I’ll Do It For a Burrito Bowl from Chipotle.

I am so excited, you guys. Some random Swedish crazy geniuses have launched a website which will choose a name for your baby! Erfolgswelle (I guess that’s an example of their finest work?), which is in the business of developing company and product names, has branched out into the world of baby names. For the low, low price of $31,000 American, they will approach your beloved little one’s name with that proven Big Business product-naming philosophy: lots of meetings, market research, a committee of people who are all probably at odds with one another.

I checked out their site, and I have to tell you honestly that I still can’t tell if they’re kidding. If this is a practical joke, they put an awful lot of detail into their proposed naming process (including research into “sound and rhythm,” “derivation of word components,” and– my favorite– “appearance and design of the font.” That’s right: for $31,000, your kid even gets his own font). At the same time, I can’t help but be skeptical when they tell you with pride that they’ve also named a swimming pool and an office complex. So, you know: they’ll be absolute tops at naming your precious. And in case you still have doubts, a reassuring man is reaching out to shake your hand on the home page.

If you are considering tossing them $31K to name your child, I would first like to have a long talk with your mother regarding where she went wrong, so please send me her cell number. After that, please keep us all posted on what they end up choosing for your child. After all, any company that can dream up something as lyrical and magical as “ArcoWest” is bound to deliver perfection for a human baby.



    Dad’s Birthday Pennies

    DadDad’s 71st birthday is today. I’ve been sort of low-level sad about it all week, but I haven’t mentioned anything to anyone. Last night, I pulled up my Dad folder and started looking through all the photos and scanned mementos, just wishing none of this had happened and I would be able to call Dad in the shop in the morning and wish him a happy birthday, hear his voice. Then my friend Georgann texted me. She and I had been just missing each other’s texts for several days, so she had no way of knowing how I had been feeling. The reason for her text, she told me sort of abashedly (“I’m being genuine, not silly”), was that she had been seeing pennies all week– and she wanted to make sure I knew she was thinking about Dad and Dad’s birthday.

    How amazing is that?

    I can be sad that he’s gone. I can be heartbroken over my loss, and Mom’s loss, and the loss of all of his talent and knowledge and skill, and his physical presence. But I will never ever doubt that he has left a legacy of his humor and his kindness, his generosity and his love. I have said before that, with the loss of my dad, I realized how many people loved him– and how many people love all of us. The world is, quite literally, a better place because he lived in it.

    Thank you, Georgee. And thanks, Dad. Happy birthday.


      Addie J, aka Black Widow

      This pic is from when Addie J made a video of herself, lip syncing to Macklemore's Thrift Shop. It's one of the most amazing videos of the 21st century.

      This pic is from when Addie J made a video of herself, lip syncing to Macklemore’s Thrift Shop. It’s one of the most amazing videos of the 21st century.

      The following is a transcript of the conversation I had with the J on our way to school this morning. To complete the picture, please imagine her as she was, in her grey sweater boots, hat with ears, and a sweater with a puppy on the front:

      ADDIE J: I can’t wait until I’m a famous rapper.

      JULIE: Oh. Oh, yeah. Me neither.

      ADDIE J: Know what my name will be? … Black Widow. And my first song is called “Spider Eye.” Do you think people will steal my song?

      JULIE: They’ll have to pay you for it, J. It’s called royalties. I like the name, though.

      ADDIE J: Here’s how it goes:

         When I’m in the city, city

         Everyone’s looking at me, me

         Then I say to them, them

         I got that Spider Eye

      JULIE: That’s actually super cool, J.

      ADDIE J: I need someone to sing too.

      JULIE: I’ll sing.

      ADDIE J:

      JULIE: ……Or you can have someone else too.

      ADDIE J [relieved]: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

      JULIE: Okay, give me a smooch. Have a great day at school!

      ADDIE J [leans back into the car]: Mom, do you think the French will be offended if I use a French mustache in my video?

      JULIE: ….. Let me think about that. Ask me again after school.

      ADDIE J: Bye! I love you!

      …This is why it is virtually impossible to have a bad day, when that kid is around.


        Gratitude Tuesday

        camSort of like Taco Tuesday, only with fewer tacos.

