Friday, October 22, 2021

Five on Friday: It's Time I Told You About Pete

One year ago this month, a Halloween card arrived to the museum where I work. 

Aside from the fact that candy corn is revolting, it was a nice little card. Only problem was, I didn't know any Petes. I gave the card to the former curator and sent a card back, giving him the updates on the museum including information on the staffing change.

Remember when I told you about my fun relationship with my associate curator? She once said something that I thought I had on this list, which was something along the lines of "You somehow always attract the weirdest people." (Spoiler: it's not actually on the list, I guess I was thinking of #2.)

But both of those apply to what then transpired, which was that Pete became my weird quirky penpal and I became his equally weird quirky one in return. He has consistently sent me cards, letters, stickers, paper confetti, magnets, candy . . . even DVDs! I am sometimes confused by what he sends but I am also always very delighted.  I'm going to share some of what he's sent to me for today's list:

1."I am sometimes confused by what he sends but I am also always very delighted." 

2. We had some jokes about Bob Ross going at one point. He also sent some Bob Ross magnets that now adorn the museum kitchen.

3. Sometimes there are some . . . let's say unconventional choices like letters written on the back of used paper bags. But as someone who has recently questioned--twice--for her own self--where the line is between creativity and insanity. . . who am I to judge, really?

4. After he sent me this Christmas card, I mentioned that I initially didn't want to give the movie Elf a try but now I really do enjoy it. That started a few more Elf-inspired correspondences including, most recently, not one but two Will Farrell DVDs. (I'm not sure how I feel about the second one.)

5. He recently sent a "Pete the Cat" book, inexplicably cut off at the bottom (to fit in the envelope?) with no note.

By this point you must be thinking, "But Gina, surely you haven't been quite so . . . so . . . so . . . unusual unusually creative in your responses!"

Friends, I've mentioned that I'm struggling to keep up with everything lately. I can't find time for working on my memoir. The kids need Halloween costumes. Everyone needs dinner. And yet recently I found myself alone in the kitchen at an ungodly hour of the morning cutting, gluing and giggling like crazy as I altered the book to make this.

This detail in particular is why I was cracking myself up.
Happy Anniversary, Pete. I hope you like it.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Five on Friday: Hold on to This Feeling

I always feel sort of cheesy when I recycle weekly themes here. Then I laugh at myself because it's not like anyone is grading me on this, or forcing me to do it or paying me or anything. (Did I ever tell you how this whole thing could potentially be monetized with ads? Not to brag or anything but one of the first essays I posted was so popular Google thought I was cheating them. So I'm entertaining you for free, people. For free!)

But I digress. Back to reducing and reusing.

Last week I was gushing about how excited and grateful I was for my upcoming weekend trip to visit my college kids and this week I'm going to tell you how great it was. It's not only so I don't have to come with more creative content (for no pay!) but considering that I returned from a few refreshing days away and jumped right back into "just euthanize me if we ever try to sign the kids up for five teams in one season again" mode, I'd like to hold on to this feeling for a little longer.

Here are some highlights from my trip:

1. Me: Ugh, I need to get a way for a few days I'm so tired of thinking about food and shopping and taking care of everyone.

Also me: Mommy's here! Let me take you food shopping.

To be fair, though, all I did on this shopping trip was drive, advise and pay.
I didn't even insist on being the one to push the cart!

2.  Also ugh, but in a "this mama's heart almost can't take it" sort of way: these two go to college in the same city and run into each other accidentally and get together on purpose and generally get along. 

These kids grown-ups!! Ugh!

3. I got to visit to an art museum and have a personalized tour led by the cool new intern (my daughter).  I enjoyed some really amazing exhibits and had a lot of fun with my two alleged adults.

You can take the alleged adults out of Rumspringa . . . 

4. I was able to spend my daughter's twenty-first birthday with her doing lots of great things together--from stealthily popping mini champagne bottles at the hotel breakfast buffet to flea marketing, vintage shopping, lunch at a Peruvian restaurant (with more stealthy champagne bottle popping), to bingo at a Moose-Lodge-turned-college-town-bar and more. I regretfully returned her to her dorm a little after ten, apologizing for such a boring twenty-first birthday and she said, "You gave me alcohol with every meal today, we had a lot of fun, none of my friends are twenty-one yet and I do have class tomorrow. It was a great birthday."


