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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Countdown to independence

Chickadee is in the process of deciding which colleges she wants to apply to. This is exciting, but also just plain WEIRD, not to mention a little scary. (I mean, for me. Probably for her, too, but I don’t presume to speak for her.) By this time next year, we’ll know where she’s headed.

That means I have just one year left to teach her how to be a self-regulating semi-adult human being. AHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAOMG. (Hang on while I type the rest of this with my head between my knees.)

Throw in the intrinsic differences between my kids when it comes to some areas of self-awareness and regulation, and I’m flying blind. It’ll all work out, though. I mean, probably. Right? Right. Today at Alpha Mom I’m loosening the reins in preparation, and we’re a little excited and a little nervous.

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In other words, totally normal stuff

Life has been uneventful here, of late. Yep. Nothing’s happening. Booooring. In the last month:

1) I got laid off.
2) School ended, and I now have a senior and a junior and SHUT YOUR MOUTH I DO NOT.
3) Chickadee got a job.
4) Monkey continues to insist he does NOT need to learn how to drive, despite a deadline of this week for our trip to the DMV to test for his permit.
5) We sold our camper.
6) We opened the pool and paid the children each a dollar to plunge into the cold water, as is our custom.
7) It rained a bunch and my garden is going berserk.
8) My dad and stepmom came to visit.
9) My dad and stepmom brought us the plague, which frankly was a shitty hostess gift, I have to say.
10) The dogs continue to be ridiculous and gross but we still love them.

Because I know each of these things is SUPER EXCITING, I shall elaborate. Lucky you! I’ll even spray this entire post with Lysol, because I’m still sick and I would hate to give it to you. (more…)

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… but I play one on the Internet

So I told my children this morning that I was going to be writing an advice column for Alpha Mom as a “teen expert,” fully expecting them to laugh and laugh, but instead they both just looked… puzzled. Like, it wasn’t even FUNNY that I’m pretending to know what I’m doing, it’s just SUPER PERPLEXING. [Is your ego getting out of hand? Try TEENAGERS! They’ll knock you down a few pegs in no time!]

Nevertheless, we’re forging ahead (thanks, in part, to your positive support when I first asked if you’d read it), and the first one is up today. Woohoo! You can hop on over there to read about transitioning your ADHD kid to middle school, which is a scary proposition under even the best of circumstances.

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Making things is both awesome and scary

Whenever my children are being buttheads—and trust me when I tell you this happens plenty often—the default tension-defuser is for said child to declare, “YOU MADE A THING!” Translation: “I’m a butthead, but you made me, so clearly this is your fault.” (Monkey also loves to follow it up with a gesture towards his sister and the addition of “You made TWO things!” Har har.) And it’s true, I made two things which are apparently now full-fledged individuals whom I cannot control. TERRIFYING.

I feel compelled to make LOTS of things. Some of them work out, some don’t. Some are successful, some not. Some are scary, like when I decided it would be a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC idea to purchase this mushroom-growing kit because HOW FUN! Mind you, I am the only person in our immediate family who even LIKES mushrooms. But SCIENCE! We watered it and peered at it for about a week, wondering if our kit was a dud. But then… look, I’m just going to hide this under the fold in case fungus freaks you out. It’s freaky. But if you dare, click through and behold the FUNGIPOCALYPSE. (more…)

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Admitting ignorance is the first step

Remember the old saying about how a kid’s parents get dumber and dumber until the kid is an adult and then—magically—the parents start getting smart again? We’re going through that right now, and I always thought it meant that hahaha, the kids would think I was dumb when really I wasn’t, BUT NO, I’ve come to believe that I am truly losing brain cells as they get older. My poor kids, and their dumb ol’ mom who can barely function anymore.

For a while there, Monkey was very fond of declaring, “It’s okay, I’m a doctor!” in response to any sort of doubting of his ability. This morphed into, “It’s okay, I’m a DOG-tor!” (usually while holding a dog, natch), and now it seems like everyone in the family uses it as an all-purpose response. Well. The other day I tried to say “It’s okay, I’m a DOG-tor!” and it came out more like, “It’s okay, I’m a dog door!” and now Chickadee is fond of saying, “It’s okay, Monkey, Mom is a dog door.” I have no idea what any of that means, but there you have it. How dumb am I? I am SO DUMB, I am now a dog door. (May I show you to the run? It’s lovely out there.)

