Friday, December 2, 2022

Five on Friday: Thanksgiving Recap

This year, none of my children are tiny and dazzled by holiday magic. Two of them don't even live with us anymore.


But if I learned anything during the pandemic, it was to get creative in figuring out how to adapt.  It was also to remember to open my mind and heart to the idea of pivoting. 

This year, we didn't watch the parade on television and we didn't go to a family member's house for dinner, Instead, the five of us from home went out to Pittsburgh where the alleged adults live and we celebrated together out there. 

Some observations and highlights from our holiday:

1. Weeks ago, I told the alleged adults that they should feel free to extend a dinner invitation to any friends who didn't have holiday plans. Our son said his friend would be coming and bringing cranberry sauce. Great!

Two days before Thanksgiving our son's roommate texted me to thank me for including her and to tell me she'd bring snickerdoodle cookies and a floral centerpiece (I like this roommate!). This of course was fine and lovely, but I hadn't heard she'd be coming. I asked my son just how many friends would be joining us? Maybe up to three, but probably not all at the same time. Turned out to only be one anyway. Wheee!

2. Our teenage boys are pretty dedicated to wearing pajama pants as regular pants. Our 16-year-old was, in fact, wearing a pair when he asked me, "Was I supposed to pack something nice to wear for Thanksgiving?" 
I asked, "No, but do you have something that doesn’t look like pajamas to wear?"
"Yeah, I have sweatpants."

3. Did the children appreciate the forethought that was involved in preparing Thanksgiving dinner in a sparsely stocked rental house? No. Instead, during our holiday meal our 14-year-old asked, "Mom, didn't you pack any ketchup?"
"Ketchup?? No--for what??"
"No, that's not a thing."
"Yes it is! Not even any hot sauce!!?! Total L move, Mom."

4. While the kitchen might have been sparsely stocked, there was plenty nice about the place we stayed at; particularly the location. We were mere blocks from the upper Duquesne Incline station! Yes, I still have my weird obsession with funiculars (fine, inclined planes) and got to take my first-ever nighttime ride!

5. There was no gingerbread this year--nobody even asked (!!) Bittersweet? A little. A relief? A little (it's a lot of work). Will we whip something up if one of them asks to? Of course. Also, incidentally, our 16-year-old son is in the Polytech Culinary Program and is making gingerbread there. 

*Please note: I began writing this week's list on Wednesday afternoon. On Wednesday evening, my son began telling us about his school gingerbread and Daddy-O asked "when are we going to make ours at home?" So guess who had to run around and get the necessary ingredients for gingerbread making? This gal!

Friday, November 25, 2022

Five on Friday: One Week of Driving; Two Ways

It's been approximately one week of driving my new car, Beatrice Brown. Coincidentally, it's also about a week of our third child having his driving permit. No, he may not drive Beatrice Brown, he gets the already-beat-up car with no bells and whistles to learn on.

Some observations about my new car along with my tips for parents of new drivers:

On Beatrice Brown:

1. My friends are congratulating me and asking me how I like Bea or Beatrice. No. She is Beatrice Brown. We never called John Stamos just John, right? (People, you already know I'm a weirdo. This should not be a surprise that I have rules about my car's name.)

2. It turns out I *do* like some bells and whistles in my car!! I knew I'd like heated seats--do I ever!!--but I didn't know how much I'd like the trunk that opens with a push of a button or the little lights on my sideview mirror to show me that there's a car in my blindspot. 

3. Daddy-O made me a bracelet from the license plate that was on Overkill Jones. It only felt right to wear it for Beatrice Brown's first road trip! 

Alleged adults, here we come!

Tips for parents of new drivers:

4. Before I got in the car with my son for the first time, I reviewed my lessons from driving with my first two teens:

a. Lean in. Many new drivers tend to hug the right side of the road, making the passenger feel very, very close to mailboxes and trees. Just lean in to the left a little, you'll feel better.

b. Hold on. When they do something scary and you quickly grab for the door or grab handle (there's a reason it's called that), that action can make the young driver more nervous. My tip: start holding on as soon as the ride starts and you can just imperceptibly tighten your grip when things get scary.

5. I've come up with a new tip! Turns out this kid is a pretty good driver! I barely had to lean in or hold on tight. However, I realized it was good that I had my sunglasses on because then he didn't realize when I was scared enough to close my eyes.

Husband: How'd he do?
Me: Pretty good! I only closed my eyes a few times.
Husband: You do that when I drive, too.
Me: Well then I guess he drives as well as an adult!

Friday, November 18, 2022

Five on Friday: Let's Name the New Car!

Do you remember Overkill Jones? You know, our 15-passenger van that we've taken many any epic family road trip in? Yeah, that Overkill Jones.

