Friday, May 26, 2023

Five on Friday: Best-Worst Mothers Day Gift Ever

Even though gift giving (and receiving) can really stress my husband out, the man frequently knocks it out of the park.

For Mother's Day this year, he had a GREAT idea which I really, truly loved. Also, it was pure torture. For this week's list, let me explain:

1. When we got in the car to go take a hike at the Catfish Fire Tower on the Appalachian Trail, he told me we'd be playing a game. He was going to pull one slip of paper at a time out of an envelope. Each slip had something one of the kids said that they appreciated about or were grateful to me for. Each kid submitted five statements.
2.  I was informed I'd be getting points for the ones I got right. This meant I had twenty-five chances to prove if I was a good Mom who really knows my kids or not. 
No pressure.

3. I didn't start out too hot. In my defense, some were like this:
I guessed it was our youngest daughter, whom I drive to practice once a week. I was wrong, this was submitted by our 15-year-old who admitted I don't actually drive him to practice that much anymore. 

4. And some were like this:
Come ON! Is that even fair??!!!

5. Final score: 
It was much harder and more nerve wracking than I thought it'd be. As much as I don't want to straight-up copy my husband's awesome idea, I really want him to experience the nail-biting pressure love and delight of hearing the nice things the kids have to say about their parents (And believe me, there were plenty of truly sweet ones. I really did love this gift very much!), so I might have to repeat this for Father's Day.

If you'd like to continue today's theme and hear the story of the Best Worst Mother's Day ever (day itself, not a gift) come on to Scout's tonight for Story Slam!


Friday, May 12, 2023

Five on Friday: Every Day is Mother's Day!

I guess if you mean I am a mother every single day that's true but if you mean the kids do something nice for me every day you are soooorely mistaken. 

But you know what? When I think about it, there actually are nice things they do for me at least on a weekly basis. For example:

1. Think all mushrooms are the worst possible food on Earth thereby leaving my foraged food alone (clearly this one is unintentionally nice to me but I'll take it).

2. Amaze me with their talents (again this isn't intentional, they absolutely do this for the love of sport and not for me at all . . . as a matter of fact this guy recently only told me *one* event he was competing in at a meet so I stood around for hours in the sun and missed him competing in the two *other* events that day . . . but I do thoroughly derive pleasure out of seeing them shine). 

3. My older two live five hours away but they are really good about texting and honestly make me laugh out loud several times a week. 

4.  It's true I complain about our youngest a lot. She's always been my button-pusher. Lately, however, she's been a real sweetie. She stuck this note in my lunch:

5.  . . . which made me feel really special but then I found out she did it for her father too. And her brothers. So much for special 😢 

Want to know what really made my heart sing though? Getting this text from her when I was at work:
Best non-Mother's Day gift EVER

Friday, April 28, 2023

Five on Friday: The Menstruation Song (Otherwise Entitled "Proof That I May Be Im-maturing as I Age")

A few weeks before my birthday, my husband asked if "im-maturing" might be a word because he was pretty sure that was what I was doing. He went on to say he was actually quite surprised that I haven't rewritten the "Diarrhea Song" to be about periods.

"Don't be ridiculous. Period doesn't have the right number of syllables . . . it'd have to be menstruation." 

I actually didn't have any intentions of doing this but then ideas started coming to me. I texted him a few verses and then, because he is im-maturing right along with me, he started sending some back.

Our tween and teens at home wanted nothing to do with this (shocker). So I printed out our verses and brought them to my parents' house on Easter Sunday. I grabbed a colored pencil (red, natch) on  my way out the door so new verses could be added on. 

Isn't this what everyone does on Easter?

The young adults in our family (both offspring and niblings) were more than happy to oblige. It was a true bonding experience.

Here are some favorites. If you enjoy them, you, too, may be showing signs of im-maturing.

1. When you took a stupid chance and you wore white pants. Menstruation! (clap, clap) Menstruation!

2. When you think that it’s all done but it comes back, just for fun. Menstruation! (clap, clap) Menstruation!

3. When you keep that real gross pair as your period underwear. Menstruation! (clap, clap) Menstruation!

4. When you really want to go but you’re stuck home with Aunt Flo. Menstruation! (clap, clap) Menstruation!

5. When you don’t wanna hang with Gramps so you blame on your cramps. Menstruation! (clap, clap) Menstruation!

But wait, there's more! (Did you really think I could limit this to only five??)

6. When you are out wining and dining and begin to shed your lining. Menstruation! (clap, clap) Menstruation!

7, When you know you gotta sneeze so you give your knees a squeeze. Menstruation! (clap, clap) Menstruation!

