Friday, May 25, 2018

Five on Friday: She's Crafty

You know how when you're super busy to start with and then two of your five kids are on two different travel soccer teams and there are also track meets every weekend plus a slew of other stuff to keep with . . . but then you keep getting inspired by things so somehow squeeze in time to be crafty?

I do!

Man, I am spinning wheels and dropping balls lately but I also realize I've been making so much stuff! I can't help it--when I'm inspired, I must create. I'm not much of a seamstress, really, my motto is "Slightly fucked up is the charm of homemade" so don't get too impressed with any of the sewing projects. I assure you, they live up to my motto. But they're still pretty from afar and so I'm going to show them off:

1. I told you last week how much I love my job but I failed to mention that it's also a very beautiful building, a wooden red mill from the 1800s. Last year my daughter helped me create a Red Mill hat for the Annual Gala, this year she helped me design fabric so I could sew a dress.

2. Another great fundraiser for work is coming up--the Retro (bike) Ride!  This means I'll get to wear the dress a second time (thank goodness after all of that work). I really wanted one of those fancy and expensive helmets that looks like a straw hat but I figured out how to make this year's hat (pictured above) open up and fit around my helmet! I'm super proud of this one, but you're going to have to wait until after the event for a picture.

3. This vintage bike for the ride has been my muse for so much! It was a super thrift score for me that has not only made me fall in love with biking again but has inspired lots of crafty projects. I used up some of my leftover Red Mill fabric to make a bunting for the basket and also sewed another liner, just for some variety and because I have all the time in the world for sewing up multiple vintage bike basket linings. (We can leftovers for dinner again, right?)

4. A rainbow flag bunting for our patio. A couple of years ago we had accumulated a bunch of small rainbow flags (after a Pride parade maybe?), put them on the patio and dubbed it the "Equali-Tea Garden." Then my amazing husband built this arbor and came up with the perfect name of the "Safe Arbor." This year the wisteria was blooming like crazy and I was enjoying it so much until I realized: we had no rainbow flags left!! I got right on that. (Leftovers again again!)

5.  Years ago when were debating whether we'd put an addition on to the house or move to a bigger one, we found an old piece of pottery in the yard. That wasn't unusual, our home was built in the 1700s and we find pieces of pottery all the time. However, this piece in particular was stamped with the surname of my husband and five children. A friend of mine remarked, "Your family name just came out of the Earth. I think you stay where you are."

We did but I wanted to have a unique way to display the that piece. I decorated a picture frame, mosaic-style, with all the found pieces. I don't know what happened but I guess it got knocked off of the wall one day and then the pieces fell off. I was just starting to work outside of the home again and so the frame stayed bare. I finally got around to fixing it. I think the timing was meant to be because this time I had a brand-new piece to add, made by our youngest daughter:

I suppose now I have to stop being crafty and make a new dinner . . . because at this rate, we'll probably need the leftovers from it tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Five on Friday: I Love My Day Job

When Daddy-O first suggested I try to find (paying) work once the kids were all in full-day school . . . it wasn't that I didn't agree with him, I just couldn't imagine finding work that would be flexible enough to accommodate an extremely busy, used-to-staying-at-home Mother of five.

Not only did I find such a flexible position ("Hey, I'm bringing my not really sick youngest kid with me today," "Hey I'm bringing my three youngest and also a neighbor today but I'm only staying for about an hour") at a local historical site but I also love my work. Some days I'm making candles with 2nd graders, some days I'm scheming up marketing angles or poring though historic photographs, other times I'm helping to plan super-fun events. I have nice coworkers and a rotating staff of characters on the scene (volunteers, visitors, Trustees, friends, etc.)

This time of year is usually the most fun, because the school tours are in full swing and kids always offer up the best commentary.

 1. 2nd grader: "You're getting a lot of grey hair." 
    Me: "Huh. Why do you think that is?"
    Him: "Well, you're getting older I guess."

2. Me, in the one-room schoolhouse portion of the tour: "Does anyone know what this is called?"
     Entire class, in unison: "CONE OF SHAME!!"

3. In the log cabin portion of the tour, I ask the kids what they think people in the 1700s might have used to dye their clothes with. Every single group, regardless of grade, makes the same exact two erroneous guesses. When I asked my husband to guess what they were, he got them immediately. I'm not sure what this says about him. What do you think they might be? Answer at the bottom.

4. Fifth grade boy: "Wow, this place really smells like the 1800s!" (I thanked him for noticing our dedication to authenticity.)

5.  Not only are the human kids cute, there are a lot of baby animals around in the spring, too! Like goslings and gigantic snapping turtles! (My picture of the turtles came out terrible, you're just going to have to take my word on that one.)

* Blood and mud/dirt. Did you guess correctly?

Friday, May 11, 2018

Five on Friday: Joys of Spring

It's finally, finally, really, truly, undeniably spring. The windows are open, the clothes are line-dried, the children are filthy . . . yes, all is right in the world.

