Living with teenagers is about five thousand percent more peaceful than all the jokes and nasty comments led me to believe; and it’s sure been a sight more fun than my own teen years. Both children, unschooled and with only my direction on housework, have a sense of purpose and relatively companionable demeanor every day. I can’t remember hearing either say they are bored, ever. Boredom isn’t really a thing in our home. Not yet. I sometimes wonder when they leave, how I will do with that. They have been the drumbeat, everything to me, going on sixteen years.

Beeps started a new quarter at college this week; their last full quarter, as in spring they will only require ten credits. My stomach clenches a bit as there was so much I’d wanted to do for Phoenix for their sixteenth birthday in March; for their graduation from college in June, and there is little I can afford. I’d like to secure them a car, I’d like to throw them a party or two, and I’d like to buy them a few lavish gifts. As it is, we are down to one car in this family – which is less than ideal, leaving me stranded at home most days – and the car we do have has engine and brake problems.

I have learned how to discipline myself and calm my thoughts, when these kinds of difficulties arise. I know my children are perfectly happy and healthy and my hopes for them might be too specific or might not come to fruition in any case. It takes discipline for me to accurately assess our lives and make a plan. It takes even more discipline not to beat myself up, for being unrealistic, for thinking I could have done something spectacular for this spectacular child.

Nels cut all his hair off except a long topknot and today he confidently forwarded me a video tutorial for me to twist his blonde waves up into a bun. He is building a Minecraft mod and learning coding, stealing any bit of time he can from his father. Ralph comes home tired at the end of the day and I’m tired from working in the cold and I’m a bit stir-crazy from being cooped up and I put my arms around my husband and kiss him and feel how every part of his body feels good against mine. And I then count backwards on my fingers, I ask myself if I balanced everything just right: if I took care of my social life and my creative life and my physical life (daily yoga!) and my household and each child and my marriage and maybe even the pets or paid a bill or two. And most days I come out okay.

I was thinking about how I’ve poured so much into these kids and how I don’t regret it at all. And that’s another thing I count at the end of the day and look deeply, thumbing through the pages and knowing that’s still how I want to do it.

For tomorrow, then: finishing a pair of trousers and cooking up lunch and making a dinner for guests, and then wrestling into the arms of my husband where I can let my hair loose and lay on his shoulder and take respite and then it’s another weekend.


that marmalade quote I like so much

I made an error, recently. I relied on two entities who were sending checks. Both of them, insurance entities. Both of them insist the payment is on its way. They’ve told us this a little while now (months; weeks resp.). So far in our post office box blows tumbleweeds.

I counted on that money (that was my error). I bought the things our family needs. Now we are in a tight spot.

It’s easy to let a mistake slip into feeling sorry for oneself; into self-criticism. I can be patient with this a while.

But I also know an antidote to this, or at least a spiritual balm. An antidote to self-pity, to self-recrimination: work. Or as my friend John used to say, “chores”.

Not mindless work for the sake of doing it, but the work I should do no matter what. The work I’d do no matter what because it has to be done.

I have rice to cook, for an event I am helping with tonight. So. I saute up fine-minced garlic in olive oil and coconut oil. I set aside broth to simmer; season rice with pepper.

Dishes. Laundry. Yoga; coffee.

Breathe in; breathe out.

My son will wake soon. He will then be the next thing I get to attend to. I don’t know what our plans are for the day – our reduced circumstances have cancelled our road trip – but I do know I bought him lychee yesterday and he loved them as much as I thought he would. I do know I bought him a fifty-cent creampuff at a bánh mì shop and he saved that for this morning.

I do know that he and I will be provided for in some way – whether I can see it, or not. I often can’t.

in this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it

Yesterday a man shows up at my door and tells me he’d seen my babies walking, and he wanted me to know there was a registered sex offender in our neighborhood. A new one. He showed me a picture. I told him Yeah, you could look that stuff up online and all the local crime too, which I had done. He was surprised (OUT-SAFETY’D, SUCKA!!!) but then returned to talking about this guy. He kept reiterating he saw my babies walking and he thought he’d talk to me. My babies. I wonder how he knows where we live. Then he says he was trying to get the sex offender OUT of our neighborhood. He says, “Why don’t they knock on doors and ask around, ‘Do you have kids?’, and ask if it’s okay if a sex offender moves in?” I have no words. Just, no words.

I thanked the man for his concern. I closed the door. I feel oddly depressed. Later the kids and I had a little talk about strangers and walking about.