Well that poor l'il gas guzzler has been mainly relegated to sitting in the driveway until someone needed to borrow a large vehicle. Just sitting there making it hard to see if anyone was coming when we were backing out of the driveway in one of our normal-human sized cars like John Stamos.

With the alleged adults more or less off on their own and the next kid in line about to start driving, it was time to trade in the van, get a new set of wheels for Mom and make John Stamos (who is fifteen years old now) the kid car.

While we are sad the OKJ era is over, I am very pleased with my new-to-me red 2019 Highlander. For today's list, a rundown of the new car's possible names:

1. Nothing, why name a car? Ha! Do you even know me? I just reminded you about Overkill Jones and John Stamos and I may have mentioned my Vespa named Giacomo once or twice.

2. Ruby. Works because of the car color but one of our good friends is named Ruby and we thought that might get confusing.

3. Cherry? Trite. How about Maraschino? Definite maybe.

4. She name is Wosie. A little girl I used to take care of would name many of her baby dolls "Rosie" and introduce them to me by saying "She name is Wosie." I could name the car Rosie, I suppose, but I'd always want to say "Wosie" and my husband pointed out we'd actually want to always call it "She name is Wosie" and that . . . that might just be too much.

5. Beatrice Brown. When I was eighteen, my path was fortunate enough to cross with that of an older woman named Beatrice Brown, from Baltimore. She told me that red is a power color, and that she had seven red cars. Initially I thought she meant all at once, I later realized she probably meant over the years . . . but I like the story better thinking about her stepping outside and deciding which red car to use on any given day.

My husband tried looking her up with the limited information I had and found an obituary online. I cannot say with 100% certainty that the obituary he found is hers, but it includes this:

" . . .  she attended a concert featuring Louis Armstrong at the Royal Theatre and the legendary Satchmo invited her to come to the stage saying “Lady with the red hat, won’t you come down and dance with me?” 

Come on--that's got to be my Beatrice Brown, right? AND that places me two degrees from Satchmo, so I'm sticking with it.

Welcome to the family, Beatrice Brown.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Five on Friday: Parenting Via Text

Modern parenting includes lots of text communication. No, it's not just with the grown ones who don't live here anymore, it's not just when I'm at work . . . sometimes it's when we're in the same house but different rooms.

Some recent examples for this week's list:

1. Yes, she has a chromebook from school that she could work on in a different room but she clearly wanted to annoy to her older brother . . . and she knew that last line would cinch her case.

She wasn't wrong.

2. When they were small, I can remember walking in the door and having children run up and tell me they were hungry while their father was in the same room saying, "I AM RIGHT HERE."

Some things never change.

3. While the example above is one of pure laziness, the one that follows is of a completely appropriate time to text your parent from a different room in the house.

Poor guy . . . but you should know that a subsequent text was to me, while I was at work, asking about what medicine to take. His father was in the other room at the time.

4. Sometimes I text random memes that I find amusing to the alleged adults. Usually they humor me (the memes and the offspring) but sometimes I get this:

5. But then he makes up for it with texts like this:

Friday, November 4, 2022

Five on Friday: This Season's Must-Haves!

Sport season, that is. Also known as the SOCCER MOM SURVIVAL KIT:

1. Bleacher seat. I cannot stress the importance of this one enough. Yes, it's nice to have a seat back (I see you, parents that climb to the way top of the bleachers to have something to lean against) but it's more than that. Those metal bleacher seats get COLD. And sometimes wet. Do your back and ass a favor and get one of these.

2. Blanket! Gloves! Umbrella! Hat! Layers! Have I mentioned it gets COLD when the sun goes down? And they do not care about rain, they just keep playing.

3. A few dollars in your pocket in case the snack shack is open and you need to:
    a. Buy hot dogs because there's no cooking dinner when there's double over time
    b. Appease younger child
    c. Get a hot drink because you are freezing

4. Tissues for that moment when . . . 

{you're in the state semi-finals and the score is 2-1  and there is literally one minute left of the game and the ref who has appeared to be hellbent on sabotaging our team (hey, I don't make those assessments, I don't understand most of the calls but when even the very level-headed fans are saying the ref is biased, I believe them) gives our amazing goalie a yellow card (a yellow card! For taking more than six seconds to kick the ball!) which means} 

. . . YOUR FRESHMAN SON who's been bench warming for the varsity team is called in for that VERY LAST MINUTE of the state semi-finals and the other team is AFTER BLOOD and you--very surprisingly to yourself--start shaking and feel your eyes well up with tears. You might need tissues for that.

(By the way, he did fine, was offended that I was worried, and our team won 3-1.)

Totally crying.

5. Lastly, make sure to have your phone ready to take video of exciting moments of the game (for example, that last minute of the game as described above) that your husband will later censor all the cursing and, I might add, hilarious commentary to share it on soccer team's social media.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Five on Friday: What is Gina up to Now?