        Gabby is still reading the seemingly-endless Warrior Cats books, and she frequently stops reading to tell me something about the plotline. I can never follow which cats are which– they all seem to have the same damn name, Shadowpelt or Fireclaw or whatever– and I don’t really care about the cats. But I always listen, and engage, and respond, because I never want her to think that I’m not interested in what she has to say. Same with the J– sometimes, I have to tell the J to stop talking and let someone else talk to me. My girls are chatterboxes, and they tell me lots of stuff, and I make a point of listening. Because today it’s cats and Jump Rope for Heart donations (shout out, everyone who donated to Addie’s campaign! She’s so happy). Tomorrow it might be something way more long-term important. In any event: the girls? The girls are still young. They’re still thoroughly mine.

        My son, though; he’s a teenager, strong and lean and taller than I. He’s an entirely different animal. Except.. after Gabby told me her story this morning, Cammy showed me some silly little meme on his phone. And I laughed, not because it was funny, but because I appreciated that he wanted to show me. Then, after he left for school, I got a text from him about something else. Just random, innocuous. And, looking at my phone, I was suddenly filled with gratitude. So grateful that my beautiful boy, who is a teenager now, strong and lean and taller than I, still wants to show me stupid memes that he finds. That beautiful boy who taught me how to be the mother of an infant, and later the mother of a little kid– and now, how to be the mother of a teen. I know how easy it would be for him to slip out of my death clutch grasp, as he starts to move away from Dave and me and toward his future, just a teeny bit forward every day. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I’ll be totally honest: I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent. I’ve never done this before, you see. I’m winging it, every day. And as my oldest kid, Cam is my guinea pig.

        So, when he sends me a text that says, “I can’t wait,” and I know what he’s talking about– I interpret that to mean, “So far, you’re doing okay, Mom.” And I’m filled with gratitude.

        Check back tomorrow though. Who knows.

          Here’s My Issue With Standardized Testing:

          The snacks.

          I mean it. I remember when I was a kid and we had our standardized testing, we did it in the gym. You could bring two pencils and a book to keep you busy between sections. These days, testing is done in the classroom. Fine. The kids still get to bring a book. Fine again. BUT…… Gabby came home on Friday with a along and detailed list of the various snacks the students are allowed to bring, to “help them focus” during testing week. (She wrote this list gigantically on her left arm, which is another topic entirely.) If I remember correctly, when I was young, there had to be an Act of God to allow you to get so much as a drink of water while testing was in progress. In fact, I clearly recall losing a tooth once, and the teacher just handed me a Kleenex and told me to wait until break. But Kids These Days? They get to keep their water bottles handy, and they can get up and refill them at will.

          And then there’s the snacks.

          Do your kids bring a snack as well as a lunch to school every day? My sixth grader gets daily snack time. And my third grader even gets chocolate milk at snack time, for the love of God. We were not allowed to eat anything– ANYTHING– unless we were sitting in the lunchroom, or at a holiday party. But Kids These Days? –The list on Gabby’s arm was clear: SNACKS TO HELP THEM FOCUS. “Look, Mom. I divided my arm into three sections: Gum, Mints, and Other,” Gabby told me helpfully. “Do you think I would like butterscotch? That’s under Other.” Addie J, smelling a specialty trip to the drugstore, chimed in. “I think we would both like the butterscotch, Gabby,” she said angelically. “But I’ll take whatever Mom wants to buy us.” And then she smiled sweetly at me and hugged me.

          I would like to note at this time that I received detention twice in high school. Once was because this little snot named Jason or Jimmy or Junior tattled on me, the day I wore shorts to school (shorts weren’t allowed, but they looked like a miniskirt which was allowed, and really? Can you see the difference here?). His mother was a teacher at the school and he told his mom on me, for real. I’m still disgusted. Anyway, the other time was because I was chewing gum. (You can see I was quite the rebel in high school.) So my kids, who casually tool around in shorts all day at school, are also encouraged to chew gum during testing week– just in case their daily snack wasn’t enough.

          My God. Get off my lawn, or I will turn the hose on you whippersnappers.

            Addie Has a Dark Side.

            She looks so sweet and innocent, doesn't she?

            She looks so sweet and innocent, doesn’t she?

            ADDIE J: Mom, I hope it gets really, really hot in the summer.

            JULIE: Me too.

            ADDIE J: Like, what if it was maybe 500 degrees?

            JULIE: I feel like that might be too hot.

            ADDIE J: I think it would be okay.

            JULIE: We would actually die.

            ADDIE J: Well, we have air conditioning. We could stay inside.

            JULIE: True. But what about all the people who don’t have air conditioning?

            ADDIE J: They would die.


            ADDIE J: But we would live.


