Oct 242021
 

I just feel like doing a good ol’ fashioned free-form post today to clear my mind so that’s, that’s just what we’re going to do. Because I said so.

Chooch didn’t have school last Monday, and I was CONVENIENTLY off work (he was like, “YOU DID THIS ON PURPOSE” – who? me?) so I woke his ass up early-ish because I wanted to go out for breakfast. We didn’t have a single BREAKFAST CLUB MEETING all summer because I didn’t feel like fighting to wake him up early and also because…apathy.

But I had been wanting to go to Mediterra Cafe in Mt, Lebanon for quite some time and Monday seemed like JUST THE DAY FOR IT. I already knew that I wanted the 4-Grain Porridge because I love feeling like a fairy tale bitch eating a hot bowl of sludge on a toadstool in the forest. And this shit always fills me up more than more decadent offerings.

Idiot Chooch was like, “I DUNNO, I GUESS THE BREAKFAST SANDWICH” because he is 15 and is unable to do more than just glance at a menu and pick the first meatless thing he sees. I’m surprised he was able to lift his face up from his stupid Discord chat long enough to get his eyes to focus on off-screen words.

Can we talk about this pumpkin spice latte, though? It cost the big bougie bucks and I initially blanched at that because I’m not the biggest PSL (ugh) fan, and I think that Starbucks’ is especially overrated. But this? HOLY. FUCKING. COW. (Literally have never said that in my life, btw, but this latte brings out the potty-mouthed farmgirl side of me I guess.) This was so rich and smooth, none of that synthetic syrup flavoring, with actual SPICES in it. I love a cafe that makes their own pumpkin spice lattes!

I literally have not been able to stop thinking about this cup of hot pumpkin-patched heaven since Monday. I gotta get back there. I’m off all this week so if anyone wants to meet me out there at any point, holler at me, she said into the void.

The only downside to this is that my company left much to be desired. 15-year-olds, man. You just never know what you’re going to get. Some days he can be so talkative and willing to share details of his life, like how some of his friends are having this really stupid feud, or he’ll show me the website he’s been designing for his coding class without me having to ask. Other days, you can’t even ask him a simple question, like, “Are you hungry?” without having your head lopped off with his scythe-tongued retorts. Woo hoo, these years are awesome! My mom was like, “This is payback” but joke’s on her because he’s not even a tiny bit as terrible and gruesome and volatile I was at that age, so.

I mean, I think 15 was the age my mom called the cops on me and tried to have me committed, and I haven’t had to do that to Chooch yet so I think I’m winning this game.

In other Chooch news though, he has been a work-horse for McDonald’s! Part of me can’t believe he’s so into this, but then I remember how money-motivated he is and all the years he spent playing games like Diner Dash and whatever, which has clearly prepared him for the real thing. Lol. He asked to work the max amount of hours allowed for a minor but you can bet your apple-bottomed ass that I am keeping a close eye on this and the second it starts to affect his schoolwork, Mommy’s stepping in.

Anyway, he was on Drive-Thru yesterday and asked us to stop by.

Why is he like this!??! Henry was like, “Doesn’t he know there are cameras everywhere? Idiot.” Lol. Anyway, he reminds me so much of how my brother Ryan was at that age, it’s almost uncanny at times, although I don’t remember Ryan having such a shitty attitude, lol.

Oh and for all that “independent son” talk I have been spitting lately, he lost his work visor (“I left it on my floor so I would know where it was!” he screamed, and like—oh well?) and that thing Henry handed him in the video is a one-time trolley ticket thingie because DUMB ASS lost his student ID which he also needs to ride public transportation for free, so that’s actually the whole reason we were visiting him because I said, “Look bud, MOMMY AND DADDY are going to a haunted house tonight so don’t be calling us to cart your ass home.” Parenting is a fun time.

In NATURE NEWS: We have been terrorized by a family of BLUE JAYS and now Henry is having to buy twice as much peanuts because it’s like fucking hunger games out there between these Blue Jay assholes and my beloved squirrels. Henry was like, “Maybe we should see what blue jays like to eat so they’ll leave the peanuts alone” and I was like OK LET ME RESEARCH THAT SHIT, HEY GOOGLE… and of course what I discovered was:

PEANUTS ABOVE ALL ELSE ARE IRRESISTABLE TO THE LITTLE FUCKERS.

I mean at first it was cool. Like, woo hoo there is a blue jay, wow, oooh. But now they come in trios and they scream bloody murder out there. Like good Lord, take the fucking peanut and leave, you greedy bastards.

So now we’re trying to devise an anti-blue jay feeder for the squirrels, literally the reverse of what people are usually trying to accomplish lol. I just love my squirrels so much! They have been a big bright spot in my life during pandemic times.

And the cats are just like FUCK OUR LIVES.

What else. I finished Season 3 of In The Dark. WHAT A RIDE. That show is so ridiculous and implausible but the cast keeps me coming back. And I just found out it was renewed for a fourth season!! I also started Season 3 of You yesterday so I’ll be dipping into that some more while I’m off for my annual HALLOCATION this week. I dunno what else I’m going to do with myself because the weather is supposed to be dreary and rainy so my plan to go on a million walks has a huge hole in it now. Maybe…mall walks? Lol OMG I’m such an Elder.

Really loving CL’s new music! Here is a great one for you to enjoy on this lovely October Sunday:

She is the fucking queen, legitimately.

My life lately just consists of work, squirrels, and haunted houses. My hand has been straight cramped this month from all the actual writing I’ve been doing in my haunted house journal. It feels so good to be doing this again after taking the 2020 season off because of Covid/not being vaccinated. It’s also been fun going to some with just Henry this season too because it makes me feel like Erin & Henry: The Early Years. We actually first started dating exclusively in the fall of 2001 and I wonder if he was just like, “OK cool, we will go to 2 or 3 haunted houses, I guess” when I was like, “Just an FYI, I am OBSESSED with haunted houses.” And then BAM, I’m presenting him with a list of haunted houses, prices, and dates found in my annual Internet haunt research, while I’m dusting off my haunted house journal.

Like no, dude. I don’t just “like” things. I FUCKING LIVE/EAT/BREATHE things or hate things. There is no in-between.

Well, on that note, I have some stuff to do around the house, things to recap in said haunted house journal, rainy walks to take, books to read, and a haunted house to go to tonight. So ciao for now!

Sep 232021
 

Now that Chooch is back to school IRL, F2F, old school, however you want to say it, he’s been having to commute like a real life office worker. It’s the dumbest thing – his school is part of the Pittsburgh public school system but because of school bus driver shortages (this predates the pandemic BTW because we were already having to prepare for this for when he started high school in 2020), students at his school are required to take PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Chooch has mastered some pretty major subway systems in his short 15 years, so that wasn’t the concern for me, it was mostly the fact that getting to school requires one transfer no matter what, and he’s have to leave the house before 6AM to ensure he wasn’t late, which is ludicrous for a high school kid. Plus, I worried that he’d fall asleep and miss his stop/transfer/whatever.

Getting home is a piece of cake because he can basically get on any bus outside of his school that is going downtown, and he has numerous places where he can get off downtown and take the T home (way more convenient than buses). And he can take his time too, and oh, believe me, he has been. He and his new gang of friends have been cavorting around Oakland, trying to blend in with all the Pitt students, going to cafes, going to the main branch of the Carnegie library, eating at food trucks. He’s living the teenage dream, you guys, truly.

