~There is an “ass” in every assessment~

I received an email from the guidance office that my 8th graders results from the EXPLORE exam will become available soon. The guidance counselors are going to give results to the students and discuss their performance with them. Apparently, this is now a required test (one among the constant siege of assessments) that is part academic (giving you a %ile ranking against other students in the country) and part career assessment and results are in. But I really don’t want them.

My daughter seemed to think many of the career option questions were surprising. A few examples are: “Would you like to build a picture frame?” “Would you enjoy being outside all day cutting down a tree?” “Would you like to assemble a couch?” “Would you like to trim hedges?” She told me she thought building a picture frame sounded fun but she wouldn’t want to build more than one. She also mentioned that NONE of the vocations presented were particularly appealing to her. She said, “I just checked ‘indifferent’ for over half of the career choices.” Great.

I find the usefulness of this assessment a bit unusual, as I know several students who got back “lumberjack” as a likely top career path. Is there a high demand for lumberjacks? What high school classes should you focus on taking if you want to be a lumberjack? Maybe they will need all that wood for the picture frames. I don’t know. Clearly these students checked YES to the tree-chopping question. Suffice it to say…we will see about this test.

Anyway, I am particularly wary as I am reminded of my own memorable relationship with the guidance office, which boils down to 10 minutes in 1988. As a high school student I was on track to complete requirements and it wasn’t a choice in my house growing up whether or not I was going to college. I was going. If there were alternatives to that road, my parents did not offer them up and I was too afraid to ask. I’m pretty sure it would have killed them if I had even suggested that I wasn’t going.

In the fall of my Senior year, I met with my counselor. I can remember sitting in the guidance office on a hard plastic chair and the wall behind me was covered with college brochures. I liked the ones with the pretty landscapes that featured boys that looked like Gaston from Beauty and The Beast, wearing plaid flannels. Montana State University…you had a compelling brochure. Sign.Me.Up.  I had already decided I should find a school that offered Journalism as a major and had a dance program. I had an interest in writing and dance. (Of course it didn’t happen that way…story for another day)

I took the ACT because I knew I would stay in MN (goodbye Montana). No need to take the SAT as I was not willing to stray too far from my family. The first time I took it, I had a horrible cold and took A LOT of Benadryl before I went in. I do NOT recommend doing that. It will make you very calm during the exam but your throat will feel like you swallowed a wool sweater and your eyes will cross quite a bit, making things a lot tougher on the math section.

Needless to say, my score was not great.

I applied to 3 places to go to college. When I hear about epic cross-country searches that families go on now looking at 10, 12, 15 college campuses, I am floored. I’ve heard high school students talk about considering schools based on programs, price, athletics, financial aid, grad school opportunities, family alma maters, size, friends, and weather. My approach was more draw a tiny circle around my parent’s home on a map and pick a school that had journalism and dance.  Ah, educational decision-making in the 1980’s…simple bliss.

My high school counselor was gung-ho to have me sign up at either the giant local University or a small private college in the city. I had already been accepted to those schools and the counselor acted like ‘case closed’. I had applied to one more school and it was my top choice. I was waiting to hear back. Oh, and I was also waiting for my results of my second attempt at the ACT (my non- drugged score).

The counselor said (something like) this:

“I don’t think it’s a good idea. Even if you get in Jennifer, I don’t think you are likely to be successful there. You are not their type of student.”

I didn’t hear anything he said after that.


There is a Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Like I said, I spent a total of 25 minutes talking to this person in my entire life. All I know is that he told me I would not be successful and at 17 I was just aiming too high. But it was the way he made me feel that stuck.

He made me feel, rattled.

Oh and completely enraged. Rattled and pissed off, which is a very dangerous combination in a teenage girl. He was a brave dude.  And if you thought I was dangerous, you should have heard what my parents said when I told them about my little trip to the guidance office. Fortunately, they were not violent people but I learned a few new colorful descriptors that day.

What kind of guidance counselor says, “Nah, don’t even bother”?

