Friday, April 3, 2020

Five on Friday: Getting Better

While the world outside is struggling to get better, we are hunkering down at home trying to stay healthy . . . and, I realized, it's a great time to perhaps try to "get better" at certain things. 

Of course I'm not the first one to think of this and the attitude has been met with some well-founded criticism: no one should be made to feel  guilty about not, for example, getting in better physical shape right now if that is just too hard to do while coping with the anxiety of COVID-19.
There are a few things I thought I'd be doing during this time that I'm not. Some of it I have no interest in, some of it I just cannot get involved with because I didn't anticipate how much time and energy I would need to use on getting my kids (fine, mainly one kid in particular) through their school days.

However, I am a person that really likes feeling useful and staying busy so I am trying to balance that with not asking too much of myself right now. So here is my completely honest list of things I'm getting better at during the quarantine:

1. SLEEPING IN I am a notoriously early riser. Back in the days of going to parties that started at 10pm and ended when decent people were getting up for work, I'd crash at the same time as my roommates but then wake up HOURS before them.

Over the past three weeks, I have been really trying to just close my eyes and stay in bed longer. Historically that hasn't worked but I guess since there's nothing that needs to get done, no schedule . . . it's making it easier to stay in bed and sometimes even fall back to sleep. I even slept in--get this--to 7:40 one day!!

2. MAKING PASTA FROM SCRATCH  I guess I've been finding some real solace in cooking lately because I am doing it non-stop. I've come to enjoy an almost meditative quality to pasta making:

 3.  WATCHING SOMETHING ON NETFLIX THAT EVERYONE ELSE HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT I'm not a big watcher of shows. I never have been and as a result I have always missed a lot of pop culture references. But I watched Tiger King! And now I understand those memes.

4. FINDING CREATIVE WAYS TO STAY CONNECTED I have participated in some Zoom happy hours and one 21st Birthday celebration. I also went to the grocery store at the same time as my BFF and we loudly conversed with each other from the opposite sides of the at least six-feet-wide produce tables.

5. WRITING A PERSUASIVE PARAGRAPH In an attempt to get my child to write a decent persuasive paragraph, I had to write both a bad one (similar to what she wrote) and a great one. 

When presented with the two, she insisted that the bad one was actually the one she liked better. Of course. She then refused to rewrite her own paragraph that was supposed to convince me to let her get a Fennec fox as a pet unless I wrote one explaining why we could not.

I'm not trying to brag or anything, but my paragraph was so good that she decided she didn't want a Fennec fox after all!!

She says she works better in the plastic bunny glasses.
EPILOGUE: She then stopped complaining, sat down and wrote a letter outlining why we should get a lizard as a pet . . . and it was an excellent paragraph, but the answer is still no.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Five on Friday: Corona, Corona, Corona!

That’s all anyone is going to be able to talk about for a good long time, isn’t it? Thus I present my second in an undetermined number of posts pertaining to this new way of life.

Today was supposed to be our last day of remote learning. When we were first told we’d be starting and I would think ahead to this day, I imagined we’d be so anxious to get back to school. But here we are, with at least another three weeks of remote learning and it actually feels . . . well, pretty natural. At this time, nobody in our family nor our community has become ill and all I can do is continue to follow the safety protocols, hope that it stays this way, and enjoy the perks that sheltering-in-place has brought to my life.

1. Because they have nobody else to hang out with . . . my teenagers (Fine—young adults. They are 18 and 19 now. D’oh!) have been enjoying each other's company. I, in turn, have been enjoying them enjoying one another.

2. Because we can’t get together in person, I’ve had my first virtual cocktail hour. I miss going out with friends but with everyone's busy schedules it's not always feasible--so I see no reason for this to end, really.

3. Because I love people, love to cook and am a nurturer with time on my hands, I’ve made some meals to surprise some friends who could use a little nurturing right now.  Making people happy makes me happy. I have to remember I can do this even when there isn't a worldwide pandemic.

4.  Because we can't see each other in person and we all need to look out for one another right now, I think I'm staying in closer touch with family and friends than ever before. Nothing like being close to tragedy to remind you to let your loved ones know they are loved.

5. Because we have time, talent, energy, supplies and sometimes get a little stir crazy, we are making art! Fine, in this instance (and most of them) my daughter has shown me off with the talent but I was really getting more than a little bit loopy the day I made these "Super Happy Not-At-All-Stir-Crazy Fun Books" for friends. I think they are both enjoyable:

Prints of her work available for sale here

Friday, March 20, 2020

Five on Friday: That Escalated Quickly

Hey friends . . . that escalated quickly, huh? How’s everyone doing out there adjusting to our collective new isolated reality? My family has every privilege and convenience for getting through this and I can still find it completely overwhelming to think about at times.

