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Get Out of the House!

Remember those horror films and stories of old, in the days before Caller I.D. and cell phones? The babysitter/cheerleader/helpless pretty blonde girl of some sort is alone in the house and she’s receiving threatening phone calls? She calls the operator who researches the calls. The operator calls her back and yells, “Get out of the house. The calls are coming from INSIDE the house!” At this point, mayhem and death usually ensue.

While no one in my house is trying to kill me (at least not overtly–Pie is clearly playing the long-game here on driving me to madness and perhaps death), I did have my own experience with this.

I received one of those lovely Facebook messages recently:

Hi Jenny,
We detected a login into your account from a new device named “Firefox on Linux” on Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 7:38pm.

Operating System: Linux
Browser: Firefox
Location: Arlington, MA, US (IP=

Note: Location is based on internet service provider information.
If this was you, please disregard this email.
If this wasn’t you, please secure your account, as someone else may be accessing it.
The Facebook Security Team

“Huh,” I said to Adam. “That’s odd.”

“You should go change your password,” he said. “Just to make sure.”

I clicked on the link that read “secure your account.” And I received a message that read (I’m paraphrasing here), “The I.P. address is the one you are currently logged in on. Are you sure it wasn’t you?”

The calls were coming from inside the house.

I asked Adam, “Did you try to log in as me?”

He shook his head. “No, not me.”

I had my suspicions at this point. “Doodles!! What the hell are you doing to my accounts?”

“Me?” His poked out of his room with his customary “hey, I’m lying” wrinkle of his forehead. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Did I mention that just a week before this, he asked Adam, “What does [the password I use to log onto my computer] actually mean?” Adam warned him he shouldn’t be messing around my stuff.

I didn’t think much of it, because I knew he was doing something, I just didn’t know what. And then I found out (and he doesn’t know I know, unless he’s smart enough to read this blog occasionally just to find out what I DO know!) that the little bugger had taken one of Adam’s old laptops (and I mean old–think ten-year-old IBM ThinkPads, heavy as a sack of bricks), installed Linux on it, and is trying to infiltrate my accounts.

What does he think he’s going to do? Post a status that could embarrass me? Doesn’t he realize that 1) I embarrass myself so much that there’s really not much he could do to make it worse and 2) payback is a bitch.

I’m sort of torn about what to do. Do I confiscate the laptop? Or be impressed at his skill? I figure this is the story he’ll tell about how he got started, either when he’s the CEO of his own multi-billion dollar company or from a jail cell trying to explain how hacking led him to a life of crime.

And in the meantime, if there are any truly odd Facebook or Twitter posts from me, you’ll know I was hacked. By my own son. Freakin’ doofus.

The Post in Which I Need to Unbuckle My Belt

Why’d you let me eat so much? Seriously, this past weekend was one of total gluttony. My parents and my sister stayed with us a couple of nights, and for the Turkey Day itself, Adam’s brother came with his wife, his kids–Dutchie and Lalune–and his wife’s sister. His wife and her sister are ACTUAL twins as opposed to the Tweedle Twins who are twins in name alone. The real twins swear they’re not identical. I don’t believe them for a second.

Surprisingly, everyone got along quite well and the only ones arguing this past weekend were my sister and me. My sister and I have some deep philosophical differences that threaten the very core of our relationship. She is a do-gooder who likes to follow the rules. I am in the “more bourbon!” camp. Never the twain shall meet:

Tweedle Twirp: The recipe calls for three tablespoons of bourbon.
Me: Put in five.
Tweedle Twirp: I’ll put in a smidgen more.
Me: Put in five.
Tweedle Twirp: There. That was almost four tablespoons.
Me: That wasn’t even close four tablespoons. Put in five.
Tweedle Twirp: It’s good like this. And now to cook it so it burns the alcohol off.
Me: Noooooooooooooooooooo!

Needless to say, I spent the entire cooking day following her around with a bottle of Basil Hayden topping off every dish she had touched.

