Friday, February 14, 2020

Five on Friday: These Kids & Their Weird Eating Habits

One time my Mom was going to watch my kids for a few days and wanted to know what they all liked to eat . . . now you know where I get my amazing sense of humor from. Good one, Mom!

Of course they were younger and pickier then, but there is still very little that all five would agree on for a meal. They've also hung onto a few interesting eating habits like:

1. G, at 17 years of age, maintains that he only likes cheese if it's melted.

2. This little gal really wants to gross out her siblings by insisting that she likes food that they all find disgusting . . . but after a bite or two she realizes that she doesn't really like it either.
♪ Last Christmas, she wanted sardines but they're still in the pantry if you know what I mean

3. E says he hates peanut butter and sometimes tries to claim he is actually allergic to peanut butter . . . eats the power balls and Elvis muffins I make and also occasionally enjoys candy that has peanut butter in it.

4. B is a college freshman and is always having lunches that look like this:

So typical, it's almost embarrassing.
5.  So this is a brand new one and maybe the weirdest. Yesterday Z was making himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There was no more strawberry jelly in the fridge so I told him to look in the cabinet where he did find a jar. I then apparently made a terrible mistake by asking, "Do you need help opening that jam?"

"JAM? I'm not eating this. I only like jelly."

Then, even though:
a. Jam and jelly are essentially the same thing
b. "Jam" is just the word that came out of my mouth and was not indicative of what was actually in the jar
c. The label itself did not say "jam" OR "jelly" but "fruit spread"

. . . my child put the peanut butter away and made himself a ham and salami sandwich instead.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Five on Friday: Best Habits I've Instilled in My Kids

This comment on my Facebook page earlier this week made me laugh (and cry a little bit) because it was so relatable. Oh, the things we wish we could change about parenting our kids when they were younger--like ever teaching them how to whistle.

But come on, now! Chin up! I know I must have taught the kids some good things, too! It actually wasn't hard to think of five habits I'm really glad I instilled in my children early enough on that it became their norm. I would highly recommend any of the following to new parents:

1. Give them a promise of screen time before school if they can get ready on time. This still works as an incentive for my 9, 11 and 13 year olds every morning, even if they literally only end up with 30 seconds of screen time (basically is enough time to turn Netflix on and then off again, but hey, whatever works!)

2. Make them do a chore in the morning before said maybe-only-30-seconds of screen time. Every school day morning, I hear, "Mom, what's my job?" and it is music to my ears.

3. Drink lots of water.

4. Not leave their rooms until 7:30 in the morning EVEN ON CHRISTMAS AND EASTER. We are really mean. But our kids have grown up this way and never really questioned it . . . so score one for Mom and Dad!

5. In a two-parent family, establish which adult to go to for which sort of homework help.  I've taught my kids go to Dad for help with math. I don't even have to feel guilty that I'm perpetuating a "girls are bad at math" stereotype because as a former math teacher, their father is the obvious go-to guy.

Google image search for "good habits" reveals that they are, apparently, only for white kids.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Five on Friday: Reasons I'll Miss Basketball That Have Nothing to Do With Being a Good Parent

At the end of Tuesday's game, another Mom pointed out that it was our 8th grade sons' final game on the school team.

Some of the others Mothers may have had a moment. I kept to myself, because as much as I like watching my son play basketball, I will still see him play next year at High School and I'll most likely have another son on the Middle School team next year as well.

That's not to say there aren't things I'll miss now that the season is over. I will absolutely miss:

1. Comparing Granny Chairs with other Moms. I thought I loved mine but, man, this  other Mom has a super-fancy model is not only deluxe, but also has stripes.

2. Watching the referee as he runs in our direction with a look of pure fear on his face because there is a group of extremely fast, athletic boys that are decades younger than him hot on his tail and there is always a possibility that he's about to get plowed over. (Evil? I don't mean to be, but this one Ref made the funniest faces in this scenario!!)

