Friday, May 19, 2017

Five on Friday: From Zero to Hero

I have long considered  Mothers' Day to be a Hallmark holiday designed to guilt people into spending money. Sure, I'm as much of a  sucker for hand print card and a painted macaroni necklace as the next Mom, but that's all I really needed. Okay, a few extra hugs might be nice, but really that's all I expect from the day. Fine, someone else can pick up the garbage that the bear knocked over. But that's it! Really! No going out to brunch and please for the love of all that is holy, never ever that open ass heart jewelry from Dr. Quinn. 

But last weekend my family knocked it out of the park. They might regret it as now my Mothers' Day expectations are way different.

Here are the top five things about it:

1. Homemade cards: Okay I couldn't pick one favorite but I'll just pare it down to three highlights:
He also included "Thanks for making dinner most of the times."

Inspired by the *amazing* song by Mr. T. I truly pity the fool who hasn't watched it. (And that's a bicep, not a tush)

The oldest painted this for me and added sparkly foil

2. Gifts: Gifts? I don't expect real store bought gifts! Recently our George Foreman grill "mysteriously" fell off the counter and broke. My middle boys were in the kitchen at the time and had "no idea" how it happened. For awhile, the destructiveness was cute and sort of funny, like the dent in the wall from Z's head (that he's PROUD of). But the breaking of the 15-year-old way-too-small-for-our-family but frequently used anyway grill nearly pushed me over the edge. So for Mothers' Day I was presented with a super duper deluxe model Cuisinart indoor grill that has about a thousand functions. Daddy O also bought a ton of delicious ingredients to make some amazing lunch and dessert with it.

3. Video: We're big on movie making over here. Years ago we filmed an adaptation of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. G, who was 5 years old at the time, was the troll under the bridge. To him, a troll meant a troll doll so he insisted on being naked with a crazy pink wig on. It's hysterical.

They remade the movie so the youngest two could be involved. G, now 15, asked for $500 to perform naked. He then said he'd do underwear for $80 and later agreed to underwear for the last two pancakes stuffed with extra chocolate chips. The film might be the best thing I've ever seen and I'm not allowed to share it with anyone so just use your imagination and laugh along with me.

And yes, I can't wait for my kids to write their autobiographies.

4. Hike: We love the family hike! We got to use our newly prepared hiking backpack and it worked out great. We found morels! I never found or tried them before! I was very excited and they were, in fact, delicious.
"The forest got really evil all of a sudden"

Hello, morels!

5. Entertainment: After cards and gifts and a visit to the Grandparents and a hike and delicious loaded grilled cheeses and a nap . . . there was more! A family screening of Moana (my first time, the kids' third) and later Daddy O and I had scored some free tickets to see Postmodern Jukebox. It was a really fun show and pretty much the perfect way to end my day.

Good luck topping this next year, family-a-rinos!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Five on Friday: Recent Ridiculousness

I don't know, man, sometimes I think our family might be more ridiculous than others. Are we? Or is this typical? Here are five things that have been said or done here recently, you be the judge:

1. Me, to the teenagers: Um, what are you guys doing?
Them: Trying to see how many baby carrots we can fit in G's mouth.
(It was 25. I am not sure if I should feel proud or . . . something else)

2. Me, to myself: Is this . . . is this yellow puddle near the base of the toilet . . . is this URINE? (Thanks, Captain Obvious)

3. Me, to the middle boys: Boys, you HAVE to have at least one nice pair of pants.
Them (whining): But why?
Me: Because! Just . . . in case someone dies or something.

4. Me, to myself again: GAH, why does this bedroom (shared by two super-athletic and resistant to showering pre-teen boys) smell so damn bad all the time??? (I'm beginning to notice that Captain Obvious comes out frequently when I'm speaking out loud to myself)

5. Me, to the teenagers: As long as I live a nice long life, I give you permission to throw a host a circus funeral when I die.
Them: What's that supposed to be like?
Me: It's open to interpretation.
Then they started talking about how they'd get my corpse onto a trapeze.
Me: What? This is your mother you're talking about! Do you really want to do that?
Them: You SAID it was open to interpretation.
Me: Forget it, I take it all back.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Five on Friday: Naked Gardening Day

Four years ago I heard about this little thing called World Naked Gardening Day. I like naked and I like gardening so it seemed like the day for me! Daddy-O and I took some pictures with strategically placed cans and gardening tools, posted them on Facebook and then went to the boys' tee ball game.

Where people who are friends with me on Facebook also were going.

