all the things

Currently: March 2021

Currently reading:

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas – contains many of my favorite fiction elements, including a mysterious school, lots of suspense, and an intriguing main character. I finished Moonflower Murders recently, the sequel to Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders, and it was fantastic.

Currently listening to:

So many audiobooks! I have a million on my phone right now, and I’ve been switching around according to my mood between Save The Cat Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody, Screenwise by Devorah Heitner, Living In Flow by Sky Nelson-Isaacs, and You, Your Child, and School by Sir Ken Robinson.

Currently watching:

Not much, really. Our only true family movie night (everyone snuggled up together watching) was for the Brandy/Whitney Houston version of Cinderella, which was nostalgic bliss for me. The boys spent the new few days dressing up as princesses following our viewing and it was delightful.

Currently the boys are:

Really into playing out scenes from their fave movie Onward and loving all forms of indoor messy sensory play – oobleck, rainbow rice, play dough, cloud dough, etc. Edgar has been super into riding his “pedal bike.” We’ve also gone sledding a few times and that has been great fun for all!

Currently grateful for:

The snow in all its gorgeousness, and the creeping approach of spring!

Currently looking forward to:

Did I mention spring? So excited for warmer weather, spring break, a great month of writing, and a summer road trip we’ve been planning, Stay tuned!

Happy March!

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all the things

Currently: February 2021

Currently reading:

So far in 2021, I’ve finished ten books that, no joke, were all awesome. The biggest surprise for me was The Brave Learner, a book I purchased on a whim after hearing it recommended by Erica Ladd on The Girl Next Door podcast. It’s actually a book about homeschooling and education – not something I’ve ever been particularly interested in – but it was perfect for this moment in my life. I devoured it at every opportunity. Currently, I’m reading Tuesday Mooney Talks To Ghosts by Kate Racculia and The Call of the Wild + Free by Ainsley Arment.

Currently listening to:

The audiobook version of Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?, which is a great read; hoping to finish it this month! I’m also listening to Amber Ruffin’s book You’ll Never Believe What Happened To Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism, which is a great listen; I’m sure it would be great in print as well, but I love Amber and her sister Lacey’s delivery a lot.

Currently watching:

We watched the new movie Soul with the boys and I loved it so much! We also watched Onward, which I didn’t know anything about, and Edgar is pretty obsessed. (Mostly because one of the main features of the movie is a van named Guinevere.) It’s often cold and gray, and by the end of the day, I am wiped. So a family movie night has been a delightful end of the day activity.

Currently the boys are:

Alternating between loving life, bickering, and screaming at the top of their lungs. Right now, while they’re playing, they like to tell me that they’re making a show or a movie, which is pretty adorable.

Currently grateful for:

A bit of renewed energy and creativity related to kid activities. My sister’s COVID rooftop wedding on January 22!

Currently looking forward to:

It’s really starting to feel possible to start making plans for post-COVID life. I received my first vaccine shot last week, as a licensed social worker and a school employee, and I’m really optimistic about things moving forward. Feeling really hopeful for spring, in general, and working hard to stay positive through these cold winter months indoors!

Happy February!

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all the things

Currently: January 2021

Inspired by Kelsey Wharton’s blog Rising*Shining, I am trying out something new this year.

There are a few posts I like to write regularly. During 2020, I wrote a gratitude post at the end of each month – real simply, just 5 things I was grateful for that month. In the fall of 2020, I started writing a brief post with a monthly mantra as well – just a simple intention I set at the beginning of each month.

I’m not sure if I’ll stick with this new monthly post, but here’s what I’m trying out – basically, a monthly post summarizing all the things I’m currently up to. What I’m currently reading, listening to, and watching – maybe what the boys are up to or what household tasks are on my list.

Currently reading:

I finished Anxious People earlier this month and loved it. My Christmas Eve book was The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and I have been loving it oh-so-much.

Currently listening to:

So many episodes of The Mom Hour podcast, almost exclusively.

Currently watching:

Nothing really. Old episodes of Community when I’m falling asleep at night. Also watched Aladdin this week with the boys and they are newly obsessed with Abu!

Currently writing:

Just trying to get back in the routine of blogging regularly. Planning to dive into fiction a little more this month! A wisp of a fun idea has been floating in the back of my mind.

Currently the boys are:

Loving all their Christmas toys. Santa filled their stockings and brought them an electric train. Nana brought them a race track table, and Grandma and Papa sent some Toy Story toys and binoculars that they went crazy over.

Currently grateful for:

A trip to the bookstore (the Ivy in Baltimore) with Edgar! I had to pick up a birthday book I’d ordered, and I brought a masked Edgar with me. He’s been to school but pretty much nowhere else for the past nine months, and it was a lovely trip. He was allowed to buy one book, and he chose Construction Site, Mission: Demolition because he loves a series as much as I do.

