The Long in Long Division

Back to school with common core math, an original play in one extremely trying act.

A: I need help!

L: [deep, deep sigh, knowing it is time for math homework]: K. What do you need help with?

A: [gestures vaguely at entire worksheet.]

L: [dies on inside]. K. Let’s see what we’ve got here.

A: [Immediately checks out, assuming mom is now completing entire worksheet on her behalf, even though this has never once happened.]

L: So, let’s start at the top. Name… Date… Neatly…

A: [does nothing neatly. Probably on purpose.]

L: Ahh, long division. Ok. Have you been working on that in school? Did you talk about it today?

A: I think so.

L: K. So, what did your teacher show you for these kind of problems?

A: I don’t know.

L: [deep, deep sigh from non-dead part of soul] K. Let’s work through one together. Writes down problem.


L: [feeling there is no other way it can be done, thinks bad things about modern school. And testing. And math generally. Also remembers taco meat on stove.] K. Can you tell me about how she does it?

A: I don’t remember it all. But it isn’t like that.

L: Well, this is how I learned how to do it. Let’s try it and see if it helps you remember. [Begins, slowly, remembering how to do it herself.**]

A: Why do you put the ‘6’ up there?

L: To carry it over to the 10s. When you multiply.

A: But *why*?

L: Because…if you do… you get the right answer.

A: My teacher doesn’t do that. Does she get the wrong answer? Or do you?

L: I bet we both get the right answer, but I don’t know exactly how she does it because I guess they changed it and you don’t remember the details. [curses common core, forgets about taco meat. Finishes and begins next problem.]

A: Wait, I need to sharpen the pencil. [Never returns.]

L: [Googles common core long division in the silence. It appears about the same, but with more unnecessary steps. Thinks of how hard it is to teach her shorter version, wonders what teachers are doing to themselves, feels superior to common core. Continues to forget taco meat.] Get back in here! I know that pencil is sharp now!

A: Sorry, I got distracted. [sits in chair upside down, drops pencil, breaks lead.] I need to go–

L: No. You can have my pencil. Try the next problem yourself. [27 minutes pass. Kitchen begins to smell vaguely charred.]

A: I need help! I can’t remember part.

L: You are close! What is 9×5?

A: 27.

L: No.

A: Oh! 28.

L: NO.

A: AAHHH, I don’t know.

L: [Understands better the current struggle with long division.] 45.

A: RIGHT! 45. [Writes nothing, disassembles ball point pen.]

L: [Suddenly remembers taco meat. Runs to stove, begins scraping. Calls over her shoulder, with annoyance] Let’s get this done! I want to be done with homework. Focus! FOCUS!

A: RIGHT! [Writes something that is not 45. Erases half-heartedly when this is pointed out.]

L: [Walks back over, leaving the taco meat in a bowl to get cold. Properly erases the not 45 while taking deep breaths, like yoga, but when you have lots of math and no time to go to yoga.] Ok, last part. [Repeats previous 37 steps, including the resharpening of the pencil.]

A: Done! CAN I WATCH SCREENS NOW? [Does not thank mom. Does not put away paper in homework folder. Does not put folder in backpack. Does not eat taco meat.]

END SCENE. Repeat tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow. ***

**Because all this shit is done by computers now. My phone can do long division and we both know it. It is the unspoken truth of this dialog.

***Until June–when we focus only on CAN I WATCH SCREENS?

How to Style Leather Biker Shorts: A Story of Poorly Spent Time on the Internet

We start with the bike shorts. You probably already have these, you know, leather bike shorts for spin class. Or casual Friday. Or prom all those years ago if you invested.

Last night, I didn’t want to read my book. I didn’t want to wash the dishes. James wasn’t ready to watch TV. So I did the only thing available to me: online shopping without the intent to buy. I pretty much hate this kind of online shopping. I normally either find a lot of things I actually do want to buy, which was not the plan, or I find a lot of stupid things and end the session feeling like I have wasted my life unfashionably. But, it was the only thing available for me to do, so I made the most of it.

It has been a while since I wrote about online shopping, but I after last night, I feel like it is time to write again.

I stumbled immediately on this page, and I knew it was a find-a-lot-of-stupid-things kind of session. I mean, a whole guide–from Nordstrom–on two ways to style bike shorts.

We start with the bike shorts. You probably already have these ones, you know, leather bike shorts for spin class. Or casual Friday. Or prom all those years ago if you invested. (If you don’t have them, don’t worry. They’re also for sale).

