Oh, hey there. How are you?

I've been busy again.

Too busy to write, I mean. Last weekend, between deep cleaning the boys' room and reorganizing their closet and Lovebug's birthday party and seeing the local high school's production of Into the Woods (impressively good)  I did not really get around to writing much. And then I had to complete the program for the middle school musical.

I did the program for the fall play so I thought I knew what I was doing.

Of course, the fall play program doesn't have ads. This one has lots of ads, most of which were not in an easy format or created with the size of the program in mind.

 Despite the extensive information sent to all the students and parents detailing the expectations and showing examples from last year's program.

Another mom helped me with proof reading and finding a good printer

I just did a simple paper one for the fall play, which I was able to print for free at the school. This is apparently not good enough for the musical. 

but she had signed up thinking that she would be soliciting the ads from local businesses. So she knew even less about actually putting it together than I did. She offered to come over and help, but since I knew there would be a lot of cursing and ranting, I turned her down.

This is the wisest move I have made in weeks. 

But it's done! Yay!

Of course, I'm also trying to do this cute little lollipop sales thing, which we have never done before, but at least that I can do while I'm watching TV.

I really believe in helping at school as much as possible, but I'm not willing to fall behind on The Walking Dead to do so. I'm not a saint. 

We are selling Blow Pops with the little saying, 'You Blew Me Away!' and bunches of Sweet/Sour Pops

Those were the only bunches I could find pre-made -

with the little saying, 'Sweet Job!' to raise money for the arts association. I'm also tying ribbons on.

It sounds cute, but

And did I mention that I couldn't get the labels to print so I just started writing them? 

I suppose we could have put off the idea until next year, but I have enormous guilt because the fall play

which was my responsibility 

lost money this year. I think I've figured out why and I know what I can do to fix it next year, but the arts' foundation's budget can't exactly take hits. So when one of the teachers working on the musical suggested this idea, I jumped on it. 

As if in penance. Even though I'm not Catholic. 

But I forgot how incompetent I am in the craft department. I don't think the kids receiving the lollipops will care, if my own kids are any indication. But the people buying them might. Of course, those people are welcome to join the arts foundation next year and take the project over from me. 

I hope I can find the nerve to say that if anyone has the audacity to complain to me. I'm definitely doing that if anyone says anything negative about the program. 


Finding My Balance. Again.

So as part of Lovebug's birthday celebration, I took him and a couple of friends to the local trampoline park

and to his favorite diner and Dairy Queen and for a sleepover and to another kid's birthday party the next morning, but that's another post

for an hour. While there, we encountered a couple of his classmates. The kids hung out together for a while

my favorite thing about middle school is the relative ease with which they can pick a few friends to do something special with instead of having big birthday parties. I like parties, except for the fact that my budget necessitates inviting a reasonable number of kids  but my heart wants to invite every kid in the entire grade and all their siblings. 

and I noticed something odd. The classmates' parents were not at the trampoline park. Like I was all excited to have someone to talk to and then I realized it was still just me and Words with Friends.

I love the Lightning Round game on the updated version, though. 

It hadn't occurred to me that I could just leave them at the trampoline park, which is quite well run and littered with fairly kind teenage workers. But it feels different than letting him walk to town with his friends during the day time.

Okay, he usually does that with Ironflower and her friends, but still. 

He's also stayed at our local lake in the summer when I've taken Hugmonkey home, but again, that felt different. Maybe because the lake is littered with parents and lifeguards he knows and only members can get in?

Yes, I think that's it. Even when they're in town, my kids know that they can go to Ironflower's dance studio or their orthodontist's office and find a reliable adult that we all know. Same thing at the lake. We discuss what to do if this or that happens, where they can go if they're worried or whatever.

And yes, we could have that same discussion about the trampoline park or the movie theater in the town next door. But I can't rely on a local parent or dance teacher or swim coach being there. And that makes me uncomfortable.

Perhaps I am my over-protective mother's daughter after all.

Of course, my mother was over-protective in that she didn't let me bike to our local lake to swim by myself when I was 11. I couldn't walk into town with my friends until 5th grade. And she made me wait until I was 12 before I baby-sat for the neighbors. Not exactly over-protective by today's standards. 

It was so much easier to encourage their independence when it meant taking off their own shoes, or ordering for themselves in a restaurant. Now shit is getting real, and suddenly I'm like those moms who used to baffle me. You know the ones I mean, the ones who babied their kids so much that the kids entered kindergarten without being able to put their coats on.

