Christmas Tree Farm Massacre

Sometime before Thanksgiving, Jason wondered if we should consider getting an artificial Christmas tree this year. I looked at him like he'd sprouted a second head, and that second head was suggesting that we go vegan, give the dogs away, and consider getting an artificial Christmas tree this year. We were both raised in Artificial Tree Households -- my mom told me I was allergic to real trees; his mom couldn't stand the needles and mess -- and our mutual dislike of the fake trees was something we discussed during our engagement. I would take some Claritin and we would be a Real Tree Household. Our first real grown-up rejection of our upbringing. Then my in-laws generously gifted us with their giant (and super expensive) fake tree and most of their ornaments. And because I didn't want to offend them with my Controversial Tree Views (on top of not going to church! and registering as a Democrat!), we dutifully used it for our first couple Christmases, hauling it from one rental apartment to another. I have no memory of where we even stored the thing in a few of those places, but after we bought our condo in DC I... Read more →


Cakewalk

Not going to lie, one of my primary reasons for having so many children was to have more people to bake (highly amateurish) birthday cakes for. And after many years of fielding many varied requests, all three boys have more or less settled on their birthday cake of choice. Noah always asks for a Victoria sponge sandwich cake. Ike wants the same one-bowl chocolate cake recipe I've been baking him since preschool, which eventually landed on this specific variation with grapeseed oil. (I dump the wet ingredients into a large measuring cup so it's still technically a one-bowl recipe because fuck washing bowls.) Although every year he does change up the shape, frosting and decorating details, just to keep me on my toes. (I swear one of these years he's going to request an three-tiered octagon cake with dark chocolate frosting that is also blue, somehow, and yellow candles that turn into tiny rockets that spell HAPPY BIRTHDAY, IKE! in edible red smoke and also the whole cake doubles as a party pinata full of candy and money.) (And I'll be like, okay, I'll see what I can do, but are you sure I can't interest you in a giant... Read more →


Renaissance Family

This is our last week of summer vacation, and I am sick with a head cold that I suspect I caught at the Renaissance Festival this past weekend. (Though given the lengths some people go for 100% time-period accuracy I should be grateful that it's just a cold and not the plague or smallpox.) (This is also accurate. He has a new costume for next weekend that's some sort of muscle-bound executioner. He's looking forward to sentencing people to death for littering and/or cutting in the privy line.) (Ezra also has a wonderful new costume that didn't arrive in time for opening weekend so he had to go with Alexander Hamilton and was NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT. And although he received multiple compliments on his "fine nobleman's jacket," he told anyone who would listen about the Great Costume Injustice. "I wanted to be a scribe but Dad didn't order my costume in time and so they made me wear this instead." [NOBODY MADE HIM WEAR ANYTHING!!] He was later distracted by Many Foods On Sticks and then a side quest for find the Perfect Author's Satchel. Which: ??? I dunno but it cost me $28.) (Yeah. I know. Those weren't... Read more →


Holiday Break Wrap Party Post

Happy 2019! Do we have a new president yet? Well, all that garbage aside, lots of things have actually happened! I got a foster dog! I turned 41! I cut my hair off! I took my kids on a boat! I went to a New Year's Eve party and talked to people! Then I lost my phone and found it the next day out on my street! I slammed my ankle (yes, that ankle, it's always the same damn ankle) in a car door! The biggest development (besides my swollen-ass ankle) is definitely Jake the Foster Dog, better known (by me and only me) as Goobs. He was found as a stray in Georgia and then spent an excruciating SEVENTEEN MONTHS being overlooked in a shelter. This was him a week and a half ago, getting loaded up for transport. And this is him now! He's a sweetheart. He gets along very, very well with kids, dogs, cats and couches. We think he's about 10, but he's really perked up as he's settled in and can get downright playful and butt-wiggly. Vet said he's in excellent health. He's starting treatment for heartworms (which were caught early) in a couple weeks... Read more →


Who I Cook For

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. The first 50 readers to sign up with this link will get $50 off their first two weeks Blue Apron! My mom tried to teach me how to cook growing up. But for the most part, I was passionately disinterested. It was like I was downright determined to head off into adult life without the ability to scramble an egg or function without a microwave. I loved to help ("help") her bake cookies, of course, because cookies, and cookie dough, plus we stored all the Christmas cookie cutters in this weirdly inaccessible corner cabinet in our kitchen and I was the only one small enough to climb in and find them. I would toss them out and then pretend I was in Narnia for awhile while my mom did all the work. Anything else cooking related, I wanted nothing to do with. It was boring, I'd probably mess it up, why go through all that work when I'd rather just eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Do you know how easy it is to microwave a hot dog? Why can't we just always eat hot dogs? But still, she tried. Family dinner time... Read more →


