Friday, July 29, 2016

Five On Friday: I Swear I'm Outlawing These Things

No, really. I am completely over them and am on the verge of banning them from this house indefinitely:

1. Band-Aids: Not only do the two youngest kids here use them for every real and imagined scrape they can find on their bodies (leaving none left when Mom is actually BLEEDING), they leave the wrappers all over the place and then I find used ones everywhere. Recently my teen found a dirty Band-Aid in her room and then the next day FOUND ANOTHER ONE IN THE SAME SPOT.  "The struggle is real," she conceded. I'm glad I have her in my corner.

2. Ice Cubes: When they get ice from the fridge dispenser, they always get way too many so they end up all over the floor creating tiny cold puddles to accidentally step in. Then they leave those cups out and the condensation from all that ice makes other tiny puddles on the table and counter.

3. I Dropped My Dolly in the Dirt: A friend gave my kids an electronic keyboard last week and they've been having fun learning little tunes. However I'm starting to regret teaching them this one.

4. Library Tchotchkes: The kids love the bookmarks and the summer reading program prizes. I'm not as enamored.

5. Presidential Election Coverage: It's going to be a long season. I don't know how much more I can take. Already.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Five on Friday: Entertaining Themselves

When we're not running around taking advantage of other people's pools and all of the great things to do around here, I'm catching up on housework and ignoring the children.

If they try to claim boredom, I give them a task. So it works out pretty well, they find tons of interesting ways to keep themselves occupied. Like:

1. Not sure what this was about and not sure I care (that's doll hair, not human, so all good):

2. That yellow blur is a toy motorcycle riding a homemade ramp out onto the deck.

3. The stadium formerly known as my living room:

4. He's ready for a bike ride, can't you tell?

5. I just walk away and wait to hear if there's any crying. That's my survival tactic.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Five On Friday: When Words Won't Suffice . . .

An emotionally heavy week followed by . . . another emotionally heavy week. 

A friend of mine, one of my online Mama friends that I've never met but have known for close to a decade, has had a terrible year. A cancer diagnosis, treatment and remission and the loss of her mother during it all from the same awful disease. And then last weekend, the truly unbearable: the loss of her beloved toddler in a terrible accident.

While watching community rally to take care of costs and practical needs while showering her family with love has been the slightest bit comforting, the pain remains overwhelmingly devastating.

Nothing feels right for this week's list. Just as I had trouble finding any hope to share for my  speech at last week's Peace Vigil, I again feel at a loss for words.

So instead I turn to pictures. Five favorites from this summer to impart some love, magic, comfort, peace and hope (I hope).

1. Love found by these two little girls through their shared appreciation of running around while live music was playing.

2. Magic found in these amazing trails and waterfalls not far from our home (but we only just discovered!)

3. Comfort found on the lap of a favorite uncle when the fireworks are amazing but the noise is a little scary.

4. Peace found in solitude with nature.

5. Hope found in a seedling that nobody planted and probably doesn't have enough soil there to last but is insisting on growing there anyway.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sixteen Stereotypes This SAHM Wants to Dispel

Me in SAHM mode, rocking the stained shirt and kid-made necklace

I usually don’t open those sort of links so I don’t know what it was about “Sixteen Things Only Stay at Home Moms Will Understand!” last weekend that prompted me to open it. For some reason, I operated under the delusion that it was going to be honest and insightful. Instead it was full of all sorts of clichés like we’re really good at multitasking, the pay is terrible but the benefits are great, we like wine, we wouldn’t trade it for any other job in the world!

Did I really just waste thirty seconds of my life reading that? Doesn’t all of that apply to any mom—any PARENT—that’s involved in their kids’ lives? Implying that only SAHMs know about multitasking and breaking up kid fights only furthers the divide amongst the Working Moms* and the Stay at Home Moms (not to mention between Moms and Dads). Also furthering the divide are the stereotypes that for some reason still exist about each of these groups of people. So for my own list, here are Sixteen things that THIS Stay at Home Mom (since, you know, I can only really speak for myself) would like you to know:

1. *First of all, I’m not really comfortable with the term “Working Mom” to refer to one that goes out to a job or works from home. To me, all Moms are working Moms. It’s just that some of them also get paid for some of their work. I know it’s just a matter of semantics but I don’t like the implication that I don’t work because I’m not sure what else to call what I do from sun up to sun down everyday. So I like to think of it as Stay at Home Moms (SAHMs) and Working for Money Moms (WFMMs)

2. Second of all, all of this WFMM vs. SAHM nonsense should have gone out with the women’s business suits paired with high top sneakers look.