8. When you’re feeling like the GOAT but then you see the bloat. Menstruation! (clap, clap) Menstruation!

9. When you feel like you’re dying and you don’t know why you’re crying. Menstruation! (clap, clap) Menstruation!

10. When you aren’t really sick but you need the toilet quick. Menstruation! (clap, clap) Diarrhea!! (#iykyk)

Friday, April 14, 2023

Five on Friday: Pro-Tips for Connecting with Tweens

Our twelve-year-old daughter asked if we might be able to have a little girls' trip over spring break with our best friends, like we did last year. I considered it but since I've been feeling the need to try to get some quality time with the baby of the family, I decided it would just be the two of us. We'd drive her brother five hours back to college and then spend two nights together. 

I was pretty sure she would hate this idea. So I lined up all sorts of carrots to dangle: we'd get a hotel with a pool! We could get her nails done (something she's begged me for but I've never agreed to). I wouldn't even make her go to a museum!

When I told her I wanted just the two of us to get away together, she said, "Okay." This stopped me dead in my tracks, I was ready to start dangling those carrots.  So even though I didn't have to, I couldn't help but add, "We can get a hotel with a pool!" (well, I wanted one of those anyway). 

She nodded.

Her agreeability was really throwing me off. Here she was, ready to go and for some reason I couldn't shut up. "You can pick things to do, whatever you want!"

Again, she nodded.

"And go out to restaurants!"

She mulled it over. "Could I . . . get my nails done?"


"And get sushi?"

"Whatever you want."

"Boba tea?"

"Yup. And I won't even make you go to any museums."

Then came the biggest surprise of all . . . she said, "We could go to one as long as it's good."

Our trip got off to a great start. I adequately spoiled her with Starbucks, a manicure and letting her eat sushi in bed while watching a police drama on television. She was pleased. 

I didn't make her go into the history museum near our hotel but I did tell her we'd be visiting the conservatory in the morning. This is where my luck began to run out . . . a bunch of gardens did not count as "good" in her book. Naturally after getting her everything she wanted for two days, she started acting like a real pill about it. 

After several attempts, I managed to get my girl back on track, salvage our trip and hopefully connect a bit with my tween. Here's what I tried (and how well each worked or didn't):

1. Pointed out in advance how much she was being spoiled and how this one thing was for me and that she might enjoy it. (DID NOT WORK)

2. Reminded her as we entered that I knew the conservatory wasn't her top choice but that didn't mean she had to make us both miserable. (DID NOT WORK)

3. Tried  to make corny jokes about the plant names ("Hey, don't tease this one for not having any flowers yet. It's a sensitive plant.")  (WENT ABOUT AS WELL AS YOU'D EXPECT IT TO)

"Do you think he looks like that because the naked baby's constantly blowing the horn in his face?" (EYE ROLL)
4. Caught her trying to stealthily take pictures of pretty flowers so then I started trying to take my own not-so-stealthy pics. 
Two can play at that game, Missy.

(ACTUALLY WENT BETTER THAN I EXPECTED IT TO: She allowed one selfie with the two of us, that she took at a weird angle and quickly before anyone could see us being so embarrassing.)

5. When walking in the tropical fruit and spice room, she declared it smelled like a fart and "No, Mom, seriously, how do you not smell it?" I told her to just go walk ahead of me and sit down somewhere because I was enjoying myself and we didn't need to stick together. "What if I get lost? Or kidnapped?"

I looked my giant baby in the eye (no, really, I can look her right in the eye now without squatting at all) and deadpanned, "Who would want to kidnap you?"

Now this was risky . . . but it made her laugh. So even though the room allegedly smelled like farts, she stuck with me until the end.

Friday, March 31, 2023

Five on Friday: Still Cringy After All These Years

 Remember when my family gifted me with this sweatshirt a few Christmases ago?

The Y might be starting to peel a little but I can proudly state, without hesitation, that the Mom Cringe levels over here have not subsided at all. Much to my tween's & teens' delight, they may have even increased. Some examples:

1. This is on my water bottle. 

MOM. She's naked. WHY?

2. I continue on insisting on documenting nearly everything in their all-to-brief childhoods.

Baby's first visit to the orthopedist!

3. I dropped off a card and small gift for the new neighbor (That is SO old fashioned, Mom!)

4. I won an award and then tested it for authenticity. In public. Also had a picture taken of me doing so.

Fine, I did it to be ridiculous but I can assure you it is genuine lucite. Or something like lucite, what do I know about lucite?

