Three things — 1.19.17

Things I’m loving this week

Image result for raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing aldi

Aldi’s Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing. I’m addicted to this salad dressing, which is especially delish if you throw a little fruit (mandarin orange slices, pomegranate arils, dried cranberries, etc.) into your salad.  I’ve tried other brands…not as good as Aldi’s “Specially Selected” brand.

Image result for nFL playoffs 2017

Playoff football. Sure, sure… the whole season is “exciting,” but there’s nothing like the last couple weeks of football when the best meet the best and put on quite a show.


The Women’s March on Washington. This, in addition to all the “sister events” held throughout the country, including one right here in Erie, warms the cockles of my little feminist heart. Were I not headed for much sunnier skies that day, my ass would definitely be on the bus to D.C.  Instead, I’ll just have to show my support for my sisters by sporting this as I travel all day:

Image result for feminist t shirt fist

Lion King Jr. at the Erie Playhouse. OK…I haven’t actually seen it yet because it opens tomorrow, but K is in the show (she is a lioness, savanna grass, and part of an elephant) and I’m certain it’s going to be awesome. Go see it! Call for tickets now…I know some shows are already sold out!


Things I’m not loving this week

The impending doom. Inauguration day = doomsday for democracy. Donald is mentally ill and unfit to lead this country.

3 Doors Down. I loved them…now I don’t. You lie down with dogs, boys…



Worth Reading — 1.18.17

A random collection of articles, blog posts, books, and other things I think are worth sharing.

Huffington Post: What Teenagers Need From Us Most (I may have posted this before because I know I’ve read it before, but…it bears repeating.)

Washington Post: Donald Trump May Have Just Destroyed the Republican Effort to Repeal Obamacare  (ha…ha….ha…ha…. Poor GOP…can’t control your loose cannon? If there’s one thing we know is that Trump wants to be liked and will say whatever makes him most popular. It’s a trait that’s easily exploited, manipulated…just ask his pal, Putin).

Half Waving, Half Drowning: Not every child is an A grade student. Why we must not let B/C/D be shameful.

“Please, please try to send them the message that although it’s good to try hard, it’s also good to be happy in your own skin. The one that fits you best. The one that might be made of Cs, Bs and the odd D. But does that make you a less valid person? It will probably only make you a happier, healthier person and that, surely, is the ultimate goal of parents and schools.”

Reader’s Digest: ‘My Father was the BTK Killer,’ Here’s Why I Managed to Forgive Him

 Washington Post: Trump’s Presidency is Doomed (I think I’m starting to enjoy this shit show, actually)

“By the end of the week, Trump will be the president. I wish him the best; I wish him the worst. The dilemma is how to separate loathing for him from love of country. I am leaving it to time to work that out. “




Just Write 148 ~ Teaching tenacity

JW 1 larger

On a rare weeknight in which K had nothing to do — no musical practice, no piano lessons, no voice lessons, no homework — she dug up a pom-pom animals craft kit she had gotten for her birthday in July.

There were illustrated instructions, but…of course, things like this are always confusing the first time (ever try to read a sewing pattern? Keep your seam-ripper nearby!)  I figured it would end in frustration and anger, and it did.

When I asked what happened to the pig she was working on, she said it got all tangled up and she put it away. She quit.


I find this happens a lot with her. She’s a perfectionist. This is not a good thing as it means if she can do something perfectly, she often doesn’t want to do it at all. Or bother trying because that involves the risk of failing (i.e. imperfection).

I knew that if I let that pink tangle of yarn sit shoved in that box, it would never see the light of day again. She’d never try to make another pig…or any pom-pom animal. She’d tried once. She failed. She was done. It was too hard. Done.

When she gives up on things, I always ask, “If you don’t try and keep trying, how will you ever learn to do anything? Hoping and wishing doesn’t work.”

Sometimes I can get her to try again. Sometimes I can’t.

The ukulele she wanted so badly for Christmas sits zipped in its case. She halfheartedly tried to play on Christmas Day. She immediately learned she wasn’t a musical prodigy and so, to my knowledge, hasn’t picked it up since.

