Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Happy Birthday!

I have two sisters-in-law who remember everyone's birthdays.  Everyone.  That is no small feat in a large extended family.  I figured that this year I could at least send a birthday card to all of my siblings-in-law.  And my brothers.  And my parent-in-laws.  Whew - we're up to 16, but I should be able to handle that many.  We've got a lot when you factor in my family, Jay's family, and now Trent's, too.  I thought it might be fun lettering practice, too, and it was.  

I say "was" in the past tense because I did really well at sending out cards (February was a killer!) until the summer, then I just forgot.  I think it had something to do with getting a new planner so I didn't have my birthday list to remind me.  But mostly I just got summer-busy and forgot.  Mea culpa.  I'll try to finish out the year better!

I didn't forget my own children's birthdays though, because that would be mother demerits and I have enough of those.  Today, I'm celebrating the birthday of my first daughter-in-law.  I wasn't in a good place when she came into our lives.  I desperately wanted to be warm and welcoming, but I was so wrapped up in a big wad of anxiety that I didn't always reach out like I should have.  Regrets.  I wish I would have been warmer and welcoming-er.  

I still love her to bits, though.  She has the most beautiful smile, and I love the sparkle in her eyes when she's excited about something.  I love how my son loves her, and how she makes him happy.  It was so fun to see him get excited/stressed about getting her just the right engagement ring.  He had a hard time even holding still when he got it, and it wasn't but a moment later that he popped the question.  Happy memories.

Happy birthday, my dear.  Thank you for bringing some light into this corner of our family.  May your day be as lovely as you are, and many more to come!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Funny Family Faux Talent Show

We were in charge of the talent show for the family reunion.  We have so many talented people in the family, and a few with fabulous talents (I'm looking at you, boys who perform on Broadway!).  We all love to hear them sing and play the piano, but it does make some of the others a little bashful about sharing their talents.  No.  We need all the talents.

A couple of weeks before the reunion, I got all the volunteers I could, and then set out to find talents for the others.  Everyone has talents!  You just might not know about them yet.  So anyone who didn't offer a talent would get assigned one, and I let them know.  Too many people gave the wimpy, "I'm not really good at anything." Maybe this is how they would find out that they were good at something, after all.  Ha!

When everyone knew that I was serious about having a variety of talents, we got some pretty good volunteers.  We had a grocery guru share the secrets of picking produce.  We saw coin collections and home-made arrowheads.  We had singing and piano-playing, knock-knock jokes and skits.  We had a few art displays, as well.  But for the other folks, we had to draw them out and help them find their hidden talents.  

Between the volunteers, I called up family members and had them show us a talent that I picked from a list of possible talents.  They were impressive.  Here are the ideas I came up with, if you want to have your own faux talent show:

Sing a song from a Disney movie (we had soundtracks and props for several)
Yodel (with accompanying music)
Do a rain dance
Do a hula dance (wearing a grass skirt) (or tap dance, belly dance, riverdance, haka...)
Perform a magic trick (we brought a top had, gloves, a magic wand, and cards)
Dance the Can Can (with the appropriate accompaniment)
Play a song on a plastic recorder (of course we had a cheap plastic recorder!)
Walk down the runway (with large heels and a feather boa)
Impersonate a famous person
Pick something up with your toes
Breakdance or do the limbo
Do a puppet show (with socks)
Be a mime
Paint your best Bob Ross happy trees
Do a yoga demonstration / teach a yoga class
Do a dramatic reading from Dr. Seuss (we brought Hop on Pop)
Do a superhero demonstration (with cape)
"Whistle While You Work" while pantomiming chores
Yo a yo-yo
Snap all your fingers at once
Perform a kazoo duet
Do a cartwheel

We did have a bucket full of props (like a long red wig for "Ariel" to sing "Part of Your World," wooden spoons for the Swedish Chef) and soundtrack music for all the accompaniments.  Yes, it was a very long talent show.  But I've never laughed so hard!  Everyone had a great time and we did discover some impressive new talents.  Dr. Suess has never sounded more... impressive than the day Grandpa read it out loud.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Sailing by Ash Breeze

I was up in the night last night.  I like that "up in the night" means that you are not thinking straight, or are just plain crazy, as well as literally being awake in the middle of the night.  It is admittedly harder to think straight when you haven't had enough sleep.

I go to bed at a reasonable hour, think for a long while as my body calms down and relaxes, then finally drift off into a peaceful slumber.  About half an hour later, I'm awake; eye-poppingly awake.  Thank you, menopause.  I realize that my sleep hygiene could be better, but my currently-shifting hormones require that I have an absolutely perfect blend of vitamins, exercise, calm environments, good food absolutely devoid of sugar, no evening screen time, and zero stress before I can sleep well.  The irony is that carefully tweaking so many variables just makes me tired.  Thus, I don't usually sleep well.

Lying in bed becomes increasingly uncomfortable, and boring, so I do what any self-respecting bibliophile does when presented with unexpected spare time: I read a book.  I've been cleaning out my bookshelves recently, and re-reading all our books to make sure I love them and want to keep them.  I have been wanting to make sure that my bookshelves contain friends, like Anne Shirley Blythe would say.  Every book needs to "belong to the race of Joseph" in order to justify its dusting.

Last night, I re-read one of my favorites, "Carry on, Mr. Bowditch."  It is an historical fiction novel based on the life of Nathaniel Bowditch, a renowned mathematician, astronomer, and expert on ocean navigation in early American history.  He was self-taught due to being an indentured servant during his schooling years and not having the opportunity to attend classes.  When others mocked him and said he was "becalmed" and had no further room for growth, he roared, "Only a weakling gives up when he is becalmed!  A strong man sails by ash breeze!"

Of course, we would love to have our sails always full of just the right amount of wind, blowing us effortlessly into a calm and prosperous harbor.  But when the wind dies, or is going the wrong way, we break out the oars and row.  Oars were usually made of ash wood, so by paddling you can make your own "wind," or "ash breeze."  It's a good reminder that you can make your own path, no matter what your outside circumstances are.  Now excuse me while I go take a nap.  I mean, ponder this.