Friday, January 11, 2019

Five on Friday: Five Videos to Enjoy & Share

So what happened was this . . . yesterday I had a really long to-do list and I got so much done.  I went food shopping, did two loads of laundry, I made phone calls, answered emails, hand painted all of the big signs I need for the activity tables at the 16th Annual MLK Day of Service, studied my lines, helped kids with homework, watched a real nail-biter of a Middle School basketball game and about a thousand other things.

What I did not do was write my Five on Friday list. I like to write it before Friday morning but the truth is I often find inspiration on Friday mornings as I'm enjoying my quiet coffee time.

But then what happened was this . . . I overslept a little and had a hard time waking up. My throat hurt. I stumbled downstairs to my teens already eating. I pushed the button to turn my coffee maker on so I could do my little morning jobs I do while I'm waiting for it to be ready: clean some ash out of the fireplace, get the fire going again, check the mouse trap. I did those things and returned to this:

Some nice hot water to wake me up!

I had something in my eye but couldn't see anything in there, my 8-year-old woke up in super weird mode (which involves her saying the most random shit and generally getting on everyone's nerves) and both of my Five on Friday ideas didn't quite have five items yet.

I was begin to suspect I was in the sequel of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

But then coffee was made properly, the fire was stoked, my throat felt better, my eye slightly improved, the kids got off to school which means I'm stoked (see what I did there?) and I realized I had five items on a list that have been saved to fall back on for a not-enough-ideas day like today.

That idea is for a list of five videos I've seen online recently that I saved to show the kids. Maybe you or your kids will enjoy them, too:

1. How to go from dinner to cake this is one of those Joseph's Machines real-life Rube Goldberg type contraptions that I will live to regret showing the children

My Future Regret: Exhibit A

2. Bear rings Florida family's doorbell We've had a bear in the baby pool before, but it didn't knock to ask permission first

3. Man plays Bulgarian folk music using only a straw: He actually sounds really good. I hope the kids do not try this at home, though.

4. Dog gets vacuumed by Roomba: Why not?

5. 8-year-old trained barber offers free haircuts to kids in her Philadelphia community

Hey, that's five! I made it! Now I'm going to the upstairs bathroom to find some eye drops and while I'm up there I think I'll hide the hair clipper.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Five on Friday: Hooked on Books

Friday’s kind of caught me off guard here. You know how it is, in a week where Wednesday is essentially Monday, Friday can sneak up on you.

What I’m trying to say is: I don’t have a Five on Friday list at the ready. Hm, hm, what can I write about? I know! I could talk about how I'm doing such a great job of sticking to my resolutions even though it's January 4th already!

Ha. Of course it’s too early to actual say I’m sticking to these goals but at least I feel like I’ve got a pretty strong start. The weather’s been nice enough to get out on the Vespa and realize that maybe I won’t be too much of a scaredy-cat to start riding it around regularly once the weather is warm. And I really do think I can beat my goal of 32 books read in a year as long as I keep finding books that get me hooked and remind myself I’m not obligated to finish ones that don’t.

Here are five books that had me hooked in 2018 AND  five more that I’m hoping will do the same in 2019:

Did the trick in 2018:

1. Moxie 

High Hopes for these in 2019:

1. My Year of Rest and Relaxation (so far so good, started last night and it's really good!)

4.Dumplin’ (LOVED the movie on Netflix)

Friday, December 28, 2018

Five on Friday: Best of 2018

Ah, the end of the year . . . not just a time to set goals for the upcoming year, but it's also a time to look back and reflect on the highlights of the past twelve months.

Looking back, I realize that many good and exciting things happened in 2018. It was hard to narrow it down to the five, so I may have cheated a little.

1. Lots of connecting with family: I twice got to witness my kids' Great Grandmother meeting a grown great-grandchild for the first time. (Technically one happened in 2017, but at the very, very end) Both times were magical, breathtaking and surreal.

Over the summer we also were able to visit extended family from both my husband's and my sides of the family, including playing with fun preschoolers and meeting new babies. 

Also one of the cousins gave my husband and me tattoos that we've been talking about getting for a really long time, which was another highlight of the year. Now I'm really cheating by lumping that in here but it's my blog and I can cheat if I want to.

 2. It was a big year for my oldest daughter and that means, by extension, it was a big year for her mother, too.  She got her driver's license, voted for the first time and applied to college (two acceptances so far!)

3. Early in April, a dream of mine came to fruition when I, along with the Meta Theatre Company, presented What Were You Wearing, a sexual assault survivor art exhibit and theatrical production. It was emotionally draining, soul soothing, heartbreaking and empowering.

4. My story aired on The Moth! As if that wasn't exciting enough, later a video of one of the shows I did was published on Hey, Iris and had over a million views! I'm thinking that's about as famous as I'll ever get. This level of famous comes without paparazzi so I'll take it.

