A Christmas Story, sans leg lamp

I make everyone watch A Christmas Story every year, because it’s important that I make sure, every year, that Ralphie doesn’t ACTUALLY shoot his eye out. Similarly, Chickadee requires that we watch Elf every year, because we have to confirm that Christmas is saved and also that if you’re paid enough money, you can indeed eat platefuls of spaghetti and maple syrup. Or something.

I have no problem watching the same movie(s) every year. I enjoy the predictability, especially as our actual lives are not nearly as predictable as I’d like. In fact, it’s something of a family joke, how disastrous our Christmases often end up, so why not watch the films about how everything works out just right in the end, after a few bumps along the way?

This year I just knew that Christmas was going to be amazing, though. The kids got iPhones—before the holiday, even—and I’m not going to lie, I was feeling smug. I’d finally won at Christmas, this year, managing to both make the children happy AND avert any sort of crisis or disaster because the plan was to stay home and have a quiet holiday. With the “big gift” out of the way, there were just a few boxes under the tree… wrapped early, even! The stage was set for family togetherness. If not peace on earth, at least calm and relative happiness.

When school let out on Friday I practically shrieked with glee. Time to relax! (more…)

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It’s beginning to look a lot like…

… I have possibly lost my mind. But hey, it’s hard to tell. That’s the joy of living life just on a knife’s edge of sanity. Woooooo!

We’re counting down the days until school lets out, and I have been baking as if there’s no tomorrow. Or as if there’s a tomorrow BUT only if you have a LOT of decadent treats with which to meet it. Whatever. I have been back to the store for more butter THREE TIMES. My garage is filled with various containers of dozens and dozens of cookies, and an entire shelf of the fridge is covered in fudge. (Um, in appropriate receptacles. I did not just slather fudge on the shelves.) Tonight I’ll put goodies into festive buckets and soon all of these treats shall be delivered and perhaps the children will stop complaining that I didn’t make THEM any cookies. Maybe.

I both love and hate this time of year. It’s frantic, which I don’t like, but I get to do a lot of giving, which I very much like.

In fact, yesterday was Christmas. Sort of. I got to do something super-duper fun, and you can read about it on Alpha Mom. I’d tell you more, but I have eighty gazillion cookies left to frost and portion into containers, so, um, I’ll seeya later.

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Well, the house smells amazing

‘Tis the season for baking! I feel like my oven’s been on more often than it’s been off, the last few weeks, and this is because I love to torture myself with goodies I cannot eat. It appeals to the martyr in me, I guess. Yep. It’s all bake-o-rama, all the time up in here.

For one thing, it’s a good distraction. For another, the holidays are coming. And finally, there’s been some stuff to handle at school and you KNOW I don’t ever go to school without a basket of baked goods. It’s against my religion. Also, I figure we need all the help we can get.

So in a fit of whimsy—tongue firmly planted in my cheek (though I’m sure someone will come along any minute now to tell me what a horrible person I am for implying that everyone has time to bake)—I put together a handy guide for appropriate school meeting baking for you over at Alpha Mom. You have questions about muffins, and I have answers. (Or, you know, you don’t have any questions about muffins, but I’m going to pretend you do.)

Tangentially related: I’ve decided my mission to make the children fit for public consumption is coming along better than I’d dared to hope. I made… something casserole-ish… for dinner last night. It was various vegetables and I sprinkled cheese on top because cheese fixes everything, and the end result was weird. Rather than the chorus of YUCK and EW it probably deserved, I got “Well, it’s… fine” and “No, it’s good… but I don’t know that you want to put it into the rotation.” It’s almost like they’re civilized. And that was with made up foodstuffs that sort of looked like cat vomit. IMAGINE what a calculated and gooey treat can do!

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Parenting improperly since 1998

Hi! In case you were wondering about my status (I am just that important to you, I know), it is currently: Not Dead. That could change—though I don’t plan for it to—but despite my neglect of Internet word-vomiting of late, I’m still alive.

Let’s see; I’ve been on a streak of truly awesome child-rearing choices for the last month or so. There was the whole “Hello, Mrs. YOURKIDSMOM, but we are legally obligated to notify you when…” phone call from school one day, letting me know that when even a child with a documented lack of brain-to-mouth filter says something that sets off the DANGER WILL ROBINSON, LIABILITY BREWING detector, certain furious declarations must be Reported and Recorded and Handled. It was one of those seemed-like-a-much-bigger-deal-than-it-really-was kinds of things, but my kid was struggling and I felt guilty for not figuring out how bad it was sooner. We have since handled matters, I think, though excuse me while I go knock on everything wood within arm’s reach.

There was the “hey Mom, I have this weird lump here…” incident, complete with me being all, “Uhhuh, I see, that’s fascinating. Do you have a test tomorrow by any chance?” Fast forward: kiddo had to have surgery. Um. Oops? (Totally minor. Everything is fine! I mean, other than me feeling like a jackass, but that’s normal.)

Also no Thanksgiving break week would be complete without me totally neglecting my family in order to work a zillion hours a day on Want Not, so there was that, too. I am now making it up to my husband by spending our evenings binge-watching The Newsroom, which is what passes for romance ’round here. (I did not need to make it up to my children, as they didn’t notice or care that I was busy last week; or if they did, all those pies I made for them was enough of an apology. Hooray!)

That’s pretty much all you missed. Oh, also I never linked up my Alpha Mom post last week and now I’ve written one for this week. So! If you like, you can go back and read about why I hate the “best” gift for teens and then move on to what I’d like to tell new parents if there was any way for it not to sound annoying. Those posts and a buck will get you a crappy cup of coffee, by the way. You’re welcome!

