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…)

The half marathon taper and how I’m probably doing it wrong

Photo by Ryan McGuire at http://www.gratisography.com/Tomorrow, I’ll be running a half marathon, which means today is the last day of that period we call the taper.

If you’re not familiar with the taper, it’s the result of a whole bunch of running science that says it’s good to reduce your miles and intensity a few days before a big event. The length of taper can be as much as three weeks for a full marathon, two weeks for a half, and so on.

I’ve been running 6 to 8 half marathons annually for the past four years or so. Having an event on the calendar keeps me on a regular schedule. Otherwise, I really might just stop all together. BUT, if I’m doing what science says I should, I’m tapering about two weeks before every half marathon, which on my schedule, gives me a solid 14 to 16 weeks every year of taking it easy.

Yay science. (more…)

Turns out you CAN go home again, but they’ll probably make you sing

http://www.manicmumbling.com Challis Rodeo Grounds

“You know, JaNean used to play Delta Dawn on the piano. She was good. You could harmonize with her.” It was more a statement than a request from JaNean’s cute, bespectacled mom.

All I heard was Delta Dawn. I did what any rational person would do and belted out a refrain.

Del-ta-a Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
could it be a faded rose from DAYS GONE BYYY?

I took a long drink. Singing is thirsty work.

“That’s right,” JaNean’s mom patted me on the shoulder. She wrote on a slip of paper and she walked away. Realizing she was turning in a karaoke request, I looked at JaNean for help.

“Those are the only words I know.”

JaNean shrugged. (more…)

Of couches and tchotchkes: pros and cons of hosting an exchange student

Exchange Student Hosting, www.manicmumbling.comAs I’ve mentioned, the term exchange student horror stories is one of the more frequent searches that brings people here. I’m still trying to figure this one out. Are you all considering hosting a student and wondering if it’s crazy? Maybe your own kid’s thinking about exchange, and you want ammunition to talk him out of it?

OR … are you creative industry types trolling for movie fodder?

Because if it’s that last one, I’ve got a great idea {call me}.

If it’s either of the former, I’ll warn you I’m biased. We’re preparing to welcome our sixth exchange student to town. Between Mike and me we’ve also been counselors to another five. Our oldest is going on exchange, and we’re actively hounding him to make good use of the tutorials we bought so he can coherently ask for directions to the bathroom once he gets to his host country later this summer.

Outside of Google searches, I’m asked every once in a while about the pros and cons of hosting exchange students. It’s hard to come up with a list. It’s kind of like quantifying the ups and downs of parenting, really. The downs of parenting are pretty straightforward. You don’t have to practice sleeping in ninety-minute spurts every night, or actively wear spit up on your shirt to know neither is especially your cup of tea. (more…)

Running tip #378: Know how to cope with event photos

fit_one race photo manicmumbling

The one, halfway decent race photo ever.

I saw a post recently in a fitness-oriented social media group: a woman running, wearing a race bib. The photo was taken from a low angle, the watermark of an official race photographer in one corner.

I expected a “yay me!” message underneath instead of the anguish this woman poured out. She’d been proud of finishing her first 5k – until she opened the results email with the event photos. She hadn’t realized her thighs were that big. She didn’t remember feeling as awful as she looked. Heck, she appeared to barely be moving.

Rookie move, that: expecting too much from race pics. They’re bound to disappoint. I don’t know the woman, but I’m familiar with the feeling.

I always eagerly open the post race results email hoping to finally find a picture to commemorate all my hard work actually making it across the finish line. A memento. Particularly one that fits my running self-image: something of a cross between Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Cheetara from Thundercats. (more…)