I keep trying to come up with an idea for something to write that won’t completely embarrass my children, make me cry, or tell stories that aren’t mine to tell. So I haven’t been writing much. I saw this somewhere, though, and thought I’d share. If nothing else, it felt good to answer something.
1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
Well, my name is in the Bible, so I guess so. As far as I have seen in my family history I’m the only Rachel. The middle name I was given at birth (not my current middle name) is my father’s first name. My parents did that to my brother, too.
None of my children have first names that are related to family. There are stories about why each was chosen, but I didn’t want to do family names. At first my brother insisted I should name my first daughter after our two grandmothers Mary and Elizabeth. When I told him my (now ex) husband’s grandmother’s names (Ouida and Wilma), and explained that I’d have to name my 2nd daughter after them, he backed off.
All that said, G1’s middle name is a feminization of ex’s middle name. G2’s middle name is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. G3’s middle name is my maiden name modified to turn it into a name (Rowan). If I had had a boy the middle names would also have been family names.
2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
Sometimes. I can write very neatly, or when I’m in a hurry it can be horrible. It can always be read, though (unless I do a weird abbreviation). I have a history of reading bad handwriting that has come in handy at work with my boss and my officemate’s boss.
4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?
Salami and pastrami. I don’t really like sandwiches, but I like those on their own.
5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
Yup. They are 14, 12, 9. Birthdays start in May.
6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?
I hope so. But I’m very shy with new people, so
7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT?
Yes. My kids say I need to save some for other people.
8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
Yes. If you removed any part of your body due to repeat infections, I wouldn’t have lungs – bronchitis every year and 4 or 5 rounds of pneumonia.
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
Nope. I would go skydiving, though. Or hang gliding. Or parasailing. And I really want to go up in a hot air balloon. I’d probably only do the hot air balloon until my kids are all over 18. I might be paranoid.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?
I don’t really like cereal. I like oatmeal sometimes and granola sometimes.
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
It’s rare that I wear shoes that have ties. But no, I don’t.
12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
Sometimes. I can be strong, I can also be weak and completely useless.
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?
Maine Black Bear – black raspberry ice cream with chocolate chips
14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
Hair, eyes, smile
15. RED OR PINK?
Red. Not a fan of pink
16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
That I avoid things I don’t want to deal with rather than meeting them head on.
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
My Nanas. They were a huge part of my life.
18. WHAT IS THE TECHNIQUE THAT YOU NEED TO WORK ON THE MOST?
19. WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
My new Dansko blue clogs with embroidery. LOVE them. Thank you, Pop, for the birthday gift!
20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
Plain Greek yogurt.
21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?
23. FAVORITE SMELLS?
Vanilla, cinnamon, anything baked, and new baby head.
24. HOW IMPORTANT ARE YOUR POLITICAL VIEWS TO YOU?
They’re really important to me, but I don’t like discussing them with people with different opinions – in other words, I don’t want to argue about them.
25. MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY OR BEACH HOUSE?
Beach. Duh. But I do like to visit mountains.
26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
Gymnastics or figure skating.
27. HAIR COLOR?
Naturally a dark brown with grey. Currently auburn.
28. EYE COLOR?
29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
Nope. Not allowed as per my ophthalmologist. Glasses protect my “good” eye.
30. FAVORITE FOOD?
Lobster and artichokes.
31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
Happy endings. I can barely make it 5 minutes into a scary movie.
32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. We’re re-watching them before our trip.
33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
White with a purple-blue cardigan
34. SUMMER OR WINTER?
Summer and spring
35. FAVORITE DESSERT?
Chocolate mousse or angel pie
36. STRENGTH TRAINING OR CARDIO?
I bike or walk or swim. I’ve done strength training before and will again, but cardio makes me feel better.
37. COMPUTER OR TELEVISION?
Computer. No contest.
38. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?
Second Chance Pass by Robyn Carr. Really enjoying the Virgin River books.
39. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?
At home I have a MacBook, so no mouse pad. At work I have a picture of the 5 of us at the Topsfield Fair.
40. FAVORITE SOUND?
Silence. It’s rare.
41. FAVORITE GENRE OF MUSIC?
I love a lot of different kinds of music. Love 80s rock & hair bands (LOVED the Rock of Ages movie!), modern country, some pop (other than Justin Bieber), 60’s era oldies, and British Invasion music that isn’t the Beatles.
42. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
I think it’s Germany. I really want to visit Australia, but also China and a lot of other places.
43. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
I can bake and cook quite well. I can’t quite come up with another one.
44. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
45. WHERE ARE YOU LIVING NOW?
Marblehead, MA – same town I grew up in, but I lived in Texas, Connecticut, and Ipswich before returning.
46. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR HOUSE?
Purple! A periwinkle main color with purple shutters. My storm door was purple, then it broke. So I have a wooden door and I’m hoping to have a purple screen/storm door again.
47. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR CAR?
48. DO YOU LIKE ANSWERING 48 QUESTIONS?
G3 hanging upside down on the playground
G3 feels things strongly. It’s probably a part of being the 3rd girl, the youngest, living in a family of drama queens, and wanting to catch up to everyone else. If G1 or G2 are home sick from school, then it’s NOT FAIR that G3 has to go to school. She’s also a wee bit competitive, and sure to be the one having the most fun, laughing the hardest, and being the silliest. She reminds me of a ditty my mom would recite about me, except that G3 has no curls:
There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
And when she was good
She was very very good
And when she was bad, she was horrid.
She had a fight with one of her best friends recently – the friend shared a secret with another friend after asking G3 not to tell anyone. G3 started yelling “Hypocrite! Hyp! o! crite!” at her on the playground. When the friend said that since G2 knew this secret, she told this other person, and now they had each shared it with one person, which was fair. Of course, G2 only knew ‘cos the other child’s friend told me, and I told G2, not knowing it was a secret. So G3 angrily told the friend it wasn’t the same or fair.
I tried to break in and say, “Listen, girls, what’s more important – yelling at each other or being friends?”
G3 wreathed in smiles, with a wreath she made herself
G3: “Being right!”
Ummmm… that wasn’t one of the choices! Thankfully, they made up and then spent a lovely long afternoon together the next day. I think 3rd graders are feel things strongly in general, but G3 may take it to extremes.
And then there’s fairness. She’s big on fairness. “If the President of France banned homework, why do we have to have it?” She ended up writing to our President, our Governor, our Superintendent of Schools, and her Principal. The Superintendent answered, but it wasn’t a great answer, basically saying it’s so her parents know what she’s doing. Her reply? “Well can’t they just send out an email?”
It’s a relief when her feelings and sense of fairness are actually justified, and I can do something about it. She was not wanting to go to school, faking sick, and growling when she left school because she was bored. After a few emails and a Big Meeting, she is now actually challenged in class! Plus, we realized we should look into the local Charter School as a possibility for next year (it’s a grades 4-8 school)
Our Elf on the Shelf, George, swinging from the lamp
G3 also firmly believes in Santa. It’s very, very sweet, and I’m always so glad when there’s a little something fun I can do for her. Santa sent her this video, and she loved it! What more can you want than Santa talking directly to you? Or having your Elf on the Shelf moved into weird positions? My favorite was when he had a cup and marshmallow waiting for her in the bathroom, but G1 freaked out and made G3 move George out of the bathroom.
I’m lucky when it comes to family. In fact, I’m beyond lucky. Until I was 12-13 I had a small family. It was just my mom, dad, and younger brother until my parents divorced when I was 8. On my mom’s side I had my amazing grandmother and one (unmarried) uncle. On my dad’s side we had my amazing grandparents, two aunts & uncles, and 3 cousins.
