Now there is less of me to yell at

So I did this weird green smoothie cleanse and lost some weight. I never know if writing about that sort of thing is interesting or boring; I mean, it’s interesting to me, I guess? Maybe not to you? I might write about it next week. It was… an adventure. I’m glad I did it for a number of reasons, not the least among them that I appreciate being able to fit into my pants.

Anyway, during the first few days of the cleanse, especially, while I was dealing with caffeine withdrawal and general hopelessness (I’m the best advertisement for this cleanse EVER, clearly), I felt like I wasn’t thinking super clearly. I made a lot of dumb mistakes. More dumb mistakes than usual, that is. And then I sort of came out of that and felt clear! And ALIVE! And ENERGETIC! But I still caught myself sometimes not thinking entirely straight.

Then I wrote this piece for Alpha Mom about teens and disturbing texts, and my intrepid editor and I went back and forth on some issues of guilt by association and bullying-vs-just-generally-being-a-jerk, and I suspect some commenters are going to yell at me very soon. I still stand by what I said, I think, based on the information given to me, but it’s definitely a tricky issue.

And anyone who disagrees with me has to bring me a snack. I think that’s fair.

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How to get your kid into college

I’ve been threatening to do this for months, but I finally wrote a counterpoint piece to all of those “HOW TO MAKE SURE YOUR SCHMOOPYKINS GETS INTO HARVARD” articles. It was surprisingly cathartic.

My distress over various “experts” in this area is threefold:

1) Who says you have to go to an Ivy or other generally-rated-as-one-of-the-very-best sorts of colleges in order to succeed? That’s dumb. If that was true, none of the other colleges would exist, or no one who graduates from them would ever make a living. These pieces are rife with a snobbery about education that I find really distasteful.

2) It always seems to assume a trajectory that begins with laser-focus even before your kid hits high school. Call me crazy, but I think it’s okay to let kids be kids.

3) I don’t remember my parents doing all of this college stuff with me… because they didn’t. I picked the schools I went to. I wrote my applications. I handled it with minimum input from them, because honestly, if a kid can’t get themselves through the process here without mommy and daddy pointing out every step of the way, they’re unlikely to succeed at ANY college, much less a “top” one.

Want to know what needs to be happening through high school for your kid to be on track for the right college? Here you go. I may not be an expert, but I’m a realist—and unlike a lot of folks I know with high school seniors, we haven’t really found this year stressful.

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Nerd Night: Identity Crisis Lemon Bars

Listen, I am a person who aspires to balance. I’m not saying I’m a person who ever ACHIEVES balance, mind you, but I do aspire to it. So when I make a completely over-the-top dessert like I did last week, I try to go for something a little simpler and less-sugar-shock-inducing for the following week.

I had an ulterior motive, too. Lemon bars are Otto’s favorite, and I realized while looking for a recipe that I’ve never actually made them before. (I am a terrible wife.) Whenever we eat out somewhere that has lemon bars on the menu, he gets one. Anyway. Often we send dessert off and an empty pan returns, so I planned from the start to make two pansful, on account of Otto ran a Big Event for work last week and I basically didn’t see him after Wednesday morning until Sunday night. He’d worked hard. He deserved a traditional, perfect lemon bar.

Unfortunately, he’s married to me, so what he got are THESE lemon bars. And they were good, the family tells me, but they were not entirely traditional. Still, no one complained.

lemon-bar-plate (more…)

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In case audio is your thing…

… I cannot remember if I have mentioned here or not that I’m going to be in The Vagina Monologues again this year. But in case I hadn’t, before, there ya go. Now I have. This may not mean a thing to you (maybe you live very far away; maybe you are opposed to vaginas for some reason), but this morning I was on a local podcast along with one of our directors to talk about and promote the upcoming show. And you could listen to it, if you wanted to, to hear how much MORE awkward I am in real life (hard to believe, I know).

Bear in mind that I got a phone call late last night asking me if I could step in today, because our other director was going to be unavailable and my schedule is flexible and also I am a sucker. I said sure, because why not? Then we got there this morning and had settled into our chairs and Andrew was about to start recording and Audey was all, “And I want you to do part of your monologue, too.” OH. OKAY. NO SWEAT. I did it, but, uh, surprise! (This is a lovely building the newspaper offices are in. I have very much enjoyed talking about Eve Ensler’s important work. Sure, I’d be happy to start moaning and let you record it.)

You can listen to the podcast here (or download it, if you’re fancy like that). If you’re local, please come to our show! And if you’re not, please consider visiting the V-Day Event Locator to find a local production to attend in February. All productions of The Vagina Monologues are fundraisers for organizations dedicated to preventing violence against women—see a fun show, support a great cause.

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I’m always behind

I realize that we are probably the last people on earth to have discovered Sherlock, but OMG, are you watching Sherlock?? I’ve never really understood all the fuss about Benedict Cumberbatch—I mean, fine, he’s an actor? Who acts well? And I have always enjoyed this ridiculousness—but now I get it. I GET IT. TEAM SHERLOCK 4EVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

Seriously, if there’s an evening I think we’re going to watch it and then it turns out we can’t for some reason, I become despondent. And I’m probably headed for a full nervous breakdown, because we’re almost done with Season 3 and then what am I going to do with my life? I just love it more than anything I’ve seen on television in forever. I love it more than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (don’t tell Monkey), which is saying something, because I really love S.H.I.E.L.D. more than is probably normal.

Better late than never, right? I think so.

Right. CUE THE AWKWARD SEGUE: I want to say “Why didn’t you tell me??” about Sherlock, except that I’m sure you did and I didn’t listen. And many of you warned me about all of these pesky FEELINGS I would be having this year and I was all NOPE, NOT ME! And of course I was wrong, because I am often wrong. Also I am behind (per usual) on figuring things out. I feel like I’m just starting to figure out just how hard this whole releasing-my-kid-into-the-world thing is, and “Why didn’t you tell me?” is the wrong question, I know. The right question is, “Why didn’t I listen?” or maybe “How do I make it more bearable?” You’re welcome to read more on Alpha Mom, but fair warning, it’s a little sappy. I’m sorry. We can always go back to talking about Sherlock, if you’d rather.

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Nerd Night: Boston Cream Pie (and other things)

We had some scrambling to get Nerd Night rescheduled, this week, which prompted our friendly neighborhood Dungeon Master to share this with the group:

interesting-nerd-nightIt’s possible it made me laugh louder and longer than was strictly necessary, but I admit to nothing.

Now, normally my argument against rescheduling or canceling Nerd Night is that MONKEY WILL BE SO DISAPPOINTED, but when the subject of canceling last night or moving it to today came up, this time, like the doting mother I am, I was all YOU CANNOT CANCEL I AM ALREADY MAKING A COMPLICATED CAKE. See, Boston Cream Pie (motto: not actually pie!) is not hard to make, but it does require a bunch of steps, and because I am a planner, I had already made the custard when word came in that we might be canceling. Schedules were rearranged and they’re gaming today, thank goodness, because I do NOT need this in my house this week:

bos-cream-side (more…)

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I have poor planning skills

Having children just a year apart in school has its advantages, sometimes—they often do the same activities at the same time, and this year when so many things are broken into a 9th/10th night and an 11th/12th night, we only have to go once—but somehow I forgot about the whole TWO KIDS HEADING TO COLLEGE AT NEARLY THE SAME TIME thing.

It’s not fair, really. I am constantly gauging and assessing Chickadee’s experiences this year to help us make decisions about how to handle things with Monkey. This is (surprise!) resulting in a litany of “But how come HE doesn’t have to—” and “but when I was a junior—” and the occasional “But Chickie didn’t—” and that’s SUPER FUN. I’m really beginning to understand how people with 4 or more children end up with the oldest and the youngest feeling like they were raised by completely different people. Live and learn! Or live and give up! Either way!

