Friday, April 19, 2019

Five on Friday: Last Day of Being 44

Years ago on the day before my oldest son's birthday, I remarked, "Hey! It's your last day of being 5! What are you going to do?"

I thought it was a fun question. He got all existential and moody and began lamenting his wasted year.

In spite of that initial backfire, I continue to ask all the kids that question on the day before their birthdays. Results vary but have always been more upbeat than that first answer.

Now it's my turn. Tomorrow is my last day of being 44 and ideally I'd like to:

1. Sleep all night

2. Not have any power struggles with Little Miss Sassypant*

3. Thoroughly enjoy being two even numbers for the last time for 365 days (I can't explain my hatred of odd numbers, don't ask)

4. Appreciate that if I'm turning an odd number, at least it's a 5. (I really can't explain why 5 is the least offensive of the odd numbers, let's just chalk it up to one of my lovable quirks)

5.  Finish the 2018 Family Movie. The latest I've ever gotten it done is February . . . maybe early March. This year has been a different sort of hectic with starting my new job and it's just slipped through the cracks. I promised myself I'd get it done by my birthday. And then I think I'll get started on the first third of the 2019 Family Movie to avoid this situation next year . . . though I'm pretty sure I said that last year, so wish me luck.

Internet Law says you must share a baby picture on your birthday. I'm just following the rules.

*To be honest, I'd really like 1 & 2 every single day of my life

Friday, April 12, 2019

Five on Friday: Note to My Younger Self

The other day someone asked on Twitter, "What would you tell your younger self if you could?" I always have trouble trying to answer that because younger me probably wouldn't listen anyway, so it couldn't be something all serious and life-lesson-y.

Instead I think I would tell me:

1. Sorry, but you don't drive a cool car anymore.

Me, younger, with cooler car

2. You do have a Vespa, though, so that's pretty great.

Me, older, with alternate cool vehicle

3. You're never going to believe who you end up marrying. Also the number of kids might be a bit of a shock. Sorry 'bout that.

4. You get to keep Babci a pretty long time and she meets of all your kids.

 5. You still have streaks in your hair but now they're all naturel. Basically, you still kick ass, so don't worry.

These highlights just grew this way! Here you are, younger you, old inside an uncool car but killing it anyway.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Five on Friday: No Más Screen Time Por Favor

My youngest son has a lot of great qualities. He loves helping people and teachers love him for that. I frequently get messages from other parents praising him for being so kind, thoughtful and caring.

Being human, he of course also has some areas he could improve upon. He's always been absolutely terrible at entertaining himself. When faced with free time, he follows me around whining about not knowing what to do and asking for screen time. He's also a terrible liar.

Which brings us to our current predicament: he's not owning up to a mistake made, despite our various attempts to get him to fess up. My husband and I know we don't have the whole truth and have tried talking him together, separately, playing good cop/bad cop, offering him the chance to write it down or tell his older sister . . . nope, nope, nope. 

So until we're satisfied that we're getting the truth, he's not allowed to have any screen time. Because he knows he just has to tell us the whole story before he gets it back, he's miraculously figuring out ways to entertain himself. While I still want the truth, he's been doing such a wonderful job of occupying himself and not bothering me that I am perfectly happy with him not having screen time ever again.

He has been:

1. Rearranging the posters on his wall

2. Playing the drums

3. Building things with his cool new light-up Lego-type blocks

4. Taking things apart to see how they work

5. Playing nicely with his younger sister. Considering the fact that they are practically allergic to each other, this one is the most miraculous of all.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Five on Friday: Museum Tracker

Do you remember when I mentioned that I use a website called Goodreads to keep track of how many books I've read? And that I am trying to beat my high score from last year of 31 books read?* And then a week later I mentioned that I want to keep up the trend of visiting museums.  Posting those things back-to-back made me realize I don't have a website to keep track of the museums I visited.

"Wouldn't that be a great app? A Museum Tracker??" I asked my family.


Fine, maybe I'm the only one that wants that to exist. My husband did find mapstr for me, which doesn't do everything my imaginary app would do but at least I can log the museums I've visited.

Three months in and I'm pretty happy with the pace but since I don't have the app I really want, I'll share here instead:

1. In January, some co-workers and I got to go on a private tour of Morven Museum  in Princeton. I was so impressed with how acknowledge slavery on their grounds and have researched and shared as many of the Slaves' names as possible.

2. In February, I took the kids to visit some friends in Philadelphia where we went to the Mutter Museum, which is chock full o'medical oddities. My youngest said, "When I'm a grown up, I am NOT taking my kids here."

3. February also had us at the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton for a special Black History Month event called America, We Served! Four Centuries of African American Soldiers
Don't tell the other reenactors, but this guy was my favorite.

4. March found me in New York City at the Brant Foundation, an amazing building I'd never been to before, for a Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit.

5. And, of course, three days a week from the end of January until I retire, you can find me at the sweet little former schoolhouse museum where I am now the Curator. Sure, this one is kind of cheating to include, but I'm proud of the work I'm doing there and we just had a bit of a Grand Re-Opening Party two weeks ago. Our honored guest was our new Congressman Tom Malinowski. Sure, it was an honor to introduce him and do the ribbon cutting together, but even better was that I got to sing a song for him that my children were singing for the entire election season: substituting "Mr. Bob Dobalina" with "Mr. Tom Malinowski" in this song.

*Pretty good on the book-reading front, too--eleven books read in 2019 so far!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Five on Friday: Tattoo Show & Tell

Last summer I got a tattoo right next to one I already had that, somehow, unbelievably, is already twenty years old.

