There isn’t any Teflon-coated bubble wrap suit for teenagers. I’ve checked.

Manic Mumbling | There is no teflon coating for skateboarding teens, I've checkedI got into a little argument on Facebook recently.

Someone said (and I’m paraphrasing here):

Oh, it’s so sad. A child was hit in a crosswalk this morning on his way to school. Please be careful everyone.

Then another person, whom I’m just going to call the “Douche Bag of the Day” responded (again … paraphrasing):

Ahem, not to seem insensitive, but who is really at fault here? Shouldn’t kids watch where they’re going? And shouldn’t parents blah ditty blah, hell-in-a-hand-basket, when-I-was-a-kid blah blah?

Again, you know, paraphrasing.

And I saw red, because some kid that very morning was rushed to the hospital as his bike lay crumpled on the sidewalk and a whole bunch of other kids and probably a crossing guard were doomed to relive the exact moment over and over again in their heads for a number of days if not weeks.

And some parent was pacing in a room with outdated magazines wondering if she should call all the relatives and feeling like she was going to throw up at the same time her throat was constricting and so jumpy that if someone tapped her on the shoulder right then they’d have to peel her off the ceiling.

And here’s this Facebook commenter positing on the state of parenting and kids today and wondering who was at fault? (more…)

If you think traveling with young kids is a waste, you’re doing it wrong

Manic Mumbling - Family travel is never a waste of money or timeLast month, Grant Feller of The Telegraph published an article admonishing parents to wait to travel with their children until they’re teens. To do otherwise, he says, is a waste of money, and the only reason anyone would do so is to assuage guilt about expensive vacations, and rack up bragging chits about their little ones’ ability to tick countries off lists before any of their friends.

Feller points his own childhood travels as “supreme indulgences” on the part of his parents, who dragged him along when he was too young to appreciate or remember anything of significance.

If all that wasn’t enough, he says, traveling with kids is distinctly no fun.

“Children are always inconveniently tired, have very little interest in culture, can’t walk longer than 45 minutes without needing sustenance and moan if burgers aren’t on the menu.”

As part of a parenting team that has brought one or more young children along on a number of regional and international trips, I have a different perspective.

No, more than that. I completely disagree. (more…)

All about how all I wanted was a cheeseburger and I wound up in Hell

Manic Mumbling | The shopping mall is the actual heart of darkness and other insights.The mall in our town is surrounded by an open-air parking lot you can see on approach from the interstate. It stretches to the horizon and it’s always full. Around the holidays, cars back up at that exit sometimes a quarter mile or more.

Why this sight doesn’t serve as a warning to any sane person I’ll never know. That parking lot is an asphalt-paved River Styx surrounding the Heart of Darkness. It’s a test of fortitude. If you can retain your sanity driving two miles an hour up and down lanes in which you could have sworn you just saw an empty space, but that “space” inevitably turns out to be a mini cooper tucked between two F-150s, and then you find yourself following the Inevitable Three Women moseying on foot directly down of the center, pushing strollers, and balancing their respective gigantic handbags, smart phones, and triple, venti, non-fat, caramel macchiatos, if you can do that, and your head doesn’t explode into a million pieces, you may have the temperament needed in order to enter. Yay you. You just earned the right to enter Hell.

And it is Hell. No guarantees whether you’ll return. Or if you do, that you’ll be able to find your damn car. So keep that in mind. (more…)

What I’ve learned from pushups

Manic Mumbling | What I've learned from the 22x22 pushup challenge

EXACTLY what I look like but with slightly more hair

When Mike said he was going to do the ice-bucket challenge a couple years ago, I told him if he tagged me, or if anyone he tagged, tagged me, or if anyone THEY tagged, tagged me, I was going to take it as a sign he wanted me to kick him out and change the password on our Netflix account.

It was kind of overkill and I probably wouldn’t have done something drastic like change our password, but I really don’t like wearing ice water or getting my hair wet, or being on video or anything, so I figured I had to make a pretty strong statement right off the bat.

Flash-forward a couple years and apparently I didn’t get the word out about my general grumpiness on this type of thing before my friend Amanda roped me into something I like just about as much as being doused on my back porch.

Pushups. I hate ‘em. I know they’re good for you, but I do. (more…)

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.


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 - | 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…)