The second argument we had over the course of the weekend involved children. I am all done with babies. I’m really not much a baby person to begin with. Especially newborns with their pink faces and wobbly necks. But after spending the afternoon with Lalune, who is about eight months old and just about the most laid-back baby you’ll ever meet, I realized it’s not that I don’t like babies, I just don’t like my own babies (nothing personal, Doodles and Pie). Other people’s babies are great! You play with them. Smell their pretty heads. Nibble on their toes. And then hand them back. It’s freakin’ perfection! But I don’t have enough babies in my life. Which is why I’ve suddenly decided that my childless–excuse me, “childfree”–sister needs to have a baby. Luckily, Doodles and Pie jumped all over that.

“I’m not having a baby,” Tweeds said.

We threw reason after reason at her.

All she did was keep repeating, “I’m not having a baby. I’m not having a baby. A baby is not an option. I am not having a baby.”

Little sisters suck.

On a good note, the minute my mom got to the house, she started in on the house projects. She built a new work bench for Adam in the basement. She said to me, “You know you can re-cover those ripped bar stools? If only you had the fabric, I could do it for you.” I’m not ashamed to admit, I forewent all my Black Friday reservations for an early morning trip to Jo-Ann Fabric to get fabric in time for my mother to re-cover our bar stools before having to catch her afternoon flight home. Do I feel guilty making her work in her final hours of vacation? If you don’t know the answer to that is “no,” then you haven’t been reading my blog for very long.

Ugh, my pants still hurt. Seriously, don’t let me eat so much next time, okay?

Proof of Paternity

The boy has a phone. One of the rules of the phone is that at any time I can look at the phone, read text messages, and use them to humiliate. Okay, maybe I never exactly spelled out the “humiliate” part, but I assume it was pretty much implied. I mean, the boy’s been living here for eleven years now. He knows how it goes.

Most of the texts were pretty boring, to tell the truth. But then I found one from Tab. And if ever anyone wanted proof that the boy is Adam’s son, this is it:


This boy has “software engineer” written all over him…. (And, note, there have been no more text messages to him from Tab.)

Sappiness Is in the Air

I do snark well. I do grumpy. I’m pretty much an expert on whining. But posting things of pure joy is an alien notion to me. And yet… I am happy. No, not happy. Ecstatic.

I’ve said it plenty of times on Facebook, and I’ll say it again here: I don’t do sappy. When Adam and I choose to express our feelings for each other, we dwell in the practical, not the mushy. For instance, he’s been traveling a ton, from time zone to time zone (seriously, in the past four weeks, he’s gone San Francisco=>Boston=>Dublin=>Boston=>Los Angeles=>Boston=>and at this moment he is in Rome), so when he was home over the weekend, he was pretty exhausted. He was passed out asleep on Saturday morning when I went downstairs at 5 a.m. to get stuff done. I realized, though, just after I had shut the door closed tight (our loud door) that I had left my Fitbit in the room. Risk waking him? Or lose the steps? You know how much I care about someone when I am willing to forgo the steps. I spent an hour doing step-filled chores without my Fitbit, waiting for him to wake. Thank goodness he rose before I had to go on my run, because that would have tested the limits of my love. And in return, Adam shows his affection in his own way, like before he left for the airport today, he made sure to pick me up a case of my favorite wine. He’ll be gone for three nights. A case should just about cover it.

So when I say that I there is something that is making me deliriously happy, overjoyed, practically turning cartwheels (okay, that’s an exaggeration: cartwheels make me motion sick) you can be sure I’m serious. What is it? Well, because I don’t want to double post, I’m going to ask you (beg you?) to rush on over to my other blog at to find out what it is. (And, no! I’m not pregnant. This uterus is all boarded up, thank you very much.) Are you still here? Don’t mosey! Go! Now! To the blog!

Now, to clean the sap off my hands. Or rather, maybe I won’t. I’m enjoying it all too much for the moment.

Goofus, No Gallant

I read somewhere that if you’re going to eat candy, you should let the wrappers pile up, because when you see how many you’ve eaten, you’ll stop.

Doesn’t work. I look at the pile and think, “Shit, I’ve gone this far. Might as well eat another five.”
Did I mention it’s only 9:12 a.m.?

Did I mention my tummy is starting to bother me?

Did I mention I just put another wrapper on the pile? (If you are one of my children and you are reading this, “Ha ha! Just kidding! That’s all garbage I picked up off the street on my way home from walking Pie to school. I would never eat like that. Especially not first thing in the morning. So bad for you. So bad!”)

