Lessons learned (veggie/college edition)

We returned from our whirlwind campus touring trip with the realization that yes, Virginia, this college thing is truly right around the corner and Big Decisions need to be made. That is both exciting and unnerving. And every time I try to remind myself that everything will work out just fine, I remember that once we get Chickadee through this process I have to start it all over again with Monkey, like, immediately.

Needless to say, we came home and I said “Oh, we don’t have any food!” and went to the store and promptly purchased All The Ice Cream. I think that’s reasonable, under the circumstances.

Also while we were gone, it rained a ton (on the heels of it having been approximately a billion degrees), so my garden is… experiencing growing pains. Specifically, all of my beautiful nearly-ripe tomatoes proceeded to split and in many cases, fall right off the vine. Still, I’m not complaining. Even ugly tomatoes can be turned into delicious tomato sauce.

gardenhaul-063015

This morning’s haul. Those are three types of tomatoes plus Japanese eggplant (and yes, I’m happy to see you, har har).

There was the matter of discovering HALF a tomato dangling from a vine, one day, and that was bizarre (my beds are in a fenced area), but then later that night we let Licorice out and she came back smelling VERY TOMATO-Y and the other half had vanished and, well, SOMEONE is now answering to “rotten tomato-faced thief.”

So clearly I’m no help on the gardening front, but if you’re curious about my take on questions to ask while touring colleges, I’ve got you covered over at Alpha Mom.

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Still recovering, but…

… it’s a good day, y’know? I like rainbows and they seem to be everywhere.

So just a quickie redirect, today: I thought folks would be tired of hearing about teaching a kid to drive, but I got a question about it at Alpha Mom, so check it out if you’re in that stage of life. (Spoiler: No, holding the dashboard with one hand and your face with the other is not the proper driver training position.)

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While we sweat into puddles

Greetings from… somewhere. I’m not sure where we are, right at this moment. We’ve stopped for lunch on a whirlwind Tour Of Campuses and so far we are still speaking to each other and cheerful, so things are going great. This is especially impressive when you consider that it’s currently 90-something and 70-something-percent humidity and we just spent hours tromping around a campus behind a VERY perky young thing who kept asking Chickadee, “Do ya like it? Huh?” (If there is anything Chickadee loves more than melting in the heat, it’s someone asking her repeatedly if she is happy and engaged. I had to stifle a snicker every time it happened. She kept answering, “… yes…?” which was pretty much Chickie-ese for “Please stop talking to me.”)

Anyway. We’ll keep hydrating and touring, and while we do that, you can go over to Alpha Mom and read about my summer rules for teenagers, if you like.

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Hole in the bucket (once more with feeling)

Have I mentioned that I am slightly… er… underemployed at the moment? And how that’s just fine, because I haven’t had a slow period in over a decade, and it’s summer, and we are doing Fun Things and years and years of being completely mentally ill about money mean that I can slack for a little while and we won’t be in financial dire straits or anything? And it’s all good, no problems, what a lovely and much needed break, we just have to be a little more careful and it’s no problem?

Well. I have all this TIME on my hands, now. Time I don’t normally have. Wouldn’t a lull in work be the PERFECT time to paint my office finally? Plus Monkey was going to be away for a while and then Otto went off on a trip and it was just me and Chickadee and, yes, sure, Orange Is The New Black wasn’t going to watch itself, but we finished it in two days (it was the weekend! GIRLS’ WEEKEND with bonding and lesbian prisoners, DUH) and then the following Monday I picked up my special-order, made-from-unicorn-horn-and-fairy-dust paint, and it was time to get down to business. Surely this would be NOTHING like previous DIY projects of snowballing magnitude, right? Right!

Allow me to tell you in words how the pre-painting prep went: I discovered that I have a lot of crap in my office. A LOT OF CRAP. I had a weird giant shelf on the wall that ultimately had to be unbolted and then chiseled off, and I have a giant desk and a filing cabinet and endless bookshelves and a coat rack and and and AND. We emptied most of the office into the dining room, and moved the remaining few big things (desk, futon couch) into the center of the room. It was… not fun, but we got it done. Next up was spackling and sanding. Then I started taping trim while Chickadee removed outlet plates, and that’s when I realized two very important things. (more…)

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Making our own food and entertainment

Here in Georgia it was rainy, rainy, rainy for a while and now the temperature is hovering around 100 all this week. In other words: My garden is going bananas and it’s HOOOOOOOOOT (um, very hot, not hoot) out and I’m getting a little loopy.

