Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Around the garden, May 2018

Pictures of plants, as one does. If the formatting is wonky, I don't even care and Blogger is terrible.

In the kitchen windowsill, I have an aloe vera plant named My Days of Not Taking You Seriously Are Certainly Coming to a Middle. I dunno, these things just happen. Anyway, it's very handy when one burns oneself cooking dinner and also provides the important service of obscuring the lovely view of the trash cans.

On the front porch we have Pepper Potts, so called because she is a peppermint plant and lives in a pot, because I have been suitably warned about invasive species. 

Also on the front porch, purple tulips. These were my late grandma's favorite flower.

Right now they look like this, which is less impressive. When I get a moment I want to rip out the evergreen shrub and hostas (I don't LIKE evergreen shrubs and hostas, okay?) and put the tulip bulbs in there along with a bunch of other flowers.

In the side yard we have my little square foot garden box. I think this diagram is mostly accurate except that I got nervous and planted like twice as much of everything as I was supposed to. Everything but the tomatoes has been planted at this point; those are going in as soon as I get the seedlings from a friend's 7-year-old who's running a nursery business this summer.

Sugar snap peas. They are having a hard time with the heat lately, but fortunately Cat loves dragging her tiny Paw Patrol watering can over and dousing them thoroughly.

Bush beans.

I think these are parsley but they are still teeny-tiny like that so who even knows?

These are a small cucumber that says "pickling hybrid" on the seed packet so by gum I am going to pickle them. In mason jars, no less.

I call this Teeny Weeny Zucchini, because it is. One hopes it will get MUCH larger considering it has an entire quarter of the garden box as its allotment. Also I want to seduce my neighbors into being my friends by giving them zucchinis.

Wait, or is it zucchinis that make people hate you? Social skills are hard.

I think, based on placement, that these little guys are basil. I'm kind of just leaving in all the random sprouts until they have 2-3 sets of leaves and I can actually tell if they're herbs or weeds.

And here's a random picture of some wild violets just because.

Friday, May 4, 2018

You don't actually have to be anything, part two

Again, disclaimer that this is basically an opinion piece and not a treatise, sorry baby koalas.

Last month was Autism Awareness Month, so of course I'm just writing about it now. :p

In my experience, these days there is a lot less emphasis on making autistic kids "normal" (though some organizations still do this, *cough*AutismSpeaks*cough*). But I also see a lot of people going in the opposite direction of labeling their kids "treasures" or "angels" and talking about how their goal is for the kid to be able to use his unique talents!!!11!

On the one hand, damn straight my kid is a treasure. You all wish you were as cool as he is, trust me.

On the other hand, I don't want him to grow up feeling like he has to play the role of "disabled kid in a Hallmark made-for-TV movie", where the power of love and friendship smooths over all obstacles and everybody rides off into the sunset together.

Tad will probably end up being good at some things. He will probably end up being bad at other things. He will almost certainly have his own opinions of what he wants to do with his life that have nothing to do with inspiring other people by "overcoming" his disability. He will almost certainly not care that nobody wants to adorn a glossy pamphlet on disability with the picture of a pimply, awkward teenager who doesn't like smiling and wears the same holey shirt several days in a row because changing into a shirt that feels different takes too many spoons.

Or he'll end up completely different than that picture I painted above, because he doesn't have to fit anybody's predefined idea of what he should be like. 

I want him to be happy and reasonably independent (is anybody 100% independent, disabled or not?) and fulfilled. But I also want him to feel like he's "allowed" to be angry or sad or overwhelmed or dissatisfied. I want him to know that being disabled doesn't mean he's a one-dimensional generic token character in the story of his own life.

It bugs me to write posts without neat little conclusions, but it would be especially inappropriate here, I think. I'm still learning. In five years or fifteen years I will probably write a completely different post on how I feel about Tad's choices in a world that's going to do its best to limit them and set up false dichotomies. But here's my fumbling attempt to say a thing anyway.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

You don't actually have to be anything

I keep seeing this shirt in the girls' section at Meijer, emblazoned with a sparkly "Smart is the new pretty." Probably there's some secret backstory and if I dislike it and don't buy the shirts then baby koalas with cancer will suffer. So let's just get out of the way up front that I'm not trying to do some kind of in-depth sociological analysis here.