Is my discomfort hampering my kids' independence?

I don't want to send them off to high school unable to put on their coats, or whatever the high school equivalent is. But at the same time, I don't want to be one of those parents at the other end of the spectrum, either. You know, the ones who started potty training at 18 months or pushed their kids to read at 4. I've always believed in child-led milestones.

Except for that time I pushed potty training on Hugmonkey before he asked for it, so he could go to that preschool at 2 and a half. That was a disaster. 

Lovebug and his friends did not seem to mind that I was at the trampoline park, but I don't think they would have noticed if I'd left, either. I think, as far as the trampoline park is concerned, I'll wait until they ask me to leave them there and then I'll re-evaluate the situation.

I feel like I was easily able to find a balance between pushing and hindering when my kids were younger, but now I'm bewildered and new all over again as the parent of two adolescents.

What's your take? When did you start dropping your kids off places?


Happy Birthday, Lovebug

Today you are 12.


I mean, it's pretty obvious from your sense of humor. And the fact that you're (slightly) taller than I am.

But still.

You recently defined your style as "classy nerd" and I think the fact that we've gotten to the point where you have not only thought about this, but created a name for it, indicates just how much you've matured since the last time I wrote you a birthday blog.

One of the many things that impresses me about you is how well you know yourself. You're more sure of your identity at 12 than many young adults are in college. Yet you're not rigid. You roll with the punches surprisingly well for a kid who used to bang his head on the floor when there were too many transitions in your 2 year old day.

You amazed people by running lights live during the fall play, so much so that they're letting you work on the sound board during the spring musical, which is supposed to be for 7th and 8th graders only. You impressed your band teacher so much that she nominated you for elementary honor band. Your grades are spectacular - your hard work is really paying off.

You're a great kid, Lovebug.

Not because of the accolades or how responsible you are or how helpful you are, but because of how good-hearted you are. You are relentlessly honest.  You take such good care of your little brother, even when you don't need to. And the way you get emotionally invested when you hear about injustice, or upset when something bad happens to someone else, shows how much compassion you have.

Unless you're making fun of a bad TV show. Then you're just brutally funny.

I am so honored to be your mom.

I love you.


Cancer Sucks

So I've got a favor to ask, friends. And it's not buying a t-shirt or sharing one of my blog posts.

It's way more important. 

In junior high and high school, one of my favorite people who wasn't directly in my friend group was this girl named Joanna. She kept me awake and entertained in homeroom for 3 years. I enjoyed reconnecting with her on Facebook when Hugmonkey was a baby and loved seeing updates about her little girl. 

She's fighting brain tumors, guys. After surviving breast cancer last year. 

She's got a GoFundMe that details how amazing she is. 

If you can, please help by donating and/or sharing. 


I'm Not the Funniest Cousin

I'm having bloggers' block, my friends.

I can't tell whether it's because I've started thinking in t-shirt slogans, whether it's my depression trying to pull me into a pit of despair or whether I'm just too enraged by the news lately to find stuff to write about. 

I mean, I suppose I could bitch about politics in every post but I'm not sure that level of constant rage would be good for me. I'm not Lewis Black. 

I mean, I couldn't pull myself together enough to write a "Friday I'm in Love" post last week. 


Even though I'm still feeling like a disaster and it's Monday, not Friday. . .I do have something good to share.

I suppose I could have waited until Friday and done another Cure tribute/Friday I'm in Love post. But then I would have had to title it "Friday I'm in Love With. . .My Cousin" and um, let's just say that my blog doesn't need that kind of traffic. 

My cousin is an amazing human being. He's overcome more than I can imagine and he's one of the best people I know. He's also funny as shit. 


This is long but it's worth watching the whole thing. But not at work or around children. 

This was his first paid stand-up gig and it was for a good cause and I'm just so damn proud of him.


Happy Birthday, Mom!

Most years on her birthday, I list the reasons why my mom is cooler than your mom. While this is still true,

And you'll never convince me otherwise, so don't try. 

this year I'm going to tell you a story.

When I was about 7 or 8, my mom and flew to meet my dad somewhere. We had gotten upgraded to first class and I remember the glares of the businessmen (for it was all men) as we settled in. I remember being offended that these businessmen seemed to think I was going to act like a screaming baby, so I decided to show them how mature I was.

Instead of removing my Barbies from my tote bag, I decided to have a quiet conversation with my mother.

Anyone who has talked to me after a glass of wine should be able to imagine my 7 year old version of "quiet". 

