Friday, February 24, 2017

Five on Friday: Texts with the Teens

Like many modern parents, texting is one of my prime ways of communicating with my teenagers. (Back in my day we had a downstairs and upstairs phone that my Mom would sometimes call me on! I remember a couple I did some babysitting for thinking that was totally outrageous.)

My 16-year-old daughter actually initiates texts with me (and not just when she wants a ride) and I frequently find her messages highly entertaining. My 14-year-old son normally doesn't initiate texts with me (unless he wants a ride) but likewise keeps me laughing.

For example:

1.  Son when he was home alone and supposed to be watching for younger brothers E and Z to get home and then keep an eye on them. I texted, "Boys home? " then after no response, "Hello?" He replied:  E is a smudge and Coolboy* is cool.

2.  Daughter, after a team trivia competition: "There was a question and the answer was Aaron Burr and they didn’t listen to me and we got it wrong, this is tragic" (Hey, when you're a Hamilton fan, this is totally tragic.)

3. Son when was babysitting younger brother Z:  Should Coolboy be in bed yet? He says he shouldn't.  

4. Daughter, from school: "I tripped on the stairs and fell and my first reaction was to my hands up Rocky-style and I think that sums me up pretty well."

5. Son when he was babysitting little sister A for longer than he'd ever had before--I thought I should check in with a quick, "So far so good?" His response: "She learned how to hang glide, breathe in space and tie knots so yeah."

*As far as I know, nobody has every called Z by the name Coolboy, this is apparently only his nickname while his brother is watching him.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Five On Friday: A Daily Study in Contrasts

It seems as though every single day I vacillate wildly between two opposing views . . . like "I should make more art" and "Nah, I should be more math-a-rific and science-licous!"

Just kidding. I've never had any math or science leanings whatsoever (but damn, that mastery of the English language!) No, my opposing thoughts and views are more along the things that I think some of you might be able to relate to:

1. I don't care if the kids don't learn any self-responsibility, I cannot STAND this mess a moment longer and am going to put it away my damn self VERSUS I am not doing myself OR them any favors by cleaning up after them all the time.

2. I'm doing enough (as a wife, mother, friend, writer, activist) VERSUS there's so much more I could/should be doing.

3. I am so discouraged and depressed by the national news VERSUS  I feel so empowered by the resistance movement (that's in response to that news).

4. I think I should be stricter with the kids VERSUS I need to work on being a kinder, gentler parent.

5. If I say yes to one more thing I am putting myself directly into a time-out VERSUS Fuck it, I'll rest when I'm dead.




Friday, February 10, 2017

Five on Friday: Snow Day Activities

The transition to me working outside of the home several weeks ago has gone smoothly. We've only had one night of crappy frozen food dinner (kids loved it. Husband debated his desire for me to be out at work all day). I'm still getting pretty much everything done but the biggest corner cut has been finding time to get any writing done.

So with yesterday's snow day I should have had plenty of time to at least come up with a proper Five on Friday list! Instead, here I am at 7:40 am on Friday writing it instead. So what did I do all day yesterday if I didn't write?

1. Ate ALL the carbs. Pancakes, macaroni and cheese, cookies, grilled cheese.

2. Did some "Queen of Hearts" style hair (a little hard to tell but the beads are hearts and tiny crowns)
And then I spent the rest of the day singing the Juice Newton song

3. Fed the birds a bunch of times because that is what old ladies do

4. Dealt with the wet jackets, pants, gloves, hats, boots, socks, etc. of five kids, some of whom went out to play three times

5. Watched 42, the second part in a series of "Movies We Are Watching Together as a Family in Honor of Black History Month That Aren't Going to Hold the 6-Year-Old's Attention"

Friday, February 3, 2017

Five on Friday: Protesting with Kids

Most of my activism takes the form of performance with The Meta Theatre Company or event planning but, alas, the times call for protests and marches. My kids are no strangers to things like community meetings and candlelight vigils but standing or walking around with signs is something new. Here are some things they've had to say about it:


1. Text from my teenage daughter when she was at the Women's March in DC: "So many beautiful women all around us. I love every single person here."

2. From my less-than-willing 8-year-old son: Why do I have to go? It's not fair, I had to go last time!

3. From my 10-year-old Hamilton superfan: Can you find my Aaron Burr costume for the protest tonight?



4. 8-year-old again: Who's gonna be there? Will I know anybody?* Is there going to be anything to eat? I'm cold. Can we leave yet?

5. 6-year-old as we were walking to protest last night, "Oh wait! I never finished coloring this poster!!" (Me: "Don't worry, baby, you can color it later. We'll be using it again and again.")



* Why, yes, son, you will. All the activists' kids know each other at this point.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Five on Friday: Two Weeks at My New Job

Last spring I began work as a tour guide at a local historical site. I knew I would like it but I ended up really loving it. When the tour season was over, I decided to let my boss know how much I enjoyed it and asked her to consider me if any other positions ever opened up.

I didn't really expect one too, but it did! Now I'm working in the office three days a week. My official title is "Museum Assistant" but I am considering asking them to refer to me as a "Gal Friday" because I like the retro sound of it.

Here are some highlights from my first two weeks there:

1. I have my own office (!!!).  Hanging on the walls are vintage circus advertisements and an antique painted wooden sign for a shop. (If you know me at all, you know I *love* vintage everything.) The window was bare so I found some vintage-look fabric and made a little curtain for myself.



2. Out that window I can see the Red Mill, the river and the waterfall, the quaint town on the other side of the river and the old stone mill that is now the Art Museum.