Tenacity. Grit. Staying power. Dedication. Perseverance. Whatever you want to call it, I’ve found that teaching kids to stick with something is one of the hardest lessons to teach.

The pom-pom pig presented an opportunity.

“Kelly, you can’t give up on something that easily,” I said. “Bring it here. We’ll do it together.”

I patiently (and if you know me…you know this is miraculous) untangled the wadded up bundle of pink yarn, while K sat beside me. I followed the instructions and just when I was about to tie up my bundle, it slid off the end of the fork I was using to wrap it.

Again, I spent five minutes unraveling and untangling. I started over, being more careful this time to stay away from the top tines of the fork and holding my finger over the yarn so it wouldn’t slip off again. Because I had learned something from my failure.

This is how it works. You try. You fail. You learn. You try again.

Writing. Playing instruments. Making crafts. Sewing. Careers. Algebra. Running marathons. Life.

I’m finding it’s a very difficult concept to explain to kids, but a much easier one to demonstrate. Even more so with a low-stakes project like a fuzzy pink yarn pig.

I had to take L to swim practice, so I couldn’t help K finish the pig, but we did most of the hard part (making the pom) together before I left.

Ten minutes later she texted me this:


Today a pom-pom pig. Tomorrow maybe an algebra equation. Five years from now an overwhelming college project. Fifteen years from now…who knows?

Image result for quotes about grit


About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.

“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”

Three things — 1.12.17

Things I’m loving this week


Puzzles. My kitchen table has been taken over by puzzles and…I’m cool with that. It’s a fun wintertime activity the whole family can participate in here & there when they have the time and inclination to.

Bay Swim X Logo

Swimming laps. I’m still pondering the Bay Swim. This is the last year, they say. So, it’s now or never. And, yet, I’ve not sent in my registration yet. I have, however, been swimming laps again and I forgot how much I love to swim. It’s a hassle to pack up all this crap, it’s a hassle to get there, it’s a hassle to shower and dry my hair, etc.  But, I do love the almost meditative quality and quiet peacefulness of swimming laps. (I know this probably means I am not swimming fast enough, but…whatever…)$478$

Working Hands cream. I’ll be honest, the ugly green container with the orange writing and the fact that this is primarily found at Home Depot and Lowes stopped me from ever trying this cream. I do judge books by their covers. But, this sh&* is amazing. Seriously. I cannot believe how well it cleared up the dry skin on my hands. I typically suffer with that till May.

Things I’m not loving this week

The Liar-Elect. I can’t imagine anything or anyone else ever being number one on my “things I hate” list for the next four years, but this bloated, egotistical, ignorant jackass. What an embarrassment to this country. He’s like that obnoxious drunk uncle you try to avoid at every picnic and now someone just gave him keys to the house.

“Boyhood.” I finally watched this movie on Netflix and…meh. I was bored. I kept waiting for something to happen and nothing ever really did.  Is it just me?

The Handmaid’s Tale. I had high expectations for this book, and it started out really good, but then divulged into a couple of sex stories that just bored me. By veering into a secret sex club, I felt that author took the easy way out of a story that could’ve been about so much more than it turned out to be. Maybe Hulu will do a better job with it on screen? Remains to be seen.


Worth Reading — 1.11.17

A random collection of articles, blog posts, books, and other things I think are worth sharing.

NPR: Swooping Starlings in Murmuration (This brief, of course, led me down an Internet rabbit hole where I learned more about murmuration, that starlings are an invasive species, and that we can blame their arrival in the U.S. on Shakespeare…or at least one Shakespeare lover who imported and 60 Starlings in Central Park in 1890.)

Appalachian Trail Stories: 10 Unexpected Things I Learned on a 2,000 Mile Journey

The New York Times: How Republics End (America is…truly…on the edge. This is not hyperbole, folks. Democracy is at stake.)

“Here’s what I learned: Republican institutions don’t protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms. And tyranny, when it comes, can flourish even while maintaining a republican facade.”

Fresh Air: Under Apartheid, Trevor Noah’s Mother Taught Him to Face Injustice with Humor (If you have time…listen to the entire podcast…it’s pretty insightful).

A Mighty Girl: Cultivating Compassion: Books About Financial Hardship Hit Close to Home