Hey, the counselor was not a bad person. I’m sure I didn’t fit the profile. I was a strong student but I wasn’t a 4.0 student.  I wasn’t winning any awards with my grades.  My first ACT score was certainly not consistent with top-tier students. It probably wasn’t consistent with people who took the exam who were AWAKE. I’m guessing the counselor was trying to protect me from myself, or have me set realistic expectations. But he underestimated me in two areas. First, he didn’t know about 16,567 positive messages I had collected and saved up assuring me that I would achieve anything I set out to achieve. Period. Second, the counselor did not know that my strongest skill is one that cannot be measured in grades or ACT scores. Will.

I’m definitely in the top 1% nationally in the category of will.

Long story short-I went to the college choice behind door #3. They took me or I took them-we chose each other and it was a mostly positive relationship. I survived. There were a lot of extremely bright students in my classes and then there were a lot of others (man, I could tell a few great stories here but I won’t).   The fact is, there was a stunning range of IQ, academic background, attendance (ahem), work ethic, perseverance, etc. It was the best college choice for me of the 3 options. It worked out.

I don’t know what the Explore exam is going to say about my girl. It’s just one test; it’s just one data point, just one assessment and one opinion, blah blah blah. It’s easy for me to say on this side of things.

But, I’m tempted to fold her results into an elaborate origami swan…and then use it for kindling. She has such a long way to go. She is 13 years old. I don’t want the hard numbers to plant a seed in her mind that grows into an invasive weed.   So help me God if it says her most viable option is lumberjack. She isn’t interested in being a lumberjack.

And if I find the results or anyone who encourages her to lower her expectations and settle…it’s going to be me wielding an axe.

It’s not the temperature…it’s the wind chill?

My son joined the ski club at school. You register online and you are IN ski club. Joining the club means he skis with his friends 5 consecutive Tuesdays and eats Skittles for dinner with no adult supervision. He is catatonic when I pick him up afterwards.  It turns out skiing is good fun for the whole family. (ha)

The other day, a typical MN winter day, my husband mentions, “I hope he is warm enough out there.” For a split second I thought…Is he? Is he warm enough?  My sweet boy is exposed to the elements. MY BABY!!!    Oh no…he is fine.

Yeah. He’s warm enough. Definitely. You want to know why?

Because it isn’t 1981.

He is wearing gear from Spyder, Burton, Kamik and North Face. North Face, ironically, is a company created after 2 California natives took a hiking trip in MINNESOTA and climbed a mountain and were on the coldest, most brutal side of the climb. My son is wearing gear that is good enough to summit a mountain here and elsewhere.  When the children leave in the morning, they look like they are being sponsored in the X games.

Remember the snow pants in 1981? The snow pants consisted of a thin inner cotton layer with a thin outer nylon shell that swished when you walked. Swish swish swish. Those were snow pants. My mother made me put on waffle weave long underwear, then the snow pants. They were likely the best snow pants available at the time.  They stayed dry for about 6 minutes. Retail price $12.

My son has snow pants that have super powers. They are busy wicking moisture away from him and insulating him and trapping heat and are water proof yet breathable, have an adjustable waistband and they even freaking GROW another few inches longer if need be. Magic pants. Retail price $ Expensive. Worth every cent. When his brother gets them in 5 years and wears them out…we will be down to less than a penny per wearing.

The jackets? Did you own a stupid “ski” jacket in 1981? Mine had a chevron pattern. Similar to the one below…


Style wise? Awesome. They were not doing anything magical though…it was more of an aprés ski look. These were definitely made to wear near a crackling fire.  I remember my zipper rarely worked. When it was zipped up the metal hit me right at the teeth. I used to put my tongue on the icy zipper all the time. Yeah…I licked the inside of my jacket.  They used some sort of cotton fluff for insulation. Maybe it was cotton balls. It worked like cotton balls because it did not work.  Years ago my father in law got a Columbia jacket that came with a book attached. It said, “This is not a jacket, it’s a system.” Systems apparently were not available in 1981.

My son has a jacket that has a removable hood, six pockets, a bungee cord on the interior to seal out the world, velcro at the wrists and an attached cloth to wipe off ski goggles. It blocks the wind, is lightweight, packs down tightly and is warm. His jacket is ready for any and all winter sports.  He has on a base layer underneath. His base layer is a moisture wicking, soft, form-fitting, in his favorite color kind of base layer. I think in 1981 your base layer was your skin. That’s it.