5. I'm weird in restrooms, encourage documentation of the weirdness AND I crack myself up with stupid captions later.

At least I have a friend to be cringy with.

And all this before my husband and I decided to rewrite the "Diarrhea Song" to be about menstruation!! (Mom. That's disgusting. Why are you like that?)

Stay tuned for an upcoming entry in which I tell you my (self) nomination for Mother of the Year 2023!

Friday, March 17, 2023

Five on Friday: Recent Quips from the Youngest

I remember telling a friend about the antics of my fifth toddler, whose four older siblings did nothing to prepare me for. My friend looked me in the eye and said, "I feel bad for you."

She was serious but it made us both laugh, especially when I answered, "I do too."

The baby is twelve now, not quite as frustrating as she used to be, and definitely growing into her sense of humor (though she's still young enough that sometimes the things she says aren't intentionally humorous but make the adults laugh anyway). 

Here are some recent quips, quotes and antics:

1. "I hate when you say lettuce is just crunchy water. Look at the ingredients."

2. I let her sleep in with a headache and later checked in on her from work. I'm still not sure if she was delirious or messing with me but since a few minutes later she was up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and telling her father she really wanted to go to school because they were doing a dissection . . . I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

3. "Dad, I'm always concerned when you fart."

4. Recently informed me that the expensive two-week summer camp that she loved last year and is already registered for this year is "just a little too long, I think I want to stay home this summer." When pressed for a reason, said, "I just like my own bed."

I'm not entirely worried (yet) as this was on the heels of her telling me that she "just isn't into sleepovers anymore" but a few days later slept over at a friend's house.

5. And lastly, the birthday card she made for her brother last week:

Alternately entitled: Say you're the fifth kid without saying you're the fifth kid

Friday, March 3, 2023

Five on Friday: Here's My Card

I have on occasion shared ideas for titles of books about my life (as it was in 2014 and 2015). I don't have a 2023 version (yet?) but I have been kicking around some other ideas . . . business cards. 

Hear me out. 

I was thinking about how there used to be these business card machines around when I was in college--both at Rutgers and then when I was on a semester abroad in Spain (!).  At home I didn't use them much but in Spain I made this one:

Oh yes, I thought I was very clever.

That got me thinking about what business cards I might be printing if those machines were around today, and how I hate answering "what do you do?' because let's face it . . .  I do a lot.

Some ideas:

1. Story curator, as I now identify myself on my blog's Facebook page (My husband says I should stop changing that page name. It just took a little while to land on this one and I like it.  It combines my passions of museum curating and storytelling/hosting storytelling!)

I think the rest are self-explanatory. Maybe I'll print them all out and if someone ever asks for my card, I'll just take whichever is at the top of the pile! It'll be a fun surprise for both of us.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Five on Friday: Confessions of a Chronic List Maker

But, Gina, how do you manage to even fit any self-care in on top of everything else you do every day?

The thing is, productivity makes me feel good. I can rest when I'm dead (exception: my near-daily cat naps).  So how do I manage to remember it all and then get it done?

Chronic list making, my friends. 

Sometimes the lists are on paper but these days they are more frequently on the "Notes" on my laptop. These can also be accessed on my phone, which is good, because when you're trying to keep track of as many things as I am, it's easy to forget a paper list at home (but I almost never, ever--knock wood--forget my phone).

Mom as a mermaid as imagined by our oldest daughter, circa 2014

Confessions from this chronic list-maker:

1. Okay, fine, some lists are actually better on paper. I don't know the science behind it but paper is the superior choice for the food shopping list (even though I have forgotten those at home and that sucks so, so much).

2. I should hope that by now everyone knows that it's perfectly acceptable to write things down that you already finished just so you can have the satisfaction of crossing it out and feeling accomplished. If you didn't, now you do.

3. However, that's only really satisfying with paper lists. My suggestion for digital lists is to go ahead and write down mundane stuff you would do anyway. Things like: 

    1. brush teeth
    2. get kids to school
    3. answer emails

I don't write this stuff down every day --who's got time for that? On days when the other tasks are big ones that require more of a time commitment, being able to cross off little things helps me to feel accomplished. 

4. My lists have lists. This is not hyperbole. For example, in the weeks leading up to the MLK Day of Community Service, on my days off from work I'd frequently have MLK work written on my list. When I got to that point, I'd open another list and see which MLK Day-related chores I could do. 

5. Sometimes, I get things off the daily to-do lists by moving them to another day's to-do lists. It's called task management, look it up.