My son has been a terror these days. He had a doctor’s appointment and we were running a few minutes late. Parking was going to be a bit of a pain, and I was stopped at a traffic light across the street from where he had to be, so I said to him, “Why don’t you get out here and walk to the appointment and I’ll park and meet you.”

“Okay,” he said, hopping out of the car. And then he completely bypassed the traffic light, walked up one the absolute busiest streets in our town, and proceeded to cross in the middle of the street, around the cars. I’m trying to yell at him from the car, “Doodles! You moron! Cross at the light. CROSS AT THE LIGHT!”

By the time I park and catch up with him, I’m furious. “What the hell! That was a complete lack of judgment! How can I trust you to walk yourself places when you do it like an f’ing idiot! Seriously! What were you thinking?”

“Sorry, sorry!” he said. “I didn’t know you wanted me to cross at the light!”

“How could you NOT know that? You are eleven years old and you don’t know how to cross a street? How do you have such a complete lack of judgment! Complete! How do you not know this! COMPLETE LACK OF JUDGMENT!”

Luckily, it was his turn to go in, so my tirade ended, though I silently cursed him throughout. And on the way out, still feeling really snippy, I walked him down to the corner and demonstrated how one crosses at the light. I looked at my kid, shivering in his t-shirt, and I said, “Put on your jacket.”

“I don’t have a jacket with me,” he said.

“It’s October. In the Northeast. Why the hell do you not have a jacket?”

The little twit looked at me and shrugged. “I dunno,” he said. “Complete lack of judgment?”

I. Wanted. To. Smack. Him.

Surprisingly, he has continued to live and thrive.

(Those of you not on Facebook–my dad!–don’t have the benefit of hearing conversations like this between my son and myself, but it pretty much wraps up where we stand these days:
Me: How is it you made it to 11 and you’re still alive?
Boy: Survival of the fittest.
Me: Boy, if there were ever an argument against natural selection, you’re it.
Boy: The sad thing is that I was Dad’s strongest sperm.)

Meanwhile he’s signed up for a hacking contest, and all he wants to do his hack. (And now I’m singing that in my head to the tune of Don Henley’s “All She Wants to Do Is Dance.”) Homework? If he can fit it in. Viola practice? Not so much. Sleep? Who needs sleep? There’s hacking to be done! My boy is clamoring to be a geeking cliche.

By the way, I solved the candy problem. I threw out the wrappers. Now to keep my girl from going through the garbage looking for them (I swear, she does it, always trying to catch me chocolate-handed!).

Milky Way, anyone? I can be forgiven, though. It’s fortification for the yelling I’ll need to do later when I discover the latest stupid thing that boy has done. Maybe I should have two.

Columbus Is Not a Hero

In “honor” of Columbus Day, I am posting an essay the boy wrote last year, in his 5th grade class.

Columbus Is Not a Hero
An Essay By Doodles



Christopher Columbus killed many innocent Native Americans and we celebrate him as a hero… Does something sound wrong about that sentence? Why do we celebrate somebody who killed so many innocent people? Has humankind finally met its demise!? This is a essay about why Christopher Columbus is NOT a hero. I am going to give you a couple reasons why.

First, some background info. Columbus came to the Americas to do two things: Get rich (find gold) and claim land for Spain. In the year 1492 he landed on the island of Hispaniola (now called Haiti). There, he met the native people, called the Táinos. Now why is Columbus not a hero? Here’s why:

One reason Christopher Columbus is not a hero is that he completely wiped out the Táino people. Today, because of Columbus, there are no pure blood Táino people left in the world. Before Columbus came to the Americas, some people estimated that there were about 1,000,000 native Táinos, now there are 0. Big fat ZERO. Why? Because of Columbus’ lasting effects, there are no pure-blood Táinos left in the world.

Another reason Columbus is not a hero is that he demanded gold from the natives when their land had little gold. In his journal Columbus wrote: “There was land at the south as well as at the southwest and northwest and those from the northwest came many times and fought with them and proceeded on to the southwest in search of gold and precious stones.” It says right there that Columbus, “fought with them … search of gold and precious stones.”