Currently looking forward to:

Finishing this blog post so I can read a little more of Addie LaRue before the kids wake up!

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all the things

Merry 2.0

I love Christmas. And this year, I am leaning in to the joy and festivity of the holidays more than ever before.

There are family traditions that just won’t happen this year. The one that makes me the saddest is not getting to New York to visit friends and family and spend a day in the city. We won’t see the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center this year, and that’s a huge hole in my holiday merry. Yet we are happy and healthy and incredibly blessed, and I’m so happy to be enjoying the holidays after such a strange and difficult year.

This year, I’ve felt moved to celebrate the holiday season in ways I haven’t previously, in the following ways:

After much careful negotiating with Tamara, she agreed to get our Christmas tree the weekend before Thanksgiving. We did not decorate it until the day after Thanksgiving. (Well, some of us actually started stringing the lights immediately after the kids went to bed on Thursday.) Edgar likes to tell people, “It was a Thanksgiving tree, and now it’s a Christmas tree.” I was so grateful to spend the day after Thanksgiving unpacking Christmas ornaments and decorating the house. We don’t do a ton of decorating – I love Christmas, but I don’t love having a ton of stuff, especially when the stuff only comes out once a year! But what we have is sweet and festive. Jo Jo was excited to play with a small stuffed Santa, everyone put on Santa hats, and Edgar definitely thinks “ornament” means “toy that I can play with that goes back on the tree when I’m done.”

We started working on a holiday-themed playlist on the morning after Thanksgiving. This is my first year with an Alexa at Christmastime – it was a gift from my brother last year. I’ve been surprised at how much I love it. The first songs we added were our classic faves – Holly Jolly Christmas, The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, Wonderful Christmastime. Then I started googling and making requests and discovering new titles I’d never heard before. My current fave is Sleigh Ride by TLC, Jo Jo likes anything Rudolph, and Edgar is into I’m The Grinch by Tyler the Creator.

Never in my life have I attempted to put up outdoor Christmas lights on a house. My dad always did it at my childhood home, and I loved it. But as an adult? I’ve never thought it worth the trouble. I’ve just appreciated the lights and efforts of others. But this year, in a year that’s been low on merriment, when we have fewer commitments outside of the home, when we have a four-year-old asking when we’re going to put up our own light display, we went for it. I climbed on the roof and there are now twinkly colored lights hanging from the gutter along the front of our house. I’m also making notes about adding inflatables to our display for next year. WHO AM I?

The sweetest Advent calendar ever. Tamara and I went back and forth about having an Advent calendar. We contemplated a candy-based one (too many sweets) and a cotton ball Santa Claus beard (we did this last year, the kids weren’t that into it), and we almost abandoned the idea altogether. Thankfully, we ended up making one, and it’s awesome. We cut out a cardboard tree (lots of cardboard boxes available right now!), and Edgar painted it with green glitter paint. Every day, the boys each get an “ornament” (most made by crafty Tamara) and they have to glue their ornament on the number(s) for that day. (We included two of every number, so both boys get to glue an ornament each day.) I love our Advent calendar because it’s festive and really seems to help with the passage of time; we keep explaining to Edgar that the closer we get to Christmas, the more ornaments will be on the Advent tree. This has NOT stopped him from checking his stocking every morning to see if Santa paid him an early visit.

We actually sent Christmas cards this year! This is my first year ever sending a large number of Christmas cards. I have never thought of this as a Have To of the holiday season, and many years, I just would not have had the time to do it. This year, thanks to Postcards To Voters, I knew I could do an efficient job of writing, addressing, and mailing cards if I wanted to do it. And you know what? I did want to do it. I miss My People so much this year, and I just wanted to reach out and be in touch in some small way. The photos we took were adorable and I was so happy to send them out to a small group of family and friends.

The return of the Night Night Fairy! A year or so ago, Edgar was getting really fussy at bedtime, so we started getting visits from the Night Night Fairy. We never caught a glimpse of her, but every night she would deliver pajamas and a book to read on Edgar’s bed. That delightful surprise brought a little fun to our otherwise bummer bedtime routine, and really helped us behaviorally. This year for the holidays, I really wanted to do a sort of Advent calendar of books – for every night of December, we’d have a Christmas/holiday/winter-themed book to read at bedtime. But I didn’t want the book to be a wrapped gift, as I’ve seen done elsewhere – I didn’t want to set up an expectation of receiving a present or a brand-new book every day of the month. So I set aside all the books we own that fit the Christmas/winter/holiday theme – it was probably about 10-15 books – and then did a bunch of requests from the library for more. Now every night at bedtime, we look inside a little Santa bag and we find the boys’ pajamas for the night and a holiday/winter book to read. It is lovely and merry.