Now. Style. Them.

If you’re running errands, you can pair it with your favorite windbreaker from the 80s. Not an ACTUAL windbreaker from the 80s because no one saved those. A new one, but is $130. Then throw on your favorite pair of metallic designer sneakers so people know you’re running errands, not actually running, and you’re set.

Or maybe you are hitting the town. This shorts will take you there with a few quick changes. Add a 7-strand crystal necklace. The Nordstrom one is only $80, so save your diamonds. Then add super high-heeled boots. Preferably with spikes. Or leopard print. OR BOTH. Then just throw on a jean jacket. Not even a shirt–just the jacket. Boom. Night out (not at any of the places I have ever, ever been, though, so you have to decide where to go on your own.)

I hope you are as edified as I am. You might be wondering if it ended up turning into one of those online shopping nights were I find too many things to buy. You’ll just have to wait and see me and my biker shorts this weekend. ūüėČ

Elf Magic Divided but Still Alive

North Pole, Arctic Circle

As any Christmas fan has noticed, the number of Elves on the Shelves has increased markedly in recent years. The beloved holiday helper–sent to families across to country to help keep an eye on children and report fastidiously back to Santa as he prepares presents for the naughty and nice–is in high demand.

The Elf on the Shelf tradition began in 2005, with initial production of just 5,000 dolls. By 2017, more than 11 million elves had been adopted into homes around the country and were available in more than 10,000 stores.

Such growth has been a great development for children hoping to impress Santa with their exemplary behavior–and parents hoping to encourage it–but has had an unexpected cost: too great a drain on elf magic.

Elf magic originates in the North Pole, direct from Santa’s workshop, and allows the Elves to report back to Santa on children’s behavior and Christmas wishes. It also enables the Elves to move to various hiding spots around their families’ homes each night.

However, one night early in the 2018 holiday season, Santa’s helpers noticed a short in the magic, briefly stopping all North Pole-bound communications. Immediately, Elf on the Shelf headquarters worried that growth had finally outpaced capacity and shorted the system permanently.

Fortunately, several creative Christmas thinkers–some have alleged that Rudolph the most-famous reindeer even got involved–came up with a brilliant solution: the “Elf Shift”.

Starting this Christmas season, Elf on the Shelf communication and movement magic will be divided into two shifts, one at night and one during the school day, to allow all elves to take care of their holiday business without overloading Santa’s system.

Children around the country may notice that their elves, who previously moved only at night, may now sometimes switch locations during the day while they are away at school. This is part of the new two-shift system.

Headquarters notes that, in order to maintain an equal system and ensure that no Elf can be caught by developing a routine in daylight hours, the shifts will vary so that they cannot be easily predicted by their adoptive families.

Santa’s helpers and other Christmas experts are pleased with the Elf magic innovation, noting how important it is to preserve Christmas magic and allow the number of elves to continue to grow to accommodate all of the families interested in adopting them.

Remember, dear readers: the magic continues! So whether your elf moves in the night or the day, Santa will continue to get a full report. Make your bed, share your toys, do your homework, and stay on the nice list!

Emotional Support and Why You Need a Peacock

I  just read an article that United Airlines denied a seat to an emotional support peacock that was attempting to fly today from Newark to Los Angeles. With this announcement coming on the heels of the recent Delta announcement, people are understandably debating both sides of the emotional support animal issue. Who are airlines to decide what a person needs psychologically?  Who are these crazy people trying to cheat the system to fly with their potentially dangerous pets? How do we protect true service animals?

There are some important issues these debates are overlooking, though.

  1. First, I think it is impressive that a peacock that has been forced to live–presumably for years–in Newark, New Jersey, is even *capable* of being an emotional support animal. I know that if I lived in Newark, I would need an emotional support menagerie and I would not be able to help anyone out at all.¬† I would be an substance abuse peacock who cut people off in traffic and drank too much coffee and never smiled. Eff you all, humans. I am not supporting nobody. But that bird, apparently named Dexter, was totally chill.¬† I need to be more like that majestic bird.
  2. Second, that peacock was shockingly well behaved by the look of things. It might not have “service animal” level training or full immunizations, and that’s important, but did you see the pictures of it perched on the baggage cart, patiently waiting for people to sort out the issues so it could fly for five hours to LA?

    emotional support peacock

    I have never traveled with a peacock, but I have traveled with children, and I can¬†tell you, we have never once even come close to keep our shit so well together during air travel.¬† We’ve spilled beverages. We’ve left bags. We’ve laid on the floor and cried (even the children). We once had a flight where *both* children peed in their seats.¬† Once my oldest child vomited in my hands during landing and the second child looked over to see what happened and emotional-support vomited on herself in response (people sure got off the plane fast that time).¬† I have completely untrained, emotionally non-supportive children on flights every time.¬† If people just stopped to think about *that*, well, maybe we want the peacock.