Here are some very springy ways we've been spending our days:

1. Bike riding! I scored this totally sweet vintage bike at the thrift shop and my oldest daughter has been working with Chic Cycles and learning how to refurbish vintage bikes on her own. I gladly had her practice on Lucky (yes I named my bike, of course I did) and now I can't stop riding, both on quick rides before work and on jaunts with the kids.  I'm looking forward to dolling her up and riding her next weekend at the Red Mill Retro Ride!

2. Stopping to smell the flowers . . . it's true I may not have found too much time to sit and enjoy the Safe Arbor* but would you get a load of that wisteria? Last year it didn't bloom and I was worried my soil had the wrong acidity or something. It's so beautiful and so fragrant!

 3.  After school play and adventure. Frogs, lizards and mud, oh my! So far only one "accidental" push into the pond followed by one revenge shove back.

4.  Dining al fresco. Have I mentioned that my brother-in-law crafted a gorgeous new dining room table for us? We're finally getting rid of the ancient, sagging. too-small table we'd been using. However, it's spring time now, baby, so we eat outside almost every night!

5. My favorite part about eating outside? It could be that we're enjoying the fresh air, waving to walking neighbors and don't have to worry about the crumbs that drop off the table . . . but really the best part is the spontaneous whole-family play that inevitably starts up as soon as the meal is over. I truly treasure this time.

* I guess we name a lot of inanimate objects around here. We had dubbed our front patio the Equali-Tea Garden (that reminds me, I didn't put the rainbow flags back out yet!) Then my husband built the arbor and put it there. This handy, resourceful and creative guy not only built the arbor from branches in our yard, he also came up with the perfect name for it.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Five on Friday: Things That Are Supposed To Bother Me but Don't

Two weeks ago I revealed that I don't mind being truthful about my age as I get older even though there seems to be a pervasive cultural norm of avoiding answering that question or joking about it (29 Again!!)

I realized that there are a few other things that don’t bother me that seem to annoy a lot of other people around my age, like:

1. Grey hair: okay, this one kind of goes hand-in-hand with the not lying about my age thing, I guess . . . but not only do I not mind grey hair, I love mine. I've always aspired to having one of these hairstyles:

 . . . and much to my hairdresser-sister's chagrin, I am totally getting there.

2. Man buns! I think I am supposed to hate these. I don't. It's about time men had some more hairstyle options!

3.  Being overdressed. I'd rather go to the supermarket in a tiara than show up  in jeans at a party where nobody else was wearing them. I'm fancy like that.

4. Heat! I love it. Even the super-hot and humid summer days when everyone else is melting. I think I'm made for that weather. I never, ever complain about it being too hot (and because of that, feel completely justified in whining about the cold).

5. Wearing shoes in the house. People keep sharing articles and videos on how disgusting it is but the thing is: I don't care. My feet get cold. I own many cute shoes that I enjoy wearing. I'm not a butterfly. I don't want the kids making massive piles of shoes blocking the door. The list goes on and on . . .

Friday, April 27, 2018

Five on Friday: Birthday Cards from the Kids

A quick, easy, pic-heavy Five on Friday today because:

1. I don't have any other ideas
2. It's been a busy week
3. I like extending my birthday celebration
4. These cards are really sweet and special
5. I didn't have to cajole a single child to make me one!!!

Hey, wait a minute, I just wrote a list of five there. Looks like today's a double feature! Here are my birthday cards from the kids this year:

1. From 7-year-old A: I think she drew this picture a long time ago and just wrote Happy B-Day on it that morning. Still counts, still adorable:

2.  10-year-old Z doesn't like drawing much and insists he "can't do bubble letters." His older sister had taught him how the day before so this card not only got bubble letters, it got bubble balloons (and it's funny, too):

3. 12-year-old E knows you don't need to spend money to give someone a nice gift! I am holding him to this, a promise for one kid free chat with my BFF:

4. From 16-year-old G, who also rode his bike to the gas station to buy me some candy (he's turning out all right, that kid):

 5. Pop-up 44 flowers from 17-year-old B, who really gets me ("even once more! And halfway to possibly the greatest age ever!")

Friday, April 20, 2018

Five on Friday: Happy It's My Birthday

I thought I was going to feel different by this age. More . . . adult-like. I thought for sure I'd understand things like escrow and and the appeal of The Bridges of Madison County. (I still don't but to be fair I haven't tried reading it again.)

I also thought maybe I'd shed my belief that lying about your age is stupid.  I'll be turning 44 this weekend and not only will I continue to not lie about my age, I'll be happy to tell everyone because:

1. BACK TO AN EVEN NUMBER, BABY! (Apparently I haven't outgrown my weird hatred of odd numbers yet either)

2. Not just any even number but 44! That's half of 88! That's super great! 8 is the best number of all time!

3. I'll be kicking off the birthday celebration with a bang: fasting and blood work! Oh yeah baby, oldish ladies know how to party.

4. I just got an Instant Pot and one of the first recipes I happened across was for Angel Food cake, which is my usual birthday dessert request. I'm taking that as a sign and bought the ingredients.