That was fun. (Nay, that was hysterical.)
Now people keep tagging me in an articles on Facebook to let me know that World Naked Gardening Day is this Saturday, seems it's grown in popularity since our photo shoot (always the trend setters . . . )  No, we won't be staging more pictures, but we don't have to. Doing it that one time has been the gift that keeps on giving . . . so many smiles and memories attached to doing it that first time, like:

1. This conversation:

Me: I'm thinking of staging and 'American Gothic' themed World Naked Gardening photo, with me and you.
Daddy O: Who's going to take the picture?
Me: I guess G (who was 11 at the time)
Daddy O: Great, he'll be all, "What did I do this weekend? My parents made me take naked pictures of them."
Me: At least DYFS* is out of our lives.
Daddy O: Yeah, for NOW . . .

2. We took those pictures the day after my Grandmother, Babci, went to the hospital. My Uncle showed them to her on his phone and she got the biggest kick out of them. She asked him to show *every* new nurse that came in. By the time we got there to visit, all of the nurses sort of felt like they . . . knew us intimately.

3. When we left the hospital, Daddy O said something to Babci that she always said when she was leaving someone's house, which was, "Tell your Mother I was here!" She didn't miss a beat in responding, "Try to keep your pants on."

4. Months (years?) after, someone posted this pillow for sale on Facebook. People began tagging me on it so much I felt sort of obligated to buy it and now it lives on my couch.

5.  American Gothic: World Naked Gardening Edition is now on a canvas in my dining room.

*Division of Youth & Family Services: before our younger three were adopted through foster care, there were different DYFS workers here all the time for visits and inspections

Friday, April 28, 2017

Five on Friday: Home/Work HIlarity

Because life is funny and I laugh every day. Here are some things at both home and work that have made me laugh recently:

1. That time (on Tuesday) that I was working in both positions at the Museum on the same day (leading the login cabin workshop in costume and working in the office). Worlds collided, hilarity ensued:

2. Me: "So I was talking to one of the Blacksmiths . . . " 16-year-old B: "For a minute I totally forgot why you might know any Blacksmith never mind multiple ones."

3.  Overheard while I was walking from the log cabin back to the office, "LOOK! IT'S A COSTUME PERSON!"

4. Earlier in the week, our 9-year-old son Z said, "Hey Dad, Thursday is Take Your Child to Work Day. Can I go with you?" Daddy O replied, "Sorry buddy, I'm traveling that day." Z sighed and said, "Oh man. Mom? Do you know anybody else that works?"

5.  A 2nd grader on a school tour told me very seriously and sincerely that "there was another olden days when people didn't even have menus." (I have absolutely no idea what he was talking about but I will always remember this, um, lesson that he taught me.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Five on Friday: Hiking Staples (Activist Edition*)

Last weekend felt like true vacation: the late-blooming spring had finally sprung, my husband took Friday off, we had one birthday, one holiday . . . and two hikes.

Two hikes. In a row? Cue the hysteria, mainly from the 9 and 15-year-old boys. Mom! No fair! We just took a hike yesterday! I hate hiking!

Hey, listen, when Daddy and I were growing up we had to go to church every Sunday. And Sunday School all school year and sometimes even church on weeknights! We don't make you go to church. But we do make you go on hikes . . . and to protests. Hikes and protests are our church.

What if I protest going on the hike?

Touché, son. Now go get your sneakers on.

Miraculously, everyone had fun on the hike. Two snakes and one very cool old glass bottle were found as was lots of other people's garbage.

As we sat for a snack break by a stream, we discussed what  we should always have with us on hikes. Here is our list of five things to have packed in a backpack just waiting for snacks and water to be added before our next adventure:

1. Plastic bag for picking up other people's garbage*

2. Small first aid kit, bug spray, sunscreen

3. Chalk for when we find spots to make our own fun & temporary graffiti

4. Binoculars

5. Hand sanitizer not necessarily for washing hands (though I guess that'd be an added bonus) . . .  but because I heard it can erase marker on some surfaces if we come across any hate speech (there can be a surprising amount of graffiti on some trails.) Also a Sharpie if we can't wipe it off and just need to transform it into a giant heart or flower or something * 

*Surely some other items would be more useful than the plastic bag, sharpie and chalk . . . but then it wouldn't be just right for our activist family. Here's to lots more complaining and adventure now that the weather is nice and our backpack is ready!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Five on Friday: Luckiest Survivor I Know

Last week in my post for Sexual Assault Awareness month, I told you that I consider myself to be the luckiest survivor I know.