            ADDIE J: So I hope it gets really, really hot.

              Thursday Bullet Blog

              • In case you’re wondering: I’m still obsessed with my Fitbit. You probably shouldn’t become my Fitbit friend, because I will totally beat you on a daily basis and I will be super obnoxious about it.
              • Just a general note: a couple of times recently I have heard a woman say, “Other women don’t really like me. You know how women get around each other,” or words to that effect. This never fails to irritate me, because of the willful omission of the Common Factor Principle (when looking for the problem in a series of related issues, you should always begin by identifying what these issues have in common). Ladies, as a woman who has never had trouble making and keeping wonderful, supportive, lifelong friendships, I’m here to tell you: look for the common factor in your relationships with other women. Here’s a hint: it’s you.
              • I continue to find it very bizarre that I can no longer instantly identify my son as the littlest guy on the field, that he has become one of a group of teenage-sized boys identifiable only by their helmets. Also: I really need Cam to stop showing me YouTube videos of terrible lacrosse hits. I always end up like this:
              • Gabby told me yesterday that some girls in her class come to school wearing a full face of makeup. Her friend M was in the car as well, and M confirmed it solemnly: “That is totally true,” she said. Fortunately for me, Gabby the Frat Boy isn’t really interested in makeup. Unfortunately for me, Addie J is obsessed with her daily wardrobe, while Gabby the Frat Boy isn’t really interested in looking nice, at all, ever. This is my daily conundrum.
              • Interesting moment from yesterday: I went downstairs to find the clothes dryer disemboweled, and my husband kneeling inside the surprisingly spacious corpse.
              • I submit to you that Valentine’s Day decorations should not go up outside your home until you have taken down your Christmas decorations. You know who you are.
              • In a few weeks, we have an appointment with the director of Registration at the high school, to discuss Cameron’s testing placements and courses. I’m in a complicated state of denial about this. Take it away, Steve Buscemi:


                My kids have allergies. You know this already. Cameron has actually been in treatment for his allergies for…… wait a second while I access my health claims history……. 6 years now. His treatments included getting his tonsils and adenoids (adenoid? His allergist refers to it in the singular?) removed, as well as a turbinate reduction– which basically means they shrank the tissues in his nasal passages to create an airway (where before there was functionally none). This was a radical improvement for him– Cam told me at the time, “It feels like I used to breathe through a straw, and now the straw is gone.” If only that had been the end of it, but: no. His severe allergies to everything on the planet continued to exist, so he started allergy drops. When he was older, we switched to weekly shots.

                For those of you who are blissfully unfamiliar, here’s the shots process: you drive to the office. The patient signs in and waits to be called. After shots are given, there is a mandatory wait time– in the office– to make sure the patient doesn’t experience a severe reaction to the shots, before you can drive home. In my three years of experience, this whole process can take anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours, door-to-door. Every. Single. Week. And the bitch of it was, Cam started feeling better almost immediately on the treatment, so I couldn’t even plead that it wasn’t working and stop taking him. Every time they tested him, he showed a teeny, teeny, tiny bit of improvement. It’s been a slow process…….

                ……And then last week, at his annual State of the Union appointment with the allergist, his doc checked him out and spoke these words, “His treatment has been a home run. His airways are just wide open.” AND THEN said that he could start getting shots every other week.



                Yesterday the allergist’s office called. “The doctor asked me to call you,” the nurse said, “because actually, Cameron remains just as allergic as he has always been to one allergen. He was wondering if you’d like to continue coming in every week for that one allergen, in hopes that he might build up a tolerance.”


                I said, “What’s the allergen?” And she replied, “Cats.” I too am allergic to cats; I also fiercely dislike cats and their filthy habits of indoor crapping as well as walking on furniture and kitchen surfaces. I said, “Nah. We don’t even like cats.”

                And I’m back to this:



                  Florida, My Favorite Crazy State.

                  This photo of Gwyneth Paltrow wearing a really bad jumpsuit, that shows her Spanx lines, causes the viewer to do a double-take, mutter "Oh my God," and laugh to herself-- just like news stories from Florida.

                  This photo of Gwyneth Paltrow wearing a really bad jumpsuit, that shows her Spanx lines, causes the viewer to do a double-take, mutter “Oh my God,” and laugh in disbelief– just like news stories from Florida.

