Friday, May 29, 2020

Five on Friday: Almost 10-year-olds Say the Darndest Things

It’s almost the baby’s birthday.

She’ll be turning ten.

I don’t really refer to her as “the baby” anymore but it worked for a long time. My oldest two kids are referred to as "the bigs" and the next two kids are "the boys." (One of "the bigs" is also a boy so whenever I say "the boys" should do something, he always asks, “Am I a boy?” Sometimes he is, sometimes he isn’t, depending on what I was talking about.)


That leaves us with “the baby.”  She’s about to leave single digits and grade school behind. She recently graduated to a later bedtime. And before quarantine started, it seemed as though some of her younger-kid interests were starting to wane.

Enter unexpected benefit of lockdown #27: with nothing else to do and none of her friends to play with, her interest in baby dolls, the playhouse and just good old-fashioned imaginative play has been renewed.

“I have three babies, I have five kids. What a mistake I’ve made!
She’s also been hitting it out of the park with hysterical mispronunciations and observations lately, and those suddenly feel more precious. With her being our last child and now a rising middle-schooler, I know hearing these sorts of things soon will be a sweet memories. So for today's Five on Friday, I'll be sharing some of them for posterity and enjoyment:

1. "Mom! I was watching that animal show and the poor whale had allergy ALL over him. And did you know that a girl lion is called a lion-sis?"

2. She climbed a tree and found ants higher up than she expected to. She shouted down to us, "There's something I've been wondering and I think y'all should wonder it, too: how do ants get up so high?"

3.  "What's it called when a book is half real and half not? Is it fake-tion?"

4. The kids were trying to establish who they all agreed upon as being cool. She offered up "Simon" as her suggestion.
"Simon? Simon who?"

5.  Over the past three months, she has been asking if the Governor has said if it's safe yet to do things like go to school or the park. But she doesn't actually refer to him as the Governor, instead she calls him "Government Murphy."

She's going to outgrow that soon enough; I refuse to correct her.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Five on Friday: Busy

When quarantine first started, there was a new workload to adjust to: the near-constant cooking, the deep spring/quarantine cleaning and overseeing my kids' remote learning. The addition of these chores was not overwhelming because along with it came the subtraction of so much: sports, play dates, my second seasonal job as a school tour guide, sports, being able to go anywhere, school events, work events and, of course, sports. 

As a matter of fact, after a few weeks there were a few times that I almost felt bored (and quickly had to remind myself that I always tell the kids that only boring people get bored.) But then about two weeks ago I found myself saying things like, "I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back in touch. Somehow I've felt busy lately . . . and busy felt sort of nice, like maybe things were normal again."

So what have I been doing that makes me feel busy if it's not rushing my kids through their homework so I can shove some dinner down their throats and get them to track practice on time and figure out what they'll have for second dinner when they come home famished?

1. Virtual Exhibits: The Museum I work for has been closed to the public but I'm still working part time. I've actually been getting a ton done that I never usually have time to get to. Honestly, it's been a great time for the Museum itself even though I haven't been able to have visitors. I still want to stay connected to the public and so have been sharing virtual exhibits. The latest one was a brief history of baking bread using artifacts from the collection.

2. Video Tour: The weather was terrible this spring and I know if I was giving school tours I would have been miserable about how cold and wet it was . . . but I still missed it. The kids always ask amazing questions and there's always the sweetie that wants to be right next to me the whole time. 

A friend asked if I'd consider doing a quick virtual tour for her son's class and in exchange she'd make a donation. I jumped at the chance and am pretty pleased with how my Virtual Tour of the Bunker Hill Schoolhouse turned out.

3. Speaking of videos, we've made a few.  The first (which seems like such a long time ago now) was a little something I called "Not in Sicily." I had seen a video online of Sicilian neighbors playing music on their balconies. My kids were all practicing their instruments in their rooms so I walked around the house filming them.
Then we filmed a "Quarantine Teen" (parody of Billy Ocean's Caribbean Queen) music video for a good friend's 13th birthday. After I specifically requested it, the kids did follow through (thanks to my oldest daughter) and film a Treat Your Mother Right video for me for Mother's Day. Lastly, we made a collaborative music video with friends in which they all filmed about thirty seconds at home and then I spliced them all together.
My boys are sort of over my video-making ideas that involve them but in this one all they had to do was pelt me with balls while I was walking by in a nice dress so they were all in.

