A Special Kind of Magic – Parenting in the Pandemic – Empty Nest Version

When I started writing this blog in 2012 one of my kids was in high school, and the other was in middle school. This was more or less a middle school parenting blog. Then the rest of my family crept into it. The old folks, my brothers, and even my parents. Then friends started to slip in through the cracks. No matter what parenting was always at the core of it all.

On of my kids finished up graduate school at the beginning of the pandemic. Now in the middle of the pandemic my daughter sent in her graduate school applications today. I read some of the letters of recommendation from several esteemed professors and people in her field. I was blown over.

This is the child I took to Black Veil Brides concerts. This is the girl who shocked the horrible middle school PE Bitch teacher with her stylish outfits that DID NOT break the dress code rules. This is the kid who struggled with algebra and ended up taking a series of upper division statistics and economics classes at a top university and getting almost all A’s. Yes, this is the kid who never got below a B in college. This is the kid who inspired me to write about glitter, glue slugs, and Emo music, and growing pains.

These are the kids had tough conversations with about school shootings, and death, and losing, and caring, and unconditional love, and failure, and reputation, and about being an asshole.

My daughter hasn’t been in a classroom since last March. She’ll graduate and never meet most of her upper division professors or classmates in person. She has asked for and received letters of recommendation from professors, and a boss she has never met in person. She has impressed others with her presentations and discussion points but never in person.

Both of my young adults would love to live life in person. Wouldn’t we all. Sure we go to the post office, and the grocery store, but not to schools, or museums, or coffee houses with friends. I guess we could sit outside the coffee houses, sometimes, if there is seating and not too many people are there.

My dog misses the days we’d spend outside at the local coffee house. At our usual table I’d write or read. My giant do would stretch out over the walk way and thump her tail at anyone walking by. I’d have water and treats for her. I’d pretend she was as smart and well behaved as she looks.

Now Garrett, who is 24 is living in the Hollywood Hills, housesitting until the middle of next year, working from home, and working on starting his own business with his best buddy Randy. Neither one of them has a girlfriend right now which is weird but a nice break for Randy’s mom and me. We’ve seen a lot of broken hearts with our sons. I’ve found a lot of love letters in the laundry.

Clara and her boyfriend (both 21) will be getting their own place in January. They’re both seniors in college, but will never set foot in an undergraduate classroom as students again. Their roommates are getting weird. Everyone is getting weird. They’ll save money and time. It just makes sense. Yes, if you’d told me this would be what we’re talking about today in 2012 I would have said NO WAY.

I’m serious about parenting but I’m pretty chill too. It isn’t just a Vampire thing. It is a parenting thing. Seriously, you have to be chill. You have to listen. You have to change with the times as a parent. As parents we are leading the way and we can’t do it blindly using rules from the 1970’s.

My kids are stressed. I’m chill on the outside but going nuts inside.

Clara, her boyfriend of four years, and his orange kitten all came up this week. It was a surprise. It was a 450 mile drive. They’ll go back on Thursday and return before Christmas. They just needed a quiet safe place to finish their finals and graduate school applications. Their homes didn’t provide that right now. Maybe two years ago it wouldn’t have been a problem but right now it is. I just want them to be able to finish school without any additional stress.

Yesterday Clara and I went out. I had on a red jacket and a red mask with a cat print on it. She wore a black sweater with a black mask with a cat print on it. That wasn’t planned. We just do that – always dressing almost the same or in the same colors. It has been going on since before middle school. It just happens. It is a special kind of mother/daughter magic.

So yes, I write about Vampires, but it is really all about my kids and everyone else I love.

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Social distance. Be kind. Hug your dogs and cats. Talk to your kids. Check in on those who might need extra help or those who are alone. And of course, if you get a chance, kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Raised but not out of the crypt yet…

Raised but not out of the crypt yet…

For the first eighteen years parenting is all consuming. Even if you’re not one of those helicopter parents, your job as a parent 24/7.

Then it happens. All your hard work pays off. You’ve raised responsible, well balanced, and lovely young adults.

Now what?

I’m still active but not hovering.

I’m still giving out advice.

I’m trying to be positive.

I’m still teaching them.

And I’m still learning from them.