Now, on to debunking the stereotypes:

3. SAHMs aren’t feminists. Girl, please. I was raised by feminists and I’m raising feminists. I’m a person who since age four had one clear and consistent career goal in mind: being a Mom, preferably one that stayed home with the kids. Was anyone ever permitted to tell me that that was all I’d be allowed to be? Hell no. Am I incredibly lucky my dream came true? Hell yes.

4. SAHMs watch soaps and eat bon bons all day. People still think that? Really? I don’t watch any daytime TV and I’m not really sure what a bon-bon is. A little ice cream bite? Like a little bit of vanilla ice cream drenched in rich milk chocolate? Is that what it is? Hold up, I might be rethinking the bon-bon part of this stereotype. Adding “bon-bons” to the shopping list now.

5. SAHMs are either rich, skinny and coifed or poor, fat and slovenly. I’ll take “Somewhere In The Middle” for $200, please, Alex.

6. SAHMs are uneducated. I certainly didn’t go for the most challenging or cerebral major in college but I did earn my degree (and no it was not my MRS, I actually first met my husband in high school, thank you very much.)

7. (or) SAHMs are wasting their education. Sharing my knowledge with growing minds isn’t wasteful. Also, there’s going to be a lot more life left for me once these kids are grown. Who knows what I might do next?

8. SAHMs have no idea what’s going on in the world and can only talk about their kids. It’s true I take media breaks sometimes, too worn down by all of the bad news out in the world but I do try to at least have some idea of what’s happening. I can talk a blue streak about my kids or almost anything else. Try me.

9. SAHMs are at your beck and call. I love when the stars align and I can help pick up someone’s kid or drop something off to school for them. But I do also have a schedule and a routine and sometimes I just can’t help out at the drop of a hat. Sorry.

10. SAHMs take it for granted that they can get in to the kids' school. Sometimes I just don't feel like running a party game for a classroom full of six year olds but I do because I feel fortunate that I can and I know my kids get a kick out of it. When school functions are at impossible times for WFMMs (Halloween parade at 2pm anyone?) I cringe for my friends who can't make it and offer to take lots of pictures for them.

11. SAHMs are “ladies who lunch.” Okay, you got me there. I do, in fact, eat lunch every single day. And, yes, oftentimes it’s out (on a park bench) and with a friend (she’s four).

12. SAHMs don’t have any options for any other kind of work or are not making sacrifices to be at home. Funny, when a man stays home with the kids nobody seems to assume that as much. (Well of course unless he falls prey to the other SAHD stereotype—which also needs to be debunked—that he’s just lazy.)

13. SAHMs are helicopter Moms. You’ve obviously never heard my theory on not watching their crazy antics and instead just waiting to hear if there’s any crying.

14. SAHMs have an easy, mindless job. That’s why anybody who’s ever done it talks about how hard it is.

15. SAHMs have the patience of saints. If that’s what you want to think of me, who am I to argue? (Realistically, we’re all human. We all have good and bad days. Ask my kids if how much I never yell at them.)

16. SAHMs judge WFMMs Oh for the love of the elusive affordable zero-waste locally sourced healthy organic self-packing lunch, does anyone do this? Seriously, are there SAHMs out there that do this? If so, give it a rest already. All the stereotyping of WFMMs as power-hungry corporate-ladder climbers that don't care about their kids or SAHDs as either self-sacrificing amazing Fathers (regardless of how well he does with the kids) or lazy slob terrible Fathers (ditto) are just as bad as other people believing any of the above about you! Knock it off already!

Clearly in any category of people there are going to be deadbeats. But from what I can see when I look around at each of the very, very many families I know: nearly 100% of them are assessing their own unique family's situations and putting their kids first. They all have good days and bad days, they all love their kids so much and they all work hard every single day.

And I'm glad they're all a part of my village. Because I don't know about any other SAHMs, but this Stay at Home Mom really needs a village sometimes.

*Originally published at Sammiches & Psych Meds

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I'm So Tired of Going to Vigils

My White mother tells a story about how, when she was growing up, she and her Black best friend would scandalize strangers by telling them they were sisters. My younger Black children look to their older White siblings to see why this is funny.

Change does happen, slowly, generationally. Violence frequently accompanies change, we all know that, we’ve all been taught about the many wars and conflicts that have gotten us to where we are today.

But reading about it and watching live-streamed videos of it are entirely different things. Living through it is devastating and worrisome and frightening.  Watching it unfold can make you feel desperate.

I don’t want to watch.

I’m sick of all the deaths.

I’ve cried for so many strangers.

I’m so tired of going to vigils.

But here I am again, a slight reprieve from crying privately, to find some sort of solace in crying publicly. Instead of remaining isolated at home watching the horrific scenes unfold, I choose to make myself a visible proponent of peace. I choose to create opportunity for opening up dialogue with my children, with my neighbors, with strangers. Some I teach, some I learn from. I choose to be a non-violent catalyst for change.

