Friday, December 6, 2019

Five on Friday: The Reluctant Mom of Athletes Challenge

I’ve been nominated to participate in the 10-day “Mom of an Athlete” photography challenge on Facebook. To play along, I’m supposed to share an image of what it’s like to be a sports mom or a moment in my child’s sports life, without any explanation.

I occasionally do play along with these photography challenges and while I do fit the bill as a Mom of an Athlete more accurately I’d be called the Reluctant Mom of Athletes.

As a person who doesn’t follow televised sports nor play sports, I have surprised myself with how tense or excited I can feel on the sidelines watching my children play. (I’m telling you, this year's soccer playoff game was a serious nail biter!) But at the same time, I find a lot of the youth sports culture can be a little over-the-top.

Let me tell you a little story that sums things up . . . picture it: Mothers’ Day 2019. It’s pouring. The boys have a travel soccer game at a field about 45 minutes away. As Reluctant Mom of Athletes, I normally opt out of rainy or particularly cold games. However, for this game, being Mothers’ Day and all, one of the other Moms had organized a sideline brunch and I had signed up to bring some of the food (sucker).

That morning it was so rainy, so dark and gloomy and windy, I kept saying to my husband, “They’re going to cancel, right?” And he kept bursting my damn bubble by saying, “It’s a turf field, Gi, they’re not canceling.”

So we got in the car, got stuck in traffic (there was some sort of overturned produce truck incident) and arrived late only to find the other Moms huddled under the pop-up canopy that they were struggling to keep from blowing away while our children got soaked to the bone on the turf field.

I had never so strongly questioned our commitment to sports as I did in that moment. I placed my food on the damp table and was greeted with, “Happy Mothers’ Day!” As the wind blew a pile of paper plates off the table, I said, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done . . . and I’ve done a lot of dumb shit in my life.”

I then grabbed a Mimosa and sat in the car.

Thus . . . Reluctant Mom of Athletes photography challenge. No explanations, just pictures:






Friday, November 29, 2019

Five on Friday: Home Cooking

Funny how for all these years I’ve been saying, “you guys are sure going to miss my cooking when you go to college” since my daughter will be returning to school on Sunday completely loaded up with home cooked food to take with her.

I love that her school gives a week off for Thanksgiving as she was missing home a little bit. We had so much fun together . . . and also  I cooked and cooked so I can send her back with a bunch of homemade food to fill her tiny freezer and “pantry” (also known as a milk crate standing on its side) with:

1.    Coconut Pecan granola

2.   Personal pizzas
3.   Tomato sauce--figured since I made some for the pizza, she might want some for pasta later

4.   Slices of chicken pot pie (shh, the other kids don't realize that & might try to steal it)

5.   Alphabet soup

Just realized there are a few more things too . . . food is love and I sure do love my girl. Hope she feels that with every bite.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Five on Friday: Adapting Traditions

Lately we feel like a family with “just” three kids. Our oldest is off at college and the second oldest is a High School Senior frequently busy with his own plans. We’ve adjusted.

But as we enter this season rife with tradition, I’m beginning to realize that we still have other adjustments to make. Things still can feel a little different without the creative energy of our oldest daughter at home and then next three kids are pretty apathetic about maintaining most of our traditions . . . sometimes my husband and I are, too. We’ve been making the kids holidays magical for nineteen years now and maybe now lack a little enthusiasm in that department.

As I told a friend in a text message recently, “I’m struggling with abandoning traditions when there’s a 9-year-old here that still really wants to keep them going. Personally, sometimes I feel ready to just burn it all to the ground.”

She replied, “My head hurts just thinking about this. Your rich tapestry of glorious traditions and creativity is coming back to haunt you.”

She’s absolutely correct. This amazing holiday customs that we’ve created are so uniquely OURS—I refuse to be haunted by them. I can’t abandon them completely, but I can alter them and the truth is, the kids have led the way on some of these modifications.

For example:

          1. Halloween. Nobody was feeling pumpkin carving. I did purchase one though and had hyped myself up to help my youngest make a jack-o’-lantern even if I hate cutting pumpkins because nobody else was interested. I could have anticipated that little Miss Independent didn’t really want my help, anyway, just a little company and supervision as she created her masterpiece.

      2. Again, Halloween: we’ve always gone trick-or-treating around our neighborhood. I’m old school on this one and want no part of trunk-or-treat. Sometimes there’s a little push back but I tell them they can do that when they’re older. This year, the three trick-or-treaters here all let me know they had plans to meet up with friends in a neighboring town and then the boys each had plans for pizza at different friends' homes. It was my turn to be a little sad about changing traditions . . .