Life goes on.

Now this evening it’s dark out and I know where my kids are, but I’m a wee bit uneasy. It’s not related to the guy who showed up yesterday but he didn’t help or anything. It’s as if, at a certain point I have this tingling sixth sense. I walk outside with the dog and see my kids across the street, returning home in the company of an extra kid (who is now here and staying the night). It’s like I don’t rest easy until once again I see my children safe. The kids, all three, run up and inside and make up bowls of dinner (pork fried rice and green beans) and get to some cleaning up: vacuuming and doing the dishes. Phee is soon on her laptop and giggling, playing online with friends.

I wonder when I’ll get used to how sufficient, how competent, my children are. Today they packed up their swimsuits and towels and went out with my mother to the lake. Before they left I asked them to do some housework, and they cheerfully obliged and got the kitchen cleaner than Ralph or I generally do it, talking the whole while to one another in meme-speak, almost unintelligible. At a certain point I just kept adding on suggestions, feeding the cats and sweeping, and can you put this away, and that, and they did these cheerfully enough, since they knew they were off to the lake as soon as I was off to my volunteer shift at the gallery. It’s like I worried all these years about teaching my kids life skills and I have some kind of anxiety hangover.

Sometimes besides feeding and snuggling and taking the kids where they want to go, I don’t know what else I’m supposed to be doing for them. They are exceedingly happy and well-balanced and perfectly okay asking me for whatever they want, which means each day is an opportunity in trusting in something greater than myself. My ability to plan, manipulate, execute.

Family life is a lot easier than I used to make it.


Ten List: Things That Make Parenting Easier, #5

A few of my Twitter followers asked that I elucidate on “ten lists” I’d turned out recently. Here goes with the fifth installment of my first list: “Things That Make Parenting Easier”, based off my ten-plus years being a devoted and hard-working parent. I hope you find it helpful. That is the only point of this post. To help those who could use it. 

This is item #5. You can find item #1 here, #2 here, #3 here, and #4 here.

Each post will have a picture from my life, my day, when I wrote the post. A picture from this afternoon: my children cleaning up the play/bedroom upstairs. Within about ten minutes the beds were tidied, linens in the laundry, Legos put away, floors vacuumed, and costumes and stuffed animals bundled away. The kids also vacuumed the large bedroom and my sewing room. No threats, bribes, or coercion were employed.

Housework; Upstairs

#5. Allow myself to suffer public discomfort for a few minutes; stop parenting in a reactionary fashion.

I’m going to get down to brass tacks and say it: there are very few emergencies in public that require us to step in forcefully with our children. Full stop. And yet, we do it anyway. For many of us, it becomes a way of life. It isn’t the handful of times they run into the road at age two, when most people could easily understand a deeply-frightened parent grabbing a child and striking the child’s bottom. No. It becomes our way of life. We grab their arms or yell at them or perhaps, even more sinister, we impart consequences, many not necessarily violent, and build a world so fearful for them they are petrified to make mistakes in public. We do whatever we can to coerce them to behave well.

I have so much empathy and sadness for how this starts for so many. Maybe it starts at age six months when the infant cries in a restaurant and we capitulate to the glares of those who think children do not belong in public spaces; resentful, embarrassed, overwhelmed, and full of congested shame we flee the restaurant. We skip our meal, we women (usually) who sleep little and don’t eat enough and are overwhelmed and often ill-supported; we make sure no one is inconvenienced by our young child. And there it starts.

Sooner or later comes the day we are too tired and too overwhelmed and we don’t leave the restaurant and our kid cries and we think, “Fuck it.” Perhaps we hate our child. Perhaps we hate the world. We feel the disapproval of strangers or father-in-law or whomever but we cannot bring ourselves to march out that door and abandon our rights; nor can we cope with our current reality. Sadly, our parenting skills decline. Sadly, our child – sensing she is not welcome in the cafe and she is somehow disappointing her mother or even incurring her mother’s wrath – is left frightened and defenseless and without an advocate. This becomes a way of life; feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, resentful. It becomes a problem we cannot name but we feel it’s effects.

Our children suffer the most. Not the stranger in the coffee shop or the father-in-law. Not even us, although we suffer a great deal. But:

our children suffer the most.

And they learn how to parent their own children; and they learn how to manage those who need help. That is, they learn to MANAGE them. Or to try. They cannot tolerate the pain and suffering of others; they cannot tolerate their own pain and suffering.

