Friday, November 8, 2019

Five on Friday: Sister's Sweet Sixteen

Life with an open adoption frequently means that the mundane and profound are entwined. An example would be the family party we went to last weekend. While there's nothing unusual about a family going to a  Sweet Sixteen celebration it was actually rather remarkable: it was in honor of my adopted children's biological sister. When I remember the years of not knowing if my kids would ever even be able to have a photograph of any of their biological family members, I realize just how extraordinary us going to that party was. Here are some observations from a lovely evening:
1. I had to work before the party and left instructions for the kids to please write something thoughtful in the card for their sister. This is what they came up with:

2. Once again I was struck by how inadequate the English language is in describing families like ours. I was dreading being asked how I was related to the Birthday Girl, since there is not a simple word to explain it. (Turns out at this point everyone pretty much knows who I am though, because nobody asked!)
3.  My youngest daughter took a few minutes to warm up but then we didn't see her all evening as she had become the constant shadow to the cool older sister she doesn't live with.

4. The Birthday Girl decided on her own to hold a candle lighting ceremony where she thanked different friends and family members for their influence in her life and then invited them up to help her light a candle. As we stood and watched, my 11-year-old son looked slightly horrified at first: "Do we have to do this when we turn 16????"  When I asked him if he remembered his older brother and sister at home doing such a thing, he was relieved.

5. Then their sister called the three of them up to help her light a candle. Here's a photo of the exact moment when the profundity of it all hit me. You can imagine the blurred faces are just actually the tears in my eyes from the beauty of this moment.

I hope one day the kids realize how beautiful this moment was

Friday, November 1, 2019

Five on Friday: Group Costumes

I realized yesterday that when I open iPhotos and start to type in “H-a-l-l-o . . .” in the search bar, it offers the options “Halloween” and “Halloween costumes” and it ACTUALLY BROUGHT UP HALLOWEEN PICTURES.

The future is crazy, man.

However, I quickly went from wildly impressed to finding myself muttering, “That’s not Halloween . . . THAT’S surely not Halloween” It turns out this technology is not equipped to handle people who dress up multiple times per year.

If you asked me if I was big on group or couples costumes, I’d say no. But looking through this pictures, I realized I have had several good ones. Today seemed like a good day to share them:

1. Cruella and her pet, before they had kids:
We won a prize for this!
2. Edward Scissorhands and retro lady getting a haircut.
No, none of her friends knew who she was supposed to be
3. Andy Warhol and Pop Art Marilyn (see me there? Upper left?)
No, none of her friends knew who she was supposed to be
4. Frida and Frida. I'm beginning to notice a theme here as this the third ‘couples’ costume I'm sharing that features my oldest daughter and me. I can’t say I’m surprised. Now that I reminisce some more, her first Halloween at 3 weeks old she was a hula dancer and I was a Hawaiian tourist and her second Halloween she was a bowling ball and I was a pin with Daddy O as a bowler . . . I guess those made an impression on her.
I think you know what I'm going to say here
 5. Nesting dolls with my youngest daughter to prove that I have done cute things with my other kids:

And BONUS PIC! This was a costume I really enjoyed: Miss Hannigan. The kids technically weren’t dressed up to go along with me, but since I am always surrounded by children that complain about cleaning I consider it an inadvertent group costume.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Five on Friday: Dinner Conversation

Just a small glimpse into my life via snippets of dinner conversations:

 1. While we were visiting our daughter at college a few weeks ago, we went out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. As we sat at the table after my child inhaled a gigantic meal, he announced, "I'm going to have to use the lobby when we get back to the hotel."

This is a technique his father taught him in order to not stink up a hotel room bathroom. The family's reactions varied from laughing (some of the kids) to groaning (others) to simultaneously wanting to die of embarrassment while feeling happy nobody else around us really knew what he meant (me) to, I dare say,  sense of pride (my husband).

2. I am always looking up new recipes and frequently I find myself thinking, "ooh, this looks delicious. The kids are going to hate it." I made such a recipe recently and to soften the blow I picked up a supermarket rotisserie chicken to serve with it. While they did raise their eyebrows, I told them that it was actually pretty good and to give it a chance. To my complete surprise, my 11-year-old son (who is the pickiest of the eaters) announced later, "This actually isn't that bad."

