Oct 282020
 

Sometime early Monday evening, my work friend Lauren texted me and asked if I would be willing to submit one of Chooch’s carved pumpkins because our department was having a pumpkin carving contest, but only like 5 people submitted one.

I mean, I’m not shocked. Four years ago, Carrie and I were in charge of organizing a Halloween party for the department and barely anyone participated, and this was waaaaay before the pandemic! I think there were 5 of us who dressed up. It was just super depressing. We just don’t work with very festive people, I guess. This is why I didn’t even bother to put  my name in the hat for the new party committee that was assembled at the beginning of the year, because I get so angry when the efforts are unappreciated!

Anyway, I didn’t pay much attention to the emails that went out about this last week because I knew I wouldn’t “be there,” since I’m off the whole week before Halloween and didn’t think I would be eligible because I’m sorry – I love my co-workers but I am not logging on to a WebEx on a day off!

Sadly, all of the pumpkins Chooch carved are half-rotted because of the hot weather we had been having last week, so I was like, “Ew, I’m sorry but I can’t submit a picture of any of those in good conscience” but we were actually already out when she texted me so I asked Chooch, “If we stop and get a new pumpkin on the way home, will you carve it?”

Chooch made some mumbling sounds that, when strung together and played in reverse while standing in a graveyard at midnight, loosely translated into, “Go fuck yourself.”

“There’s a cash prize, I think,” I added with a shrug and he was suddenly like, “Sure mother, this sounds like a swell idea; Father, please purchase the pumpkin at your earliest convenience.”

Now, I was only doing this to be a team player, and I have a hard time saying no to people. So I told Chooch it didn’t have to be anything magnificent which quickly turned into, “OOOH WILL YOU DO A G-DRAGON ONE!?” and he was like, “Wha—no!!!” So then I thought out oud, “You know what would be quick and simple? You could just do a 2020 and then set it on fire. Bam. Done.”

He liked the idea because it was easy, so that is why there was the stench of burning pumpkin cocooning our house Monday night and I’m here to tell you that it was a far cry from Yankee Candle. Yikes.

I got the picture submitted to Lauren that night and it was eligible for voting the next day. I didn’t think too much about it and then Chooch was like, “What’s going on with that pumpkin competition? Did I win, or…?” and I was like, “Oh shit, I didn’t think we were actually in it to win it” which is how you know 2020 has taken a toll on this tried and true Leo, because when have I ever entered a contest without the expectation of winning?!

“Did anyone vote for me?” he asked, and I was like, “I dunno, and I’m not logging on to find out. I’m on vacation!” But then on Instagram, my friend Colleen commented on the pumpkin and said that she voted for it so for a second I felt mildly inspired, enough to text Todd and say, “TODD.”

And then nothing else for a full minute because people love that about me.

“Vote for Chooch’s pumpkin.”

So he did, because hello, people do as I say around those parts.

Then I went back to not caring, aka “enjoying my time off” until later on in the evening when I saw that my friend Megan had texted to say that she and Chooch tied for first place! I actually found out about an hour after Chooch and I had a full-blown screaming match IN PUBLIC on our walk to Dunkin’ Donuts for beverage after dinner, when he tried to take credit for it and I was like, “Yeah, I mean, you carved it but it was my idea” and he was like, “No it was my idea, you just said to make one that said 2020 and I said yeah and we can set it on fire.”

UM – NEGATIVE. Why would I suggest to just carve 2020!? The whole point from the very genesis of the idea was to set it on fire! And if you know me at all, you know that I CANNOT STAND WHEN SOMEONE TAKES CREDIT FOR MY IDEAS EVEN IF THAT SOMEONE IS MY OWN SON, I WILL NOT HAVE IT. So we were actually yelling at each other next to a gas station on a busy street and you know what, I didn’t even care who was watching HONESTLY!! I even turned around and stalked off at one point but then I remembered that I wanted fucking coffee so I came back.

“You’re a typical Leo,” Chooch muttered when we were on our way back with our coffee. “You make everything about you!”

“And you’re a typical Taurus!” I slapped back. “FUCKING STUBBORN! ALSO, YES I MADE THAT ABOUT MYSELF BECAUSE IT WAS MY IDEA AND YOU WERE TAKING CREDIT AND I’M NOT GOING TO STAND THERE AND LET THAT HAPPEN!”

Can you guys see now why I never chose a creative route as a profession? I literally CANNOT work with others when it comes to ideas and creations and whatever.

It was so bad that I even called Henry and asked him to solve it for us since he was in the car when the whole thing was born, and he literally said HE DIDN’T KNOW because he is FUCKING SCARED OF US BOTH.

WOW THIS BLOG POST WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THIS ANGRY YET HERE WE ARE.

Anyway, then I found out that the pumpkin tied for first place and Chooch and I bonded over the fact that OUR JOINT EFFORTS paid off.

I mean it’s just like how I design the serial killer cards and Henry makes them, you know? I come up with ideas and then these fools execute them. The only difference is that Henry doesn’t mouth off like Chooch does.

Sep 082020
 

The day has finally arrived. I’m officially the mom of a ninth grader. This whole online-schooling thing really made it kind of anticlimactic though. There was no making him a lunch (THANK GOD) or sending him off with a new backpack.

Making sure his shoes are tied while I’m running around getting ready for work, making sure my OWN goddamn shoes are tied.

Nope, instead I popped into his room and asked, “Are you like, ready, or whatever?”

