We made you some things

Hey, remember how my kid came down with something flu-ish on Christmas? Because of course she did? And then a week went by and figured it was just her, so on New Year’s Eve Day when we were making vision boards and I wasn’t feeling so hot, I figured it was no big deal… right up until it became clear that yes indeed, I was going to be ringing in the new year with a fever and a lot of grumpiness. Oh well.

I don’t know what sort of virus it is (was), but I finished up my board in bed, yesterday, and today I am up but moving kind of slow. That’s fine. While I go drink a whole lotta water and work on putting Christmas away, I have three things for you.

Thing the first: A really hard question over at Alpha Mom, which you may find interesting if you have younger, dating teens.

Thing the second: My vision board for this year (click to embiggen).
mir-vboard-2016-small

Thing the third: Chickadee’s board for this year (click to embiggen). (Shared with permission and my favorite, favorite one of hers ever. 2016 may just be amazing, friends.)
chickie-vboard-2016-small

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While we build our boat

How was your Christmas? Ours was lovely, just before the family scattered on their various journeys, and right now I am struggling to get back into “real life” mode while ALSO dealing with the fact that we’re under a flash flood warning and our yard has turned into a river (thanks, Obama!). This means that the dogs are all manner of freaked out—Duncan likes to bark to let me know he heard thunder, which is SUPER USEFUL—and also because they are delicate flowers, they don’t want to go outside in the rain and mud. And that’s fine, if they want to learn how to use a toilet, but apparently that’s not an option.

In short: it’s wet and dark and muddy and loud and I am running out of Nature’s Miracle. (If you don’t know what that is, consider yourself lucky. I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.)

I wrote you a post over at Alpha Mom, though, and I had plenty of time to write it because I haven’t seen my kid in days. Well, that’s an exaggeration: she tends to surface for food and Netflix binging, but as we continue the Countdown To Launch, we just opened up a whole new world of freedom here. It’s all so weird. I mean, she’s like, I dunno, 10 years old, right? Yeah.

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Merry Christmas to all, and to all good cookies

It’s been a long time since I could say this, but: It’s been a pretty good year. I would like to lose 10 (20) pounds and I would like Duncan to stop getting ear infections and Licorice’s breath to smell less like she just ate a bunch of cat poop (yep, the feral cats in our neighborhood are still around…) and for Otto to have a little less stress in his life and for my kids to start understanding how amazing they really are and also maybe for them to strike the phrase “in a minute” from their vocabularies… but… things are good. These are minor quibbles.

To celebrate, I made a million cookies, and also I wrote you this as an attempt to explain. This year, this place where my family has finally landed, it feels like a quilt of tiny miracles after a looooooong stint of sifting through scraps and broken thread. One cookie has seen us through years of heartbreak and happiness, and this year is no different.

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate, and merry Chinese food, if you don’t. Thanks for being here. I hope you have everything you need this year, and cookies to see you through if for some reason you don’t, yet.

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Nerd Night: Chocolate Gingerbread Bundt with Double Bourbon Glazes

I must confess: We didn’t actually have Nerd Night this week. School finished up on Friday and people were already scattering for winter break, so we’re on hiatus for a few weeks, which sent my youngest into something akin to the Nerdling DTs. (I got a serious of texts from him last week during AP Physics—good to know he’s paying such great attention during class—breathlessly informing me that the Pathfinder Society website indicated there was a game night at a restaurant downtown that night and he didn’t have any homework and could he please go even though it was a school night because really Pathfinder is his favorite and Nerd Night was suspended and if he didn’t go he wouldn’t get to game for WEEKS and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE could he?) (I said yes. He had a great time, even though after he told me with judgy eyebrows that most of his fellow gamers were, you know, DRINKING BEER. I reminded him that sometimes even nerds grow up to enjoy an adult beverage from time to time, and as long as they can still roll initiative without spilling anything, that’s okay.)

So this one is just a recent success from a few weeks ago, selected both for its holiday cheer and the fact that—let’s not forget—it’s a couple of fantastic adults who are opening their home to a pack of oddball teenagers every week, and they deserve everything wonderful. Sometimes that wonderfulness involves bourbon. Like the week I made this cake.

choc-gingerbread-bundt
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Obnoxious, but sometimes with good reason

I spent the bulk of the past weekend and this week baking cookies. Some doughs I make and freeze for later baking. Some cookies I went ahead and baked and froze when they were done. Some I baked this week and refrigerated. And then—like EVERY SINGLE YEAR as if I’m just new to this whole thing—on Thursday I of course discovered that the number of Cookie Gifting Vessels I owned vs. the List Of Teachers was a mismatch, and off I went to buy more containers. At least that trip to the store broke up my day of finishing baking and dividing up everything and packaging it nicely and printing little cards and all of that.

Several people have asked me why I still bother to do this, now that the kids are in high school. Most people don’t, I guess. For one thing, I enjoy it, even though it makes for a rather nutty week. For another, I can’t just drop a wad of cash on every teacher who’s making a difference in my kids’ lives (even though sometimes I wish I could). A bunch of cookies seems like the very least I can do.

Someone asked me what they have to do to get on my cookie list. I said, “Teach at my kids’ school and don’t piss me off.” See? It’s easy. (And honestly, only once in many, many years have I ever skipped giving a gift to a specific teacher. It’s pretty hard to make me mad enough to where I withhold cookies.)

And yes, okay, part of why I do it is because sure, I can be a pain in the ass sometimes (pretend to be surprised), and I want to do something nice for the folks I may have irritated earlier in the year. I’m not one to opt for “not making waves” over what I think is right (again, just play along and act like that’s surprising). I will hold feet to the fire if I need to. But then I’ll make you cookies. It all evens out.