That's the closest I'm going to get to a compliment out of that guy! I'll take it!

3. Speaking of food reviews from kids, this is an oldie but a goodie: another such a recipe is a vegan corn chowder with wild rice. On the second time I made it, my oldest daughter sat down and said, "Oh, this is the one that looks like vomit but tastes good, right?" 


4. Just after dinner last week, the three boys and I were cleaning up the kitchen and disagreeing on who was a better freestyle rapper, me or the 11-year-old. 

I said, "He just makes up ridiculous nonsense words to try to rhyme!"
He (with eyebrows raise in surprise and . . . best part . . . a huge milk moustache) replied, "YEAH! That's the best part of my freestyle rapping!"

 5. A few days ago, my youngest daughter wanted to FaceTime with our far-away college student. We were about to eat dinner so I told her to wait, but she thought maybe we could have dinner together. We gave it a try. While B wasn't actually eating at the time, it was pretty fun to have her around the table with us at home through the magic of modern technology.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Five on Friday: Facts About Current Sleep Deprivation Here

I am 45½-years-old and my youngest child is approaching double digits. I truly believed that the only thing that would be waking me up overnight in this point in my life would be my bladder.

Sadly, this is not the case. While that fact surprises me, there are several cold hard facts that I can always rely on when I am woken up by a child overnight. They include:

1. It will always be our youngest daughter waking me up. Very, very rarely will she wake her father (who sleeps closer to the door, mind you, and she passes on the way to wake me. One time I sleep-mumbled to her, "Go ask Daddy" and she replied, "I can't. He's sleeping.") 

Our oldest daughter started sleeping though the night at 3 months old, which was the beginning in a series of milestones that tricked us into thinking parenting was easy. Two out of three of the boys were extended bad sleepers but grew out of that by age 4 or so, which I expected our youngest to do as well. (I know, I know, I'm hysterical.)

2. If she wakes me up once in a night, there will be a second time. Possibly more, but it is never, ever just once.

3. I will have to go pee every single time she wakes me, even if they are five minutes apart.

4. There is a 75% chance I end up in her bed.

5. The morning after I will sleep "in" until 7:05 or so and it WILL, guaranteed, be one of the days her brothers need help being roused and getting out the door earlier than usual for Jazz Band practice. (Not hyperbole: They have had eight early morning practices so far. The past three times I've overslept due to being woken up overnight by her have ALL been one of these mornings.)

There's a reason why I have to double fist it. And that reason is my youngest child.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Five on Friday: My Life is a Round of MASH Realized!

The other day I was thinking about the Middle School game of MASH--you know, the one where you have to come up with options for who you will marry, where you will live, etc? It's always the most fun when you put some serious choices along with some terrible and/or ridiculous ones.

I still play this game with the kids sometimes, mainly on road trips and mainly with them answering the questions since I'm already married and all that. But I realized . . . my real life is basically a MASH game come to fruition with mostly the unbelievable-to-14-year-old-me options as the winners:

1. I married that weird boy from Fresman Choir.
2. I have five (!!!) kids.
3. I drive a pink Vespa.
4. I got married in Las Vegas.
5. I live ten miles from my parents. 

This life would probably seem outrageous to 14-year-old me but 45-year-old me really loves it.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Five on Friday: Funny Business (Cards)

When I was at college in the early 90s, there were business card vending machines at copying centers and random train stations. We college students loved making random business cards for ourselves. When I studied in Spain for a semester, they had a machine at the train station so I made some cards for myself that said: 

Gina Sampaio

("Extranjera" means "foreigner" in English. I cracked myself up then, I crack myself up now.)