5. On my last morning I slept in (7:30! Yeah baby!), lounged around a bit and then headed out for a little bit of solo sightseeing. The weather was gorgeous for doing one of my favorite things . . . riding the Duquesne Incline! I realized on my ride up that I had this huge, stupid smile on my face. Was it because I have an inexplicable obsession with funiculars that gets me disproportionately happy or because I just had an absolutely amazing weekend? I'm going with a little bit of both.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Five on Friday: Who's Spoiled Now?

1. Somebodies around here have a kitchen stocked with homemade chicken pot pie, soup and muffins.

2. Some other bodies have homemade chicken pot pie, soup and muffins all packed up and ready to be hand delivered to them.

3. The college students will be receiving some requested items from home that Mom had to dig through drawers, closets and even a bin in the storage space known as the "closet-closet" to find. (*Bonus: a certain bff from home will also be getting some things thanks to some double-Mom power action!)
It's a closet . . . inside a closet!

4. A birthday-this-weekend girl  young woman is going to be spoiled with presents from home and fun outings and shopping planned with Mom.

5. "Why are you going to Pittsburgh all by yourself?"
    "Um. . . because I want to!"

Maybe I'll even go on a funicular ride! I'll sing the entire time.

. . . and I cannot find the words to express how filled with joy and gratitude I am in anticipation of this upcoming weekend. How lucky am I that both of my college students go to the same school? And that I can take a day off from work and a couple of days off from all the stress I've felt at home recently trying to coordinate and keep up with entirely too many commitments, to spend five hours in a car alone, two (two!!!) nights in a nice hotel in a city I love so that I can spend time with two people that I made, adore and miss . . . and I get to celebrate my daughter's 21st (!!!!!!!!) birthday with her with by going to a flea market, her favorite vintage shops AND 21+ over Bingo night! 

And those outings were all her choices, believe it or not, because she is so my daughter.

So who's spoiled now? (Answer: me. I think it might be me.)

Friday, October 1, 2021

Five on Friday: Continuing Education for a Novice Soccer Mom

First two kids: into reading, drawing, putting on plays, as I expected any child I'd raise would be.

Third child: drawn to anything that could be perceived as sports equipment at a very young age. Could outrun me by the time he was four years old and around that age observed, "You're not too sportable, Mommy, but I am very sportarific."

I decided at that point to get him to repeat the phrase, "One sport per season, one sport per season." (If you are wondering how that worked out, I am currently juggling five teams' schedules between him and his equally sportable two younger siblings, so . . . not great.)

He's a high school sophomore now and, to his credit, he's technically only on one team currently, the varsity soccer team. You might think I'd know everything I need to know as a soccer mom at this point but then you might not really know me that well . . . because I'm still learning.

Some recent lessons learned:

1. It is always worth carting my old lady bleacher chair and fuzzy blanket to the stands no matter how far they are from the parking lot. 

2. When the players miss a goal and the other spectators shout, "Good idea!," I am supposed to refrain from cracking up. (Listen, at this point I truly do know that it's just a thing people say but sometimes I can't help but to pretend shout, "Trying to get the ball in the goal---novel idea, kids! Suuuuper original!" and then the giggle suppression kicks in.)

3. Nobody thinks I'm cool for referring to the goalie as the keeper.

4. At the High School Varsity level, clapping for the other team's really nice move is frowned upon.

5. Apparently being a left-footer is a really big deal, which I did know but forgot. I remembered when I shared this video of an awesome goal he made and that's what all the sportarific people commented on.

*Postscript: My older kids are still more like me, though. Older sister may need to brush up on her soccer sister skillset:

Friday, September 24, 2021

Five on Friday: My Son Might Be a Squirrel

Did you watch that Mark Rober squirrel video? The former NASA engineer had had it with the squirrels eating all the bird food he put out so he constructed this insane obstacle course to combat them. I'll admit, having had frustrations with squirrels myself, I clicked, wanting to see them get it so good!! 

But then, just like Mr. Rober, I walked away with an appreciation for those fluffy-tailed nuisances. The next thing you know, I'm telling the kids I want one of those squirrel tables for Mothers Day and my oldest daughter and I are trying to set up squirrel photo booths.

That was so spring of 2020, though, and my mini-obsession with squirrels has waned. But the other morning, as I watched my 15-year-old son getting ready for school, I wondered, "Where have I seen this sort of behavior before? What does this remind me?" And then it occurred to me . . . I think my son might be a squirrel.

Here's my evidence:

1.  He appears to be very busy and active, scurrying around from room to room, but he has very little to show for what he's actually accomplished.

