Author Archives: kari

This cat is so pretty. 

Also I spent 30 minutes reading about journaling apps to help me write more regularly and had to snap out of it because dude. I HAVE A BLOG.

What it’s like to be married to me

This is the wall at Lorelei’s. I was staring at this amazing tiger head girl when she asked Mike what it was like to be married to me. “Like this?” I suggested. Yes. Just like it. 

Only the 6th day of the year and it’s cat photos galore.

Hard to believe this is the same cat who bit me on the shoulder this week and huffed off in a snit. She’s a sweetheart mostly, but still very opinionated. Mike, now, always a sweetheart – he suggested that Ella is getting sweeter because I’m rubbing off on her. Aw! Romance! 

Wearing a cat scarf

It’s just that Ella Olga Babygoat Torturekitty Murderclaws sat down right on my neck to snuggle. That’s all.   

Carcasses everywhere. 

I covered for our field team today and woke up at 425 to drive 100 miles to my regular construction site. Which is not to complain – it’s a thing that lots of people do. 

I love construction sites for the weird stuff you can find. Today took the prize, though. Not sure who is responsible — coyote or vulture. 


Somebody’s gonna have to clean this up, you know. You can’t just leave your carcasses everywhere!

Checking crossword answers

Crosswords are something I feel like I ought to be able to do – I know a lot of things, and a lot of weird words! But they are definitely a skill set that I haven’t developed. We started taking the local weekly paper of record, and it’s got crossword puzzles in it – so I am practicing. Tonight Mike helped me finish, and we needed to check all the answers that relied on sports personalities. The closest I’ve ever gotten!


Happy Birthday

Woke up in PGH and drove home. Photo spotted in Altoona. Note the red on red suspenders/shirt combo.   

Hello, 2016

Some feel that the things you do on January First set the stage for the rest of the year. I’m not really that kind of superstitious but I do appreciate that we start the year kissing extended family in Ohio and then driving to stop at a dear friends on the way home. Mike, Twelve, Sixteen and I are great at road trips and I’m hoping for some good ones in the year ahead. And really what are hours on the road if you have an evening of laughter ahead of you? 


I’m not calling this a resolution but I plan to work on my social media this year. I have several places I’m present and I feel like I’m not at quite the right level of engagement for any of them. This is one space I value for me, and I was shocked to find it’s just all tweets for several years. I try to restart this writing thing a lot, but one thing that have a reasonable track record with with is posting a photo a day. So! here goes. Hello, 2016. 

That time I thought I’d write this thing again.


Not one to make big declarative statements [who am I kidding I am always one to make big declarative statements] but I thought maybe I could try to post over here every day or so. I mean, I do like having a blog. Even if my mom and I are the only ones who read it. (ONLY VERY SLIGHT exaggeration.)

signed, the queen of good intentions and hyperbole.

Mother’s Day

Nine made me a Mother’s Day card this year in school. It’s AMAZING. it’s also my first ever nod from the little dudes on a Mother’s Day. And it felt more than amazing. It felt like crying, and it felt like ratcheting down those tears so sweet Nine didn’t think he’d done something wrong.


Step-parenting is a really weird thing. In my situation, I’m doing all the things a mom would do – the homework checks, the dinner prep, the hugs and kisses, the love, the reprimands, the ferry service, the career day at school, the ball games, finding summer camps, talking over problems with other kids, the chats over meals – but they HAVE a perfectly wonderful ACTUAL mom, so as much as I also love and care for these kids, well. There’s not usually a Mother’s Day for me.

And you know?

That’s totally fine with me. I know these dudes love me. I don’t need a Hallmark holiday contributing to the fetishization of the mom to appreciate what I do – maybe because, as a step-parent, I CHOSE this level of engagement. I decided to be this kind of person in their lives. And I went into it expecting it to be outside of the traditional recognition categories. Traditionally there’s usually evil stepmoms, you know? There’s no holiday for that.

But when the sweetest Nine you know gives you a card that he made in school, which means he was thinking about you when you’re apart, and which says sweet things inside – holy cow. I squeed in the quietest, coolest way possible.

