Dec 17 2014

There’s a laugh around here somewhere

There's a laugh around here somewhereI don’t think I have seen the sun in over a week. Winter in Chicago has arrived. Incessant gloom and chill and dark and please tell me the sun is visiting you, wherever you are. My Happy Lamp is on ten hours a day and not touching the melancholy, I’m pounding hot tea to keep my sanity (coffee is again off limits because my stomach threatened a violent coup), and those Christmas cookies aren’t going to binge eat themselves.

Yes, I believe I do have a touch of the depression. Maybe slightly more than just a touch. Perhaps a full body slam into the boards.

So a little something to increase cheer and turn that frown upside down (I hate that phrase, no idea why I just used it). I found some old notes, mainly of things the boys have said in recent months, and some of them were so off-kilter hysterical they require sharing and I’ll deal with the inevitable “Mooooommmmmm!!!!” later. Identities are concealed to protect the innocent.


“Why does my saliva not bounce around in my mouth when I’m bouncing on this ball?”

“<smacks his lips> Mmmm…saliva. Water on-the-go.”


Me: You and your brother needs dress pants for Easter services.
Him: We have pants!
Me: They don’t fit, they’re too small.
Him: The tighter the pants, the closer you are to God.
Me: ….


Me: I can’t keep up. I don’t know where you’re coming up with this.
Him: My hippocampus.

Me: You’re not going to wear tight pants to church.
Him: Why not?
Me: No one wants to see the outline of your butt. I’m your mother and I don’t want to see it.
Him: Who wouldn’t want to see my butt? It’s not all about you! Think about the others!


Him: Stubby tailed dogs always tell the truth.
Me: Huh?
Him: They don’t have tall tales.


Thirsty, and looking in the fridge:
Him: “Mom? Can I have an Alan Turing?”
Me: “…???…Do you mean an Arnold Palmer?”


“Mom? Can you milk a horse? Oh! You know what would be great? Pig milk! Liquid bacon!”


Him: Mom, what are flavored condoms?
Me: (why in hell do I get these questions when Tom is not here?) They’re condoms. In flavors.
Him: But why? Penises don’t have tongues.
Me: (I deserve a bloody medal) But their partners do.
Him: …..

(Welcome, creepy google searchers. Go away now, nothing to see here.)

Dec 05 2014


The hardest part of the day is when my brain slowly comes back online in the morning. It’s a slow and laborious process, hindered by the fact that during the boot up process I have to get a kid up and out the door to school and that I’ve had to give up coffee again because I’m pretty sure I screwed up my system to the point of being allergic to that blessed bean of the morning. This is not a pleasant turn of events. Coffee makes the awake happen, and while tea is a passable substitute, it doesn’t quite have the visceral kick. On the bright side, now I’m not going through half my day with a raging stomach ache and/or wondering if I’m having a heart attack. So tea it is.

It’s usually 9:30 or so before I’m fully functional. This makes early morning flute lessons a special challenge (I teach at a local high school one morning a week). Again on the bright side, teenagers are barely functional that time of day themselves, so it’s the walking wounded in that practice room for awhile.

But sometimes my brain switches on a little faster and suddenly I find myself thumbing reminders and things to do into my to-do app. One after another after another. “Oh, I can do this today and this one too and I’m sure this one can get done if I sneak it in and let’s not forget this.”

Please file this under I am a raging lunatic.

Today is/was such a day. We were up at the crack of crazy to watch the Orion launch. (Fun fact: at T minus six seconds to launch our streaming crapped out on us. Actually, not a lot of fun in that Fun Fact.) But that jolted my brain into semi-coherence a little faster than usual, and suddenly I found myself with iPhone in hand, rapidly adding plans to my day. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I got about six things done and hit the wall. Okay, lunchtime! Yeah, that didn’t work. Okay, do this one thing. Nope, not that either. So now it’s mid-afternoon and my TODAY I WILL CARPE THE HELL OUTTA THAT DIEM! attitude of this morning is flopping around like a sad deflated balloon.

I think I prefer my brain stuttering through the morning.