An old friend recently asked me if I’d talked to my kids about drugs, sex, and other adult trouble. Of course. I started young on those talks. There is no reason to be shy about it. Would you be shy about the dangers of fire or picking up rattle snakes? Of course not, so there is no need to be shy about other potentially dangerous activities.

Excuse me… something just hit the window. I thought it was a bird, then I saw a ghost standing in my backyard flipping me off.

I hate ghosts.

But does he stay outside? No of course not. With a slight hint of sulphur and lavender he materialized next to me, then pulled up a chair and sat. He wore a black suit, white shirt, black tie, with black 80’s Bon Jovi hair. He was as every bit good looking, maybe even more than Jon Bon Jovi, but I didn’t want him in my breakfast nook.

“What are you doing here Nigel? Ghosts haunt people at night, not mid-morning,” I said to him.

“You’re a Vampire so it is only fitting that I haunt you during the day. What bug crawled up your cold ass,” he said without even a hint of a smile.

I tried to ignore him. He flipped my computer around.

“Stop it,” I said pulling it back.

“So how are you doing in this heat wave? Has your body temperature reached 70 yet?”

“Go away.”

“No. I want to talk about your Vampire spawn. They’re all grown up. What are you doing? Getting all empty nest weepy?”

“Shut up Nigel. You never had kids.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes I do.”

He sat for a few seconds and pouted, then he stood up and walked around for a bit, then came back to me.

“I was young once. I even died young,” said Nigel The Ghost. “My 40th high school reunion is in a few weeks. I’ve been checking in on the reunion meetings. My middle-aged classmates have no idea I’m there but I am. I didn’t even make it to my ten-year reunion. Holy shit. The thing is, Juliette, is that I’ll be young forever, or at least I’ll appear young, when I choose to appear. The only photographs of me are when I was young. But I come by my eternal youth honestly. I died young. You on the other hand are young because of your parasitic nature as a Vampire. Ever think is that? You have no right to talk shit about ghosts when you suck blood out of living people in order to have eternal youth. How fucked up is that?”

“You can go now,” I said, tired of his insults.

“And now you’re all bent out of shape because your kids are leaving the crypt, and you can’t write about their perfect childhood, or your perfect child rearing advice, or your cold little perfect life, or whatever you call it. Are you alive?”

“Nigel,” I said to the ghost in a calm voice. “Don’t ever say I live in a crypt again. And get the fuck out of my house.”

“You’re beautiful when you’re angry,” he said with a mean-spirited grin. “I can imagine you with blood dripping down your chin.”

He knows I never have blood dripping down my chin.

With a flip of his glossy black hair, Nigel started to talk again. He never shuts up. “They were talking about me last night. It made me sad, and angry. You know I was murdered, and I have no idea who killed me. It could have been someone in that room. But it was taken away from me. I could have had a wife and kids. I could have… I could have had gray hair, I could have had a wedding, I could have had a dad bod, I could have sat around with my friends and talked about the good times we had, and people we lost, but they were talking about me and I couldn’t say anything because I’m dead, sure my art is still around but man, it just kills me, and I’m dead, and I will always be dead…and it just sucks. You, maybe not YOU, because you were born the dead way you are, but most Vampires have the choice to be dead. I didn’t have that choice.”

“Could they have seen you if you wanted them to?”

“No. That is the frustrating part. A few could feel a cold breath of air, or a lost memory.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Don’t be. You don’t owe me anything.”

Then he put his hand over mine. All I felt was an icy chill. Then he looked into my eyes, and in a wisp of blew smoke he vanished.

I always want to ask Nigel if he was that big of an asshole when he was alive but I never do. I have a feeling he wasn’t. Being a ghost can do that to a person.

A lot of kids are lucky enough to go through childhood without any loss, tragedy, or well, without any bad things happening. Once they turn into adults all bets are off. It seems to start with car accidents, then illness, other accidents, suicide, and even murder. Wrong roads are taken. Bad decisions are made. Bad relationships last too long. Then again, if we all look back we’ll find the good stuff is there. Sometimes it gets hidden, but it is there.   I’m not getting all Sunday School on you. The good stuff is there, even if it is the memory of laughing with old friends, a walk in the cool fall air, or finishing up the best book you ever read.

My kids are out of the crypt. Unfortunately for ghosts they never get out. Don’t be a ghost until you’re dead. Think about it. You couldn’t give better advice to your young adults.

