I know that someday you'll find better things.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wet Glue Ballyhoo

If there was a contest for who could talk for the longest amount of time nonstop regarding a single topic, I'm almost certain I could win-- as long as I was allowed to discourse upon my hatred of the school supply known as wet glue.

It's messy. It's ineffective. It's almost impossible to use an entire bottle. It multiplies secretly when your back is turned.

I throw it away whenever possible. In fact, I threw away several half-used bottles just last week. The following day, my daughter asked if I could help her find the wet glue. She had a project.

Karma-level: Shakespeare.
"My only love sprung from my only hate" upside-down and backward.

My child is the only person I've ever known-- ever-- with a sincere passion for wet glue. She creates reasons to invite it into our lives. This project involves the invention and subsequent comparison of several varieties of those stress-ball thingamabobs.

While it's not a sanctioned school project, I had to give it due attention because when fourth graders feel the need to invent stress-alleviating devices, well... clearly the parenting ball has been dropped.

However, capitulation would not be eager nor enthusiastic.

Several days in a row, I claimed anmnesia. Eventually she stopped believing me, and I had no choice but to re-stock the wet glue inventory.

She had the nerve to ask me if I could get the variety with glitter in it. I reminded her, through gritted teeth, that she'd said she was planning to pour it into un-inflated balloons.

"Oh, that's a very good point. The regular kind will totally work. Thank you so so so much, Mom."
The kid has mastered the negotiation technique of "the nibble" in spades.

For the sake of science and stress-alleviation, I found myself at CVS, trying to find that signature-shaped bottle. They had every kind of glue except the wet variety.

Maybe it was being phased out. Of life. Forever. Could I be so lucky?

Looking at the exorbitant price on the sticker posted below the absent adhesive, I reluctantly realized the cold, sticky economic truth: the demand could only be sky-high.

It was a good thing that they were all sold out, because I could not have brought myself to pay that much. The idea of paying more than a dime for squeezable-evil made me queasy.

The idea of going to Walmart or Target just to purchase wet glue was equally unappealing.

I went to the dollar store instead, where they were bundled in pairs. Since I would've felt foolish purchasing only one item, I picked up a second bundle.

We're back to owning four bottles of wet glue after an unremarkable streak of seven unsticky days. If I'd known our freedom was going to be so brief, I would've savored it. Let's all hope the stress-ball invention pans out, because I can't think of a more appropriate way to cope with the aggravation of being a wet glue owner for life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sometimes You Win...

Yesterday's spelling bee did not go as hoped. An uncharacteristically-glum Mia shared that she was the first kid out, on her very first word.

The word? Pottery.
"They said I spelled it with two O's," she sighed. "I didn't even hear myself do that."

"So... pootery?" I couldn't resist asking.
"Yup," she said, and we both giggled.

"The first one out." She repeated. "The first one."

"Well, I suppose somebody had to be first," I reminded her. "Actually, I'm kind of glad it was you."

A look of accusation and mild horror crossed her face, so quickly I explained my reasoning.

All but one of the kids would experience being "out" eventually, and someone would be "first".

The spelling bee isn't exactly at the top of our list of goals and priorities, but I'm sure it mattered deeply to several of those other kids in the room.

Our town is something of a training-ground for hard-core spellers. Those who are committed to competition spend HOURS practicing for WEEKS and MONTHS before the big day. Long ago, we'd made a choice to focus on other things, such as eating dinner, reading together before bed, and of course, watching Gilmore Girls.

We both knew she could properly spell 'pottery' and most of the other words on that list. Being the first one out didn't change her ability to spell or my pride toward her effort. I knew that despite her disappointment and embarrassment in the moment, she'd accepted the outcome graciously and respectfully, setting a good example to all the future mis-spellers in the room. I knew she had the resilience to manage her emotions and overcome her feelings in a healthy way. I knew this wouldn't devastate her.

"But I am devastated," she persisted.
"Oh yeah? POOTERY!" I replied.

Once again, she dissolved into a fit of giggles.
"You're right, I'm over it," she announced.

