before she leaves for college, because it’s important to refill prescriptions/get new contact lenses/have a meningitis booster shot/get teeth cleaned/etc. before you move to a different planet. (Okay FINE, she’s going to be less than 2 hours away. Details.) Also let us not forget that now we have to record things like Chickie’s school breaks (never at the same time as Monkey/Otto’s school breaks, natch) as well as trying to coordinate her being available to come home for things like her brother’s Senior Night and such. Fun!

Fight over who gets to do laundry when. We used to have a system, man. It worked. There are only 4 of us, so it’s not like it should be complicated. But for some reason now everyone runs out of clean socks at the same time and starts bellowing about how THIS IS THE ONLY TIME I HAVE TO DO THIS (except me; I’m flexible, but the kids, not so much). Oddly enough—try to contain your shock—no one is interested in fighting over who gets the privilege of unloading the dishwasher. Weird. (more…)

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Yep, it’s summer

This morning I removed the season’s first rodent from the pool. It was just as much fun as you might imagine! And that’s how I know that summer has well and truly arrived. It’s not summer until something drowns.

Also, my garden is giving me fits. APPARENTLY I planted a bunch of bum seeds for my beans and cucumbers, and because I am a very slow learner—and also because we have squirrels and feral cats roaming around and sometimes digging in my beds—I replanted with those same seeds several times before admitting that they simply weren’t going to grow. Finally I admitted defeat and bought new seeds. Now I have bean sprouts! But my cucumbers are still struggling. And I have a butternut squash vine that sprung out of nowhere as a volunteer from last year’s leftovers, I think, and one eggplant that’s thriving and one eggplant that is being eaten by I’m not sure what. The tomatoes and peppers and basil and zucchini are all coming along. Something keeps digging in my herb box (though the MIIIIIIINT is forever undisturbed). In short: GROWING FOOD IS HAAAAAARD.

In other news, I recently scored this shirt for Monkey at Goodwill for $2 and it makes me laugh every time I see it. The lab he’s working in this summer requires that he wear long pants (and a variety of other safety gear, depending on what he’s doing), which meant I spent some quality time on Memorial Day frantically shopping for suitable lightweight pants for him (HEY did you know Old Navy’s size 18 pants are ridiculously long and slim, thus suitable for man-sized string beans, and also that sometimes they get marked down to around $4?), and now he heads off every day looking super professional except for the part where he’s always wearing a ridiculous t-shirt. I may or may not be buying him more ridiculous t-shirts just because this tickles me.

In the meantime, it’s been a while since I did an advice column for Alpha Mom, but today’s topic is helping your teen stick with an activity when the other kids are sucking the joy out of it, and I’m not gonna lie—I am so, so glad that 50% of my children are now done with high school.

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Battling the verklempt

I am nothing if not illogical when it comes to my children, so after telling you last week how graduation didn’t hit me the way I thought it would—because it’s a Very Big Thing, y’know—of course this morning I’m on the verge of tears because Monkey started his summer job. As in, working. For money. In a lab. LIKE A RESPONSIBLE GROWN(ISH) PERSON. I need a minute.

I considered taking a picture of his shoes, per tradition, but it was clear that I was already irritating the snot out of him as he got ready (“Mom, I have everything. STOP ASKING.”) so in the end I opted for discretion. Feel free to praise me for my restraint.

Rather than wallowing in this strange state of Many Feels, I decided the proper antidote was to write you a Very Useful Post you can refer to any time you consider whether or not you’d like to either install a pool or purchase a house which already has one. This is timely, right? It’s hot out there, and I get it—a pool sounds awesome. A pool IS awesome, but you should go into it with your eyes open, because owning a pool is a big deal. Here you go: Is a pool right for your family? I’m here to help. (And not to cry about MAH BAYBEE going to work. Much.)

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I want my money back

There isn’t really a good way to “top” graduation, so a smarter family would not try, but we are nothing if not sort of dumb. Chickadee graduated on Saturday and then yesterday she had her wisdom teeth out. INSERT SAD TROMBONE HERE.

The bad news is that I was ready for post-anesthesia hilarity—I had been told not to videotape anything, but I made no promises—and I was disappointed. For all of her larger-than-life antics while completely sober (and let us not forget that her last oral surgery was a Party with a capital P), this procedure was anticlimactic. All she wanted to do after was sleep. She muttered and murmured and tried to curl up for a nap no matter where she was (the operating chair, the car, the couch). No fun video for us! What’s the POINT if your drugged child isn’t weird?

