Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Of Interest

The kids have a snow day. This year, the school has a fancy new automated phone calling system. It called us at 5:23 AM to let us know school was canceled. We might have managed to keep the kids asleep through one phone call, but the system calls ALL our phone numbers. First the land line, then my phone, then Fritz's phone. Within 10 minutes, at 5:33 AM, all three kids were awake and jumping on our bed. On a day when school was canceled.

I'm not sure what to take away from this: turn off the ringer on our phones? Or think of this as our opportunity to harness some energy for shoveling the sidewalk. In the dark.


I recently read this article about the distance that most adult Americans live from their parents. I have long been under the impression that Americans move frequently and don't necessarily live near extended family, but this study proves otherwise. As the headline notes, fifty percent of Americans live within 18 miles of their parents. We live 2,000 miles from my parents and 5,000 miles from Fritz's parents. I'm pretty sure that puts us in the 99th percentile.

The article explores how this affects women, caregivers, and careers, or lack thereof. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I feel strongly that our distance from a grandchild/grandparent support system has had a huge impact on my ability do anything other than caregiving.


I also can't stop quoting this recent study by the Violence Policy Center. In my home state, gun deaths are more common than automobile deaths. This is true in 21 states, check it out.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Death, Presence

My uncle passed away shortly after the New Year. Since being diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma three years ago, it's been an intense journey.

As of late, I've spent a lot of time at my aunt's home, going through old photos and listening to stories about their life together. I feel really lucky to be able to be here with her at this time: to be able to sit and listen to the stories on Tuesday and then, once again, on Wednesday, when we find the same photo in a new place. I say this with absolute sincerity.

So much of my life has been spent living far away from my family. Deaths in my family, up until now, have been largely a fly-in, see everyone, fly-out process. I'm not entirely sure how that sounds. Cold? Harsh? Like there hasn't been a lot of death? Enviable? My world as a child, and for many years thereafter, was strongly colored by always living far away from extended family. Familial relationships were not really about being present in the everyday, ordinary world. Familial relationships were more like a status for a special event. In many regards, I've really missed the informality of the ordinary and everyday. Even though this has been a sad period of time (and for all of us) I really appreciate being able to be present and the intimacy that has come with it.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Two Gift Ideas (that we already have, but recommend to you)

This is the time of year when I always start feeling panic-y about the hard-to-shop for person on my list, for whom I still haven't figured out what to get.

I really appreciate it when people post about gifts they've received or loved or had success giving, so I'm going to throw two ideas out, just in case you're feeling particularly stumped.

Electric Salt and Pepper (Spice) Grinder.
Our friends in Germany had a version of these, and to be honest, had we not tried theirs first, we never would have purchased this item for ourselves. It seems so silly! An electric grinder for salt and pepper! Please! How lazy can we get?

Well, pretty lazy, apparently. But whatever! Because these are so FUN! And oddly satisfying to use! Just push the button on the top and ground spice comes out the bottom. Everyone we've given them to has really liked them as well. We've been buying ours (as gifts) from various vendors on Amazon, but they are also available at specialized kitchen stores.

Wind-up Toys / Ornaments
The two wind up toys above are from Kikkerland. They spark and jump and turn and move in funny paths. We gave them to our kids last year for Christmas, although, due to the sparking, etc., they're not recommended for younger kids. The kids used them with supervision and they have held up fairly well.

This Jack in the Box ornament below has also been a big hit with the kids. We've had it since 2008. It's missing a bow, but still works! As an ornament, it doesn't stay on the tree for very long. The kids can't wind it until about age 3 or 4. Now we're at the point where there's always a bigger kid willing to wind it for a smaller kid. I always feel like I won a small victory when something encourages an older and younger to work together.

There's definitely some irony in these suggestions. DON'T wind your spice grinder, but DO wind a toy. Did you catch it?