Friday, May 20, 2022

Five on Friday: Five Ways Cars are Better than Vespas

When I was a kid, sometimes my parents just wanted to "take a ride." 

I hated just "taking a ride." I wanted there to be a destination, a reason for the ride. I was thrilled when I became old enough to stay home alone and not have to participate in those pointless trips. 

But now I have a Vespa. 

And on the very nice days, particularly in the early spring when the very nice days have been few and far between, and I have some free time . . . I like to take a ride.

Nice day ✅
Free time ✅
Taking a ride ✅

There's just always something to be grateful for when I'm riding, like how much more I can appreciate the scents of spring (the way the river smells after a rain or a lawn does after it was just cut). I just love everything about riding Giacomo!!!

Except . . . yes, believe it or not, on the ride pictured above I happened to think of ONE way that John Stamos the Toyota (or any car) is better. 

I wondered if I could challenge myself to come up with four more for a Five on Friday list. It was hard but I did it! I figure that in a few short months I'll be back to the car all the time and not taking pleasure rides, so maybe it'll be nice to remind myself of the (very very few) ways that cars are better than Vespas:

1. On that sunny no destination ride, I thought to myself, "Man, it'd be a GREAT day for a nap." I love all manner of naps in nearly any location but a nap in a nice sun-warmed car is tops on my list. 

I can't do that on a Vespa. 


2.  A car horn is way more intimidating than a dinky little Vespa beep. (Sorry Giac, you sound kind of wimpy.)

3. Car trips not nearly as weather-reliant as Vespa trips.

4.  When it comes to food shopping for a family of five to seven (depending on if the alleged adults are around or not) is just really not possible on the Vespa. Unless I wanted to take twenty-seven trips back and forth . . .  ain't nobody's got time for that. 

5. Also, my 150cc Vespa engine can't go on the interstate, so big road trips--not to mention adding multiple passengers--really work better in the four-wheel vehicle. 

Now I am racked with guilt and am going to ride Giacomo ALL DAY today.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Five on Friday: I'm an Asshole Parent Because . . . (Second in a Series)

As I mentioned last week, younger kids provide a constant barrage of insanity:

Not my kid but I did have one not only touch dog poop but then
repeatedly sniff her hand while telling me what she had done.

. . . therefore inspiring multitudes of social media posts. The above example is from this article that points out how these one hundred twenty-one parents are real assholes:

I didn't have a kid try this one but the again, we didn't have goats.
I did have a kid eat cat litter once--with a fork, right out of the box.

The Internet is full of these hysterical, disgusting, relatable examples of ways parents of toddlers are real assholes--doing terrible things like offering children some cheese.  Just awful.

I find myself wondering, what about parents of tweens & teens? Can't we be assholes, too??? 

Yes we can! print by artist Josh MacPhee

Our kids might not be throwing themselves on the ground in protest anymore but that's only because they've evolved. I couldn't take pictures of them when I was a total asshole parent recently, but I can admit my shame and explain their reactions:

1. I offered to treat him to anything he wanted at the super hip local coffee shop. (Reaction: crossed arms, tapped foot, refused to make eye contact with anyone even though he was basically blocking entrance to the coffee shop, generally acted like being there in that moment was the worst thing to ever happen to him.)

2. I asked her to turn her inside-out sweater the right way before going to Easter dinner. (Reaction: eye roll and an "UGH.")

3. His father and I asked him how he did in one of his track events--no wait, it gets worse--AT the track event in FRONT of other people who could SEE us communicating with him. (Reaction: looked around furtively to see if anyone noticed, eye roll.)

4. I wouldn't give her money for no reason when I had already just given her money for no reason a day before. (Reaction: stamped foot, stormed away, acted really pissed off to everyone for about ten minutes.)