He was, but of course the entire school district was having technical difficulties so kids kept getting booted from calls all day. He got booted from his Civics class right when it was his turn to introduce himself, and by the time he got back in, they had moved on to someone else and he was happy about it. I would have been mad. I always liked introducing myself in classes (but typically hated speaking any other time, especially whenever I’d have to read my own writing OH LAWD SCRAPE ME OFF THE FLOOR). I remember on the first day of this Indo European Folktale class I took at Pitt (it was fantastic btw), I blurted out, “AND I JUST FOUND OUT I’M PREGNANT!!” after all of my responsible friends and Henry were like, “OK but let’s wait until you’re at least in the second trimester before making any announcements” and literally the next day I posted on LiveJournal and then branded myself as a weirdo growing a baby in a college class where I was already considered “old” (I was 25, god forbid) and every one stared at me every week like I was a science experiment they were waiting to change.

Another time, I was in a training class for some dumb cable company job and we had to go around and say our name with an adjective starting with the same letter and I was like DYING FOR THEM TO GET TO ME because I didn’t want any other “E” person to steal my word which I don’t think was going to happen because literally no one else cared about this challenge but me and when it was my turn, I stood up and cried, “EFFERVESCENT ERIN!” and everyone glared at me, and it really set the tone for weeks of regular glaring (only from a certain bitter section of the class; I was popular with thw bad kids and that’s all that mattered!)

WOW look at me, making this all about myself.

That’s super unusual and out of character for me.

Anyway, we’re in the middle of making over Chooch’s room but it’s mostly done and already much more comfortable for him than it had been. He had an Ikea loft bed which was really fun for him for several years but obviously he’s outgrown it so Henry dismantled it and now he has a regular bed on the floor and a desk that he doesn’t have to smash his head while ducking underneath his loft bed to access.

(I had definitely banged my own head off his bed many times while attempting to clean off his desk. (Or leave him naggy notes on his white board, lol, no not me.)

His new high school is so STEM-hardcore that he’s taking geometry, Algebra II, biology, and chemistry all in 9th grade. (Geometry and Chemistry this semester, Algebra II and biology next semester.) I mean, I had to take a full school year of each of those and still struggled, so I can only imagine how fast-paced this curriculum is going to be and I only hope that I do not have to get involved with any of it, thanks.

What strange times though. I mean, I’m glad that Pittsburgh Public Schools made the decision to go full-blown online learning (do we not call it cyber school anymore?) for the first semester, especially after seeing so many spikes happen around the country as schools reopen.

So, yay, go 2020-2021 school year. Rah rah rah. Boom boom hiss or whatever.

Aug 282020
 

Chooch starts school (HIGH SCHOOL) on Monday, so we decided to do a tiny road trip to Erie (I mean, it’s only 2 hours away, so yeah – pretty tiny!) today as a last hurrah and to maybe try and make this summer feel like summer, even if only for a few hours. I’ll be back in a few days with a full recap of all the arguments and Henry bullying but for now, here are some photos of my almost-adult, who still would rather build things out of sticks than cooperate with his mother during a fauxtoshoot.

This shirt is from Blvck Cat. They’re an indie horror pin company and you should support them.

Probably thinking about his cat.

He won’t actually pose for me anymore so usually all the shots I get of him are when he’s in mid-something, looking like a mannequin.

Probably contemplating where to shove this.

 I kept saying, “Do something Taemin-esque. Pose like Taemin would” and he was just like, “I will not.”

Well, that’s that. I’m going to go and pass out now because even though it was just a quick day trip, I am clearly off my traveling game because I am absolutely fucking exhausted (and I also still have sand in my shoes, so I should probably attend to that).

Jun 112020
 

I guess today was technically Chooch’s last day of school? Obviously, schools had shut down in March due to COVID-19, and for the first several weeks, curriculum was at a stand still for Pittsburgh public schools. But once the online classes started, Chooch zipped right through it and finished early, and he did it all without me hovering (I had my stupid check-in calls and video chats to worry about, OK!?).

It’s hard to believe that he’s finally done with that school though. Look, it was convenient how it was only a few blocks away and he could walk there, and he ended up having some good relationships with some of the teachers (math, mainly) but I had a lot of issues with that place. Loved the principal though! But the gym teachers sucked, the art teacher was a big cunt (there was a new one for his final year though and he liked her!), the guidance counselor was worthless. And don’t even get Chooch started on the lunch ladies! Hoo boy, he had beef (lol) with them throughout his entire stint at this elementary school.

But now he’s on to (hopefully) greener pastures when he starts Pittsburgh SciTech in August! (Assuming schools will be OK to reopen by then…?) I’m sad that he’s growing up obviously but also really excited to be more involved in his new school (HEY YOU NEVER KNOW, PEOPLE CAN CHANGE!!!) and I know he’s looking forward to being challenged and being around new people.

This afternoon, his favorite teacher (the math one, natch) came by to give him his official graduation certificate thing, a gift bag of treats and gift certificates, and to shove this sign in our yard which Blake excitedly took a selfie with later on. He’s such a proud big brother, I guess, lol.

So yeah, it was a weird way to end the school year, and now he’ll probably be shell-shocked when he has to actually be in a real classroom again. But at least now we’ll be able to officially begin our summer of Breakfast Clubbin’! (Actually, I might wait a few more weeks because eating in a restaurant again has me skeeved out.)

OMG I’m a mom to high schooler, how did this happpppppppppppen!!!!!!!!!!?????????

