The chipmunk and the chompers

wisdom-teethIt is the year of the rodent for the Kaprowy/Baker household. First, we had frequent (and damaging) visits from a screen-licking, wood-eating squirrel. Now we have a chipmunk living upstairs. Yes, our dear, little Gabrielle has reached the ultimate oral rite of passage: wisdom tooth extraction.

It happened yesterday morning and we are T-minus 23 minutes from reaching the 24-hour mark. While Gabrielle has been an exceptional trooper, she’s had a rough go. The poor kid had not four, but five wisdom teeth removed, the eerie fifth lodged near her sinus, which required considerable rooting around to retrieve. As a result, she swelled up like a balloon and went through a few bad hours as the freezing wore off and she was dealing with the anxiety that consists of, “Umm, just how bad is this going to get?” In answer, she has taken to walking around with icepacks on her face that she keeps in place using an ingenious tying technique she developed with a Caribbean-hued scarf. Think brassiere meets babushka meets top knot.

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Apology to a schnoz

noseDear Nose,

I’ve taken you for granted. I’m not making any excuses, and it’s not that I don’t think you’re great. I mean, you’re as much a part of me as my hand or my little toe or the elbow I broke twice so it doesn’t straighten out like it’s supposed to. It’s just that usually you’re so reliable I don’t even have to think about you. It’s not fair to take something for granted that is so good to a person. But that’s exactly what I’ve done.

It’s only since I’ve had this cold that I realize just how important you are to me. Yes, hardship is what made me separate what’s what from what’s what. I realize that is a little despicable. Remember, I am not making excuses. I’m just saying: You are very, very important to me, and I realize that now.

For example, last night I tried to brush my teeth with absolutely no help from you. You were so blocked from the cold, I had to brush my teeth using only my mouth. I never realized how hard it is to brush your teeth when your nose is inoperable. I mean, I was out of breath. There was froth everywhere. Toothpaste is minty fresh, except minty fresh on the inhale isn’t that useful when you’re wanting to cough at every opportunity.

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The secret inside the gingerbread house

img_4102In the kitchen, the gingerbread houses sat in a row, creating a sugary subdivision on the granite countertop. One was decorated with precise detail, everything from gummy bears to peppermints on every window, door and shingle. A few were adorned just on one side, the architects having abandoned the project so they could go and play dolls. One house had collapsed under the weight of a bag’s worth of icing on the roof, despite several efforts at repair. And one stood with a lawn made of candy, the joint effort of a brother and sister. The view was like staring at the embodiment of Christmas.

These constructions were the result of a cookie-decorating party I was lucky enough to attend this past Saturday. I knew we were in for a good time the minute I walked into the kitchen to see a fold-out table covered with magical bottles of sprinkles, cans of icing in every festive color, and plain sugar cookies just aching to look pretty. The kitchen table had been reserved for the gingerbread house kits and marshmallowy cups of hot chocolate. The kids, 10 of them under the age of 10, were bouncing around, their eyes saucers as they eyed the candy. The hostess wisely handed each mom a glass of champagne and we got to work.

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You’ve got mail

email11A few weeks ago, in a move that likely won’t win me Auntie of the Year award, I sent my nephew an Amazon gift card for his birthday. Since, again, I was not winning any competitions, I had the gift card delivered electronically to his email because, whoops, it was the day after his birthday and I needed to get his gift to him as fast as possible.

Then a week later, I asked Gabrielle if she had heard from her teacher about a recommendation for the Governor’s Scholar Program when she told me she’d have to check her email. It had been approximately five to 10 to possibly 20 days since she last had.

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Caution: student driver

"When I let out a blood curdling yell and scream 'Jesus Christ you're going to kill someone' I'd like you to apply the brakes..."







Stepmother and stepdaughter sit in driveway, teenager at wheel. Sun is out. Car is shiny. Nerves are tense but intact.

“OK, ready?”


“You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

“OK, if you’re sure.”