And to prove she meant it, she was her usual hyper, cheerful self for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


I have nothing against working hard or working fast. Big fan here, I swear.

'Hustle' has never bothered me when it's been applied to sports, but its usage is becoming more and more prevalent in business circles.

Hearing it in that context makes me cringe. Hustle in reference to sales sounds shady. Smarmy, even.

What's next? Fleece expert? Flim-flam master? #CharlatanPride?

(Do these make anyone else feel oogey?)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Dream Big*

For the same reason that children in remotest nether regions of Africa have never experienced what it's like to crave pizza the way you and I would, we cannot simply tell our children "Dream big!" and "You can be anything you want when you grow up!"

Before they can hunger for it, they need to be aware of its existence.

If we want them to be goal setters, we have to give them an opportunity to visualize goals worth setting, so they can see what they're striving toward.

We can't fault future generations for lacking ambition if we haven't properly exposed them to the possibilities.

There's room for improvement. I can do a better job and so can you.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Cupcake War

Cupcake-baking has become more challenging than it once was. I know this because one time I saw a part of a TV show about the challenges of cupcakes. I'm pretty sure it even had 'challenge' in the title.

To be fair, I am somewhat of a cupcake novice. I only began eating cupcakes last spring after a friend introduced me to Sprinkles, but I've been around people who have made cupcakes before so it seemed like a reasonably achieveable Sunday afternoon activity.

Before I started, I researched the procedure because there was a good chance that the directions on the box were untrustworthy. Directions on packaging are notoriously untrustworthy, and anyway, I've heard there are different little tips and tricks that can be used to improve a box-mix experience.

Satisfied by what I'd learned and feeling pretty dang confident, I set out the ingredients and tools and got started. There were a lot of tips out there, and I intended to use them all. These would be the best cupcakes in history.

First, I replaced the 1-and-1/4 cups of water with buttermilk.

Next, I added two tablespoons of vanilla pudding mix.

Then, I tried to combine it, but the stuff simply would not become batter. It was thick and uncooperative, like soggy cookie dough, and it did not go willingly into the cupcake papers.

There were supposed to be 24 of them, but I gave up at 17. Redistributing was out of the question. I'd have to take my chances.

Patting the bottoms to remove air bubbles? Forget it. The little chocolate-colored mounds were like drop-biscuits in a NASA test-kitchen-- they were determined to defy gravity.

Frustrated, I shoved them in the oven and set the timer.

As I began to wash the dishes, I made the mistake of licking my finger, and it did not taste good AT ALL. How anything edible could simultaneously taste like silly-putty, sand, and sour cream confounds me, but I hoped the baking process would iron that detail out.

After precisely 19 minutes, I removed them so that I could use the tooth-pick trick to check their completion. Some-- but not all-- had puffed up significantly, and this created more confusion.

What does "clean" mean? Zero discoloration? Zero tiny crumbles sticking to the wood? The tip-makers need to be more specific or not say anything at all.

I don't even want to tell you how many toothpicks were wasted while trying to untangle this mystery. Some seemed "clean" but others seemed like they were still wet.

Was I supposed to remove the "done" ones and return the others to the oven? What would happen if you over-cooked a cupcake (or in this case, half the cupcakes?)

They all went back in for another 3 minutes, and then I took them back out and poked them all again. Trust me when I say the toothpick heap could be kindling for someone's next campfire. Not mine, of course. If I can't master cupcakes, I should not be trusted near open flames.

So, 17 of the most lop-sided, ugly, twice-poked cupcakes the world has ever seen are currently being allowed to "cool completely before frosting". Who are we kidding? I'm not going to waste perfectly good frosting on these franken-cakes.

Meanwhile, I'm supposed to "store loosely covered". What does that even mean?!

It's no wonder Sprinkles charges $4 per cupcake. Making cupcakes is a serious challenge.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Can't Take the Heat

First, last, and only time I'll support this redundancy.

Shame. The salsa is quite good. Very hot, but extremely tasty.
And familiar, somehow.