Yesterday I went out first thing in the morning to water, and discovered that as soon as the soil was soft, several of my tomato plants wanted to fall over. (They have cages! and stakes! and twine! and yes, I spend more time/energy on those damn tomatoes than my children, but the tomatoes never tell me I’m ruining their lives.) There’s really nothing like wrestling plants into submission at 6:30 in the morning when it’s already 80 degrees and 5 billion percent humidity out, lemme tell you. While I was doing that, I discovered that one of my basil plants was about ready to take over Atlanta, so I cut it down and made a delicious pesto that afternoon.

Of course, while I was prepping the basil, we discovered several stowaways. Ants and weird beetles get smushed, sorry. But it turned out that we had two baby praying mantises (discovered at different times) and those required careful study and filming and transportation back out to nature. Maybe this is only funny to us (we have watched it at least a dozen times and it’s only getting funnier), but first I “ruined” Chickadee’s film, then the mantis did. Bear in mind that this fella is about half an inch long. Enjoy!

Baby Praying Mantis! from woulda on Vimeo.

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Ain’t no party like a clearance sale party

First: THANK YOU to everyone who responded to yesterday’s post. I found it very helpful, and the girlchild read all your responses as well. I love having a collective brain-trust to draw on so that it’s not always just WELL MOM THAT WAS JUST YOU. Turns out that nearly every female I know has a story of Mean Girls Back In The Day, which is sad, but also somewhat validating. So thank you for sharing your stories.

Second: How many posts can I write about shopping at thrift stores? A bunch, it turns out. Especially when I’ve just scored huge at a ridiculous sale. You can check out my latest at Alpha Mom, though it’s less about shopping and more about what my kid teaches me while we do. She’s turning out pretty great, that girl of mine. (And that brand-new Elie Tahari blouse I got for a buck isn’t so bad, either.)

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This is not the post I meant to write

I’m about 700 words into a different post and I realized that wasn’t really what I wanted to talk about. In fact, I realized I don’t want to talk, because I feel like all I do is talk, and the people I have a habit of talking at/to are tuning me out. IMAGINE.

So: I would like YOU to talk, please. LET’S SAY a certain kid is nearing the end of high school and a frenemy situation has reached Maximum Suckitude, where a former friend has extended the expected nastiness and friend-poaching and whispering to maligning this kid’s genuine achievements in addition to just plain being an asshole. LET’S SAY that all of the usual advice—ignore it, smile and be so sickly sweet that the aggressor wonders what you’re up to, align yourself with those who don’t listen to that nasty crap, know that all of this stems from jealousy and low self-esteem and your best karmic move at this point is genuine pity, etc.—is falling on deaf ears. Let’s say this has been going on for years and the latest straw or three is straining the camel’s back to capacity and promises that “this year will fly by and then you’ll never have to deal with this person again” are being met with skepticism.

What do you say to make it more bearable, other than “Yes, this sucks, and it’s unfair, and it will get better very soon but not soon enough”? My tales of high school suckitude giving way to a much improved life in college are being met with “I KNOW” and eye-rolling.

Hit me with your frenemy stories (preferably ones which end with your happiness and their sad, meaningless existences OR heartfelt apologies once they grew up a little) so that I may demonstrate this is a universal experience and somehow, we survive and thrive anyway. Please and thank you.

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I’m a disgrace

My favorite thing about writing for Alpha Mom is the occasional, drive-by, years-after-the-original-post which is always—and I do mean ALWAYS—someone who wants to tell me that I’m an insult to humanity and irrevocably screwing up my children. You have to have a pretty thick skin if you put yourself out there (which is something I didn’t always have, true) but the random general “U SUCK!” comments don’t even count. I find myself wondering what makes a person think “This is very important that I tell this person how displeasing and wrong I find them. I shall do it right now, for it cannot wait and takes precedence over any other matter in my life. However, I should be very conservative with my use of letters, as they are a precious resource.”