That’s all.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Note: This was first posted in August 2017. I’m having computer issues so anything new is extremely difficult now. Wash you hands, wear a mask, hug your cat, talk to your kids, and stay out of trouble.

Vampire Maman

Vampire 101: Removing Blood and Red Wine Stains (file this under ADULTING)

Now that both of my kids are out of the house I am not longer there for them when they get stains on their clothes. Dirt is easy.

I’m not going to believe the Tide Ad (The Super Bowl Ad) where the woman keeps saying “It can wait.” It kind of can’t. The faster you get something on that stain the better.

A good item to give your college bound kid (or yourself) is a laundry stain pen. Most major brands make them and they can be found in any grocery story. These handy little stain removers can easily be kept in a backpack, purse, pocket or binder.

But if you DO get a blood stain follow these follow these steps:

Don’t wait. Don’t scrub. Don’t put heat on it (heat will set the stain in forever unless you’re getting out grease and oil.)

To remove blood stains from washable fabrics.

  • Spray with a stain solution such as Simple Green or any laundry pre-treatment and wash immediately in cold water.
  • Check before you put the shirt (or other whatever is stained) in the dryer. You don’t want to set a stain in that you can still remove.
  • If any stain remains, I usually soak the hell out of it overnight with OxyClean or Goof Off spray. If you don’t want to do that then soak it in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1­/2 teaspoon dishwashing or liquid laundry detergent, and 1 tablespoon ammonia for 15 minutes.
  • For excess solid or caked-on stains, scrape off what you can, scrub gently with a soft brush or clean sponge, blotting occasionally until the stain is gone.
  • This works for most organic stains, not just blood.

To remove blood stains from leather or suede:

  • Mix a solution of mild soap in lukewarm water. Dish soap works well. You want a lot of suds.
  • Apply only the foam with a sponge and gently rub the stained area, taking care not to spread the stain. Q-tips work great for this.
  • Wipe dry with a clean soft cloth. If all else fails take it in to get it professionally cleaned.

Blood stains on Silver

It may seem romantic and daring to the younger Vampires to use silver goblets to drink blood from but DON’T DO IT. Not only is it hard to clean but it is TACKY. Use glass or ceramic. Or even a red cup is better than ruining a nice goblet. But what if your college aged child gets carried away with the moment. Wash the silver right after use. Dried blood will cause some nasty tarnish. Better yet, tell your kids NOT to use silver with blood – especially not YOUR silver. If the stains are difficult get out the polish and elbow grease and MAKE YOUR KID DO THE WORK and polish those stains out.

Red Wine

I spill red wine a lot more than I spill blood. My secret is to get Simple Green on it ASAP. If you don’t have Simple Green just put it in the wash ASAP, or in a sink with whatever dish washing liquid (like Dawn) or any organic spray cleaner, or OxyClean.

If you’ve got a red wine stained carpet and on furniture take care of it ASAP. You’re taking care of it right now, and you didn’t start scrubbing away like a mad man (or woman).

Apply a dry material that will “lift” the red wine out.

Like any liquid, red wine will move toward anything dry that it comes into contact with. Your best move right after you get a red wine stain is to grab a dry, powdery material and apply it generously on the red wine stain. These include:

Table salt
Baking soda
Sodium percarbonate, a.k.a. a granulated form of hydrogen peroxide
Dry soap powder
Talcum powder, which is used for baby powder
Clay Kitty litter

These dry materials will “pull” the red wine out of the carpet, but don’t just start rubbing them in. Remember, you never want to rub (or scrub) the stain, regardless of what you’ve applied to it. Always apply the blotting method, even when it comes to cleaning up the salt or powder.

This works on oil stains too. I have a friend who used this on her car seats (the baby powder) and it worked wonders.

Let the salt (your best option), or any other dry, powdery material you use, settle for a few minutes. In some cases, this may be enough to actually remove the stain completely, especially if you acted fast enough. Otherwise, you may need to apply additional methods.

Coffee stains

If you get water on it right away most coffee stains will come right out. Most soap will get it out too. But use the same steps as above for blood stains and don’t let it sit too long.

If you’re prone to stains I suggest getting a small Green Machine or other mini type carpet spot cleaner. You’ll thank me for it later. This is a great tool for your adult children who are renters and concerned about getting their security deposits back (and just having nice looking carpets.)