May 312020
 

Happy Sunday. Here is a collection of things Chooch made last week which is exactly what the name of this blog post alludes.

1. kimchi bokkeumbap

Henry bought Chooch another one of those vegetarian meal kit things and this one included ingredients of “kimchi fried rice” but anyone who knows anything about Korean food knows that this is actually “bokkeumbap” and it’s something that is included at the end of meals in certain restaurants in Korea, where the server will come over and dump all the extra rice and kimchi into a pan at your table and stir that shit up right in front of you. Honestly—restaurants in Korea are next level.

Chooch was mad though because this one came with mushrooms that he had to scrape the “gills” and he hates mushrooms to begin with so it’s always a great sign when you can hear the chef in the kitchen gagging and dry-heaving. Mmmm!!

He picked all the mushrooms out of his own serving lol.

2. Fancy Moroccan Carrot Thing

Another one of the recipes that came in the meal kit was this WONDERFUL carrot thing. I love non-orange carrots so this was very appealing to me. Chooch felt like he cooked the rice too long but it had that wildly desirable crunch-layer to it so I gave it two thumbs up. I love crunchy/mildly-burnt rice! It’s the best part of bibimbap too!

Anyway, Chooch is much better at plating than Henry. It’s awesome to have two people cooking for me now haha.

3. Edible Drew Portrait

Chooch’s final assignment for his gifted art class was to make a mosaic or collage using shit around the house. I thought it would have been a good opportunity to do a portrait of his loving mother using (costume) jewels and flowers, but he ignored me and opted instead on his favorite cat Drew as the subject matter, and used dry goods from the kitchen. 

I mean, it’s technically edible but there is A LOT OF PEPPER, garlic powder, salt and onion powder mixed with cocoa and sprinkles, so…

Anyway, this isn’t actually due until next Friday so I was super impressed that he knocked it out in one sitting, an entire week in advance. Thank god. 

He took a picture so he could turn it in, and then promptly threw it away, lol. 

4. Cats uncomfortable

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this picture of him making our poor cat Penelope uncomfortable.

Welp, that’s all for today. Happy Sunday (did I already say that?). Go hug a tree and be nice to each other. 

May 032020
 

Now that Chooch’s online schooling is in full effect, things have gotten more interesting during STAYATHOME, especially when we both have to be on calls at the same time. For instance, two weeks ago when I was trying to do a WebEx with a coworker in Chicago just as Chooch had to join a call with his Gifted Center sculpting class.

“I dunno, I guess he has to make something out of things found around the house,” I explained to Vicki as Chooch scoffed in irritation at me and took his call onto the back porch.

Somehow, this turned into a partner-project, because Chooch is just as helpless as me but when we join forces, we can sort of get things done, leaving about 75% of the rest “for Dad.” I remembered that I had a container of craft bullshit under my bed which also happens to contain a bunch of serial killer cut-outs from when I used to handmake my serial killer cards back in the day. So out of everything in that container, Chooch came down with a picture of Ted Bundy’s head and a piece of white foam paper.

“I’m going to make a white VW with Ted Bundy inside,” Chooch said with a shrug. And then added, “I know that’s the exact car he drove because I watched that Ted Bundy movie.”

And he watched that movie because way back in Week One of Isolation, when I still had energy and motivation and tried to make a school schedule for him, one of MOMMY’S ASSIGNMENTS was to watch a documentary. “Can’t I just watch this Zac Efron Ted Bundy movie? That’s kind of like a documentary” and I gave in pretty easily because I had my own shit to do. BUT SEE?! It ended up having value! My teaching skills are on point, you guys.

He grabbed the box that my vintage lightswitch plate was shipped in, thinking he could use that as a shadowbox-type thing. I found a pair of never-used chopsticks from Noodles & Co (we have an entire drawer full of good chopsticks that we use!), so I flung those at him and shrugged. You never know!

I was sitting at the desk, working, during all of this when I noticed a toy T-Rex that I had spray-painted gold years ago when I was making dinosaur ring-holders (I go through phases) was standing in front of me so I tossed that at him and said, “Here, you can use this too.”

Then he found out that the project was actually a mobile, so the chopsticks were perfect after all! And he decided for a third item to make a model of the coronavirus out of clay and thus, the Dangerous Things mobile was born.

Of course, he left everything in an unfinished heap on the table for a week until late Thursday night when he pulled Henry out of bed because he needed help attaching the mobile to the top of the box, lol. Henry was so happy to help, as always!

Everything was all well and good after that. He snapped a picture and posted it to the classroom message board or whatever it is that they’re using, thinking that would be the end of it.

But then the next day, he had another group call, which turned into a VIDEO CALL so that everyone could share and explain their projects. We both started panicking because he didn’t really put much effort into this and now he was going to have to be like “say hello to Ted Bundy” and I don’t know this teacher and sometimes I really don’t think like a real mother when I’m like, “YES THESE ARE GREAT IDEAS THAT ARE NOT CONTROVERSIAL OR PROBLEMATIC AT THE VERY LEAST FOR 13-YEAR-OLDS, DO IT! HERE’S A SEVERED FINGER THAT YOU CAN ADD TOO!”

I sat there, trying to work, while listening to this call happening behind me, and this one totally suck-up kid was like HERE IS THIS DELIGHTFUL MOBILE THAT I MADE FOR MY MOTHER FOR MOTHER’S DAY of stfu are you kidding me, that’s an instant A. Art teachers lap that shit-milk up!