Because my life is lacking in meaning and direction… er, I mean, because I am filled with hubris and also because it’s my job (and also, my poor terrorized children think it’s HILARIOUS that I sometimes give parenting advice on the Internet), our new teenage-problems advice column has a second installment up over at Alpha Mom. This time I’m tackling homework wars, particularly when special needs are part of the mix. Not that I would know anything about that. My perfect children always complete their homework with joy and laser-like focus, largely due to my superior skills as a parent.

Please remit “U SUCK”s at your earliest convenience.

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Everybody keep breathing, please

Summer is firmly upon us, and I am enjoying all of my unexpected down time. HAAAA. You know, in-between the driving lessons, ferrying children to and fro, working on a few different projects for the school (damn my need to be “helpful” and “participatory”), gardening, sort of working, various visits and engagements, and trying to keep everyone alive (which turns out to be harder than I think it’s going to be, all the time).

We had houseguests who brought their two dogs, and do it was DOGAPALOOZA here for a couple of days, and after they left, Duncan seemed REALLY tired, which, fine, I guess having two extra dogs all up in your face is stressful. But then he started refusing to get up… or eat… and he got up one afternoon and peed all over the carpet and lay back down right next to it. Plus he was blowing little snot bubbles out of his adorable little smushed-up nose and there was a lot of sneezing and some coughing. (Pro tip: Don’t Google “canine influenza.”) Anyway. The vet put him on some antibiotics and he’s perkier, now, thank goodness.

Monkey is very busy 1) eating everything that is not nailed down and 2) planning out various D&D campaigns and talking to his friends about said campaigns and showing up in my office to say things like “And each oracle gives you a one and a half modifier to your level for the next strike!” (I try to nod and look impressed.) Chickadee is very busy 1) working, 2) driving, 3) doing music stuff like joining a jazz band so that she can learn yet another instrument because apparently jazz flute is not so much a thing, 4) studying for the ACT, 5) binge-watching Netflix, and 6) insisting she is too busy to unload the dishwasher. I choose to believe this is all fine and good.

Because there’s not enough other stuff going on, I’ve finally ordered some paint for my office. You know, because I picked out that paint two years ago and I am nothing if not punctual. Otto said he’d redo the floor for me, too, if I picked out some laminate, so maybe that’ll happen, too. Then my office will be BEAUTIFUL and I will maybe have to, you know, work more.

While I try to relocate two overloaded bookcases (ZOMG), you can head over to Alpha Mom to read about how teenagers differ from toddlers. Spoiler: Notsomuch.

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Vroom vroom vroooooooom

I don’t think I ever posted about taking Chickadee to get her learner’s permit. We did it well ahead of when we let her start driving—much to her chagrin, because we are simply The Worst—and I guess it seemed like sort of a non-event? The most entertaining part was that it was a twofer—our Bonus Kid at the time who was about half a step above being an orphan also came along for permit-ing due to a lack of actual parental units willing to do the honors, and theoretically you have to be a relative to take a minor to the DMV for this stuff, so when asked if said kid was my child, I smiled and lied, claiming to be the aunt. Without batting an eyelash the clerk signed and stamped all the paperwork while the kids tried not to giggle.

We came home, took a dozen pictures of the two of them posing with their permits, and then neither of them actually learned how to drive. Kind of anti-climactic.

It was a good eight months later that we finally allowed Chickadee behind the wheel, and for the first four months of practice, it was slow going. She was terrified, for one thing, and for another, we’re still The Worst, setting up RIDICULOUS and UNFAIR rules like “be caught up on your schoolwork” and “treat family members with respect” and other such nonsense to earn a turn behind the wheel. It wasn’t until a couple months ago when she really started getting her crap together on a consistent basis that we moved to serious training. Nowadays, if we’re headed somewhere? I just toss her the keys and get in the passenger seat. We’ve both just gotten comfortable with this new status quo. (more…)

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