 5.  2018 was the year of the museum! I remembered (and had time for) taking advantage of lots my region has to offer.  I visited museums (mostly art, but also some historical or cultural) in six different cities. 

I know I already made my resolutions last week, but if I'm allowed to add one more it's to keep up the museum trend in 2019.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Five on Friday: Resolutions That Should Be Entirely Achievable

I know, I'm like a week early for making New Year's Resolutions. But I've been thinking about these ideas so I figured I'd better write them down before I forget. No lofty resolutions for me this year--instead I'm going to aim for some goals that should be entirely achievable.


In 2019 I am going to I have really good intentions to:

1. Learn that damn poem about which months have thirty days and which don't. I've got February down pat but the rest remain a mystery.

2. Eat better cheese more frequently.  I might as well enjoy myself as I raise my cholesterol and expand my waistline.

3. Watch at least one of the tens of movies that I've never seen but everyone else my age has seen a million times. Maybe even two of them if I feel like overachieving.

4. Beat my own high score for number of books read in a year since I started keeping track on Good Reads in 2005. (If I finish the one I'm working on now it'll be 31) Either that or beat my own high score in Wii bowling, one or the other.

Okay, fine, one semi-serious one but it's totally necessary:

5. Train myself to say, "Let me think about it and get back to you" when I feel like I'm about to say yes to another commitment.


Me, my sisters and our plastic sparkling apple juice glasses.
New Year's Eve 1978ish

Friday, December 14, 2018

Five on Friday: The Truth About The Truth About Santa

So that happened early last week, followed by several days in a row of her bringing up Santa and saying she thought it was probably just me that got the presents. I managed to avoid answering but each time I was growing more uncomfortable about it. While perpetuating the Santa myth is always lying, technically, it doesn't feel like lying when they're very young. 

While I would have liked to have one last Christmas with her believing, I couldn't do it anymore when she flat out said, "I don't believe in Santa." Daddy-O and I brought her into bed to snuggle and I told her that she was very smart for figuring things out. 

"Santa's not real?? What??"


"You said you didn't believe . . ."

"I was just kidding!" 

I swear my heart skipped a beat. Did I really mess up here? But the more we talked the more I realized she just sort of surprised and said that while grasping at straws. Likewise, she groaned, "You mean we just waste all that food we put in the yard for the reindeer???" We assured her all the non-flying deer enjoy it just as much.

After the initial shock, I think she realized that she likes being one of the big kids. We stressed how important it is for her to keep the magic alive for other kids, younger than her and even some older than her. That when they're ready to find out they should learn snuggled up with grown-ups they love, like she did, not from a kid on the bus. (She took a minute and asked, "Do the boys (big brothers) know?")

As for me, it's not as bittersweet as I thought it'd be. Sure, I don't get to threaten with "Santa's watching you" anymore, but that was always kind of creepy anyway. The truth about being truthful about Santa is that, in many ways, it's actually a relief. No more having to come up with stories on the fly! Over the years I have come up with some pretty good ones, though, that I'm going to share for this week's list:

1. What is this package at the door? I don't know, Daddy had to order something for work. I'm going to leave it on the porch and he can put it in his car later.

2. Why do we have to donate to toys to less fortunate kids if there's Santa? Well, many kids aren't lucky enough to have stable housing and might have to move around a lot or stay in shelters sometimes. Sometimes Santa can't find them so we help.

3. Why can't Santa bring us all the expensive electronics we want? You've seen Santa's workshop in movies and books . . . he really specializes in toys, not electronics. He has to pay for those things like everyone else, and those things are expensive!

4. Why didn't the baby get as many presents from Santa as we did? Oh I didn't tell you? When you sent your notes to Santa, I stuck one in, too. I told him that we already have so many things for the baby to play with that he could give some extras to other babies.

5. How will we return this broken item/wrong size toy to the North Pole? Santa's worked out a deal with the local stores, he delivered some extras there for just this kind of situation. 

And now one more that's specific to my family but I think will be enjoyed by many:

 Will you tell me a (Great Grandma) Babci story? Absolutely. Did I ever tell you about the time she and her gang stole some dolls from a department store?

And I'd tell them the story about how she convinced her gang of girls, all as tough and poor as she was, to walk three miles to Bamberger's to each steal a doll. Eventually they got caught and had to give the dolls back. That's why Babci always kept dolls on her bed when she was an old lady.

But now that the truth is out I can tell them the entire story: how Babci was the mastermind of this entire heist, working out every important detail, including how they'd explain their new acquisitions.

"If your immigrant parents ask where the dolls came from, say Santy Claus," she instructed them. "They don't understand how that whole thing works. But Mr. McGoblin, the playground monitor, he's an American. He'd never believe a story like that. So you can't take the dolls to the playground."