The mittens. Those sad little mittens with the metal clips (maybe only for the abstract random kids like me who lost stuff). You could make exactly one snowball before those suckers were done. And your jacket didn’t meet the mittens all the time and the wrist of the mitten flared out like a bell collecting the snow so you had 1 inch of skin that was always exposed. But so what? Just keep your red, raw hands in that sopping wet mitten. I had eczema as a kid. Weird.

My kids have a veritable mitten buffet. They have stretchy gloves for cool weather. Mittens with fleece lining for cooler weather. They have gloves that come to nearly the elbow for cold weather with Velcro straps and elasticized cords to tighten the wrists. They have gloves with leather grips on the palm for driving? Tow ropes? Working outside? We even have gloves in this house that have pads on the fingers for touch screens. I guess you need those should you find yourself sledding and texting at the same time.

Hats.  My boys wear hats that are not only warm but prefer ones that are fleece lined for comfort. Me too.  In 1981, I had a pom pom hat with a heart print. See below. Crappy picture. Cameras in 1981 sucked too. Winter looked the same though.


That hat itched. It was pretty warm but it itched. I also use to pull the threads out of the top and tie them onto the zipper loop. That did not decrease the itch factor and made my mother pretty mad.

Remember how your boots were wet in 1981? ALL the time my boots were wet.  You could put those pieces of crap over on a heat register for a full weekend and they wouldn’t dry out. I had moon boots similar to those pictured below (but mine were pale pink). Again, fabulous looking and quite sproingy (I made up that word) but I often wore 3 pairs of socks for sledding nearly cutting off my circulation.


My sons wear Kamik boots.  They have a comfort rating down to -25F and a removable insert.  -25 is incredible and why did it take manufacturers so long to figure out kids boots should have removable liners?  They are ready for Everest.

So…I will not moan to the children about how I walked uphill to school 3 miles both ways in the snow. It wouldn’t be true. But I did trudge uphill to the bus stop and waited in the negative wind chill in the modern-day equivalent of their t-shirts.  I was cold during most of elementary school.  Minnesota winters haven’t changed.  The gear has come a long way though, and for that I am grateful.

So, as I mentally do a scan head to toe of my son. He is warm enough.   Plus with any luck, at the rate he is growing, those snow pants are MINE next year.

I’d like to say I’ll send a postcard but I would be lying

In a few weeks, I am going away. Alone. I mean, not like completely alone hiking the PCT and losing a boot alone…I’m going away with some other people. But I’m not going with anyone else in my family. To be clear, of the five of us that live here…20% is going away for a week and it’s me.


I’m not excited or anything.  Okay, I am.  It’s not often about me on the family calendar.

Now don’t feel bad for me. I am an integral cog in making this machine go. People don’t have rides at ridiculously inconvenient times in inclement weather or custom cut waffles or their favorite clean pants without me. I’m an essential employee. If this family were a company, I would be the COO and the janitorial staff. Which is to say,  I feel plenty needed.  Always.

But it wasn’t long ago that I had to check with a minimum of 4 people and cross-reference 2 calendars and wait for the stars to align before I had the luxury of scheduling my own dental cleaning. My teeth, the second and final set that God has granted me,  have somehow become less important than things like book fairs and soccer practices and class parties and orthodontia for kid teeth. But this year I’m going on a trip alone and it’s going to be tricky to get everyone where they need to be but it is going to work and my husband is not only 100% up for the added chaos but in full support of me going to have a mini-adventure.


When I told my kids that I was going on this trip, one of my children (who I will not name to protect their innocence) said to me after a sharp inhale,

But WHAT are we going to do?”

How does one even respond to that? What are the appropriate non-damaging, non-angry, non- irritated, not using expletives, no eye rolling responses to that question? My blood came to a slow boil.

What are you going to do? What are you going to do??? Do? Well how in the hell do I know?

I’LL BE GONE!  (That is not how I responded)

The subtext to that child’s question is layered…It means, “Does Dad even really know what is going on?” “Am I going to have to locate my own swim goggles when you aren’t here?” “Will there even be food available to us during this time period?” “Who am I going to complain to when I am hit with a Nerf bullet again?” and “Why? Why mom why would you ever want to leave this paradise?”