5.  I ate the leftover Chinese food for lunch. The leftover Chinese food that I had paid for but didn't get a chance to eat for dinner myself and was left in the fridge after they had all packed for lunch? Yes, that leftover Chinese food. (Reaction: OH MY GOD MOM NO FAIR!)

Friday, May 6, 2022

Five on Friday: Imaginary Book Titles for Teens & the People Who Parent Them

There are a lot of blogs about parenting younger kids. It's only natural, I guess, since they provide a constant barrage of insanity. But older kids still require parenting and, likewise, the need for parental decompressing either via ranting, laughing, crying or a combination of the three.

Thus begins my series (fine, I only have two planned so far but that counts as a small series) of posts that specifically have to do with parenting beyond the elementary school years. This week's entry is made up of my ideas for titles for imaginary books for preteens, teens and the people who parent them:

1. That's a Massive Amount of Mayonnaise: A Guide to Cringe-Watching Your Sons Make Sandwiches

2. Why Start Flushing Now? You're Already in the Double Digits. (Alternate title: Please Tell Me You're Not That Kid Who Doesn't Flush Poop at School)

3. You Don't Believe Me But Truly, Less is More: A Cautionary Tale Regarding Applying Scents

4. I Know That You "Already Know That, Mom!" So Why For the Love of God Do I Have to Keep Telling You?

5. This Hurts Me More Than it Hurts You: Doling Consequences to Teens is Absolutely One of the Worst Parts of Parenting

Friday, April 29, 2022

Five on Friday: Spoils of the Three Days Away!

Last Thursday evening at around 6pm, I said to the party of three girls that were accompanying me, "Getting bagels was just THIS MORNING."

Nobody could believe it--that felt like it was days before! The reason is that road trip time is not like regular time. Even when multiple hours are frittered away in the car (or maybe since that time is wasted in the car? I don't get how this all works), the days are long and full of laughs and adventure. Those few days away will long be remembered via stories told, photos shared and the gifts and mementos we brought home.

1. I kind of have a thing for stickers. And honestly, as long as I keep coming up with places to use them, I think they're great souvenirs--they're inexpensive and easy to pack, even if you get this many!
I mean--MINI pierogi stickers. Mini!! Pierogis!! Can you stand it??

2. I got some lovely birthday gifts from the college students/alleged adults. From our daughter:

3. Our son said he had a sort of lame gift for me and handed me a pair of my own underwear and socks that apparently went back to school with him after he did his last batch of laundry at home. 
At least this gift was my size?

He did redeem himself by sweetly asking if we were going to come back up to his apartment to hang out (after I took him food shopping). He then obliged my request for him to serenade me with his guitar while we ate lunch. 

4. We did hit a bunch of vintage shops and book stores and I just couldn't resist the boxes of old family photos (So mysterious! Sad! Fascinating!) and stereo cards. Old photos I know I'll use in collages and cards . . . but what will I do with these? Only time will tell!

5. Lastly a semi-impulse buy at the youngest's request, a yard sale card game that's already provided car ride and dinner time entertainment. Besides being a fun game, this will always make me smile since it will remind me of Spring Break 2022.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Five on Friday: Forty-Eight is Forty-Great!

 It was somebody's birthday yesterday.

Me, it was me.

I'm actually writing this post a few days early (!!) since I'll be taking a girls' trip with a friend, her daughters and my youngest daughter to go see my oldest kids  alleged adults at college. We've got some great meals, museum trips and of course a funicular ride planned. All great birthday outings in my book!

I frequently have partial Five on Friday lists waiting for their fourth or fifth item in the queue, so I took a peek to see if any could be whipped into shape for this week's post. Oh--here's one on ways I've felt old lately, so that'd be PERFECT for my birthday week! (Note: sure, this is a bit of a recurring theme but of course now I can laugh at this post from eight years ago--not a spring chicken at forty? Ha! Sure I was! Also: Eight years ago? Have I really been doing this for that long?)

