Friday, November 27, 2020

Five on Friday: The Holiday Post Can Wait

Today’s post was going to have a holiday theme—yesterday was Thanksgiving, that’d be an easy one, right? I had some ideas floating around but hadn’t found the time to figure out how I was going to stitch them together.


With all of the cooking and baking I did this week (apparently cooking a Thanksgiving meal takes many hours over two days even if it’s only for your immediate family!), I didn’t find time to sit down and write.


Besides preparing food, I also delivered some bread and mini-pies to a few people, including my parents. They are getting ready to move from their home that they’ve lived in for the past forty-four years, so my Mom keeps giving me things she is purging. This time she gifted me with the ultimate treasure: a box of my old report cards, certificates, newspaper clippings (“Was I just always in the paper my entire life???” Mom: “Pretty much.”), head shots, play programs and more.


They are too good not to share. I’ll tell you something about the holidays next week, for now you can enjoy this little walk down memory lane with me.




1. From one of my very first public performances. It was more of a Talent Show than anything else. I remember being not very concerned about winning but very pleased to have a stage and a real audience. I am pretty sure I participated twice. I think it was the second time that strangers were telling my Mom that I should have won, so my Mom made me a "People's Choice" award ribbon that year.


 2.  I distinctly remember reenacting this at home. I think I made my younger sister be the Virgin Mary while I took on the roles of Joseph, the Innkeeper, the Angel, a Shepherd and all three Wise Men . . . perhaps also the Little Drummer Boy.


3.This was a big deal. The lead characters, both boys, played by two girls. "You can just tuck your long hair up under this top hat, right?" I could.

4. They really ate out of my hand! Apparently this was not just exciting to me but to the newspaper as well.

5. And here it is, folks, the pièce de résistance . . . head shots from that time when I was eleven and my Mom took me to a modeling agency.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Five on Friday: Alternate Greetings for 2020

It's happened to all of us: out on a quick errand or small, outdoor, socially-distanced get-together and we see someone we know from our old, pre-pandemic lives. Or is it them? It's hard to tell with the mask and fogged-up glasses . . . no, no, it's definitely them. Because here they're walking right towards you, smizing and saying, "How have you been?"

How to answer that question this year? Let's see . . . remote learning is soul draining, we're alternately filled with gratitude and completely sick of each other, we can't really complain but will anyway . . . ?

A few times I've simply smized right back at them and said, "That's a loaded question in 2020, isn't it?"

But I don't like it. I keep thinking there has to be something better to say. Over the past eight months, I've been delighted to see all of the adaptations people have come up with: drive-by birthdays, zoom holidays and, fine, even remote learning. We should be able to come up with some alternate greetings, too. Here are my suggestions:

1. Walk up to friend, smize and say, "Still standing?" Hopefully this become a trend with everyone understanding that as long as they are still metaphorically standing, they are to respond by breaking out in song.

 2.  Ask, "How many times have you cried this week?" This will serve as a true gauge to your friend's current mental state. I think crying up to 5-10 times a week (depending on that person's personal circumstances) is pretty acceptable for 2020. Anything over that may require some more questioning on your part to see how you can assist your friend.

3. For that corny-uncle-type: "Covid enough for ya?"  (Oh please don't actually ever say that. I already have regrets for even thinking of this one.)

4. Watched everything available on Netflix yet?

5. Or use this handy flowchart to decide on the ultimate alternate 2020 greeting:


(Click to enlarge)


Friday, November 13, 2020

Five on Friday: Coworker Love (& Laughs)

It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy my job as the Curator for our small local Museum. This job is such a good fit for me—it provides me the opportunity to combine many of my interests: love of antique/vintage items, event planning, decorating (because really, what is setting up an exhibit if not a form of decorating?), connecting with community, learning local history.


The icing on the cake is that my Assistant and I make a wonderful team. I tend to rush things, she pays great attention to detail. She slows things down to the point of driving us both crazy over minutiae, I insist on deadlines. Dream team! (Honestly, we bring lots of complementary skills to the table.)


We also have wildly different lifestyles. I’m a foul-mouthed atheist tattooed mother of five who loves the spotlight and she is . . . not any of those things. I smile whenever I get to hear her curse a little (maybe it’s because I’m proud of the bad influence I am?) and I laugh out loud every time we work together.


I’ve been secretly writing down funny things we've said for a future Five on Friday list. Most of the things that we laugh at would only be funny to us, so the list has held steady at four for a good long while.


Yesterday she said something that made me laugh out loud and then exclaim in delight, “THAT’S FIVE!” 


Here they are. I hope I'm correct in thinking that at least a few of these might make someone else smile besides us two:


1. Her: I think I saw this (thing we were about to attempt) in an article about why men die first.


2. Her: You don’t always have to be the weirdest one in the room. 

Me: You’re dead to me.


3. Her: When I send people the thumbs up emoji, what I’m actually sending is the middle finger .(Sure, I like to claim I’m a bad influence, but this was all her.)


4. Me: I’ll be upstairs cleaning, blasting music, moving furniture and cursing. 

Her: Maybe you should have a safe word if you need help. 

Me: Um . . . I’ll probably just shout “help!”


5. Her: I’m not going to buy a flag for my truck about it or anything.


Here we are at the root beer float taste test that we let someone else organize and then learned that they did not write down which numbers coordinated to which root beer brands. Not even the craziest or funniest thing we've done together. #blessed










Friday, November 6, 2020

Five on Friday: Anti-Sleep Conspiracy

It has been said, by me, that our four youngest children have their oldest sister to thank for their existences in our family. She tricked us into thinking that babies were easy, partially through her insistence on sleeping through the night by three months old.


The next baby took a solid four years to consistently sleep through the night without waking me with his nightmares about things like being forced to share his Bob the Builder toys. He was completely sleep trained in time for the next infant to come home; a ceremonial passing of the “Let’s Disrupt Mom’s Sleep” baton.


That baton passing continued with the next two babies, the last of whom is now a solid decade old and still occasionally wakes me over night. It’s been a few months now since she’s woken me and I am cautiously optimistic.

 Sometimes she follows my request to just sleep on my floor without bothering me and I wake up to find this next to my bed.

However, with no younger sibling to pass the baton on to, this girl has somehow summoned the Devil to continue the dirty work of disrupting my sleep. You may try to argue that this is an unfounded conspiracy, but how else do you explain:


1. Hearing my heart beat in my ear so loudly it wakes me up


2. Election stress that apparently does not end after Election night


3. Fire alarm going off in the very early morning. For no reason. No smoke. No fire. Just randomly going off. THREE TIMES.


4. Terrible pain in the ear on the side of the my head that I’m leaning on. It passes but not without waking me up first!


5. Monthly, up-to-a-week long PMS insomnia. As I am nearing menopause, why do I get new PMS symptoms? Particularly ones that disrupt my sleep? 


Anti-sleep conspiracy is the only explanation.


*By the way, I wrote the bulk of this entry in my head when I was laying in bed at 3 am unable to sleep. How meta of me.




Friday, October 30, 2020

Five on Friday: Election Dos & Don'ts

1. DO vote no matter what. My god, people, why does this even need to be said? Stop taking this right for granted.

2. DON’T argue the efficacy of mail-in voting; it's been proven to be safe. This also applies to mask-wearing. 

3. DO sing Sister Suffragette while you cast your ballot, whichever way you do it.

Well done, Sister Suffragette!

4. DON’T touch anybody else’s election signs. Believe me, I harbor fantasies about driving down the road with a baseball bat out the window, whacking every Keep America Great* sign I see, but I don’t actually do it**, because it’s illegal, fucking juvenile and does nothing to convince a person to vote like I do. It would probably only strengthen their resolve.

5. DO go to reliable, official state or county sources for information on how to vote in your area (In-person? Ballot dropbox? Mail?) Why are you going to see what some stranger on the Internet has to say about voting . . . ? 

Well, except for my list here. This is all super valid and you should take it to heart.

*Keep America Great? Is that the best you can come up with? Not sure how you haven't noticed that this country is a total shitshow right now. 

**There has been one exception: I peeled a political bumper sticker off of a public street sign and I didn't even charge for my un-vandalizing services because I'm a good citizen.


Friday, October 23, 2020

Five on Friday: How to Make Winter Not Totally Suck/Early Autumn Gratitude

I’ve been noticing my kitchen could use a good scrub lately.


“Didn’t I just do a deep clean recently though? Oh, man, I guess that was way back in early quarantine!"

I keep hearing that we are entering COVID’s phase two, so I suppose that means it's time to deep clean the kitchen a second time. In some ways we are moving a lot towards what it was like back in March: the kids are taking classes remotely and soon the colder weather will isolate us again. Maybe we'll be reviving the Zoom cocktail hours that had been replaced by drinks on the patio.


I don't want to stop walk-and-talks with friends and potlucks on the patio. I know these things are still possible in cold weather but I despise being cold. I've been asking my husband if we're old enough to be snowbirds yet since we were in our late thirties. So I’m trying to prepare myself for it: physically, I’ve purchased new, warmer winter boots and mentally I've been visualizing how much I will enjoy the fresh air, movement and socialization of brisk winter walks with friends.


Naturally, when this headline showed up in my feed it caught my eye.



 The article suggests " . . . cultivating different states — social connectedness, a clear purpose, inspiration . . .  focus on something outside yourself." I reviewed the suggestions and realized I do most of those things already. Now when I do them, I will try to appreciate them for their apparently dual purpose of not just being things that feel good to do, but that are hopefully going to help this winter not totally suck.

Since autumn is the harbinger of winter, and winter is what I'm dreading, I thought I'd start with a gratitude list for the sights and smells I've been so thoroughly enjoying lately:


 1. Cinnamon Pine Cones: Starting in September, our supermarket places this highly scented cinnamon pine cones by the front door. I always inhale deeply and walk on by, such a weird product and frivolous purchase! 

Well last week I bought them, on a whim, and they have brought at least $4.99 worth of joy into my life if not more. I can't explain why I love them so much but I do.

2. Lip Balm: On the same day my lips were feeling chapped last week, a friend randomly gave me this lip balm. I like it quite a bit; it feels nice on my lips, has a good flavor . . . and when my 10-year-old saw it, she let me know that owning this brand lip balm means I am now entered into the category of "cool Mom." 


At long last, I'm cool! Thanks, eos.

 3. This Squirrel Thief: Pretty sure this furry little bandit stole that ear of corn from the farmer's cows but I enjoyed watching it maneuver it with its tiny hands anyway. Sorry, cows.


4. Montauk Daisies: All summer I kept thinking, "What's this green thing again? And is it ever going to flower or do anything exciting?" Ah, yes, they are my October bloomers, the Montauk Daisies! I don't pick favorite anything (ask my kids what my favorite color is and they will correctly tell you it's rainbow) but I have said that crocuses may be one of my favorite flowers since they signal the start of spring. I realized that Montauk Daisies may bump crocuses out of that toppish place on my list since they extend the flowering season. 


They also provide a lovely home for this tiny spider who now has no reason to make a web in my house.

 5. Walk Surprises: A walk through the park, when taken thoughtfully, can always produce a surprise or two. I find when I slow down a little and pay attention to my surroundings I can be amazed by interesting mushrooms or delicate spiderwebs that seemed crystallized by the morning dew. But sometimes I don't have to be paying that much attention at all to be delighted by the unexpected. For example, this wild animal I saw at the State Park earlier in the week;

Really, you're just pollution. But you did make me smile.


Friday, October 16, 2020

Five on Friday: Exercise! Exercise! It's so Good for You!

My oldest kids had an Elmo's World CD that used to be played in heavy rotation around here. It included a song that went like this:



It's so good for you . . . 

Exer, exer, exercise!

It's easy to do!

 We haven't listened to it many years but I still know every word. It's been popping into my head lately when I do my exercise videos and, honestly--this only makes a bad situation worse.

I don't mind exercise but I'll admit, I have a bad attitude when it comes to workout videos. I refer to them as my old lady videos. The one I like the most (or maybe "hate the least" is more accurate) has some good dance music. I tried to assuage myself with that fact but then realized that LL Cool J song they used is a solid thirty years old, placing this video firmly back into old lady territory.

But why the bad attitude, G? First of all, they're just so corny. Aside from that, as I've been realizing more and more lately, is that they piss me off with their focus on weight loss and straight up lies: "Ana Rita has lost 75 lbs using Turbo Jam and her feet never leave the floor!" as the camera zooms in on washboard abs that have clearly never held an additional 75lbs. Stop lying, Chalene! And if you really want to impress me, tell me how many flights of stairs Ana Rita can ascend before getting winded.

As a matter of fact, let's completely stop talking about how great I'll look in a bikini next summer if I follow your regiment. Can we focus instead on any of the other multitude of reasons that exercise is good for a body?

If you want to maintain your status as my least-hated old lady exercise video, I have some suggestions. Why not inspire your at-home old ladies with:

1. Live long enough to be a burden on your children! Turn about is fair play, baby! Let's do another set!

2. Just because that genetic testing said you don't have the marker for colon cancer, they also said sometime shit happens! Don't you want to reduce your chance of getting certain cancers? Push it!

3. Oh really? You like being the last person on every single family hike? Sure you do, boomer. Let's get that heart rate up!!!

4. You know you're too stubborn and impatient to wait for help to move furniture when you want to do it NOW. Let's do another round of squats!

5. Did you remember to refill your blood pressure medication? Exercise lowers your blood pressure AND can help sharpen your mind as you age! Since your memory is pretty shitty already, so you'd better not let it get any worse . . . see you again tomorrow! 

Actual picture of me contemplating sweating to the oldies while Freshman Spanish is happening remotely behind me. #2020


Friday, October 9, 2020

Five on Friday: To Assist You in Nominating Me for "Mother of the Year"

It’s that time of the year again, friends! Time to submit your nominations for the 2020 Mother of the Year Award. I realize that everyone is busy with doing things like remote schooling their children or amping up their imminent doomsday prepping, so I thought I’d help you in completing in the nomination form.


Most of the questions are pretty easy to answer, like “Why does your nominee GINA SAMPAIO deserve two weeks away from her family?” 


But I realized you might not have the five recent examples of stellar parenting that you’ll need on page four, section six.  Feel free to copy from below to use in your online nomination form:


1. Last week, GINA SAMPAIO got a text message from her kid, when it was starting to get dark and chilly, asking if anyone was going to pick him up after basketball practice at a park about 15 minutes away.


2. This text came through after GINA SAMPAIO ignored two incoming calls from two separate unknown numbers. Also, this event happened literally three days after one of her best friends told her a story about ignoring calls from an unknown number that happened to be her daughter needing a ride home from the park.

3. GINA SAMPAIO was recently overheard saying, “So help me god if you tell your brothers we split a soda while we were out, I will take $50 out of your wallet.”


4. After once again finding food packaging in the beds of both of the athletic boys whose shared bedroom always smells like a barnyard, GINA SAMPAIO imparted this wisdom upon her children: “Do you want mice in your bed? Because if you do, I’ll go buy some at the pet store and release them on you while you are sleeping.”


5. When GINA SAMPAIO’s most challenging child revealed that she’d like to be “Half-Angel and Half-Devil” for Halloween, the nominee responded with, “Do you know you’re supposed to dress up as something that you are NOT?” 


(Okay, fine, she didn’t say that one out loud. But she thought it very strongly, and that might be the only legitimate example of great parenting on this list.)