Jessica’s Acrostic

Happy Birthday, Sister-in-law!

Jeter lover forever

Excels at party planning

Sassy is, as sassy does

Sisterly love

I hope she likes her poem.

Can’t take Jersey out of the girl

Always there when you need her

My Own From the Beginning

I would like to preface this post that when I said this out loud to John, his response what a slight eyeroll and, “That is so you.”

I bought a new car. A Toyota Sienna to be specific. A brand new minivan that had a little over 200 miles on it before I sat in the driver’s seat. Now, I have a little guilt about getting a new car. It feels extravagant and wasteful and impractical when there are plenty of slightly used cars that would make more financial sense and mean I was reusing and not adding to the stuff on this planet.

But I have wanted to have a brand new car for a long time, and the reason is why John had the response he did. I wanted to own the whole story. Next to my house, my car is probably the place I spend the most time. I am sure I am not the only one. It can truly feel like a mobile home. I mean it’s a mess with wrappers and toys and empty cups too. Just like home. Things happen in cars. We laugh, we cry, we sing along, we debate, we listen. Often it is the only time I am close to sitting still in one spot all day long. Every car I have owned until now has carried other peoples’ stories. Stories I knew nothing about. Miles accompanied by the laughter, tears, and songs of others. And, of course, being me, I often made them up. For instance, The Orca, my last black Dodge Caravan, was purchased under pressure as my poor Cecelia, a spunky RAV4, had been totaled. I needed cheap, family friendly wheels. The Orca was the right price at the right time. It was also the lowest end model. There were no “extras”. It was very utilitarian. So I imagined it belonged to someone not expected to own a minivan. An older gentleman who just needed it to moved stuff around for some unknown business or bored retirement reason. Like bags of mulch or lots of fruit. Or something. I liked to believe that The Orca did not know love until we, my kids and I, slide back that door and tumbled in for the first time. I like to believe it put up with the mess and the dings and dents that lead to rust because it knew how much it was valued for the time it was part of our lives.

I am mourning The Orca a bit. (It is still in the driveway, waiting to be picked up for donation. To give you an idea of the service The Orca gave and the state it is now it, trade-in value was $300.)

But still, it had a life before us. A story not mine.

The Sienna, now Beauty (I’m not the only one who names cars, right? Right?), does not. Sure it was in a factory somewhere and a couple of sales lots and test drives, but that’s not a story. There is only waiting and wanting there. It is the puppy-in-the-window syndrome.That is only the set up for a story. The true story of Beauty began last Thursday when I sat, took at least two minutes to get the seat to move all the way up, and pulled out of the show garage. I will know everything that happens in the life of this car because it will be my life. I will listen to an unforetold number of audiobooks and podcasts. Car trips that will become part of family legend will take place in my new car. Heck, the day I got her, we took her camping. In the rain. Relationships will change in this car. My kids will grow out of car seats. They will turn into twee tweens and then sullen teenagers in this car. They’ll probably learn to drive in it. God help me, they’ll make out in this car. (Unless they are good nerds like I am trying to turn them into.) I plan on having Beauty until the bitter end, so my story will be her only story. Chances are when I do finally put her to rest, I will be starting an incredible new chapter of my life, maybe facing an empty back in my minivan, trying to figure out how to be me without daily physical mothering, perhaps downsizing cars an outward sign of acceptance of my children’s adulthood.

So, yeah, I anthropomorphize a lot.

Can We Do Anything?

Here is a philosophy I try to employ every day. When I meet another human being even just in passing, I smile at him or her. I acknowledge that I make assumptions about that person based on my own social experiences and what I have been “taught” because of his or her skin, clothes, walk, age, gender, all the exterior things that I, as a person, can not help seeing and judging. And then I smile and sometimes add a hi if the contact lasts long enough. Perhaps we chat a little as we stand in line or try and corral our kids in a parking lot. I remind myself that all of those judgments are just in my head, and I am facing a person just trying to get through the day like I am. All I can hope is my smile, more my acknowledgement of his or her place in this world, makes a moment go a little more smoothly. I hope that I have taken that moment to say, “The ways we are other do not discount that we are also the same. You can be the person you are and always matter.”

That is where we get lost. When someone decides based on race, gender, religion, whom you decide to love, age, weight, eye make up, the hat on someone’s head, etc., to make people Other. When the differences turn from biases into judgments that make different wrong. And then that person sees nothing but different and wrong all around him or her. The resentment festers. Sometimes it turns into mean things like racial or sexist epithet muttered under the breath or hurled like a stone to make someone else feel little and inferior. Sometimes it is more insidious leading to a resume with an ethnic name going into the trash, or a prospective employee deemed not worthy as soon as he or she walks through the door. And sometimes it ends with nine dead in a church.

See, when I smile at another person, it is as much for me as it is for him or her. It makes me remember that a person is more than what he or she presents to the world. We all are. And even though the philosophies and ideals that make us more are often different, they are all equal. Other is not wrong. There is no wrong except when one person decides to hurt another. Ideas, beliefs, lifestyles are not wrong until they lead one person to harm another.

I also think most human beings feel the way I do. I think most of us value each other. I think we all have our biases, but, on the whole, we try to not let our differences turn into a game of who’s better than whom. But do I speak up when I see someone who is using the differences to belittle someone, to feel superior, to keep someone else repressed and “in his or her place”? Do I stand between the bully and his prey? Do I call out my boss when h/she won’t give the qualified Other a job interview? Do I tell the lady calling someone a fag that she can keep her homophobia to herself? Do I say something when the teenager is being ignored by the cashier?

