Friday, September 15, 2017

Five on Friday: Things I'm Not Fighting About Anymore (with disclaimers)

Hey kids,
You're all getting to be such big kids now. For some of you that means 2nd grade, for others it means Junior year of High School, it's all relative. The fact is though, you're all growing and becoming more independent and involved in your own activities.

Based on our marks on the closet wall you may think I'm no longer growing but I am, in other ways.

I'm growing and changing, too. I'm working outside of the home more than I ever have since you've been alive. I'm trying to evolve along with our changing family. And in the spirit of change, I've decided there are some things that I'm not going to get on your case about any more. Of course, I do retain the right to have caveats for each one of them, but here they are . . . today's Five on Friday list are the things I'm not going to argue with you about any more:
1. What you wear on school picture day. Hey, it'll capture you as your purest self in these days. (*The major holidays are still mine to dress you as I see fit.)

2. How messy your room is during the week. (*However, every weekend you have a running date with that pigsty.)
3. One sport per kid per season. (*But seriously, no more than two. For real.)
4. Making it to every single one of your games (*You're so talented you make me enjoy watching sports. I'm so proud of you. But see above and remember you have four siblings.)
5. That Hot-90-whatever radio station you've discovered. I've actually come to enjoy the dance-y pop music, even if Daddy makes fun of me for it. (*You realize that the potential for me embarrassing you by singing one of these songs in public just increased exponentially, right? Sorry.)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Five on Friday: Back to School Stats

1: Number of caterpillars currently living in our house . . . that I know about

They tell me this little guy is going to stop pooping so much and become a beautiful butterfly

2: Number of times I’ve spoken to Principals on the phone so far this school year (Sorry fellas. You had a good run of not hearing from me, though, so be thankful for small blessings.)

3: Number of schools my kids are currently enrolled in (And of course they don't all follow the same schedules, that'd make my life too easy.)

4: Average number of neighborhood kids found in my yard on a daily basis (I love it)

5: Number of lunches I am no longer packing on a daily frenzied morning basis as the “kids pack their own lunches” rule is back and I really mean it this time!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Five on Friday: Back to the Grindstone

Towards the end of the school year, the kids and I started writing a list of fun things we'd like to do over the summer. One of the ideas was for my teenagers to navigate public transportation to get themselves to a town they like that has an arcade, a record shop, a comic book store and some vintage shops.

They were home from school less than a week when my son approached me saying, "So are we going to do that idea soon? Because I feel like summer is sort of slipping away." Of course my response was, "DUDE. You haven't even been home a full week. Give me a minute. It'll get done."

Guess what didn't get done. (*note to self: remember to apologize to son). We did do so many other things on our list and plenty of things that weren't. Of course the teens can still carry out this plan in any other season but I should have known summer would pass by in an instant and we should have prioritized something that he really wanted to do (*second note to self: pick a date for them to do this ASAP before the rest of their childhoods slip away).

But for now it's back to  school, back to work 3-4 days a week, truly back to the grindstone (with credit given to my husband for coming up with this week's title as I actually do work at a mill that's now a museum . . . where there are many grindstones. He's so clever.) and  it's also . . .

1. Back-to-school shopping! The supply lists for the younger kids are so long and specific, it's a little mind-blowing. I did salvage some things from last year ("Mom, this notebook says my brother's name and Spanish 2!" Yeah, and for some reason he only used five pages of it, put a sticker over his name because now it's your Science notebook.) but the rest we needed to purchase. We very carefully went over each list individually while at the store and still somehow came home short one binder . . . which is a perfect segue into the next item on the list:

2. Back to dropping balls! The very first day of High School (the day after we got home from our huge road trip) I was convinced my kids only had a half day. I told them that when they got home at 11:30 I'd be at work and then food shopping so they could eat the leftover pizza we ordered the night before. Guess who didn't have a half day. Nor any cash with them (that they apparently wouldn't be able to use at the cafeteria now anyway as this year it's purchase via account only). 

3. Back to sports and activities! My middle boys just started club soccer, our first year not doing township sports. It's more expensive, a bigger time commitment, more intense and further away! Of course they're on two different teams because of their age difference and three days in I'm already pretty much over it.