Nov 25 2014

‘Tis the week of Thanksgiving and all through the house

…all sorts of things are stirring and not a single one of them are on the stove. We managed to take a crazy time of year and Plus It with business travel and holiday travel and behind the scenes chaos and a sneaking suspicion that last week’s exhaustion crash was my thyroid begging for attention and not the usual desperate need for sleep because of the season’s lack of sunlight. There are no fewer than four half-written posts in my drafts folder, all of which I’ve written in the last few days, thinking that I’d actually get ahead of NaBloPoMo (silly, silly Jen), and a growing list of things I need to do before tomorrow.

So here, have a recipe. Vodka Cranberry Sauce, originally posted two years ago. It is strong, it is potent, if you make it today by the time dinner rolls around in 48 hours you’ll knock people on their tryptophan-laden asses. It is fantastic with leftovers, and could even be stirred into ginger ale or Prosecco for a little added kick. Just keep the kiddos away from it or you’ll have a “it wasn’t funny at the time” family story to be shared every year for eternity.

Nov 21 2014

{Friday Fragments} Mid-November January Edition

Half-Past Kissin' Time
It has been years, years, since I wrote a Friday Fragments post. Just seemed appropriate today, given my current state of mind (holey) and body (exhausted).
  • This weather, this January in November shit weather, is not doing much for my mind, body, and soul. Thank god I don’t live in Buffalo, NY, or I probably would have already gone batshit crazy. And this is just the beginning of the season.
  • I know Thanksgiving is next week, I know this because I’ve been talking about it and kinda planning it and actually remembered to find someone to watch the dog. But dang, um, Christmas? Despite just writing out my laws for holiday music, this is quickly sneaking up on me and I am not ready. I don’t want to decorate, I don’t want to bake, I don’t want to send cards, I barely want to shop for gifts.
  • Today was the last day of our gifted homeschool co-op. Now we have some six-odd weeks of open Fridays. They’re supposed to be Fun Fridays; I hope they live up to expectations.
  • I am very much looking forward to sleeping in Wednesday through Sunday of next week. I hate that the first thing I do every morning is get a kid up and out of bed and out the door. A peaceful morning that does not make.
  • I love our CSA, but the sheer amount of carrots this year has been stunning. I have blanched and frozen carrots in the freezer, shredded carrots for carrot cake also in the freezer, and probably ten freaking pounds of carrots in the fridge waiting patiently for me to process them. We’re gonna be able to see in the dark, I swear.
  • Tonight’s Family Movie Night is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Because that’s how we roll.
  • I’ve made it three weeks into NaBloPoMo, have only missed two days, feel no guilt, and have yet to bang my head against the writer’s block wall. If nothing else, I call that a win.
  • Make that Family Movie Night for Tom and Andy, because I’m up here writing and the other kid is watching Johnny Test (gag) with headphones on.
  • I’m taking a knitting/crocheting class with our co-op next term. The hobby I swore I’d never take up, I am now taking up. Hopefully this will give me something better to do with my hands than play Words With Friends when I watch the rare TV show.
  • Why do I suspect Holy Grail is going to become THE quoted movie in this house now? Because that is totally Andy’s sense of humor right there. God help me…
  • Tomorrow! A real, thought-out, considered, spell-checked post!

Nov 19 2014

Jen’s Unbreakable Rules for Holiday Music

Jen's Unbreakable Rules for Holiday MusicI was in the car with the boys the other day when…

Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle All the W….

STOP!!!!! No Christmas music in early November. Just no.

And so, like other important discussions that must be had only in the car, like peer pressure and drugs and sex, I had to have the When Christmas Music Is Acceptable Talk.

Rule One.

If Santa has made his appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (hopefully with his pants still around his hips and not his ankles) and the confetti is flying and the credits are rolling and you can smell a gently roasting fowl, then and only then you may start to play (and sing) holiday music. Not a freaking moment before. The band could be marching down 34th Street, you could see just the merest glimpse of Santa, and I’d still say no. Santa, confetti, credits. Then music.

Rule Two.

Rule One may be bypassed IF AND ONLY IF your area (not your mom’s, not your college roommate’s, not your Facebook friends’ area) is under a Winter Storm Warning. Not an Advisory, not a Watch, not a measly little Alert. Winter.Storm.Warning. The kind of storm where you stock up on rock salt, bread, wine, toilet paper, and duct tape (for the kiddies). If Tom Freaking Skilling is shooting off meteorological record-breaking statistics like a machine gun AND doing the two handed point at the map, that is the kind of Winter Storm Warning I’m talking about. THEN you can play music before Santa, confetti, and credits.