Another life hack, or Vampire hack, is to always have a spare shirt in your car or backpack. You never know when you’re going to slop something on your shirt. It is good to be prepared.

My children were fortunate to go to an elementary school where life skills were threaded through the curriculum. They learned to do laundry, cook and plan meals, money, and interior design. This wasn’t some high end private school. It was a public school (Montessori). They learned the skills, wrote about them, did math problems about them, and compared notes. I will all kids learned this stuff in school. It is fun for them and they learn how reading, writing, and math fit in with the real world. If your child doesn’t get this in school take the time to teach them. When they move out they’ll call you about things that aren’t laundry or how not to overdraw their bank and Vemo accounts.

I’ve got an empty nest now but I will text my kids, share daily dog pictures with them, and maybe even talk to them today. But one thing I won’t worry about is stain removal – ok, maybe I will. They know it but they still always ask because, well, I’m the mom.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Mamam

 

 

 

 

The First Day of School Without Kids

This year, is the first year, in many many many years that I will not be there for the first day of school.

I have no idea what anyone is going to wear. I’m not even sure what day school will actually start.

Nobody will come home and tell me all about their classes.

Damn.

I am suddenly feeling all sort of nervous and kind of out of sorts, and a bit sad, and sort of excited, and I don’t quite know what.

When school starts there will no longer be any K-12 or college kids living in my house. Just my dog, my cats, the wild turkeys who hang out on the back fence, and my husband.

I guess I could also include the pair of bald eagles in my neighborhood who for the past three years have hatched and raised three sets of baby eagles (six eagle children) and seen them fly off. I’ve thought a lot about the eagle parents as I’ve watched the chicks grow from tiny fluffy head bobbers to large magnificent birds.

Since 2012 I’ve written parenting posts about raising children to be independent, strong, successful, questioning, compassionate, curious, smart, mature adults.

That is exactly what I did. AND I did it well. I did it exceedingly well.

So why do I feel like crying?

Yes, I’ve heard Werewolf parents howl at the moon when their pups take human form and go off to college.

I guess it is ok for all of us to howl at the moon in our own way when our children leave home.

I am happy and proud beyond words. No mom has ever been more proud. No mom has ever told her husband “we did a great job” more times than I have.

I never thought I could love this much, or this hard, or this good.

Even if they don’t turn into bats (you know, Vampires and all), I am glad to see them spread their proverbial wings and fly.

I’ll adjust. So will they.

Deep breath.

And so the adventure begins.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Noir

45189857_2279839595362728_1732779137954742272_nI rarely show photos of my own family but this time I’ll bend my rules.

My daughter and her boyfriend decided to be Bogart and Bacall from The Big Sleep for Halloween. I think they did an extraordinary job of pulling off black and white, and of course the glamour. Yes, their makeup and all of their clothing is black/white/gray. Nice job kids.

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By the way, they’re both nineteen, and in their second year of college. If you want to disparage the youth of today then you must not know any young people. This is a creative and savvy generation.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Why don’t you blog about me anymore? And other things my kids and I talked about including V-Steams.

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Garrett just turned 22 last month and is in his final year of college at the big university right on the ocean. Final year of undergraduate work that is. He is still living with his best buddy Randy.

When I spoke with him yesterday he said, “You never blog about me. I talk to you every day. Almost every day. I text you all the time.”

I’m learning how to transition from minor children to adult children.

So I said to my son, “You told me that what I wrote about you was embarrassing. Maybe I’ll just write about Randy.*”

*Garrett’s best friend Randy. Randy wears plaid pants and other creative vintage clothing. Randy looks like a cross between a young David Lee Roth and Chris Evans. Randy is pretty goofy. Girls like Randy a lot.

The last time I spoke with Randy, a couple of weeks ago, he was telling me about some discussions he’d been having in one of his classes about free will, choice, and what we choose to believe. Somehow the discussion of things we can’t prove like honest politicians, and other cryptozoological beings came up.

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He’d sent me a funny Sasquatch meme. I told him that it got that ass from doing squats. That is why it is really called a Sas-squat.