  3. Third, maybe this is a greedy, cheap way to get your animal across the country for free, doing a disservice to the people who truly need service animals. (Though probably not Dexter. He seems lovely.) But, guys, there are people out there living exotic, imaginative lives where they travel about sitting next to peacocks. Don’t trash them for being weird. Figure out how to get a peacock in your life.


    I spent this morning washing syrup off of so many things, folding so much laundry, and fretting about how this weekend it might snow and then they might cancel school again (oh man, if they cancel school again, I need all the support animals. Do some cook?  Do some take over yelling about chores so you can lie down?) I need to think peacock.  I need to get creative and get some more beautiful, exotic creativity up in this day. I need to roll with Dexter and wing it a bit.

I urge you: think bold and be inspired by today’s story of Dexter.

Have the peacock.

Be the peacock.

Go get the peacock.

The Microwave Should Always Be Safe

Why do they make bowls and mugs that are NOT microwave safe? Who are these people out there who use mugs and bowls but never put them in the microwave as a way of making the stuff inside them warm? And, if there really are people like that, why do they get all of the good looking bowls? And, since I know I am not such a stove-using fancypants as that, WHY DO I BUY BOWLS THAT DO NOT GO IN THE MICROWAVE? Just because they are pretty and I forget to read the sticker on the bottom?

No more.

I just removed my lunch from the microwave using my shirt as a hot pad. It is a delicious, overly heated bowl of leftover rice with leftover chicken and leftover broccoli and leftover peas, pulled together with freshly-ground pink salt because that shit makes everything amazing. You can’t make delicacies like that on the stove. That is a microwave feast, my friend. And I need to bowls to go with it so I can take my warmed-up leftovers out of the oven barehanded with my shirt all the way on, like a classy woman.

NO MORE BOWLS THAT DON’T GO IN THE MICROWAVE, universe. I am looking at you, Target. Don’t do it. I am not buying them anymore and when I finally finish breaking all of the ones I have in a few more years, I expect some seriously good-looking bowls that I can nuke forever.

The Evolution of Normal, a Story of Smoothies

James and I have a smoothie for breakfast pretty much every morning. It is a great protein/fruit/veggie option for us and it is relatively fast, so you can’t beat it. Unless someone is making french toast, but pretty much no one ever is.

This school year, James is the main smoothie maker. I get the girls dressed and presentable looking (while they are cute kids, this is seriously the hardest job of the day. At least besides homework and dinner and bedtime. Why, why do I have to give explicit step-by-step instructions for getting dressed every #%$#^*@ morning?! “Take off your pajamas. No, they don’t go on the floor. Now put on your shirt. That is backwards. Now get your pants. No! You cannot lay back down. Socks! You must wear socks.” EVERY DAY. While I tackle this nearly impossible task, James makes breakfast (peacefully alone downstairs, reading the paper and humming to himself.)

And so he makes the smoothies. I don’t even know what is in them anymore, really. I know that when he took over, there was a cost calculation of the value of fresh vs. frozen spinach and he updated my shopping list (frozen now, which doubles its value by never rotting into a pile of slime in the back of the fridge or making me feel like I should make a salad when I don’t want one.)

When we first started, we made Jamba Juice-style smoothies. Raspberries and orange juice and sunshine. They were bright red and sweet and delicious. The girls even loved them and would drink them in the car on the way to daycare (note, if your kid ever spills a smoothie into the seat during the summer, clean it up right away or that shit bakes in.)

They start out as a pretty rainbow…

Then we started adding protein powder to make them more filling. And then some spinach for veggie power. Once I switched over to kale, though, we lost our child smoothie fans and I had to buy a nicer blender so that no chewing was required to consume them. But we pressed on, adding carrots and extra fiber and swapping juice for milk for water. Once I tried adding broccoli stems, but James told me I’d taken it a step too far.

This year, we switched to pea- and rice-based protein powder instead of whey (As I age, my body has begun not-so-politely declining dairy.) When we first started using it, I noticed that it tasted like… peas? But worse? This website says, politely: “With a distinct taste, pea protein can sometimes be a tough ingredient for any smoothie.”

