Friday, December 8, 2017

Five on Friday: The Competing Scents of the Season

A walk through my home in December is like sniffing your way through an olfactory winter wonderland. I'd love to share it with you but I don't know how to make this list a scratch-and-sniff. I'm going to have to relay the scents to you visually. You're going to have to use your imagination a little bit . . .

1. “Mom, know one of the best things about the gingerbread? The way it makes the room smell!" Take a deep breath, it's true . . . mmmmmm.

When do we cease calling it a gingerbread cookie and just call it a candy cookie?

 2. Sure, their scent can be a little . . . overwhelming at times . . . but THEY ARE PRETTY AND I LIKE THEM ANYWAY.

And they have a fun name! Paperwhites!

 3. Our living room is too small and complicated to put the Christmas tree in but I like to have SOME green in there. So I usually place evergreen branches over the bookshelf but then I have to clean pine needles the rest of the year (that's not even an exaggeration, I found a few this week). I swore this year I wasn’t going to do it but then I thought maybe boxwood wouldn't be so terrible? I'll let you know next month. And year.

Looks pretty but is it going to be awful? Time will tell!

4. Every fall I dig up my rosemary plant and bring it inside. Every fall it dies. This one isn't dead yet so in the meantime it sits there looking pretty and  adding to the myriad aromas in here.

Then when it dies it'll be like I have a pot full of dried rosemary!

5. Hm, what was that last one I was going to put on the list? The fire in the fireplace? The way the main fire-tender's hair (mine) smells faintly of campfire to anyone within a five-foot radius? (Ah, so that's Gina's enchanting new fragrance!) No, that lasts through March at least. What was it? Ah yes--a scent specific to December, of course, would be our lovely little tree smelling all fresh and Christmas-y.

Here it is, all looking pretty and smelling good, not in the living room.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Five On Friday: Traditions to Save, Skimp or Skip

I started working outside of the home in January. Just part time, three days a week and I could still get the kids on and off the bus. Perfect!

It kicked my ass a little more than I thought it would. I kept saying to people, "I can't believe how hard it is to still fit everything in, I'm only working three days a week" . . . until my best friend gave me a little reality check when she said, "I wish you would stop saying only."

I stopped saying it. I do a lot, I know that, even without the part-time job. There's, oh, you know, the five kids (and two extras after school most days), the house, the yard, the dog, the writing, the theatre troupe, the volunteering . . . not to mention wanting to  have some time for self-care and for spending with my husband and friends.

Some corners realistically had to be cut. Some balls were dropped anyway--pretty sure my kids had their worst Halloween costumes ever this year. We never carved a jack-o-lantern (when we usually do five) . . . and the world kept spinning and everyone had a great Halloween anyway. Will we do better costumes and jack-o-lanterns other years? Yes, this is transition year and I refuse to let the youngest kids get the short end of the stick. (That's not to say that next year maybe we'll have great costumes but terrible something else.)

We have a lot of fun traditions in this house, especially in November and December. This year, for the sake of my own sanity, I'm going to put some thought into them and make some decisions: Save, Skimp or Skip.

1. The Turkey of Thankfulness that I told you about last week?  Skimp. They're usually a little bigger and better than that.

It doesn't look like a turkey at all. The thing's a damn mess.

2. Our annual gingerbread--the kids love this way too much to skip. I thought this was going to be a skimp but instead it just sort of--took over the weekend and is definitely one of my favorite ones ever. So that's a save, apparently.

Oh, you know, just a giant gingerbread representation of our epic road trip last summer.

3. The Advent Calendar of Good Deeds: skip. We'll still do good deeds, we've already donated toys and wrapped gifts at the hospital. I just know I can't handle trying to keep up with daily deeds this year.

4. The kids doing Secret Santa for each other: skip. I never loved this one anyway, they get enough gifts over the holidays without doing this but sometimes they insist plus it just makes more work for me. Not this year and I'm not sorry about that.

5.  Annual holiday party with some of our closest friends that includes a grown-up white elephant gift exchange as well as the smashing and devouring of the gingerbread: save! Even if I have to buy more pre-made food than I usually do, this will always be a keeper.

Days to make, minutes to destroy

Friday, November 24, 2017

Five On Friday: Deep Fried Twinkie, the Thankfulness Turkey

Did you ever have a cute craft idea one holiday and then all of a sudden you realize it's a treasured family tradition nearly a decade strong? That's what happened with our Thankfulness Turkey. I don't know what made me think of it that first year--draw a featherless turkey on a large piece of paper and have everyone write things they are thankful for on paper feathers to attach at dinner each night. Nor do I know why the children insist on giving it a weird food name--from Cheeseburger the first year to Deep Fried Twinkie this year (okay, fine, I'm the one that came up with this year's name but they're the ones that started the food names thing).

Here are the best things about Deep Fried Twinkie, this year's Thankfulness Turkey:

1. When we pulled out the old turkeys (above, yes I save them), my youngest daughter found that someone had written "Boobs" one year as something they were thankful for. She wondered who had done it. "It was probably you," I said. "No it wasn't!" she insisted. "It was either you or Daddy and let me see--yup, that's definitely your handwriting, not his." She started cracking up and then, of course, wrote "I'm thankful for boobs" as her first feather this year.

2. 9-year-old son: "I'm thankful for glue sticks and Mommy's cooking." I'm going to choose to believe glue sticks are not reminiscent of my cooking.

3. How many inadvertent repeats there were: for travel, our unique traditions, extended family members and good friends, humor, etc.

4. Our youngest daughter's idea to turn it into a "pin the feather on the turkey" game, too.

5. Because of some schedule craziness including Mommy and Daddy traveling, he got off to a slow start. But we made up for lost time and now you can barely even tell he's a turkey.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Five on Friday: British Signs

Still jet-laggingly catching up from my long weekend away so here's a pic-heavy, word-light Five on Friday of some signs I liked on my trip. Experience London in five quick pics!