If there’s anything I could take back, it’s the time and time again I parented in a reactionary fashion (I sometimes call this “reptilian parenting”), caring more for my reputation and for my kids’ “good behavior” than parenting according to a long view of what parenting is really about. And that is, briefly, this: as my children’s parent it is my job to keep them safe – and for a time, to keep others safe from them – and to nurture them and to be their advocate and helper.

It is not my job to make sure others approve of their very existence and/or my parenting or any particular episode of my life.

I have little patience for those who call the practitioners of punitive parenting “monsters” or some such, who loudly call spanking “child abuse” on internet forums. Certainly hitting someone smaller and less empowered than us is abuse, full stop. But someone being called a “child abuser”, her ears will close up. You have effectively tapped the shame she’s been feeling. She will stop listening. She will hate you. She will feel more lost and alone.

It is very unlikely she will stop hitting her child. She will not know where to seek help.

There are many who believe punishment is the right way of things; but these people are not monsters. They merely believe in a strategy I myself do not support, but they have come by these beliefs through intense indoctrination. Even so, there are few parents and carers who don’t feel pangs of conscience when they punish their children. Calling these parents or carers names, shaming them, will effect little change, no matter how briefly exhilarating it is to rehearse righteous anger.

When you call them names you are demonstrating YOUR inability to tolerate other people’s suffering.

In any case, so many out there vilify and call parents names that I can relinquish this right. It’s being taken care of by other parties.

It is never my intention to shame parents or carers who read here. I have not always been skilled at being careful, and I have my own biases and prejudices I may not be aware of. But hopefully I am better today than in previous writings.

I have a few closing remarks.

If you yell at your kid, give them a “time out”, count to three (repeatedly or once), hit them, scream at them, pinch their arm, cold-bloodedly smile while planning to later remove their most precious precious thing EVER when you get home, employ “natural and logical consequences” – in short, PUNISH them, do something to them to elicit emotional pain – and EVERY parent/carer has done this

– if you do any of these things:

DON’T PANIC. I’ve done them all (well, except maybe the “count to three” thing). I don’t do them anymore. If you want to stop, it’s possible. It’s a beautiful way of life, and it works. My children’s character, empathy, strength, loving nature, self-control, and care for other human beings is testament to a better way. I write here to help people who want to learn how to parent non-punitively; or rather, those who want to unlearn mainstream schema of punish, mold, “correct”, coerce.

It’s possible and I’m happy to help any who want it.

shaken, not stirred

Today I plunged myself into Sucktown as I had two sewing projects, in a row, go poorly. Actually, kinda, three. A week ago two wee infant dresses I had a vision for ended up not quite working out to my satisfaction. Then the Western-style shirt I finished today gave me fits from start to end. The end result, I admit (pictures tomorrow) is adorable – but my ass is haunted by how difficult the project was. I was even seething with, well not rage, but high-degree irritation at points. And today, Sewing Assery #3? I took a series of shortcuts on some pants for Nels figuring it wouldn’t be a big deal but, you know what, the project really suffered from me doing so. Enough I know, as I sit here, I’m going to totally tear out seams and fix the mess even though damn I so do not want to re-sew on pants.

I’m not sure how many people who read can relate to how much I can struggle when my sewing goes poorly. When it comes to this craft I am used to things going my way, and when they don’t, I have a hard time making a learning experience out of the business. I end up believing I’m wasting my time while I could be benefiting others in some way. It’s a horrid mind-suck. Oddly I am less exacting when it comes to my writing – more likely, in that case, to give my best, whatever I have, and let it lie.

This last week or two I’ve also been struggling with some Old Business that very rarely rears his head any more: the (unrecognized) work of the domestic. Today I got up, fed cats, cleaned the bathroom, washed, dried, and put away clothes, washed and dried dishes, made up home-cookin’ for the family, fed the cats, cleaned up after the cats, sent off emails. I do stuff like this every day. I am really fortunate I have my head and heart in the work and I experience gratification from performing the basics with mindfulness. But sometimes this little doubt creeps in, You Do Shit Work And You Don’t Matter. I remember what it was like to have more status’d work and the praises I used to get. Yeah, it was false pride, and yeah, it was a life built on (my concepts of) other people’s esteem, and I freely admit I like my life a lot better today. It’s just that sly voice and I don’t always have a defense against it. Ugh.e

