Nicknames and dopplegangers

It never fails to delight me when someone who knows my kids in real life actually refers to them as Monkey and Chickadee. Those are not their real names, of course (sorry to shock you if you thought otherwise…), but they are their real nicknames from wayyyyyyy back, and we are big on nicknames here at Casa Mir. (Bonus points for people who call my husband Otto even though they know him in real life.)

Nicknames evolve, ’round here. For a long time Monkey was most often called Small Boy and then one day he pointed out that he was no longer small, Mom, GEEZ, so Otto started calling him Medium Boy. And there was that whole thing where Chickie changed her nickname to Pork Rind on my phone for reasons which were unclear to me.

Well. For a long time she was Pork Rind and the picture of her in my phone was a cartoon turtle stuck on its back, owing to her OTHER nickname for quite a while of Helpless Turtle. (That nickname has gone by the wayside thanks to a lot of hard work on her part. If you look very closely at her vision board you’ll find a clever nod to leaving that persona behind.)

Somehow—do not ask me to explain, because I cannot—of late she has become Flerp Derp. This started as a random nickname and has become a whole THING, like, with a life of its own. Are you familiar with the Narwhals song (mildly NSFW)? There is a Flerp Derp song, now, set to the same music. It’s a thing. (more…)

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But what about his royal Monkeyness?

monkey-vacay-text1I actually started posting again, but a few people noticed that Monkey was nowhere to be found. Well, he rudely left us to spend some time with his father over the school break. (I kid! He is always very polite.) He was away for a bit and I tried very hard not to miss him. I failed.

Have I mentioned how much I love the kids having iPhones? I love the kids having iPhones. Of course, for the first week Monkey was gone, I didn’t even hear from him. I finally sent him a series of ARE YOU DEAD? messages and he responded.

As you can see, he’s really growing up, cursing appropriately yet succinctly (and with enough restraint that I don’t have to admonish him). It brings a little tear to my eye. MAH BAYBEE.

monkey-vacay-text2Every milestone feels super-significant with this boy of mine. Even the ones where he’s being a completely age-appropriate little turd. (Hint: Who was tasked with coming up with a project topic two weeks before this conversation? Three guesses and the first two don’t count because c’mon now.) Otto and I have gotten into the habit of saying to each other, “Awwwww, he’s being a regular teenager!”

And he is, mostly. That’s pretty cool.

Monkey also—I hope you’re sitting down, if you’ve been around here for a long time and picture him as a preschooler—turned 15. I KNOW. It’s true, though. I wrote about it over on Alpha Mom, because he’s still my baby, even if he is bigger than me.

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Transcendental rubber cement

How did I become a vision board person? It’s still baffling to me. I am just about the most un-artsy-craftsy person I know, and yet, now that I’ve done this for a few years, it is without a doubt my very favorite new year’s tradition.

Granted, my OTHER new year’s traditions are 1) taking down the Christmas decorations, 2) vacuuming up bits of fake tree and fuzz from destroyed dog toys once said decorations are dispatched and 3) making large salads because none of my pants fit after The Month Of Eating, so it’s not like the bar was super-high, or anything. But still. I don’t know how I turned into someone who spends the better part of a day meditating with scissors and glue. It seems unlike me. And yet it is totally me, now.

Once again, Chickadee joined me, and the only big change this year was that we’d been madly scooping up free and cheap magazine subscriptions all year for just this purpose, so we had… roughly 100 magazines at our disposal. It was insane. I ended up cutting out way more than I actually used, which was fine, but about halfway through our session we were making comments to each other about how Oprah’s concept of a “bargain” was laughable and Martha’s ideas about “good things” should really be labeled “rich white lady with too much time on her hands” things. It’s all part of the process, dontchaknow.

[Have you been around for prior years’ vision boards? Here’s a retrospective, if you care: 2011’s board (my first one), 2013’s board (I missed 2012, whoops), and 2014’s creations (both mine and Chickie’s).] (more…)

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2015! 2015! 2015!

Happy New Year’s Eve! We are planning a huge celebration here, if by “huge celebration” you mean that Otto and I have been exchanging, “I dunno… what do YOU want to eat tonight?” phrases all morning and might head out to the grocery store in a little while so that we’re not ringing in the new year with only granola bars and beer (and I do).

This is the first new year’s in a long time where I’ve felt like the coming year really could be different and amazing. Of course, my definition of “amazing” has changed a lot, over the last three years or so, but that’s fine.

Life is hard, but it beats the alternative (as my father is fond of reminding me). And the other nice thing about life being hard is that when it’s less hard, it’s good. We celebrate every little victory over here, these days, and lately there’s been a lot of ’em. I’ll take it. I’ll take it and whisper and knock on wood about how this could finally be the turned corner, even. Shhhhhh.

In fact, we are in the midst of teaching Chickadee to drive, which is definitely an adventure unto itself. I wrote about it on Alpha Mom, if you’re curious.

Here’s to new adventures in 2015.

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Dishes are complicated

In general I try to avoid the whole “and now let us brag about the wonderful presents we either gave or received, be they expensive or The Most Thoughtful Item ever or preferably BOTH” thing, because 1) NO1CURR, as my children would say, and also 2) I don’t want to be that asshole. I mean, I figured there are plenty of other annoying things about me without any of that going on.

Nevertheless, I am now going to be That Asshole and brag, because Santa knocked it out of the park with this double-sided magnet that showed up Monkey’s stocking this year:

Fred Dishwasher Magnet

Every teenager’s dream, AMIRITE? (more…)

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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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