Ergo, the motto is redundant AND inaccurate.
Double shame, since the disclaimer is necessary.

In other news, it was ten degrees this morning and I have proof.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Life, LLC

The thing about living independently is that you're the only one who can do the brave things.

Solemnly, I told this to Mia.

Our eyes met as we realized that eventually, one (or likely both) of us would have to kill a bug or spider or both.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Handy Winter Advice

If you are an enthusiastic hand-washer, you may find yourself with painful, red, chapped hands in the winter.

But... if you are an enthusiastic hand-washer, you are probably an over-zealous summertime sunscreen-buyer, too.

Leftover "sport" sunscreens make great winter hand-lotions. The water-resistant element creates a barrier between your skin and the hand-washing/hand-drying process.

I've found that if I remember to put sunscreen on my hands in the morning, it will usually lock in the moisture for most of the day. (And I wash my hands a LOT.)

PS- Try to remember not to touch your face or mouth, or you'll be tasting it all day, too. If it keeps happening to you, change brands of sunscreen until you find one that doesn't taste terrible.
Banana Boat? Awful.
Aveeno? Not too bad.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Epitome

"Mom, what's an epp-
epee-tum... eppi-toam?"
"Eh-pit-uh-mee," I told her, "means perfect example of something. As you can see," I gestured grandly, "your mother is the epitome of fashion and coolness for 2017."

In retrospect, I probably should've taken a picture of the look on her face instead.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

God and Other Unmentionables

Ever since the Ark Incident of 2013, I've been a little mum's-the-word about Our Heavenly Father. However, our new livin'-on-a-prayer lifestyle will require a serious increase in our spirituality.

There was no casual, nonchalant way to broach the subject, so a few days ago, I chose to utilize the Out of the Blue Method that Mia herself is ever so fond of.

"So, um, hey... what do you know about God?" I asked her.
"Well... He lives... above us... and actually, there's several of Him..."

Holy Trinity, Batman! 
My child is a religious prodigy. I'm not a failure. We're not doomed!

"... Zeus, he's the main one... but there are lots more..." she said.

My time aboard cloud nine ended abruptly. She continued listing notable nobility from Greek mythology while I tried to regain my composure. It was hard not to picture both of our souls careening toward an afterlife in the hot place down under.

"No, not Australia, although from what I've heard, it's debatable. Mia," I said, mustering all my chutzpah, "it's time for The Talk."

After about twenty uncomfortable minutes of me reciting as much as I could remember from the Bible, Mia said, "You know what all this reminds me of? Those Veggie Tales shows."

I was saved.

We've been watching several episodes each night ever since. We're also going to be finding a church. Possibly several churches. Enough to undo the damage from our recent discussion and alllllll the years of silence, but not so many that we become zealots, because as I recall mentioning several times during The Talk, 'God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.'

Monday, January 2, 2017

Light Housekeeping

"I'm an excellent housekeeper. Every time I get a divorce, I keep the house."

Oh, that Zsa Zsa Gabor. What a wise-acre. Always making light of even the most heavy-hearted of situations.

Keeping this house has been a bittersweet blessing. Moving would have meant separating Mia from two favorite things-- the playset in the yard and the newly-acquired piano. We're not especially materialistic, but the loss of a step-dad, siblings, and a beloved dog was the maximum a fourth-grader should have to cope with, I decided.

So, here we remain.

It's too big for two people, which became extra-evident after the departure of half the furnishings. That is not to say it is empty. Some artful rearranging proved that even with only half of what the house once held, we still have way more possessions than we need.

In true less-is-more form, voids have been filled with abundance. Less fighting has made way for more loving conversations. Less chaos has opened the door to more peace.

Housekeeping is a tremendous responsibility, but I am grateful for the chance to keep the bit of familiarity for my girl. Grateful and striving toward excellence.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Cheaper Than Therapy

It's the first day of 2017, and now more than ever, we need to believe that better things are on the way.

It's a beautiful time to return to writing.
Besides, it's cheaper than therapy.