Chooch and I exchanged horrified looks.

“I can’t show this” he said at the same time I said, “You can’t show that.”

But then some other kid went after that and her’s was just like, a string of crumbled crepe paper so I said, “OK look – yours is better than that one so I guess just go ahead and show it” and he was like, “Christ.” But he did it and I had to get up and walk away at one point because I couldn’t stop laughing.

I had stopped recording right as she said, “Well Riley, I’ve gotta say, this is really unique and creative, the most unique one yet” which, I have to say, as his mom, it felt like she was saying that to me and I did the Champion Fist Shake over both shoulders right there at my makeshift work desk.

Oh man, that was a great moment which made up for all the trash moments during the earlier parts of the week.

I wish his old art teacher at his regular school could see it. She was such a bitch to him.

Later that day, the teacher sent everyone their project evaluations and instead of being pleased that he earned a 25/25, all he could fixate on was that said that she loved “Jeffrey Dahmer in his car” and Chooch flipped out and was like OK BUT IT WAS TED BUNDY.

Apr 262020
 

 

Even though we weren’t able to do anything outrageous for Chooch’s birthday yesterday, I’m sure it will still be memorable for him simply because of pandemic times. But you know, it really wasn’t too bad of a day. For one thing, the weather forecast called for all-day rain for Saturday, but it ended up being a BEAUTIFUL spring day!

We went to Jefferson Memorial for a quick “14th Birthday” photoshoot, but there were actually quite a lot of people there so we had to be quick in order to get the hell out of there.

In all of the years I’ve been taking pictures at this pond area, I have never had to contend with lollygaggers, but it was the place to be on Saturday.

This worked to Chooch’s advantage though because he was trying to get this over with as quickly as possible. Also, Henry didn’t bring any of my other camera lenses, so I ended up just using my phone. Thanks, Henry. Wouldn’t be a photoshoot without a heated argument!

Chooch won me that stuffed character in Seoul, and his mask is also Korean. #represent

The balloon was just from Giant Eagle, though.

One of my friends made a comment on Instagram about how they can’t believe it’s been 14 years already (it’s funny how many of my LiveJournal friends especially say this because they virtually went through my entire pregnancy with me!) and I was like, “Oh I know, it’s so weird how he keeps aging and I’m just over here still being 26.”

And another of my old LJ friends, Jeri, made a similar comment which brought back this strong wave of memories from when I found out that I was pregnant and had a three-way call with her and our other friend Kelly and Jeri was like, “This is very exciting but you should wait until you’re at least out of your first trimester before publicly announcing anything” and I was lie, “That is very sage advice, thank you Jeri” and meanwhile, the very next day, I was like, “DEAR LIVEJOURNAL, YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE IT….”

Man, LiveJournal was so major in my life. I might not use it anymore, but I have some really solid friendships that have survived time and distance and I will forever be grateful for LiveJournal for that. Even to this day, if I mention a name that Chooch isn’t familiar with “irl,” he’ll go, “LiveJournal?” and I’ll just nod.

I think we’ve done a fairly decent job getting him to 14! I remember when he was a baby, thinking that I wasn’t doing enough, because I wasn’t signing us up for Mommy & Me classes or whatever, but it ended up OK after all. I eventually learned that everyone has a different parenting style and I think mine is just very…I dunno…relaxed and casual? I mean, sure, he started swearing when he was like, 2, but we always just stressed that he couldn’t talk like that outside of the house, and lo—he’s made it all the way through 8th grade without us ever getting a phone call about him cussing out a gym teacher or whatever. Never even slipped in front of his grandma!

I mean, they’re just words.

Wow, I’m really getting derailed.

What if I wrote a parenting book. LOL.

So, Chooch’s present was supposed to be a weekend at Canada’s Wonderland but, you know, quarantine. Man, if it had me when I was 14, I’d probably have smashed some porcelain figurines and cut myself or something if birthday plans were ruined, but he definitely was gifted the “shrug it off” gene from Henry. He never once pouted or complained yesterday about being stuck at home.

We promised that we’ll go to Canada’s Wonderland later, when it’s safer. And in the meantime, we got him some small gifts, like a set of Apeach dishwashing gloves (he won’t wash dishes without gloves, and Apeach is his favorite Kakao Friends character). He also got Apeach pot holders, a three-recipe vegetarian Hello Fresh box, and a food processor, because all he cares about lately is kitchen stuff.

Then he had a virtual Netflix party with his friends Trevor and Santana, so at least there were options for him to celebrate with friends while still practicing social distancing.

And he baked his own birthday cake! It was strawberry, and while his frosting skills still need honed, it tasted fantastic!

He was so proud!

I gotta say, I don’t hate Chooch’s newfound interest in baking. Thank you, coronavirus….?

And then today was the pick-up day for the vegan pints we pre-ordered from Sugar Spell, so we got to drag his birthday celebrations out for one extra day.

All-in-all, not the worst 14th birthday, I guess! And I didn’t even have any phantom C-section incision pains all day!

Apr 242020
 

Guys, hold the phone – tomorrow is Chooch’s 14th birthday so I’m devoting today’s Friday Five to my five favorite birthday parties that I threw him hahaha because it’s all about me, why bother asking him for his opinion?!

It’s going to be weird not having a party for him tomorrow or taking him to dinner at the very least, but we will make the best of it and for as much as I scream at him for acting spoiled, he’s actually not that bad (considering who his mother is) and he’s pretty content with laying low and having a Netflix Party with some of his friends. 14 is a weird age, anyway.