          3. Our Turkey of Thankfulness! Every year we make a big paper turkey and then write things we’re thankful for on paper feathers. This year our youngest daughter created and named the turkey with no input from anyone else (the boys didn’t care anyway so win-win). We mailed some paper feathers to our college student to complete, too. She is surely the only one of the five kids who’d comply with this, so next year when our son is away at school, we’ll be modifying again!

The boys don’t seem to mind participating in this one as they get to write really silly things on their feathers.
       4. Thanksgiving gingerbread: this is a big deal to us. It’s always over-the-top and takes several days to construct. Nobody wants to get rid of this one . . . but we’ll have to adjust this year. We normally start on Thanksgiving Day and then wrap it up over the weekend but this year we'll have to start the weekend before the holiday since our daughter will be headed back to school afterwards.

2017's gingerbread creation: our summer road trip!

5. Gingerbread smashing holiday party with friends: well, here’s the problem one. This year there is not a single damn date that works for our regular crew of friends. Do we pick a date that excludes one . . . or maybe do we create something entirely new? I could use a break from hosting the big holiday shindig, maybe it’s time to adapt. But I can’t be the sole decision maker on this one, so a discussion about this is top on the list of things to do while our daughter is home! Stay tuned . . .

Friday, November 15, 2019

Five on Friday: Dorothea Day

I work as the curator for our small local museum. On my first day there, I was greeted at the door by the smiling portrait of the museum's first curator. I had never heard of her before, but as the months went on, I began to learn a lot about this dynamic woman. I became fascinated by her and I was sad that I'd never get the chance to meet her. (She unfortunately passed away in 1992.)

So I decided I'd host a day at the Museum to honor her legacy. I began to gather stories from people who knew her so I could record and share them. I read her cookbook and watched episodes of her cooking show so I could make one of her recipes for our celebration.

It turned out that a few of the stories were a little too off-color to share with a mixed-age crowd and many of her recipes featured alcohol as a main ingredient. I had to laugh--this only endeared her to me more. 

So it is much to my delight to share that she and I actually have quite a bit in common:

1. We both worked at the Red Mill before switching jobs. As a matter of fact, she was the very first Executive Director of that historic site and set the tone for the work I did there decades later.

2. We were both actresses with a penchant for dressing up. (And, I dare say, both look fabulous in a mob cap)

Promo shot from her Colonial cooking show
Me making candles at the Red Mill, which I wouldn't be surprised to learn had been started there by Dorothea

3. We both had five kids.

4. We both loved finding yard sale treasures, particularly vintage ones.

5. While I was at the Museum yesterday and making sure everything was ready for our party on Saturday, I had one of the episodes of her cooking show playing on loop. The volume was turned pretty low and I wasn't paying attention to it. However, all three times that the show played, I somehow heard her say this statement: "I love to eat and I love to cook."

Same, Dorothea. Same.

I can't wait to share her with the public tomorrow so if you're a local friend and free, stop on by. We'll be sampling her Blueberry Slump (without the rum), making candles, writing with quill pens and more.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Five on Friday: Sister's Sweet Sixteen

Life with an open adoption frequently means that the mundane and profound are entwined. An example would be the family party we went to last weekend. While there's nothing unusual about a family going to a  Sweet Sixteen celebration it was actually rather remarkable: it was in honor of my adopted children's biological sister. When I remember the years of not knowing if my kids would ever even be able to have a photograph of any of their biological family members, I realize just how extraordinary us going to that party was. Here are some observations from a lovely evening:
1. I had to work before the party and left instructions for the kids to please write something thoughtful in the card for their sister. This is what they came up with:

2. Once again I was struck by how inadequate the English language is in describing families like ours. I was dreading being asked how I was related to the Birthday Girl, since there is not a simple word to explain it. (Turns out at this point everyone pretty much knows who I am though, because nobody asked!)
3.  My youngest daughter took a few minutes to warm up but then we didn't see her all evening as she had become the constant shadow to the cool older sister she doesn't live with.

4. The Birthday Girl decided on her own to hold a candle lighting ceremony where she thanked different friends and family members for their influence in her life and then invited them up to help her light a candle. As we stood and watched, my 11-year-old son looked slightly horrified at first: "Do we have to do this when we turn 16????"  When I asked him if he remembered his older brother and sister at home doing such a thing, he was relieved.

5. Then their sister called the three of them up to help her light a candle. Here's a photo of the exact moment when the profundity of it all hit me. You can imagine the blurred faces are just actually the tears in my eyes from the beauty of this moment.

I hope one day the kids realize how beautiful this moment was

Friday, November 1, 2019

Five on Friday: Group Costumes

I realized yesterday that when I open iPhotos and start to type in “H-a-l-l-o . . .” in the search bar, it offers the options “Halloween” and “Halloween costumes” and it ACTUALLY BROUGHT UP HALLOWEEN PICTURES.

The future is crazy, man.