But the blending ruins the rainbow.

Combine that taste with the fact that we use red and blue and orange fruit, and green spinach, and brown protein powder and it comes out a brackish green-brown.   Not the cheery, commericalizable red of years past, or the clear, healthy-looking green of smoothies in health cookbooks. The color of your local pond after rain.

But I love it.  I drink it happily every day.  I am drinking one right now. Even though it looks like poison and I am not sure if it objectively tastes good.

And that is how I know you can get used to anything.

Except, maybe, getting my kids ready for school.

Lauren and James’s bog smoothie

  • 1 cup of water per person.
  • Protein. We like¬†Orgain plant-based protein in chocolate from Costco. Follow serving size suggestions from the brand.
  • Extra fiber, like wheat bran or¬†psyllium husk. I found a nice, inexpensive one at Trader Joe’s (always Trader Joe’s <3).
  • Chia seeds. They are the hotness.¬† Add to everything.
  • Handful of greens like spinach or kale. Never romaine lettuce or arugula. ūüėČ
  • Carrot if you’re feeling super veg. Probably not broccoli, though.
  • Banana, fresh or frozen.
  • Frozen fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries (my personal, though most expensive favorite.) Some of the multi-berry blends are great.

Put it all in your blender, liquid first, then blend.

Tip: If you don’t have much frozen stuff, add some ice to keep it cold. Warm smoothies are the worst.

Enjoy. And if you don’t enjoy, keep making it and drinking it anyways. You’ll come around eventually.

I like me.

Evie got a new helmet for her bike. It has a dry erase surface and comes with cool neon markers so you can make your own design, over and over again. Evie is 5, so this is the perfect helmet because she knows–of course–that she can make much better helmet designs than any store. Much, much cooler. So, where I would choose something pre-designed, she was all about DIY. Even for an extra $5.

She rode to school today rocking her first design. She made it last night but I had not seen the totality of the masterpiece until this morning. Her name, hearts, squiggly lines. And then at the stop light she turned her head towards the other side of the street and I saw what she had written across the right side of her new headwear: “I like me.”

I caught my breath. What an amazing thing to want to put out there for the world. Evie did not ask me how to spell any of these words as she designed, so she came up with that slogan–and spelled it correctly!–herself.

I pondered it all the way to school. I like me. I like me. Evie likes Evie.

Does she know about self-love? Did someone teach her about liking herself the way she was and it sunk in, or did she just feel that way without any teaching? Sometimes she’s so hard on herself–did she like herself just last night, or does she like herself in a deep, long-term, sweeping way? Would other kids think she was stuck up? Was she stuck up? Could she be convinced to never erase that part?

By the time I was back home, I was thinking about whether Lauren likes Lauren. She does, mostly. But she would not put it on her helmet. She might just think it very quietly after working out, or making great dinner, or drinking kombucha on the porch. She has worked hard to like herself, and there have been times of serious non-like. And some days and hours of non-like still. Remembering to like is still sometimes trained, rather than spontaneous, and quiet, rather than racing across the street in neon with training wheels.

Maybe we all start out liking ourselves, and then so many things in life happen that shake that like. And the goal is to come back to where we started.

Having two girls changed my self-like for the better (crazy since having kids changed my body and my sleep and my time…). Two amazing, powerful, fragile, brilliant, crazy people in my care, growing and learning and messing up everything every day. They have already faced some of their own “things in life that happen”–their own five-year-old and nine-year-old hardships. It is so hard to watch as a loving (rather awesome) momma. Often they just have to go through those parts of life, finding their way and waiting for a new day to try again.

But sometimes, I get to help or offer advice. Then I get to practice advising someone I dearly love how to be safe and well and happy. It’s a daunting task and I learned, as I tried to complete it over and again, that I often doled out suggestions of what I thought could bring happiness that I was not myself following.

For example, I used to be bulimic. It was long ago and I am better now (I thought you’d wonder; thanks for mentally asking), but even after recovery I used to struggle sometimes with the desire to purge after eating too much of something unhealthy. It seemed like an easy, relatively harmless shortcut to feeling in control again, and I took that shortcut every now and again, without feeling I was “unhealthy” overall.

And then one day, as I was contemplating the toilet after two donuts, or something ridiculous like that, I thought of my kids. Evie, in specific. What if she sometimes freaks out about what she eats? What if she opened up to me about her insecurity and asked what she should do if she ate too much and felt guilty?