Anyway, here's what's making me feel like a cranky old lady lately. (Though to be clear, I am perfectly pleased with my age this year because even numbers are superior and additionally, EIGHT IS GREAT!)

But I digress. Here's my list:

1. As a weirdo who used to always wish I'd need glasses for the accessorizing aspect, I'm actually fine with needing drug store cheaters. But rocking this look, well . . .  this just felt like a real (aging) milestone.

2. I recently found myself shopping for clothes and found myself saying things like "don't they have any goddamn cardigans with buttons anymore?" and "Jesus Christ, is this just how they make all jeans now?"

3. Those things (& more!) were said out loud. In public. Also some of them might be more aptly described as being "bitterly muttered" out loud. In public.

4. If you're wondering where I was shopping for my hot new look it was Marshalls. Yes, Marshalls, the discount retail fashion mecca.

5. On Easter Sunday, my Uncle made one of my dreams come true: he finally let me borrow some old home movies so I could convert them from VHS and watch them. There's a circa 1983 (?) Smurf movie I wrote, starred in and directed that I'd really like to see.

I was surprised to learn that a few of them had already been converted to DVD so when I got home I was able to watch them. Not the Smurf movie, sadly, but maybe even better: holiday scenes from Babci's house. It's just the family talking in the crowded living room, laughing, opening gifts, asking who wants a little ice cream? It was comforting, familiar but with the passage of time somehow a little foreign, too. I felt like Scrooge being transported back to witness scenes of Christmas past. 

I got a little emotional watching it, not just for the loved ones lost but maybe more so for seeing myself as a child! It occurred to me--I don't think I've ever seen video of myself so young!

I immediately realized how alien that concept--never seen a video of myself so young--is to my kids, who have instantaneously seen video of themselves their entire lives. So what started out as a lovely, nostalgic and slightly bittersweet moment quickly turned into, "Wow, I'm old."

But I'm an even number again! So all is right in the world. Cheers.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Five on Friday: Back in My Wheelhouse

I won't ever feel comfortable using the term "post-pandemic" since I've been burned before thinking this might be over. I believe now it's something we'll perpetually live through with various breakthroughs and occasional setbacks. 

Will we need to wear our masks indoors again soon and at times in the future? Sounds like that might be a yes. But since we're continually adapting, evolving and returning to doing things we love, I'm okay with that. When I look at our lives, almost everything has gotten back to a near-normal state: work, school, shopping, going out, traveling . . . 

One of the only things I hadn't gotten back to was my seasonal part-time work of leading school tours at the local historic mill. As time passed, I began to wonder if leading tours was something I wanted to get back to or not. Then in December, I led a private tour for a friend's visiting family and remembered how much I love interacting with kids that way. So when the email came asking who was in for giving tours this spring, I looked at my busy schedule and my never-ending to-do list and said, "Count me in!"

I'll admit, I had a few lingering doubts about whether or not this was a good idea or not . . . but if there are any divine forces out there trying to convince me to keep at it, they were hard at work yesterday. 

1. The weather was PERFECT. The buildings on the museum grounds are old, not insulated and don't have heat. So even if the temperature is a mild mid-60s outside, inside is very cold and I hate cold. But yesterday it was in the 70s by 9 am, which I loved. The sun was bright, the skies were blue, it was just lovely.

2.  As the buses pulled up and the kids began spilling out, it occurred to me: this isn't just my first school tour in three years, this is their first field trip in three years. This made the day feel that much more special and exciting.

3. All of my old friends were there! Other guides I haven't seen in years, of course, but it was also comforting to see the animals have kept their routines: a goose has a nest on the millrace wall again and the snapper turtle family is still hanging out by the turbine.

4. The kids were terrific. I was a little worried they wouldn't remember how to behave on a field trip but they were polite, engaged and fun. Bonus: the chaperones (who can frequently be worse than the kids, believe it or not) were also wonderful.