4. Gardening, finally! When your nine-year-old is horrified by how dirty your feet are in the evening . . . to me, that's the sign of a great day.

5. Helping others. I have always derived joy out of volunteerism but don't always have the time to do it as much as I'd like to. The current time on my hands along with an increased need has provided ample opportunities to help out both on an individual basis (errands for folks who can't go out right now) or on a larger scale (now organizing my second donation drive for the food pantry).

A friend that I've been assisting said something about me putting on my superhero cape to help her so the next time I was able to, I was sure to do just that:

Friday, May 15, 2020

Five on Friday: The "Our House" Brochure

The other day I wrote this on the kitchen chalkboard:

It was my first baby step towards breaking the news to the kids that this summer is going to look a lot different than what they’re used to. I’ve said “there might not be” about things but I haven’t yet flat out said “there is absolutely no nature camp this year, there won’t be a big vacation.”

In the meantime, I’ve been privately stockpiling ideas that will appeal to my kids with their range of ages and interests. I’ve been working on making our outdoor living spaces more . . . hold up. 

Outdoor living spaces. 

Seriously? How can we even complain or worry about anything?? Not only that, but how many hours have we spent raking gravel, planting, weeding, setting up tables with umbrellas . . . only to lament the lack of time to truly enjoy it??

And just like that, I’ve discovered another unexpected positive side effect to social distancing.

Now to convince the kids.

But how? I think I figured it out when I was talking to my oldest daughter the other day. I was telling her that I was so pleased at the results of all the work I’d been putting into the back yard and patio. I said, “If this was an Airbnb, we’d think this was really nice!”

That’s it! An "Our House" brochure! For us. For remembering to be grateful for how wonderful we have it here and that we can and will have an awesome, albeit different, summer at home.

My brochure will say things like:

1. Everyone is welcome in the Equalitea Garden. Sip some mint tea (homemade with organic mint from our pick-your-own-mint patch!) while sitting in the quiet shade of the (hopefully soon-to-be) wisteria covered Safe Arbor.

2. Bring your books and get ready to relax! Two hammocks can be found on our park-like property. A tent is available upon request, please check in at the main desk kitchen counter.

3. Enjoy the soothing sounds of a trickling stream while searching for amphibian friends at our exclusive spring-fed pond.

4. Are you the athletic type? Basketball hoop, volleyball net, hula hoops and balls galore* are at your disposal! (*ha ha, Mom said balls galore!)

5. Fire pits are available for pyromaniac experimentation and occasional cookouts; please ask your Life Concierge* for assistance.

During your stay here at the Rumspringa Home for Children, 
please remember our mottos:

Safety Second!
Only boring people get bored.

*Thank you to my friend Dwayne Dunlevy for introducing me to the concept of a "life concierge" and for being mine.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Five on Friday: Quaranscenes; Zero Explanation

I've been nominated twice now for the Facebook "Day in the Life of My 8th grader" photo challenge. I am supposed to post five photos in five days with zero explanations and then make five other nominations. 

I'm not feeling it. I know, I'm the worst. Sorry.

Instead I present my own personal Five on Friday Quaranscenes: Zero Explanation Edition. Five photos from the past five-ish weeks, zero explanations, zero nominations.





Friday, May 1, 2020

Five on Friday: Weenie Roast Questions

This week I've been creating a lot, sewing cloth masks with cute little drawstring storage bags, socially distanced gifts and celebration plans for my parents' anniversary and, of course,  so, so, so much food.

Sometimes it feels like creativity begets creativity and I think that's the only way to explain how I came up with what feels like it *might* be a brilliant idea. How to fight boredom, create fun family together time, get the kids' creative juices flowing and get myself a night of free entertainment? 


Featuring roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and the promise for earned extra s'mores for performances (song, dance, comedy routine, etc)

As each kid noticed the invitation, they each had questions:

1. The weenie roast is on Saturday from 5 to 2??? (Not sure what she thinks that @6pm means)

2.  Is it just going to be us? Or is someone else coming? (Dude. Really?)

3.  Does one joke count as a comedy routine? NO? Five minutes? What about three minutes? Is three minutes close enough to five minutes?

4. How many s'mores do we get if we don't perform? How many extra ones can we earn?

5. Since it's a roast, can we "roast" someone? (Which led to me asking and then answering my own question: "Could you do it without making someone cry? Probably not, so no.")