OK, in no particular order, here are some of the birthday parties he’s had! Click on the links to go to the original blog post for each party, where you can see more pictures and probably multiple paragraphs where I complain about how stressed out I was, make me a martyr already.

  1. Rollerskating Party

This is kind of weird to include this one on the list because it was his first birthday party right after the BLOG CONTROVERSY at his old Catholic school wherein I wrote about some of the bitch-moms and they found it and there was a confrontation and shit got real and then they punished me by not letting their kids go to his party, because yes – I’m the one who suffered there. Some of the kids did still come, but we had a lot of friends who turned this into one of the most funnest parties ever! We rented out the roller rink and even though one of my friend’s son’s fell and broke his wrist, it was quite a nice 6th birthday!

We had become pals with the people who ran the rink at the time (it was since taken over by some not-great people with questionable beliefs so we don’t go there anymore), and they were so generous with their contributions to the party!

2. THE CAT PARTY!!

I was so proud of how this party turned out! We had all kinds of cat-themed food and games and a cat-themed photo booth and so many people came and Lisa’s baby puked on Janna and Bill had a feud with a kid and stole one of his toys and threw it out when he was in the porta-john, and seriously, when I think back on these parties, I love my friends so much, lol.

Bill and Jessi came all the way from Michigan (I mean, this can be said for nearly every one of Chooch’s birthday parties though, they are legit family to us, man) and it was so much fun decorating cat cookies the night before. Party prep is so much more tolerable when you’re drinking with friends!

This party was a great blend of friends, family, and Chooch’s school friends. Let’s be real though, his real friends are my friends, which should be annoying to me but I guess I’m OK with sharing my friends with him. (Most of them like him better than me anyway, lol!)

3. The Disney Shocker

For Chooch’s 10th birthday, we took him on a surprise road trip to Disney World. He thought we were going to visit Henry’s “Uncle Walt” right up until we arrived in the parking lot of Disney, he’s so dense. This one was really hard for us to pull off because we are not rich people and, you know, Disney ain’t cheap, yo. We were even less rich 4 years ago so it was nothing short of a miracle that we managed to scrounge together the funds to make this happen. He was so happy though and this honestly was such a huge win for us as parents. I love giving the gift of EXPERIENCE!!

4. The Zombie Party

cake

I just remember that a bunch of people showed up for this at my mom’s house and we had a little graveyard set up where people could get their photos taken and Bill accidentally scared Chooch too hard and made him cry, which was promptly added to the list of Times Bill Accidentally Made My Kid Cry (surprisingly, many times, but they are still best douche-cups for life!).

billchoochfeast

I’m pretty sure I have a picture of Chooch crying on the actual blog post, so you don’t forget to click those hyperlinks!

charlievictim

My friends are such great sports!

kara

Kara and her son Harland, who I can barely remember ever being that tiny!! He’s so tall now!

I’ll also remember this as the day my friend Christy (Chooch’s godmother) told me she was pregnant with twins!

5. The Surprise Butterfly Party

IMG_0614

For Chooch’s 11th party, I realized that while we had that surprise birthday trip to Disney, we never actually had a surprise PARTY for Chooch. And I used to be the QUEEN of throwing surprise parties! It was like, my thing back in the day, to the point where probably everyone expected one eventually. But look, you have to know this thing about me: I thrive on taking things that people HATE and using those as themes because I’m fucking rotten.

TO THE CORE.

I mean, I have a rotten apple tattooed on my arm for God’s sake.

My child is not exempt from my devious ways.

Anyway, he was surprised and annoyed all at once, and then happy when he looked around and saw the people who were here but tried to play it off by saying he was just happy for getting a balloon, because he resorts to untimely awkwardness just like his dad.

Oh wait, I mean, his mom.

Tomorrow will be low-key, but I will still try to make his 14th memorable. I mean, turning 14 during a pandemic is memorable in and of itself, I guess.

Mar 192020
 

THE WINDOW” 

Hound at my window

Barking at the passersby

Comfortable he sits

Image result for dog at window

THE DOG PARK”

Arlie Dog Park sits

Filled with dogs on the daily

How I wish to go

Image result for DOG PARK WITH MANY DOGS

“THE MAILMAN”

Charlie sits right there

On the mat by the front door

For that darned mailman

Image result for dog at door waiting for mailman

“UNTITLED”

Petrified and scared

Standoff with outdoor rodents

SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL!

Image result for dog staring at squirrel

“BELLY RUBS”

I lay belly-up

Hoping for Master to come

I need belly rubs

Image result for dog waiting for belly rubs

 

Mar 162020
 

Hi, it’s me. Erin. Since Pennsylvania schools are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, I gave Chooch some writing assignments because I’ll be damned if his mind is going to subsist on YouTube videos and Switch games during this time. But then the school provided assignment packets so I guess I’ll lighten up a bit. Today, he has written about his favorite Korean dish, bibimbap, and he actually didn’t complain!

Bibimbap (비빔밥). Where do I even start. The Korean dish filled with crispy rice, sauteed vegetables, meat, or meat substitute, gochujang, sesame oil, and the best part, in my opinion, the egg. Bibimbap, in Korean, means: bibim: mixed together; bap: rice.

Well, I guess we can start off with a little history lesson. It is estimated that bibimbap was created in the 10th century in the Koryo dynasty by the wives of farmers who were just too busy to serve a large traditional Korean meal. Now in present day Korea, many families eat this common dish by using leftovers and mixing it together to create this fantastic meal.