It’s only a 15 minute drive to Oakland from our house, so I’ve mom’d up (after years and years and years of him only having to walk two blocks to his old school, this is so hard for meeeeeee and me and me and me and only meeeeeee) and have been driving him to school every morning. It really isn’t that bad because I am a total morning person anyway and actually enjoy having a reason to get up an hour earlier. However, Chooch is NOT a morning person so nearly every car ride is peppered with vitriol and teenage angst (from both parties). He mostly just sits there texting his friends whom he will see in a short 20 minutes while responding to all my conversation starters with grunts and snotty quips.

Basically, he so very effortlessly makes me feel like the biggest loser while slumped in his seat like a sack of 15-year-old hormones spritzed with Axe Body Spray and superiority syndrome – it’s great!

Usually, I have Spotify playing BUT one day two weeks ago, I stupidly started driving with the radio on. Henry was the last one in the car and had left it on 100.7 which is just super annoying Top 40 but somehow more geared to soccer moms. I absolutely hate every song that comes on. That one song about date night at Applebee’s?!!? The first time I heard it, I was screaming and called Henry after Chooch got out of the car so I could bitch about it.

“Oh, I knew exactly what song it was going to be before you even told me,” he laughed.

That song is a disgrace to the act of hearing, like a total FUCK YOU to the collective cochlea worldwide.

And then there is some god-awful duet with Miley Cyrus and some dude? OMG kill me. That song is an abomination! You know I hate Miley Cyrus to begin with, but this song makes me want to donkey kick her in the throat. Both of these people sound like they have a skin of phlegm that desperately needs trucker-belched into the nearest spittoon.

All it took was one commute with this station on the dial to get Chooch’s attention though, because they play this stupid trivia game every morning called Escalation. And by “they” I mean the MOST ANNOYING LOCAL DJ THAT HAS BEEN POISONING PITTSBURGH AIRWAVES SINCE EVEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, BUBBA, and his basic bitch cohort Melanie. These people, oh brother. They pass Pittsburghese back and forth between themselves with wanton abandon like it’s some type of Yinzer Covid and they’re anti-maskers. I fucking can’t stand the Pittsburgh accent and I especially hate it when it feels like people are going out of their way to use it or exaggerate it. Like when people ironically say “yinz,” I want to fucking set a pile of Steeler jerseys alight.

Look, I have hometown pride, but my hometown embarrassment sometimes overshadows that. And Bubba is a fucking embarrassment fo’ sho’

OK so back to Escalation. Chooch LOVES games and the only thing he probably loves more than games is being right. So trivia is like a goddamn drug for him. This game is so dumb. You can win up to $100 but the questions start out at like, $5, $10, etc. And you have the option of taking the money or going-or-nothing. The worst part is the amount of times Bubba says “dollars” during this part of his pathetic radio show. I wish he would just start saying “bucks” instead so I wouldn’t have to hear him practically swallowing his tongue while chocking on his forced ‘burgh dialect.

Chooch INSISTS that we keep this station on every fucking morning now so he can make fun of the people who get the answers wrong and lose all  their money. Last week was “Special” because in addition to having the chance at winning $100, each morning’s Escalation player AUTOMATICALLY received Dan & Shay tickets. I do not who these “Dan & Shay” people are but I am willing to wager ALL OF THE ESCALATION WINNINGS that I will hate their music if I heard it.

I am actually in such a bad mood by the time I punt him out of my car every morning that my body shakes. THE WORST PART is that before Bubba (ugh) asks the final question, they cut to a song and it is always something that manages to enhance the tension in my jaw previously caused by Bubba’s grating bray.

But then it got worse. Because after a few days of this, Chooch decided that he was going to try and get on  the air for Escalation. I tried to tell him that I thought this was a terrible idea but yesterday morning, he took the leap and called in. His bluetooth kicked the call onto the car’s stereo, so the car was filled with the pulse-pumping notes of a busy signal. He started screaming at me for “talking over them” when they were saying the phone number so it was probably wrong, and I was like, “OK first of all, STFU I can talk whenever I want in MY CAR. And second of all, the fact that you got a busy signal means it’s probably the right number.”

So he just sat there, letting the busy signal continue to plow through the small space between us.

“Um, hang up,” I said.

“No, they might answer,” he shot back in his FUCKING TEENAGE TONE. UGH.

“That’s….not how that works,” I said slowly, trying to choose my words carefully as we were teetering on the precipice of the Early Morning Quarrel Quarry. “You have to hang up and call back. They can’t just ‘answer’ when you already have a busy signal.”

So then he got all huffy, ended the call and slammed his phone down into his lap.

A few moments later,  I tentatively asked, “Aren’t you going to call back?”

“YOU NEVER TOLD ME TO! YOU SAID IT WAS THE WRONG NUMBER!”

“NO, I FUCKING SAID IT WAS A BUSY SIGNAL AND YOU HAVE TO HANG UP AND CALL BACK!” I shouted right back at him, because oh OK, we’re doing this.

“THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU SAID!” he screamed. “I SAID I WAS WAITING TO SEE IF THEY WOULD PICK UP AND YOU SAID IT WAS THE WRONG NUMBER!”

“I SAID IT WAS A BUSY SIGNAL!!! IF YOU GET A BUSY SIGNAL, YOU HAVE TO HANG THE FUCK UP AND TRY AGAIN!!” My heart was now pounding. This kid can never be wrong and it is infuriating. Then I said, because I’m a tremendous parent and probably echoed a sentiment that TRUMP has spat out more than once to his children over the years, great Erin, just great, “You know, for someone so fucking smart, you’re a real a moron sometimes. You don’t even have basic life skills!”

“Oh, this,” he motioned furiously between his phone and the radio, “is a life skill???”

“KNOWING HOW TO MAKE A FUCKING PHONE CALL? YES!!!!!” I screamed.

We drove in silence after that. The dumb bitch who made it onto Escalation lost because she’s a fucking stoop, too.  By the end of Escalation, we had reached his school. He got out wordlessly and I seethed the whole way home.

***

Later that day, after he had been home from school for a few hours, he came downstairs and sat down on the wheelchair next to me. (Lol, that sounds so normal to me.)

“Traffic was really bad on the way home and I’m in a bad mood,” he growled, loosening his imaginary neck tie. “Also, I’m still mad about this morning.” And then we were maniacally arguing with each other again but this time we were laughing too and Henry was like YOU ARE BOTH THE SAME OMG KILL ME.

P.S. The broad who called in for Escalation today won but she TOTALLY WAS GOOGLING THE ANSWERS IT WAS SO FUCKING OBVI.

Jun 082021
 

I pulled Chooch away from his stupid “whatever it is he does on the computer with headphones on” for an entire 5 minutes BECAUSE I AM THE WORSTEST MOMMY IN THE WORLD. Literally he acted like I asked so much of him and honestly these teenage years are killing me dead, you guys. Killing me fucking deadzo. All I wanted was one good picture of us jumping across the street at the church for something I’m working on, not actually making him GO INSIDE THE CHURCH for MASS.

ALTHOUGH MAYBE THIS IS WHAT NEEDS TO START HAPPENING.

I mean, look at that face! The Pet Shop Boys could have used it for the cover of the What Have I Done To Deserve This single.

What else fun Erin&Chooch stories do I have to share…oh! Here’s one. We were walking down the street the other day and his friend’s little brother was outside. I think he’s like 3 or 4 or who cares. Anyway, he called out, “It’s Riley and the Blond Girl!” and this cracked me up because I think only HNC and his wife know my name out of everyone who lives on this street and I have lived here almost the longest, so that’s cool, being this popular. But also, the Blond Girl and not Riley’s Mom? Kills me.

