Friday, July 30, 2021

Five on Friday: The Evolving Summer Bucket List

It's nearly August which means we've reached the "oh my god there are so many things we still want to do!!" stage of the summer.

I realized, though, as I started to assemble a bucket list in my mind, that that list is changing as our family does. Just like our college students' individual plans earlier this summer meant that our family vacation this year was parents and primarily three kids (one young adult did join us at the end), our other summer plans are also evolving. So, for example, when I found myself thinking "we haven't even been to the reservoir yet," I had a follow-up thought of "the kids don't even really like that anymore. Take it off the list."

The reservoir used to be a big part of our lives. When the oldest two were toddlers, we'd get there as the lifeguards started their shifts, played for a few hours, ate our picnic lunch and then go home for a nap. Sometimes we'd even go back again in the afternoon! Here's a sketch I made in those days:

"If only my kids were still young"
"If only I had a minute to sit and read"

Seventeen years later, I find myself somewhere between the two women. While the appeal of splashing in shallow water and playing in the sand for hours on end has waned with my family, we now have other activities we like to do together . . . and had better get to those that we haven't done yet, because summer is nearly over.

The evolved summer bucket list includes:

1. A day at the reservoir Jersey shore . . . this is sort of a requirement when you live in New Jersey, isn't it? No matter how old your kids are.

2. Visiting family members we didn't get to see at all last year because of the pandemic. It's easier to do without school schedules to work around and when the weather is nice enough for outdoor visiting and group activities.

3. Ignore looking at school schedules and shopping lists for as long as humanely possible.

4. Family bonfire down by the pond.

5. Ice cream for dinner!

Friday, July 23, 2021

Five on Friday: Ways I'm Feeling My Middle Age Recently

I feel like getting older is just an exciting opportunity to continually realize exactly how old you're getting to be. Every week there's a new discovery that makes me mutter something about how old I am (and, of course, grumpily muttering to myself is a total Boomer move).

Here are some recent ways I'm quite feeling my middle age recently:

1. I tried playing Marco Polo with the kids recently. When it was my turn to be Marco, I had to quit. Apparently walking around the pool with my eyes closed made me feel super dizzy. What the hell.

2. My child requested that I buy candy that's "not dumb candy that old people like, like Butterfingers. We want Skittles and sour things." (Related to this: I am positively horrified at the thought of combining Skittles and M&Ms in a bowl, but the youngest members of this family see no problem with that at all. I'm raising monsters.)

3. It doesn't matter how many times my kids remind me or roll their eyes at me: I never, ever remember that I can swipe up.

4. I love using gifs, which, according to my offspring, is basically a habit of senior citizens.

5. I bit the bullet and enlarged the font on my phone. I don't have a Kindle or like reading novels on screen (again with the total Boomer moves), but sadly I can't enlarge the font in my paper books. 

So I have provided endless comic relief for my family by purchasing some $2 readers. 

You're welcome, kids.
You're welcome, kids.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Five on Friday: What My Tween Really Means When She Says I'm Cringey

You wouldn't think the youngest of five children would be the first in the family for anything, but in our case, you'd be wrong. Around here, the baby of the family was the first to escape the house as a young toddler, the first to repeatedly take her dirty diaper off in her crib, the first to climb out of her crib, the first to have a pacifier (and keep it until the very last one I'd buy for her literally began disintegrating in her mouth . . .) She's very charming.

Still is at age eleven, particularly with the development of her top-notch eye rolling and groaning about how horrifyingly cringey I am. So charming.

Once again, our other four kids didn't really prepare us for this and I have to keep reminding myself that this is normal tween behavior. That doesn't make it easier to deal with, though, so recently I've been trying to comfort myself with thoughts of what my daughter is actually trying to express. Some of them are true and some of them are just wishful thinking on my part but since it will be years until she's able to even understand her motives herself--and because I need a coping mechanism--I'm sticking with them. 

So the next time she tells me I'm cringey, I am going to reframe it in my head and understand that she is really trying to say:

1.  Mom, You're my safe person which means I push back against you the hardest. It's one of those "you only hurt the ones you love things" I think, but what do I know, I'm only eleven.

2. Besides which, it's developmentally appropriate for me to want to distance myself from you and you can't expect me to fight instinct!

3. Mommy, that last one is a little scary sometimes and I need to know you'll love me no matter what.

4. And I love YOU so much but it's been a long pandemic and sometimes you get on my nerves.

5. You're actually just super embarrassing, Mom, ohmygod, I am begging you PLEASE stop.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Five on Friday: Lessons Learned from Our End-of-Vacation Misadventure

 A few weeks ago, we met someone who asked about our vacation plans. When I told her we'd "only" be going to Cape Cod and the Berkshires, she remarked that that sounded like a perfectly nice vacation! I didn't mean to sound ungrateful, I had just forgotten that she didn't know that our family usually likes to take epic road trips in the summer and this one, to me, sort of paled in comparison.

We actually did very much look forward to traveling to these two very lovely locations with the added bonus that we'd be able to spend time with extended family members on both legs of our journey. I was sure we'd have so much fun swimming, looking for hermit crabs, hiking, kayaking, rafting . . . but I didn't account for the weather.

It was crummy, to say the least. 

We had fun but countless card games and movies just aren't the sort of summer adventures we're accustomed to. It would be a very calm vacation . . . until the very last hours, literally on our way home, when a grand misadventure occurred.

A few of the kids complained about how awful it was that we nearly ran out of gas and ended up with one problem after another in trying to attain more . . . but I'm here to tell you that not only was it not really terrible at all, there was some valuable lessons to be learned! 

These include:

1. Technology is an awesome tool. On our very last jaunt, a little morning walk across the Bridge of Flowers before hitting the road, we used an app to identify interesting flowers. Then we used another app to get our directions home. The digital gauge in the van let us know how many miles we could go on the remaining tank of gas and another app let us know where we could find a station to get more.

 2. Technology is not always 100% reliable. With 4 miles left on our tank of gas, the app brought us here:

You won't be surprised to learn that this pump has not actually worked in years.

3. We don't have to keep lamenting the fact that mistakes that were made. Yup, kids, we all know we should have stopped earlier or filled up the day before. Nobody's debating that. You've all commented and we can't change the past so we're going to stop now and focus on solving the problem.

4. It's never too late for road trip Combos! Normally a road trip staple, we hadn't gotten any Combos yet. Once we found ourselves sitting around for a couple of hours at a convenience store, it seemed the perfect time for a traditional road trip lunch of Combos, Slim Jims, cheese sticks and a few random veggies Mom had in the cooler bag.

5. The kindness of strangers still exists and paying it forward is a real thing. This turned out to be a more complicated story than not having enough fuel to make it to a functioning pump. We learned that our van needs a specialized funnel to pour gas into it and also discovered that our van was missing said funnel. We also put a call into AAA that apparently wasn't properly initiated (when I called later to cancel it, they had no record of the request. Awesome!). 

Two different people that saw us when they had stopped at the store came back with gas from home. When another Ford (finally!) pulled up, the driver was kind enough to let us look in his trunk for the funnel, which he had and lent us. The woman who let us use the entire contents of her gas can refused reimbursement, so my husband went into the store and gave the cashier some money to use on a future customer in need.

Kind strangers still help stranded motorists.

It might not have been the ride we expected but it did add some excitement to an otherwise sleepy sort of trip. Ultimately, we stayed calm, safe, together, had friendly interactions with locals and managed to solve the problem. 

My 15-year-old says he doesn't want to go on any more adventures for at least a month! Son, you can try to avoid adventure all you want but sometimes, in our family maybe more than others, it finds you anyway. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

Five on Friday: What (as a Curator) I *Actually* Do

Last week I happened to have two pictures taken of me that my husband pointed out would work in one of those "what people think I do/what I actually do" memes. I know those are so five years ago, but I had to chuckle, because not only was he absolutely right but recently someone said to me, "I don't think I know what a curator actually does."

So I'm not going to try to guess what my Mom or kids or the public thinks I do all day as a museum curator. Instead, I'll just share five pictures that show you what I do:

1. Spend a lot of time in cemeteries. I think the right word for this might be traipsing.

 2. End up down on the floor or up on a ladder; Murphy's law dictates I am wearing a dress the day these things happen.

3. Get sweaty moving junk out of a historic church-turned-grange on a particularly hot day (though, finally, appropriately dressed!).

4. Create inviting spaces in an attempt to convince people to visit our historic site.

5. Turn into such a history nerd that I then spend my free time making a fake podcast* with local history stories.

*I was excitedly sharing local history stories with my sisters and one of them kept begging me to make a podcast. I kept refusing, but for her birthday I acquiesced. I began recording sporadic stories and sharing photos of the sites I referenced (and then drove to visit on Giacomo the Vespa) on a new Facebook page for her. Sure, recorded stories that you can download and listen to might seem like a podcast, but since I insisted I was not going to make one and because this is not available "wherever podcasts are found," I will forever refer to it as a fake podcast. 

Wondering why it's called Season Three when it's brand new? Listen to Episode One to find out.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Five on Friday: Sure Feels Like Summer

The college students have been home for almost two months and the high school student has been done with school for for over two weeks. The middle schoolers finally finished their year last Friday and BOOM! it was like that kick-started real summer. Here's my proof:

 1. It's not just clothes on the line anymore--that becomes a common occurrence in the late spring. It's the fact that the line is frequently filled with beach towels that really makes it feel like summer.

2. Don't ask, don't tell. In this instance it means you're not going to ask how many times my family has consumed hot dogs in the past seven days and I'm going to refuse to count.

3. Fine, sometimes dinner isn't hot dogs. The other night dinner was a sort of charcuterie-crudités hybrid (charcrudités?) served* two and half hours later than we usually eat.

*I'm using the term served rather loosely here. It was more like I put food on the table and then shouted, "There's food!"

4. Come ON. How lovely and summery is this? This answer is so. SO lovely and summery.

5. I've restarted writing daily entries in my "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" journal. This is a tradition I started in 2010 (!!) but completely forgot about last year, which feels pretty on-brand for 2020. Back on, baby!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Five on Friday: Reasons People Might Be Still Wearing Their Masks in Public

There seems to be a lot of concern about people "living in fear" and continuing to wear their masks in public even though they don't "have" to anymore.

To that I say: what the hell difference does it make to you if someone is wearing a mask? I meant, there are lots of reasons why people might still be wearing a mask!  Sure, it might be because they are immunocompromised or have unvaccinated family members to worry about. But maybe you've never thought about these other reasons why a person might still be wearing their mask:

1. A mask provides a nice shield when you literally need to bite your tongue in response to an insane thing someone is telling you. (Also works for sticking your tongue out at them.)

2. You don't have to worry about food being stuck in your teeth. (As I once made fun of my mom for always having food in her teeth, now I suffer the same fate, as is only fair.)

3. Ohmahgod, it's called accessorizing, look it up.

 4. It's just so warm and cozy!!! (I can't be the only one that finds the supermarket produce department to be totally freezing.)

5. Being harassed by strangers is a favorite pastime.


Friday, June 11, 2021

Five on Friday: Recent Photos from a Tired Mama's Life

Oh hello there. It’s me, your friend currently experience a miserable bout of insomnia (though “miserable” is the only variety these bouts come in, I think). I’m looking forward to this one ending. I think tonight’s the night! (I say with the confidence of someone optimistically trying to manifest the near-impossible)


But I digress.


I have no ideas for today’s post and can’t entirely blame insomnia . . . I mean, sometimes the ideas just don’t come. So I thought I’d just share some pictures from my life lately for just a fun little photo-heavy Five on Friday from a tired Mama. Enjoy, and goodnight, it's nap o'clock somewhere.

1. Last weekend on the one blessed day I didn't have insomnia, I got to lounge by the pool with two girlfriends for hours. This night away with friends has been an annual event for several years now. Of course we had to skip last year, so I extra-appreciated it this time.

It does sort of make me wonder if I need to go away overnight again to cure my insomnia. Seems logical, no?

2. I also got to see another close friend and have an impromptu bubble blowing contest. I'm pretty sure I won.

3. This little doggy is getting weirder and weirder in her old age. She used to be terrified of thunderstorms, like many dogs are, but now I swear she gets worked up the minute there's a passing cloud. If it's daytime when this happens, she feels safe hiding next to the downstairs toilet (?) and recently decided to try to climb into the bathtub (a location she historically despises) when she heard thunder. I don't try to understand.

If it's nighttime, she sneaks upstairs, This is an off-limit place for her, partially because she cannot get back down on her own. So in the morning I've been finding her just waiting for a lift down.

4. Kids number 3 & 4 got their second COVID vaccines recently (hooray!!!) When we were walking around the pharmacy afterwards, they called me over to see something. I can't tell you the last time I heard my 13 and 15-year-olds excitedly wanting me to share something with me. It was such a momentous occasion, I had to take a picture:

If you know me at all, you know their noticing this makes me *so* proud.

5. I could blame the boys' immature sense of humor on their father, but considering I also have this photo on my phone (that I took with no prompting from young teens) . . . I have to admit that I may have something to do with it.