Now, I have had many bibimbaps, but the best one I ever had had to be the one we had on our tour to the DMZ, or demilitarized zone. I don’t know why I loved it so much. It could have been the crispy rice, or the just perfect egg, or maybe even the delectable seaweed. Whatever it was made it very easy for me to just devour the whole Dolsot bowl.

There are many kinds of bibimbap, but the two most common are bibimbap and Dolsot bibimbap. Bibimbap is served at room temperature, while Dolsot is served in a hot pot keeping it nice and crispy while you eat it. It also differs from the region you are in, for example in Busan, we got to crack our own egg into our bibimbap and it also wasn’t served with gochujang (spicy red pepper paste).

We also had another kind of bibimbap in Jeonju, or the hometown of bibimbap. The one I had was basically just the original bibimbap, but with cheese melting on the top. I thought it was very good, because prior to my consumption of it, I was totally hangry. There is a trick to eating the Dolsot bibimbap, though. If you stir the vegetables, but keep the rice at the bottom, the rice will be crispy by the time you eat all the vegetables and it will taste 200% better, or if you add gochujang it starts to taste otherworldly.

Here I am eating bibimbap on my last day in Korea, so sad. ;-;

I did like every bibimbap I had in Korea, don’t get me wrong, but nothing compares to the DMZ one. So, if I were to make a bibimbap, I would choose Maanchi’s recipe,

But, without the meat!

Feb 152020
 

For a little pre-Valentine’s Day treat, my coworker Joyce added a picture of TOP from BIGBANG to our daily Roll Call email. She always includes a meme or something in every Roll Call but this was unexpected! It’s also pretty hilarious because she’s one our colleagues who work in the Chicago office, but I have still managed to sprinkle her with a bit of kpop powder without even needing to see her everyday!

And then for some reason, another coworker, Marlene, emailed me because she randomly found out that she shares a birthday with ANOTHER BIGBANG member, Taeyang. I will turn our whole department into VIPs* one of these days. 

*(BIGBANG fans.)

I think that selling Valentines has me somewhat desensitized to, well, serial killers, but also the actual concept of Valentine’s Day. Henry and I spend so much time hustling to make sure other people get their cards that we don’t always remember each other. 

Um, I know that I for one totally shit the bed when it came to whipping anything up for Henry. And I assumed he had also dropped the ball, until I got to work yesterday and pulled out a card he had tucked inside my SuperM bag.

I admit, this had major shock-value when I pulled it out of the envelope and saw a close-up of Henry’s mug, but then I noticed the finger-hearts! And then I opened it…

…and saw that he wrote “I love you” in Hangul! “OMG I hate him!” I laugh-yelled, and then showed Carrie, who was like, “*TEARS*” and then I kind of got tear-eyed, too?! I AM BROKEN. 

Apparently, Henry made this the other night while I was sitting in the other room thinking that he was just making actual orders from our shop. I am so oblivious!

We didn’t exchange gifts or anything but Henry was a nice man and went to Sugar Spell Scoops after dinner last night and picked up some scoops to go. I got one scoop of purple sweet potato which was so wonderful that I can’t even think of any good words to describe it other than SMOOTH, MAN, REAL SMOOTH. I am such a huge fan of vegetables-turned-into-dessert, like: carrot cake, carrot pie (!!!!), zucchini pie, etc etc. So when ice cream is made with shit like butternut squash or corn, things like that, I will opt for that over chocolate-y flavors every single time. This scoop was so pleasing and I wish it was on regular rotation!

The second scoop was a strawberry rose with tiny white chocolate chips, and I was worried that it would too tart, too sweet, too floral, but it was the perfect balance of all three, and those little chips really took the flavor to brand new heights. At first, I was like, “I will just eat half of each and save the rest for tomorrow,” but wow look at that, all gone.

Anyway, there was one thing that happened yesterday that took what would have been a fine, but maybe not too memorable, Valentine’s Day and punted it into ONE FOR THE SCRAPBOOKS:

Let me back up.

Living in the city of Pittsburgh means that choosing a high school for your kid can almost be like college-lite. We could do nothing and he would automatically become enrolled in Brashear, which has a seriously bad reputation and even if it may be less bad than it has been, it’s one of those schools that will probably always have a bad connotation to its name. So for Chooch’s entire life, we have been having frantic conversations about how to prepare for this. Should we try to move? We like living in the city, and even moving to a different part of the city might not really solve anything because then he’d just end up in another just-as-bad school. I always had a dream of him going to CAPA, which is our creative and performing arts school. I always felt like he could get into the writing program, but he fought me tooth and nail on it and very early on was like, “Look that is not what I want to do” and I had to get myself into check as I realized that I was sincerely starting to sound like my grandmother. And also I had to admit to myself that I only wanted him to go there because I had wished I had gone there in high school, lol. Oh, being That Mom is a lot of fun.

But I’ll never forget his fifth grade teacher telling us, “Look, your kid? He’s a math whiz. You gotta send him to SciTech. He’s your ticket to a beach house.” 

The beach house part is especially what I remember, haha.

I knew that Chooch had always gotten As in math and science, but I had no idea that he actually enjoyed those classes. Not until that day, in that teacher’s room. And it’s true – he fucking adores math and does it for fun on his own time. So, he applied to SciTech last fall and then we waited. 