I don't think they have those machines around anymore but we do have the equally-cheesy equivalent of Microsoft Word Business Card Templates. I spent entirely too long having fun using them to make some funny business cards for what my life is like now. Maybe I will crack someone else up besides myself . . . enjoy:

1. This is true, he tells me all the time:

2. Me dressed as Miss Hannigan is the perfect photo for this one:

 3.  "Oh, she's one of those fancy Moms" (Actual quote circa 2004)

4. I am terrible at overnight sleeping, awesome at napping.

Artist's rendition of me sleeping

5. The other night I went into my 9-year-old daughter's room to say goodnight. I found her sitting up in bed with her teacher's pointer in hand, reading a bedtime story to her dolls. She introduced me to her class as "tonight's special visitor, a tucking-in professional." Because of that, this one is my favorite:

Friday, September 27, 2019

Five on Friday: Guest Blogger Giacomo

Yes, Giacomo is the name of my Vespa. Don't worry, I'm not that into him that I think he can write a blog post for me today. But I have been riding a lot lately, now that the kids are in school so I don't have schlep them on my errands (not to mention the weather has been perfect).

Though when it came to a choice between these two for food shopping . . . well, Overkill Jones won that one.

When you drive a pink Vespa around, the stories just come to you, so in a way this is Giacomo's post. These are the best things that have happened to me in just this past week of riding:

1. I keep running into my friend's Mom at the local thrift shop, but this week was the first time she saw me on the scooter. She said that she used to drive a "little red Renault" years ago when she was single, because she wanted to get people's attention. I let her know I get lots of attention on this thing! (Case in point, below)

2. I get so many smiles and waves! Friends, strangers, motorcyclists (makes me feel like a legit rider when they wave). The best was when I drove past the school while my son was outside with his cross country team. One of them noticed me and then they all started smiling and waving.

3. I was out on a ride and saw a hot air balloon pretty close to the ground and then figured out where it was landing. When I pulled over to watch, I saw one of my son's friends there who immediately said, "Cool bike!"

4. Our friend Anthony's Dad also drives a Vespa and though I've seen him around, we've never spoken before. He was parked on Main Street when he saw me turn the corner so he gestured wildly to get me to pull over to talk. 

"Who was telling me about your Vespa?"

"It was Anthony."

"Anthony . . . Anthony . . . Anthony . . . Anthony who?"

Okay, I guess I caught him off guard but that made me giggle all day. Also I think we might have a gang now.

5. There's an interesting older man that stops into my Museum occasionally. He once had a rooster named Henry that he was very fond of. So fond of, in fact, that when it died, he had it stuffed and donated it to the Museum. Visiting children love it. He has also told me that he used to ride a Vespa "way before you were born." 

I parked Giacomo at the library on Monday and he pulled in right behind me. He said he wanted to introduce me to his wife and led me over to her saying, "This is the new Curator."

I extended my hand and said, "Hi, I'm Gina."

She rolled her eyes at her husband, saying, "You said it was Lisa."

To be fair, I did warn you that this might happen.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Five on Friday: Things That People Think I Am (But I Am Not)

Of course, as a parent, there are people in your household that think you are things that you are not, like their personal ATM-Servant-Chef. I get that, too, of course. 

Mom's Self-portrait

But I've noticed that, over the years, there are a few things that people tend to assume I am that I am not. There's nothing wrong with any of these things, I am just . . . not them. Like:

1. A Homeschooler. I don't think there's anything wrong with home schooling and I would like to think that my kids learn from me all the time, but we are firmly a public school family.

2. A Unitarian Universalist. I've been to two UU services in my lifetime. I know and love Unitarians. I am not one.

3. A Psychic. Lots of people seem to think I have "the gift." Maybe they have the gift and can see something in me that I cannot access. I'm not sure I'd want to, anyway.

4.  A Red Wine Lover. I probably won't turn you down if you offer me a glass of red, but white is my preference.

5. Any Number of Ethnicities That I Am Not. My favorite instance was when, at age 18 I was traveling in Egypt. Our hotel concierge was a man with the blackest skin I had ever seen combined with blue eyes. He was gorgeous. I couldn't stop staring. He noticed me looking, turned to face me and said, "You're Egyptian."
I said, "No."
He said, "Your Grandmother's Egyptian."
I replied, "No, she's not."
He nodded his head and said, "You have American face but Egyptian eyes."

I always thought that phrase seemed pretty ironic coming from a Black man with blue eyes!