Friday, January 13, 2017

Five on Friday: Gratitude

I'm in the throes of planning my 14th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Community Service, which, along with all of the regular jobs I do on a daily basis, is keeping me extra busy these days. I'm at the point in which I just really want Monday to be here so we can do this thing.

But I'm taking a deep breath, crossing the last of the "MLK TO DO" jobs off of my list, and taking a moment to be grateful, for:

1. Monetary donations from friends, strangers and acquaintances. I am not established as a legit non-profit agency (this is once a year, too much paperwork), I don't answer to anyone on how I spend the money . . . but they trust me to spend it well (and I do and share pictures to prove it!)  The generosity of people this year has astounded me.

2. Plenty of offers of help to run this event

3. The very mild weather this week is encouraging me to get out of the family room and away from my exercise videos and outside for my runs, where I not only exercise my body but get the chance to clear my head.

4.  Remembering to delegate when I can

5. A new job offer! (But more on that later, must get back to my to do list!)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Five on Friday: Advent Calendar of Good Deeds Version 2016

I had been feeling a little overwhelmed by the idea of creating another Advent Calendar of Good Deeds but after putting some thought into it, realized I could still pull it off but maybe just a little differently this year (read about it here). I shared every day's deed on Instagram but didn't talk about it all that much.

What worked? What didn't? What were the biggest hits?

1. The including "family fun time" days was a great new addition. It took the pressure off of me to make sure we had time or supplies for a good deed that day and ensured that during a super-busy month we spent time together.

2. Including traditions we did anyway (Make a hand print tree and a card holder for example) also worked. Sort of felt like a cop-out, they're not really good deeds after all, but once again they encouraged family togetherness and really helped place value on these traditions that we've created for ourselves.

3. Something we've been doing for years is wrapping presents at a local residential hospital for adults with neurological disabilities. I never expected my children to love this as much as they do. I'm not sure if it's the access to all the tape and ribbon they want or the snack they get at the end but I'm going to pretend it's the satisfaction of knowing they did a good deed.

4. Make a holiday craft or recipe from another culture or country: we didn't really do this one. I got some books from the library but that was the extent of what I had time for. Next year I either need to scrap this one or prepare better.

5. The ones that required no work from Mommy (compliment a friend, help a teacher, etc) might be my favorites and not just because they're easiest for me. I love these ones because they remind my kids that every single day they have a chance to do something nice for someone else. Every day isn't always going to be a "Color A Smile" day but it can always be a "Do or say something nice to someone who hasn't always been nice to you" day.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Five on Friday: Resolutions for (the rest of) 2016

Know a great way to actually meet all of your resolutions? MAKE THEM AT THE VERY END OF THE YEAR.

I have great confidence that I can complete these goals in the last two days of the year:

1. Finish this book (reading)
2. . . . and start this book (writing)
3. Finish the leftover holiday desserts and junk food
4. . . . and wine
5. Write resolutions for 2017 with the kids. We can reference that list on December 30, 2016.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Five on Friday: Last Minute Gift-Giving for Kids!

Is there a child in your life you still haven't purchased a present for but would like to? Don't kill yourself looking for this year's hottest item, you know they only end up playing with the box anyway. 

Or at least that's how it used to be in our day. Kids these days want the fancy garbage, not just the empty box. Surely you can dig around your recycling bin and find some of these things! The kids will love them.

1. Wrapping paper (or paper towel or toilet paper) tubes

2. Plastic pull-tab from Orange Juice cartons (my kids have actually fought over these before. Tears have been shed.)

3. Every single shampoo bottle ever emptied ("I WANT TO KEEP PLAYING WITH IT IN THE TUB!")

4. Those plastic air pillows that come in Amazon boxes (wonder if you can order those without any actual product?)

5. Plastic water bottles, about 1/3 of the way full, for flipping (as long as you don't mind a constant flip, flip, flip, thud, flip, flip, "CAPPED IT!", flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, crash, flip, thud, flip, flip, flip soundtrack to your life.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

When Your Grandmother is a Badass

When your Grandmother is a badass
And you religiously swallow her stories whole . . .
Maybe not so much like those pasty wafers that you couldn’t wait to be old enough to try
But maybe more like the tic-tacs she’d give you during Mass for that “tickle in your throat”
Which was really just a diversion since Mass was so boring and even though your Mother would try to use reverse psychology and point out how nicely that family with all those children sat; they sat so still and so quietly that they had the audacity to sit in the very front pew where Father could see them being so goddamned good

When your Grandmother is a badass
And you did know how to be respectful and listen at church
Maybe not as much as those kids in the front row who never even twitched
But maybe you gleaned from those holy tic-tac stories that there are more important things
On which to spend your energy than showing the man in charge just how obedient you are; that sitting so still and so quietly was okay for some other girls, but wasn’t going to always be okay for those that inherited some of that badassery which would sometimes manifest as a tickle in the throat.

(Thursday would have been her 101st Birthday. If she were still alive, I'm pretty sure she wouldn't like what I wrote in her honor; I'm not sure she'd get that "badass" is meant as a compliment. But it absolutely is.)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Five on Friday: Ghost of Christmas Past

1. Santa and me? We go way back.

2.Watching The Price Is Right was a bit of a tradition when I was growing up. This dog was named Bob Barker after the show's host and accompanied me in a performance of the song "Dumb Dog" in a local talent show. I still own him, though he's down one ear.

3. Same town square, same holiday tradition. Different wooden horses, different years, different sisters (first me with my older two, then me with my younger one):

4. Tra-di-tion!!! Tradition!


5. This one was obviously taken pre-digital photography because otherwise it would have been deleted and never printed.
But I love this picture and am so glad it exists. Such a warm and nostalgic snapshot of Babci's kitchen, with the folding table and chairs set up for Christmas. She hosted so many people in that small house of hers . . . this was probably one of the last ones before someone else took over.  

This picture also holds other significance for me. One of my best friends stopped by shortly after this picture was taken. Over the years we occasionally nursed crushes on each other but never at the same time. That year I had the inkling he was interested in me and I wondered why I couldn't just fall in love with him, it'd be so nice, it'd be so wonderful. But he was just my friend.

But that day when he walked into Babci's house, it was like every cheesy 80s love ballad come to fruition: the love that was before my eyes all along suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. We moved in together shortly after that and this will be our 18th Christmas together as a married couple. Thanks, Santa.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Five on Friday: Recent Thrift Scores

Performances! Holiday Parties! Working outside of the home! Oh my!

I needed a wardrobe boost and so naturally hit up my favorite thrift shops. I think I did pretty well, check out just some of my recent hauls (yes, there's even more than this! Like a nice pair of black slacks with the brandy-new Ann Taylor tags still on them! But black slacks are not exciting to take a picture of. And I never care about name brands unless I get them super cheap.)

1. I love dresses and I may have a slight problem with stripes. But come on! This dress! So cute, so stretchy and comfortable and looks great with that scarfy-necklace thing I once made out of a stretched out tee shirt. $4.

2. What's this? Boots to go with? In my size? Don't mind if I do. $3.

 3. I saw these pants a few weeks ago and decided I didn't love them $6 worth. When they were still there at half-price week I decided it was meant to be and that I totally loved them $3 worth.

4. Another dress. More stripes. I know, I know. But this one has pockets!!! Half price week, $2.

5. And one more dress. I wasn't sure how that half-wrap-around looking belt would look but I thought I'd give it a try and I really like it. I forget how much this one was but I'm guessing around $4.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Five On Friday: That's Not My Name

I didn’t take my husband’s last name.

I didn’t think it would annoy me to be called that name anyway.

And it doesn’t annoy me in a “my feminist sensibilities are being offended sort of way” but I have to admit, it just bothers me sometimes.

Maybe because I have a name. My own name. I don’t just have it on Facebook that way for fun, that’s actually my name. I know it’s all intimidating with those vowels, but I’ll gladly tell you how to pronounce it if you need help. (Sam-Pie-Oh*)
I never really make a fuss when I get called the wrong last name. Either I suck it up or correct them. One time I corrected my son’s kindergarten teacher and she then asked me, "But what should I tell the children?" about my last name not matching my kid’s.

 It was 2007. Not 1957.

I recently picked up the phone and got asked by the caller, "Is this Mrs. Your Husband and Kids' Last Name?

Sigh. Not really but yes. It was the school nurse and I just went with the flow that time but here are some responses that crossed my mind: 

1. Nope, sorry!

2. For all intents and purposes . . . sure.

3. No, would you like her (my mother-in-law's) number?

4. "That depends, who's asking?" and then launch into a song from Hamilton musical  (big surprise there, huh?)

5. Or the best, and maybe my favorite, is to start belting out the Ting Tings' song: That's Not My Name!!

*and, see, I already did change something about my last name once. I grew up using the Anglicized pronunciation of my last name and switched it to the Portuguese way when I went to school. And then I stuck with it.