I don’t think he cared nearly as much as me, but it was something I would think about everyday. “What happens if he doesn’t get in?” “Will Brashear break him?” Granted, he applied to another school, as well, and either one of those would have been fan-fucking-tastic. 

Henry always gets pictures of our mail emailed to him from the post office because he’s a weirdo, but it was beneficial yesterday when he saw that one of the letters was from the Pgh Public Schools. My pulse quickened. I had that “Waiting to get called into the office” feeling ALL DAY. Henry kept texting Blake to ask him to check for the mail, which usually comes around 9:00am but of course on this day it didn’t get delivered until the afternoon. So Henry texted Chooch and was like, “Go home after school before you go to the teen center and open that letter.” So Chooch did and said he was going to wait for us to get home before he opened it and I was like YOU TELL THAT SON OF A BITCH TO OPEN THAT LETTER RIGHT THIS MINUTE, I CANNOT WAIT 3 MORE HOURS!!! So he opened it.

And it was from SciTech.

He got it.

I burst into tears as soon as Chooch texted me a picture of the letter. A million pounds of inner-city dread was removed from my chest. Apparently, Brashear had more arrests last year than other Pittsburgh school (my resource for that fact is Henry; I don’t feel like Googling to see if it’s true, lol). Look, I know in this day and age, no school is safe. It fucking sucks to even have to think this way. But SciTech will give him a better chance for a good education, and it’s right by the University of Pittsburgh campus and he loves it there—he can walk to the main branch of the Carnegie Library, for Christ’s sake! He has multiple bubble tea options! THE CATHEDRAL OF LEARNING IS ACROSS THE STREET. 

His emotions are mixed right now, and I get it. He’s going to be separated from a lot of his friends after this year, and he was also hoping to get into the other school he applied to, because he knows a lot of kids there through the Gifted Center. But then after he went to the teen center last night, he found out his friend Zack also got into SciTech, so now he’s loosening up a little bit and he’s starting to get excited about it, like he used to be when we would talk about it when it was still so far away to really feel like a possibility. 

Also, he had to write two essays for this application, and I have no idea what they said because he submitted it without showing us. He is too independent sometimes! We have barely had to help him with anything, aside from the occasional project which required the purchase of poster board and other craft shit. But his homework? Never once had to help. Never even have to micromanage him to make sure he’s doing it. I don’t know how we get away with that for this long, but I can only hope it continues through high school because I do NOT want to help with high school shit, lol. 

He told me that one of the things he put in his essay was that he hoped SciTech could help him stay on the right path toward a bright future, where he can have a successful career in order to buy his mom a pension in South Korea. So, basically, there’s that beach house. <3

On that note, here’s a song that’s perfect for 2/14:

https://youtu.be/HnMuCf2XR-M

Nov 212019
 

I’m still processing my thoughts (i.e. trying to piece my heart back together #sodramatic) so I’m handing this bitchblog over to Chooch, who is going to share his favorite part of the SuperM concert. HAVE AT IT, SONNY BOY.

*****

The tour was overall an astonishing concert, but there was one part, the one part that changed it all:

the main reason in particular that I enjoyed Lucas’ portion of the night was because of the cute background video of him dancing. Not only this though, but also because the song is just, in general, good. Now this song is stuck in my head… good luck! I used a video from Chicago because of the better quality sound and view of the background.

Nov 182019
 

Friday afternoon, I got a text from Henry that said Chooch got a 4.0, which is something that is more easily attainable for him now that the SHITTIEST ART TEACHER AROUND left and the school actually got a competent replacement who seems to be doing a great job because my kid went from loathing art to actually enjoying it again like he used to when when was much younger. That old teacher was SUCH A BITCH and gave him his first C ever last year because she grades subjectively, which is a bunch of bullshit for middle school.

(Plus, she didn’t like him for god only knows why. I was there in 6th grade for open house and she conveniently “had to go to a meeting” when we walked into her classroom. She was real fucking sketchy about it too.)

So even though Chooch is always on the high honor roll, that broad’s stupid art class would usually drag him down. What a dumb bitch.

Anyway, when Henry told me the news, I was like, “Great now we’re going to have to take him to dinner and he’s going to pick something stupid like Eat n Park and if that happens, I’m not going. I should get to choose because I’m the reason he’s smart to begin with!”

“There it is,” Glenn mumbled when I finished my rant at work. “I knew you’d find a way to make this about yourself.”

I mean, duh.

And of course, the first place Chooch suggested was Eat n Park and I was like, “PLEASE PICK A BETTER PLACE, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!” and after considering it for a few seconds, he said, “Well, I do kind of want Italian….”

“OK COOL SO TILLIE’S IT IS!” I declared, and Chooch was like, “Ooh yeah, Tillie’s!” like this was the best idea he’s ever heard in his whole life and I gratuitously blew on my fingernails while reminding him that I’m the brains of the household.

I will use any excuse to go to Tillie’s though. I have never had a bad experience there – it’s cozy, the service is always wonderful, and they have the best gnocchi in town, you can go on and fucking fight me if you disagree.

For some reason, my family never ate here when I was growing up, and we lived semi-nearby. I actually had never even heard of it until my friend Heather took me here for my 19th birthday and I was HOOKED. It’s not a fancy restaurant by any means, and you’ll usually see a mix of people in hoodies and old men in sports coats, but the food makes you feel like the richest person. Do you know what I mean? Like you’re on vacation in actual Italy and some old broad is slinging some authentic noods on a plate and capping it off with a healthy ladle of family secret tomato sauce.