“I’m sure!”

“OK, let’s go.”

Car stalls.

“What you do you think you did wrong?”

Teenager looks accusingly at car. Stepmother points delicately at lifted handbrake.

“Right,” says teenager.

“Let’s try again.”

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Food on my mind


I am so very, very, very hungry. I’m running a half marathon this coming Saturday so have been training to get ready for it. Long runs, though, mean my appetite skyrockets and all I can think about is how much I love food. So, the driving lesson column I had intended for this week will have to wait. Instead, in keeping with my ravenous mindset, I thought I would rank my Favorite Foods Ever and see if you agree.

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Testimony of a test drive


This is not Scott. But you get the idea.

Every once in a while, you meet someone so unusual you don’t quite believe they’re real. I mean, you know you’re standing there talking to them and if you pinch yourself you feel it, so you know you’re awake, but there is still something about them that causes disbelief to descend on you like a shawl. Yesterday, I met someone like that.

We are in the market for a new car, as my stepdaughter Gabrielle will inherit my old one. So yesterday, while running errands in Lexington, my husband and I decided to stop off at a dealership and go for a test drive.

That’s where we met Scott, a man with a feathery haircut (business in the front, party in the back). Scott was prowling the aisles of shiny cars when we arrived and greeted us casually yet immediately, introducing himself as a salesman and squeezing my hand with a decidedly firm shake.

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Analyzing the election

2016-Election.gifOn Nov. 8, I will get to vote in my first American presidential election and, boy, am I excited. The day is going to start with a big plate of Rotary pancakes and then I’ll head over to my polling site. In preparation, I’ve been trying to be as invested as I can be in local and national politics to keep myself informed. And that, my friends, has been an interesting process.

For the presidential election, we turned to the three debates to learn more about the candidates. My husband and I watched the first two with Gabrielle, and the third with just the two of us.

I have to say, no Bravo TV show could have drummed up more drama. As I do with a juicy episode of “Real Housewives,” I spent the majority of the first debate with my hands splayed over my face. I winced so much I might have gained wrinkles. But we laughed as well. We yelled at the TV in disagreement on a few occasions. And we felt vindicated sometimes too, pounding our fists into the couch shouting, “Finally, someone said it.” If nothing else, Donald and Hillary provided a bounty of entertainment, so much so that Gabrielle, age 16, asked to stay up late so she could watch them finish arguing.

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Meeting a soldier boy

Last week, my husband and I were lucky enough to get upgraded to first-class seats on a flight from Atlanta to Lexington. I’ve not been upgraded very many times in my life, and getting to sit in the seats up front, rather than in the cattle coach in the back, is quite a thrill. As such, I was eagerly beaming at everything from the TV in our seat to the provided blanket and pillow to the flight attendant who offered us a drink. It was then that I noticed two empty seats in the row beside us, though the majority of the people on the flight had already filed on.

After a few minutes, the flight attendant returned and offered a young soldier, who had been seated in the back, one of the empty seats.

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The highs and lows of a teenage girl

rollercoaster1For the past several years, we have been the proud owner of a teenage girl. My lovely stepdaughter Gabrielle is now 16 and a half, and busy applying to the Governor’s Scholar Program, taking her ACT and learning how to drive. Except for the driving lessons (which are a whole other column), everything is going rather smoothly.

And by smoothly I mean smoothly in the world of the teenage girl. For it has been in the last several years that I’ve been reminded just how rocky and unpredictable that world can be.

Take, for example, last Tuesday. Gabrielle was set to meet with one of the people who has agreed to recommend her for Governor’s Scholar, a family friend who is high up in hospital administration. I suggested to Gabrielle that she go over the questions our friend will have to answer for the application so she can help her respond to them.

Gabrielle went upstairs in a wildly good mood, expecting, I’m sure, to bang out the answers in a matter of seconds. She returned to the kitchen 10 minutes later with stormy eyes that threatened rain.

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