But guys! I got a Mother’s Day card!


Easter Sunday

Took the boys out and made them try running in the morning. Thirteen is in love with Lacrosse but we are trying to work with him on his stamina so he’s amazing.

Then there was a playground.


Made a cake to bring to dinner at my in-laws house! This Nigella Lawson flourless chocolate cake is consistently more delicious than I think it will be.


We dropped the boys off with their mom and came home to gorge on cookies and last season Doctor Who. Too late to bed, now struggling to get up. Sigh!

Spring sports


Spring sports officially started today. Nine had his first baseball practice and Thirteen had lacrosse. It was COLD. 30 deg F or less and snowing intermittently. I wore my snow skirt and chattered on the sidelines. Total besters move, though, was bringing them hot chocolate for after the practice.

I tell you, though – the hardest part about modern parenting seems to be squeezing it all in. Baseball is at 5 PM and lacrosse is at 5:15. Thankfully Thirteen is old enough to be left alone at the field, but the very real complication of having to get from work 45 miles away by car (me) or 2 hrs on a train (mike) every single day of the week to a sports practice by 5p – when most of my colleagues are still plugging away – remains. We will have to rely heavily on the Grammy brigade, I believe.

number 5 in #35to36

Open Letter to my Little Dudes


Dear Little Dudes,

Thirteen, remember how yesterday someone asked me if you were my son? I am writing this letter to let you and your brother know that in my head, I faced the always-there questions: will this new person ever find out that I’m lying if I just say: “yes?” will this get back to the rest of your family? will someone catch me if I claim you as my own?

I’m not sure if you two have noticed – especially because for so many years you have been so gleeful to tell people that I’m NOT your mother, and perhaps because I’m so quick to say “but you two HAVE a mother,” – but I am constantly weighing the pros and cons of just saying “Yes, this IS my son.” And it’s not out of any kind of creepy acquisition or or baby-stealing desire, I promise. Out of respect for you and for your mom, of course I will keep calling you my stepsons. It’s just… I’m so tired of the term “step” being so loaded. I don’t want you to think that love you any less than I do, or even less than I possibly could. Stepson is not a less-than proposition. You are my only sons, my lovely and infuriating and charming sons. It’s just that – you ARE my stepsons. That’s the way this family was built. And in a world of labels and buckets, where it seems like everyone must fit in just so or risk tearing the fabric of society irreparably, well. I’m forever reduced to expediency, honesty, and respect, and I have to tell people you’re my stepson.

Thirteen, after you and I got home last night there was nothing better in the world than sitting on the loveseat next to you and prepping for your next big math project (due next tuesday) while you sawed on a harmonica like a politely surly hobo. Nine, having you sit across the room on the couch fiercely creating things in minecraft while your dad looked up hedgehog videos on his phone – I’m hard put to describe a better fifteen minutes of family bliss.

So, look: you both delight me. I am devoted to your success and happiness. I brag on you and bite my tongue so as not to be boring to other people who aren’t as interested in you as I am. I’m sorry that there are so many evil stepmonster stories out there and they all make “stepson” feel like such a sad term. I am so proud of my stepsons. And honestly, I’m not worried that you aren’t aware of how much I love and care for you. I think we do a pretty good job of telling each other how we feel. But sometimes I want to make the world understand that too. You two are amazing, and interesting, and sometimes intolerable. You’re my kids. My stepkids, but — That’s not less than anything. It’s all of everything.


Your horribly embarrassing stepmonster.

PS: I am writing this as an open letter so you never have to read it or hear it from me, and if you do read it, you can pretend it never happened. BUT IT’S ALL TRUE. LOVE YOU, PEACHES.

Sappiest post yet for number 4: #35to36

Five years ago I met a dude at ikea.

Mike and I had our five year anniversary this weekend. We went to Woodstock, stayed at a B&B, and mostly slept, read, and ate delicious food. The B&B was on a stream and there was skipping of rocks. The sun was out and hot, and we sat in Adirondack chairs and read long-overdue library books. We walked into Woodstock and window-shopped, and looked at art. We took a nap. I ate cherry jam with breakfast. It was so great.