Writing this out I realize the mind has just found another way to criticize my personhood. I relate this quite hand-in-hand with life as a so-called recovered alcoholic. The self-criticism is a hell of a thing for most people, and I have some familiarity with the various methods people use (not all of them chemical) to drown that narrative out.  Today I cope with feelings and with reality without self-medicating through the rituals and chemicals of drug and alcohol use. And the cliche is true, my worse day sober is well and away better than my best day using. Life sober might be painful here and there but the suffering is vastly reduced. Today I have the courage to publicly admit what’s going on (I will note I had this courage, here and there, before sobriety) and today I have a degree of bravery and serenity that I didn’t used to. I am glad to live my life sober even at its hardest, truly glad to live this way, despite occasional difficult circumstances originating from between my ears.

I will add I had a lovely time, before the sewing debacle, with the children. I packed up this morning (oh right, another handful of “chores” I forgot to mention) and we hit the YMCA for swimming this afternoon. Swimming with my kids is really amazing because, of course, it feels good and life without school is like a holiday, always – but also, because their energy and resiliency is just astounding. Even the days I’m not quite right, they seem to be. The children inspire me in a deep and satisfying fashion and it’s funny… I didn’t plan it that way, it just ended up happening. My children and my family life have been the most unexpected twist, and series of adventures, in my whole life. The life I’ve had is not something I thought I’d have in store for me ten years ago, that’s for sure.

In my wildest imaginings I wouldn’t think I’d have it so good. I hope my kids are a legacy for that kind of life, well-lived and worn-in, joyous and free. It really is at least part-accident I’ve done so well by them, or maybe that I didn’t do so well but they thrived anyway, considering what a mess I’ve been here and there.

“May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease!”


those games we play

This morning when Nels gets up he runs out to the living room and curls up in the chair. I turn from my computer and morning coffee and ask, “You need a cuddle?” “Yes,” is the inevitable reply. I pack two blankets and my coffee to the couch and he folds into my arms. He smells wonderful, like himself and his father, since Nels often ends up sleeping against Ralph’s chest.

Our children are pretty large to still curl up on our laps, yet curl up they do. There is no sign of abatement in the holding and kissing and hugging and nose-rubs and just closeness. Yesterday my son and I got up to a lot of wrestling. It’s no joke to wrestle the kids these days, especially if you don’t want anyone to get hurt. They are strong like badgers. But I eventually got the best of my boy and sat astride him. Once you get the arms above the head it’s easy to hold them there. But I hold him lightly, not rough. And then I ask him if I should kiss him or tickle him or give him a nose-rub. He cannot resist asking for the worst of the worst – tickling! He laughs in total abandonment and his baby teeth show, only a few more months glimpse of those little top teeth and they’ll be gone soon. I tickle  him but I’m careful because you can go wrong and really hurt someone.

Then later I say, “Boy, when I go back to my sewing room and start working, I sure hope you don’t finish your snack and then put away your plate and wash your hands and then come back there and pretend there’s something really important for me to see, and then lead me to the bedroom, and when I get near the bed you push me down and give me so many kisses.”

I don’t get much sewing done.

We basically do this shit all day long, in between I do the dishes and clean and cook only a little and eventually we head outside in the sunshine on errands. Today the kids were happy in an activity a little overdue: cleaning and dusting and sorting their room. They ran and got the vaccuum and dampened cloths and sorted the books and toys we were ready to consign and donate; they put in a little pile those items their friends had left (later they assiduously returned these to their owners). They watered and fed the leopard gecko and tended to recycling and helped change linens and make beds. It only took about thirty minutes to have a cozy little space ready for them again and I envisioned when the other kids would come over, and how they’d sit in the room and play Yu-Gi-Oh or Legos (and indeed, this did happen later in the evening).

I thought about how easy it is to simply squander our time with those we love and care for so very very much, and I thought about how I was ready to spend more time mindfully being there and less time doing some other stuff.

I was remembering things when they were very small and how much less ambition I spent on activities and plans other than the contemplative work of home and wee ones. Returning to that space the last two days felt very welcome, and I think I’ll stay there a few more days at least.

All the soarings of my mind begin in my blood.


As I believe I have on occasion expressed before, I have a love/hate relationship with giving blood. It’s scary and upsetting and uncomfortable but only at a few specific junctions and not enough to be a deal-breaker. It feels good to help but I won’t lie, it feels even better to have Phoenix’s esteem. She was happy to accompany me today in her little white fleece leggings (a cozy and lovely gift from my mother) and big boots and sweater. An old man flirted with her in this condescending but affectionate way and she handled that just fine. She kissed me and told me “Good luck” and told me she was proud of me and I was “smart”.