Basically, Columbus is even telling us straight out that he fought the natives to get gold! The Táino tried to explain to Columbus that there was little gold in the land, but he would not listen. If they brought him no gold he would cut their hands off. How can we paint a picture of a hero from that? And, he has his own holiday (Columbus day in October to commemorate Columbus landing in the New World)! The land had very little gold but he was greedy. So he enslaved the Táinos and made them give him gold. They had to melt down all their gold jewelry and items to give to Columbus. When those ran out they had to scavenge the land for gold. This is part of how Columbus killed off all the Táino people.

And the most important reason Columbus is not a hero is that Columbus started the European Slave Trade by taking a bunch of Táino men and bringing them to Europe. Once they got there he sold them as a form of slave labor. Anyone who is a slave trader is evil! The slave trade that Columbus started lasted for over 400 years! In his own journal Columbus wrote: “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.” He took some of the natives by force in order to learn… isn’t that the definition of a slave? Taking them by force and basically making them be Columbus’ guide? This slave trade included people from Africa as well and North America. So that means Columbus’ evil lasted for more than a hundred years after he died.

Finally, Columbus is not a hero because he bartered with the Táinos unfairly. In Columbus’ journal he wrote: “The natives are an inoffensive people, and so desirous to possess any thing they saw with us, that they kept swimming off to the ships with whatever they could find, and readily bartered for any article we saw fit to give them in return, even such as broken platters and fragments of glass. I saw in this manner sixteen balls of cotton thread which weighed above twenty-five pounds, given for three Portuguese ceutis.” They gave Columbus and his crew things that are valuable to The Táinos and Columbus gave them back trash! I mean, broken platters and fragments of glass! That hardly sounds fair!

Because of these reasons, I don’t like Christopher Columbus, but what really ticks me off is that we have an entire holiday devoted to him! I mean, sure, he discovered the Americas, but he killed thousands of Native Americans in the process. So, next Columbus Day ask yourself: “Who are we really commemorating here? A hero who found the Americas or a no-good dirty killer who wiped out an entire race of people?”

If we think of Columbus as a hero we are tragically wrong. In my opinion Christopher Columbus is not a hero because he wiped out an entire race of people, he demanded gold when the Táinos were unable to give gold to him, he killed them all when they rightfully rebelled against him, and he started the European Slave Trade. In conclusion, I think that Christopher Columbus is not a hero.

Find out more about Columbus! Here are some websites that I used:
History Channel:
Enchanted Learning:
Fordham University (Most of the things from Columbus’ journal):

Football Loyalty

Lest you think my son is the only one who amuses us, note this conversation I recently had with my nine-year-old daughter.

I happened to be at her class’s library time at the elementary school. The kids are into polls these days. As in “Who/what do you like better? X or Y?” A boy came up to the table where the girl was sitting, and posed this poll question: “Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?”

The girl froze, looking toward me, knowing there was a right answer, but unsure of what it would be. To give you a hint of that right answer, this was the girl and myself during the first week of football this season:
Girl: Uh…

Me: Seriously? Seriously?

Girl: Uh…

I turn to boy: I’m answering for her! She picks Peyton Manning!

Boy writes it down and wanders off.

Me: How could you even consider Tom Brady? Seriously?

Girl: But I wasn’t sure who Peyton Manning is.

Me: It doesn’t matter! You pick whoever is not Tom Brady!

Later, in the car, I go over this with her again, to make sure she understands.

Me: We don’t like Tom Brady. When you are asked, “Anybody or Tom Brady,” you ALWAYS pick “anybody”!

Girl: Always?

Me: Yes! Let’s practice. Hey, Pie, Tom Brady versus anybody.

Girl: Anybody.

Me: Right!

Girl: What if the other person is also a Patriots player?

Me: Hmm. Yes, well… Well, then you still pick that other person. “Tom Brady versus anybody”? Pick anybody!

Girl: Okay.

Me: Well, if it’s Tom Brady versus Hitler, yes, you pick Tom Brady, but anything else, it’s anybody!

Girl: Okay. Um, Hitler?

Me: Remember, he was the leader of Germany in World War II? Hated the Jews?

Girl: Oh yeah, right. Wait! Hitler played football?

And that’s life with a 4th grader. Also fun fun.