I was dealing with a horrible gastrointestinal illness that caused my insides to roar like a dragon in a number of terrible ways, but I didn’t stop eating the delicious foods or from making them spicier than they were delivered to me. Clearly, this was something that was going to need to pass with time. Saltines and clear broth wouldn’t have helped. (I don’t think.) I regret nothing.


On the way home we took the scenic route – seriously, we added an extra 100+ miles onto our trip, and drove all around the Catskills. It was just lovely.

digicam 868

So five years ago today, I met this guy Mike at Ikea. He said he thought it would be a nice place for a date, and, worst case scenario, he needed a new TV stand anyway. We left without a TV stand and a month later he was brave enough to come to my birthday party and meet all my friends en masse. He brought me a pair of pajama pants he’d sewn himself. Nicely played, new boyfriend. Nicely played indeed.

post number three in #35to36

2013 Recipe 2: Garlic Soba Noodles

Last night we didn’t have the little dudes, so I was free to make whatever I wanted, aka, weird foods I know they won’t eat. This tortures me, y’all. I wish they were interested in eating the weird foods I like to cook. I even wish they were interested in trying weird foods and then having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. For that matter I wish they were interested in JELLY. What kind of kid doesn’t like jam or jelly? It is SO HARD to figure out what these dudes will eat!

Sans children, last night I made Garlic Soba Noodles.


So super good, y’all!

This recipe probably took about 30 min. start to finish, but I say probably because there was a bunch of puttering and interim dishes washing. Also I didn’t have bread crumbs, so I substituted smashed saltine crackers, and I didn’t have fresh greens, so I substituted frozen curly kale from my winter CSA. Also no green onions, so I diced half of an onion that was languishing on the counter and cooked it up before throwing in the frozen kale. We will probably cook tofu like this a lot in the future – it was really super good.

Also, I don’t usually use much (any) salt in the cooking so last night I took a chance and followed the recipe and it had a LOT of salt in it (like, a couple of teaspoons, probably – all pinches and dashes) and darn it if it wasn’t delicious. There is, you know, a strong folk tradition of tales admonishing people to put salt in their food. It involves princesses, and sometimes kings full of needles, and sometimes pomegranates full of diamonds. I think they’re on to something.

This is a #35in36 post, and I’m already a day behind. Darn it! two posts today it is!

When New Friends leads to Better Blogging

Maybe you’re a new friend, and you’re here from my story about NOT changing my last name – which was published this morning over at A Practical Wedding?


I feel like I should clarify a couple of things. It’s kind of embarrassing when you send a sweetly written piece about something you really care about into the world, and when the world looks back and says “OH HI” your blog is just this side of stagnant! So, here’s an abbreviated about me in case you want to stick around and see what happens.

1. I really want to offer an alternative to the evil stepmonster/evil biomom narrative that you find if you look for stories about step-parenting. Did you know that most of the “mommy bloggers” I read are actually adoptive parents? because they ACTUALLY ESPOUSE the apparently CONTROVERSIAL BELIEF that you can love children that aren’t yours biologically?

2. I’m so super lucky in the stepkids department. SO super lucky. These sweet boys didn’t know any better when they met me, because their parents hadn’t dated other people seriously before they met me. They never got to understand that sometimes adults just bail. They never thought that someone their dad brought home might not choose to stay. They never figured out that some grownups don’t like kids the way all the other grownups in their lives do – with full-on love, full responsibility, and full pride. I got to walk on in, gain their friendship and trust, and they believed that I was going to love them and take care of them like every other grownup in their lives does. I am so super lucky.

3. I’m not the most regular at the blogging thing, though I have been in the past. I am not the most TARGETED at the blogging thing, either. Stick with me and you’ll get stories about my steppers, stories about my job, stories about my motorcycle, and stories about all the food I eat. (OCCASIONALLY you’ll get a story about a craft I finish – but that so rarely happens, don’t hold your breath.) I’m a renaissance woman. But without a wimple.


