Thankfulness: The Green Genie & Butt-hole

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We had the kid’s parent-teacher conferences today. I admit that I geek out over these. We’re super lucky that my kid’s teachers are always accessible but I love having a set time twice a year to sit down and talk about how my child is doing. I talk to the kids at length ahead of time to see if they have any thoughts or worries that I should discuss, we review their report cards, talk about what they like and don’t like about class so I go in prepared.

Scorch is one of the lucky ones- school, both academically and socially, comes easy for him. He pulls in stellar grades, gets along with everyone and is generally a delight (his teacher’s words, not mine- although I agree).  His conferences tend to be quick and easy.

It’s not secret here that the Bean tends to be the more spirited of my kids, so you never quite know what you’re walking into. Her report card was amazing and she’s loving 3rd grade, so I wasn’t expecting anything of note. The only question mark on her report card was her writing- her grades weren’t as high as I would have thought they would be. I mean- girlfriend can write.  For example, here’s a gem from a few week back:

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You have to hear her read it to get the full experience- but this makes me laugh each and every time I read it. She wrote Part 2 and it’s even more disturbing/funny/demented.

So, her writing grade didn’t make much sense to me until her teacher pulled out a recent in-class assignment. The class was asked to write about finding a genie in a bottle- what would the genie look like? What wishes would he grant? Would he be successful? Her story- word for word:

“I found a genie in a bottle. He was green. He let me wish to be rich. It worked.”

*snort*

Ah, the joys of raising/teaching a child who, when she’s game, is 100% committed, but when she’s not? Well, you get a green genie who makes you rich.

Thankfulness: Finding the Good

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So, today was a day, huh? I had a coworker leave the office in tears because she was so upset over the results of the election, as she wondered how Trump and his ideologies will impact her family. I have friends who are thrilled that the old establishment is out and someone new is in power. I had to reassure my kids that Trump won’t kick their Indian friends out of the country.

Tonight I found out that two young people from my hometown died tragically this past weekend.  I did some digging around on Facebook and news sites to find out more about these children and their families. I found GoFundMe sites. I found meal trains. I found people – strangers- reaching out to give comfort and help. None of that can replace these gorgeous children who were lost, but it helped prove to me that most people are good. Most people are kind and generous and loving.

That is what I’m thankful for today. I know a lot of people won’t agree with me on that point, but believing that most people are good is what I’m clinging to right now. For my sanity. For my children’s future.

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It’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric and to lose all hope, but don’t. Please, don’t. Regardless of who won and who you voted for, we can all agree there is a lot of work to be done so that both sides feel heard and represented. So remember that core of goodness, and work towards that.

 

 

Thankfulness: The 19th Amendment

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You guys, this election season has SUCKED. I mean, it’s been bad. The hate, vitriol, name-calling and fear-mongering on both sides has been mind blowing. If aliens came down today and decided to judge humans based on what’s in my Facebook feed, they’d just turn around and leave because no one needs the amount of hate and negativity in their lives.

I get that this election is a Big Deal and there is a lot of stake here. I’m intelligent, well-read and as informed as I can be. I try to talk to my kiddos fairly and to present to them an accurate picture of each candidate because what they hear is the worst of the worst- Hillary killed men, Trump hates anyone who isn’t white. And just like every thing out there, the truth about both candidates is found somewhere between the absolute worst and the rosy optimism.

So, here we are on Election Day. And I’m so thankful for that. This election has shown the ugly underbelly of a lot of America on both sides and I’m hoping (praying/wishing) that regardless of who wins, we all walk away from this election season knowing that we have a lot of work to do on so many fronts to knit our country back together.

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I’m also damn thankful I have this *right* to vote. Women have only been allowed to vote for the past 94 years- before that, I wouldn’t have had a voice. That is mind boggling to me. The number of smart, passionate, well-informed women I know is staggering and the thought that there was a time when we were kept silent is sobering. There is still so much to be done for woman’s rights even in an amazing country like the US, but this -this right to have our voice heard – is so very fundamental and will help propel the rest of these changes forward. So here’s to the bad-ass women who fought hard to for the right to vote, to the bad-ass women that are working for a change today and the bad-ass women to come who will keep propelling positive changes forward so we can all benefit.