I can think of a few reasons…




So what are they going to do?  I don’t know and I couldn’t be less concerned. Really. I would walk through fire for this family. I love them with a deep sacrificial love.  But I’m going off the grid and it just won’t be my responsibility .

Poor Dad, who gets so little credit, will keep them perfectly alive and they can just remind him of what time they need to be dropped off at well…everywhere in this city. Somehow they forget that without Dad they would have no need to be chauffeured, no waffles and no favorite pants.  This man finances their entire fantastic world and yet they don’t trust him to select yogurt flavors in my absence. He does things differently than I do.  Our children find it very unsettling.

Alas, I’ll be too far away to look for the swim goggles. (YAY. shhhh.)  I don’t even care if they wear their goggles. Let the eyes just sting!  I have an idea. They could choose to get along with each other. Put the Nerf products in storage for a change. It’s a week. I’m gone long enough that they will have to find food. Look in the cabinets. Eat cereal 24/7. Maybe eat what is in front of you instead of looking/asking/expecting alternatives. Forage. Figure it out.

They will have a wonderful time. They always do. My husband is fun. He is so good at this if they just give the man a break. They will make it. And a tiny part of me hopes they are watching me leave and will absorb this behavior on a cellular level and think it is normal.

And here is why…

I refuse to be responsible for raising a woman who never does anything for herself by herself and always puts the needs of others ahead of her own.

And I refuse to be responsible for raising sons who never do anything for themselves by themselves and always put the needs of others ahead of their own.

And I want all three of them to witness that parents, all parents, (moms, dads, caregivers, traditional, non-traditional, working, stay at home, single, divorced, widowed, dating) are human. I’m responsible for teaching them this concept.  I hope they can someday understand that humans need to have their own experiences and breathe in the world in their own space on their own terms. Everyone needs to have a little something just for themselves, alone, every once in a while.

So when you see my children with Nutella on their faces and they don’t have their library books on media day and they are sulking because they have to wear their least favorite shirt (the scratchy one), please tell them to “SUCK IT UP”.  Then, please find my weary husband and give him a hug.

Also, I really really really hope the kids learn to pick up their own damn socks while I’m gone.

The Honeymoon is SO SO over

In the space of 90 days we have ended up getting invited to two weddings. Two lovely young women who used to babysit our children are getting married in the space of 90 days. Married. Grown ups get married.

How did this happen so quickly? Wasn’t this just me?  They were just girls…girls who cooked noodles for my kids and then studied Chemistry after the kids went to bed. (unlike when I babysat and cooked noodles for the kids and then ate 3 bags of chips and watched MTV for 6 hours after the kids went to bed)

It’s so exciting and fun to be around them. It brings you right back to being in that stage and slaps you in the face because you aren’t that age now.  When you are in your 40’s it seems there is a bit of a dry spell when it comes to weddings other than an occasional 2nd wedding.  And so I find myself in a new era of the whole wedding thing. The basics of engagements, ring flaunting, showers, nationwide hunts for dresses, registries, guest list drama, etc. remain. And there is so much ahead for them. The reward for getting down the aisle and through the hoopla is to get to the fun ahead…twists and turns and piercing joy and breathtaking surprises.

However, it is not all roses.

I was at a bridal shower recently. It was so beautiful. The bride was happy and calm. Her family was lovely and thrilled. The hostesses were gracious and organized and welcoming. The gifts were plentiful and shiny and fresh. The things couples register for now are both amazingly sensible and snort worthy hilarious. Example: Shop vac (YES-you will need that-you should register for 3) and Bath Sheet: $80. That is a towel that costs $80. One towel. Only kings and queens should have bath towels that cost that much and only because they are drying off royal butts.

And while I am so very happy for these beautiful, educated, accomplished women…and I admit to being so charmed by the raw cuteness and puppy like excitement gazing into the eyes of their prospective spouse…I am definitely relieved to not be in their shoes (albeit some darling shoes!).

I imagine they may feel they have finally gotten to the on ramp of their real life. Their first true adventure…I remember feeling that way. But now I know better. I know they haven’t really even gotten out of the über ride to the terminal…not even close.