Then, when I was 13, both of my parents got married. My mom married into my stepfather’s large Portuguese family, with tons of cousins, and my dad married into my stepmother’s large Irish family, which came with 3 older stepbrothers and bunches of cousins as well. Everyone accepted each other as family, without worrying about step or not, and I embraced extending my family.
All the cousins on Cape Cod
Now that everyone is married, and many have children, I’d need to draw charts to explain how I’m related to some of my family. I don’t, though. I usually say “my cousin” or “my brother and sister-in-law” rather than specify “real” or step. My girls have a bunch of cousins to spend time with as a result, and I think it’s a wonderful, inclusive way to grow up. My dad and stepmom treat us to a week on Cape Cod every other year, and my stepdad’s family has a reunion at my aunt and uncle’s house in New Hampshire every July.
All the relatives in NH
As we prepare to go to Thanksgiving at my cousin and his wife’s house, it reminds me again of how lucky we are to have such a big extended family so close. The girls’ father’s family is in Texas (and is much smaller), so it’s important to me that they can build relationships with the family that is here. My cousins have 4 kids, all close in age to my 3, which helps the relationship and helps Thanksgiving be fun – it’s never boring!
K has been completely welcomed into our family, but this is his first Thanksgiving with us. He’s spent the past few Christmases, Easters, and other holidays with us, plus a few family vacations, but he’s always gone to see his mom for Thanksgiving. I’m not sure he knows quite what to expect… He has a very small family, so he’s been a wee bit overwhelmed with all of us occasionally, but Thanksgiving is a relaxed holiday I think.
Fort Sewall Family
I’m also grateful for how welcoming my family has been in general. My brother married a wonderful woman who has a young niece and three young nephews. My parents have opened their home and hearts to these kids as well as all of my sister-in-law’s family. Last weekend they played for a few hours with my girls, and much fun was had – especially with Stomp Rockets, but they liked the walk to Fort Sewall, too. And rolling down the hill with my brother.
When I was young I didn’t always believe that loving another person meant you could still love me just as much. When I became a parent the first time I thought I could never love anyone as much as I loved G1. But when G2 and G3 were born I thought the same thing. Love really is multiplied, not divided*. I’m incredibly grateful for our large, warm, welcoming extended family, and I’m happy when it extends more. I’m very lucky. And I know it.
* Yes, I know that’s from the opening to Sister Wives. But it worked. So there.
Marbled Angel Food Cake by G2
I was raised cooking. My mom included me in cooking, and I cooked meals once a week at home starting around age twelve. My grandmothers cooked and baked with me for as long as I could remember, too. I have such fond memories of making cookies, homemade spinach and cheese ravioli, and other treats with my grandmothers when I visited with them. I loved cooking and baking then and I love cooking and baking now – even with the various food allergies and Celiac we’ve dealt with. But, I’m far from thinking of myself as Martha Stewart-ish. I’m much more about flavor than fussy presentation. Much, much, much more. I’ll cook and bake from scratch (and even grind the flour myself), but I’m not spending time decorating something I already spent hours creating. Not my thing.
G2 the 5 star chef
G2, however, is now cooking, baking, and Martha Stewart obsessed. She reads cookbooks, looks forward to Martha’s magazine coming each month, and steals any other cooking-related magazines or catalogs that come to the house. She leaps at the chance to cook or bake, and for the past few years her gifts to her sisters on their birthdays have been homemade treats. She loves decorating them and decorate for every holiday, though she tends to get tired and I end up finishing whatever she started. She longs to make the type of pies in Martha’s magazines with the cut-outs and perfect crusts.
Reading the Joy of Cooking. For fun.
I’m grateful I’ve already done a lot of the legwork to determine the best way to make “regular” recipes Gluten Free, and that I have a ton of recipes already, including a fabulous pie crust recipe. This ends up helping G2 a lot, and she has no anxieties about trying new recipes. She ends up doing things I wouldn’t – like the marbled angel food cake or the citrus mango sandwich cake, and she wants to try new recipes all the time.