There'd been something I'd been meaning to ask her anyway, because my mom answered - or tried to find the answer to - everything I asked her. In the days before the internet, this took a lot of effort.

I don't think it made me the intellectual giant she was exactly hoping for, but I am fabulous at Trivial Pursuit. 

In some commercial or magazine ad or comment in a book I was probably too young to be reading, I'd read the word "douche". I had no idea what one was and I couldn't let that stand. So, surrounded by scowling businessmen on a crowded plane, I began our conversation with,

"Mom, what's a douche?"

To my mom's immense credit, she answered me. . .albeit much more quietly than I think I'd ever heard her speak. I don't remember exactly what she said, but I do know she got to the gist very, very quickly. And then I think she gave me a new book that she'd probably been saving for when I was bored and whiny later on in the flight.

And I was more than happy to read that book, because learning about douches was not as much fun as when she'd explained what suffragettes were.


Trophy Tuesday: Seriously

The Republican National Committee has my home address. I'm not sure how this happened, because I can list on one hand the times I've voted for a Republican. And one of those was William Weld - is he even a Republican anymore?

But here we are, with the RNC sending me mailers touting "Republican Census!"

I'm less concerned with how this happened than what I've learned from it.

Though I'm pretty sure it's a prank by someone on my Facebook who doesn't like my anti-Trump rants. 

Or it could be that time I filled out one of those RNC online polls about Trump, but I don't recall putting my correct address in there. 

The RNC has sent me no less than 4 questionnaires about what Trump's agenda should be and how they should best support it. They are very, very, very curious about what I think Trump should focus on.

I guess they already know what they're focusing on -  their big donors' wishes. 

It's like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" story, except it's a President's agenda.

The Democrats have never sent me mailers like this.

There are a lot of bold-faced words, exclamation points and mentions of deadlines. It even says "Process Immediately!" in the return envelope corner. It looks EXACTLY like the marketing materials for Publisher's Clearing House.

Not that I ever fell for that stuff  or anything. 

But unlike Publisher's Clearing House, the postage is not prepaid. That's right - those undermining the post office are making you support it instead. I literally cannot recall ever being asked to fill something out by mail and not having a prepaid envelope to return it in. This includes small mid-western wedding invitations, charity solicitations and a poll from a local bakery.

Until I started getting stuff from the RNC.

It's hard to use the word "tacky" in the year 2018, what with the Kardashian empire and all but. . .

The RNC is tacky as hell. 

You'd think a Romney (the chair is Mitt's niece) would know better, wouldn't you? 


Now I Even Hate Bathing Suit Shopping For Other People

I didn't even like bathing suit shopping when I was skinny, mostly because I didn't realize I was skinny. My self-flaw finding abilities have always been extraordinary.

Is that how you turn a negative into a positive? I feel like it's not. 

But I thought it would be fun to find bathing suits for Ironflower, because not only is she actually skinny, she's not prone to insecurity. Plus, we actually like shopping together. I genuinely thought we would have as much fun bathing suit shopping as we do regular shopping.

Possibly related: I don't go to the mall very often. 

The first problem was that not everywhere had bathing suits available yet. But I had faith that we could overcome that.

The second problem was that apparently they only sell tankinis to young girls and old women, because every time we found a teen-friendly bathing suit, it was a one piece or a bikini. Ironflower hates one pieces, so she accepted that it was bikini time.

I really do get her hatred of one pieces, why doesn't everyone who makes bathing suits?

But it grew tough to maintain our can-do attitude when almost every bikini we found showed more skin than Ironflower was comfortable showing and/or was meant for lounging poolside, not actually swimming.

On the rare occasions we did find a tankini (Hi Target! I love you!), Ironflower hated the pattern.

In fact, I had no idea how much Ironflower hated patterns until this shopping trip. I tend not to wear them because at my size I'm afraid I'll look like a couch, but this is definitely not Ironflower's issue. I'm not sure what her issue is, but I'm pretty sure I'll wear a pattern before she does. 

The worst part was when Ironflower pointed to a tankini she liked. It was exactly what she wanted.

Except it was in the girls' section of Target.

I suggested hopefully that they might have it in a 16. But of course most of the reason we were looking for bathing suits is that Ironflower no longer fits into her kid sized 16 bathing suits. Dammit. 

In the end, she found two bikinis - one she can swim in, and one that is probably more for lounging. She's not in love with either one of them, but as she put it, "At least I don't hate them!"

So I just dropped way too much money on stuff she doesn't hate. Great.

Fuck you, bathing suit makers.