My Whim is Law

…where a single parent in Portland still believes that wishing will make it so…

Not everyone gets a song written about them for Mother’s Day, do they?

Well, if you’re the parent of #SheTeen (newly immortalized in this picture taken yesterday with Portland’s Mayor Sam Adams), you do.

Best. Mothers Day. Gift. EVAH.

(Until later today, when #HeTeen takes us both to Dick’s Kitchen for my Mother’s Day dinner, that is…)

Now, back out to enjoy the lovely atypical Portland Mother’s Day sunshine. Hope your day is equally spendiferous!

Monday AM UPDATE: #SheTeen did, in fact, get dessert last evening. Thought you’d want to know/I’d better document it…!

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Me? I’m just #SheTeen’s roadie these days…

Getting out of the house each weekday morning has taken on a new dimension – and Wednesday morning is by far the most challenging day. Why? My budding musical prodigy #SheTeen has several different projects in the works… practices to attend… and yet another musical passion unfolding – and they all converge on Wednesdays.

We loaded 7 different items in the car this morning:

  • Her laptop – used to help store files/produce her 8th grade capstone music video she works on during school on Wednesdays
  • Her new amp – used 3x a week for both jazz band rehearsal & now music video
  • The older mixer – used now for the music video only (new amp handles needs for jazz band vocals)
  • A ukelele – her latest musical passion. I ‘bought’ it from a friend of mine for, as #SheTeen put it “3 beers and a promise” (where the promise was to actually do something with it). In the 2 weeks she’s owned it? She’s learned 8 songs (one an original composition w/vocals), incorporated it into her music video, recorded video for YouTube, used as part of her audition for the school talent show, and performed w/it at our synagogue’s Purim carnival. Plus, it’s now going to school with her most days. When #SheTeen gets obsessed with something, well…it’s An Obsession.
  • Her mic set – handed down from my friend Robert (thank you!), this travels with her for both jazz band rehearsal & music video production, and has been utilized to also do her at-home YouTube video production work.
  • Her music bag – this cloth bag has her binder full of sheet music (all carefully stored in plastic protective sheets) for her daily choir class, jazz band & the upcoming music she’ll need as part of the all-city middle school Honors Choir. (Yay! #MomTaxi gears up for this next Monday evening, in fact…)
  • Her purse – among other things, this has a pack of Chloraseptic lozenges, nuts & protein bars, and a ton of detritus I’d just rather not know about…
  • And oh, yeah – her backpack for school. The 25-lb behemoth that’s stuffed to the gills and just might break a toe should it accidentally drop on your foot.

Yes, she straps most of this around her shoulders, whether cross-body, over one shoulder, or on her back (in the case of the backpack. (Her dad has a great picture of this up on Facebook, in fact.) Yep, it’s quite the sight to see her try to manage it all* (especially since she weighs all of 110 lbs herself.) No, she won’t let me help her with dragging any of it into school. Until today.

The addition of the new amp made this much more than one single determined 13-year-old who would sooner die than be seen in public with her MO-ther at Schooooool could handle on her own.

(Funny how she doesn’t much mind me helping her haul it out to the car from our house, or from jazz band rehearsal to the car in the evenings…)

So I get to add another job title to my ever-expanding list these days (#StageMama, #MomTaxi, The Meanest Mother in the Whole Wide World, the Primary Funder of All Things Musical/Non-Musical, Nutrition Counselor, Undesirable Chaperone and, finally, the Homework Haranguer and general annoying Pain In the Ass parent):


Good thing I’m working double-time on those strength training routines, no?

In the meantime (since I’m clearly persona-non-grata at school) – yes, I’m also looking into better packing/traveling options for her of the rolling/wheeled variety.

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My new roommate – #HeTeen?

Yes, our mother/son relationship has taken a new twist these days.

As you might recall, #HeTeen had already been bailing on at least one night of the two evenings the kids were spending with their father every other weekend. If you’ve followed me for a while now? You already know that my kid-free weekend is a time I cherish deeply – I can play my own music (or play nothing at all), entertain my friends, and set my own schedule w/o interference/inquisitions.

And you know what? I’ve been doing just that when #HeTeen is here and his sister is not (save for that whole ‘entertaining friends’ bit.) He’s also made it clear that his time at his dad’s on weekends hasn’t worked for him on a few different levels (mostly involving the fact that he’s sharing a room with his dreaded little sister when he’s there), and that if he were given the choice, he’d just as soon stay here.

His dad – while still wanting to hang out with #HeTeen – admitted that having both kids in his house on his weekends has been less-than-ideal lately.

The only objector here? Yours truly. But when I took a few minutes to look objectively at the situation, I realized it would be best for all concerned if I caved & just did away with the dream of ‘kid-free weekends’ for the short-term.

So in late January, we removed the requirement that #HeTeen had to go with his dad for at least one of the two evenings.

And you know what? It’s not been nearly as horrible as I thought it would be. Why? He recognizes that this is still my time off – so doesn’t expect me to produce meals, be home on a regular basis, or provide for his basic needs unless previously negotiated/agreed to.

Sure, there’s usually food in the house. Nope, I won’t deny him part of my meal if I’m making dinner for myself – but he doesn’t much like the foods I’m making these days (unless it’s meat, sauce and onions – then, he’s good!) And he’s learning that if he wants macaroni & cheese, well – he’d best grab a box from the pantry and make it his own damned self.

So he does. And as a result, he’s expanding his culinary repertoire. This morning? I posted this on Twitter:

WOW. A man is making breakfast for me. Okay, it’s only #HeTeen – & I’m betting I’ll end up doing the dishes. But STILL.