I was especially reminded of this yesterday after school, when she and I sat down to hammer out what we’re bringing to my cousin’s Thanksgiving dinner. Well. We have a couple new things on the menu this year. And we’re switching up the pies a bit.
Piping multi-colored meringues from Martha Stewart’s recipe
The best part, though, was when she said, “Mom, you know that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a half day, right?” “Yes.” “So can I stay home that day instead? I want to work on getting all the cooking done.”
I actually had to force myself to remember that she won’t take anything out of the oven for fear of getting burned, so it wouldn’t work for her to stay home. Otherwise I’d have been hard pressed not to jump on the offer. And no, you can’t borrow her.
Tonight is the premiere for the final Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn, Part 2. I loved the books, which I insist I loved before they became so popular. I loved them even more when they became the first long books G1 enjoyed. I loved watching her sit and read to herself, ignoring everyone and everything other than her books. When you have a child with a reading disability, finding them truly absorbed in a book for the first time is amazing. I loved it. I love the Twilight books for that alone.
G1 got very lucky tonight. K and I both wanted to see Breaking Dawn 2, so we’re bringing her along for the ride. She even got her father’s permission to stay with me tonight. We just finished some yummy Pad Thai, and now it’s time for Vampires!
As a total aside, I love the Vampires! shirt, and I’m wearing it tonight. Admittedly, there’s an assassin about to attack “The Sparkly One”, but it does have many of my favorite vampires.
Lemon poppyseed muffins, blueberry muffins, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, pumpkin bars
G3 is in 3rd grade. In third grade (and in lower grades) there are a lot of food events. Things like today’s “Math Breakfast”. The idea was that parents would bring food in for themselves and the kids, and the kids would show off their mad math skillz. Awesome! We had a Writing Breakfast last year in 2nd grade, and it was a lot of fun. I made muffins that were safe for all the kids with allergies and all the kids in general, and they disappeared very quickly. For the past 3 years I’ve been working with the other Allergy mom, whose son always seems to be in G3′s class (we had the 2 kids with 5 allergies total), to make sure everyone could eat the same food. It went very well, no one felt singled out, and the kids devoured the food (my allergy-free food is very yummy, thankyouverymuch).
And then came this year (insert ominous music here), when a policy was adopted at G3′s school* that excludes bringing homemade food to school events. While I understand that the goal of the policy is to have an ingredients label, this policy ends up hurting the children with allergies – the very kids it’s supposed to protect, and it’s the Allergy Moms who are the most upset about this. I’m sure that if you’re dealing with only one allergy, especially nuts, it could be a useful policy, but it means G3 and her Allergy Buddy are singled out, and can’t eat anything being served.
- Muffins (gluten, dairy, egg, could be nuts/peanuts or berries)
- Bagels (gluten, usually egg)
- Cream cheese (dairy)
- Fruit salad (berries)
For the 3 years prior to this policy being in place, we two Allergy Moms traded off making the food for events & class parties so that all the kids could eat the same food, and no one was singled out. Now that’s impossible, and there are very, very few foods that can be purchased that are free of the 5 allergens (dairy, egg, nuts/peanuts, gluten, berries), and those that do exist are prohibitively priced.
I made a big stink about it and met with the nurse and principal, and have meetings set up with the head nurse for the town. Plus I’ve contacted the school committee chair. The irony? G3 had a fever and couldn’t go to the Math Breakfast today! Yeesh. I still need to fight this, though, as there will be other events like this. And I need to make sure G3 isn’t excluded.
This is all in addition to my rant about purchased, processed food being significantly less healthy than homemade, but that’s another fight for another day.
*The policy was already in place for the Middle and High Schools, but there are far fewer food events, so I hadn’t fought those battles.