 

Thankfulness: School Moms (and Dads)

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This weekend the Hubs and I watched Bad Moms- the comedy from the summer about mom’s who are tired of doing it all, juggling it all and being expected to be good at it all. I wanted to like this movie- hell, I wanted to LOVE this movie because I, like 99% of the moms I know, do do it all as best we can and sometimes we all need a break. But I wasn’t a fan.

The stereotypes were too broad, the women too shrill and the marriages depicted too damn depressing. There were some great laughs in the movie, but mainly I walked away from that movie disappointed and VERY thankful that I didn’t recognize any of horrible, judgey, rude, condescending Queen Bee moms shown in the movie.

Tonight I’m thankful for the school mom’s who don’t care that on snack day, my kid’s contribution is store bought. Always. Who don’t give me the side eye when my son’s Saint costume for All Saint’s Day is a borrowed ninja costume complete with a fake 6-pack of abs. I’m thankful for the mom’s that wonder out loud with me why our kids fight so much about changing their underwear daily and who nod knowingly when my kids and I are running as fast as we can into school on a rainy day because there isn’t a freaking umbrella to be found anywhere.* Here’s to school parent’s who are kind, compassionate, and just as willing to laugh at the absurdity of raising kids today as I am.

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*All of those things happened in the past week.

 

Thankfulness: Princesses & Proximity

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Up until a month ago, I was the proud, lucky aunt to 6 nephews and 1 niece. 5 of my  nephews live in the mid-west, 14 hours away and my niece and other nephew live 7 hours south of here.  We try to see our mid-western family at least once a year and the southern family every 2-3 months, but I’ve never had a niece or nephew that lived by.

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Now I’m the proud, lucky aunt to 6 nephews and 2 nieces since my sister-in-law gave birth to the most perfect baby girl in October. She, my brother and the new baby live 45 minutes away which is like heaven and makes last minute get together’s a breeze.

I’m extraordinarily thankful for all my nieces and nephews and the technology that allows us to be a part of each other’s lives even when we’re hours and hours away. But after a fantastic dinner with my favorite 3 week old, I’m extra thankful for the blessing of having one of those nieces live near by so I can watch her grow up in person. Is it too soon to ask my brother and his wife when they are going to have baby #2?!

Thankfulness: Handy People

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The Hub’s Grandfather was an incredibly handy man. He could fix just about anything – if we had issue with anything around the house, he was our go-to man. Despite him diligently trying to teach the Hubs his skills, it never took. I have great memories of Grandpa driving up to our house to tune up our mower or install the molding in Scorch’s nursery.  My Father-in-Law is also a really handy man to have around- he’s installed flooring and doors in my house. He knew enough to try to teach the Hubs or myself- it just wasn’t going to take.

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So, neither of us are handy people. And that’s fine- we have other skill sets. But what we have been lucky enough to do is to create great relationships with people who know what the hell they are doing. And these are the people who I’m so very thankful for today.

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Yesterday while I was working from home, I kept hearing banging outside. It’s windy, so I assumed our garbage cans tipped over or one of the kid’s throwbacks was being tossed around. What I did not expect when I went outside to investigate was to see part of my roof flapping in the wind.

My. Roof. Flapping. (sometimes I loathe being an adult).

I called the first handy person I could think of – a licensed contractor who has saved our butts more times than I could think of. The best time was a few years back when we were leaving for Fl. We had to leave at a certain time to make our train in VA and as we were literally walking through our house one more time before leaving, the light fixture in our hallway caught on fire. We put it out super quick, took off the fixture, looked around and saw that nothing was smoldering. Then we called our contractor because I was convinced our house was going to burn down while we were gone. He came over immediately, shoo’d us out the door so we didn’t miss our train, and allowed us to enjoy vacation not fearing the worst.

Yesterday, this saint of a man and his coworker were at my house within the hour and determined it was a very quick, easy fix as it was just a rain vent (guard? something?) that was loose. Which was the BIGGEST relief of the day because I was trying to figure out how in the hell a new roof was going to fit in our budget.

