Of latent Tiger Mom tendencies and how once I was able to stifle a lecture

Manid Mom - Of latent Tiger Mom tendencies and how once I was able to stifle a lecture

Pretty, but probably not a good pet

If you’ve been paying attention at all, you’ve probably noticed we’re not much for helicopter parenting. For a little refresher, here’s a quick story about bags of teeth, and another about how we rate kid activities on the amount of time they require our backsides be removed from the sofa.

I rather think this has worked to our children’s advantage, requiring them to become savvy to all kinds of helpful stuff, like how to find the fire extinguisher, or the expiration date on a gallon of milk. It’s kind of like we planned it, but in reality this is what happens when your MO is expending the least energy possible while keeping people alive. (more…)

A hyggelig holiday

manic mumbling - a hyggeligt holiday

A webcam view of Stanley, with and without smoke

If you’re like me, you look at the word “hygge” and think it’s a remix of something Will Smith wrote when he was still Fresh Prince-ish kind of cool and then you have an ear worm that is really not my fault because you should get your head out of the 90s.

If that sounds like really aggressive way to launch a subject, it’s because I’ve got “Na na na na na na na nana” going through my head, so … sorry.

(more…)

Can Cyndi Lauper be my spirit animal?

Some thoughts on being almost fifty and aging in general | Manic MumblingI had a boss once whose most embarrassing moment happened while she was standing in the security line at the airport after she handed her ID and boarding pass to the security guard. It was worse, she said, than what happened to the woman ahead of her who’d packed a bunch of sex toys into her carry-on and was then pulled out of line for a random, and very public, bag search.

The guard holding my boss’ credentials noted she’d just celebrated her birthday, and then did some quick math.

“Holy cow, you’re FIFTY?”

She’d wanted to sink into the floor, her worst fear being someone calling her out for her age. Or maybe it was actually being fifty, I’m not sure. I never asked for clarification. (more…)

We’re Mostly Perfect For Each Other

Manic Mumbling | We're Mostly Perfect For Each OtherThis week we celebrate the silver anniversary of an event that almost didn’t happen because I’m a flake, and back then I was worse.

The summer I graduated from college, Mike drove me home and we started talking about our shared, bucolic vision of owning horses and rearing children who would wear gingham and have double names we could holler from the front porch like proper folk. Mike thought naming a kid Cletus would be hilarious, so we agreed to give at least one kid a single name just to make fun of.

That was all before we realized both horses and children make an awful lot of poop, and also that picking out a baby name based on how much it made us giggle would be kind of cruel. (more…)

The most likely reason I haven’t answered your email

Manic Mumbling | The most likely reason I haven't answered your email. You could be opportunity knocking, or just someone asking for another favorLast week I received an invitation from Ashley in Alabama. It was less of an invitation, really, than a summons. Ashley’s PR firm is starting a blog targeting women “of a certain age,” featuring content that will focus on what they’ve decided are some of our favorite F-words: family, friendship, faith, fashion, friendship, fitness, finances and funny.

Ashley’s firm would like original, carefully edited copy, 500 – 800 words, please, accompanied by original photos and/or graphics. They reserve the right to do a little additional editing.

I know what you’re thinking. Ashley left out a few F-words. Like the Fortunes they aren’t paying for all that original content. Then there’s the Foolishness of my using my Free Time to come up with an entire blog dedicated to all kinds of F words like Flatulence, Fandango, and … and whatever else I might think of that starts with F.

Anyway, I didn’t answer Ashley’s email. At least not right away. (more…)

The Ten Emotional Phases of a CSA Subscriber

The Ten Emotional Phases of a CSA Subscriber - ManicMumbling.com | One of the best kept CSA secrets is nobody knows what to do with broccoli rabe except sauté it in butter and hide it in a glob of mashed potatoes.It’s that time of year when our grass has turned brown and crinkly and I’m giving serious thought to xeriscaping, or maybe installing a Brady-family era AstroTurf lawn.

August is also known in the life of a CSA subscriber as “isn’t it about time we get some freaking tomatoes?”

About six years ago, I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, about the virtues of eating locally. Since then, I’ll admit I’ve been one of those moderately insufferable farmer’s market shoppers, paying exorbitant prices for grass-fed beef and organic beets. We’ve also been subscribers to one community supported agriculture (CSA) program or another each year, which means every spring we start picking up a weekly allotment of locally-grown seasonal vegetables, and I start combing the internet for new ways to make kale palatable, and for answers to what the hell one is supposed to do with kohlrabi. (more…)

I’m not a wreck, YOU’RE a wreck

I'm not a wreck, YOU'RE a wreck. A few thoughts on parenting and a newly empty nestEarlier this week, I was lying in bed, at o’dark something-or-other, trying to clear my head.

“You’re awake aren’t you?” Mike said.

Yup. We haven’t been getting a lot of sleep around here.

We went out to the living room and Jack was there, on the couch with a quilt, scrolling through his phone. He’d been up all night cleaning and sorting, and now his room was too empty to sleep in.

Today, he took his 50 lb. suitcase, a file of instructions and itineraries, 200 potato pins, and a book about his life in Idaho we’d made for him to show his host families while he’s on exchange, and boarded a plane. We’ll next see him again in person in eleven months.

People have been asking us how we’re dealing with his departure, and for the most part I’ve been Scarlett O’Hara-ing the whole thing, saying that I’d think about that tomorrow.

Well, today is “tomorrow,” and I’m still not actually sure what I’m thinking. (more…)

Everyone, just chill about Pokémon Go

pokehunting manicmumbling.com

Summer evening pokehunting with Dad

If you’ve been paying attention the last three and a half weeks, you’ve probably heard a cacophony of opinions about Pokémon Go. Well actually, you’ve probably mostly heard people griping about how stupid it is that someone put a snipe hunt into a phone app and suddenly everyone’s flocking to city parks like Columbus just discovered a “New World.”

Among the Poké-bashers is Juan Buis of The Next Web, who says everyone should delete Pokémon Go from our phones right now, for our own good.

Not because the app could give the developer or anyone who hacks them access to your whole Google footprint. It’s not because the game’s glitchy and there’s that ping-y music that will trigger an eye twitch in about thirty-seven seconds. Nope. It’s not because people are catching Pokémon in places like cemeteries and hospitals and memorials where it’s really kind of grossly inappropriate to be playing a game of any sort. Nuh uh.

Nope. Juan wants us to stop playing Pokémon Go right now, because it is a COLOSSAL WASTE OF TIME. We’re better off spending that time doing something productive.

Wait, a minute … you mean to tell me my kids dragged themselves away from their quadratic equations and bonsai pruning to play a game that has no freaking point? You’re saying they’ve forgone their studies in ancient Sanskrit and their practice in Thai Chi for NOTHING?

Well, dangit. (more…)

The saga of the family photo

boys_photo_sessionOnce, when we were still a family of three, Mike and I won a photo session at a charity auction. The photographer was newly in business and would process the photos for almost nothing for her portfolio. This was good, because we’d bid on the session without thinking there’d be money to pay for the actual photo printing.

They were candid and cute and I loved them. But I was also a new mom, working full time, and chronically short of sleep. I put the pictures of sunflowers and my sweet baby in a shoebox somewhere and I don’t think I’ve seen them since.

The next time we sat for a family photo, it was for a church directory. We had a preschooler and a toddler. We stiffly posed in front of a blue screen. I smiled my big grin that makes me look a little crazy. I think you can see my bra strap in one shot.

Shortly after the awkward church photo, we decided we needed something higher end. The kids were growing. Jack no longer had the insanely chubby cheeks that dominated that first photo session. Who knew what other changes were in store?

There was a photographer who’d done portraits at preschool that were startlingly different. Close up, soft light, landscape orientation. Not like regular school photos at all. She had a good eye. I scheduled a session.

…And then abruptly had to reschedule after Colin discovered scissors and experimented on his own bangs and then the fur of his favorite stuffed bear. (more…)

Blood drives and bucket lists

Photo: Rotary Global Network for Blood Donation. Not sure why the vampire capes were necessary.

Photo: Rotary Global Network for Blood Donation. Not sure why the vampire capes were necessary.

About a month ago, Jack saw a blood drive van and told me he wanted to donate – had been wanting too for a while, in fact – and now that he was seventeen he could do so without parental permission, which makes two whole things I didn’t know.

What he actually said was it was on his “bucket list.” I told him he and I had different understandings of the term, but then he told me another list item was traveling to all seven continents. So maybe he does get it and is just a weirdo.

I’m not totally surprised he’d include something altruistic on his list of things to do before he dies, but why not digging wells in Africa or something? Building a house? Letting someone poke around trying to find a vein is on a list I keep too. A list of things that make me woozy if I think about them too much. Heights are on that list. Cleaning toilets. Ebola. (more…)