I didn't realize it at first. I remember when one of my sisters told me that I was one of the luckiest people she knew. I thought to myself, "Um, does she forget that I was raped?"

The next day, a person I knew for years confided in me that she was also raped in college. A date rape that she didn't report and didn't tell her family about. She struggled for years.

Since that time I've only become more vocal as an activist and I've had so many people confide their stories to me and I realized: maybe my sister is right.

1. Though my attacker had a weapon, I was not physically injured or killed.

2. Nobody ever told me that they didn't believe me.

3. Two months after I was raped, some old friends from my Freshman year had heard what had happened and invited me out. I said yes even though they wanted to go to these awful bars that I generally avoided. While we were at one of them, I saw my attacker. 

4. Though he also saw me and took off, he was apprehended later that night. He also eventually plead guilty and was imprisoned.

5. My support system was and is amazing. I couldn't feel as strong, safe and confident as I do now without them. I couldn't have such a happy life filled with love and I don't think I could help other people the way I do if I didn't have the loving family and friends that I do.

Each individual thing that I've listed here is probably only true for a very small percentage. So how did I get to experience all five of them?? I'll never know how I got to be the luckiest survivor I know but I will continue to show my gratitude for it by helping as many others as I can.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Five On Friday: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

My survivor symbol: a wounded but soaring heart

I don't feel like I can legitimately call myself an activist if I don't acknowledge the "awareness month" for an issue that has profoundly affected my life. But can I still refer to myself as one if the word "awareness" in this context makes me cringe a little?

I mean, the word is overused, probably misused and frankly, it sounds dumb. Who's not aware of sexual assault?

But then . . . maybe that's not what a month like this is about. Maybe it's not for providing the definition of the cause du jour, but maybe it's a platform for sharing statistics, techniques for avoidance, organizations that are doing the best work (and perhaps could use a donation). 

Maybe this month, being sexual assault awareness month, is the perfect time for me, as a survivor, to let you know what I would like you to be aware of:

1. The first one is about the statistics: the number of people affected sounds exaggerated. I know, I didn't believe them either. But once I began speaking out, countless people began confiding in me. Now sometimes I wonder if the statistics are actually high enough. Either way, one thing I can say with confidence is that every one of us is surrounded by survivors of sexual assault even if we don't realize it.

2. The next three are about language. Seeing as how survivors are everywhere and language is powerful, please don't tolerate any sort of joke that normalizes or promotes rape culture. This should be obvious. It's not.

3. Perhaps less obvious? I, personally, don't like being referred to as a victim. I prefer survivor. This won't be true for everyone but it's something to be cognizant of, just in case.

4. I loathe the casual use of the word rape. (However, I will use it as a Scrabble word while my primary opponent, my husband, refuses to.)

5. Many of you read along with me as I dealt with my rapist's release from prison last year but many of you may not realize this: I will never know when he is actually free. 

Let's just take a minute on that one: the man who had a previous assault on a child, who raped me at knife point and repeatedly threatened to come back and kill me, who was arrested and imprisoned may or may not be on the streets. When the sentence was up, he was sent to the facility for sex offenders for a mental health evaluation. They may have decided to release him or they may have decided to treat him. The required residential treatment may have been for weeks, months . . . or the rest of his life. Because this is not a criminal sentence but a mental health issue, I am not privy to this information.

In spite of that, I still consider myself the luckiest survivor I know . . . but the reasons why are a Five on Friday list for next week.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Five on Friday: Birthdays, Boxes & Buddies, Oh My!

A look back on the past week in pictures:

1. We hosted a birthday party for my newly-minted 9 year-old son on Saturday. We had some fun with making colored water balloons and freezing them for a "cold potato" game. My daughter also decided to fill a plastic glove with blue water. Made for interesting decor:

Her finger broke so I told her to ice it. Hardy har har.

2. We had an uninvited guest but it didn't eat much so it was okay.

Hey there little buddy!

3. I had a performance with The Meta Theatre Company on Tuesday. These two ladies that I'm proud to call my friends came. Oh and those goofballs in the second picture? Some of my lovely cast mates.

4. Just when I thought the novelty of this box wore off and maybe it was time to recycle it . . . it was turned into a cozy reading nook out in the sun.

5. So what IS a social justice theatre company? We do things like act out scenes that have happened in real life and then ask the audience how they'd handle it. It's like a choose your own adventure book, but live. Here I am playing the racist jerk and one of my very best friends (on left) volunteered to come up and try to disrupt my hate talk.