                  Ah, Florida. You give and give. I was just reading this story about a really, really subtle Florida drug dealer, and laughing to myself, when I thought I remembered another, similar story (that’s the beauty of Florida: no matter how crazy the news item, I always think to myself, “Didn’t that happen already, somewhere in Florida?”). So I searched “Florida weird news.” I didn’t even get back to searching for that original article, because you guys– did you know there are entire web pages devoted to Florida’s daily insanity? Huffington Post has Weird Florida. There is a hysterical Twitter handle, Florida Man, which you just need to follow because you’re welcome. And Floridians seem to have a sense of humor about themselves, because the Sun-Sentinel carries a blog called FloriDUH.

                  Full disclosure: my uncle lived in Naples, and my aunt lived in St. Augustine. Lovely places both; I’ve visited lots of other very nice places in Florida (Orlando of course; Destin; Miami, etc. I personally have never met the level of crazy that Florida produces on a daily basis, any time I have visited– but I sort of wish that I had. And I’m not alone in loving the weirdness that is Florida: any time the headline begins with “Florida Man….” — you click it, too. So keep on keepin’ on, Florida. You light up my news feed as well as my life.

                    New Year’s Diet Resolutions? I’m Here to Help!

                    Often, people will ask me if I’m a vegetarian. And actually: no, I am not. But I think I could easily stop eating meat– as long I could still have eggs and dairy. Dairy because 1. cream in my coffee; 2. chai lattes (and I do not want to hear about the soy milk option); 3. pizza with real cheese. And eggs because, since I tend not to eat a lot of meat, a good percentage of my protein intake comes from my morning scrambled-egg-and-salsa-in-a-tortilla breakfast obsession. But, other than my latest obsession of entering my food intake into Fitbit, I tend to just follow the, “Eat mostly healthy, and also exercise” plan. Now that the holidays are over and we aren’t buying those incredible made-in-house tortilla chips from the nearby grocery, of course. The holidays were a blur of extra salty tortilla chips and vodka tonics.

                    We are in the start of a new year, which is the time many people make a life change, such as in their diets. My beloved Gwyneth Paltrow suggests annual cleanses to start off the New Year– last year she recommended that we all eat chickpeas in bowls of lemon water (I actually love chickpeas, but that photo is Just. So. Gross), and this year we’ve got some amazing smoothie options: you can go with kale, dandeli0n, and parsley (she calls this the House Special; I would have called it Lawn Trimmings) or you could try the beets-and-ginger variety. I love her so, so, so much for her genuine belief that people should consume these items together as a drink. But! If you do not hate yourself, and you’re looking for a less terrible way to change your diet, you have many, many other options: the Paleo. The gluten-free. Raw food. And, honestly: go for it. I don’t care at all what you’re eating and why. I might roll my eyes while you’re telling me how superior your sugar-free, carb-free, dairy-free, free-of-all-good-things Prisoner at Alcatraz diet makes you feel– but I won’t begrudge you one single day of denying yourself the deliciousness.

                    In fact, just in case you do want to find the weirdest, most obscure and dubious diet possible, I’m going to help you: New York Magazine asked a journalist to try a variety of bizarre celebrity diets. They range from the weird (Elizabeth Taylor liked tuna with tomato paste and grapefruit) to the truly horrifying (Greta Garbo put raw eggs in her orange juice, you guys. For real). So if you’re tired of your existing weird diet, feel free to give one of these a try.

                    Looking for something less vomit-inducing? Enjoying developing your jaw muscles? Fletcherism says you can eat whatever you want, as long as you wait until you “have a true hunger” and chew everything at least 32 times.

                    If you really want to emphasize the “cleanse” part of this concept, you might try the misleadingly named Lemonade Diet. Only, um, it’s not lemonade– it’s “lemonade.” You will not spend all day sunning yourself on the wide front porch of your family’s plantation, and calling for more delicious, ice-cold lemonade. Rather you will start off every day by drinking a full quart of saltwater and then trying not to die. If you do live, then for the rest of that awful day you will ingest nothing but hot water with lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. This is like lemonade for people who enjoy the taste of the dishwasher’s rinse cycle.

                    Speaking of trying not to die: the tapeworm diet? Really?

                    Finally, my current favorite diet product: Sensa powder. Just shake that shit all over your food and it will look too disgusting to eat  it will curb your appetite. How well does it work? Well, if you click that link, you’ll see just what happened to this company and its breakthrough scientific product.

                    Or, you know: just try to eat healthy most of the time, and then don’t sweat the occasional homemade tortilla chip binge. (Sorry, Gwyneth. I know you’re disappointed in me.)

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