One of the girls couldn't resist and, as predicted, was busted. She squealed on the others and they all had to bring their dolls to McGoblin. Someone from the Elks club came to retrieve the dolls and return them to Bamberger's.

Her crime shed light on the fact that the children where she lived didn't get toys at Christmas.  After that the Elks club would bring them some every year.

So, kids, every time we donate toys to kids that are less fortunate than you, I want you to remember this amazing story about your awesome Great Grandma:

Friday, December 7, 2018

Five on Friday: If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say . . .

I know it's not technically winter yet, but let's face it: it's winter. We've had snow. We've had a lot of winter holiday traditions. It's cold.

I hate the cold. My husband and I were talking yesterday about if we'd rather be too hot or too cold (hot. always.) and then extending that to would we rather die via too much heat or too much cold. He doubted that I'd still prefer heat in that scenario and then I reminded him that during the winter I can wear two pairs of wool socks and lay under piles of blankets and still feel like my toes are tiny little digits made of ice. It's miserable.

So I can get a little grumpy as the weather gets colder. Optimist me has decided to come up with a list of things I do like about this time of the year. There must be some good things!! Let's see . . .

1. Hats. Hats are cute. It's not fair for my wide-brimmed sun hats to get all the usage I guess.

2. Fire in the fireplace. Sure, I now constantly smell like I just got back from a camping trip but look how nice:

3.  The snow is . . . pretty at least. Particularly in my backyard before the children start trampling it:

4. Traditions. For some reason the cold-weather holidays have so many more traditions attached to them than any of the other holidays. Probably it's too cold outside to be busy with anything else. I do love them all, particularly the ones that our family has created for ourselves (like epic gingerbread creations, hand print construction paper Christmas trees and taking a gaggle of kids to wrap gifts for the residents at the Developmental Center)

5. The sunrises are also particularly pretty this time of year. Because of the time change? The season? Climate change? Santa's magic? I don't care why, I just know that seeing scenes like this every morning when I wake up and start my coffee really help me start the day with a smile and gratitude, even if my toes are frozen.


Friday, November 30, 2018

Five on Friday: What I've Been Reading

Once again the year is predictably and inexplicably drawing to a close. That means the "Best Of" lists are popping up: what were the best new songs of the year? Movies? What books did you read and love in 2018?

While I have read and loved many books this past year, when I look at our bookshelves I see many books that I enjoyed as a child and again with my children. So I thought I'd do a similar list but with a different twist. For today's Five On Friday, here are five books that I've been reading . . . for the past forty years or so.

1. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  I love the very 70s illustrations in this book (including the Punch Buggy sighting). A few years ago I took all five kids to visit their Dad in his office and we recreated that scene from the book . . . uh, not on purpose.

"My Dad said please don't pick him up anymore."

2. "Stand Back," Said The Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" Anyone else remember this one?  The Elephant's sneezes can have pretty catastrophic results so a mouse saves the day . . . sort of.

3. Animals should definitely not wear clothing. It would be terribly embarrassing to go to the zoo and realize the elephant is wearing the same outfit as you. Important life lessons are learned in these books.

4. Something Queer is Going On (a mystery) Oh how I loved these two girl sleuths and their big floppy dog Fletcher!

5. The Marvelous Mud Washing Machine This may be the very first book I can remember reading on my own. Thanks to my husband, I now own a copy. A Marvelous Mud Washing Machine was a dream of mine as a child--and again as a mother, but for different reasons.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Five on Friday: Thankful for the Thanks-Giving Turkey

It's weird how one year I had a little collaborative family craft idea (It starts as a large feather-less turkey in early November. We write things we are thankful for on paper feathers to adorn it) and then all of a sudden it's an annual tradition that's a decade old.

So weird.

Here are some of my favorite things about this craft for a short and sweet, Five on Black Friday list:

1. First Turkey vs. Most Current Turkey: Not quite as much effort is put into making the base turkey anymore (Feathers? Googly eyes? I laugh.) But it still always gets a food name. I don't know how to explain it other than my kids are kind of strange and funny.

Meet Cheeseburger, the Turkey

This is Squash. The Turkey.

2. The contributions made by extended family, neighbors and friends over the years.

3. The way the turkey has become a bit of an ever-evolving time capsule. Would you just look at that handwriting and spelling?

"I am thankful for dogs"
4. The ridiculous ones that made us laugh when they were brand-new and continue to do so every time we see them:

5. Every single turkey has multiple feathers giving thanks for our family: the ones that live with us, the ones that live nearby, the ones that live far away. They are referenced by name, by title (Brothers! Cousins! Etc!), by characteristics they exhibit (So-and-so's sense of humor) or by the ways they help us our impact our lives.

These are the reasons I'm really thankful for the Thanks-Giving Turkey.