3. One of my tasks was to transcribe hand-written attendance records onto the computer. The paper sheet asks visitors to tell us how they heard about the museum. My favorite was "trucker--broke down."

4.  Another day I was helping with cataloguing pictures of our vintage textile collections. The photos of the 1920s hand-sewn, hand-beaded ballgowns had me swooning all day.

5. I also got to help with looking through newspapers from 1917 to find pertinent information for an upcoming exhibit. I am pretty sure I found a record of someone my oldest son was in past life:




Friday, January 20, 2017

Five on Friday: Don't Mourn, Organize

After the election I did mourn.Truly.

Eternal optimist that I am, I kept focusing on the positive where I could find it. Collaborating. Planning. Staying involved.

And held on to the deepest, tiniest, most secret little hope that if I just kept my cool, the lid was going to blow off of this whole thing before January 20th ever got here. We'd be saying, "See? There was nothing to worry about at all!"

But the reasons to worry have only gotten worse and this thing is really happening today, isn't it?

I started to mourn again but then remembered this poster a friend and fellow community organizer brought to my Martin Luther King Day of Service on Monday;


A little crying does provide a good cathartic release, but not much else.

So then it's time to look around at all the organizing happening around me, some that I'm directly responsible for, some that I'm just witnessing and supporting. 


1. The 14th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Community Service . . . which started out in my dining room and is now getting too big for the Community Center we've been using . . . was another tremendous* success. Money, time and goods were donated. Thirteen non-profit agencies and thus hundreds of people will benefit. I am so proud of this event and so thankful for everyone who helps make it possible. (Also I decided to politicize the day for the first time by offering free "Black Lives Matter" screenprinting for shirts and posters. I was worried about backlash and very gladly didn't get any.) 

2. My social justice theatre troupe, The Meta Theatre Company, has been growing and collaborating so much. We're doing a lot of new and exciting things that I'm really proud of, like helping audiences with bystander intervention training. Ever witness something really racist happen and do nothing? Or do something but wish you handled it different? We're acting out real-life scenarios, discussing the results with the audience, getting their suggestions and even putting them into the scene to try it out. What's been really interesting to me is the plans that sound okay when you talk about them but then fail when they're acted out. Which leads me to believe that our model is very valuable and that we all need to practice, practice, practice so that when we're put on the spot we've got a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips with which to respond. 

3.  My oldest daughter, age 16, figured out a Mom-approved last minute plan to get to Washington, DC to march this weekend. She also painted an amazing sign to bring with her.



4.  MLK Day is over but the organizing is not. Now it's time to really start planning the One Billion Rising poster contest and flash mob!

5. My mother used to tell me when I was growing up that I was a "leader" . . .  I didn't really know what she meant by that, to tell you the truth. But right now, in this time, when friends and acquaintances are supporting my events and reaching out to me and asking what they can do to be more political active, I am happy for that characteristic. (Thanks Mom)

* Screw it. I'm reclaiming all the words I want to reclaim from he who must not be named.



Friday, January 13, 2017

Five on Friday: Gratitude

I'm in the throes of planning my 14th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Community Service, which, along with all of the regular jobs I do on a daily basis, is keeping me extra busy these days. I'm at the point in which I just really want Monday to be here so we can do this thing.

But I'm taking a deep breath, crossing the last of the "MLK TO DO" jobs off of my list, and taking a moment to be grateful, for:

1. Monetary donations from friends, strangers and acquaintances. I am not established as a legit non-profit agency (this is once a year, too much paperwork), I don't answer to anyone on how I spend the money . . . but they trust me to spend it well (and I do and share pictures to prove it!)  The generosity of people this year has astounded me.

2. Plenty of offers of help to run this event

3. The very mild weather this week is encouraging me to get out of the family room and away from my exercise videos and outside for my runs, where I not only exercise my body but get the chance to clear my head.

4.  Remembering to delegate when I can

5. A new job offer! (But more on that later, must get back to my to do list!)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Five on Friday: Advent Calendar of Good Deeds Version 2016

I had been feeling a little overwhelmed by the idea of creating another Advent Calendar of Good Deeds but after putting some thought into it, realized I could still pull it off but maybe just a little differently this year (read about it here). I shared every day's deed on Instagram but didn't talk about it all that much.

What worked? What didn't? What were the biggest hits?

1. The including "family fun time" days was a great new addition. It took the pressure off of me to make sure we had time or supplies for a good deed that day and ensured that during a super-busy month we spent time together.

2. Including traditions we did anyway (Make a hand print tree and a card holder for example) also worked. Sort of felt like a cop-out, they're not really good deeds after all, but once again they encouraged family togetherness and really helped place value on these traditions that we've created for ourselves.

3. Something we've been doing for years is wrapping presents at a local residential hospital for adults with neurological disabilities. I never expected my children to love this as much as they do. I'm not sure if it's the access to all the tape and ribbon they want or the snack they get at the end but I'm going to pretend it's the satisfaction of knowing they did a good deed.

4. Make a holiday craft or recipe from another culture or country: we didn't really do this one. I got some books from the library but that was the extent of what I had time for. Next year I either need to scrap this one or prepare better.

5. The ones that required no work from Mommy (compliment a friend, help a teacher, etc) might be my favorites and not just because they're easiest for me. I love these ones because they remind my kids that every single day they have a chance to do something nice for someone else. Every day isn't always going to be a "Color A Smile" day but it can always be a "Do or say something nice to someone who hasn't always been nice to you" day.