Musings on Gassy Planets, High School and Uncle Max

Why yes, this is exactly what I wear when I pick the kids up from school.

Why yes, this is exactly what I wear when I pick the kids up from school.

I first published this post in 2013. My children are now older, but Uncle Max still has the same effect on, well, just read the post. It is just in time for the start of school.

Musings on Gassy Planets, High School and Uncle Max

I was taking Clara to school this morning and traffic was backup up for about a mile and there was no place to go. All the side streets were backed up with people trying to get out of the backup.

We speculated on the cause of the backup. I assumed it was an accident. Clara looked over and saw one of her teachers in the traffic with us. And much to her shock he was smoking. She said three of her teachers smoked.

I guess I could have acted shocked but let’s be real. I bet he was having one of his two cigarettes of the day. The first is on the way to school to take the edge off and calm his nerves before he faces two hundred students over a course of six periods. The second is after school to take off the edge and face whatever is at home. My husband is convinced that all high school teachers must drink a lot too.

After a conversation about smoking various tobacco products and other things we saw the blinking red lights up ahead. The traffic light was out. Ugh. Kids and teachers were going to be late. A 10 minute drive to school took about 35 minutes. I found out later that the faulty light was no excuse and a lot of kids were marked down as tardy. That is just plain stupid in my opinion but I don’t make the school rules.

I dropped Clara off and made it to my morning conference call but a few hours, mid-morning, I was back at school. They’d call to tell me that Garrett had almost passed out due to his sunlight sensitivity issues. This happens two or three times a year. I can lecture him forever on this but he still doesn’t always use precautions. The school wanted to send him to the hospital due to his cold skin and low heartbeat, not to mention a nasty looking rash, but I always take him home.

Anyway, he was fine, poor baby. But, my brother Max is still hanging out at my house until Friday, so I brought him with me to pick up Garrett’s car.

As Max and I walked into the school office I could hear the hush of female voices. Vampire men have that effect. Max smiled (minus fangs) then put on a serious look. I wanted to roll my eyes but was worried about my own young Vampire man, my seventeen year old Garrett.

Knees were going weak…not mine or Garrett’s, but those of the women in the school office. I had to get my son, and my brother out of there.

About four hours later school was out so I sent Max back up to school to get Clara.

Did my brother wait at the curb in the car like everyone else there to pick up kids? Of course not. He had to get out of the car and wait. The mothers at the school would never be the same. A tall man dressed in jeans and a tight black tee-shirt and dark glasses, cold to the touch but so smoking hot that it would take weeks for them to cool down.

Fourteen year old Clara told me all about it when they got home. She found it both amusing and annoying.

Clara said school was stupid as usual but admitted that science was good. They learned about how many planets might be able to support life. This was something all the kids seemed interested in, which is good since according to my daughter most of the kids don’t seem interested in anything during school.

For about twenty minutes she told us about the planets and theories and speculations about life. She talked of telescopes and exploration and the makeup of planets. It is good to hear the passion that is passed from teacher to student and then on to others.

Then the subject of Pluto came up again. Most kids are still upset that it is not a planet anymore (it even has moons.)

One of the reasons Pluto isn’t a planet is because it has an irregular orbit. But so does Uranus. (Click here for more on thoughts about Pluto)

Clara said that nobody even mentioned Uranus today but the boys in the class still had to snort and laugh about it. Yes, Uranus is a large gassy planet. Uranus has an irregular orbit. Uranus is huge. Pretty soon Clara and I were both laughing. Even Max had to laugh. I mean, you have to laugh.

Garrett was still asleep but the rash was gone. His friends Randy and Ione stopped by to see how he was doing and sat on the edge of his bed in the dark quietly talking with him. They’ve gone through this too, the sun sickness. We all have.

So that’s it… just musings on my day and a little bit of fun to take the edge off.

I’m still thinking about Max waiting on the curb. Oh my goodness.

And don’t forget to check out the night sky. The past few nights Venus has been HUGE and super bright and beautiful!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman



School… Check list please.