In the meantime, my children only increase in their ingenuity. About a week ago I discovered Chickadee’s watch left on my desk after the kids headed to school, so I sent her a picture of it with the caption, “OH NO!” She replied with this image, and the caption “IT’S OKAY, I GOT THIS.” Because of course.

All of this is a long preface to two things. The first thing is that driver training continues apace even though I am really dumb, and you should go read about it over on Alpha Mom if you are so inclined. The second thing is that we’re thinking of launching an advice column over on Alpha Mom sort of like Amalah’s Advice Smackdown, but for questions specifically about older kids and teens/young adults instead of little kid stuff. Would you read that? Would you ask stuff? Would you ask stuff and read it even if I—clueless and confused much of the time—was the one writing it? Any and all feedback welcome, and if you’d rather just send in a question because you think it’s such a great idea, hit me up at alphamomteens@gmail.com. (Have I mentioned lately that you’re my favorite? You totally are.)

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Berries, berries, berries, berries

We have reached the portion of our program where I am completely ready for school to be done and the only thing I care about very much is going strawberry picking. What can I say? 1) It’s not a terribly long season and 2) I’m a strawberry glutton. There are worse habits to have, I’m sure.

Monkey has started peering into his lunch bag each morning and saying, “Whaddaya know? STRAWBERRIES! I’M SHOCKED!” But it’s not a complaint, because what sort of weirdo would complain about fresh strawberries?? (Do not tell me the sad tale of your second cousin’s girlfriend’s cousin who was deathly allergic to strawberries. I know those people exist, and I am sad for them.)

If you need me, I will be in my kitchen, which looks like a crime scene, and I will be happy. If you need more words about strawberries (you do!) and some great recipes, come on over to Alpha Mom. Spoiler: Tonight for dessert we’re having strawberry basil frozen yogurt. YESSSSSSSSSSSS.

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Who says romance is dead?

Exactly eight years ago, right about now I was getting my hair done in preparation for taking another crack at the whole ’til-death-do-us-part thing. That feels simultaneously about a million years ago AND just a few weeks ago. Time is weird like that.

As is his style, Otto swooped into the kitchen this morning with a small flourish and a big, “Happy Familyversary!” and an extremely thoughtful gift for me and a family gift for all of us. He is the BEST. (Did you know that the 8th anniversary is pottery? I got a beautiful piece and we’re all going to a wheel class at a local studio next week to make our own creations, too. Again, I say: HE IS THE BEST.)

Because I suck, I confess that often I don’t get him an anniversary gift at all because I suffer from Gift Anxiety and his presentations to the three of us each year are always so thoughtful and amazing I feel like I cannot possibly compete. But something spoke to me this year, something I think he needs to have at this point in our marriage, and so I actually have a little something for him. Rather… it’s arriving today. Shipping was slow. So:

Me: I have something for you. But you have to wait until tonight.
Him: Oh?
Chickadee: GROSS.
Me: Ha! Not that, something else. It’s arriving tonight.
Him: Oh. [He sounded a little disappointed.]
Me: But hey, THAT TOO, if you want.
Chickadee: EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

It’s actually more romantic when you can squick out the nearest teen. I’m pretty sure that’s a thing.

Happy anniversary, honey! Whaddaya say we go out to dinner tonight and find an innocuous way to mortify both children in public to further cement our love and kick off the next eight years together?

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Breaking Craigslist news

The last time I tried to sell something on Craigslist, I received a slew of weirdo spammy responses about how “I come right now and pay you twice your asking price” followed by “and then you ship item to my little cousin in Upper Slobovia, yes?” and never anything that led even remotely close to an actual sale. I listed my item (a decent Yamaha student trumpet; anybody need a trumpet?) twice and had no luck either time. So when Otto declared he would list our old, peeling patio furniture on Craigslist and handle everything, I may have snickered to myself a bit. He listed it for twice what I thought it was probably worth, and I figured he could deal with the spambots for a while before we donated the set to Goodwill.

He sold it yesterday (less than two days after listing it). Takeaway: in case you were wondering, my husband is made of magic and Craigslist mojo.

We celebrated with cheap Mexican food out on the porch (Cinco de Taco!), wherein I commented only two or three times how much I love the new furniture.

In unrelated news, school is drawing to a close for the year, at which point I will officially have a junior and a senior (ZOMG A SENIOR HURRY PANIC COLLEGE ANGST AAAIIIEEEEE), and because I don’t want to think about what’s coming next, I am parking myself firmly in the current end-of-school-year angst with my youngest. He’s doing a lot better than he thinks, and you can read about it over at Alpha Mom if you’re so inclined.

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