The Big Stick (BOOBSCAPE 3000)

I was their last “customer” and when I finished (8 minutes) they pretty much told me to fuck off, get out of there. I know they have a lot of work to get done after the blood-cattle leave. I’ve always been treated so well by bloodworkers. An impressive record considering they have to work long hours in a cramped space, in an, ahem, charming town like Aberdeen.

Short entry today as I have a fair bit of laundry; Ralph and I are also finishing up a batch of matzoh ball soup. No one is sick but that doesn’t mean delicious preventative measures aren’t a good idea!

(Small Stone #6*)

I don’t know why you’re especially cheerful today
But I’m not joining you.

Small stone project

school’s on for summer

Tonight during dinner (a lovely Vietnamese dish augmented by grilling tri tip steak outdoors) the kids brought up “playing school”, which is, oddly, something we do only a handful of times a year. I don’t know why this is such a rare event exactly as we (the kids and I) are huge nerds who like nothing more than doing “workshops” and workbooks and crafts and dressing in “uniforms” (the kids) and me ordering them to get my coffee then go feed and water the “school cats” and clean the “school bathroom” (in other words, having them do every chore, ever) and they do everything I say and learn things so fast I get a little creeped out.  Maybe we don’t do it that often because I am incredibly lazy in some organizational way; certainly when we do play “school” we always have a great time.

In tonight’s case we got started about 9 PM.  After dinner the kids dove into their room and cleaned up and made a sign for the “school” (naturellement!). People donate schoolbooks and workbooks to me now and then and of course there’s the inter-netz so in no time I’d worked up a few activities on the subjects they’d requested (math, “fireworks”, and art). I arrived at the “school” just as the kids hung their sign for the “Smiling Faces School & Pet Co.”

Phoenix and Nels made a little graphic displaying themselves as the two “i” characters in “smiling”. They were one hundred percent serious and intent about this.

First we diagrammed sentences in an oceanography lesson (time it took for my six year old to grasp “noun”, “adjective”, and “verb”: one minute; Phoenix had already educated herself on this through something she’d read at sometime or another).

Diagraming SentencesThen we did some math. Both my children enjoy math-on-paper but my son is a bit more adventurous in tackling it; Phoenix is such a perfectionist she is less of a risk-taker and thus slower to adopt strategies. I encourage her to use “baby” methods like finger counting or pictures or whatever she needs; somehow this less pressured approach helps her leap and bound into understanding more complex concepts within minutes. Today she worked on times-tables from downloadable fourth grade worksheets and said, “Oh, I’m totally grasping this concept!”

Nels added and subtracted three digit numbers. What’s amazing too is that he is very good at this but he still now and then flips a “5” or a “6” around completely backwards. I love that were he in school he’d be harped on about this (thus each subject gets to be also Penmanship and Manners and Taking Ones Turn and every other goddamned thing). Nels laughed in delight every time he got a problem right (which was every time) and he smelled so good leaning against me I just about had butterflies in my stomach.

Nels Adds

For Nels’ “fireworks” unit we did a math worksheet (this one probably a kindergarten or preschool “level” involving sticker activity) and then a silly little oil/water/food coloring activity where non-emulsified color droplets settle in oil to then meet and “burst” in water. Slowly our pitcher began to bleed the green of the “fireworks” and the kids ran out to the garage (where Ralph was recording music) to beg him come and see:

We took turns reading excerpts of a world history book.  It was a bit dry but they followed along just as well.  The book had a brief and useful selection dilineating “fact” vs. “opinion”. I went over it with the kids; I’d have one of them make a statement so I could guess “fact” or “opinion” and they’d get to correct me. Nels did confusing little numbers like, “Nels wants a pencil,” with this smart-ass smile when he’d say it (shit! Really! I think that’s a “fact”, right?).

So I asked Phoenix to give us a fact/opinion and she immediately said: “Spitting cobras can aim at enemy targets up to six feet away.” Then, she giggled and amended, “Well, these snakes do not actually spit their venom.” (!!!) She thought for one more minute and then offered, “The Egyptian Cobra can stretch the ribs in its neck to give itself a dark and scary ‘hood’.” She even ducked her head a little and did scare quotes around the word “hood”! I just about died laughing. The laughter was not mockery, or perhaps it is self-mockery that my children are so much more intelligent, exacting, and – this probably is the most important – deeply in the moment than I. My laughter is a pure joy and amazement at them, tandem feelings that fill me up when I slow down enough to spend Actual Time with them.