So, as for "Strong is the new pretty:"


2. Dear God I hope not. Is "strong" going to be something that, in isolation from other attributes, morphs into an eldritch horror that no actual living human can achieve? Because that's what happened to "pretty", somewhere along the line.

3. My daughter is only 18 months old and she's already totally badass. But would I want her to feel like a failure if she wasn't? No, of course not. Some girls have physical disabilities. Some girls have mental illnesses. Some girls are just average people trying to get through the day. It's okay to be average at things. Hell, it's okay to be bad at things. It's okay to cry. It's okay to fail. It's okay to just decide that this hill isn't the one you're dying on and walk away. And yes, all of those things above could be looked at as "inner strength" or something along those lines, but you can't sum that up on a T-shirt.

Monday, January 22, 2018


- Cat is 15 months old now. She has added the words "all done!" and "MINE" to her vocabulary. The second one she learned from her brother. (She will also yell ALL DONE ALL DONE at him when he's being too rough.) She also says "room room" when pushing around toy cars. Or toy dinosaurs. Or anything really. She has an inherent fascination with cars that makes my feminist heart happy.

- Her other favorite toys are a couple of baby dolls and a stuffed unicorn, though, so there's a bit of the stereotypical feminine there too.

- For a while she didn't like wearing headbands or hats or the like. Now, when you put a headband on her, she will toddle over to the mirror and jabber complimentary things at herself. If no mirror is handy, she is satisfied with selfie mode on my phone camera.

Her hair is also getting long enough to fall in her eyes, which means I will probably be glad for her tolerance of piggytails. 

- She still consistently calls Tad "bubba" and he usually calls her "little girl." The other day he managed, "Dat's MY truck, little girl!" and we were all very proud. She's also sometimes "baby girl." It's a near-daily occurance here that he will be too rough with her so we'll pick her up to move her to another room and he'll follow behind wailing "DAT'S. MY. BABY. GIRL."

- She can understand several verbal directions. For example, if I hand her a wrapped cheese stick and tell her, "Take that to Daddy so he can open it," she'll toddle across the house to find Daddy and hand him a cheese stick. (He usually takes the hint.) She has also figured out that "Watch your head" means that she needs to duck or get away from the fridge--it's one of those bottom freezer affairs with the bottom of the fridge door at just the right level to clock a 1-year-old in the head.

(A lot of our interactions center around the fridge, I've noticed.)

- She recently learned how to open and close the flip top on our Contigo straw cups, which is helpful to me because sometimes Tad leaves them closed and she gets mad.

She also learned how to climb up on the piano keys and "play" them by dancing back and forth. That's...less helpful.

- She has 13 teeth--8 incisors, 4 molars, and 1 canine. The other 3 canines might kill us all, though. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018


A few days after Christmas, we got a "free" piano. Which is to say the piano itself was free, but we had to hire professional piano movers to the tune of $185 because, as it turns out, pianos are quite heavy.

According to a Google search of the serial number, this piano is about 100 years old. It's definitely showing some wear and tear, but for now everybody enjoys it and we get the satisfaction of saving it from being chopped up for Pinterest crafts. (Apparently the type of wood it's made from is quite rare?) Down the road we can get some estimates for restoring it.

Cat is genuinely trying to figure out how the keys work. Tad is starting to show mild interest in that element, but mostly he just likes to climb on it. The top of the piano is currently his second-favorite spot to hang out with his tablet, since the baby hasn't yet figured out how to climb up there.

(His #1 favorite spot is the top of the fridge. It probably says something about his temperament that "sitting on top of the fridge" is one of the things he's allowed to do.)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Chicken Tetrazzini

Loosely inspired by this recipe

A couple pounds of chicken breast
Olive oil
A package of mushrooms
An onion
A spoonful or two of minced garlic
A few good shakes of Italian seasoning
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
3 or 4 cups of milk, who even cares
Parmesan cheese

A few days in advance, throw some chicken breasts in your crockpot and leave them there all day. Then cut them up and stick them in the fridge.