This morning at the dog park I was talking to a teacher and the husband of a teacher.

Teachers don’t drop out of the profession because of the kids. It is the parents and administrators who make them sick and tired of the crap.

Most of my readers know what parents I’m talking about. It is the crazy ass mom who constantly complains that the teacher is unfair to her little darling (evil monster.) It is that mom who argues with the professor during a field trip to the planetarium saying there are aliens living on Mars. It is those parents who teach their kids to lie, cheat, stalk, and generally act like assholes, then complain loudly about their poor little darling being treated unfairly. It is that parent who thinks her child is the most brilliant child in the world and therefore the only one who matters. You know who this mom is. She is the one who stands up at the yearly parent information night in the school multipurpose room and states how her eight year child should be talking college level math, and she wants everyone to know how special she (the mom) is.  Once my kids moved onto high school I noticed the teachers and administrators shut these parents down – or at least it seemed that way. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way… Really, those hyper crazy moms are the people who suck the joy out of elementary and middle school out of the rest of us. So many times I’ve just wanted to yell, “GO THE FUCK AWAY,” but school authorities don’t look too kindly upon that sort of behavior…but they put up with…oh never mind. Anyway…

School is starting again. Summer was way too short this year.

My kids are awesome. I’m going to assume if you’re reading this your kids are awesome too (even if they aren’t Vampires.)

One of mine is getting ready for her senior year of high school. The other is a junior in college and getting ready for his upper division courses.

One says she doesn’t have time for boys. The other can’t think of anything but girls.

So I made my official 2016 back-to-school check list.

  • School supplies (Target)
  • Tell Dad what day school starts.
  • Tell Dad again what day school starts.
  • Ask kids if there is anything else they need.
  • Ask kids again if there is anything else they need.
  • And for the third (but not the last time) ask the kids if there is anything else they need.
  • Check emails for last-minute information from the school.
  • Ask the college junior why he is packing up a chain saw, and a 1968 set of the Encyclopedia Britannica to bring back to school with him.
  • Ask the college junior to please return the two pairs of panties (different sizes) to their owners when he gets back to school.
  • Tell Dad what day school starts.
  • Get extra batteries for calculators and other small magic boxes.
  • Give them both Dutch Brothers cards just because you’re the best mom ever.
  • Remind them that there are clothes that are not band shirts.
  • And last of all remind them again that their white trash thermos is ok for summer, holidays, and weekends, but not in the classroom unless it has a lid, and maybe not even then because glass shatters if dropped (a WT thermos is a large mason jar containing morning coffee when one has lost his/her travel cup.) Also remind them that it is not Mom’s fault if she knocks over the damn thing in the car because it won’t fit in the cup holder and has no lid. It is the child’s responsibility to keep their own coffee safe.
  • Ask the kids if they need anything else.
  • Tell them not to stress out. Tell them they’ll do great – even with the hard classes.

I’ll be checking my email over the next week for more information from the school. This is our last year in high school so I’m going to savor it all. I’m going to try not to get sad because, well, you know.

As the school year starts the one thing that I can stress it to listen to your kids. Let them know that it is safe to talk to you, their parent. Talk with them. Don’t take shrugs and grunts for answers. Engage them. Listen, listen, listen to them. And let them talk. Really let them talk. They’ll tell you a lot. You’ll learn something too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman









A Vampire Roommate (Back to School)

Important Dates: August 13 & September 24.
That is when school starts. High school starts first, then college.

We completed back-to-school shopping day with a cart load of supplies, plus Feline Pine cat litter, from Target.

The girl child asked her dad (Teddy) for a pair of Doc Martens. Of course the short classic black boot. Her outfit of choice is a waist long blonde hair, boots, a short black skirt and a band shirt.