Many evenings, we’ve taken nighttime Christmas light walks – just short strolls around the neighborhood to check out the holiday displays. We’ve taken a couple of drives, too, but I especially love the walks – it’s a little extra exercise right after dinner, it gets us outside, and it’s an enjoyable activity we can do at the time of day when I am just spent, creativity-wise, and don’t have any more Mom tricks up my sleeve. The boys love it, because it feels extra-special to them to be outside in the dark, and we are often pleasantly surprised whenever a new house puts up their display.

EVERYTHING ELSE MISCELLANEOUSLY MERRY. We are here for all of it this year. Cinnamon applesauce ornaments, salt dough ornaments, a Santa with a cotton ball beard, a snowman shapes activity. Stringing jingle bells and felted ornaments and popcorn and cranberries. ALL OF IT.

Merry whatever to you and yours. Cheers to doing anything and everything you can to bring a smile to your face as we close out this *unprecedented* year!

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all the things

FRIENDS + Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving was really different, and that’s okay.

To be honest, Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday. I have wonderful memories of going to see the Thanksgiving Day parade with my dad and my siblings, and I always love spending time with extended family. But everything else is kind of meh. The food’s not my fave – I was a vegetarian for a long time, and even many of the sides, while delicious, are not my ideals. I also struggle a lot with my relationship with food, which has made the grandiose Thanksgiving meal complicated for me to enjoy ever since childhood.

Our little family of four was just us for Thanksgiving this year. Tamara cooked amazing food and we ate pie and it was lovely. We went for a long hike with the boys in the morning and we (sort of) watched the parade while peeling apples. But do you know what I really wished I could do for Thanksgiving this year?

Lay on the couch All Day Long with a mouthful of pie, watching the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends.

There will never be enough written about the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends. I know, from my middle school students, that the show has been making a comeback. But the kids today will never know the anticipation and the bliss of waiting for the evening Thanksgiving episode of Friends to come on. My best friend Christy and I used to call each other during the commercials to discuss what had happened so far and it was amazing. The show aired on Thursday evenings, so it was kismet that their Thanksgiving episodes ended up being some of the highlights of their ten-season-long series.

I thought about ranking the episodes, but that’s been done. Instead, here are my fave episodes, a few favorite lines, and a memory:

My favorites of all the Thanksgiving episodes:

“The One With The Football” – this episode is amazing. For me, it’s sort of Peak Funniness of Friends – from Season 3. The Geller cup is amazing, all of the subplots are hilarious, and I think this episode was probably one I watched at the peak of my obsession with the show.

“The One With The Rumor” – this might be the episode of Friends I quote the most. SO MANY GOOD THANKSGIVING QUOTES. If you ask for the sweet potatoes without saying  “YAMS!” in imitation of guest star Brad Pitt, then you’re not really doing Thanksgiving.

“The One With Chandler in a Box” – amazing episode. My all-time favorite line from the show is in this episode. The other characters are giving Monica a hard time for having a crush on her ex-boyfriend’s son, and she delivers the ultimate comeback, pointing at each person as she names one of their problematic romantic decisions: “Judge all you want, but: married a lesbian, left a man at the altar, fell in love with a gay ice dancer, threw a girl’s wooden leg in a fire, lives in a box!”

My favorite lines from the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends, which I repeat as often as possible on the holiday: 

“These are my Thanksgiving pants!”

Whats not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Meat, good!”

“Potatoes are ruined, potatoes are ruined, potatoes are ruined!”

“Got the keys?”

“Don’t you put words in people’s mouths, you put turkey in people’s mouths!”

“My two greatest enemies: Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates.”

“Yams!”

A sweet Friends episode Thanksgiving moment:

We spent Thanksgiving 2016 in Las Vegas. It was my sister, who was living and teaching out there for a semester; my mom, who flew out with us; and me, Tamara, and four-month-old Edgar.

Edgar was little enough that we actually could watch the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends all day long, so we had it on in the background throughout the day. I think we actually had found some sort of Netflix playlist that played them all in order.

It was after dinner, and Edgar was snuggled on my lap while we all watched the Season 10 Thanksgiving episode, “The One With The Late Thanksgiving.” I had completely forgotten that this episode ended with Monica and Chandler getting a call from the adoption agency, letting them know that they were getting a baby.

It had been a long, hard wait for Baby Edgar, and I was an overtired new mom snuggled with her baby boy – a picture I hadn’t thought was possible a year earlier. I cried tears of joy and hugged Edgar and Tamara and was so incredibly grateful. I also got tweaks, thinking of myself at 19, watching that same episode at my parents’ home in Staten Island, with no freaking idea how much life would changed in the next 13 years.

Oh, Friends – I love you forever.

Friends' Thanksgiving episodes headed to movie theaters across the country  - ABC News