Nice girls grow zucchini.

I can’t bake. I have horrible handwriting. I can do no sport which calls for hand-eye coordination or the use of a bat, racket, or paddle. I am, at best, a fair driver. Some would even say I am unsafe behind the wheel. 

But I just did this:

This zucchini is so big it borders on the obscene – I felt almost dirty picking it. (As I yanked the thing out of the ground, I heard myself whispering, really, I’m not that kind of girl…)

But pick it, I did. And tonight – we feast.  

All those other things that I’m bad at, all those many many things, the driving, the baking, the dancing (yup), heck, even the parenting… They can all suck it because I just went and grew part of dinner.

P.S. Fuck. I just burnt the chicken.

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Have Nest, Will Travel.

It’s comforting to know that there are some things married couples can fight about even when they are on the road.

One of these things is air conditioning. At home we have a Nest thermostat, and M. tells me that it actually has a mind of its own and sets the house to the temperature it thinks the house needs to be. But I refuse to believe that any computer believes our house needs to be the exact temperature of a meat freezer. The coldest spot is our bedroom, and the coldest spot in our bedroom happens to be on my side of the bed, most likely because the AC vents blow directly onto my pillow. (Also because I sleep next to the always open window, because M believes in sleeping in a room full of fresh air. Even with the air conditioner blasting.)

I once told him that Jimmy Carter said that in the interest of conservation, we should set our house to 74°. M wanted to know why I would cite Jimmy Carter when I was neither living in the US during his presidency, or politically aware at the time. I had no answer for him, but just thinking about Jimmy Carter right now makes me want to cry, so I’ll move on.

We are currently in a vacation rental. There is also a Nest here and hours into our visit the entire rental is the exact temperature of… you guessed it, a meat freezer. Naturally,  every time I pass the Nest I do this: Occasionally, just like at home, spite will often get the best of me and I will set it to 80°. But within seconds it has plunged back down again…

The other thing we can apparently fight about anywhere is towels. M. does not understand why I refuse to go a full week before laundering my bath towel. I tell him that I am happy to wear the same pair of jeans unwashed for two months, but if it were up to me, I would have a clean bath towel every single day.

Here we are in a cute little vacation cottage, and just like at home, I am doing laundry from sunup to sundown. Please do not get me started on the sand. 

If I am going to be doing round-the-clock laundry, and sweeping sand from crevices unknown, I get to have a clean towel. Every day. 

I’m sure that Jimmy Carter would agree.

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The Next Stop: Home Goods

Once you’ve packed what you think are the entire contents of your home, the second step of summer road tripping (if you survived the car ride), is the trip to Home Goods to buy the things you thought would be in your rented cottage, but aren’t: BEDDING.

Last night at 10.30 pm, when the kids were already a hot mess, we discovered that even know there was a quilt on every bed, there was nothing under the quilt. We made do with what we could find last night and huddled together for warmth, but this morning M. took the boys fishing and the girls and I headed to Home Goods. We thought about Walmart, but it was 20 miles away, and it’s Walmart.

And Walmart, while it has its uses, does not provide your children the opportunity of waiting in the mile-long checkout line and finding things like this to beg you to buy:What the hell would I even do with that?

Or this:DENIED.

Or, Dear Lord, this: Once they have declared you the meanest mother on earth, you shuffle to the checkout, pay and leave. You may not have two sets of press-on nails, but at least you’ll all be warmer tonight.

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The many stages of packing. 

For my people, summer travel generally means car travel.  I like the Northeast in the summer. I love the beaches, and I particularly dislike summer air travel. Once in a while we get on a plane, but more often than not, come summer, you can find us in the minivan. Ah, the minivan. I have detailed fantasies about an asteroid taking it out, but last time I checked it’s still here, and 101,000 miles later, we are still tooling around in it. 

With any trip, after the planning (I am bad at that), comes the packing (I am even worse). Everyone knows, that if I am left to pack for all of us, at least ONE person will travel without underwear. Thankfully, on these trips, I can count on the kids to pack themselves. Hell, if they want to travel with underwear, they have no choice; even the little ones have a list. God knows what’s in their bag, but at least I don’t have to pack it. 

Packing is bad, so bad that it comes in stages, like grief. Here are the ones I can think of, so far: 

1. The denial phase: This generally involves me sitting on the floor in my bedroom overwhelmed. Many things in my life have me sitting on the floor of my bedroom overwhelmed, but none more than packing. In this phase, I tell myself that this time will be different. This time I won’t pack 14,000 little bags for myself (M hates this, he especially hates that of the 14,000 little bags I pack for myself, NOT ONE of them zips shut). But I like to put things in little bags because I believe it is easier to find things if they are in little bags. (I also love collecting little bags, and summer travel lets me use them.) I have a shoe bag, a toiletry bag, a book bag. You get the picture. In this phase though, I am completely convinced that this time I will remember my underwear and this time I’ll be more streamlined, because when you travel with 14,000 little bags, you are likely to lose one on the trip. 

2. The kitchen sink phase: This follows pretty quickly, and we are all guilty. I get asked questions like: I just made slime, can I bring it with me? (NO), and When you said three outfits, did you mean six? (NO), and IS THREE FOOTBALLS TOO MANY? (YES). In this phase, the kitchen floor looks something like this:  

 
I don’t even know that the hell is in those bags, but I’m pretty sure we need none of it. This phase also has me emptying out the Stone Age contents of the freezer into a bag to bring with us because if we have yet to eat it at home we are definitely going to eat it on the road.