The good news is that I have vivid memories of the awful time I had after my own wisdom teeth removal at the same age, and she seems to be faring MUCH better. She spent the remainder of yesterday tucked in on the couch, obediently taking her pain meds and nibbling at pudding and ice cream when directed, dozing and Netflix-ing interchangeably, and slept through the night save for when I woke her up for more drugs. Her swelling is minimal. She’s having discomfort, sure, but she’s doing really well. I think she’ll be fine by the weekend.

Before all of that happened, though, I wrote you a post over at Alpha Mom and forgot to tell you. Whoops! In summary: I am waiting for the moment when everything feels different, but maybe that’s not how it works, after all.

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Here we are adulting

Hey! How was your weekend? Didja do anything fun? Things were pretty uneventful ’round here.

I mean, um, I’m pretty sure there wasn’t anything good on TV, though my firstborn did graduate from high school. That was pretty much the most exciting thing ever for a million reasons, chief among them that I will do almost anything to see her looking as happy and proud of herself as she did on Saturday. It got even better on Sunday, when everything was over and we bid the relatives adieu and commenced spending the entire day lounging around in our pajamas. Not that the rest of it wasn’t great, you understand, but that day of communal couch-potato-ing was sort of like the collective exhale. It was glorious.

My parents were here, and Otto’s godmother, and after graduation we threw a small not-a-party because Chickadee did not WANT a party, so we compromised with “we are just inviting some of OUR friends to come drink some sangria and eat fancy cheese and hang out, you can show up or not.” Originally she said she would probably be elsewhere, but oddly enough, she ended up spending most of the evening with us, leaving to attend another party for about an hour (they had cake, so: priorities), but mostly sitting outside with the rest of us, feet tucked up underneath her, phone constantly in hand, looking every inch the incredible young woman ready to take on the world who she’s somehow become.

Lest you think everything has changed, however, rest easy. Be ye not alarmed! The Chickadee we know and love is still herself in this new “adult” form. (more…)

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Recent discoveries, in no particular order

Graduation is on Saturday, and so I will just be over here Cleaning All The Things and Cooking All The Things and Crying About All The Things, if you need me. However, I’ll leave you with a few items I’ve noticed of late, because I am nothing if not helpful.

1) Wishing you could lose a little weight, but feeling stupid for being shallow and wishing you could lose a little weight? Solution: Have one of those fancy keep-track-of-everyone’s-profile bathroom scales, and then one day while trying to flick some lint off the scale with your toe before weighing yourself, somehow accidentally tell it you’re profile 4 (your husband’s) instead of profile 3 (you). You will be whatever weight you are, BUT then it will cheerfully inform you you’ve lost 75 pounds since you last weighed yourself! You’re welcome.

2) Go make this as pasta salad immediately for every summer barbecue and event henceforth if you like avocados. Use a more pasta-salad-y (totally a word) pasta; I did gluten-free penne. Add grape tomatoes, too. But it’s basically avocado pesto and it tastes like summer and you can customize however you like. (Do it cold. COLD. I tasted it warm and it was weird. Do cold. And add LOTS of lemon juice so it doesn’t brown.)

3) My 18-year-old graduates in just a few days and it turns out she still doesn’t know how time works. Should I be worried? We had an argument (full disclosure: arguing is kind of what we do) because she asked to go out with a friend “this morning” because “they’ll be busy this afternoon” and I said okay and then she said she’d be home for dinner and I had to explain that she was asking to go out ALL DAY and she insisted that “this afternoon” means “dinnertime” and then my head exploded. THAT IS NOT HOW TIME WORKS. But okay.

4) You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but it turns out you can teach a young Monkey how to drive. Add it to the long list of ways in which he just keeps on being awesome.

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That about sums it up

As we continue barreling down the road to graduation (AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE), life refuses to stop, regardless of the MANY MANY FEELS that seem to be popping up everywhere. Sheesh.

To top it off, today is Otto’s and my 9th anniversary. I’m not entirely sure why he’s still here, but I do bake a lot of cookies and stuff, so who knows. He continues to be my anchor in the very best sense of the metaphor: my strength, my favorite, my dependable partner in everything, really, but most notably in late-night-television-watching-and-tormenting-the-dogs-with-popcorn. Everyone should have an Otto. But not MY Otto, because I’m using him and you can’t have him. (Uh, I’m going to stop talking about this now. He might catch on that although I love him madly, he can surely do better.)

I do have a post over at Alpha Mom for you today, all about the current whirlwind, but first I’m going to share a photo because 1) my daughter is gorgeous, no? and 2) in the history of senior quotes, in my unbiased opinion this is the most true and perfect one that ever there was. That kid is gonna be okay.


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