4. Back to kids packing their own lunches! Oh, every year I have such good intentions for this being the norm. The plan is that after dinner, while the kitchen is still messy, all kids shall pack their own lunches for the next school day. Around October I'm back to packing their lunches in the morning but THIS YEAR IS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT. I'm working outside of the home too much now to do everything for everyone. I also acknowledge that I'm not doing my kids any favors by not teaching them to be a little more self-reliant. This year the plan is really going to stick! I swear! Which is a perfect segue into the last item on the list:

5. Back to good intentions! Oh we are not only going to pack lunches at night, I am going to set up my coffee maker every night, too! And meal plan every damn week! The kids are walking the dog before school! I am totally going to bed on time almost every single night. The world is a shiny new (slightly used by your older brother last year for Spanish 2) single subject spiral bound notebook and it's mine to fill with completely organized notes and hardly any doodles! Here's to a great school year!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Five on Friday: The Good, The Bad, The Ridiculous: Road Trip '17

We survived our longest, most ambitious, most memorable family road trip ever. We hit huge tourist attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Gateway Arch, the National Civil Rights Museum and Gracleand. We also went to smaller, lesser-known attractions like a random field of giant concrete ears of corn, the Krema Nut Company, a hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint and the Unclaimed Baggage store. We saw natural wonders like the Mississippi River, the Smoky Mountains and the solar eclipse in totality.

With all that we saw and did, how on Earth can I tell you all about it or even attempt to pick a favorite? I won't even try. Instead, I'm going to dedicate this Five on Friday to listing my top five picks of the good, the bad and the ridiculous of our adventurous journey.

1. The Good: Oh man. Wasn't it supposed to be easier listing it out this way? Maybe I'll start with the Bad to get it over with.

1. The Bad: We camped on three separate nights. The first night there were thunderstorms and the tent leaked. The second night of camping we had electricity right at the site so we decided to use the air mattress but then it leaked. I could tell you about our third night but that one was great so I can't talk about it here.

2. The Good: Okay, fine, now I have to tell you that our third night of camping was great. Warm, dry, comfortable. Another good thing? Airbnb refunded me $50 because I was super unhappy with one of our rentals (and I'm really not that particular, so you know it was bad).

3. The Ridiculous: Five kids in a van for hours with (not) only markers and their imaginations to entertain them leads to conversations like this:
Me, to 7-year-old: What did you write on your leg under those scribbles?
 Bob . . . wait, what?? Bob Seger??
Her: G (15-year-old brother) did it to me but I didn't like so I crossed it out.
Me: Bob Seger, G?? Really???
(days later . . . )
 16-year-old B: I gave (9-year-old) Z a "Kenny Loggins Seal of Approval" tattoo on his leg. It's in response to the Bob Seger one.

4. The Good: There was so much good. Kind strangers when I had trepidation about driving through the South with my transracial family and really needed kindness. Visiting friends, kids playing, fascinating museums, swimming with my family.

Oh!! And I am sort of obsessed with funiculars and try to ride one on every big family vacation. We rode our steepest, longest one yet in Chattanooga!

But I'd say the very best thing about the trip had to be seeing the solar eclipse in totality. I'm not a science or astrology geek. I wasn't honestly hyped about it, I thought it would be pretty cool, I guess. But when the moment came, I surprisingly got a little choked up from witnessing such an unusual and seemingly magical natural phenomena. I kept wanting to tell the kids, "this was a once in a lifetime chance!!" but apparently it'll happen again in the States in another seven years. I predict another road trip to see it that year . . .

5. The Ridiculous: We traveled in one vehicle with five children through twelve states over eleven days and drove almost 3,000 miles and on the drive home we agreed that we all still liked each other.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Five on Friday: Exercising on Vacation

Sometimes I think I should bring my exercise clothes on vacation. I talk myself out of it pretty quickly, sealing the deal by realizing I cannot justify packing sneakers just because I might exercise. (If I was the type to pack a huge bag I could throw them in but I'm not. I generally pack lightly but have trouble narrowing down what shoes to pack without even thinking about sneakers.) 

On this family Road Trip I've been realizing that not only do I get exercise on vacation, I get a better variety than I do at home with my short jogs anyway! So far on this vacation, I've gotten: 

1. Upper body strength with all the loading, unloading, reloading of the van (5 days, 5 cities thus far)

2. Squats when hovering over gas station toilets and out of the tent door in the pouring rain

3. Buddy workout when groggily holding my daughter up so she, too, could relieve herself during the campground thunderstorm 

4. Interval training by walking slowly to hang back with whatever kid is moping and then making mad dashes to catch up with the others because the light changed

5. Thighnaster's got nothing on climbing circular staircases up towers (not to mention lots and lots of straight staircases everywhere else!)

See at all this exercise I'm doing on vacation?  I'll never pack sneakers again.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Five on Friday: One Man's Trash

There are many charming things about living in an old house (and sometimes charming can mean frustrating and perplexing, of course.) I always wished to live in one and my dream came true when we purchased a home originally built in 1787.

One of the "charms" I did not expect was the amount of trash we'd find in our yard. Considering that people used to not have garbage pick up, it makes sense (I guess?) that they'd dispose of broken dishes and things in the woods. It's amazing how the Earth pushes more up every year. It's so much here that the springtime novelty of walking down to the stream and finding little shards of pottery has worn off for my kids (I still get a little charge out of it). 