Stay tuned for the results of our first Family Weenie Roast and Variety Show!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Five on Friday: Not at All Stir Crazy*

Quarantine, Week Six: 

Last night's dinner table conversation started with a debate on sharts (If you know you are going to do so and don't run to the bathroom, is it still a shart? Or at that point would it just be pooping your pants?) While hilarious and rather . . . thought-provoking, I can't say I love bathroom talk while I'm eating my dinner.

So I was glad the topic was abruptly changed by someone asking, "How many Willies are there?" I was confused by the question at first but was quickly reminded that the children (and their father, I believe) had recently been discussing the classic sibling torture technique known as the Wet Willy.

A traditional Wet Willy is when you lick your finger and stick in into someone's ear. (Wow, that sounds really gross when you write it out.) My enterprising family had been discussing Dry Willies as an option. What were the advantages? Disadvantages? Etc. 

Which led to last night's question and got us all wondering: just how many Willies are there??? We came up with quite a few but the rhyming ones were my favorite:

1. Chilly Willy: Packing a snow ball into someone's ear; not to be confused with:

2. Chile Willy


3. Hill Billy Willy: Sticking a piece of straw into someone's ear

4. Silly Willy: I wasn't sure what the interpretation of this one would be but then they asked if I could pretty pretty please, the next time I go to the store, please please look for some of this:

5. Milli Vanilli Willy: My personal favorite because it's ridiculous, fun to say and my husband came up with a fantastic way to carry this one out that doesn't potentially end with a trip to the Emergency Room during a pandemic: All you have to do is start singing a Milli Vannilli or other song and get that ear worm stuck in someone's head.

*Why that title for this week's Five on Friday? I just wanted to point out that while the above conversation may seem like it's the result of seven people with a bad case of cabin fever, the fact is we have conversations like this all the time. I can, however, thank the quarantine for providing more family together time and thus ample opportunity for these ridiculous conversations to happen.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Five on Friday: Quaran-scenes: Staycation Edition

Since "quaran-scenes" may become a regular Five on Friday theme, I thought a subtitle would be prundent. This week's is STAYCATION. Of course all of quarantine, if you are lucky, is a bit of a staycation . . . and we thankfully thus far fall into this category.

1. In our pretty little corner of New Jersey, the idea of staycation has always been easy. (How beautiful is it? We like to look around and sing "We're Not on Vacation" to the tune of  Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It") We have access to so many gorgeous rivers, mountains, fields and streams. We're very fortunate.

We enjoyed some of that local wonder when I took the kids on a hike early last week:

The next day the Governor ordered the parks to close so our staycation bounds became a lot smaller.

2.  Okay, fine, if we can't hike the trails, we'll walk around the neighborhood.

3. When that gets boring, we bring chalk with us.

4.  We got together (virtually, of course) with the neighbors to create a fun, safe, socially-distanced Easter-themed Scavenger Hunt. Coordinating and then completing it were both entertaining distractions so I'm thinking a non-holiday neighborhood scavenger hunt might be next.

5.  On Easter Sunday I insisted on dressing up as if were going somewhere. When my son put air in my bike tires for me, I figured I'd hop on for a quick little ride just up and down the street. I didn't think of it at the time, but it occurred to me later that costumed bike parades could probably be a thing . . . stay tuned.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Five on Friday: What's Your Parenting Quarantine Score?

1. For every day since last Sunday that you correctly knew what day of the week it was. Give yourself 5 extra bonus points for every time you knew which school schedule day it was.

My score: 3

2. For each one of your kids that told you that you were lucky for being allowed to go to the supermarket.

My score: 1

3. For knowing when the last time your kid took a shower (1 point per correct answer per kid)

My score: Honestly, 0. Oh wait, youngest took a bath yesterday but I specifically said "shower" so . . . half a point!

 4. For each of the things your kids have broken* during quarantine, 2 extra bonus points for each of those items that is something that really entertains them and will now be one less thing at their disposal in this crucial time of needing things to entertain themselves with. (*Not counting your soul, that's a given)

My score: Oh I'm cleaning up on this one: 9!

5. For the approximate number of breakfasts, snacks, lunches, snacks, dinners, snacks and desserts you have made since everyone’s been locked in the house together all the time. May not exceed 11 million.

My score: 11,000,000

My total score: 11,000,013. 5!

What did you get?