The man child said he needs a pair of Bucks and some sweaters. He tells me chicks dig sweaters and professors will take put together students more seriously. He has also been digging through his dad’s things for a “classic watch.” No Apple Watch for my son (I’m so proud of him.) I think Teddy has some nice watches from the 50’s and 60’s he could let go of. I just need to remind Garrett to wind them up.

And speaking of Teddy… Way back, a long time ago, before my husband Teddy was a Vampire, or even knew Vampires existed, he and my brother Max were college roommates. Max was a Vampire. He was, still is, well, an extreme Vampire. We, my Vampire siblings and I had grown up with Teddy. He and Max were (and still are) best friends.

Our parents had come out to California together during the Gold Rush. Teddy’s dad and our dad were business partners. So what if my family seemed a little odd sometimes, it was all good. And like I said, nobody knew we were Vampires. In 1866 the war was over so our parents decided Maxwell and Teddy would benefit from a university education. Nathaniel Chase, as usual, escorted the two seventeen year olds on their ocean voyage, their first trip to the Eastern United States. That is a whole other story.

But Max and Teddy never got into the kind of trouble your Uncle Val and I got into, at least not with Nathaniel Chase. Anyway, to make a short story long, Max and Teddy were roommates.

From here I’ll let Teddy take over the story.


Teddy tells it.

Max and I shared the upper floor of a three story house near the University. We had two bedrooms, a main living area and a small office. No bathroom – not in those days. No kitchen. We had our own entrance that we shared the other third floor resident. We didn’t have the entire floor. There was another room on our floor occupied by a law student called Pierce. We never saw him except at meals, and hardly heard him except when he was practicing speeches.

The second floor was occupied by four upper classmen. All male. There were no coed dorms at that time so women were rarely seen in our spaces.

Downstairs were a couple of rooms with another two law students. A large common room and a dining room occupied most of the bottom floor. Twice a day a middle-aged woman called Mrs. Harris would come with her crew and serve breakfast and dinner.

The dining room table was full at meal times, except for Max who’d usually be sleeping or gone. When he did show up he’d talk a lot but eat very little.

Max started to become more fastidious about his clothing. It became darker but more edgy. Facial hair was the rage among our peers but he was always clean shaven.

In the mornings I’d rise to find Max coming in through the door from his night out. He’d vanish for days, but would always show for classes. On Sundays I’d try to get to church, but never with Max. He’d always be gone or sleeping for a fourteen hour stretch.

Every once in a while he’d bring home a guest.

Usually it would be a woman, but rare occasions it would be a man. That was something I didn’t know about Max. I’d tell him to be careful. He’d shrug. He said he didn’t need to explain anything to me. It was his business. These people would shift in and out without a sound. I’d never know there were there unless I saw them.

On the other hand my friends, who stayed the night, would be hunting for coffee or tea in the morning or something stronger. They’d have messed up hair and sleep on our couch or on top of my covers with their clothes on. To put it bluntly they weren’t there for sex. They just crashed for the night.

One night, unknown to Max, I followed him on one of his trips out. He went down dark ways to bars and places a young man of our standing in society would never go. He went to whore houses and laughed with the madams.

Sometimes he’d go to nicer places. One was the lodgings of a girl I’d seen before. They didn’t seem to care that anyone could see them through the window in passionate embraces.

On his way home, he stopped and turned to face me. “I know you’ve been following me Teddy.”

I said, “Max what would your parent’s think?”

Max gave me on of those amused smiles, with his eyebrows lifted and said, “Dear Theodore, don’t worry about what my parents think. Let’s go home.”

Then Max put his arm around my shoulder and said, “Teddy, you are and always will be my best friend. But you have to understand, I am not like you.” He didn’t say anything else about it and he wouldn’t discuss it.

It was only years later that I understood.


“Max has always been a little different,” said our son Garrett. “I won’t be prowling around bars and whore houses at night.”

“Thank goodness,” I said, then glanced over to Teddy.

“You’re doing fine. Your mom and I raised you to be smart,” said Teddy.

“Max made being a Vampire way too complicated,” said Garrett.