So, Jon & Bob- this is dedicated to you. Thank you for always coming when I call since the Hubs and I have no idea what we’re doing 99.9% of the time.

 

Thankfulness: Halloween Soup

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November is the time I take every year to write about what I’m thankful for. Somethings are serious, some funny and some completely irrelevant, but they all are things that make my life better.

Do you guys have a food that’s special because it’s something you only get once in a while? For example, when I’m in the office, one of my coworkers hands out one chocolate covered coffee bean to each person around 3 pm. I *love* that bean- I live for that bean some afternoons. Sure, I could easily get my own beans, but then they aren’t as special, they don’t mean as much.

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Not to brag or anything, but we have the best Halloween traditions. One of our favorite friends live in the city and they let all us country folks to come their house, have dinner, ransack their neighborhood for candy and then come back for more fun at their house. It’s truly one of my favorite nights of the year thanks to this incredible group of people, our parents and our kids, all 13 of them.

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The pumpkin soup we have on Halloween is like that for me. Sure, I could make it- but if I did, then I wouldn’t look forward to it as much as I do every year.  I don’t even like pumpkin, but this soup? This soup is to die for. And on a cold, windy Halloween there is nothing else I’m as thankful for. Without further ado…

Pumpkin Rosemary Soup

For the Soup                                                                         For the Croutons

  • olive oil (2 tablespoons)                                                ·    sourdough bread (4 cups cubed)
  • bacon (12 slices)                                                            ·    olive oil (1/4 cup)
  • fresh rosemary (4 sprigs)                                               ·    parmesan (1/2 cup grated)
  • butter (2 tablespoons)                                                    ·    ground black pepper
  • minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • white onion (1 medium)
  • salt & pepper
  • pumpkin puree (29 oz can)
  • chicken broth (5 cups)
  • heavy cream (1 cup)

Directions for Bacon/Rosemary

  1. Add olive oil to large skillet or griddle
  2. Add bacon and cook for 5-6 minutes on first side
  3. Turn bacon and add rosemary sprigs; cook for 4-5 minutes more until crispy
  4. Set bacon and rosemary aside on paper towel until cooled
  5. Remove rosemary leaves from stem; chop leaves and bacon

 

 

Directions for Soup

  1. Add two tablespoons of the bacon grease to a large pot
  2. Add butter, garlic, and onion; sweat until translucent
  3. Season lightly with salt and pepper
  4. Add pumpkin puree and chicken broth
  5. Stir well and bring to a simmer; cook for 15 minutes over low heat
  6. Puree in a blender until smooth
  7. Add heavy cream and stir to combine

Directions for Croutons

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Spread cubes of sourdough bread out on a cookie sheet
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese
  4. Season with ground black pepper
  5. Bake for 5-6 minutes until golden brown

 

* Serve soup topped with parmesan croutons, crumbled bacon and rosemary

 

Locker Room Talk, Boys Will be Boys & Other Crappy Excuses

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I started this blog 6 years and 2 months ago. When I started it, my kids were little, my topics were light and the posts basically wrote themselves thanks to the chaos of having a 4 and 2 year old. I started the blog to give my kids something to look back on when they got older- a written scrapbook that captured their antics and activities.

Now I have a 10 year old and an 8 year old who are learning more of the world and paying close attention. To me. To the Hubs. To the news. To their teachers. To their friends. They are always absorbing what they hear and, as they get older, more and more of what they hear is outside of my control. So it’s more important than ever that I tell my kids explicitly, clearly and with great thoughtfulness my opinions on world and national events. They are encouraged to think critically, but it’s the Hubs and my job to talk about the tough stuff as we try to raise them into caring, compassionate, intelligent adults.

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This post isn’t about politics, really. The players are political figures, but I frankly couldn’t care less what your political leanings are or what their political leanings are. To be clear, I’m not happy with either political candidate this year.

What this post is about is Donald Trump being caught in a video bragging about being able to assault women and get away with it due to his power and wealth and people making excuses for him. To quote Trump:

And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says….“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

Let me break that down for you. The man running for President of the United States explicitly says that because he’s a big wig, he can just grab a woman by her genitalia without her consent and get away with it.