This brings us to my column this week at Alpha Mom, wherein a mom asks if she’s being too helicopter-y, and I get right up on my soap box about speaking up, loud and clear. It’s not about cookies, it’s about teaching our kids what is and isn’t okay.

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I’m ready for winter break

For some reason this past week has been… ummmm… more crazy than usual. It’s just that end-of-term nuttiness along with some other life events—some foreseen, some not—making it kind of a wild time. I’m looking forward to Christmas! Except mostly I am looking forward to the kids being off school and everyone having some down time. We totally know how to party ’round here (if by “party” you mean “watch Netflix,” and I do).

Of the 3,000 things which have already happened this week (HOW IS IT ONLY WEDNESDAY??), I will of course choose to tell you about the one that makes me look like the biggest, most inept tool. My gift to you! No charge! I’m sure we’ll look back and laugh someday.

So here you go: over on Alpha Mom, allow me to make you feel better about that time you didn’t think your kid was really all that hurt. I’ve come to learn that everyone has a good story in this vein, many more cringe-y than the one I’m going to tell you, but misery does love company.

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Nerd Night: Honey Banana Cake with Nutella Glaze

Thanks for the recipe feedback—it’s a go, I’ll now be sharing whatever I send out the door on Sundays when my lovely nerdlings meet up with the rest of the Nerd Herd for a night of RPG shenanigans punctuated by a diabetic coma. Our friends provide dinner and the game leadership, I provide dessert, and my teenagers provide the incessant bickering. (Win/win/no comment.)

This weekend I baked for two days straight, seems like. I like to send buckets of cookies to the teachers before Winter Break, and that cannot be accomplished by baking Thursday night; I start the weekend before, prep and freeze doughs, etc. The LOGICAL thing would’ve been to send some of those cookies to Nerd Night. But because I am me, I spent two days baking cookies and then thought to myself, “Self, it’s Nerd Night. LET’S BAKE A CAKE.”

This cake:
round-banana-cake

Except I’m a liar, sort of. I made two, and this here pretty one is the one I kept (because it’s smaller). The one I sent to Nerd Night was… less pretty. (more…)

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More on fear

Y’all are great. I love that when I ask random questions you have all sorts of answers for me. And yes, I appreciate all of them. I am now 1) smarter about hotels, 2) hoarding cookie recipes, and 3) slightly less worried about loft beds. See? IT TAKES A VILLAGE.

I did get to thinking about the whole bed thing some more, yesterday, and I wrote a post for Alpha Mom and then never got around to linking it because both of my children decided yesterday would be an excellent day to fall deathly ill. Fantastic! But today one is back at school and the other is sleeping peacefully and now I remembered. Here you go! It’s about worrying and fear and a little bit about getting your kid ready for college.

[Bonus anecdote from last week’s college visit: During a parents’ informational session, someone asked about on-campus parking, which seemed reasonable to me, but then their follow-up question was about the availability of electric charging stations (for the record: there are none because this is rural Georgia, not San Francisco). I could not stop giggling, and as I was in a large room of very earnest parents, I had to sort of sink my face into the scarf I was wearing while I tried to regain my composure. To the credit of the people running the session, none of them laughed. I was REALLY HOPING someone would say something like, “I’m sorry, but your precious snowflake may need to trade in that Tesla before coming to campus,” but alas. I won’t even buy my kid a car and that question hit my funny bone. To be fair, it was towards the end of a very long day and also I am a child.]

If you want to skip straight to the bottom line, here it is: We can’t keep our kids safe, any of us. My goal is simply to find an acceptable level of fear and risk and learn to live with it.

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I have many questions

My life is confusing. I mean, I’m sure it’s no more confusing than anyone else’s, but I am easily perplexed. Sometimes I just randomly wonder about stuff, and other times I am genuinely flummoxed. Because it’s Monday and I am me, I’m just going to share some of my recent questions with you in no particular order. Feel free to offer insight, or just to let me know you’re confused along with me.

What is a reasonable expectation for a cheap hotel? Some background: Over the summer during our Collegevisitpalooza, Chickadee and I stayed at a perfectly serviceable, if unremarkable, hotel near her chosen college. The cost for the night was… around $100, I think. (Bear in mind this is not in a major metropolitan area, or anything. Small town, maybe 8-10 hotels from which to choose.) Last week we went for another visit and this time I went poking around online and chose a slightly cheaper option—about $60 for the night—because I am cheap and it was just a place to crash for the night and no biggie. Yeah. Um. They did indeed LEAVE THE LIGHT ON FOR US, but it quickly became clear that that was perhaps because 1) they didn’t want us to wait in the dark for the 10 minutes it took the manager to appear at the check-in desk, and 2) the light scares the roaches a little. It was… so gross. Like, I-checked-for-bedbugs gross. We were there for about 9 hours and we lived, obviously, but when I submitted a complaint via the website, all I got back was a “we are taking measures to rectify this issue” email. Am I out of line here, or should $60 still get you a roach-free room? (more…)

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Mean Mom, reporting for duty

In the continuing saga of Mir Gives Out Advice On The Internet Like She Knows Stuff Or Something, today at Alpha Mom I’m tackling the question of how to handle kids and parties where there may be drinking and/or drugs.

Spoiler alert: I am not the Cool Mom.

Also, I’ll offer this addendum: These days I have to talk more often and more in depth with my kids about how to narc without being found out, as both of them have attained Snitch: Expert Level. While their friends are good kids and there’s not a lot I worry about, I worry more about one of them being taken to task for narcing than I am about them drinking. So there’s that. At the same time, none of our kids are immune, so it’s worth discussing, and by that I mean an ongoing discussion.

… even if that discussion always ends with, “I’m the reason you drink, right, Mom?” (Yes, honey.)

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