3. Listening to my 11-year-old son groan at how cringy his Dad's coaching from the bleachers is.

4. Listening to my 11-year-old son coach from the bleachers.

5. Taking video when I think a coach is acting badly and could be get kicked out by the Ref. No luck this season . . . I guess there's always next year.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Five on Friday: Bullshit Reasons I Can't Work on My Memoir

This week I present to you, in varying degrees of legitimacy, five bullshit reasons I've come up with recently for why I can't sit down and work on my memoir:

1. The kids had a half day/day off from school.

2. I organized a giant community event that is now over.

3. I don't know, man, my hair is just a really weird length right now.

4. This house is a goddamned mess.

5. I'm tired.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Five on Friday: Feeling, if Not Acting, My Age Lately

I've had many opportunities to go out with friends lately and I'm headed out to Karaoke Night at the dive bar for the second time in a month tonight. Having a more active social life again makes me feel like I'm not necessarily acting my age . . . because the last time I went out this much was definitely pre-kids.

But after I have a great time tonight, come home and pass out hard after the couple of drinks I'll have, I will most likely have middle-of-the-night insomnia. And I will totally be feeling it all day tomorrow. 

So while I don't always feel like I'm acting my age lately, I sure have been feeling it. Other examples:

1. I will take you on in the random inexplicable pain challenge and I will dominate. Have you hurt your arm trying to put your jacket on? Go back to preschool, whipper snapper.
2. I play a lot of Scrabble. I've always played Scrabble, but it's sort of a . . . lifestyle choice now, I guess you could say.

3. My friend's son guessed that I was 37 years old, which naturally gave me a little charge. While that momentarily made me felt good and young, I then realized how low my standards have gotten. Imagine being 21 and having someone guess you were 37? Oof.

4. I think I need to have my blood pressure medication adjusted.

5.  And, all the proof you need to prove how old I actually am: finding my kids' shoes like this gives me a serious case of agida.

(if you're not a New Jersey/New York Italian: agida)

Friday, January 10, 2020

Five on Friday: Adapting Traditions Part 2: Gingerbread 2019

At the end of November, I wrote a post about our changing family's need to adapt some of our holiday traditions now that our oldest daughter is away at college, the rest of the family is super busy, both parents are spread too thin and the boys here are pretty apathetic about maintaining them. My dilemma has been that my youngest daughter is still very interested in these traditions and she deserves to have them.

Interestingly, when I looked back, I realized this has been a struggle even before my daughter went to college! I had forgotten that in 2017 I had written a post about which traditions to save, skimp or skip on that year. The last entry says that we will never skip our favorite holiday party with friends where we smash our sometimes over-the-top annual gingerbread creation.

Well in 2019 that was exactly what we had to skip . . . even though I started reaching out to all of the friends in mid-November, there was not a single date that worked for everyone. I proposed an alternative to my family: since we couldn't have them all here at once,  we'd be sure to make plans with each one of them over the holiday. Additionally, instead of them coming here to help us smash our giant gingerbread, we'd bring the gingerbread to each of them. (Also I gave the friends a date for the 2020 party to put on their calendars NOW.)

It took a little while to get to visit all of our friends, especially with the weather ruining some of our initial plans. But now that they've all been gifted with their own little gingerbread houses, I can share the pictures with you:

1. The original, made together while our oldest was home for Thanksgiving. Our home is on the right, a building on her campus is on the left:

 Our family's real-life rainbow directional pole (top) was recreated with the last names of our friends that we were gifting gingerbread too (bottom)

We hosted Christmas Day for my side of the family this year and the kids got to smash and eat these with their cousins.

Now for the individual houses of our friends:

2.  This is the only one that had any sort of real personalization for our dear friends who have named their home "The Hive" and might be a little obsessed with Volvos:

3. Next comes this one that helps to prove my point that we should stop calling them "gingerbread" houses and just call them candy houses . . . 