The Post in Which I Go Just a Little Too Far

Before we begin, let me say this is a TMI post. If you don’t want to know that much about us, then just mosey along.

Still here? Okay.

I’m hesitant to write half of the conversations in this house, because while I find my children amusing 1) I’m not sure others will and 2) the kids are getting to be just old enough to complain about my writing about them.

But then I thought, do I really care what anyone else–including my own children–think? So I will continue to share until DSS (which is actually called DFC in Massachusetts) tells me to stop. Please assure me that everyone has conversations like this with their eleven-year-old sons.

A few weeks ago, a friend came to stay with us with his girlfriend. My friend–let’s call him Fishy because, well, it’s his name, more or less and I have no qualms about writing about him–was here for two nights with his woman friend, whom we shall call Lady Fish.

Before they came, the boy asked at dinner one night: Will Fish and Lady Fish be in the guest room?

Me: Yes.

Boy: Together?

Me: Of course.

Boy: Ugh!

Me: Why?

Boy: That means there’s a chance–like a 50 percent chance–that there will be coitus in this house!

Me: Excuse me?

Boy: If they’re dating, they could have SEX in our house!

Me: And this is a problem because…

Boy: Ew!

Me: Are you saying there isn’t sex in this house otherwise?

Boy: No, of course there isn’t.

Me: What about me and your father?

[Note, said father and little sister are both listening fascinated]

Boy: You don’t have sex.

Me: We don’t?

Boy: Well, you did. Twice. But you don’t have sex anymore.

Me: What makes you say that?

Boy: Because I saw Dad’s drawer and there aren’t any condoms in it.

Girl: But when she was reading It’s Perfectly Normal to me, she showed me a condom, so they do have some!

Boy: Did she open it to show you?

Girl: Yes.

Boy: Ha! Then that condom can’t be used any more.

Me: You know there are other forms of birth control besides condoms.

Boy looks momentarily befuddled.

Girl: There are?

Me: Sure. Lots of kinds.

And, yes, dear reader, I’m embarrassed to say I told the kids exactly what kind of birth control we use, but I’m bashful enough (despite that this blog seems to want to prove otherwise) not to broadcast that here.

Both children consider other forms of birth control. Finally:

Boy: Well, you still don’t have sex, because I stay up pretty late, and I definitely would have heard you having sex.

Flash forward a couple of weeks, and I’m at the Lena Dunham reading of Not That Kind of Girl with a good friend. Lena Dunham has teamed up with Planned Parenthood for the tour, so in the lobby they were giving away goody bags. With condoms in them. I, of course, texted my boy right away: “They’re giving out condoms at my reading. So now there will be some in the house again. FYI.”

No response from the boy.

But the next morning, I went to wake him up and I brought him a little goody bag of his own.

Me: Wake up, sweetie. Time to get ready for school! Oh, and by the way, I brought you a condom.

Boy, with one eye barely cracked open, not missing a beat: I’d have rather you brought me a pastry.

And that, my friends, is what life is like with a middle schooler these days. Fun, fun.


Self-Reliance the Hard (or, Rather, Nonexistent) Way

Yesterday morning, Pie comes bounding into the bedroom as I’m getting up.

Pie: Do we have blueberries?

Me: Why, yes, I believe we got pack from Boston Organics last week.

Pie: May I make blueberry muffins?

Me: That sounds like a great idea. Go flip through one of your kid cookbooks and find a recipe. Also check my whole grains cookbook.

A few minutes later she comes back.

Pie: Your whole grains cookbook didn’t have one, but my kid’s cookbook does. Can I make it?

I look at the recipe.

Me: It’s got a lot of butter but, well, sure. Go for it!

About 15 minutes later, we’re in the kitchen. I look at the recipe.

Me: Okay the first thing you need to do is get the butter from the fridge and melt it on the stove.

Pie: Can you do that?

Me: No, you’re the baker.

Pie: But I’m only nine. I can’t use the oven or stove.

Me: You are already nine, which is a fine time to learn properly and safely to use the oven and stove.

Pie: I think nine is too young.

Me: Do you know that when I was nine, if wanted cookies, they only way I could get them would be if I baked them? I followed the recipe on the back of the Nestle’s package and made Tollhouse Cookies.

Adam: And it always comes back to your poor, difficult childhood.