Even in youth you have a vague idea about how marriage might be “work”.  It is a cliché often repeated. We will work on it. Put effort into it. We will compromise. It goes something like this-He likes to go golfing for 8 hours at a crack and I don’t like it. I won’t allow it. I will change him. Or, she cannot spend $35 on Tupperware glasses that we don’t even need. I won’t allow it. I will change her. (these happen to be real world examples from yours truly) Update: Rounds and rounds and rounds of golf happened and I bought the Tupperware. See below.  Aren’t they incredible???  At this point I’m keeping them around to spite him.


But the ‘work’ isn’t just the two people and the micro compromises. It’s not the rambler vs. two-story debates. It’s not the “I wanted to go out for Italian food but you always prefer Indian food” arguments.  It’s the overwhelming everything each person brings to the equation. And you don’t sign up for a lifetime with one person. Bonus: You get their entire extended family as a package deal and they get yours. And everyone has some crazy in the family…I mean crazy and I mean that bench runs DEEP. And the players on the crazy roster are ever-changing …and that can be very challenging.

Note: If it isn’t challenging now…at some point it probably will be.

And then the life happens. And you can talk about all the big things but you don’t know how the other person will react when all that happens. And you really don’t even know how you will react when all that happens.

The painstaking work is facing (together) all the best laid plans that fall apart, the disappointments, the mistakes, the unexpected river of crap that flows your way, the friends, the heart wrenching marriages of others, the heart wrenching divorces of others, the layoffs, the stress, the changing of both of you, the minute gains and catastrophic losses, the illnesses, the prolonged illnesses, the deaths.

Uh…this may be why I have not been hired to write engagement card content for Hallmark.

So, I was just thinking how nice it is to be further down the road. It’s a relief. I know a little more about how my spouse works and I know a little more about how I work. And I know volumes more about how we work together and we aren’t even done yet. We enjoy the stretches of contentment more than we did before.  We appreciate them.  I am happy for these young ones and I am saying prayers for them and crossing my fingers and wishing them well…because marriage is not for cowards.

P.S. If you have been married (for longer than…mmm…8 years) and it has been all happiness and rainbows and marriage has been one giant, fabulous Pinterest worthy experience…please get in touch with me. I’d like to hear your story. I assume you will be placing a collect call since you are in some sort of high security mental facility…totally fine. I’ll pay for the call.

I don’t need Ambien: I have Minecraft.


Confession: I’m not a very patient person and I can be a very poor listener. Parenting often takes copious amounts of patience and the listening skills of the most seasoned therapist. Beyond the simple maintenance issues of keeping a family fed, clothed, clean, groomed, organized, well rested, prepared, not sword fighting in the kitchen, etc. is the ceaseless demands of “watch me”- “play with me”- “listen to me”.

It requires attention. I can hardly believe how many hours I have  devoted to just paying attention.  And I want to be a patient listener…I want to be mentally present and a lot of times these are the best parenting moments.  Just listening.  But then there are all the things I’m forced to listen to including:


2. Whining.

3. Bickering.

4. Crying.

5. Fighting

6. Protesting



9.Sighing (LOUDLY)

10. …and Minecraft.

Minecraft has become a bit of a problem. Between IKEA purchases and having Minecraft on a PC, handheld device, Xbox…not to mention Minecraft posters, books, t-shirts, magnets and a MINECRAFT nightlight that was gifted to us! we are very big supporters of Swedish exports.

A lot of the sharing from my daughter takes on the flavor of “So then she said this and then I said that and then he said that and then I said this and then she said that…can you even believe it?” I’m paraphrasing here but you get the gist.  This is what much of the day consists of for her.         I get it.    (I mean…not always…but middle school is middle school and while I think some things about it has improved, it’s still like doing 3 years of hard time. That part hasn’t really changed in 30 years)

A lot of the sharing my sons do runs along the lines of, “So I was in creative mode and built this house which I could use if I switched it to survival mode because of the walls and I was thinking of buying a skin pack. Can I buy a skin pack? It might not be worth it but if I did, I could change Steve and make him look more like how I imagine him and then it would look so cool in my mod when the zombies come.”   Um…what?

“Mom, come down here and watch me play Minecraft!”