Oh here’s a weird one. Last Friday, the radio in my bedroom was playing “Electric Avenue” and I almost knocked on Chooch’s bedroom door to tell him that the song he likes was on the radio but then I stopped at the last minute and thought, “No. It’s not this song. It’s that other song” and I couldn’t even remember how it went in my head, except that the word “stride” was in it and I was like, “OH WELL, IT WILL COME TO ME LATER PROBABLY” and I went back downstairs. A few minutes later, LITERALLY JUST A FEW MINUTES LATER, LIKE TWO SONGS LATER PROBABLY, I had to run back up to my room for something AND THE SONG I COULDN’T REMEMBER WAS ON! It’s that “Nothing’s Gonna Break My Stride” song from the 80s, so this time I *did* knock on Chooch’s door and I told him the whole story and then finished it with, “And now that song is on!!!”

Chooch just looked at me, sneered, and said, “Well, I do actually like Electric Avenue too so nice try.”

SEE THIS IS WHAT I DEAL WITH and as I type this, it occurs to me that he only talks to me this way because he has spent his formative years listening to me talk to Henry that way, so….good job, Blond Girl.

Then over the weekend, the same radio station played both songs again, just in reverse order, three songs apart from each other AND I FUCKING FLIPPED OUT. Also, this same station plays American Pie (one of my most hated songs) nearly every day and for what purpose?!!? I don’t understand how a radio station that’s supposed to be playing a mixed bag of oldies and current hits continuously plays the same old songs when there are like millions to choose from – you’re a fucking variety station! Does someone need to give them the definition of variety?! I only keep the radio on because it comforts me to hear wafting away up there in the distance while I’m working (Henry always marvels at how you can barely hear it downstairs but the moment one of my jams comes on – like “In The Air Tonight” – I will stop everything and holler, “STFU MY JAM’S ON!”

I guess it’s time to go back to playing Spotify at night, though because fuck that station, also the DJ in the morning is a real asshole IN MY OPINION.

Anyway, do you like our shirts!?! I made Chooch wear that one to coordinate with me. Mine is from Noo Works and his is from some alley boutique in Harajuku OMG wow we are cool people.

This was the “Winner” of all the pictures. It’s annoying because we can never jump in tandem.

Well, that’s all I got. I started watching “Feel Good” on Netflix and now I would rather drink my iced coffee (Henry bought himself an iced coffee maker for his birthday which is great because now he can use his birthday present to make me iced coffee, I love when I win other people’s birthdays) and watch that before passing out because it’s 875457 degrees in my house and I just exercised.

ETA: several hours I came up to go to bed and that fucking Break My Stride song was on again!!! Was it even played that much in the 80s?? WHY NOW?

 

Apr 292021
 

Wow wow wow wow the first “big time activity” we’ve done in over a year! And we chose YOU, Columbus Zoo! Congrats! Henry and I at the time of this both had the first Pfizer shot (now we have both!!) and I know, I know, you’re not “fully” Covid-immune until two weeks after the second shot, but I still felt better about going here than I would have with no doses.

Man, let me tell you though – the social distancing was NOT happening up in this bitch. Thank god most of it was outdoors or I would have legit flipped out. I will say that mask-wearing seemed like it was definitely being enforced, and in some of the indoor exhibits, there was zoo staff on hand reminding (sometimes in vain) everyone to stay 6 feet apart.

I took advantage of pretty much every sanitation station we walked by, much to the chagrin of my Target-wounded hand.

OWIE.

Chooch is a big animal lover and we thought a little day trip to the Columbus Zoo in Ohio would be a nice way to celebrate his birthday: a little bit of travel-lite, some cute animal peepin’, A SMIDGE OF FAMILY TOGETHERNESS. What 15-year-old doesn’t crave more time with MOMMY AND DADDY. Lol. To be fair, Chooch is only mildly ambivalent when we’re all out together in public. I have no basis of comparison because by the time I was 15, I don’t think I was EVER out in public with my whole family.

It looks un-crowded in these pictures but don’t get it twisted. I have no idea what the point was in buying tickets in advance and reserving a time because the ticket booth was open and while it wasn’t PACKED, it definitely was crowded. Well, at least in the beginning of the day. But the crowds seemed to disperse by the afternoon and we were able to enjoy ourselves a bit more (when we were in the reptile house, it was pretty bad and people were NOT following instructions and while there was a CLEAR LINE that most people were standing in, there were still Those Dumb Fucks completely oblivious to what the rest of us were doing who just strolled on past and wedged themselves in between people.

Also, WOW it was White Trashville there on that Sunday. I think I mentioned it in my liveblog that day but it was like every other mom had just been released from prison. Pretty rough broads swarming the zoo paths. Luckily, we didn’t have any super seriously bad run-ins with any of them but there was this one particular family that definitely had us side-eyeing each other and picking up the pace. I also saw a guy spit his chew over a fence into an exhibit while holding his baby, so that was AN IMAGE.

But mostly, I was content with taking in the beauty of the zoo because it was NICE AS FUCK. Way better than the Pittsburgh Zoo!!

They had a carousel! Of course it was an upcharge but we had to do it.

This was actually an annoying experience because some jack ass kid kept SHRIEKING in line and I have to listen to children SHRIEKING all the livelong day next door to us so I was not pleased.

“KIDS FUCKING RUIN EVERYTHING,” I cried to Henry, who would generally take this moment to don his bascinet and kick his steed before saying, “OH KIDS ARE NOT THAT BAD” but instead, he surprised me by agreeing.

“I know. The zoo should have Adult Day.”

WHOA.

It was Henry’s job to take a carouselfie but he took like 87 horrible ones.

This is literally the best one. That’s what happens when you give someone who doesn’t use an iPhone the task of taking a carouselfie. It literally looks like he used my old Blackberry from 2008 to take this.

The theming of this zoo is off the…chain? Do we still say that? They even have a small amusement park section which doesn’t open until May and it was really torturous to be able to see A WOODEN COASTER THAT WE WERE UNABLE TO RIDE AND NOT ONLY THAT BUT THEY WERE TESTING IT TOO! SO WE HAD TO SEE IT RUNNING!!! Ughhh. So close to that coaster cred…

Oh shit, Chooch and I did something really nice at one point. Well, I did. So, we decided that we weren’t going to eat lunch there because we wanted to get take out from a nearby vegan place afterward, but we needed a snack. Henry was in line to get us soft pretzels, so Chooch and I found a table out of the way and plopped our asses down. Meanwhile! A group of 4 people with BLESSEDLY NO CHILDREN sat down on a nearby bench with food from a Mexican food truck. They had huge burritos and other shit in containers that required them to hunch over and eat from their laps so I murmured to Chooch, “Oh I feel bad, they’re trying to eat actual food on that bench while we’re hogging this table, we should give them our table” and of course Chooch was engrossed in his dumb group chat probably NOT telling them about how he was spending the day with his super chill ‘rents.

So he was like WHAT IS HAPPENING when I got up and approached the bench-group, and offered up our table to them.

“I mean, you need it more than us – we’re just waiting for pretzels!” I laughed and they were like OMG THAT IS SO NICE WE APPRECIATE IT THANK YOU and I felt so smug in my good-deediness and absolutely could NOT WAIT for Henry to come back with the pretzels so I could tell him but when I started to tell him, he interrupted me and said, “Yeah I saw.”

UGH.

LITTLE RED FLYING FOX BATS!

Oh man, I love bats.

And this weird bird thing in the Australia section!

Every time I wanted to take a picture of Chooch on one of these animal statues, there were ALWAYS DUMB CHILDREN SWARMING AROUND. Seriously. Kids ruin everything. Oh! There was one nice kid that I had an interaction with in one of the first exhibits because I couldn’t find what I was supposed to be looking for and she pointed it out for me (it was some kind of rat and it was cute so I was like THANK YOU FOR SHOWING ME, I COULD NOT SEE IT and then I had to go cleanse myself of the INNOCENSE by walking through hellfire.