Me: You [to Adam], shut up. You [to Pie], get the butter.

Pie: You do it! I’m not going to use the oven or the stove! Can’t you do it for me?

Me: No. I don’t even like blueberry muffins. I’m not making them. If you want blueberry muffins, you will learn to use the oven and stove. I will be by your side helping you, but you will do it.


Needless to say (though I’ll do so anyway), there were no blueberry muffins yesterday.

Interview with a 9 Year Old

Me: What was last Monday?

9 year old: My birthday.

Me: If your birthday was on Monday, why am I interviewing you on Friday?

9 year old: Because on my birthday we were full–we were busy–and so we didn’t have time and we never got to do it because we had to do other stuff at home so we’re doing it today.

Me: What other stuff did we have to do?

9 year old: I had a birthday party and we had to unpack.

Me: What was your party like?

9 year old: It was a Hawaiian Splash Slumber Party. Meaning it was a Hawaiian party and the splash part was we played in water.

Me: Was it good?

9 year old: Yeah.

Me: How does it feel to be a nine year old?

9 year old: Good. Awesome. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Me: How did you spend your birthday?

IMG_75639 year old: [In New York] We went to breakfast at the Cookshop and we went to the High Line and we went to Union Square playground. Then we went to the Converse store, and then went to this bakery but we didn’t get anything there [we were checking out the Cronut bakery, but the Cronuts were long gone and nothing else looked interesting to her] and then we got this watermelon water, which was really yummy, and then we went to the Chobani store [for a snack]. And then we went to the Children’s Museum of the Arts [where she drew, collaged, and made a clay birthday pig]. And then after that we went shopping with my aunt and her, um, boyfriend [the Tweedle Twins]. Then we went back to the apartment for presents and cake. And then we went out for dinner to Le Zie and Peter made these online invitations and it was really funny [otherwise known as calendar invites, which are amazing to a 9 year old). And then me and my aunt and my mom went to see Mamma Mia on Broadway. Then we went to Toys R Us but they were closing because it was almost 11 o’clock so we went back to the apartment and went back to sleep.

Me: Why do you keep saying “awnt”? It’s pronounced “ant.” Are you a Brown or a Medros? Only those fussy Medroses say “awnt.”

9 year old: I’m a Brown-Medros.

Me: Was it a good birthday?

9 year old: Yes!

Me: What do you like to do these days?

9 year old: I like dance and I like soccer and I like Girl Scouts and I like to play the bass and I like Hebrew school and I do Smart Start [a before-school PE program] and I’m going to do Fit Girls [a running program for 4th and 5th grade girls]. I also like hanging out with family and friends.

Me: How did you end up so different from your brother?

9 year old: I don’t know because he’s just like, “Hmm, I just want to play on the computer,” and once the computer was invented, he was like “Adios, everybody,” and I was never like “Adios, everybody.” Differences are okay.

Me: What are your favorite books?

9 year old: I really like the Lunch Lady books. I like Wendy Mass.

Me: What are you listening to?

9 year old: Mamma Mia soundtrack. ABBA, actually. Selena Gomez. Who else? Mack Z.

Me: What are your favorite things to watch?

9 year old: Mamma Mia. Liv and Maddie. Kickin’ It. I Didn’t Do It. The 7D, which my brother taught me to like.

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?

9 year old: A writer or a teacher or maybe a scientist that studies plants.

Me: What are you looking forward to in 4th grade?

photo9 year old: Switching classes. And having my teacher [she got the teacher she wanted]. And dance parties [4th grade has Friday afternoon dance parties].

Me: What are your goals as an 9 year old?

9 year old: Be more awesomer [sic] than ever.

Me: Any grand pronouncements?

9 year old: What’s that mean?

Me: Really? Again? Any grand statements? Any big thoughts? Here, look it up: “a formal declaration of opinion” or “an authoritative announcement.”

9 year old: Don’t eat bunnies! Bunnies aren’t food!

Me: Really? What does that even mean?

9 year old: Some stores have started selling bunny meat!

Me: What stores?

9 year old: I don’t know.

Me: You want to end on that note? What’s the last thing you want to say.

9 year old: Bye?

Ah, my 9 year old. May it be an “awesomer” year for you.