Birches

From The Complete Poems of Robert Frost 1949 When I see birches bend to left and right Across the lines of straighter darker trees, I like to think some boy's been swinging them. But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning After a rain. They click upon themselves As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust— Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen. They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load, And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed So low for long, they never right themselves: You may see their trunks arching in the woods Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair Before them over their heads to dry in the sun. But I was going to say when Truth broke in With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm I should prefer to have some... Read more →


Serenity Now

So there's some stuff I haven't written about, for no real reason other than it's All Very Unpleasant, and I'm Very Tired of All This Unpleasantness, and would really, truly rather tell you guys nothing but funny stories about my kids and post pictures of cats like a proper blogger stereotype. But at this point I'm straight-up omitting a bit of narrative here, so let me get you caught up. My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's. Awhile ago, actually. I'd noticed the hand tremors but was quick to write them off as something similar to mine, but they were getting noticiably worse from visit to visit. It's why she didn't come here for Christmas -- the symptoms have progressed to the point that travel is super difficult and (so far) her treatments have led to far more negative side effects than positive results. She's seeing a new specialist next month, so I'm hoping she'll get some better options. It's been a very different experience than my father's many illnesses, which were always punctuated by specific "OH SHIT WHAT NOW" moments of disaster and hospitalization. Every time I'd drop everything and get in the car, there was this dark cloud of... Read more →


Inside, Out

I almost made it through Father's Day without thinking about my dad. Okay, that sounds horrible, and isn't really true. There's no way NOT to think about him, what with the sheer volume of irritating PR email pitches that pile up all month. "Don't forget about Dad!" they say in the subject lines, "Please please blog about some crap we think is perfect for your dad! Who is dead!" is how I sarcastically translate them, right before I dump them into the trash can, unread. It's a new yearly tradition, although the righteous anger I used to feel over some poorly targeted email blasts has faded over the years. (No, I am NOT getting an early start on my Father's Day gift guide. Because I am at my father's FUNERAL, motherfucker. UNSUBSCRIBE.) I almost made it through without thinking about my dad in any painful, punch-in-the-gut sort-of way. That's more what I meant. I focused entirely on Jason (who also had his birthday yesterday), so I had lots of extra planning and shopping to focus on, with a goal to give him an entire weekend of fun and presents and relaxation. We got together with friends, went to picnics and... Read more →


On No More Babies

It recently occurred to me — me, Queen of the Obvious, every bit as whipsmart as your average bowl of oatmeal — that I don't have any babies in my house. Nor do I have any imminently incoming babies. Ike will turn three on June 1st, just some 50-odd days from now. When Noah turned three, he was barely two weeks away from becoming a big brother. When Ezra turned three, he'd already been a big brother for over four months. There was always another pregnancy, another baby, to ease the transition of baby to toddler to boy. Despite Ike's insistance that we all still call him Baby Ike, he's all little boy now. His personality has exploded — all of a sudden he went from being a cute little mimicking thing to being himself. He has opinions and observations. He makes jokes and plays games. He's crazy for superheroes — he's firmly Team Marvel, by the way, so please purchase his underwear accordingly —and his favorite color is not just blue, but DARK blue. He sings and he dances, he thinks Happy Meals are the basically the greatest thing ever (whoops, my bad), and he never stops talking. Despite... Read more →


Sounding the Everything Is Okay Alarm For the Millionth Time

So I wrote about four sentences' worth of an entry yesterday, an entry I didn't really WANT to write but simply didn't know what ELSE to write: My mom was in the hospital. She'd been in the hospital since Friday. They didn't really know what was wrong and the tests were starting to creep up into the realm of OH SHIT. (At least according to ME. My mom was like, "whatever, I'm FINE.") And so I finally caved and figured that writing a blog entry telling the Internet about it was a slightly better use of my time than all the WebMD Googling I was doing, Dramablogging may be ill-advised at times, but my Internet browsing history was becoming a full-on experiment in terror, so I figured I better let it out. I only wrote four sentences because — as you may have surmised by all the past tense I'm using — that was when my mom called to report that the tests all came back normal and she was free to go home in just a few hours. Okay then! And so we can add this incident to my upcoming bestselling self-help book, tentatively titled "The Power of Bloggable... Read more →