A ladybug, just passing through.

Oh! I want to give a shout out to the Columbus Zoo for the super organized and socially-distanced set-up of the stingray exhibit, where each group got their own mat to stand on and the line moved super expeditiously and it was just an all-around non-stressful and pleasant experience unlike the reptile house which I considered ducking through an emergency exit to escape the COVID-ignorant crowds.

Just us and the Hanna Fam.

Overall, I would have enjoyed this zoo so much more in non-pandemic times I’m sure, but it was still a really great day and my criteria for that is pretty simple: did all three of us get along? Yes, yes, we actually did. Therefore, it was a great day.

I want to go back and ride that fucking coaster though!!!

Apr 262021
 

Please allow me to gush a little about my WITTLE BABY-WABY, MOMMY’S #1 SON, MY PRECIOUS ANGEL. Lol, ugh. But yes, our boy turned fifteen yesterday and we celebrated all weekend as best and as big as we could in these fucked up times.  Sometimes I wonder if, from the other side, it looks like we spoil Chooch. But honestly, aside from snippy teenage attitude (what teenager DOESN’T have it??), he deserves so much more than we’re able to give him. Kids have been hit so hard during the pandemic, and I am so thankful that Chooch was able to adapt to not only starting high school at a brand new school, but doing so by maneuvering through all the awkward hiccups of virtual learning. Not only has he made a group of new friends, he has been a hit with his teachers while tackling advanced classes and maintaining a 4.0. He is the coolest nerd I know. Honestly.

Plus, he’s my favorite roller coaster riding companion, Henry hassling partner (we call him “Him Man” almost exclusively now, in case you were wondering if I ever refer to Henry as “dad” when I’m talking about him to Chooch; nope, I use the term that our cats use for him), stay at home buddy, begrudged photoshoot subject, neighborhood walker. Don’t get me wrong – he’s at an age where he’d prefer to hole up in his cave and play his dumb computer games (he got  promoted to a “helper” on some server and got to have someone banned for saying the n-word, so I approve of this job!), or chill at the Teen Center with his friends, but he’s not opposed to joining us for family outings. Not to mention the fact that his little niece and nephew look at him like he’s a magical being.

I am also not ashamed to say that I’m pretty positive most of my friends like him more than they like me, and I can’t really blame them! He’s got personality dripping off him in iridescent waves.

So yeah, I always want to do big things for him on his birthday! I want him to have awesome memories of his childhood birthdays, just like I do.

Of course I was hoping that the state of things would be better this year and we could have a party for him, but that still wasn’t the case. So we decided to at least get him a small strawberry cake from Sumi’s and have Blake and Haley come over (I was nervous about this – no one has been here in over a year!) Saturday night. It was a super last minute thing, because we had already planned to take him to the Columbus Zoo on his actual birthday, so it was kind of a surprise non-party in a way? Of course it went from “just cake” to “we should go to Party City and at least get some decorations” to “WE SHOULD DO A JOJO SIWA THEME!” Of course Henry the Skeptic was like, “Yeah, if they even have any Jojo Siwa stuff there” like, OK Father Time, you don’t know anything because not only did they have an entire Jojo section (it was super picked-over though, but most of the empty racks seemed to hold hair accessory party favors and I don’t really think we needed bows, lol), they even had a singing Jojo balloon which I could tell by the fearful glint in Henry’s eyes that he was hoping I wouldn’t think it was necessary but I was like “PLOP THAT SHIT IN THE BASKET, BROTHER.”

But then, we had to listen to go off in the backseat on the entire drive home:

My Instagram caption is true: Never had I heard a Jojo Siwa song until that day.

Luckily, Chooch rarely leaves his room so I was able to decorate without him knowing anything was going on, lol.

I accidentally broke the tall candles because I’m a brute, but Haley said later that night that she thought they were meant to look crooked, so all’s well! Also, had to go with Peppa Pig candles because there weren’t any Jojo Siwa ones :(

Drew was 100% not a fan of the balloons. Henry had to stash them in the attic before we left for our day trip yesterday so she wouldn’t go into shock – she gets so stressed out over everything. :(

Henry didn’t understand why the tablecloth says “Bows make everything better” because he’s a 55-year-old man.

Then Blake ended up being late (I know, I know – but they live next door, how long could it possibly take them to come over; except that there were coming here straight from somewhere else) and we could only stall Chooch for so long. Of course, he ended up coming downstairs before Blake was able to get here so he saw his non-party spread and was like, “WHAT IS ALL THIS.”

“THIS IS ABUSE.”

He secretly loved it though! And besides, he’s always complaining about not having a damn cup to use, so now he has his very own Jojo’s Juice vessel.

This just in: when Chooch and I were on our afternoon walk a little while ago, he got his “Evaluation” from that server thingie he’s doing and they said “We have no critique because everything you’re doing is awesome.”

OMG I hate him but also, now I know how Glenn feels whenever I get showered with over-the-top kudos at work.

I forgot to get a picture of Chooch blowing out his candles so I made him redo it and also Henry wasn’t even in the room because he was too busy holding his newest  grandbaby and doing weird Him Man cooing. G-to-the-ross.

Mm, that Sumi’s cake though!

Anyway, it was a very rapid-fire cake-eating sesh because the kids were in that weird limbo right before bedtime where they were super slaphappy with drunk-eyes but could easily lose their shit at any minute and I never realized just how NON-CHILDPROOF our house actually is until two toddlers were let loose and trying to grab everything while their parents yelled at them and the  baby was wailing and it was an actual hellscape. Like, I felt absolutely exhausted after they left and I didn’t even have to do anything but stand there and watch. I feel for Blake and Haley, bigtime. Three kids under the age of 4 is super ambitious and insane but one day when the kids are older, it’s going to be pretty cool.

Oh yeah, I had to make Blake cut the cake since Henry was holding the baby and I certainly wasn’t about to break my decades-long cake-cutting boycott.

But poor Chooch! He just wanted to eat his fucking cake in peace, haha. I think he still had a nice evening though. I wish we could have safely given him a bigger celebration and I did consider trying to arrange something outdoors but honestly, I thought better of it, what with so many of us THIS close to being fully vaccinated, why not just wait.

I swear to god though, if things are safe next year, you better believe he’s getting a sixteenth birthday blowout!

Apr 232021
 

Actually, this is just really an excuse to post the rest of the pictures I took that day, haha.

After we left Palmer Park, we drove back into Monongahela and grabbed some sandwich action at Sheetz, which we took to the Monongahela Cemetery and devoured in front of the chapel. How have I never been to this cemetery before?!!? It’s gorgeous! When I lived in Jefferson Hills in my first apartment, I used to go joy-driving in this area all the time (because gas was like 95 cents a gallon) and I somehow NEVER NOTICED the entrance to this cem!!

Well, you better believe we will be having future Family Times up in this boneyard.

Chooch found THREE geocaches in this location. Only one was the good kind with a prize though. I can’t even remember what it was that he took, but he replaced it with this religious finger puppet that I bought years and years ago when I held my own unsanctioned Easter event at work.

There was a rogue turkey gobbling around this part of the cemetery and we had fun gobbling back at it. I think we were just delirious after the encounter with Pantera Guy.

 

The other geocaches with fake pine cones tied to two different trees! It was really hard to get the capsule thing out of the one pine cone and I broke a pen trying and then I couldn’t put the pen back together because I’m bad at pretty much everything that requires even the tiniest effort so Chooch snatched all the pieces off me and proceeded to reassemble the pen in .000002 seconds and then he shamed me, which was rightfully deserved I guess.