I go. I go quickly.  I mean…my sons are asking me to be part of what they are doing.  I’m in. These opportunities seem rare.  And so I watch them play this game for a bit with their mouths gaping open and their little fingers flying across the controllers and I really try to pay attention. I watch. I try not to wonder if is this really is training them to code?  Or is it really training them to live in this exact basement when they are 35?

And 38 minutes later, they have done it. They have made a pixellated sheep move 10 virtual feet. They have spent 38 minutes of their lives and mine creating what looks to be a pretty sad little monochromatic Lego world.  Great.  I was present and they seem pleased to have me as their witness to this grand fake sheep accomplishment.

But then (this is the part that hurts me) they want to TALK about it.  Oh God, help me…because when they utter more than 10 words on the subject of Minecraft, I feel a wave of exhaustion engulf me.  It suddenly feels like 3am and I’ve eaten Thanksgiving dinner and had 3 glasses of wine and I’m wearing cozy pants and it’s a little warm in here and I’m reading the tax code…

Generally speaking, I think my sons are interesting people.  One is more “existentialist interesting” and often causes me to ruminate on the bigger questions of life. The other son is more “he might actually join the circus someday” interesting.  He is like watching a car crash…I’m often frightened but still can’t tear my attention away.

But they both talk “Minecraft” and my eyes glaze over and my heart rate slows and I have to fight to stay engaged.   I have pinched my own leg HARD while they were talking about it to remind myself to throw in some “Mmm’s” and “Wow’s” when they looked at me expectantly.

I grew up with video games. I played Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Pong…the classics.  We had nearly every gaming system in existence during the 80’s.  My brother was (is) an avid gamer.  I just don’t remember EVER having a game that we felt was worth discussion.  My brother never (to the best of my recollection) talked about Mario’s outfit or the layouts of level 5. When the console was off…it was over.

So what is it?  Is it that modern kids spend so much time in virtual worlds that it has taken on more importance? Is it because they feel invested having made the world?  How can the very game that has captivated these boys and much of the world be SO BORING to me? Or is it geared toward the male gender?  I mean even if it were more relational (for me), I don’t think I care whether or not Steve starts dating Creeper and they move off the farm into the city.

I asked my son what he likes best about it.  He paused for a long time and said, “I guess it’s just the excitement of survival.”

And that’s what I’m choosing to like about parenting today.

The excitement of survival.

Call your bookie: Surefire bets on the Pinewood Derby

The Annual Scouts Pinewood Derby is this Saturday. I loathe the derby. LOATHE. You heard me.

My oldest son, (11), will race his car with all of the other cars in his age category.

And if I were a betting woman, which I’m not, I would bet it all against him. He will lose. Big. He won’t come in 2nd place or 3rd place or 4th place or 10th unless he gets really lucky and Influenza A takes several of his peers out of the race. And this is why. See photo below. This kid is absolutely screwed because…


We make him make his own car.

I know. Horror. Five years ago when he started in Scouts, I was under the impression that this was a fun kid driven (unintended pun) event. A kid event that was a mere part of a larger organization designed for kids. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The first year I didn’t know exactly what we were supposed to do with regards to car assembly and my husband appeared to know exactly as much as I did. We winged it. My husband asked my son what he wanted.  He then cut the car on the line my (then 7 year old) had drawn with a sharpie. He used a handsaw with my son’s tiny hand enclosed in his. Also…they duct taped a metal lighter to it for weight. As you can see he used markers and a jaunty foam sticker on the side that said, “Go Team.”  This is not traditional. He called it “The Hammer” which after the race became quite ironic.


The second year I saw parents carrying in cars in acrylic cases. It’s the kind of case I would purchase if I won an Olympic Medal or a Golden Globe and wanted to display it on the mantle. My son carried his car in his coat pocket. I started to wake up this year. I noticed some things.  People were intense about this race.  People were discussing the importance of graphite on the wheels.  This was also the year that the winner of one den was announced and joy ensued only to have the ‘win’ retracted after his car apparently did not fit into the “parameters” set forth in the master rule book.  That friend (age 8) quit scouts that year.