Maybe Max did make things more complicated but it seems to have worked out fine for him. As for the girl in the window, he still sees her sometimes. Pierce the law student is still a good friend. And both Max and Teddy graduated and returned to California.

In the meantime, high school has started for our youngest Clara. So far so good. She got all of her classes and great teachers. I’ll have more on her adventures later.

Tonight we’re meeting Max in San Francisco for a Giant’s game. It will be fun – another great night with a typical modern Vampire family.


~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Back-to-school and musings about growing up and being a Vampire

Due to several years of elementary school dress codes my children both abhor khaki pants and polo shirts. They both avoid khaki pants like holy water or the plague. Clara will no longer wear another polo shirt. Garrett also avoids them at all cost. But that isn’t a problem. Polo shirts and khaki pants aren’t a good look for vampires anyway.

At this point in the world of parenting Vampire Maman doesn’t really need to worry much about back to school shopping, at least when it comes to clothing. They’re at that age where they get clothes when they need (want) them. They aren’t growing much at 15 and 18.

The youngest will need to pay an exorbitant amount for a year book, get a couple of school tee shirts for PE, a student body card, paper, a new binder and binder dividers plus an assortment of pens. Much easier than the 24,000 item list from the average elementary school year.

The eldest is going off to college. That will drain our bank account and our patience (I felt the same way about kindergarten with the 3 page supply list). I don’t know what else to say. It isn’t just off to school. It is off to adult life. It is enough to give even a Vampire nightmares. It also makes us (the parents) proud.

We just got back from four nights at Lake Tahoe in a cabin with no phone service or Internet. Just like old times. It was a nice break before school started.

When we’re all alone with family and friends we spend a lot of time talking about everything under the sun. The teens are always included.

Imagine two cabins full of Vampires and their dogs. My kids brought friends. My brother had his family there (college and grad school kids and their friends), plus we had other assorted family members and friends. There were fifteen of us in all. Plus all of our Vampire friends in Tahoe dropped by.

Oh my goodness we laughed so hard some nights I thought I’d break a rib. There is no better time than time spent with Vampires.

This post is sort of a kick-off post to the fall blogging season. School is starting up again. Summer is ending. Maybe the drought will end (it rained for two days in the mountains and one down in the valley.) It is also the beginning of the holiday season – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year, not to mention quite a few other holidays of various folks that we know.

This time of year also brings a lot of talk about relationships. No relation to anything, but it always seems that way. Maybe it has to do with school starting.

Relationships are always in the front line of our world. Vampires are all about relationships, be it with each other or with our Regular Human friends (and those who aren’t really friends.)

Our children, and those who have recently become one of us, start to get, well, a bit more predatory and mature. It is just the way it is.

So  along with holidays I’ll be posting more on relationships. Romance will be a big part of it, but the day-to-day stuff will also be covered.

Even Vampires can make each other walk on eggshells and be cruel and unthinking. They can be stupid (my brother Max for example) or they can be brilliant in their choices and romantic bonds. We all have stories to tell – and I have a lot of stories.

In the meantime, I’m back… back to work, back to school activities, back to sports, off to college, back to my cats, and my life outside of the woods.

I’m also back to writing – outside of this blog. A few weeks ago I published my first short story collection on Amazon (Morning in the Vineyard), but my current projects are much larger. I’m finishing up some novels.  We’ll see what happens. They were all started long before this blog.

Teddy is busy with his business. My brothers are having adventures or misadventures of their own. The elders are needing more help. Werewolf friends and Zombies are sending me messages too. Plus there is a certain ghost I need to deal with.

August is still in the middle of the summer but sometimes it seems like fall, at least in the heart – a time of change and a time for old leaves to fall and new thoughts, dreams and experiences to grow until they take bud later in the year.