1. Oooh, an international incident! This made me laugh:

2. I had no idea all the signs would say "Way out" instead of "Exit." (Or that instead of "flu shots" they'd advertise "flu jabs" but I didn't get a picture of that one.)

3.  Apparently "the gap" is not the only thing one needs to mind.

4. The "look left" and "look right" messages on the ground at crosswalks came in very handy.

5. True.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Five on Friday: What A Difference A Year Can Make

Earlier this week, my husband said that he wasn't looking forward to the On This Day memories from last year after the Presidential Election. Ugh. Me neither. When I think back on that day, I remember walking into the kitchen when it was dark, early and quiet . . . flipping open to my laptop to the news so that I could read we elected our first female President.

I literally fell to the floor and sobbed when I saw the real news. It took me weeks to start to feel any better. I tried to believe the people who said the backlash would be mighty and that the art and music coming out of this time was bound to be amazing! (That didn't really make me feel any better, but I tried.)

I didn't go on the Women's March but my teenage daughter did. Her experience energized me. The sisterhood! The solidarity! The resistance! Maybe we were going to get through this.

My daughter painted this sign to march with.
As the year progressed, my social justice theatre troupe began getting booked left and right. People were as upset as I was, other people wanted to talk and figure things out and change. Before I knew it, a year had passed and my husband was posting his lament about On This Day.

This year when I checked the post-Election Day news, I felt something I hadn't felt since last year . . . hope. Here's why, for today's Five On Friday list:

1. New Jersey elected a Democratic Governor!

2. THIS! 

3. A town not far from where I went to college and lived for a few years, made the national news because someone mailed out a racist flyer against local school board candidates. Those candidates won.

4. THIS!

5. And on a more local and personal level, three women I am know were inspired to run for office. All three won! Congratulations to them! Thank you for being the change in your communities!!!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Five on Friday: Mommy & Me Halloween Costumes Over the Years

We're not usually a "Mommy & Me" type of family but my oldest daughter and I *have* had a few kickass coordinating Halloween costumes. It all started with . . .

1. Her very first Halloween, she was 3 weeks old and I dressed her as a tiny Hula girl. I was a Hawaiian tourist.

2. Her next Halloween she was a bowling ball and I was a bowling pin (Daddy O was in on this one as a bowler).

3. We skipped a few years and then but then we were back with a bang! She was Edward Scissorhands and I was a lady who got her hair done by him.

4. Then she was Andy Warhol and I was a pop-art Marilyn Monroe. And because she's talented in many ways, she also did my makeup that year:

5. And this year she and I were the "Two Fridas" together. In person nobody really understood what we were trying to be but when I posted a photo of the painting and us in costume side-by-side on Facebook, it was quite the hit with my friends.

She turned 17 a few weeks before Halloween--next year she'll be a Senior in High School so we'd better do a matching costume one more time . . . (though it'll be tough to beat some of these) Thanks for loving dressing up with me, B. xo

Friday, October 27, 2017

Five on Friday: How Writing a Book Is Everything and Nothing Like Having a Baby

 I've heard many writers compare writing a book to having a baby. I understand that they're not being literal but my reaction is still a resounding "No way." 

Ever since Susan whipped my ass into shape, I've been really motivated to finish my memoir and this week I got to the point where I really think I'm done. I'm done!! I have to admit, I could draw many parallels to having a baby . . . as well as some glaring exceptions, such as:

  1. The first, biggest, most obvious of the similarities: I've basically been working on this book for JUST OVER NINE MONTHS. 
  2. I’ve been secretly growing a new life and nobody around me has been any the wiser . . . HA! Just kidding. I was big as a house when I was pregnant.
  3. I’ve got a name picked out but I might have to wait to see when it’s actually born to see if the name still fits.
  4. I may say I’m done but I know I only mean really with a first rough draft. Just like when you give birth it may be the end of the pregnancy but it’s just the beginning of parenting.
  5. When I share this with the world--if people start asking me when the second one is coming, I'm going to have to suppress the urge to scream. Unlike with my babies, I might just be one and done this time around. 

Photo by Raincliffs Photography

    Friday, October 20, 2017

    Five on Friday: The Five Best Things I've Seen & Heard This Week

    I've got lots of lists of three or four things waiting in the queue for completion and their shot at glory as a bona fide Five on Friday list. Alas, they will have to wait a little longer. As I scrounged my brain for what this week's list could be, I realized there has been a lot going on that has made me smile lately. Like:

    1. Chicken masks. Why are so chickens so funny? I don't know, but I will totally try on that mask.

    2. My 9-year-old Z, who is always everybody's best Right Hand Man . . . came home with a certificate from school saying he was a great helper. He shrugged as he handed it to me, saying, "I don't know even know what I did!" 

    3. One morning I overheard 11-year-old E say, "Cool it" to his brother so naturally that prompted me to start playing (and singing and dancing along to) the New Edition song, Cool It Now. E rolled his eyes at me, saying, "Why do you only like the oldies?"

    4. My artistic teenage daughter has gotten her hands on some cones of henna! My arms are never boring these days. These were last week's designs . . .

    5.  Our neighbor J spends a lot of time at our house. So much that we sometimes call him the Blonde Brother. Last night my 7-year-old told me that she knows why some people have a crush on him.
    Me: "Who has a crush on him?"
    Her: "I don't know their names."
    Me: "Oh. Well you said you know why they do, so why is it?"
    Her: "Maybe because he's cute . . . and small . . . and perfect."

    Doesn't know who has the crush, huh? Totally believable.

    Hope you've had a lot to smile about lately, too, and that you got a few more from this week's list.