But seriously, for as long as I can remember there have been stories of Bigfoots aka Sasquatches and the likes. So often people claim to have seen a body of one. I was flipping through the TV channels the other night (Vampires and others are known to do that) and say some guy who’d claimed to have shot a Bigfoot. He said it looked at him before it died. It had whites in it’s eyes just like us. It was small so he could have carried it to his car, but he didn’t. The man claimed because he was on National Park land he was afraid he’d get in trouble.

Really? Dude you shot a BIGFOOT.  A BIGFOOT.

If I found a live Bigfoot (Sasquatch) or even a body or a body part, HELL YEAH I’d take it. Are you kidding? I wouldn’t think twice. I don’t care if I found it in the forest or on the steps of the California State Capitol building. The first thing I’d do it take it over to the UC Davis Vet School and say “HEY, take a look at this!”

I would not advise doing the same if you found a Vampire or Werewolf. I’d advise you back away slowly then RUN as fast as you can.

That night I was hanging out with my husband Teddy and Clara. Clara is 18, in college, and still at home until she transfers to a university by the ocean.

The subject of businesses near my husband’s came up, specifically spas.

My husband and child said they thought I should open a spa called V and next door have a spa for house cats called “The Pampered Pussy.” Then they almost laughed until they were practically falling off of their chairs.

What brought this up? There are spas where you can get your Yoni steamed. Yes, steamed. It will cure everything from unhappy crotch syndrome, tension, Scrophularia, and give you an elevated sense of well being among other things.

It is called a V-Steam. V stands for vagina, or Yoni, or cootch, or Vajayjay, but we prefer vagina in Vampire Land.

Why have women started to call their vagina Yoni? Because they’re cute and musical? Maybe. You never know.

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At these spas you sit on a chair that looks like an old fashioned potty seat, spread your legs and get your parts steamed. WTF?

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My husband suggested that someone would be in the background playing a harp. He hates harp music.

I said a saxophone. We all laughed then Clara suggested Kenny G. Then I thought of Yanni. Why not? Steam your Yoni to Yanni.

Holy shit. They have group parties too. Yes, you can get steamed with all of your friends, drink wine, and even paint a pretty picture at the same time.

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Invite all your friends. It will be fun.

Then the subject of the show Naked and Afraid came up. Bugs and bug bites. Say no more. Nobody, not even the most hardened Vampire wants bugs near their Yoni, not even Kenny G.

We tried to avoid politics. It is just so frustrating. However, I was called up to be a poll worker again for the next election. I show up and after my training know more about the voting system than 99% of people who are running for or currently in office.

Aside from my husband who is in a slightly different mindset than most of us I do not with good things upon a lot of people in Washington D.C.

You know who I’m thinking about. Nasty horrible people who lie, cheat, steal, embrace ignorance, celebrate bigotry, and use religion as a tool of hate and control. You know who I’m talking about. Bitter men born before 1976 who act like they were born before 1876. Rat bastards of the worst kind.

We heard rumor that the cast of What We Do In The Shadows might be having a show on FX. I love that movie. It is absolutely adorable. It is as cute as Vlad (Vampire Diary.)

I usually really don’t care for most Vampire movies. They tend to be seriously bad and boring and stupid. But it makes for great drinking games.  BUT there are exceptions. Don’t hate on me. Most Werewolf movies are even worse than Vampire or Ghost movies. I’m sorry Werewolves. We still love you out of the movies (sometimes, don’t let it go to your heads because you’re still assholes.)

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But back to Garrett…

We talked a lot about his girlfriend, and his classes, and how he wishes he had a dog but won’t get one until he is more settled down. He told me about surfing at night. He told me about finding red starfish in a tide pool. He told me about a book he’d read called “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

That is a thought that no parent wants to hear concerning their own child.

We also talked about The East Area Rapist, also known as the Golden State Killer. He was found maybe six miles from my home. Back in the 1970’s he raped women in their homes a few blocks from where I live now. I lived near there at the time. I’m glad they found him. He’ll rot in Hell for sure.

In Northern California we seem to have our share of serial killers. Sometimes it seems like more than our share. Then again I hear of all of the weird deaths in places like rural Nebraska and the swamps of Louisiana. Things are weird. There are horror stories and then there is real life. It is a fine line between the two. Truth is often stranger and more horrific than fiction.

Anyway, Garrett just texted me again and I have to go.

Love your children. Talk to them. And even when they’re grown they’re still your babies. They’ll always be yours. Listen, love, learn, and always be their heart and soul.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman