Friday, March 24, 2017

Five on Friday: Books I'm Devouring

Are you a big reader? Do you keep track of what books you've read? I have a Good Reads account to keep track of what I've read and one of my favorite things about it is seeing how many books I manage to read in a year. I'm a fast reader but I'm always exhausted and since right before bed is usually my only time to read . . . sometimes I don't get too as many books as I'd like to. In 2016 I finished thirty-one books which was ten more than the year before. Challenge accepted!

This year I've read seven so far and am currently driving my husband crazy by reading two books at once (but they're both so good! And are both fourteen-day books from the library, which adds an additional challenge).

For today's Five on Friday, here are five great books I've read so far this year:

1. The Moth: All These Wonders As a fan of this storytelling podcast and one of their former storytellers, I had a special love for this book before I even cracked it open. As expected, it was filled with joy, heartbreak, humor and sorrow.  Bonus for me was the number of names in that book that are people I've actually met. (So cool!) Enter to win your own copy here!

2. Behold the Dreamers Such compelling story telling I figured out a way to squeeze in day time reading and then I missed the characters when it was done. It was that good.

3. The Nightingale This has been on my "want to read" list for a long time. I was wait-listed for it at the library, finally got it but had way too many fourteen-day books (bane of my reading existence) at the time. Glad I finally got around to it. Masterful storytelling and a setting I had never given much thought to before (Nazi-occupied France). 

4. What We Do For Love this is a novel by master doodler and memoirist Ilene Beckerman of Love, Loss and What I Wore fame. I love the way she weaves her drawings into her memories to create such charming and lovely books. Having had the pleasure of meeting her last year and having lunch with her last week, I can tell you she is just as charming and lovely as her books are. You should check out her new blog:

5.  I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her  I write about rape survival a lot but I don't tend to read about other people's experiences. I'd never seen one that seemed relatable before . . . until this book. I had never heard of anyone else even considering (re-)meeting her rapist like I had contemplated myself. I was hooked immediately and finished this one in record time.

(And if you're wondering what two books I'm juggling at the present, they are actually both memoirs:  Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Trevor Noah's Born a Crime. I might have to do some daytime reading to finish these in two weeks but they're both so damned good I won't mind at all)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Five on Friday: This is the Time to Remember

When both you and your spouse both start singing the same pop song from 6th grade randomly on the same day, it can only mean one thing: BILLY JOEL IS NARRATING YOUR LIFE NOW.

This is the time to remember
Cause it will not last forever
These are the days
To hold on to
Cause we won't
Although we'll want to

Billy Joel has never narrated my life before so I thought maybe I should listen to the man.  Because it's true, in so many ways, this is the time to remember.**

Things like:

1. Impromptu birthday parties for stuffed animals

2. Drawings from the in-house cartoonist mysteriously surfacing

3. Too many hands helping

4.  Ridiculous snow day scavenger hunts with semi-rhyming clues:

5. Everything about this picture

**Okay, that text turned itself blue and every time I try to turn it back to black, it does not listen to me at all. I guess it's true, the Billy Joel works in mysterious ways.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Five on Friday: No "Either" . . . Just OR

Early on in parenting, Daddy-O and I mastered the talent of giving kids choices. Stubborn toddler dragging their feet about getting out the door? Asking them if they want to put on EITHER their shoes OR their jacket on made them feel like THEY were in charge but still helped us get out the door in a more timely fashion.

Eventually they stop being stubborn toddlers, thank goodness. They still get a voice in decision making for themselves . . . not all the time though. Sometimes, there's not either/or here, kids. I'm the parent and I say:

1. It's my way OR the highway.  Sometimes that's just the case. (Sorry not sorry)

2. Whisper OR don't talk at all. Seriously. You don't understand how loud you are. Shh.

3. Shoes on OR socks off. You're outside. Come on.

4. Get back to getting along with one another OR get back to bed. I cannot deal with bickering this early in the morning.

5. Gum in your mouth OR the garbage. I didn't understand why it grossed grown-ups out so much to see kids pulling gum out of their mouth and stretching it, etc . . . but now I get it. *shudder*

Monday, March 6, 2017

One Billion Rising 2017

Do we happen to have any nasty women here today? 

Hello nasty women! Hello sister-resistors and persistors! Hello warriors and supporters and hello men! I am so happy to see you all here today. Don’t be afraid to make noise while I’m speaking, I don’t want to just see you, I also want to hear you!*

My name is Gina Sampaio and I am a survivor, a feminist, a performer, a writer and an activist. I want to tell you more about the One Billion Rising movement and this year’s theme. But first I’m going to ask you to do a little activity with me. I’d like to ask you to attempt to have every third woman or girl raise her hand.

Now I want you to take a moment to look around. Don’t just look at the hands, look down at the faces. Because when we hear “one in three girls and women will be beaten or raped during her lifetime” it can be hard to remember that there are real humans behind that number.  Worldwide that adds up to be one billion women and girls. That is why every year we rise, in cities and countries all over the planet. We rise to show our community and the whole wide world what one billion looks like. We rise through dance to express joy, to strengthen our ties to one another and to celebrate the fact that we have not—and we will not—be defeated by this violence.** We won’t be silenced by this violence.

This year the international theme of the movement is “Rising Solidarity.” The first thing that I thought when I heard that was the fact that I personally know many women who have been severely emotionally triggered by the recent Presidential election. And I also personally know many other women that can’t understand why this has been such a difficult time for some of us. So I’d like to try to help shed some light by putting it this way:

A man grabbed me by the pussy once. You know what happened to him? He was sent to prison for twenty years. 

He was part of the less than three percent of rapists that actually serve any jail time.
And now a man that has boasted about doing that very same thing holds the most powerful office in our nation and directly influences not only law and policy but attitudes and behaviors. We have already witnessed a dramatic increase in hate crimes against certain religious communities. Is it a far reach to think that a spike in crimes against women might be next? I don't think so either.

This is NOT the time for polarization among us. Now more than ever it is imperative that we stand in solidarity with ALL women: Women who are triggered and women who struggle to understand why. Women that choose to wear string bikinis or choose to wear hijabs. Women who love women or men or both or neither. Women who are or who have been incarcerated.

Women who are afraid to use the restroom because there are those in positions of power that preach that these women’s chromosomal make up means they must be sexual predators when actually, as the rest of us know, they just really have to pee. Women whose ancestors were born here and women whose ancestors were brought here by force.

Women we see at school events who are secretly scanning the crowd to gauge which family they might be able to ask to adopt their American-born children because they live in constant fear of being separated by deportation . . . and their love for their children is so fierce that the idea of living without them is more acceptable than the thought of those children growing up in the place they fought so bravely to escape.

Standing in solidarity with all of these women does not just mean dancing today. It means believing women when they tell us they have been victimized or marginalized. It means trusting women to make the decisions that are best for their own bodies and families. It means teaching our children about consent by not forcing them to hug or kiss or be hugged or kissed when they aren't in the mood. It means calling others out—strangers and harder and maybe even more importantly, our friends--when they don’t realize they are speaking from a position of privilege. It means being opening to listening when someone calls us out on doing that very same thing ourselves. It means being humble enough to ask forgiveness and it means educating ourselves so we don’t make that same mistake twice.

Today we rise together in song and dance. Tomorrow and every day after tomorrow, we will think back on today and vow to stand in solidarity with all women.

. . . and then we danced.

* Our crowd was a little smaller than last year but what they lacked in size they made up for in energy, I didn't even have to say that part

** The previous four sentences describing the movement are paraphrased from the One Billion Rising website 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Five on Friday: What I'll Actually Miss

I've said it before and I'll say it again (and I said it in about twenty different ways in this one essay): I just don't believe I'm going to miss everything about their childhoods. On Wednesday Facebook showed me a video I posted six years ago. It was adorable, a circus performed by my kids. They were so cute, tiny, helpless--and apparently they screeched a lot.

Maybe it's not far enough away yet, but I don't miss that time. The video is enough for me.

Last week the weather here was unseasonably warm: bright and sunny seventy degree days. Every time I looked out in the yard, another neighborhood kid was here playing. I realized, "THIS is what I'll miss."

Things I will miss:

1. Being the yard the neighborhood kids come to.

2. Overhearing one of the kids wonder, "Why is this the house all the people come to?" and then some of the answers like, "Because this is where the cool kids are" and "Because this is the party house!"

3. The least threatening bike gang ever:

4. Delicacies like sand and pine cone cake and grass salad.

5. Laughing after hearing the guy attached to these filthy knees tell me he doesn't need a shower:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Five on Friday: Texts with the Teens

Like many modern parents, texting is one of my prime ways of communicating with my teenagers. (Back in my day we had a downstairs and upstairs phone that my Mom would sometimes call me on! I remember a couple I did some babysitting for thinking that was totally outrageous.)

My 16-year-old daughter actually initiates texts with me (and not just when she wants a ride) and I frequently find her messages highly entertaining. My 14-year-old son normally doesn't initiate texts with me (unless he wants a ride) but likewise keeps me laughing.

For example:

1.  Son when he was home alone and supposed to be watching for younger brothers E and Z to get home and then keep an eye on them. I texted, "Boys home? " then after no response, "Hello?" He replied:  E is a smudge and Coolboy* is cool.

2.  Daughter, after a team trivia competition: "There was a question and the answer was Aaron Burr and they didn’t listen to me and we got it wrong, this is tragic" (Hey, when you're a Hamilton fan, this is totally tragic.)

3. Son when  babysitting younger brother Z:  Should Coolboy be in bed yet? He says he shouldn't.  

4. Daughter, from school: "I tripped on the stairs and fell and my first reaction was to put my hands up Rocky-style and I think that sums me up pretty well."

5. Son when he was babysitting little sister A for longer than he'd ever had before--I thought I should check in with a quick, "So far so good?" His response: "She learned how to hang glide, breathe in space and tie knots so yeah."

*As far as I know, nobody has every called Z by the name Coolboy, this is apparently only his nickname while his brother is watching him.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Five On Friday: A Daily Study in Contrasts

It seems as though every single day I vacillate wildly between two opposing views . . . like "I should make more art" and "Nah, I should be more math-a-rific and science-licous!"

Just kidding. I've never had any math or science leanings whatsoever (but damn, that mastery of the English language!) No, my opposing thoughts and views are more along the things that I think some of you might be able to relate to:

1. I don't care if the kids don't learn any self-responsibility, I cannot STAND this mess a moment longer and am going to put it away my damn self VERSUS I am not doing myself OR them any favors by cleaning up after them all the time.

2. I'm doing enough (as a wife, mother, friend, writer, activist) VERSUS there's so much more I could/should be doing.

3. I am so discouraged and depressed by the national news VERSUS  I feel so empowered by the resistance movement (that's in response to that news).

4. I think I should be stricter with the kids VERSUS I need to work on being a kinder, gentler parent.

5. If I say yes to one more thing I am putting myself directly into a time-out VERSUS Fuck it, I'll rest when I'm dead.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Five on Friday: Snow Day Activities

The transition to me working outside of the home several weeks ago has gone smoothly. We've only had one night of crappy frozen food dinner (kids loved it. Husband debated his desire for me to be out at work all day). I'm still getting pretty much everything done but the biggest corner cut has been finding time to get any writing done.

So with yesterday's snow day I should have had plenty of time to at least come up with a proper Five on Friday list! Instead, here I am at 7:40 am on Friday writing it instead. So what did I do all day yesterday if I didn't write?

1. Ate ALL the carbs. Pancakes, macaroni and cheese, cookies, grilled cheese.

2. Did some "Queen of Hearts" style hair (a little hard to tell but the beads are hearts and tiny crowns)
And then I spent the rest of the day singing the Juice Newton song

3. Fed the birds a bunch of times because that is what old ladies do

4. Dealt with the wet jackets, pants, gloves, hats, boots, socks, etc. of five kids, some of whom went out to play three times

5. Watched 42, the second part in a series of "Movies We Are Watching Together as a Family in Honor of Black History Month That Aren't Going to Hold the 6-Year-Old's Attention"