So, if you know me, you know that means it’s time for some gratitude and maybe a little humor:

1. Oh, these kids! They are doing great so far. I am really, really proud of them. I’m thankful for their willingness to adapt, for their teachers and administrators for making this as smooth as possible on very little notice, for the technology that keeps them real-time learning from their educators and laughing with their friends.

2. "Mom can I have a play date with (insert name of a child who has been terribly mean to my child so I don't know why she wants to be her friend and she most certainly will not ever have a play date with) ?" 

"Sorry, honey, Governor says no play dates"
3. Sometimes they go to their rooms for more privacy during class. Sometimes they are too lazy for stairs and then I find ridiculous scenes like this:

4.  I'm also grateful for the many wonderful massive road and camping trips we've taken as a family, I feel like those experiences have really provided for us many tools for spending extended periods of time together, entertaining each other and being resourceful.

5.  Me: "Did you . . . uh, get dressed today or did you sleep in that?"
12-year-old son: "I changed! I put these pants on this morning."
Me: "Okay. Sometimes it's hard to tell with you."
Him: "But I don't have a shirt under this sweatshirt . . . oh yeah and no underwear."

Friday, March 13, 2020

Five on Friday: Challenges in Keeping My Kids Healthy

Long before the current virus scare, I've spent many a flu season  trying to keep my home disinfected and my children healthy. The minute I hear "four kids puked at the all-school meeting today," I enter super-hyper-disinfecting-mode.

Of course, it's never as easy as it should be to keep my kids healthy and that's because they present some unique challenges to my pursuit:

1. All winter long I frequently clean"high touch surfaces" like door handles, light switches and the toilet flush but the joke's on me: nobody turns out the lights, shuts the door OR flushes the toilet in this house!

2. "I wasn't paying attention and just grabbed someone else's toothbrush so I used it."

3. They think it's hysterical to breath directly into each other's faces to prove how stinky their breath is.

4.  They don't think to mention to me, in spite of how much illness is going around school and at home, that their throat has been hurting for a few days.

5. Three-and-a-half out of five of my kids think wetting is equivalent to washing.

This seems to be improving lately and I am sure the school would like to take credit for this since they have been subjecting them to "so many boring videos about hand washing" 

But I'm going to thank virus hysteria: it has made publicly shaming people for not washing their hands properly perfectly acceptable. The kids are all starting to call each other out on this at school and actually use soap at home.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Five on Friday: The Freshman Parent Page

When my daughter made her college decision last spring, I sought out the Facebook page that had been created for parents of freshmen that would be going to the same University. I told my daughter I joined the page and that I would probably quit it soon.

"Why join if you think you'll quit?"

"Just in case there's any useful information but I have a feeling it will be annoying."

I was right. I only lasted a few weeks. I found it astonishing how many questions people were asking of other first-timers that really should have been asked of the college (or looked for the answer on its website). 

I was also shocked to realize that all those rumors I had heard about extreme helicopter parenting well into the college years are apparently true. I don't want to share exact posts, feels a little too mean, but I will divulge that someone asked what sort of shoes the "cool kids" are wearing these days. For their 18-year-old. Going to college.

Oh and there was that one person who wanted to know if the beds would have rails . . . okay I have to stop. I wasn't supposed to be posting specific examples. Long story short, I quit the page but my husband stayed on and would share the *best* posts with me. However, he'd never post the snarky replies I'd beg him to post so I rejoined the stupid thing.

To be fair, I also have not posted the snarky replies, because I don't want to be kicked off the page. It provides way too much comedy in my life now.

I will post some of my snarky comments here instead, so I can get it out of my system:

1. In response to the bed rails question: "Does anyone know how many outlets there are in the rooms? Need to buy outlet covers before our daughter moves in. TIA!"

2. In response to the multitude of what seem to be very general and easily answerable "Does anyone know . . ." questions: Let Me Google That For You

3.  Ask if anyone else stays on the page just for the humor

4. Okay, I did do one snarky thing. Someone asked about good Valentines gifts to send their student and one response was for a teddy-bear-constructing gift certificate "especially if it's for a girl!"  If you know me at all, you know I just . . . I just can't with that. I didn't say anything, I just reacted with a 🤣 even though I know the person was completely serious about it. Nobody's called me on it yet.