That, my friends, is assault. Don’t believe me? Here’s the legal definition of the word:

the essential elements of assault consist of an act intended to cause an apprehension of harmful or offensive contact that causes apprehension of such contact in the victim.

If a man saw your wife/daughter/mother walking down the street, found her attractive and felt it was within his right to approach her and grope her, you would be furious, wouldn’t you? You’d be screaming for the police, wouldn’t you? You’d be doubly furious that that man’s connections and money allowed him to get away with doing that, wouldn’t you?

Please tell me you would be.

And yet, I see people excusing this behavior. Because it’s Donald Trump, because he’s running for President, because he IS as rich and powerful as he thinks he is, people are defending this bragging. Because people hate Hilary Clinton and anyone is better than her. Never mind that the man has 3 rape or attempted rape accusations leveled against him- one from his ex-wife and one from a 13 year old.

Now, this is where people bring up Bill Clinton’s history (or really any number of other shady, criminal politicians- they sadly all run together after awhile). I’m not dismissing them or making any excuses for them either. But let me bring up a really simple concept my kids learned in Kindergarten: two wrongs do not make a right.

I’ve seen people write that this is simple “locker room talk” and that “boys will be boys.”

If you or the men you know in your life are advocating sexual assault, hurting or objectifying woman in the same way Donald Trump was, they weren’t raised right. Period. If it truly is wide-spread locker room talk, than we have failed the men of this world. Excusing talk like that and not speaking up when we hear it helps feed monsters like Brock Turner and the judge who let creeps like him off with crazy light sentences.

And to the people who are getting all worked up about people being mad about the use of the word “pussy,” let me make this perfectly clear to you: While I (and most women I know) don’t like our vaginas referred to in such vulgar ways, what we’re really angry about isn’t the word. It is the act Donald Trump is bragging about.

Let me state that again: dirty words are upsetting, but what is infuriating and ILLEGAL is the talk of committing sexual assault and getting away with it. DO NOT try to deflect, undermine or gaslight those upset about the content of the video in question by focusing on the word “pussy.”

Which brings me to the next way I’ve seen people excuse Donald Trump: by sharing pictures of scantily clad celebrities or pictures of female comedians who use vulgar language in their movies or routines and screaming HYPOCRITES at the women getting upset about one and not the other.

Again, I ask. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Donald Trump = advocating assault, taking away a woman’s right to consent to being touched. Celebrities = adults fully consenting to their dress or speech. Do I like everything they wear or say? Do I want my kids seeing it? Nope. But these women have the right to wear it/say it because it’s their body and they aren’t advocating violence against others. And let’s not even get into the whole subtext that women who dress/speak provocatively are asking for it. Because if you feel that way, leave. Leave this blog now.

And lastly, the good old “women read Fifty Shade of Grey so how dare we be offended by what Donald Trump said” shtick. Do I need to pick this argument apart? Please don’t make me. Fifty Shades is FICTION read by women by their own choice who seemingly like bad erotica and even worse writing. Donald Trump is advocating assault.

Like I said, this post isn’t about politics- it’s about excusing a man who advocates for assault because of his position and power.

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As I wrote above, I started this blog as a way to share my thoughts with my kids. So, to Scorch and Bean- I have a few promises for you.

Scorch- I promise your father and I will do our damnedest to raise you to be respectful to others, including the women in your life. To ensure you know about consent and to call you on your attitude if you don’t show the proper consideration to the people around you. To love you enough to not excuse any bad behavior by saying “boys will be boys” and letting things slide.

Bean- I promise to do our hardest to raise you know your own worth. To ensure you know that you’re so much more than your body parts and how they can be used to please a man. To know that you should demand respect from the people in your life and to walk away if you don’t get it. To know what assault is and what to do if, God forbid, you’re a victim. To know that no person, regardless of their wealth or position, is better than you.

I love you both.

A Whole Lot of Nothing + Water Damage

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I have so many thoughts in my head, yet none of them have formed into a cohesive post. See, that’s how I write this blog. Something- a phrase, an action, an incident- will happen and it’ll just spark in my brain. I’ll think about it all day, writing and re-writing my post in my head. So when I do sit down to write, it pours out of me and I’m done in 10 minutes.