On the appointed day, put about a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a large skillet and heat until butter is melted. Add mushrooms, onions, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Chop the mushrooms and onion as big or as small as you like; I'm not the boss of you. Saute until they're nice and browned and fragrant.

Add flour and stir it around so the veggies are more or less evenly coated. Then add chicken broth and milk and simmer until it is nice and thick or until your children start screaming really loudly, whichever comes first.

Meanwhile, cook some pasta.

Mix it all together and serve with parmesan cheese.

(Scott's reaction: "I don't know what this is but I like it!")

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 in review

Yoinking this from Sheila, because I can.

1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before?
Bought a house. Participated in an IEP meeting. Basically I'm a real adult now.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My resolution for 2017, which I don't think I ever posted here, was to "make room where there is no room." (I think this is from a hymn or something? Or a blog post I read long ago?) Not physical room, but metaphorical room. Room for my own needs to matter even when it was impossible to do anything about it because of the whole "two kids one of whom has special needs" thing. Because I was dealing with awful PPD and I knew it wasn't going to get better if I wasn't deliberate about it.

I went to therapy almost every week this year, so that's definitely a new record. I took my antidepressants. When said antidepressant stopped working well, I called my doctor and got on a different dose.

I also won NaNoWriMo. I still have no idea how I found the time for that (I seem to recall my house got very dirty) but I'm glad I did make room to have a hobby instead of fixating on housework and parenting and so forth.

I don't know what my resolution for 2018 is going to be. I've got time; the year is young.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
BASICALLY EVERYONE. Most recently my high school BFF had her first baby and I have been weirdly obsessed with worrying about her and hoping she's doing okay. (I also channeled that into sending a care package. I might have to send another one, though.)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My cat? She was very old and very sick so it was not as hard as I was expecting it to be, but it's still weird to not have her there when I go visit my family.

I am pretty sure no human people died but I am worried now that I'm forgetting somebody and will feel terrible about it later.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
A swingset for the backyard. A chest freezer. SLEEEEEEEEEEP.

7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I don't know about etched, but I will probably remember buying the house. (August 7.)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
WE ALL SURVIVED. Also I made a lot of phone calls.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Way way too much yelling at my kids.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major, but my A1C has been high so I've been trying to stay on top of that. And I sprained my knee mid-November and was in pain for WEEKS. It got better, fortunately.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Zoloft. Lots of ice cream. A house.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Definitely the house. Down payment + four months of mortgage + the plumbing here was put in by a chimpanzee on LSD and keeps getting broken and being complicated/expensive to fix.

13. What did you get really excited about?
I am actually an insectoid alien wearing a human skin. I don't have feelings inside my cold hard exoskeleton.

14. What song will always remind you of 2017?
Warning: Major earworm.

Now whenever I ask "Do you know where X is?" Scott will suggest that maybe it went "to the space."

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- happier or sadder? See above re: exoskeleton.
- thinner or fatter? Probably fatter. The second kid apparently killed my metabolism.
- richer or poorer? A lot richer. Hooray for new jobs that pay well!

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Yelling at the kids. Lying on the floor while they climbed on me because I was too sad to get up or do anything.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
Discovering that the baby can open presents without help. Also we visited Scott's parents and Tad had one of his epic "scream like an air raid siren for 30 minutes straight" meltdowns. So that was fun.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Sheila got us into The Big Bang theory and I think it's fairly excellent.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
Um. Hm. I would tell you, but I've apparently forgotten nearly all of them.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
The Phineas and Ferb soundtrack moved way, way up the list after Tad discovered Pink Fong.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Obviously my resolution for 2018 should be to keep some kind of media log.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Went to an IEP meeting and then had Domino's and a storebought cheesecake for dinner. I was 28.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Sleep is a given, so I'll go with "fewer 30-60 minute meltdowns from my 4yo."

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?

26. What kept you sane?
Would saying "Zoloft and therapy" be too literal? Yes?

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.
Being an adult is mostly paperwork. Sorry, 20-years-ago self.