4. Exhibit B:

5. Last but not least, this one that was decorated by our oh-so-witty and irreverent oldest son, with the wrong date on it and a person that wasn't supposed to look like the President but sort of does anyway:
Did I mention that the houses we gave to our friends were also sort of piƱatas? As if there wasn't enough candy on the outside, we surprised our friends by filling them with candy on the inside:

If you'd like our family's recipe and tips, see my article on the Farmers' Almanac website.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Five on Friday: An Art-full Holiday

I had so much fun being crafty and making gifts for friends and family this holiday season. I was also surprised and delighted to be the recipient of so many lovely pieces of art. From the silly to the sublime, I adore them all:

1. This is just one sample of the many wonderful drawings my youngest daughter has been creating lately. Many of them were given away to make other people happy but I got to keep this one all to myself:

2. The very best thing about this card from my BFF is that she laughed all through giving it to me. I am sure she is actually *still* laughing about it and that is something I really love about her. Also, this is super relatable and I am going to incorporate "downcycling" into my vernacular:

3. The next two are gifts from friends from work and were not made by the gift givers . . . but I do know the artists and each one is poignant in its own way. 

First up, a joint gift from two women I didn't even know last year at this time who I've met and grown to love through my new job as the Curator at our small local Museum. They gave me a print of a painting that I had admired.

Our last exhibit was a watercolor show that included many book illustrations by a local artist and delightful human, Doris Ettlinger. She painted this for a book called T is for Teacher and had used our former school house Museum as inspiration. If you wondered what the inside of my Museum looks like, it's this: (coal stove, clock, chalkboard and all!)

4. Something I was very proud of creating at the Museum last year was the Plein Airing of the Quilts . . . an event that invited artists to sit in our yard and paint (known as a "plein air" event") while we hung our historic quilts on the line to air them out.

The quilts looked so beautiful and attracted so many visitors. They got much-needed fresh air and sunshine and were easier to enjoy. My assistant (who is also now a good friend) and I extended the original one-day event to last for the entire month and have agreed that it will now be a twice-yearly occurrence. 

As a very special "Merry-Christmas-Happy-New-Year-Happy-Work-Anniversary-Congratulations-On-Your-Success" gift, she purchased me an oil painting created at our Plein Airing of the Quilts. The local man who made it is a supporter of the Museum and a talented artist. (I don't think he has a website but you can read about him here.)

I adore this painting and all that it symbolizes.

5. You might think it'd be hard to top that in poignancy but there's a reason I saved this one for last . . . my amazingly talented and intuitive oldest daughter has become extremely prolific in linocut printmaking. Basically, she carves an image and/or words (in reverse) into a block of soft linoleum and then makes prints with these stamps.

For my gift this year, she combined my wounded, flying heart rape survival imagery with the lyrics that I found so much comfort in after my rapist's prison term was up.

This kid! She outdoes herself with creative gifts every year. The thought, love, care and detail she put into this one is going to be really hard to top . . .  isn't it amazing?

Friday, December 27, 2019

Five on Friday: Holiday Laughs

Hope everyone is having a restful, joyful, delicious weeks with lots of belly laughs. Here are a few funnies from our holiday week at home:

1. Christmas Eve:

9-year-old A: "Can (19-year-old sister) B put eye make up on me before we go to Grandma's?"

Me: (knowing that sometimes B has a little too much fun with this) "Can you just not look like a drag queen please?"

Her: "Definitely."

Me: "Sure"

 2. Christmas Morning:

13-year-old E, distributing gifts:  "This one says To the love of my life in Daddy's handwriting  . . . I guess it's for you"

This shirt was a gift made for me by the love of my life.

3. Christmas Day:

Me: "Did you see this picture A drew? She's been watching this videos on how to draw"
Our neighbor: "Oh that's so cute! Who's that, Zoloft?"

4. Christmas Evening:

11-year-old Z:  "I didn't really get any toys this year."

Me:   "Well, you are getting older . . . you didn't even ask for any toys!"

Him:  "Wait, what did I even ask for anyway?"

(glad I didn't adhere exactly to the ideas he kept shooting at me)

5. Morning after Christmas:

9-year-old A: "I'm bored."

Me: "Nope."