However, I quickly went from wildly impressed to finding myself muttering, “That’s not Halloween . . . THAT’S surely not Halloween” It turns out this technology is not equipped to handle people who dress up multiple times per year.

If you asked me if I was big on group or couples costumes, I’d say no. But looking through this pictures, I realized I have had several good ones. Today seemed like a good day to share them:

1. Cruella and her pet, before they had kids:
We won a prize for this!
2. Edward Scissorhands and retro lady getting a haircut.
No, none of her friends knew who she was supposed to be
3. Andy Warhol and Pop Art Marilyn (see me there? Upper left?)
No, none of her friends knew who she was supposed to be
4. Frida and Frida. I'm beginning to notice a theme here as this the third ‘couples’ costume I'm sharing that features my oldest daughter and me. I can’t say I’m surprised. Now that I reminisce some more, her first Halloween at 3 weeks old she was a hula dancer and I was a Hawaiian tourist and her second Halloween she was a bowling ball and I was a pin with Daddy O as a bowler . . . I guess those made an impression on her.
I think you know what I'm going to say here
 5. Nesting dolls with my youngest daughter to prove that I have done cute things with my other kids:

And BONUS PIC! This was a costume I really enjoyed: Miss Hannigan. The kids technically weren’t dressed up to go along with me, but since I am always surrounded by children that complain about cleaning I consider it an inadvertent group costume.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Five on Friday: Dinner Conversation

Just a small glimpse into my life via snippets of dinner conversations:

 1. While we were visiting our daughter at college a few weeks ago, we went out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. As we sat at the table after my child inhaled a gigantic meal, he announced, "I'm going to have to use the lobby when we get back to the hotel."

This is a technique his father taught him in order to not stink up a hotel room bathroom. The family's reactions varied from laughing (some of the kids) to groaning (others) to simultaneously wanting to die of embarrassment while feeling happy nobody else around us really knew what he meant (me) to, I dare say,  sense of pride (my husband).

2. I am always looking up new recipes and frequently I find myself thinking, "ooh, this looks delicious. The kids are going to hate it." I made such a recipe recently and to soften the blow I picked up a supermarket rotisserie chicken to serve with it. While they did raise their eyebrows, I told them that it was actually pretty good and to give it a chance. To my complete surprise, my 11-year-old son (who is the pickiest of the eaters) announced later, "This actually isn't that bad."

That's the closest I'm going to get to a compliment out of that guy! I'll take it!

3. Speaking of food reviews from kids, this is an oldie but a goodie: another such a recipe is a vegan corn chowder with wild rice. On the second time I made it, my oldest daughter sat down and said, "Oh, this is the one that looks like vomit but tastes good, right?" 


4. Just after dinner last week, the three boys and I were cleaning up the kitchen and disagreeing on who was a better freestyle rapper, me or the 11-year-old. 

I said, "He just makes up ridiculous nonsense words to try to rhyme!"
He (with eyebrows raise in surprise and . . . best part . . . a huge milk moustache) replied, "YEAH! That's the best part of my freestyle rapping!"

 5. A few days ago, my youngest daughter wanted to FaceTime with our far-away college student. We were about to eat dinner so I told her to wait, but she thought maybe we could have dinner together. We gave it a try. While B wasn't actually eating at the time, it was pretty fun to have her around the table with us at home through the magic of modern technology.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Five on Friday: Facts About Current Sleep Deprivation Here

I am 45½-years-old and my youngest child is approaching double digits. I truly believed that the only thing that would be waking me up overnight in this point in my life would be my bladder.

Sadly, this is not the case. While that fact surprises me, there are several cold hard facts that I can always rely on when I am woken up by a child overnight. They include:

1. It will always be our youngest daughter waking me up. Very, very rarely will she wake her father (who sleeps closer to the door, mind you, and she passes on the way to wake me. One time I sleep-mumbled to her, "Go ask Daddy" and she replied, "I can't. He's sleeping.") 

Our oldest daughter started sleeping though the night at 3 months old, which was the beginning in a series of milestones that tricked us into thinking parenting was easy. Two out of three of the boys were extended bad sleepers but grew out of that by age 4 or so, which I expected our youngest to do as well. (I know, I know, I'm hysterical.)

2. If she wakes me up once in a night, there will be a second time. Possibly more, but it is never, ever just once.

3. I will have to go pee every single time she wakes me, even if they are five minutes apart.

4. There is a 75% chance I end up in her bed.

5. The morning after I will sleep "in" until 7:05 or so and it WILL, guaranteed, be one of the days her brothers need help being roused and getting out the door earlier than usual for Jazz Band practice. (Not hyperbole: They have had eight early morning practices so far. The past three times I've overslept due to being woken up overnight by her have ALL been one of these mornings.)

There's a reason why I have to double fist it. And that reason is my youngest child.