Why Jen, you seem to have some pretty strong feelings about when to play, listen to, and sing Christmas music. Why is that? Are you possessed?

Yes indeed, I am possessed of a music education degree. And for the two long years I taught (each of which felt like Picard knocked out living a second life in an hour), we had to start holiday music in October. OCT-freaking-OBER. Colorado in October can hit 85 degrees. Teaching This Holiday Selection Passed Inspection by the Board of Education and the PC Patrol in October made for a very, very long fall and a very wearying holiday season. My cheer had ho-ho-hoed right on outta there long before Santa waved hello.

So no holiday music before next Thursday. None. I watched a little TV the other night (rare for me these days) and was about to chuck the remote through the screen when I remembered there was a mute button and I did know how to use it. But once we have the official Santa, confetti, and credits go-ahead, it’s all holiday music all the time for the season, which brings me to

Rule Three.

Holiday music can and will be enjoyed from a variety of sources, including but not limited to: school concerts, adult ensemble concerts, Pandora channels (I have probably close to ten), house-to-house caroling, and your worship service of choice. BUT!

Rule Three Point One.

At bedtime of the 25th of December, all holiday music returns to the DO NOT PLAY THIS UNTIL SANTA, CONFETTI, AND CREDITS vault, and the regularly scheduled music of choice may resume.

One more week, people. Contain yourselves.

Nov 18 2014

A kinder, gentler NaBloPoMo

I’m mellowing in my middle age. Last week I missed a day of NaBloPoMo and it only irked me a tiny bit. No guilt over it, no writing shame spiral, just oops and done. Today I’m thumb-typing this post between flute students. I’m eating a sandwich with the other hand, too. Multi-tasking at its very best.

There’s only so much stress to go around, and after last week’s full-body thud, there’s not much left for a self-imposed, entirely unnecessary (in the grand scheme of things) writing challenge. So if I get something something of quality up every day I’m pleased. If not, then that’s ok too, because it meant something more important took precedence.

Look at me, a full-on adult, and finally getting a handle on life triage. Go, me!

If you want some more in-depth writing, check out yesterday’s post for the GHF blog hop. From there you can surf to the blog hop page, and then the posts of all the participants. I’d link, but my thumb is very tired now.

Nov 17 2014

{GHF blog hop} To Be Both Normal and Extraordinary

To Be Both Normal and Extraordinary


Most Fridays during the school year we’re at our homeschool co-op. It’s a warm (in company, the buildings are freezing, but that’s why I have a down coat), comforting, supportive day for us. It’s the first (and still only) place Andy can hang with peeps like him, where we can both let our freak flag fly. No one bats an eye when a five year old is bouncing around in math class, giddy with excitement that he’s doing negative number algebra. Or a kid might need to pace a bit around the room to think. Or an advanced physics class has an age spread of several years, taught so all those interested and able can take it. It is all normal, and it is extraordinary.

Isn’t that what we all want? To be both normal and extraordinary? For our extraordinary selves to be recognized, and for that to just be, you know, normal? How wonderful that would be.

There is such an unspoken dichotomy here in the States. There is an expectation for everyone to be extraordinary, but if you truly are, you’re marginalized for not being normal. These gifted and 2e kids can’t help but be extraordinary, any more than I can help being extraordinarily tall. This makes finding or creating a community where the extraordinary is normal even more pressing. We’ve been so lucky to have this co-op. My kid gets to truly be himself, and I can talk freely with other parents about the difficulties of homeschooling a gifted kid (hint: it ain’t all sunshine and roses. It ain’t even a light drizzle and carnations. It’s more like an imminent offshore hurricane and the entirety of Butchart Gardens; you’re never quite sure when it the storm will hit, or which way the wind will blow when, but damn isn’t it beautiful here?).

My sons are extraordinary. They are also quite normal, though I’m sure the rest of society cocks a skeptical eyebrow at that. A community where both are celebrated is a joy and a necessity. My job is to find those communities. I have one with our co-op and another online. Both are deeply valuable to me, to us.

Because the only way our kids, all of our kids, are going to thrive is if we celebrate their extraordinariness while we simultaneously treat it as the most normal thing in the world.