OH MY GOSH I have the best idea. I need to do a EVERY DAY I WILL BLOG deal, up until my birthday at least, which is next month. WHICH IS 35 DAYS. until I turn 36. IT’S PERFECT. Anyone want to join me? #35to36. See how easy social media is? ha!

Things I’ve done

Worn Thirteens hat for weeks.


Made pulled pork in the crock pot.


Celebrated a wall of death riders birthday at a lovely benefit.


Went out to a fancy Cooper Union party sans my traveling sweetheart.


Got so tired and crummy feeling that I had to stay at home so I could make and eat tapioca pudding all day long. It’s restorative, y’all.


Super good parenting advice

If you are a knitter, you probably already read The Yarn Harlot.

If had to give a quick list to someone going into parenting teens, it would be to remember this: A) SHUT UP.  B) Don’t take the bait. C) Don’t take it personally. D) You are probably too pretty for prison. Walk it off.

If you’re a not knitter and not already reading The Yarn Harlot but sorta like looking at pictures of knitting, you may want to add her to your blog feeds.

Thirteen is causing me to EXACTLY need this list right now. He is so charming and wonderful and then he flips directly into FULL ON ARGUMENT where if I say something is white he says it’s black, if I say it’s up he says it’s down, when I say he is Thirteen he makes up an entirely new and actually untruething just to pick a fight. It’s horrible. So far I only last for about 3 minutes before I am pulling out the STERN VOICE and GLARING AT HIM THROUGH MY BUSHY GRAMPA EYEBROWS and USING CUSS WORDS FOR EMPHASIS. Which is exactly what he wants, because then he gets to put on a full body “nobody loves me” suit and wear his “everyone picks on me” hat and snit on out of the room.

And I’m fairly certain that as soon as I learn to deal with this tactic of his he will switch strategies and find an entirely new way of interacting that will make me question my actual capabilities to be The Adult.

Luckily he is also charming, adorables, sweet, and really fun to be around.

Luckily, I am too.


A Practical Wedding Post

Did I ever mention (of course I didn’t) that I wrote a piece about our convoluted wedding planning, and it was published on what is possibly the only wedding blog any newly engaged (or long time engaged or old married) person should ever read? That website being A Practical Wedding?

I did, it’s here.

I’ve been with my sweetheart for over four years now, and our first few months were a whirlwind of “How did we ever find each other on the Internet;” “Thank goodness you have a lease, or we’d be moving in together way too quickly;” and “Oh gosh I hope his kids love me.” Since we met I have learned to ride a motorcycle, determined how to ask for what I need from my partner as we share the household responsibilities, and figured out a way to make a blended family without feeling threatened by former spouses or the fact that I moved to a small town with everyone else ever formerly and currently involved in my partner’s life. We negotiated a refinance of our big old house, made a budget together, and put together a list of short-term and long-term financial goals. It all sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? The subtext for all of this is, however, how over the last four years I’ve learned how to love the idea of Marriage.

Is it weird to quote yourself? I think it’s kind of weird.



Now that we’re home and officially married instead of just informally and semi-secretly all partnered up, I can’t help but tell people who ask “how does it feel to be a married lady?” that it’s exactly the same as being a living-in-sin lady—although if I’m honest with myself, it’s not exactly the same. Mike and I are exactly as we were. Our relationship didn’t change, we were fully committed to a partnership before the Judge and the State of New York approved of our union. But as much as I have been skeptical of what a legal marriage would bring to our relationship, it turns out that our community really does factor into it. I was surprised and humbled by the well wishes we received from our friends, family, and colleagues. Even though we’ve been warned that when the wedding and the marriage are decoupled like this, odds are we won’t ever get around to having a big celebration party later, I am even more sure that inviting our community to celebrate with us and mark this occasion will be a tremendously important part of our relationship and our family history. Wish us luck as we plan our celebration party to be as beautiful and loving as our life together, while staying, most romantically, below the cost of two mortgage payments.

Read all the inbetweens!

Peter Cooper

Knowing what I do about Peter Cooper – a man who loved the chili at McSorleys and who fraternized unabashedly with feminists, people of color, labor organizers and abolitionists – I think my pal Xenia is on to something here.

I have the most amazing friends!