Not enough. Nothing changes because we choose to not change it. Doing nothing is a choice. It is hard in an awkward or dangerous moment to think and do what is right. It is scary to stand up. It is scary to do more than smile.

But I am a member of the privileged. The judgments made about me based on my exterior are more often than not beneficial to me. I see people similar to me portrayed in a positive way across all media and entertainment. Heck, even when someone of my race does something heinous, like shoot elementary kids or blacks in a church, they are called more human things like mentally ill and troubled instead of terrorist or monster. Mostly, the message I receive is that my exterior has value.

It should be part of my job to make sure everyone feels that way. And if that means I need to start speaking up more and not shying away from conflict or disagreement when I see bigotry, then I need to do that.

I must use my voice and my power to back up my smile.

So… (In no particular order)

Racism is everywhere. White is still seen as better. Stop that shit.

Being poor is not a crime.

Much as I think it looks silly, saggy pants do not a thug make. I still smile even when I am not that happy about seeing your boxers. You’re probably judging my mom jeans. We can both deal. (Same goes for leggings worn as pants.)

Get over the gay thing. Homosexuality has been a part of human existence as long as heterosexuality has. Love is love, people. If you don’t see it that way, you are wrong because you are using that difference to harm someone else. If you want to spout off about it at whatever you call a church, fine. That is your right. It is my right to call you a bigot. But it is unconstitutional to deny another person the right to marry whomever he or she wants.

Neither is a superior gender. We need to get over all the centuries that tried to make one better than the other. It pretty much works the best for everyone if men and women work together.

When you get down to it, the basic idea to every religion is be nice to each other. Who cares if the way we show it is different? Just live by that one tenant, and we are all golden.

Fat people are not always lazy. Skinny people are not always runners.

My grandfather knew not one word of English when he got off the boat in New Jersey. You want to get bitchy about someone not knowing English, you’re bitching about my grandfather. We will have words.

I will let you know when I have something to say.


Alex’s Birthday Acrostic 

I am a day late. I got distracted by trying to get all three of our kids into a video. 

As usual, she’s right

Lovingly honest because that’s a sister thing

Enthusiastically wonderfully goofy at just the right times

X O X O ( You come up with something for X.)

I Am Dance Mom, Hear Me Whimper

A friend (Hi, Jesse!) recently posted this link.

The Definition of Hell for Each of the Myers-Briggs Personality Types

I am an ENFP. This “article” suggests my version of hell is “Every minute of the rest of your life has been scheduled for you – and it’s a long series of arbitrary, solitary tasks.” Otherwise known as dance recital prep.

Let me go back a little. Leila has been taking dance classes in both tap and ballet. Or rather Leila has been arbitrarily moving around to music while looking cute in leotards, tights, and loud or quiet shoes. Two lovely and patient high school seniors have been doing their best to remove the arbitrarily from that sentence. All of this culminated in a dance recital last weekend.

Now, I equate the creating and organizing of this event with planning the storming of Normandy. Seriously, the owner of the dance studio is a general in yoga pants. It’s epic. I was in charge of one small girl in two numbers, and I almost fell apart. When I received a parents’ handbook for planning purposes, I simultaneously cried and clung to it for dear life. There were lists and shopping and bobby pins and hairspray. So. Much. Hairspray. And make up. And scheduling that made my ENFP parental pressure boil over when we were late to the rehearsal and then I put her in the wrong costume first.

I was not having fun.

Then the recital was upon us, and I had to just sit and watch.

That’s when the fun set in.

Turns out the dance studio owner is a general of the caliber of Patton and her instructors Seal Team Six (I’m mixing my military eras. It’s my creative license.). The show looked and sounded lovely. You could tell so much thought and energy went into coordinating music, lights, choreography, and costumes. And I have to admit, I looked at some of the costumes backstage with a judgy eye, but the organizers naturally being professionals knew better than me, because on stage they look great under the right lights and fit well with the music.

And most of all, the kids, from three to eighteen, were having fun. They had worked hard and wanted everyone to see how much. Plus, they loved dancing and performing and it showed. That is another testament to the staff. I was not anticipating how much I would enjoy watching all of the dance numbers, I had been so fixated on the tasks that needed done and on Leila. I am glad I got to be in the audience for such a wonder of juvenile exuberance (even if Leila never really did lose that “arbitrarily” from her dancing).

And I can not give the staff of Carlisle Dance enough credit. It takes great talent to make a show look good while making sure the kids still have fun.

Next year, I plan on doing a much better job of being a big picture parent and enjoy more of the process as well as the end result.

Because, seriously, I don’t think Leila is giving this up anytime soon. nickfinochio-34 nickfinochio-9

Thank you to Nick Finochio for the lovely portraits.


Karen’s Acrostic

It is a little tense having my two best friends’ birthdays back-to-back especially with their damned K’s. 

Knowledgable Doctor Science Lady

Authentic friend

Reading of 80’s tween fiction is a bond that cannot be broken

Experienced consumer of Pokie Sticks

Notable fashion reality TV expert

Jake’s Birthday Acrostic

Not Earth Day. His birthday day. Deal with it, Rothermel. 

Just… In that eye… Sayin

A “get off my lawn” away from Old Man Jenkins

Kinda a bad ass under the right circumstances (Eff the K)

Especially old friend (as in how long I have known him, not his age, because I am older. We’re not going there.)