5. Post my own question: "Has anyone considering cutting the cord yet? Finding that the constant tugging from my daughter's walking from class to class is getting difficult."

Friday, February 28, 2020

Five on Friday: Signs of Unofficial Spring

That's right, this week's list is not five unofficial signs of spring, it's five signs of unofficial spring. Because in spite of the 60° weather last week, children, it is still winter.

I hope you enjoyed the sun, babies, because we are not out of the woods just yet. Remember those 8 days we lived without power? That was from a March storm. March is a crap shoot, so please stop asking me to get your sandals out. (The ones from last year probably fit you now anyway, so just chill.)

Here are five signs of last week's unofficial spring which was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone here:

1. "Mom, it's 100° out there! I'm eating my breakfast outside today."
Not quite 100°

2. Getting into my car in the morning after my teenage son was the last one to drive it the night before and finding this:
My car, John Stamos, literally emits a high-pitched scream to inform the driver that the moon roof is open. I thought it was older people that were not supposed to be able to hear higher pitched noises?
3.  Having to park all the cars at the end of the driveway every day so the kids can have more space to play ball:
Add to the list: Me not minding having to walk the extra distance to the house because it wasn't freezing out!
 4. The firewood pile is getting noticeably smaller . . .

5. The boys had such a bad case of spring fever, they forgot to bicker with and exclude their little sister from their game:

Friday, February 21, 2020

Five on Friday: Family Forest

The fourth grade family tree project can be tricky. Not for our first two kids, but they are ours biologically and so this sort of project was designed with them in mind.

Our next two kids are adopted. As much as I wanted them to represent both of their families, I gave them the choice on how to complete it. E, who is older, chose to only represent his adoptive family on his tree. Z, who is younger, always does what his older brother does (even though he will strongly deny that). I'll admit I was a little disappointed but I respected their decisions.

Now our youngest child is in fourth grade and immediately announced that she wanted to include both of her families. I was thrilled but also had no idea how we were going to do it. Once again, I followed my child's lead and am so glad I did.

Here are some highlights and grats from working on this project with her:

1. I am so thankful to her teacher! The first part of this project involved writing down where my child's ancestors came from. When I reached out to her teacher to discuss this, I learned that she had already read a book and had discussions with the class on all of the ways our country was populated that included Native residents, immigration and slavery.

2. This teacher has had students with blended families create unique trees before but never had an adopted student who wanted to represent both of their families. I am further thankful to her teacher for being very receptive to letting our daughter take the lead on how to approach this.

3. The way she tackled it was completely unique, just like her and her families. Two families deserve two trees. I asked what about her and her two older brothers who are a part of both families? How would they be represented? They would be gold leaves that touched both trees.

Hard to tell from this picture, but her leaf is much more sparkly than her brothers' leaves.
4. I found myself once again extremely grateful for our relationships with birth family that made asking for more names and information much easier.

5. The final result: not a family tree but a Family Forest. She felt so proud of it that she asked me to not post on Facebook until she handed it in . . . she was convinced a classmate would see it and steal her ideas!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Five on Friday: These Kids & Their Weird Eating Habits

One time my Mom was going to watch my kids for a few days and wanted to know what they all liked to eat . . . now you know where I get my amazing sense of humor from. Good one, Mom!

Of course they were younger and pickier then, but there is still very little that all five would agree on for a meal. They've also hung onto a few interesting eating habits like:

1. G, at 17 years of age, maintains that he only likes cheese if it's melted.

2. This little gal really wants to gross out her siblings by insisting that she likes food that they all find disgusting . . . but after a bite or two she realizes that she doesn't really like it either.
♪ Last Christmas, she wanted sardines but they're still in the pantry if you know what I mean

3. E says he hates peanut butter and sometimes tries to claim he is actually allergic to peanut butter . . . eats the power balls and Elvis muffins I make and also occasionally enjoys candy that has peanut butter in it.

4. B is a college freshman and is always having lunches that look like this:

So typical, it's almost embarrassing.
5.  So this is a brand new one and maybe the weirdest. Yesterday Z was making himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There was no more strawberry jelly in the fridge so I told him to look in the cabinet where he did find a jar. I then apparently made a terrible mistake by asking, "Do you need help opening that jam?"

"JAM? I'm not eating this. I only like jelly."

Then, even though:
a. Jam and jelly are essentially the same thing
b. "Jam" is just the word that came out of my mouth and was not indicative of what was actually in the jar
c. The label itself did not say "jam" OR "jelly" but "fruit spread"

. . . my child put the peanut butter away and made himself a ham and salami sandwich instead.