3. The I hate my children phase: I know they have packed their own bags, but that’s pretty much it. I asked one of them to empty the dishwasher and was turned down, so I had to move down the line. I asked them to empty the garbage. Three times. The garbage, which is bursting forth with crap, has still not been touched. Every so often, I pass by and shove all the crap down so it looks a little less awful, but then someone washes his hands and used 200 paper towels and leaves them all on top… 

 

4. The I really fucking hate my children phase: This phase has me outside, drinking. Ok, it’s usually iced coffee or kombucha (DON’T), but I’m still sitting on the back step, shaking with anger and chugging a cold beverage. Inside, 5 children are all in front of a screen. One is crying because her iPod keeps shutting down and she isn’t sure how she’s going to make the trip. Another is playing some princess shit on MY ipad, which makes me crazy, because there is literally nothing in this house that they don’t touch. One of them asks me why we have to take car trips when other people get to go to Hawaii in the summer. Yeah, says another, how come we’re not going to Hawaii? I just spent 20 minutes wondering from room to room trying to remember what it was I came into the room for, and I am strung out. I try to explain that not only is Hawaii on the other side of the world, but that seven tickets to Hawaii… oh, whatever, they don’t even care. 

5. M’s intervention: At this point in our marriage, he knows better than to tell me I’m wrong or to calm down, so he just reminds me that this trip was my idea. Of course, that never makes things worse. He then tells me to channel friends of ours who never seem to lose their shit. He says, correctly, that these friends of ours would ditch the kids and go for coffee. We look at each other and we both know that if he and I leave the kids and go for coffee, we may never come back. We may even go to Hawaii. 

6. Retreat: At some point, I come back inside the house, and finish up the packing. At some point, the TV is turned off. At some point, our stuff gets in the car, and we follow suit. The children are even moderately helpful – at least some of them are. And at some point, we get on the road and the packing phase ends and the puking phase begins (another story, entirely). 

But nobody ever emptied that trash. 

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What summer means to me…

Shit like this is what summer means to me:

Every surface in my house looks something like this. There are empty Ziploc bags in every room, next to piles of crackers in pieces surrounded by scatterings of crumbs. Yesterday I found 26 dirty glasses… before three o’clock. Every summer I give a tutorial on loading the dishwasher. And every year everybody manages to do it once then promptly forget all instructions.

Help.

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Meatless May, Again. 

It’s that time of year. At least twice a week I get this sort of email: Dear Parent, please send in pictures of your child doing something she loves, something she hates, and something while speaking French and standing on one foot. OR this: Dear Parent, please come in to school for a two hour long presentation/party/celebration on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week and please make sure your child senses NONE of your resentment. And finally,  my favorite: Dear Parent, please purchase 200 pieces of poster board for the endless projects you and your child will fight about over the next five weeks. 

Luckily for me, it’s also Meatless May! And while it’s more of a Mostly Meatless May (meat can happen on weekends if need be), I actually feel like mostly is a pretty good bar, as in – I am mostly a decent mother, I am mostly a good wife, I am mostly a productive writer. 

Everybody gets on board with the meatlessness. My eldest loves it the most because he complains about the lack of variety come dinner time, which is actually how Meatless May was born. Last week he said, “Wow, you really turn into Guy Fieri in May.” I have no idea who that is, but I’ll take it. 

I rescued the veggie Pad Thai after the tofu turned into a gelatinous mush when I followed the recipe and tossed it in cornstarch (never again.) 

Even though know the chickpea omelette looks and sounds pretty revolting, it’s actually a big hit here. You have to ignore the fact that the batter looks like inedible gunge.

Everybody gamely tried the cilantro and basil pesto, even my youngest who believes that if it’s not covered in Nutella, it’s not actually a food.

The herbs are all made possible by M., who built these rockstar vegetable beds for Mother’s Day. 

(Never mind that I told him to build them in a spot which is under the shade of a giant tree and nothing will really grow except for the herbs. Never mind that instead of making me feel like an idiot, he offered to build me something somewhere sunny in the garden.)

I guess I can safely say that I am mostly capable.

Happy Meatless May, peeps.

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Biblio-F#*ked.

Dear School Librarian,

Thank you. I love that my child gets to spend time with you. I love that she picks a book she likes and reads it. I am so happy that she is doing something other than watching crappy tv or begging to play on my phone, or fighting with her sister, really I am. But please, I beg you. If you are going to send a book home with her, please send an invoice along with it, because it is now a well established rule that I end up paying for any and all library books that come into my home. Also, how many books on seahorses are there? Because she has now checked out THREE and lost of all them somewhere in the bowels of this house.

It is that time of year. We are all falling apart. Those of us without any executive function skills are in particularly bad shape. To wit: 

1. I drove a child to a pajama-themed birthday party carrying a Beanie Boo only to learn that the Beanie Boo birthday party was happening at a different date for a different friend. Said child shot me daggers when she saw everyone else in PJS and she was wearing a dress. 

2. When I drove to the Beanie Boo party a week later and saw no other cars in the driveway I quickly checked my phone for the invite only to learn that the party was weeks away. Same child. Same daggers. (I did the same thing a week later.)

3. I left off a best friend for one of my own kids’ parties. I have no business making parties. I especially have no business making parties this time of year. 

4. Children fighting early yesterday morning. Packed two of them into the minivan and drove to the Botanical Gardens. Got miserably lost in the Bronx. Had to park in Fordham overflow. Paid for parking but could not figure out how to get into lot. Drove home. (Same kid. Same daggers.) 

And I just received 4 emails from teachers asking me to come in for end of year events. One of them is over two hours long. I think I am already going to be sick that day. The only way I am going in to school is if I can find those damn library books. 

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