1507364_10204797988496874_5108667508715648633_oToday’s post is one of several on the topic of community, as part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum November blog hop. The theme of community was chosen to coincide with this week’s GHF 10 year anniversary. Ten years of resources, support, connection, and advocacy for gifted and 2e kids. If you’ve benefited from GHF’s work, I urge you to become a member of this non-profit organization. While the resources are free to everyone, membership allows us to reach more families and advocate more effectively for this community. There are a variety of benefits for members, which are listed on the membership options page. I’m proud and honored to be a part of GHF, not only as a member, but as one of the inaugural Ambassadors.

Happy Anniversary, GHF. I look forward to creating an even stronger community over the next ten years and beyond.

Nov 16 2014

Today I played a concert.

today i played a concertA few years ago (ok, a LOT of years ago), I wrote a short piece about playing a concert. Go read that, and pretend I wrote it today.

Because today I did play a concert. Not orchestra, which is what I wrote about before, but wind ensemble. And damned if I’m not exhausted. I’m getting dinner and wine and calling it a day.

Nov 15 2014

If only they were this exhausted every night


If you are not a married adult in this abode you need to immediately and without further ado depart from your current location and haul your young ass to the upper regions of this facility. Once there you must engage in the teeth brushing and bladder emptying portions of the evening, followed by some light reading and pillow fluffing, and end with the eye shutting and snore production. Why? Because I am a married adult in this abode and I require some quiet time with the other married adult living here, preferably with adult drinks and adult conversation and adult activities. But not that adult activity, because the house is small and the walls are thin and let’s face it you’re not sleeping anyway and I refuse to pay for anymore goddamn therapy for anyone other than me for the foreseeable future.

My god I hate bedtime. Not my own bedtime, that I love like spring afternoons and wool socks and wines that send shivers down my spine. That other bedtime. The one that involves young creatures with minds of their own. That bedtime wants me want to stab sunshine and burn rainbows and kick bunnies into the bushes to be eaten by bunny-eating monsters. Life lied to me when it said that someday the young creatures with minds of their own would sleep. No, life lied by omission. The young creatures with minds of their own sleep alright, just not at night when mommy would really like some quiet time so she can unwind and sleep and not toss and turn for 97 minutes prior.

But tonight! OH tonight! Tonight those young creatures are upstairs, passed out or on the verge, at the AARP-approved hour of 8 pm. Those young creatures nearly blew zzzzs into their dinners this evening. The older young creature went camping last night with the Boy Scouts, in sub-freezing temperatures, barely ate anything for 24 hours, and spent the day running around a campsite playing a variety of ultimate games. The younger young creature joined the older mid-day today for those games. Running up and down hills, playing capture the flag and tug-of-war, little bodies running high trying to stay warm in 20 degree weather…it wears a body out.

So this evening there will be no “hey mom, something-something-something-tech-something” and no “I’m hungry” and no “I can’t sleeeeeep,” because those two young creatures? Are asleep.

Nov 14 2014

At least I’m warm

at least I'm warmBack when I was in college I had this massive winter coat. No, really, it was enormous. Cherry red, puffy with down, reached my ankles…and my ankles are pretty far from my shoulders. My friends laughed and called it my mattress coat, because you really could spread it out and use it as a sleep surface. Unzipped it was like having wings; one time I was at a craft store with a friend and I turned around, knocking over a display in the process. Good times, good times. I didn’t care about the ribbing, I was warm. Delightfully warm. The music buildings on campus were all over the place, there was no one music building, so I was outside in central Illinois in the dead of winter all the time. I needed something to keep me warm from jaw to toe. This coat fit the bill.

I got rid of it after we’d lived in Colorado for a few years. It never got so cold that I needed a full length down coat, a regular winter parka served me just fine. Then we moved to Chicago, and last winter’s YOU WILL OBEY AND RESPECT ME FOR I AM WINTER AND I AM IN CHARGE BOW TO ME BITCH temperatures clued me into the fact that if I didn’t get something warmer my ass was going to quite literally freeze off. While I could really use a little ass reduction, an entire temperature-induced assectomy isn’t exactly what I had in mind.

So I bought a new coat. Full length, down, toasty warm. Because of new technology in coat construction (or some odd BS like that), it’s not nearly as puffy and mattress-y as the previous one. It’s just…let’s just say the color on the website wasn’t entirely accurate. It looked a little more subdued on the screen than in person. It’s warm and cozy and all, but…well…

Let me introduce…



Older posts «