The truth is, my high school guidance counselor didn't know what to do with me.   “You’re good at English and History, you like writing, performing and you’re good at leading groups. I guess you should be a teacher.” 

Well, guidance counselor, I didn't really know what to do with me either but I keep trying new things and finding new ways to combine my passions. It's exciting to take a look at my life and realize how many interesting gigs I've got going on. 

This week's list is a compilation of where you can find me doing the things I love:

1. The Moth recently re-aired my story, Adventures in Saying Yes. Every time it's shared on the national level I literally get messages from around the country and sometimes world. Some are friends from across the country texting, "I just heard you on the radio!" and others are messages from strangers saying, "My family is just like yours!" I treasure all them all.

2. Graveyard Tours! A dream come to fruition! I've wanted to do this for so long and I'm so pleased with everything about how it turned out. The research was easy (and I found *so* many juicy tidbits to share!), my volunteers were great (and my Gorey-inspired graphics were AMAZING thanks to one of them--thank you Robbie-Lynn!!!!), tours sold out meaning money raised for the not-profit I'm volunteering with and the weather all month totally cooperated. 

Oh, and there was that dress!

These tours are over but information will be coming out soon for any locals that might want to book private small group tours . . . stay tuned.

3. Lecture on the Carlisle School on Sunday, November 6th.

4. Tipsy History! During my graveyard tours, there were some stories I only told little bits of . . . the rest of the stories are going to be told at this event that will be held in February. Again, stay tuned!
Yes, that's me double-fisting it with ginger ale in plastic wine glasses, New Year's Eve 1978ish? (& Robbie-Lynn designed this, too! She's the best.)

5.  Monthly Story Slam's at Scout's are back! We took October off but we'll be back on November 11th with the theme of Traditions . . . start thinking of your stories now!

Friday, October 21, 2022

Five on Friday: Seasonal Sports, Shindigs, Shenanigans

There's no denying we're truly into autumn now. The colorful and falling leaves are breathtaking to look at on the trees, make the air smell divine and provide a satisfying soundtrack to walks.

Of course the calendar's been plenty full so that's been making the weeks feel like they are just flying by. Here's a glimpse of the seasonal sports, shindigs and shenanigans that have been occupying us:

1. Through no fault of my own, this tacky witch decoration has joined our household. Our 12-year-old is constantly complaining that our Halloween decorations are "such an L" so I decided to let her keep it. Little did I realize what she'd do with it . . . 

Categorize under seasonal shenanigans

2. Here's our freshman son ready to go to his first Homecoming Dance. Obvs.

3. On Monday I drove twenty-five minutes to stand in the rain to watch my kid not try very hard at her cross country meet (she prefers the more immediate gratification of spring track events). Coach saw me bundled up with my umbrella and remarked, "Ah the true fans are here today!"

I admitted, "I'm only here because I can't make it to the other two meets this week." (Partially due to her brothers' soccer schedules, 'tis the season!)

These pics were from a *different* rainy sport spectating event. If you know how much I hate being cold and wet, you realize that I must really love these children

4. Sports have been knocking somebody out. 
Important sleeping accoutrements for 14-year-old boy: phone, charger, dog, laptop.

5. School picture time! Top shenanigan award of the season goes to this guy, who wore the same exact sweatshirt for his picture this year that he wore last year. 

On purpose, in case you were wondering.

Kudos, son. 


Friday, October 14, 2022

Five on Friday: Riding Season Recap

Fall weather came FAST this year. One day I was riding my Vespa every day and then BOOM, a month had passed with no riding. Finally some nice, dry, sunny days came and I got in what I thought was my last hurrah for the season. I calculated my miles for the year . . . 961? That'd never do. Luckily I got another mild day and was able to break 1,000 and had a very lovely time doing it.

Now my riding season is really, truly over so I thought I'd share some highlights:

1. I checked some longer rides off my bucket list and even drove across the bridge into Pennsylvania a handful of times.

2. I sewed myself a new reversible seat cover--one side to protect from heat (black pleather seat gets HOT in the summer sun!) and one side is waterproof to protect from any drizzles when I'm parked.

Waterproof cherry print side!
3. I drove to a number of historic sites--fine, mostly graveyards, but a few others, too. My favorite might have been when I drove to the location of a small former amusement park and had an 80+ year old woman who grew up there point out where things used to be.

4. I really challenged just how much a Vespa can hold. The answer: way more than you think. 

Some days I even picked up our farm share on Giacomo! See that bright blue thing in the under seat compartment? That opens up into a nice-sized backpack which means I can carry even MORE!
5. I continued Giacomo's customization with the removal of one large and completely sun-faded sticker and the addition of six new ones from places I visited this year. Oh, also I got this one because it is 100% true.
Want to see more of my riding adventures or pictures of some cool (& creepy) gravestones? Visit Giacomo & Gigi on Facebook, though not much new content will be added now until spring of 2023.