WE ARE BOTH GETTING SO OLD UGHHHHH.

Then I made him take pictures of me pretending the tree was my prom date.

He’d say things like, “You’re making a weird face in this one. You look fake in this one. You won’t like this one” which I appreciate because HENRY DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS. Like, he will let me smile real big for a closeup while I have spinach in my teeth and then act like he didn’t know and maybe that’s true because HENRY THINKS I’M HIDEOUS AND NEVER LOOKS AT  ME.

I made him take another one without my mask around my neck, lol.

Honestly, isn’t this tree so handsome?!!?

Even though geocaching was involved, it was still a really beautiful day. LOOK AT THIS UNFILTERED SKY, BOIIIIII. I was in such a swell mood (lol) that I even told Chooch we could stop for one last geocache on our way out of Monongahela, and this one was supposed to be by the river right past the Sheetz we stopped at.

I mean, the river is super gross no matter how you look at it, but the area was pretty cool. There were like bleacher-type steps you could sit on and …. what? Watch people fish? Gaze at the barges passing by? I dunno, but now that I know it’s there, maybe I will eat my Sheetz lunch there next time I’m in the area!

ANYWAY. Would you believe that the clue led us to another one of those stupid dog poop things?!?! But there was nothing there! According to the info for this one, the owner of the geocache recently had to re-hide it but said the clues were the same?! And people left comments about how when they tried to put it back it got “lost in the abyss”??? I was like, “Bro, I’m not sticking my hand in the actual waste basket part of this thing, if that’s what that clue means” and even Chooch was like, “I know right” but I think we were both silently thinking that if Henry was with us, we’d make him do it.

Chooch left this super professional, detailed comment about how he was unable to find it and I was like, “Wow, you definitely have a little bit of Henry in you” because I’d have been like “The FUCK kind of clues are these? There wasn’t SHIT there! Awful geocache! REPORTED!!!”

Then we drove home and I realized that I am A LOT like Henry’s mom all of a sudden because I narrated the whole drive with, “That used to be a movie theater. That bar used to serve me when I was 19. I got pulled over here when I was 20 by the state police for doing double the speed limit in a construction zone and they searched my car and I had to go to court but the hearing was delayed because the one cop got shot and then my mom knew the chief of police and arranged for me to get off with a warning but I got super mouthy and indignant with the magistrate and my mom was kicking me under the table and the cop was silently doing the Dave Coulier CUT IT OUT hand motions at me and then the magistrate was like HAVE FUN PAYING THIS FINE, HON.”

To summarize: WHAT A GREAT DAY!

Chooch found five geocaches! I found none!

Apr 102021
 

Henry and I went to get plant stuff earlier today in an area that’s about 45 minutes away from us and as we drove past this one shopping center, I casually mentioned that I have never been there. Henry said that’s untrue, that we went to a Subway there once and just like that, super vivid memories came flooding back and I screamed, “OH YEAH IT WAS WHEN WE WENT TO THAT ONE WEIRD PLAYGROUND AND BLAKE AND ALISHA WERE WITH US AND THEN WE WENT TO TCBY” and Henry was like “…………………”

I distinctly remembered the pictures I took that day and found them on Flickr. They’re from August 2009 and somehow, I NEVER posted them on here, nor did I even write about the day because I guess this was back when I had a life and didn’t blog every single fucking thing I did because I had a better understanding back then of the idea that NO ONE CARES.

Well, since I have no energy for anything else right now (I expended a lot of it on the squirrels, picking out flowers, and exercising, aren’t you jealous of my full life?), here are the pictures I took that day because Summer of 2009 Chooch was so fucking cute (and sweaty) and also Blake wasn’t a dad yet which is wild and now Alisha lives in ARKANSAS and probably does not miss me making her pose for stupid pictures.

So proud of these ground apples.

Seriously though this playground has a certain type of vibe, yikes.

Well, that was a fun trip down memory lane. Maybe I should start taking out my “real” camera more often like the olden days.

And speaking of Dance Gavin Dance (see: Blake’s shirt), their singer Tilian Pearson has a new solo album out and this video is making me CRAVE A DGD CONCERT.

Apr 092021
 

I really love Easter so much and this year’s bunny day did not disappoint. The weather was perfection (in the low 60s and sunny!) and we actually all got along even though Henry’s chewing and breathing was really beyond extra that day.

First, we had to wake up Chooch and give him his “basket.” Chooch is definitely my kid, in that he is nearly 15 and still wants TOYS and FUN and all the things his little niece and nephew next door are enjoying as toddlers. We decided to fill a small basket with what Chooch claims to be the only sponges he can use to wash the dishes which is clearly just an excuse to not have to wash the dishes. I plopped in one piece of candy for good measure and then at the last minute, I added a bath bomb that he had gotten earlier that day when he was at the store with Henry (not pictured).

Of course it took us forever to get him to wake his ass up. I left the fake basket on the dining room table for him to find, totally exposed so there was no fun involved. He actually took it all in stride, and laughed a lot, so I’m not sure if it’s a reflection of the GREAT JOB Henry and I have done raising him that he didn’t act like a petulant shit when that was “all he got,” or if he’s been conditioned over the last decade to know that there was something better in store if he just rides it out—probably the latter, lol.

Then I needed to get him BACK into his room because Henry left DOLL on his computer desk with one lone Easter egg. OMG for a kid who never wants to leave his room, it was surprisingly hard to get him to go back into it! Granted, the reason I used was probably a bad one: I told him that our new Easter tradition was going to Church with Blake, Haley and the kids and that he needed to go change into something nice, which made shit hit the fan. he became INEXPLICABLY distraught at the prospect of suddenly having to go to church after all these years of living in the lap of heathenism.

Finally got him to go into his room, where he hurled himself down on his bed and proceeded to cry some more. God, this kid!! We should have kept him in Catholic school! Why did we ever pull him out? Oh right, my blog. LOLOLOL.

Anyway, I had to point out DOLL to him just to speed shit up and that set him off even more. “OMG YOU MADE ME GO THROUGH ALL OF THIS JUST SO I COULD SEE DOLL?? UGH!” and he stormed off back downstairs without even realizing that DOLL contained an Easter egg, because DUMB HENRY stuck the egg up her dress instead of just setting it in her lap like I told him to, so then I had to carry DOLL downstairs and thrust her at Chooch, who refused to take her and instead gave me this bewildered look, like “I’m used to you acting insane but you are being TRULY STRANGE this morning” so then I had to EXTRACT the egg from DOLL’s dress and chuck it at Chooch, who finally started to realize that this was an effort to make Easter fun for a surly teen. Except that now DOLL’s egg message didn’t make sense since he was supposed to open it IN HIS ROOM, but now he was in the dining room so he asked, “All of the eggs are hidden in the basement?” Ugh. This dumb scavenger hunt WAS NOT THAT COMPLICATED.

We only hid 8 eggs the night before, just on the first floor, so this hunt should have been over relatively quickly but instead my DENSE SON dragged it out for nearly an hour because he is sooooo obtuse! We were giving him all these dumb hints and he was just standing in the middle of the room, looking lost.

Although, to be fair, one of my hints was “Something you could find at the circus” and he cried THAT COULD BE LITERALLY THIS ENTIRE ROOM!

Anyway, all of the eggs contained a piece of Russian candy and a “coupon” for things like “trip to the Columbus Zoo” and “Dad takes out garbage for month of April.” (In response to that one, Henry wrote out a coupon that says “Geocaching with mom, no less than two hours!”

I hate geocaching.

After he found all of his idiotic eggs, he was sitting on the church pew (oh the irony) watching TV so I ran upstairs to get his real basket, which I’m not entirely sure he was expecting after going through the rigmarole of collecting Easter coupons.

I wish I still got an Easter basket! I am fully planning on giving Chooch an Easter basket (and any future partner/spouse he might wind up with) for the rest of my life.

Later that afternoon, we drove out to Economy Park, which we haven’t to been to in quite some time but the playground is cool because it has this big electronic game that Chooch and I always think we are obsessed with until we get there and remember that it’s broken. The road to the pavilions is closed so we had to park at the playground and walk for about a half mile (??? I’m really bad with measuring distance!), all of which was without Henry who had to go back to the car when we made it out of the parking lot because he forgot the BUNNY PLATE I bought specifically for our EASTERgayo sandwiches, so he ended up being way behind us on the walk which was hilarious to me and Chooch but probably actually super peaceful for Henry.

You might remember that I deemed these sandwiches our “new Easter tradition” two Easters ago. They are based off the Inkigayo sandwich in South Korea, which is a multi-layered sandwich served in the cafeteria to idols performing at the Inkigayo weekly music show. The idols love them so much that various convenience stores in Korea attempted to recreate them and let me tell you, we ate some v. tasty ones on our last trip! Anyway, there are several variations floating around the Internet.

Here’s my OG post about it if you’re interested!

Easter 2019: Idol Sandwiches & Crappy Woodland Treasure

After lunch, I made these lugs pose for family pictures with me. I also *tried* to coordinate our clothes so we were all wearing Easter-y pastel shades, which made Chooch happy because it meant he could wear his pink/salmon hoodie and not A DRESSY SHIRT OMG BOO HOO.

 

You guys, we got Henry to jump!!

Oh man, what a GREAT DAY, honestly. I mean, I almost threw up on a spinny thing at the playground afterward, but it was still just a wonderful holiday. I love you, Easter.

Mar 182021
 

Something I think about a lot from the last year in quarantine is the time Chooch tried to make bread, when we still had energy and drive in the early days of STAYING HOME. I feel like even though it was only a year ago, it deserves a repost because it was originally posted in a week-long isolation recap and who even reads that crap, amirite.

**********************

 

“Chooch, we’re going to make bread today.”

“……without HIM?” (HIM = Henry, clearly.)

“Yes! Someone posted recipes on Twitter. It looks easy.”

“Well, THAT’S something I can tell I’ll be quoting you on for the rest of my life.”

OK, scratch that idea. I just went back to the recipe I saw on Twitter and realized that there was way more to it than just this:

Apparently, the rest of the recipe was in the comments. It’s involved. Do we have baking powder? What is kosher salt? Something about sitting in a greased bowl for 30-60 minutes? I’ll pass.

In good, non-COVID news, Taemin has black hair again! Also, I really wish I was going through this pandemic hell in S. Korea, not the fucking dumb US. God, can we screw this up anymore? FORGET I ASKED THAT. DO NOT HOLD ANYONE’S BEER. GET BACK INTO ISOLATION.

UPDATE, 12:09:

Chooch is making the bread on his own. Where the fuck is the baking powder, he asked, gesturing to the open cupboard full of UNLABELED CONTAINERS OF WHITE POWDERS.

‘This could all be cocaine for all we know!” I cried. Now Henry is on speaker phone. He is very unhappy about how this Friday is progressing.

Apparently the baking powder is in a plastic container that says “baking powder.” I would have hung up on Henry’s ass by now.

OMG IF I HEAR “BAKING POWDER” ONE MORE TIME. This call has dragged on for like 11 minutes. Henry just yelled, “I have to go! I don’t have time for this!”

Lol, I found the baking powder immediately  and now Chooch is mad. He dropped the butter on the ground so I told him  to just wash it off but then we both looked at it and I said, “Um, just throw it out.” Then we fucked up because I dumped all the water in at once, before Chooch had a chance to “mix the dry ingredients” and then apparently even the water was supposed to be added gradually? Why? It’s all going to end up in the same place eventually anyway?

I feel like we made some progress because after stirring it for a bit, it resembles real life dough! I got bored though so now Chooch is doing the rest alone.

12:44PM This might go down as the worst idea ever. The dough is like melted paste – is this right!?

The recipe never told us what to do with the butter. We used our collective noggins to assume that it was for greasing the bowl, so then Chooch made me wash out the Pam that I had originally (handsomely) spritzed it with. We are now letting the dough sit for 30-60 minutes. Is it going to expand into a carb-loaded Jabba the Hut and suffocate us? TIME WILL TELL.

1:50PM: Time to cook this gooey blob! I just noticed that the recipe on Twitter said to HEAT A GRIDDLE. THE FUCK? I was like “Can’t we just use the oven?” and Chooch was like I don’t know so I was scrolling through the Twitter comments and I said, “Oh look! This person asked, ‘Can I use an oven'” and Chooch goes, “Yeah that was me. That was LITERALLY ME.”

I have a headache.

Good thing we have those fire blankets.

YOU GUYS I’m positive we didn’t make these as intended but, against all odds, they taste fucking delicious. The first one came out the most normal looking. The rest are like, dough scraps but still delicious.

We made a penis-shaped one for Henry!

A half hour later, I glanced in the kitchen. “I guess we should just leave this for him to clean up?” And then Chooch and I scream-laughed our faces off. I think we’ve reached peak isolation. It has to be all downhill from here.

Oh wait, but then Henry told me that he ripped his pants today and didn’t realize it until he went back to the office and one of his coworkers said, “Nice underwear.” Yes, this is my favorite part of today’s isolation.

In case you were wondering if beverage deliverymen are essential during a pandemic, that would be a yes. Henry still has to work and his skin is basically burning off his hands from manic-application of hand sanitizer.

5:00PM: Henry just came home and is so mad. “I’m not cleaning that!” he yelled, but now he’s in there cleaning it. Chooch let the “dough” dry on the rolling pin and Henry is very upset about this. Also, he tried the bread and threw it back on the plate. Chooch and I were so insulted, but then I took a bite, and you know, now that they’ve been laying there for a few hours, I can tell that um, these actually aren’t fully cooked, lol. It’s pretty raw, is that why my stomach hurts do you think?

Chooch reminded me that there wasn’t egg in it at least.

A week later, we looked up allegedly “easy” vegan recipes that we could potentially make during the day since our chef isn’t home, but the first one I put on immediately wanted us to peel a potato and I screamed PEEL IT YOURSELF and started to look for another recipe video but lost interest at an alarming speed and put on a Booktube video instead. But then Chooch found some “Easy Naan-type bread” video but it called for lemon juice for some reason and we don’t have that, so he texted Henry “bring home lemon juice” 8x and Henry responded, “Do you need lemon juice?” because he thinks he’s so fucking funny, about as funny as a fifth grade science teacher from the 70s.

Anyway, Henry came home from work with the lemon juice and suddenly Chooch is a bread baker. I had zero hand in it, which is probably why it turned out ok. He came out of the kitchen with a ball of dough in his meat-mitts and said, “Mom! Look!” and I was like, “Holy shit, that looks like real dough and not that weird-ass paste shit we made last week!” which, to be fair, we determined was my fault because I threw the recipe in the air and just plopped everything together in a bowl at once, and apparently there is a reason why you need to mix the dry ingredients alone and then SLOWLY add the wet shit LITTLE BY LITTLE. Who knew?!

I guess a trillion bakers before me.

****

Sadly, that was the last time Chooch baked bread. I should have goaded him into making Irish soda bread yesterday even though I make a point of not celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, UGHHHH.

Anyway, if you have any easy bread recipes that you’d like to see Chooch try, let me know!

Jan 252021
 

For some reason, when we realized over the summer that Chooch likely would be doing school remotely, the thing I fixated on the most was, “But what about school pictures?” I know, I know – I have tons of photos of Chooch and it’s not like his 9th grade existence would be wiped out if he didn’t get a formal school picture taken on Picture Day, but it’s like…part of the process of school, you know? We always purchase the smallest portrait package possible just so we can have one 5×7 to frame for the “Chooch Wall”:

Probably no one else gave a shit about this, like I’m sure it’s the last thing the actual school was concerned about, but I kept wondering. “Maybe they will do something informal on a weekend sometime, where they schedule small blocks of kids…” I mused, to the silence of both Henry and Chooch who could not, between the two of them, even muster up one full fuck to give.

But then in a recent school newsletter, they said that because they were unable to offer a normal picture day, everyone was welcome to submit their own photo! (Of course there were guidelines so I couldn’t have him don a welders mask and stand in a tub full of empty Spam tins while wrapped in a 1970s afghan. Dumb rules.)

But x2! In another email, they said that a local photographer had offered to take headshots at a discounted rate, and I signed him up for that because as much as I would have loved to have had an elevated heart rate for an hour while fighting with him to cooperate with me for ONE PICTURE CAN YOU JUST GIVE ME ONE FUCKING PICTURE WITHOUT THAT SMIRK, I just wanted some slice of normalcy in these shitty Covid Times.

So that’s what happened on Saturday. I don’t know yet what the picture looks like but at least he’ll have a picture in the yearbook now!

Anyway, we’re going to redo that wall with all of his pictures on it and I always thought that he hated the fact that we have an entire wall with his pictures on it but when he heard me talking about repainting it, he asked in a panic, “Wait…is it still going to be my wall, though?” I said yes, and he sighed, “OK. Good.”

Lol, narcissist.

I’ve been really scrutinizing that wall though and I think that some pictures will be replaced with others of him, but every time I look at that wall I smile. Of course the school pictures are all boring and standard, but the other ones are so fun and as much as he hates doing these dumb photoshoots with me, I hope that one day when he’s an adult, he’ll look back on them and be glad that they happened. I’m sure his future partner will certainly be happy, haha.

I’m going to repost one of my favorite ones here, because it makes me so happy and maybe it will make you smile too. Smiling is good!

***

ICE CREAM CONE CANNIBAL: 2013

A few weeks ago, Chooch unearthed his very first Halloween costume in his closet, put it on and then surprised me with it. I almost died laughing, seeing his big head shoved through the small opening of a fabric ice cream. It pleased me because he was 6 months old that Halloween and it poured down rain so aside from a quick photo op at my grandma’s house, that costumes was totally wasted. I even considered putting it up on eBay a few times, or giving it to someone who has a baby, but now I’m really glad that I didn’t, because nothing is funnier than someone wearing something that they’re too big for.

One day, he wore it in the backseat of the car and waved to people at red lights.  He’s even considering wearing it for real next Halloween and I will fucking die if he does because I love this costume so much, so yes — PLEASE WEAR IT!

In the meantime, I wanted to do a little photo shoot with him wearing it. The weather was so amazingly warm this weekend, and I couldn’t stop picturing him eating an ice cream cone while wearing an ice cream cone. There’s an ice cream place right down the road from the abandoned building we use for some of our pictures, but we didn’t learn it was closed until we drove all the way out there (only like 30 minutes, but still — Henry’s frown is in full effect over things like this).  We figured McDonald’s was probably our best bet at that point, and remembered that there was one down the street from the closed-down ice cream shop we took pictures at last September.  Even better!

“But does McDonald’s have rainbow sprinkles? No, I don’t think they do. You’ll have to stop at a grocery store on the way and buy some, just in case,” I said, planning ahead.

Henry glared at me.

“What? There HAS to be rainbow sprinkles! I can’t do it without the sprinkles!” I cried. EVERYTHING IS IN THE DETAILS, OK?!

So that was another 25 minutes in the car with Henry who had almost completely shut down verbally by then. I even tried to calm him down by ironically holding his hand. He wasn’t amused.

Rainbow sprinkles procured and a vanilla cone in hand, we drove back to the Twist behind a partially disabled elderly man who cruised along at a pace of about 18 mph, melting the ice cream and our patience.

But we made it with the cone mostly intact! I jumped out of the car and poured the sprinkles on while Chooch stuffed himself in the costume cone.

I positioned him in front of the closed-down ice cream shop and handed him  the severely-dripping cone.

“Vanilla? REALLY? VANILLA? You knew I wanted CHOCOLATE!” he cried.

“Well, McDonald’s only has vanilla,” I muttered, but really — he was getting vanilla no matter where we went. It had to match his costume!

And the rest of it panned out smoothly! Henry and I didn’t even argue. We were only there about 5 minutes before I got what I needed and Henry got to finish Chooch’s cone.

This was right after 2 teenage girls walked by and giggled at Chooch. He was totally angry with me.

He even DANCED for me at the end. You know why? Because that little sucker got paid to do this. I have found that giving him a few bucks is a small price to pay for cooperation and amiability in front of the camera.

God, Henry is totally going to start asking for payment now too.

<3

Dec 112020
 

Well guys, we made it all  the way to December before  the first dreaded CALL FROM THE SCHOOL occurred. I was in a meeting at the time of the call, but I listened to the voicemail immediately after and it was from, of all teachers, Chooch’s CREATIVE WRITING teacher. This is my favorite class! I mean, for him. My favorite class FOR HIM. And I thought that he had been doing well in it so I was pretty clueless as to why I was getting a call, what brand of opprobrium is he bringing upon of us now, but I figured it HAD TO HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH HIS MOUTH.

Ding ding ding.

In her voice mail, the teacher prefaced the negative news by saying  that his writing is wonderful, keeps getting better (I mean, LOOK AT WHO HIS MOMMY IS, you know lol), she really enjoys his presence in class, but…

That day in class, he said something inappropriate in the chat.

WHOOP THERE IT IS.

Since they’ve been doing school virtually, each class has a chat function and believe me you, I knew this was going to be bad news at some point.  Chooch is the Duke of Dischord, so I could only imagine how disruptive this would be in a classroom setting. He laughs way too much for someone who is “in class.” And I mean, his ass is cracking the fuck up at times.

Of course, she didn’t tell me in the voicemail what was said, and we ended up playing phone tag for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, I asked Chooch why his teacher would be calling me and of course he played dumb.

But then…

“Oh, hahahaha, I probably know why.” More giggles.

“WHAT DID YOU DO.”

“Well, in the chat, I said something about taking Ibuprofen.”

“…………….”

“….snorting Ibuprofen.”

WHY IS MY SON SO FUCKING SMART AND STUPID AT ONCE. I screamed, “why would you say that!??!” and he was like, “It was just a joke! Someone was saying they couldn’t stay awake and I said I snort Ibuprofen.”

Seriously, sometimes I just don’t know what he’s thinking and I guess that’s for the best.

“Why the fuck would you say that in a school chatroom, you dumbass? You know there’s always that one idiot who’s going to think that sounds like a good idea and next thing you know, crush Ibuprofen is the new Tide Pods, you stupid fucker!” I seethed. And it doesn’t even make sense anyway!

(GREAT, NOW I’M GOOGLING THIS SHIT BECAUSE—WAIT, DOES IT MAKE SENSE??)

(NO!! OF COURSE NOT!!)

Then I called Henry and screamed about this to him because I hate confrontational school bullshit.

“Why does he do this shit?” I wailed. “Now I have to explain to this broad that our son doesn’t actually have an OTC drug addiction.”

Anyway, she called me back and right away I said, “He told me what he said and he is an idiot. I’m so sorry.” She just laughed nervously and said that again, he’s great most of the time—

“—but he’s way too chatty,” I finished for her. We have been suffering through these conversations since the beginning of his school career. Literally, that kid!!! NEVER SHUTS UP.

ALWAYS HAS TO HAVE THE LAST WORD.

Apparently, she had to hold back Chooch and one of his pallies after class last week to talk to them about this issue and of course I had no idea about this. So I had to use my dwindling reserves of “charm” on this lady when really all I wanted to do was talk to her about my own experience in creative writing class when I was in high school because, you know, me me me.

600+ words later, I think that this issue is resolved and I shamed Chooch into being too scared to use the chat feature at all now – sike, nah – he still uses that bitch because if Know-It-Alls can’t be heard while muted, at least they can be seen.

Which brings me to the part of the story in which I shame Chooch for the above infraction by sharing a FUN FACT about him, especially because Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” has come up twice this past week, the most recent today when I was reading We Ride Upon Sticks and the video was referenced:

So that redhead is Tawny Kitaen and I dunno why her name has been seared upon my brain ever since I learned it in the 80s and then had my mind blown several years later when she became a co-host of America’s Funniest People and I made the connection that she was THAT WHITESNAKE BROAD.

What does this have to do with Chooch, you ask? Well, he has this little brown mole/birthmark on his butt (TMI? Well, maybe he should stop making stupid jokes in class!) and when he was a baby, I looked at it one day and officially dubbed it Tawny BUTTaen. And by officially, I mean that I haphazardly wrapped the announcement–like one of my signature shoddily-papered Christmas gifts–in my accidental Bobcat Goldthwait impression and punted it out of my mouth, pre-Christened with my giddy spittle, to an audience of no one.

Get it? Because Tawny is a synonym for brown and brown the color of the birthmark, and it’s on his bu—OK, you get it.

Now that Chooch is a teenager and not prone to streak through the house, I often forget that Tawny BUTTaen exists. But every now and then, I’ll remember and ask him how she’s doing, while choking on my Laugh Sandwich a la Mama Cass. He gets so mad, as if he doesn’t secretly think it’s the MOST BRILLIANT NAME FOR A BIRTH MARK EVER.

TAWNY BUTTAEN.

Oh man, here I go again.

(Fun fact about ME: Whitesnake’s “Is This Love” would 100% be played at the wedding reception I’ll never have.)

(Fun fact about this blog post: it was originally supposed to be a friday five but I got bored with writing after the first two bulletpoints, and frankly, who gives a shit.)

(Fun fact about fun facts: they’re usually not even really that fun.)

Nov 222020
 

…before Henry completely obliterated the poor kid’s hair later that day.

Hello. Since school pictures for 2020 are up in the air as of now, I figured I better take matters into my own hands, use those same hands to dust off my camera, and drag Chooch to the cemetery for some portraits today. Of course it’s never that easy – I had to promise that I’d buy him some dumb Titanfall thing and then give him $10 cash on top of that (overall a pretty cheap deal until you realize that you’re the one who should be getting paid for this shit).

We left Henry at home because he had chores to do and SHOCKINGLY Chooch and I got along swimmingly, which confirms my suspicion that Henry is the catalyst.

Chooch wears a hoodie to “school” every day so it was kind of nice to see him wearing something with, I dunno, a pattern. And color.

I made him do a wardrobe change, and we also changed locations once too, which made him grumble because “that wasn’t part of the arrangement” but REMEMBER WHO THE PARENT IS, OK.

He does the “sullen teen” look so well.

OMG I just went upstairs to Henry’s Salon and he basically made Chooch look like he’s leaving for boot camp…I’m trying not to freak out.

That mushroom coif is gone-zo!

Well, this has been the latest edition of “I have a kid and here are some pictures of him.”

P.S. I just saw Chooch post-hair shaving and he’s actually not completely bald – Henry left some hair on the top lol.

Nov 022020
 

Welp, to use the most annoying phrase of all time this side of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”:

IT IS WHAT IT IS.

Luckily, we’ve had, what, 7 months to get used to dashed plans and all the dusty nooks and crannies of our homes, so it wasn’t like Halloween was THE MOST DEPRESSING day of the year. And ironically, it managed to be one of the only Halloweens in recent years where I didn’t flip out over last minute costume malfunctions or the general concept of things not going my way.

God forbid.

I mean it was annoying when, for the second year in a row, Henry’s son took the kids trick or treating in some uppity suburban utopia which is whatever, but they live RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO US and couldn’t be troubled to bring the kids over for a second so we could at least see what they were dressed as. No, we instead had to find out the next day via Instagram. How fucking precious.

Oh well, they’re not even my actual grandkids so what do I care. It’s just outrageous how self-centered and oblivious that generation is. The one after the millennials. What are we calling that shit? Generation Z. Thanks, Google. Actually, looking at the dates, those two are actually the combined forces of Millennials AND Generation Z! No wonder why they have literally no life etiquette or courtesy. Or, as we call it in Korean, noonchi. 

It’s the 눈치 없다 generation.

I think Chooch was actually more upset about this than me, and Henry just shrugged it off entirely because Blake is just like him so he doesn’t really have the room to complain.

But whatever, on to better things.

Like Chooch’s costume!

We knew he most likely wasn’t going trick-or-treating this year (you know, being a big bad ninth grader and all), but it didn’t feel right not making a costume. I mean, nearly right up until the end I had begun to accept that my career as Halloween pageant mom really, truly was over.

“But Erin, you say that every year, etc etc.”

No, for real this time!

But then the damn VP debate happened and the fly nested in Pence’s helmet hair for a hilariously long amount of time, and the Internet went nuts over it, and I started screaming CHOOCH, WE HAVE A COSTUME!

We bought him a gaming computer a few weeks ago so he is pretty much at our mercy, at least for the next couple of months. So he was like, “Yes, ma’am that surely seems like a great costume idea and I will happily wear it.”

It also ended being one of the cheapest costumes we’ve made, as well! Those glasses were $5, the ski mask was from Henry’s work, the wings are made from wire hangers and wax paper, Pence’s face is made from cardboard we already had, and a few sheets of foam paper that came to like, $5. Oh, and the pipe cleaners were about $3, if even that. And Henry probably used a Michaels coupon because he is a seasoned craft store shopper.

Man, we just couldn’t help ourselves.

And yes, I made sure to give Pence pink eyes since his eyeballs were basically bleeding during that debate. What a gross man.

Most of the day, aside from costuming, was spent working on projects around the house and before we knew it, it was time for trick-or-treating to start. It wasn’t canceled or anything in our area, but we wanted to make sure it was safe on the off-chance anyone actually came to our house  (we live on a busy street so most of the kids tend to stay on the inner streets). I set up a bowl of candy on one of our wheelchairs and nestled a bottle of hand sanitizer next to it. We hid our Echo under a porch chair and had haunted house music playing all night which upset our cats bigly.

Last year, we only got one kid. This year, during a fucking pandemic, we got 4 groups! Plus the pizza delivery guy who I called back to the porch and forced to take some candy, lol.

Then we ate pizza and just chilled without having any arguments! It was actually a really nice, cozy Halloween in spite of the state of the world. Here’s hoping Trump gets voted the fuck out and we can get legit adults in the White House who will focus on working with the rest of the world to find a way to kill covid. Props to everyone who celebrated Halloween responsibly!

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.