Have a good week everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman



Back to School – Tips for the First Week

TeensSchool will start in a few weeks. That is a good thing for teenage girls who always look forward to seeing how the boys have grown over the summer. Skinny kids suddenly, over a few short months, grow tall and muscular. Awkward adolescent faces become angled and handsome. Shoulders grow broad and voices deepen. This includes my 17-year-old son Garrett and his friends – who of course, being Vampires, are exceptionally handsome and strong. It is a wonder to behold – especially for the girls.

And speaking of girls, especially one who doesn’t care what Garrett or his dorky friends look like is his 14-year-old sister Clara who starts high school in two weeks.

Clara and Garrett’s Tips for the First Week of High School

  • Don’t wear all black, head-to-toe flowers, a pink tutu, rabbit costumes or anything else extreme or too weird. First Impressions are EVERYTHING. OK don’t go off on your “self expression” rant. I don’t want to hear it. We’re talking practical truths here. The first day of school is like a job interview for both fellow students and teachers. Clara knows she can’t wear her band shirts with the red and black Zombie blood on them, black jeans and black combat boots (or I won’t let her out of the house). She’ll opt for the black pants and boots with a fashionable flowered tee. Or she’ll wear her denim shorts and black shirt and combat boots or flats. The Zombie shirts and Band shirts will come later. The all black and way too much black eyeliner can be worn later but not the first week. This is real world stuff. Making a good impression on the teachers and everybody else is so important. It isn’t shallow – it is reality (think job interview). By the third week of school go ahead and let your freak flag fly high with pride. By then everybody will love you anyway (for exactly who you are).
  • Freshmen girls – don’t get involved with Junior and Senior boys. Clara (age 14) says first of all they just want to take advantage of you. Garrett (17 and will be a senior) says it makes you look stupid if you’re a senior boy and go after Freshmen girls. End of story. Don’t be stupid. Stay with kids your own age. If I have to explain this one then you ought to consider home schooling or a single sex school.
  • Boys – don’t skip. Just walk.
  • Girls – don’t show off in high heels. Your feet will thank you for wearing your Vans or flats.
  • All kids – the first week of school in a large high school can be tough. Clara is coming from a Middle School with only 33 graduating 8th graders and entering a school with almost 2,500 students. She knows about a dozen of them. So anyway IT IS OK TO ASK FOR HELP. If you can’t find your classroom – ask for help. If you’re lost, confused, frightened, baffled, or totally overwhelmed – ask for help. If you can’t find an answer go to the nearest teacher or to the front office. They can help – and they’ll be glad to help. It is their job. You’d be surprised how many kids feel the same way.
  • Smile (but for Vampire kids make sure not to show your fangs). Smile. Smile. Smile. Everybody likes a smile.
  • Wear sunscreen. Always.
  • Make sure you always have a pen, pencil and pencil sharpener and erasers in your backpack.
  • Don’t let anyone bully you. And don’t bully (or everyone will think you’re an asshole and you don’t want that.)
  • Listen to the teachers.
  • Don’t worry about looking cool. If you worry too much about being cool you’ll look like a dork (to the point where even the dorks think you look stupid).
  • Have fun.
  • Be open to making new friends.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Brush your teeth and use good personal hygiene (nobody likes to sit next to a stinker)
  • Join clubs. It will be fun and you’ll meet friends. Plus it will keep you connected and look great on a college application.
  • Try to learn something.

Special tips for Vampire Teens:

  • Don’t lunch on your friends – lunch with them.
  • Don’t ever show your fangs.
  • Watch for the Werewolf kids. That means protecting them from any harm. You don’t have to be friends with them but you need to help them out. They can feel isolated and shunned – so just help them out when needed.
  • Don’t fall asleep in class (I guess that goes for all kids, no matter what kind of kid they are).
  • Don’t read your teacher’s minds or do any other paranormal behavior in class. Please, know that your parents are right on this issue.

So have fun. And check out Target for cute binders. We found some great ones yesterday.

And DON'T be like THIS GIRL. Your reputation is everything ladies!

And DON’T be like THIS GIRL. Your reputation is everything ladies!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

My mom blogs about vampires

My mom blogs about vampires