Not today. Really, not since school started. I have about 5 half-started posts in my head, but none of them are interesting enough or fleshed out enough in my head to put on metaphorical paper. Something will strike soon, but until then here is what’s floating around in my head.

> We’re almost to the end of the 3rd week of school and outside of not getting to school on time even once, things are humming along. We have no after-school activities until next month, so that’s been a huge blessing as the kid are adjusting to the work load.

> The weather has been the most perfect weather ever- cold nights and mornings and gorgeous hot days. Can it stay like this forever, please? (I beg that knowing full well we’ll most likely get our first snow in the next month).

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> We’ve decided on our vacation in March and next July and Aug, so at least when the snow starts to fly, we’ve got something to look forward to.

> We went to see Edwin McCain in concert earlier this month. He sang our wedding song, “I Could Not Ask For More,” so the Hubs got us tickets to see him for our anniversary. He joked in the week leading up to the concert that it would be a very quick one as McCain only had two songs.  You guys, we were BLOWN AWAY.  We didn’t know any of his other songs, but it didn’t matter because it was the perfect blending of amazing talent + intimate venue that added up to one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time. Live music is always good, but really, really great live music is good for your soul. We left and my cheeks hurt from smiling for 1.5 hours.

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> We had a minor leak in the back of our refrigerator that went on for lord knows how long that has caused over $5000 worth of damage to my floors and ceiling below. So we’ve had water mitigation people, appliance repair people and contractors in and out of our house pretty much non-stop since last week. Really, it’s nothing more than an inconvenience- everything can be fixed and home owner’s insurance is  a blessing- but I’m calling uncle. I don’t want to adult anymore.

So, that’s the state of our household. 95% boring, 5% chaos.

Slow Down

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When I was in 3rd grade, I changed school districts. I don’t remember much about that time other than I didn’t want to go to the new school and my first friend was Marlana (Hi, Lana!). In 4th grade, my family moved to a new house in my new school district. I remember loving how big the pine trees in the backyard were and how they seemed to be custom made for climbing.

But 5th grade? 5th grade and on- I remember. I remember who I sat with at lunch (Hi Hillory, Karen & Lana!), how our desks were arranged in a square, laughing so hard at lunch that milk came out my nose and the bracelets I got that Christmas from a boy in my class that my parents made me give back. I remember hanging upside down on the monkey bars, the way the gym smelled and how exciting it was that we were the oldest in the school.

5th grade was old– almost grown up. I remember trying to convince my father that I was old enough to curse that year- old enough to be the boss of what I could and could not say. He flatly told me no. But I remember that feeling of independence and growth- it was intoxicating. From 5th grade on, my memories- or at least the important ones- are crystallized in my head.

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This past week, the Bean started 3rd grade and Scorch stated 5th grade.

When I started this blog 6 years ago (!!!) the Bean wasn’t in school – she was 2 and home full time with me and our nanny, Mary. Scorch was going to preschool part time and my babies were challenging and crazy-making. But they were babies. Even when they were 3 and 5 and both in school full time- her in preschool, he in kindergarten- they were still babies. I mean…look at those little feet and clean shoes!

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Now my son has feet as big as mine and my daughter has a very strong fashion sense – my opinions are no longer welcome.

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This year is going to be an astounding one for them, of that I have no doubt. They have wonderful teachers, the best friends and the Hubs and I cheering them on. I’m excited to watch them learn and explore and grow this year, I am! But…does summer really have to be over? Do my kids have to get another year older?

I don’t regret not having more babies- I think our family is pretty much perfect the way it is. I just want my babies to stop growing up. Stop getting so big. Stop inching their way to adulthood. I want time to slow down.

But, time stops for no (wo)man. So instead, I’m going to hold on for the ride. I’m going to practice my father’s quick, emphatic “NO” that brokered no arguments. I’m going to listen to my kids share their days — days that will soon fill their memory banks — and I’m going to try not to react too badly as I learn that my kids know more words than I’d like them to. I’m going to advocate for them, discipline them and love them like mad and hope that when their kids are this age the good memories way outweigh the bad.