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Toes are delicious

There are a couple of times I’ve written about volunteering at my kids’ school (or schoolS, back when they weren’t at the same one), and it nearly always evokes at least one indignant WELL THAT IS FINE AND WELL FOR YOU, MS. PRIVILEGE PANTS, BUT NOT EVERYONE CAN DO THAT response. Being me, I thought hey, people must be misunderstanding my point, perhaps I will devote an entire post to it to explain why it is important TO ME and is something that I think, actually, most people can do in some capacity if they really want to (maybe not as often as I do, but at least once).

Well. Um. You would think that a decade as someone who makes their living writing would’ve meant I could communicate that clearly, but this is me we’re talking about. I went ahead and wrote that post for Alpha Mom and managed to piss off the first two commenters, right off the bat. Mission not accomplished. Toes, however, very tasty. Which is good, as I apparently spend a lot of time with my foot in my mouth.

Really my POINT is that I, personally, enjoy volunteering and arrange my life in such a way that I can do it. I am lucky to be able to do so, I know. I meant it to be encouraging to those who maybe haven’t quite figured out a way to make it work. I don’t know if this is a hot button issue because I’m really screwing it up badly or because people get very defensive about this topic. Maybe a little of each? Either way, I guess you can come over and yell at me, too, or maybe my point—YAY VOLUNTEERING WITH OLDER KIDS—will actually come across. We’ll see.

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The flow, man, the flow

That’s me, a go-with-the-flow kind of person. Nary a care! No anxiety! No stress!

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahaha! Hey, at least I can always make myself laugh, right? Right.

I’m working on that whole go-with-the-flow thing. Why, I recently realized that my car is missing a hubcap. Where did it go? I have no idea! Oh well! Also, this morning my hair was falling in my face and bugging me so I tied it in a knot. Then I realized that if it was long enough to tie in a knot, I’m about six months overdue for a haircut. (I feel like there’s a fine line between “flowing mane” and “aging hippie,” and past a certain hair length, I’m crossing it.) Did I make myself an appointment for a haircut, though? Nope! No biggie!

Yep, that’s me. I’m just rolling with it all. Or pretending to, anyway.

But hey, it’s all a part of learning to be wherever I am. Today I’m over at Alpha Mom, working on crossword puzzles and acceptance.

It’s all good. (Except my hair. I really do need a haircut.)

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Politics are sexy, yo

What you can read from me this morning over at Alpha Mom: Why and how I talk to my teens about the democratic process.

What you will not find in the Alpha Mom post: The fact that my husband and I set out to our local polling place just as soon as the kids left for school, this morning, made our way through and voted with absolutely no issues, and then as we were exiting the building I walked just a leeetle too close to an open door and—while I was trying to give one of those cursory polite smiles to someone entering as we left—my purse strap snagged on the door handle and I nearly lost a shoulder. I was immediately transformed into one of those cartoon characters being boomeranged; first I continued forward, then my purse yanked me back and I nearly fell, then I disentangled my purse and tried to pretend nothing had happened. Super sexy.

Grace, charm, and smarts. THAT’S ME!

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You get extra credit, and YOU get extra credit!

Everyone made it out of the house on time and in costume, and everyone got extra credit. In addition, Monkey “won” for his class (which was apparently chock-full of Rosie the Riveters and not a lot else). While Chickadee’s teacher admired her commitment to the pun, they apparently had a spot-on Andrew Jackson in her class, so no grand prize for her this year.

I give you… the government shutdown, and the Great (grate! get it? GET IT??) Depression:

halloween2014

(Adjusted for the Witness Protection Program, natch.) I do feel a little sad that I cannot show you Chickie’s Emo-ized makeup because… it actually looked amazing on her. I’m glad she’s not a makeup kid, normally, because it make her look about 20 and ZOMG NO THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Tonight there shall be football, but no uniforms—the kids are allowed to wear costumes. No one thinks I’m funny when I suggest they dress up as marching band nerds. Hmph.

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Also, Halloween is coming

Once again, the kids’ social studies teachers are offering extra credit to kids who dress up in themed costumes for Halloween. This year Monkey is in the Government class his sister took last year, and Chickadee is in US History. I both love and hate this idea; I love it because it’s (supposed to be) fun and gets the kids engaged, but I hate it because who ends up doing all of the work, I ask you? (*AHEM* Exhibit A.) (Please also note that SOMEONE is refusing to let her little brother borrow her Bill costume this year EVEN THOUGH he doesn’t have the same teacher she wore it for last year.)

If they let us grab some pictures, I’ll show you their creations later this week. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked Chickie out of being William Howard Taft stuck in a bathtub. (“YOU CANNOT WEAR A BATHTUB TO SCHOOL” = an actual thing I said.) You know us, I pull for punny/easy any time I can, so the end results should definitely be groan-worthy. Will they get extra credit? (Maybe!) Will anyone have a giant meltdown? (PROBABLY!) Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’m pondering teenagers and Halloween over at Alpha Mom, because apparently I’m supposed to have a lot of feelings about it. (I mean, beyond the whole “don’t wear a bathtub to school” thing.)

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Why (an explanation)

So my folks were here, briefly, and my father mentioned no fewer than three times that he was going to check my blog to see if I’d written. “Um, I don’t really write much anymore,” I said, as if he didn’t already know that.

“Yeah, but how will I know what’s happening in your life?” he said.

“It’s terrible,” added Otto, never one to shy away from ganging up on me with my dad. “I used to be able to check the blog before I came home to find out what I’d done that day or to know if I should be worried about something. Now I just have to GUESS.”

I waved them off. Whatever.

A day later, Chickadee cornered me. “Hey,” she said, “why DON’T you write anymore?”

She’s a visual learner, so I made her a diagram to explain.

venn-teenagers

Now you know, too.

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