We've now got material for 1,000 mosaic projects . . . and plenty of disgusting stuff that was put right into the trash. However, we have found some interesting things that now have spots in our home. Like:

1. This plastic pink poodle toy!! This one was found in our stone spring house along with a totally muddy and creepy old baby doll from hell. The doll was disposed of, the poodle was washed and is now great friends with my vintage pink poodle lamp.

2. Antique tongs: for ice? For coal? This one actually has not found a spot in the house yet, it's more of just interesting garden decor. However, while I was trying to figure out what it was I saw a cute idea of turning into a paper towel holder. (The roll goes down where the ice/coal would go.)

3.  My husband found this large iron floor grate when he was expanding the garden. We decided to hang it from the kitchen ceiling as a pot rack.

4. Eventually the inner circle was also found, though partially damaged. I haven't found a great use for it yet so it's also still in the "interesting garden decor" category.

5. This rake head makes a perfect place to hang one of my many hats.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Five on Friday: About Last Night (Moth Porch Party)

Being involved with The Moth* is truly the gift that keeps on giving. I was thrilled when I was invited to perform in New York City for a Mainstage show last year and then floored when they sent me to two other cities for shows.

Last night my husband and I were invited to their 20th Anniversary Porch Party. On my drive in to the city, I literally drove THROUGH A RAINBOW on the New Jersey Turnpike. That seemed auspicious and it was; I had an amazing night. Here's a realization and fun highlights from last night:

1. Realization: lots of my stuff is double vintage now. When you consider that they were several decades old when I got my hands on them and that was another two decades ago . . . the old beloved (used to be Babci's) dress I wanted to wear last night has a zipper that just does not want to work anymore so I switched to a newer one but with a vintage purse. And then this happened. (Good thing I was out without kids and had hardly anything to carry!)

2. As I was wandering around Brooklyn waiting for my husband so we could get to the party, a woman came out of the VFW and insisted that I come in and have a drink of wine with the ladies. It was all women, bartender and patrons, drinking and smoking (haven't seen smoke in a bar in a few decades, so that coupled with the decor made me feel like I stepped back in time.) They were all Brooklyn natives, getting away from their families for a bit for a drink together. They were all foul-mouthed and welcoming and I adored them all. I purchased some raffle tickets and promised I'd consider coming back for an event in September.

 3. The party! Oh so fun. I got to hang out with a fellow storyteller from my first show. The turnaround time on the show is so quick that we barely got to know each other but through the magic of Facebook have stayed in touch. We had a blast. Plans are in the works for her to visit us and I'm determined to make this happen as soon as possible.

4. One minute stories with names I've heard a million times on the podcast--like Senior Producer Jen Hixson who directed my story and always makes me laugh, Host Dan Kennedy (bottom right) that I totally dorked out to the first time I met him but have now shared several laughs with . . . and Moth founder George Dawes Green (bottom left) whom I have not personally met but am ever grateful to for starting all of this.

5.  On the way out there were party favors and, being the Moth, they were journal of course! I first saw the red journals labeled "Shinola" and was disappointed the others weren't labeled "Shit From." I suppose that would be a pretty bad name for a journal though.

*The Moth began in 1997 as a live storytelling show. It has grown exponentially since that time and now has ongoing programs in over 25 cities worldwide and produces over 500 lives shows a year. The Moth podcast is downloaded over 30 million times a year, and each week, the Peabody Award-winning Moth Radio Hour is heard on over 400 radio stations worldwide.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Five on Friday: Writing is Happening Today. For Real.

I know I haven't been posting much on the blog lately and it's not that the children, job, theatre troupe, etc, etc, are keeping me too busy to write. I am writing but all of my writing time and energy is going towards writing my memoir. I started working on it at the beginning of the year and set up goals for myself to reach in each month.

There have been starts and stops and somehow I kept exceeding my goals . . . and then summer hit. I was really worried about becoming derailed and was starting to feel pretty bad about not finding time to write when I remembered: the kids are going to day camp the last week of July!! Oh, I will have HOURS to write then! It will be glorious!

It's now Friday of that week and I have spent exactly 35 minutes writing. I could sob but instead I'll write a list:

1. I need to remember that my week was not a waste. I caught up on a ton of housework, vacation planning, baking and errands. I exercised every day and caught up with some friends this morning.

2. Today is really my day! I made it so by putting my Moth shirt on this morning for inspiration.

3. My house is a mess and I am forcing myself to ignore things like this today:

4. Ignoring messes is very difficult for me so I left!! Yes, this Five on Friday list is coming to you live from the local library . . . as far away from the kiddie section train table as possible and in a quiet corner so as not to be distracted.

5. My "On This Day" feed on Facebook showed me this picture. Must be a sign that today's a day for writing a memoir.

 And now I'm turning off the wifi and getting to work!!