5. There were some challenges, like there always are, but all my old tricks came right back to me. Lead the kids through a building that hasn't been part of the tour before? Got it. Bus arrives twenty minutes late but  the four groups of kids still need to be done by noon? No problem.

So I guess you could say (ready for a little docent humor?) it felt really good to be back in my wheelhouse. 
I can't even look you in the eye that was so corny.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Five on Friday: This Teenager is an Absolute JOY

This young man is just such a pleasure lately. He is turning sixteen next week and I am telling you, he is an absolute joy to be around.

Examples from the past five days: 

1. He wanted a ride to a friend's house. I wanted to run to the store. So I was waiting for him to get ready so I could drop him off and then do my shopping. 

And waiting. And waiting.

Sixty minutes later, he emerged from his bedroom cave dressed in a wrinkled top, pajama pants and slippers. One hour was needed to curate this look, friends. ONE. HOUR.  

2. If I didn't blur his face out and it wasn't turning away from the camera, you could see how pissed he was that I:
    a) thought this was hysterical and
    b) wanted to document it

3. After assuring me he would not take his phone to bed overnight, I caught him with his phone in bed in the morning.  I confiscated it. He was insistent that I was the one in the wrong.

4. Offers to help him prepare for his very first job interview were met with unintelligible grunts and some pretty severe eye rolls.

This was all by Tuesday night! But then Wednesday came--first job interview day!--and this man-child was sweet, charming and spoke to me without mumbling all day long.  He asked for my opinion and made me laugh. 

WHAT THE HELL, KID? I'm trying to write a list about what a pain in the ass you've been and this is how you act? So now, dear reader, we enter the "Choose Your Own Adventure" ending for today's list:

Entry #5, option 1: He started acting nice when I needed him to do one more annoying thing so now technically him being nice is actually annoying.


Entry #5, option 2: Cameo appearance by younger brother, circa Tuesday night's dinner.

Me, quietly, to myself: I always forget just how tasty this recipe is! This dressing is delicious, we should make it more often.

14-year-old son, out loud, to the loving parents who purchased, planned and prepared his food:
This dinner is so mid.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Five on Friday: Traumaversery Silver Linings

Personally, traumaverseries haven't been an issue for me. After I survived a trauma, several people told me that the rape would be "the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing you think about at night for the rest of your life." This angered me so much. It felt like a curse--nothing like words of comfort. 

My reaction was to figure out a way to make that not true for myself. I was ultimately so successful that by the time the second anniversary rolled around, I didn't realize until a few days later . . . the third, a few months later. Now it takes me a few minutes to remember what the date was.

I do understand when other people struggle with traumaverseries, but I think I was able to turn that off in myself.

Or thought I had . . . because when mid-March rolls around and I check my Facebook memories in the mornings, I feel a small sense of dread when I see the start of the pandemic approaching. Oh, there was that last day of normalcy when I took a slew of kids out for shamrock shakes and rolling down the grassy hill . . .  oh, there are the desks I set up in the family room. There's that false hope that this would only last two weeks. 

 "Oh. Maybe this is a sort of a traumaversery."

It feels sort of ridiculous. Why would I feel pangs of grief when our family emerged from this unscathed? Yes, the first Easter without our extended families felt rough. But we got through it intact, all of us healthy and not really any worse for the wear. Maybe it's just this giant bleeding heart of mine feeling the pain for the world. 

As the March days go on, something magical happens in my memories. The pictures reflect our hope and resiliency, the ways we adapted, all the new things we tried, the time we spent together as a family of seven (particularly poignant now that the oldest two are off at college again and honestly probably not going to live here long-term again). I'm reminded of how our community worked together to pitch in and feed our hospital nurse neighbor's family and of just how much baking there was!

The optimist reemerges! I think maybe next year I won't feel so bad when those March memories start popping up again. (But if I do, I'll try to remember I just have to wait a few days for these lovely images to return:) 

Early pandemic silver linings, in images: