Just picking my ego up off the floor …

books copyMaybe you’ve guessed I don’t keep this blog up for the fame or fortune, nor the many interesting requests I get from people who want me to post reviews on their dog accessories, toys or skin care systems for free (your readers would really love to know about our new, interactive floor mat … would they now, really?).

Although, maybe you have a life and don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my motivation. I occasionally get comments from people who are worried about my sanity, or the safety of my children, but maybe that’s not you.

If you want to know the truth, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it either. I enjoy dumping the contents of my brain out, sorting through the garbage, and then sharing whatever seems to make sense. Sometimes people tell me it makes them snort coffee out their nose.

I was going for poignancy, but okay. Continue reading

Not that there’s anything wrong, really, with Texas

parentsTo our darling son who wants to go to a gaming convention in Texas next summer – an epic road trip with his friend and his friend’s brother who will technically be an adult by that time, and doubtlessly fully capable of assuming all the responsibility for your posse:

We do trust you. It’s not that. And dad sincerely apologizes for snorting Pepsi out his nose at your heartfelt plea. That was insensitive of him.

Our ‘no’ should not be taken as a reflection our trust or lack thereof. Nor is it a statement about your friend, or your friend’s brother. Or their whole, entire family or their ancestors for that matter. We’ve never met these people, so we obviously can’t form an opinion about them.

You asked me “What could possibly happen” to two boys who will be sixteen by then, and a just-recently-turned-eighteen year-old on a road trip from Idaho to Texas.

That’s an excellent question. Continue reading

Not knowing won’t stem the flow of advice

hal copyWe’d finally convinced the kids to leave the living room the other night for an extended period of time so we could catch an episode of Orange is the New Black.

We don’t want to ship them off for another session of summer camp, nor stay up until the wee hours when they finally go to bed, but we still want to watch our show, which last night meant begging them to stay out of the room, and then remaining on high alert lest they enter again, inadvertently getting an eyeful of the random soft-core porn scenes that seem to be a hallmark of the series.

This isn’t that blog, the one where I talk about balancing inappropriate television habits with lax summer bedtime schedules. It’s the one that starts out with sounds of distress coming from the basement.

Mike paused the show. We found Jack splayed supine on the basement floor.

“I broke it,” he said. “It won’t work.” Continue reading

No offense to cowboys

breweries copyThere’s a new reality TV show that’s going to be based in my home state of Idaho.

As you can imagine, it’s all about hipsters comparing cruiser bicycle accessories, whining about vinyl becoming too mainstream while sipping cups of free trade pour-over coffee.

Hang on, no. This is Idaho, and the series, focusing on three rival outfitting and guide families, is probably going to have a lot more to do with how to open a beer bottle with a chain saw and lighting farts on fire.

Mike and I have come up with a different idea for a reality TV show, one based upon our reality.

It happened when Mike came in the kitchen the other night and found me rinsing a mountain of plastic containers.

“Hey, thanks for cleaning out the fridge,” he said.

I’m kind of in denial about food waste and am usually overconfident that we will one day eat that leftover chili mac before it morphs into something else. In fact, I’m kind of anti throwing ANYTHING away, so, you know, cleaning the fridge out can be painful. Continue reading

It still might be awkward if you invite a horse

RodeoLiving where we do, it’s odd that I’ve been to so few rodeos.

I remember going to one as a kid. I cried because of the calves being thrown around and because a rodeo clown made fun of an old, swaybacked horse. I guess I was kind of a bummer date.

But I tried it again, when we were camping near Joseph, Oregon. By that time I had kids of my own, who were still really small. The weather was sweltering, and the beer was refreshing, and I was very thirsty.

Later, Mike politely complied when I requested he pull off the highway so I could yell at my shoes. That was followed by the mother of all hangovers, and a hot, sticky day camping with a toddler in training pants and a baby in diapers. Continue reading

Of Machetes and Medications

campYMCA copySunday afternoon I packed the kids’ stuff for camp as I’ve done at the same time every summer for the past five years.

I’m happy they have this opportunity to go every summer, to break up the routine, make a few friends and maybe escape the Sahara Desert heat wave that usually socks us in this time of year.

We’re blessed we don’t need to send them with special accommodations or instructions in order to spend a week away, that they interact well with their peers, that they’re respectful of their counselors, that peanuts won’t make their throats close up.

I mean, Jack’s not supposed to eat wheat, but it’s not life threatening. It’s not even really an allergy. Colin’s allergic to wasps, but that’s not a life threatening issue either.

Not really.

If a wasp stings Colin right on the mouth, or on his throat, he could be in real trouble with the reaction he gets, but what kind of freakish scenario would that be? Continue reading

Camping by the Numbers

lake_titleOne camping trip under our belt so far this year. Just the one.

One 3,783 foot increase in elevation from home to our camp site, 131 miles away.
One 12 degree difference in temperature.
One camp trailer that weighs as much as the Death Star.
One tent in addition to said trailer, because 2 boys will no longer sleep in the same space.
7 hands of poker while waiting for fireworks to start (after 5 hands, both parents are cleaned out and kids are demanding to play with real money).

One moderately smelly outhouse, which forces me to relearn I can’t hold my breath as long as it takes to pee. Continue reading

We’re either instilling financially literacy, or raising embezzlers

money_ipodHey mom, “I just found a ten thousand dollar bill,” Colin said, eyes wide.

“Just kidding,” he added a nanosecond later, knowing how quickly I make plans. He pulled out a laminated bookmark a teacher had given him. “See? It’s a fake. They don’t really make ten thousand dollar bills.”

That’s good information, just in case I was thinking of consolidating all the tips I make pole dancing. I’ll need to think smaller denominations.

Somehow, both boys have amassed wads of cash this summer from chores. They started flashing it at us every once in a while, fanning themselves with hands full of ones and fives … which ended pretty abruptly when I started asking for loans.

We pay our kids for chores. But, when I say “pay” I mean the kids keep running totals of what we owe them on a slip of paper on the fridge. Every once in a while we deduct a few bucks on request and add a video game or a Microsoft points card to our cart before check-out at the grocery store.

It’s a pretty loose system which I don’t monitor like I should. I sometimes worry that instead of teaching financial literacy, I’m encouraging the development of latent embezzlement skills, but at least I’m not one doling out the bills for them to flash like gangsters. Continue reading

Driving each other a little crazy

driving_with_jack_2Jack came home with his learner’s permit last night and drove us to dinner.

That sounds so nonchalant. My kid drove. With all of us in the car. At the same time.

I took a few pictures and then passed the camera to Mike who took one from the front. Then he passed the phone back to me and I hunkered down in the back seat, posting the momentous occasion to social media and distracting myself from the need to pitch in on the instruction. Continue reading

Camp food that won’t kill you

camp_food copySo… Camping this weekend. Fourth of July. Yippee… (fizzy half-firework in the distance … phhttt).

This will be our first camping trip of the season, and thus will have been preceded by at least a full two days of preparation: cleaning the trailer, packing, determining whether the sleeping bags ever got washed at the end of last season, and whether either kid has a decent pair of flip flops for the beach, deciding between mountain bikes, hiking shoes, or fishing gear (then throwing our hands up and agreeing to all three).

Then there’s the camping menu. That’s totally my baby.

As per my meal planning modus operandi, I will come up with half a dozen ideas that are elegant, nutritious, satisfying … and completely impractical for the situation. Continue reading