It’s just good, yo.

When Chooch was really little though, he didn’t like it here because it “stank.”

It was the spaghetti sauce he was smelling and it didn’t “stink” – it makes you feel like you are taking a nap on a soft ravioli after being tucked in by a layer of wet tomatoes…OK maybe that sounds weird, but that smell always makes me feel warm and comforted!

Henry got a new flannel, finally.

It was on sale at Penney’s. He’s thrifty.

I think Henry was just happy that we picked Tillie’s and not some place that has bicycle parking and a roomful of kombucha-speckled handlebar mustaches.

You know your heads are still in Korea when your son thinks the gnocchi looks like tteokbokki, so now he calls it potato tteokbokki. I was so happy to be shoveling these little potato pillows in my mouth but apparently my stomach can no longer take on as much as it used to be able to because I felt like I was going to burst when I was halfway through.

Chooch got fettucine alfredo (classic) and Henry got a personal pizza, which is always super good at Tillie’s. We had a really nice time together, so thank you, Child, for being a brainiac and giving us a reason to go to Tillie’s. Not that we needed a reason, but going to Tillie’s is always more fun when you’re celebrating something.

I found out the next day that when Chooch went to the bathroom, some guy was in there peeing with his pants all the way down to the floor and Chooch saw his ass and then had me doubled over in laughter when he gave me the painful recap. I love hearing about Chooch’s adventures in public restrooms. I wish he would start a blog about it.

I look like a creep here but that’s fine. I can’t change my face, even though this morning I had a low self-esteem freak out and screamed about wanting to lose 30 million more pounds and having surgery to remove all of my weird parts and Henry said, “….so, your brain?” but I was thinking more along the lines of my entire face, but hey, that’s a (un-)wellness post for another day, I guess!

And on that note, I am going for a walk. I was off today because we were at the SuperM concert in Fairfax, VA last night and I have a lot of thoughts to sort through and wow, I just realized that I’m crying lol time to punch myself in the face.

Oct 292019
 

After taking photos of Wendy’s daughter a few weeks ago, I decided that I should try to use my dumb camera more often because that shit wasn’t free. So I waited until Chooch got nice and cozy at the computer Sunday evening and then said, “Oh yeah, I want to take some portraits of you, go put on something presentable.”

He was thrill-to-the-e-d.

Over the summer, Chooch went to the pool with his pal Marky and I was like, “DON’T FORGET TO PUT ON YOUR SUNSCREEN!” and he did that know-it-all scoff that he does all the time now that he knows it all, and then SOMEHOW, even though he SWEARS he put IT ON, he got the worst sunburn OF HIS LIFE (his back was lobster-red except for two perfect hand-prints on his lower back, so now I know his method of applying sunscreen). Anyway, the sunburn on his face was so bad that he looked like Freddy Kreuger when it was at its peak nastiness, to the point where I wouldn’t leave the house with him because he was so embarrassing.

Yeah, I’m that kind of mom.

So, that was awful, and now he has a veritable constellation of freckles on his cheeks to remind us of the awesome parenting job we’re doing.

“When I get my first paycheck, like at my real job not the one I’m getting next year as soon as I turn 14 and get a permit, I’m going to a home store and buying a chair. One that I have to put together!” Chooch (13), dreaming bigly.

Here in the Erin Photography Studio, we keep it real and leave the lint and cat fur on the wardrobe.

There was some dumb couple walking their dog and gawking at us like they’re never seen a mom barking orders like, “LOOK MOODY! STAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, WHO CARES ABOUT TRAFFIC! I WON’T FEED YOU TOMORROW IF YOU DON’T COOPERATE! YOU’LL SLEEP ON BROKEN GLASS TONIGHT, BUDDY BOY!!!” at her portrait subject.

We got this corgi shirt in Harajuku and I don’t want him to ever grow out of it because it’s amazing. He also wore it on school picture day and I hope he didn’t ruin the picture with a dumb smile but TIME WILL TELL.

“It’ll be fine – if a car comes, it will probably see you and stop.”

My favorite thing about taking pictures of Chooch is that he always resists but then  2 minutes into it, he’s all, “OH MOM, TAKE A PICTURE OF ME OVER HERE! TAKE A PICTURE OF ME PARKOURING! TAKE A PICTURE OF POSING NEXT TO THIS SPORTS CAR!” and then I’m always like, “NO THAT IS STUPID. STAND LIKE G-DRAGON WOULD STAND, LIKE YOU’RE ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN OF MONEY AND CHOCO PIES.”

On our way back to our house, we saw Bob and the neighborhood Corgi celeb, Spencer!

I explained to Bob what we were doing, and he suggested that Chooch get his picture with a real Corgi, and Spencer happily obliged. Those two are soulmates.

And that has been my blog post of pictures and words.

Oct 152019
 

My friend Wendy wanted me to take portraits of her daughter last weekend and I had some mild internal panicking because I have not used the “good camera” in a good long while, so about an hour before I had to leave (OK, maybe it was more like 30 minutes) I called Chooch home from his brother’s house and made him sit on the front steps for 3 minutes while I snapped some pictures in hopes of suddenly regaining some lost fake-talent.

I should probably start forcing Chooch into photoshoots again. That camera was not cheap and I barely use it!

Anyway, this has been a short “Here is what my 13-year-old son looks like through a lens that’s not attached to an iPhone or an on-ride camera at an amusement park” blog post.