5. I'll be ending the day in prison and I can't wait. Huh? The inside (incarcerated) half of my social justice theatre troupe has written, produced and directed their own show and will be performing it for the other women in prison. I went through the proper volunteer training so I will be allowed access in to see it. They've worked really hard on every single step of this show. I've known them vicariously for years so meeting them and watching them perform will be a great way to top off my birthday.

Gratuitous baby pic of the birthday girl

Friday, April 13, 2018

Five on Friday: What Were You Wearing Exhibit Opening

From my introduction at last Friday's show . . .

When it happened to Me, too . . . I had some trepidation about telling the Police Officers what I was—or wasn’t—wearing. Because just as I knew that I had every right to be naked in my own bedroom on a hot August night, I also knew that survivors are frequently blamed for their own assaults because of what they were, or weren't, wearing.

I hesitated. 

They never blamed me.

I knew that made me a lucky one, the exception, and as such I’ve always felt a responsibility to speak out on behalf of the others. When I read about the “What WereYou Wearing: Survivor Art Exhibit” at the University of Kansas, I knew I wanted to recreate it in my own community.

With the financial support and donations from many friends, acquaintances and local businesses (including a compassionate cashier at the Salvation Army) my dream began coming to fruition. Ironing, arranging, stapling and translating of signs into Spanish was done by members of the cast. Without their help, this exhibit would not be possible.

As we worked on each story, we never lost sight of the fact that a real person was behind the words and the clothing. The work was emotionally exhausting. I began having nightmares. But we continued, humbled that they would trust us with their words.

Last Friday night we opened our exhibit to the public. After giving them time to peruse the gallery, we performed an original, interactive theatrical piece  that was collaboratively written by our outside and inside (incarcerated) casts. It ended with an open letter entitled "Dear Patriarchy" and audience members were invited to write their own letters to possibly be included in a future show.

 Overall, it was a tremendous success. Here are the top five highlights of the night for today's Five on Friday list:

1. I finally came up with an analogy for how I manage to have time to be so involved in this Social Justice Theatre Troupe when a friend asked me before the show. You know that fable about the frog and the boiling water? Okay, maybe that doesn't conjure up the most positive image, but it's the same idea. If I had tried to get involved at this point, when our Troupe is so active, it'd be like trying to jump into a pot of boiling water. I don't think I could do it. But I was in from the beginning when the pot was cold--so here I am, and tremendously proud, too.

2. Logistically it made sense for my teens to come to the show and my husband to stay home with the younger kids (he'll come to our next performance at the end of the month). I wanted the teens there to help and participate. They did, though my daughter was front and center during the show and my son was a little . . . less obvious in the back. I was glad to have them both there and they were both definitely helpful.

3. On the way home I asked my son what he thought. Not much for heavy discussion, he tried to get away with one-word answers until I told him he'd have to give me some more, like did he learn anything? His answer included, " . . . I learned more about things that have happened to people in Meta but I  feel like I was raised pretty well so, not really" which of course made me feel good as a parent.

4. This (Bandaged heart that can still soar=my symbol for being a survivor of sexual assault) was waiting for me on my nightstand when I went to bed, made by my daughter:

5. We had great feedback from the crowd, student filmmakers interviewing us for their documentary on social justice, a professional photographer (credit to all the pics in this post except the heart above: L.D. Bright Photography) and a great show. Not only that, but the exhibit will be up all month and we get to perform again on the 28th (locals, hit me up if you need details!) 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Five On Friday: How I Spent My Spring Break

Hiking El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico . . . APRIL FOOLS! These are just some of the pictures that Facebook's On This Day has been taunting me with this week, from a trip four years ago.

This Spring Break has featured:
1. Only Friday and Monday off for the teenagers as the recent storms/extended power outages closed school unexpectedly last month.
2. Crappy weather.
3. No fun plans

Wait, wait, that's not my list. I'm going to stop right there and tell you what we DID do that's worth noting:

1.  Really enjoyed having Easter fall on April Fools' Day. The, uh, Bunny hid the kids' baskets this year. It extended the morning's festivities and created a lot of fun memories like all 7 of us standing in our small bathroom trying to find one of the baskets (should have been easy, right? Oh but that Bunny is GOOD!) Also, this:
We could probably do this other days, too, right?

2.  Cleaned out the board games and the non-used toys in the boys' room. FEELS SO GOOD.

3. Spent some time on Easter Day looking through my parents' High School yearbooks. I am really into Charm Club and also these two ladies' captions:

4. Got some much-needed kid shoe shopping done and it turned into a super-fun outing, partly because a department store was closing and selling their mannequins. We might have to go back and get one when they're marked down further, the possibilities are endless . . .

5. Got the  Meta Theatre Company's "What Were You Wearing: Survivor Art Exhibit" set up last night and then ran through our show. It's made up of a scene we've only performed once, one that we've performed a few times, two new poems and a brand new open letter to Patriarchy at the end. It all came together beautifully and I can't wait for tonight's Opening Reception!