He has a ‘favorite spatula’. He’s appreciative of the wifi setup that lets him flip his stored music in his room to the kitchen speakers – and says so. He’s asking for favors, but offering a clear payback if I agree to same. He’s paying for his own incidentals (the phone bill, for example) and negotiating with me to pick him up things that I typically won’t buy as part of regular groceries (“if you buy me Gatorade when you’re at the store, I’ll pay you back for it…”)

at 18, he sets his own schedule – but informs me of his whereabouts as a common courtesy, or adheres to basic house rules. He’s already been doing his own laundry for four years now. I don’t have to nag him about cleaning up his room, washing his bedding, taking a shower (done, done and done – all on a fairly fastidious schedule, if I do say so myself).

The only thing I have to occasionally nag about these days? Taking out the garbage every other week – and even then, he made it clear that if he fails to do it the night before, it’s my job to wake his ass up at 6 am the day of to haul it to the curb. Yes, even if he’s sleeping, or sick. (This after one too many times of hauling it to the curb myself and then haranguing him after the fact.) “How else am I supposed to learn, Mom? If I forgot – wake me up and tell me to take care of it instead of doing it yourself and then bitching at me. I probably won’t keep forgetting – right?”

And he was right.

The real bonus, though? Getting a chance to hang out with him as a peer of sorts – and not as one of my two children.

It’s been kinda nice, actually. So while I don’t think we’re really roommates, well – that’s the closest word I have to describe what happens when his sister goes to her dad’s for the weekend.

As long as he doesn’t borrow my clothes – I think we’re All Good for the time being.

(Although he probably doesn’t need to know that I’m using one of his old t-shirts as my gym workout shirt – does he? Nope…so shhhh on that fact, please?)

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Rebooting meal planning for w/o 1-22

So…what’s the post-mortem on last week’s meal plan, you wonder? (You may not really be wondering, but I’mma gonna tell you anyway…)

SO…Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday went off without a hitch (yes, smartasses – the kitchen stayed closed on Tuesday as promised, so I can still count it in the Plus column, right? Right…)

Monday’s meatloaf? #Teens hated it, while I thought it was perfectly fine. But since I wasn’t going to eat it all myself, it got revised into what was going to be spaghetti sauce on Thursday. Until neither kid showed up for dinner by the time it was ready.

At that point? I tossed some greens in it as well (just as #HeTeen walked in the house, took one look, and dismissed it as ‘food you give to prisoners’). That’s quite all right – I ate two bowls myself (minus the pasta, of course) & pointed #HeTeen at the frozen burritos instead.

We’re back on track, though – chicken stock’s underway in the crockpot for Sunday night matzoh ball soup, while #HeTeen & I have a steak date later this evening.

And the promised potato-leek soup? On tap for Monday’s dinner.

The rest of the week will be a scramble, thanks to #SheTeen’s insane schedule that includes 3 evening practices, 2 early AM rehearsals, 1 middle school youth group dinner and not 1, not 2, but 3 performances this week (it’s why she was MIA for the spaghetti sauce meal as well.) So I’ll content myself by giving us all home-cooked decent food to start the week off, and punt when necessary.

Who knows – those frozen burritos might start looking really tempting by the end of the week, even for me!

Posted in Bossing the Kids, Caveman Eating, Chef Whims | Leave a comment

Yes, I’m a stage mother. Wanna make something of it?

My next career move? Managing my daughter’s musical career.

At least, that’s what you might gather by following my recent Twitter/Facebook posts. Or by looking at my calendar this week (jazz band practice M/Wed, performance Tuesday, private voice lessons Thursday and a recording session Friday. Nope, am not kidding.)

I’ve talked before about #SheTeen’s new jazz orchestra adventure (and have been relentlessly promoting tonight’s event on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and anywhere else I can (an email to my entire company? Outreach to our rabbi? Guilty as charged…)

My motive is a pure one, though – it’s a fundraiser for the entire band, designed to help subsidize travel expenses for upcoming festival appearances. And I swear I had nothing to do with what her school sent out in a recent email newsletter (am using it here ’cause it nicely summarizes the event):

On Tuesday, January 10th Sun Richter will be making her ‘professional’ debut singing at Jimmy Mak’s. She will be fronting Thara Memory‘s AMP Jazz Band from 6:30-7:30 pm that night. Admission is $5 and all ages are welcome. The event is a fundraiser for AMP, a pre-professional community band comprised of very talented HS aged kids that rehearses at da Vinci.

(Editor’s note: No, I did not name my daughter ‘Sun’ – she re-named herself in reaction to the seventy-zillion other ‘Zoe’s’ at daVinci.)

Apparently, Jimmy Mak’s does a lot to support younger jazz musicians here in Portland, Oregon. From their site:

Jimmy Mak’s is proud to feature a series of shows designed to bring you the very best up-and-coming jazz artists in Portland. There are many exciting and talented new artists working in Portland right now, our hope is to introduce you to the next generation of jazz musicians coming up in the Portland scene. Every Tuesday, the featured artist in our “Partners in Jazz” series will open for the Mel Brown Septet at 6:30pm, and play until 7:30pm. The Mel Brown Septet will hit it with their blend of straight-ahead and hard-bop jazz, playing two sets, starting at 8pm.

So – tonight’s the night. If you’re in PDX? Why not help support some talented young musicians? Or come gush over my daughter’s vocal talents?

If I’m going to don the ‘stage mother’ role, well – I ought to go all out, right? Right.

Posted in Bossing the Kids, Drama Mama | Leave a comment
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