2. I can hear him but I'm not always sure where exactly he is.

3. Observing his behavior is equal parts frustrating and fascinating. 

4. I want to find him annoying but he's actually pretty cute.

5. He, just like the squirrels, refuses to pose for ridiculous photos for me, even when I offer a snack reward.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Five on Friday: A BTSN Proclamation

1.  I already accidentally missed the High School's Back to School Night this year, and . . .

2.  The announcements about COVID cases at the Middle School have already started coming in and that hasn't slowed anybody's insane "unmask our children" roll, and . . . 

3. I'd have to drive the 15-passenger van which is a bitch to park and the school parking lot is always so crowded and a request was sent out for the 6th grade parents to park in one area at the earlier arrival time and for the 8th grade parents to park in another area at the later arrival time which would mean if I wanted to be a good citizen* who happens to have both a 6th and an 8th grade student this year, I'd have to find not one but two parking spots for that beast**, and . . . 

4. I have had children at this very same school for the past ten consecutive years and they are literally my fourth and fifth children enrolled, and . . . 

5. I just sort of wanted to stay home and take a shower and chill; I thereby justify skipping the Middle School's Back to School Night this year, just in case you were wondering where I was.

Maybe next year

* And I am nothing if not a good citizen!
** Though searching for a second parking spot maybe would solve the "what to do during the 7th grade parent time slot" dilemma

Friday, September 10, 2021

Five on Friday: 2.5 Days in and Killing It

Well, friends, I set some goals for myself for once the children got back to school. They were almost like resolutions for the new (school) year. We've been at it for an entire two and a half days now and I gotta say, I'm sort of killing it!

Let's see, I had resolved to:

1. Get back into my near-daily exercise habit:

2. Do things like pick the throw pillows off the floor,  put them back on the couch, and then not have to do it again ten minutes later:

Eleven minutes and counting . . . 
3. Make dinner at 10:00 am:

4. Not listen to a single Olivia Rodrigo song for at least eight hours:
Achieved but the weird thing is two nights when I had insomnia this song decided to haunt my brain. That's what I get for going cold turkey I guess.

5. Getting back to supposedly writing my memoir. 

Okay, I haven't done this yet. I needed a few days to catch up on some other stuff (I've gotten the van inspected and made calls and filled out forms and made appointments and and and . . . !!!) 

I'd try to protest, "Well at least I got some writing done!" meaning this list but that's a cop out because I have been writing my Five on Friday lists all along and this one is basically just recycling last week's list. 

But I have really good intentions for next week now that I got so many of those dumb calls and things done, so I'll only give myself a sideways thumb on this one. Don't want to discourage me or anything,  especially since I just realized they have another day off next week and we still won't be back to five full days yet . . .

Friday, September 3, 2021

Five on Friday: My Plans for When the Kids Are at School

In what is feeling very on-brand for the current era, the first day of school was canceled. THE FIRST DAY! Not just any first day, but the first day of a new year in which the plan is for the children to go to school for five full days a week after 18 months of first virtual schooling then summer vacation then virtual again followed hybrid but only for half days and then another summer break.

thank you, sweet yellow bus of mercy

So today they have a half day--because holiday weekend, natch--then Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday off. But Wednesday? Oh my god, Wednesday they will be gone by 8:30 and, because they are athletes and we are having normal sports schedules again this year (hooray! boo!), they won't be home until 5. 

I love my children so much that I can still cry talking about what a privilege it is to be their mother. But I'm also on the verge of being completely overwhelmed and just need a break. So I do not feel at all guilty about literally REJOICING over the start of the new, five full days a week school year.

I've got a lot planned for my upcoming solo time! Like:

1. Getting back into my near-daily exercise habit. I was doing really well with this for the majority of the summer so I don't know what happened--but I feel better physically and mentally when I'm getting more activity so this on the top of the list.

2. Getting back to supposedly writing my memoir. Remember my memoir? I barely do so I don't expect you to. But maybe, just maybe . . . you'll see it in the next 5-10 years. Oh and I'll record at least one more episode of my fake podcast that I started for my sister but then dropped when things got too hectic (not to mention the issues with consistent riding I had mid-to-late summer.)

3. Utilize my time in ways that might seem odd--like making dinner at 10am--but in the long run will make my life so much easier because I'll be running around so much for sports games and practices in the afternoon.

4. Do things like pick the throw pillows off the floor, put them back on the couch, and then not have to do it again ten minutes later.

5. Not listen to a single Olivia Rodrigo song for at least eight hours . . . nor any bickering at all. (I'd take Olivia on loop over the bickering though, to be honest)