The third year I thought my son might want to put a little bit more work into it since he was a bit older. I asked around to find out where to find materials other than our household craft bin. Someone told me I absolutely NEEDED to drive to “Hub Hobby” in Richfield because they have everything and the people who work there will know exactly what I need/want. Someone else told me I could Google tips on fastest designs and watch YouTube videos tutorials on how to build a “winning” design. People from all over the country have made these tutorials.  I watched one. The person in the video I randomly selected was about 40 and clearly needed a social outlet…and a shower. He really needed a shower.  Someone else told me that if by any chance we had (bought) a particular saw …my son’s car would have a clean and precise cut.

You have GOT to be kidding me. No. Nope. No.  I’m not having a derby car in this house worth $324. So we pressed on. A neighbor loaned us a saw that had a cord. A real saw with a cord. It really did not seem to help much.  My son banged the wheels on with a rubber mallet. There may have been a slight alignment issue that year.


Last year he made the car above and requested spray paint (serious upgrade). I bought the paint at Michael’s.  He sprayed it.  That crap is toxic.  He named the car “Striker”. It has an insanely phallic shape, which I am going to continue to ignore. He calls it “aerodynamic”. That is not the word that I think of when I see it. He thinks he came in 4th place last year. It is darling that he remembers it that way. He did come in 4th out of 8 in the second heat but never advanced to the big race. This year though he noticed something…something that we had never spoken out loud. As we left he said, “Mom, a lot of those cars were just made by the dads.”

Yes. Yes they were.

Let me be clear, I think it’s great if boys are sitting down with an adult and learning how to use a jigsaw, a power sander, glossy paint techniques, being innovative, doing some quality woodworking, creating something side by side, working on the art of collaboration. Making a memory. Kudos. Many boys do this to make their derby car. Many do it this way and that is wonderful.


If there is a father/grandfather/mother/aunt/relative of a scout who drank 4 Scotch and Soda’s before they built the Pinewood Derby car of THEIR dreams at 11:00pm (while junior is sleeping) with $7800 worth of power tools and they are racing it against boys who made their own and they have the audacity to pump their fist in the air at a win that THEY clinched against a 9 year old…I have a BIG problem with that person. And that person will be there on Saturday.  Many manifestations of that person will be there winning for their kid.  They need help.

So if you see me Saturday at the derby…no need to bring this up…because I’m really just there to root for my son. And I’m going to cheer him on all the way to 132nd place.  And to the derby competitors in the 35 years old and up category-I guess I have to thank them for teaching my kid a valuable life lesson…

Work hard. Do your best.  But sometimes…the race is rigged.

So I’ve joined the party…I’m just 15 years late…

So…apparently blogging has been around for a while.  I think I’ve talked about starting a blog as many times as I’ve talked about “getting organized”.  2015 may be the year for both.  ( I say this with actual real hope)  Also, I was recently at a party and spoke to a copy writer who basically told me, “Just start it. Start a blog.  You can always just quit if it doesn’t go well.”    This is very attractive advice.  I want to be his friend now. I told my best friend that I’m starting a blog and she smirked and said, “Uh…hasn’t this come up just a few times before?”  To be fair she knows my track record-Grandiose plans: 5,435 vs. Grandiose plans executed to fruition: 48.  I told my mother.  She said, “Well I think it’s wonderful.”  She has been waiting for me to write some things and put them out there and I have been waiting…and waiting…and waiting.

I truly have been writing my whole life.   My basement is filled with little books crammed full of poems, stories, sad journal entries, titles for things, very humiliating coming of age reflections and lists of words that I like.  As a 20 something, I really thought I’d write a great American novel and then I would win the Pulitzer and then I would become an eccentric, mysterious recluse.  As it turns out, books are long and take time to write, raising a family takes longer and more time than I ever imagined, I may not be Pulitzer material and I’m definitely not mysterious.  So if nothing else, my mother can follow me and tell me how wonderful I am (provided I never write about her which is a damn shame because there is some good stuff there) ha ha ha.

Blogging will cure me of my analysis paralysis because I will make a minimum of 52 posts this year.  I’m hoping 50 of them do not occur in December of this year.  But I need the pressure. Plus, my last and best excuse (child #3) started Kindergarten this year.  I’m starting to have clear and complete thoughts for the first time since 2001.

So welcome to my super exciting blog…next time I will amaze you all with my musings on VHS tapes.