“Go to the most remote restroom you can find. Wait until you’re alone, and gag yourself until you vomit. It is worth it to cancel out a donut. I mean, you don’t want to have eaten a donut, DO YOU?”

AHHH. I mean, I would never in a million years say that. Only a super villain in a very avant-garde Disney movie (with an oddly wide range of plot points) would say something like that to a child.

But, that was what I told myself. That was what my inner voice was saying to me. It doesn’t get much farther from “I like me” than that. I was my own super villain. And I decided it was not okay.

So I started giving myself advice as if it was something I’d say to my kids. If it sounded like something I wanted for them, it was good to do. If it sounded like I was Maleficent, well, that was a no.

“You ate two donuts? Probably they were awesome donuts, and everyone indulges sometimes. Go for a walk. Eat oatmeal tomorrow. You are okay and life is short and some days have donuts and don’t fret.”*

While my practice is not perfect, I have come so far in the last several years. I am so much kinder to myself. So much happier. Maybe some future day, I will have come so far that I will want a blank helmet, and I will make it say “I like me.” Just like my daughter.

My greatest accomplishment today was that I raise the girl under the “I like me” helmet. My goal is that she, and her sister, and their mom, and everyone else out there, can say that–and mean it–forever. <3

*I ate 5 maple leaf cookies while I wrote this post. They were so delicious. Maybe I’ll have oatmeal for breakfast. But maybe not.

I think I am going to write a book

People keep suggesting it when I write something funny on Facebook, so there must be something to it, right? ¬†Facebook never lies. Aaaaaand I my kids are back in school, so I have a bit more time during the day, if I ignore the mopping like I usually do. ¬†I have been toying around with the idea for years and I even have a “Greatest Courses” DVD set on writing a novel. ¬†Or something like that–I need to watch that.

If I write a book, what do you want to hear about? ¬†A memoir? My kids’ hilarious sayings? Some sort of fiction? I have lots of ideas swirling in my head and I would love your input.

I might start posting some of what I put together here and see what you think.  This blog has been dormant, so that might be a slow process, but perhaps it will wake back up. Keep me accountable, and I will try to keep coming back online.

Happy Tuesday!


Not thankful: Snow days

Never thought I would say that. If we could travel back in time to fourth grade Lauren, who lives in Colorado and remembers having school cancelled for snow like two times because either we were much, much tougher then or I just don’t remember things very well, and told her that she’d now be home for the FOURTH CONSECUTIVE DAY with her own kids after it snowed just 2 inches (which is rounding up generously), well, I think she’d be baffled. But grateful. Because who doesn’t love a snow day?

Grown-up Lauren, that’s who. No more snow days. I just came out to write this after having locked myself in the bathroom this morning for a good peaceful time out. I made a nice cup of tea and grabbed a book and locked the door. It was great for about 15 minutes until there was yelling and barking and people trying to pull down the “broken” door. (Note to self: I should lock it more often so they are less confused.) It reminded me of yesterday, when I was caught doing downward dog in the closet, trying to find some inner peace and quiet.

At first we played games and make cookies and watched Netflix. But now we’ve played everything and eaten everything and watched everything and I just want to be alone. ALONE. School, please take them back. And can the dog come, too?

I wish there had at least been a proper amount of powder snow to justify it all. Make snowmen. Sled. Etc. But there is less than two inches. I can see the top of the grass, for crying out loud. OPEN THE SCHOOLS! I will drive everything there. I can probably swing the buses. I will start now for tomorrow morning.

Open everything. Take these children back!! I can’t take it. I need my old job again.


Sorry about that. I am headed to the closet. Text if you need me, but I don’t get good service in there.

Thanks, Sherlock.

I love you, Sherlock. You are such an awesome, witty, well-acted show and I am so glad your new season is finally out. ¬†I love all the characters: John, Sherlock, Molly, Mary, Ms. Hudson. ¬†Seriously, all great. ¬†And Sherlock’s powers of observation are so great, so awesome to watch, that I convince myself that I, too, and getting smarter by observing. I fancy myself a bit of a detective as well.

For example, who ate all of the biscuits today? James. Who needs a nap? Always Evie. Why don’t I have room to roll over in the bed? ¬†Dog, youngest child, husband, all smooshing me from every side. ¬†What happened to all the popcorn? ¬†I ate it.

I am a big fan. So, I have no idea why I keep falling asleep during the new episodes.  I promise I am excited to watch.  I will catch up, search for clues about why I am so tired, and be ready for next week.