Today is K’s birthday. It’s Lucky 13 and he is now The Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything. It’s also November, and I totally missed the trend on Facebook to post a daily gratitude, so in line with that, and to re-introduce our family and our blog, I’m listing 13 things (not in any set order) I’m grateful for today.
- The Little Purple House. Yes, 650 sq feet is small for 4, but we have a beautiful old home (~1850) that is warm, comfortable, and ours.
- G1. Being a teenager is hard, as is being the parent to a teenager, but I’m grateful we have a good relationship, and I can actually speak to her openly about her concerns and mine.
- G2. OK, I’m grateful her play is over so I’ll see her more. I’m grateful for how fun she is, how inventive and imaginative she is (she’s writing an American Girl novel based on herself), and that we can talk her life and worries.
- G3. I’m grateful for her energy and enthusiasm, the connection we have, and how outgoing and social she is. She’s very different from me, but she’s forcing me to get a bit out of my comfort zone.
- K. After my marriage dissolved I had a fair amount of baggage, and really couldn’t trust easily. K has been patient, kind, and worked with me through my baggage. So happy I lucked out and found him!
- My family. From one set of my parents letting us live in their house and another set helping me buy furniture for my house, my family has been very supportive over the past 4 years. I’m grateful for my brothers, sisters-in-law, cousins, all the many cousins for my kids who make holidays fun.
- My Church. Not only do I believe the church is true and have a testimony of the gospel, but it’s because of my church that I met many of my local friends after my marriage ended. My girls also have many friends with similar interests and values due to our church as well.
- My friends. Hometown friends who’ve known me for 40 years, homeschooling & local friends who’ve known me for 10, online friends who’ve known me for 15, and new friends - through church, returning to my hometown, and my kids.
- Our town. We live in a lovely small town of about 20,000 on the coast, north of Boston. I love that we’re only an hour by public transit or car to Boston, but we can walk everywhere, have great schools, and are in a very safe area. Sure it’s expensive and occasionally snobby, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
- Our school system. Do I have problems sometimes? Absolutely. But for G1′s language-based learning disability, this is the best town in the area, and the class sizes and teachers are wonderful (overall) for all 3.
- My job. I searched so hard for work for 2 1/2 years, but right after I had my resume redone by a professional, I got call-backs (feel free to email me for the link). My paralegal job is interesting, happens during school hours, is flexible, and has fabulous coworkers and a great boss.
- Outgrowing many of our earlier allergies. Yes, we deal with gluten (all) and berries (G3), but that’s not that bad. We’ve outgrown dairy, soy, eggs, and corn (which is in everything), so just gluten is not bad.
- Labeling laws and upsurge in production of allergy-safe foods. When we were first dairy-free 14.5 years ago, and went GF almost 10 years ago, there was very little on the market. Now it’s crazy easy to buy things that are safe for us to eat. Expensive, but easy to find.
When we moved into the Little Purple House 13 months ago, it was a new beginning. We, as a family of 4 girls (5 if you include the cat), were setting off on our own, and we were so excited!
A year later, we still love our Little Purple House, and we’ve become pretty settled in as a family of four. The Gaggle of Girls are now soaring after our prior life crashed and burned. I think of myself like a phoenix (I actually collect phoenixes & phoenix t-shirts), rising up from the past into a new life. The girls, however, don’t always think of it that way, but they’re the ones living with the after-effects of their parents’ divorce.
Tonight we are all enjoying a quiet evening after a 3 day weekend. G1 (14) is in her room, listening to music and hanging out online, G2 (12) is finishing up her homework (no, we don’t procrastinate at all!), and G3 (9) is looking for American Girl merchandise to put on her Christmas wish list.
I’m trying out the idea of a new blog, and playing with settings and ideas. I’ve started following people’s blogs again, remembered how much I liked blogging and the ability to look into the past, and want to record those snapshots of our lives in our new house.
Welcome to the future of the Gaggle of Girls, going through Life in the Little Purple House!