Lucky for me, years of raising “different” kids and having my perception of what’s truly important in life challenged for… oh… years on end (NOT THAT I’M BITTER) has left me in an interesting place when it comes to college prep. Specifically: any time I read an article about how to get your kid into the BEST school for the BEST life, I laugh and laugh and laugh. In fact, I think I’m going to be writing up my very own ESSENTIAL COLLEGE PREP TIMELINE for Alpha Mom very soon, but I promise it’s not going to look anything like what you’re used to.

In the meantime, here’s my take on what’s wrong with the GOGOGO mentality of pushing kids to focus on college from a young age, and I’m sure you’ll be shocked to read that I don’t think pressure is the only path to excellence. Spoiler alert: You don’t get to go to college with them, folks. Maybe let them figure most of it out on their own.

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Nerd Night: Blueberry Citrus Streusel Bars

For some reason, there are several cans of fruit pie filling in my pantry. I’m not sure why. It’s not the sort of thing I generally buy, and I have only the vaguest of memories of discussing having some for camping to go with this cast iron “hobo pie maker” thing that Otto owns and loves (even before I could no longer eat wheat, the idea of sticking some Wonder bread and pie filling into a campfire was not all that appealing to me, but whatever). Anyway, after a multi-week hiatus from Nerd Night, I opened the pantry yesterday and decided I need to use up some of that canned fruit. But a pie would be too obvious.

I found this recipe, which seemed like a decent start. Sweet berries, plus a creamy citrus layer and crunchy topping. Mmmm. It called for fresh blueberries rather than pie filling, so I modified the crust to make it heartier because I knew the canned stuff would be gloopier (technical baking term). I upped the oats, some, and subbed in some whole wheat flour, and I think it worked out.

blueberry-bar-close

They’re pretty, anyway. (more…)

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We need to talk about kale

Well I, myself, need to talk about kale. Maybe you don’t. But you’re here and I do, so we’re going to talk about kale.

[Possible alternatives to talking about kale: Talking about the fact that I just got 10″ of hair chopped off and now I have no idea how the hell to manage my hair, because even though I was tired of just putting it up in a massive bun every day, that doesn’t mean I’ve figured out how to do an actual hairstyle ever in my life; talking about the fact that my kids are going on yet another school trip and this morning when I was trying to assist Monkey with his packing he got RIGHTEOUSLY PISSED OFF at me for not letting him do it on his own and it was so age-appropriate but also so aggravating that I had to hide in my office to both take some deep breaths and giggle; talking about how Duncan is ONCE AGAIN becoming allergic to the food he’s eating and I’m switching the dogs to another option, but in the meantime he is itchy and unhappy and his ears smell like cheese. In other words: You really wanna hear me talk about kale.]

Kale is stupid. I mean, I know not everyone is into salads, but I happen to quite like salad-things, and I love, like really LOVE spinach (honest and for true), but kale continues to infuriate me. I KNOW it’s a superfood, I KNOW it’s good for me, blah blah blah, yes, got it. Still: kale is stupid. Kale mocks me with its pretentiousness. Kale can be made palatable but it is SO MUCH WORK and in the end, what? You’ve found a cure for cancer? Celebrated a job well done? Helped the homeless?? No. You’ve eaten some kale. Whoop-de-do. (more…)

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Mama’s got a new set of wheels

I have decided that time is a terribly confusing construct. There were years when it seemed to drag on and on and on and I was sure that my children would never grow up and we would be frozen in time, forever. Then I bought a new car and went to write about it and thought to myself, “Surely I have only owned the previous car for a few years, right?” So I went and looked it up and no, actually we bought my previous car almost six years ago. How is that even possible?? Also, how is it possible that we bought that car knowing it would someday go to Chickadee (and laughed about, at that time) and now said child is practically an adult? DARK MAGIC.

Anyway. I bought a new car. Did I mention that? I bought a new car and then I wrote all about it, sort of, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you could go read about it. I love my new car. It is ridiculous how much I love my new car, really. And I’m not just saying that because Otto programmed the display to pop up a picture of the dogs when I start the car up, either. Probably.

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