So I guess I’ll do some more of that tomorrow.


Little Trundlekin
This is the kind of awesomeness I live with. It makes up for pretty much any bad thing that happens to me.

In Nels’ right hand he’s holding the handle to his favorite vaccuum. It really is his favorite. We found it (the vaccuum, not the handle) in the Habitat for Humanity store a few weeks ago. I had no money but Nels begged, begged me to buy it. The men there told us it was $5 (the price tag said $10) and put Nels’ name on it. We picked it up via bike the next day. He vaccuums with it, natch, but also takes the handle out as a hiking stick/sword.

Also, I am a knitting sewing fool. The hat, coat, shirt, pants, and bag were all made by me (P.S. I made the kid too).

a first purchase of its kind

I mentioned Friday we had our last dryer-free day (Oh my gosh! You are so excited to hear more about the Hogaboom’s laundry machinations!  You know you are!) and this is because:

My brother heard our dryer died a week ago and sent us funds to purchase one.   This was included in a package that also contained two different yardages of fabric (seriously! One my favorite things ever to be gifted me! Yes I am using lots of exclamation marks!!) which I immediately serged, washed, dried, and folded.  It was an amazingly sweet gift on his part and deeply appreciated. I forgive him for making out with almost all my girlfriends while we were growing up (actually, I never really held that against him, the sneaky lothario).

Friday, the crisp check snapping in my hands, I take the kids out on our errand: finding the dryer.  This feels like the type of mission that will either be a resounding success or sap my lifeforce.  I think of Sears and their department of sharky-looking guys in dress shirts and ties trying to get me to sign up for a Sears account and how much I hate that sort of thing.  Shuddering, I decide first to stop at the used appliance store. I like buying things used, so very much, mostly because for various reasons I cringe at the short lifecycle so many Americans make of the things they buy.  So when I see the old-school Maytag (in a sea of Whirlpools and Kenmores) I’m in love instantly.  It doesn’t have fancy settings or anything.  I think there’s one button that says, “You want this shit dry or not?”  Probably an early 80s model, but looks brand-new.  As my kids methodically remove and replace the magnetic price tags on the tidily lined-up appliances the owner lets me use the phone so I can talk to my husband about the purchase.  It turns out the place delivers the “new” dryer to your house and takes the old one in to refurbish (good luck with our well-worn appliance, which came to us very used and very free and died a prolonged death of unimaginable noise and movement!).  I leave the shop just fifteen minutes later with an appointment to be at my house at 3 PM for the switch-out; our laundry routine will resume to a less bothersome one.  (Thank you, Billy.)

We get back in the car; even the pissing rain can’t diminish my spirit. Starting the engine the kids clamor, “Let’s go buy Legos!” (P.S. as long as you keep them fed they can play Legos for hours and hours and hours and won’t want to do anything else).  “What?” I’m trying to squint past the condensation in the car’s back window to pull out – have I mentioned our vehicles are semi-aquatic?  “I don’t have money for Legos.  I only have grocery money today.”  The kids immediately point out the dryer cost less than the check my brother sent: Nels puts up his hands and counts by tens; figures out the difference.  So, my son is five.  And he’s sorted this out.  I’m laughing because it’s awesome my kids are learning money and currency without drills at school; but it’s funny because they already know a financial windfall when they see one and they have my instinct to descend on it like ravenous jackels.  I talk to the kids about the money being a gift intended for household maintenance and in the spirit of the gift we should consider the balance thusly.  And they basically explain to me that it’s a gift, its ours.  To spend on Legos.  The thing is, I will never be a good planner when it comes to this stuff; my heart leapt at the thought of buying my kids a ton of their favorite toys and I swear I would have had this thought had our water bill been late and I owned no working underwear (BTDT).  I am just way too soft on them in some ways and I would buy or make them anything they want within my power , because I love them times one million.  (Boring coda: Ralph and I decide, ultimately, to put the money in a fund for our next home project: we have neither a dining room table, a waterproof car, and only one saucepan when we could use two).

The Hogabooms are moving up in the world: the first-ever dryer we bought with money (instead of bartering with a man in a Trans Am).  Nevermind it came from a charity source.  I’m feeling rather fancy.