These times are difficult and frightening to live through. But progress does happen. I look forward to one day telling my grandchildren how people used to think that “Black lives matter” meant that other lives didn’t--or that some people felt like they had to choose between only respecting the lives of people of color or the lives of Police Officers.

And my grandchildren won’t understand what I’m talking about.

Getting a hug from my daughter after I spoke. Photo by Peter Murphy

Friday, July 8, 2016

Five On Friday: Highlights from Just a Few Days Away

Lots of living happens in long vacation days, doesn't it? I had the kids up visiting in Cape Cod just late Tuesday afternoon until this morning but it feels like we had at least a week's worth of fun.

1. On the ride up I taught the kids the word "rubbernecking" which the youngest later called "jello-necking."

2. "Maybe we can get this book. We're irresponsible!"

3.  Such old-timey Americana free family fun. The town band playing in the gazebo. On the way there, my youngest told my sister-in-law, "I have to tell you, I'm not really a fan of old fashioned music." (Sister-in-law then asked, "What kind of music do you like?" and she replied, "My music. Stuff on Youtube.")

4.  We were happy to shop local while we were away.

5. I mentioned on my Facebook page yesterday that this week marks the third anniversary of my Grandmother Babci's death. I wanted to honor her but was so sad with all of the killings this week it all felt a bit overwhelming.

That year she died we left right from her funeral for our trip up North here with two other families, good friends of ours. It was good to decompress that way but also a bit of a hard week. My husband ordered some lanterns and we lit and sent them off in her honor.

I haven't seen any paper lanterns like those in person again until last night, my in-laws let us know they had some, too, and last night we sent one off. It was a small, peaceful moment to end a lovely and heartbreaking week.

B helping with the lantern, 2013
And again, 2016

Friday, July 1, 2016

Five On Friday: Animals & Art

It's summertime so both animals and art are everywhere I look.

Isn't that lovely?

For example:

1. We've got a new art teacher at the grade school and I am just loving all of the new ideas she's brought with her. They brought home so much artwork at the end of the school year and I'm struggling to find spots for it all because I love it all so much:

2.  "Mom! We caught a snake!"

3. This artwork was left outside. And was rained on. And then created its own secondary artwork.

4. Birds! This nest, unbeknownst to us, was built on top of our beach cart that was hanging up in the outhouse (basically just a shed now). My son took the cart down and then nest and all five eggs were hanging very precariously so I very carefully stabilized it. You can't tell from the picture but one of the things the bird used to line its nest was a bit of previously snake skin.  (Oh and this little bird seemed like it was trying to get into my daughter's room the other day)

5. In places I don't expect them, both animals (hello there little comfy squirrel) and art (oh hey, 15-year-old B was hanging out by the fire pit with her friends and mixing up cooled ash with water , wasn't she?)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Five On Friday: Things to Do With the Kids At Home (with recipes!)

My kids are finally done with school! We've got a long list of places we'd like to go over the next ten weeks. Some are free, some are cheap, some are going to need some coupon research. Of course there will be plenty of staying home and letting them be bored time, too. 

But my kids and I really like to make and do things. I know that if we're having an extra boring day sometimes just doing one activity together can inspire them for all sorts of other play. So I've also been making a list of things to do at home, like:

1. Watch the movie "Flubber" (borrowed from library so Mommy can exercise or nap) and then make some flubber to play with. 

2. I make bread almost every week but we haven't ever made butter. I remember my older kids doing it at preschool once with heavy cream and a jar so we're going to try that  one of these summer days.

3.  Sidewalk chalk: still fun for all of my kids. Sometimes they use up our entire driveway and then ask our next door neighbors if they can draw on theirs, too. We create creative hopscotch games or draw curvy lines to follow on  bikes or scooters. 14-year-old G has invented large, elaborate, live-action fantasy-type games with chalk on the driveway. Currently there is a "village" on my driveway which is chalk-drawn businesses and homes connected by two lane roads. (And I can't forget "chalk makeup" which is made by grinding up chalk and adding water.)

4. Speaking of neighbors' driveways . . . it occurred to me that because one of our other neighbors has a driveway that has been deemed "way more fun" to bike on than ours, we can take advantage of their willingness to let us use it and go down there to get some free fun.

5. Oh and one more recipe to try, this is one definitely for the big kids. Last year we were in New York City with some visiting friends and my teens got "Ramen burgers" from a food truck. The burgers were beef but the buns were made from Ramen, which, in spite of all my cooking from scratch, is one of their favorite foods. It didn't look that hard to make so this summer I think we'll try for ourselves with this recipe.