That was a bad idea.

I didn't know the old one was looking so blurry and faded until a bright brand-new one moved in next door.  I finally got it touched up yesterday and decided to have a little tattoo show and tell for today's list.

1. First tattoo, the star. I've always had an affinity for stars and when I found a heavy belt buckle in the shape of star at Babci's house, I claimed it for myself.

I've never worn a belt buckle and rarely wear belts. 

After owning it and never wearing it, I decided to get it tattooed on my arm instead. It was my first tattoo and my boyfriend at the time got a (different type of) star at the same time. We later eloped and sometimes think of those star tattoos as our engagement rings.
I know you this isn't the best shot of the tattoo but I've spent entirely too much time looking this morning. I've got a house to clean, people, use your imaginations. Photo Cred: Emily Schwank

2. Next up, the kids! This little lady is me and one, two, three toys are my first three kids. I remember thinking at the time that if there were ever any more kids, they could just be added onto the back of the chain.
Apparently it's kind of tricky taking a picture of your own upper arm.

3. There were more kids! But I realized if I added them on, I wouldn't be able to see them and it never made sense to me to have a tattoo where I couldn't see it. Whirlwind Z got added on as a pinwheel and then little sister A came to us. She then went back to biological family for a bit before returning to us. We weren't sure if she'd end up staying or not but knew she's always be in our lives so she got added on as a bouncy ball.

Finding themselves on my arm

Showing Baby A the bouncy ball addition that represents her

4. My soaring survivor heart, added last summer by my husband's cousin:
You can see what I mean about the old one looking so faded here . . .

5. Lastly, ye olde star tattoo has been cleaned up and has had some color added. I'm super happy with it! Thanks Dutch!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Five on Friday: Rainbow Bread Pointers

Every March we bake a few loaves of rainbow bread because we love seeing how long the bright colors take to go through our digestive systems rainbows and impressing the other kids in the cafeteria.

Having done this for a number of years, I've come up with some dos and don'ts for successful rainbow bread production to share with you:

1. Get over your fear of yeast bread. If I can do it, I swear you can too. I don't even follow the instructions that closely and it still comes out great.

2. If you want really vibrant color: get some gel food coloring. It's about 100,000 times better than the  liquid stuff from the supermarket.

3. After the dough rises the first time, divide it into seven bowls for the different colors. Be  generous with the gel. This is not the time to use Grandma's antique bread bowl. Most of the color will wash right out but . . . use caution. Most of my wooden spoons are sporting new dye jobs this week.

4. Grab some kids to knead the color in. All that slime making makes them excellent at getting the color consistently incorporated into the dough. Also they don't generally don't care if they get color all over their hands. Use rubber gloves if you, unlike most children, don't want to have food color all over your hands for a week.

Looking at this picture makes me feel like maybe I should have had a hair net on, too, to complete the look.

5. Use a rolling pin to roll out each color, being generous with additional flour (to help with the dough not sticking and to create a little bit of a barrier between the counter and the food coloring). I usually roll the red first and then after the orange is rolled out, I place it on top of the red roll them again together. Repeat with each color and then create loaves, place in greased pans to rise again and bake as directed.

Sometimes we switch it up and start with purple and end with red

Even if you miscalculate how much dough to put in the small pans, the results are still magical. And sort of trippy.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Five on Friday: It's March! Which Can Only Mean Five Things . . .

The calendar says it's March already but that's not the only way I know . . . there are some things that happen in this month year after year!

For example:

1. Apparently it's becoming a tradition that we have a snowstorm the first week of March. True this year, true last year . . . this year we didn't lose power but not all of our neighbors were so lucky.
March 2018: Aaah, memories . . .

2. In honor of St. Patrick's Day this month . . . Lucky Charms! Enjoy your once-a-year sugar cereal kids! I've learned to divide it up into jars. It's fun to watch who eats theirs the fastest, and who saves all their marshmallows for the end.

(Yes one jar is purple, in case you were wondering)

3. Time to make the rainbow bread! It's not that I even like St. Patrick's Day all that much, I just really like rainbows.

I hope I have enough gel food coloring left over from last year--it's the only way to go

4. Birthday season begins! Two of my boys have birthdays this month and we have two more birthdays next month so gifts and celebrations are on my mind.

5. I'm 100% sick of my winter wardrobe and am longing for skirt and sandal days.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Five on Friday: Things My Son Put Into the Recycling

Some people dumpster dive, but I've personally been finding a lot of gems in the recycling lately. Earlier this week I shared some drawings I found in the recycling, courtesy of one my prolific doodlers (this time 16-year-old son, G)

For today's list I was planning on sharing more drawings of his I found in the recycling basket but then I found a surprise in the outside bin, also courtesy of him. Enjoy:

1. Men, men, men, men . . . 

2. Maybe he's been borrowing too many heavy metal musician memoirs from our neighbor:

3. I am not sure how to feel about this one:

4. I can't tell you how many times a week my kids call out, "Dibs on that for a band name!"  They have no band but they have lists and lists of band names. This is my least favorite and it can stay in the recycling:

5. I was outside cleaning the snow off of the driveway when I decided to open the recycling bin to see if was empty yet. To my surprise, there was a plastic bag inside that was filled with what looked like broken bits of a car . . . huh? Apparently there had a been a small accident at the end of our neighborhood about a month ago. G got tired of seeing the debris on his walk home from school, so he took it upon himself to clean it up. It belonged in the garbage, really, but I am glad he made the mistake because otherwise I wouldn't have known he did that.