with Lynne and Leslie

Lessons From Fancy Dinners That You Can Apply When You Are Back To Your Kraft Mac and Cheese

by SweetMidlife

Hi ya! Lynne here.

The following is the account of one of the best meals of my daggone life. I am not exaggerating. But it is not a foodie review, because I didn’t know half of what I was eating at first. It is just an appreciation of seriously good eats.

Best Friend Maria, her awesome husband Taylor, and my Really Cute Husband AC went to Volt, a restaurant in Frederick, MD run by Bryan Voltaggio of “Top Chef” fame. We have been trying to go here for quite awhile now, and we even had reservations for my birthday in 2014, but my sitter canceled, and this is not a 2 year-old kind of place. No. He would have turned it out. So no.

So fast forward about a year later to last week and the yumminess that ensued.

Here are some pictures. I took a few but Taylor took most of them. Which was so nice of him to offer because that left more seconds for me to eat.

When we got to the bar, I got a drink with a banana dolphin in it! Best Friend Nikki said it looks like a slug coming out of my coconut cup. Dang tasty either way.

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Then we were seated, and the banana dolphin joined us, and we all got the 6-course tasting menu. Now, I have done prix-fixe dinners before, and gone to weddings and banquets, so I have had meals that were done in courses. They bring you something, and you eat it. And then they bring you something else and you eat that. And so on. Shoot, if you get potato skins, then fish and chips, followed by a sundae at Applebee’s, then that would be a 3-course menu. But there is something about getting 6 yummy courses of crazy rich, decadent food and being able to savor each one, and really taste everything. I won’t share all of the courses, but here are some of them.

 

 

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This was the raw scallops course. My husband was adventurous because he doesn’t do raw stuff and he tried it anyway. The rest of us loved it.

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This is parsnip soup. And I actually had it for 2 courses because they brought one that I didn’t care for, and the server saw me kind of eating around it and asked what else I wanted and I asked for another bowl of this. It was smooth and crunchy and I want some now. NOW.

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These are delicious meaty mushrooms that they let me order from another part of the menu because I don’t eat lamb.

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This is the chocolate trio at the end. One was ice cream, the other one was ice cream-like, and the third was like the fanciest candy bar ever.

When we were done, we were stuffed, but not uncomfortably.

And it was like 4 hours later, but we didn’t feel like we had anywhere else to be.

We had amazing conversations with friends who I talk to every day on Facebook but don’t see face to face often.

And phones only came out to take pictures of the food, or to glance to see if children or the people watching them had called.

And I want to live like this all of the time.

Not that I have $95 to spend on dinner daily. That probably won’t happen for a good long while. Or maybe never. And I can’t afford to eat things this rich or decadent all of the time, or spend 4 hours eating dinner every night.

But I can pay more attention to the people who I see every day. Like my husband and my toddler. I can stop thinking about what will be happening when I get up from the table and listen to how my husband’s day was and tell him about mine and listen to the song that my song is singing to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” whose lyrics will include something about garbage trucks. It’s better than my internal monologue, which is usually “I am SO tired. Wait, what did your co-worker say? I wish I had cooked these potatoes longer. Is the dishwasher empty, or do I have to unload it before I reload? I hate that? Boy, you cannot have a lollipop. You didn’t eat your fish. Sit down. There’s no good shows on tonight with people singing. What, you have to get up and pack lunch now? Sit back down!”

Yeah.

And we can be more mindful of what we eat. I felt less full eating 6 courses of smaller servings than I do just eating my regular starch/protein/veggie meal every night. Yes, we had 4 hours at Volt, but we ate. And tasted. And put the fork down. And savored. And talked. And ate more. And put the fork down. And we savored. And enjoyed. And were thankful. And I think that we can apply that to your macaroni/baked chicken/broccoli you are having tonight.

Bite.

Taste.

Listen.

Talk.

Enjoy.

Happy People. You can be that every night.

Happy People. You can be that every night.


RIP BB King: That time he helped put closure on my worst relationship ever

by SweetMidlife

bb king

 

Leslie here.

It’s kind of fitting that my husband, who is cool and nice and sweet and generally seems to like me most of the time, was the one to wake me up just now and tell me about the sad passing of B.B. King, blues pioneer, showman, diabetes awareness spokesman and namesake of a chain that sells the world’s best fried pickles. And that’s because although I’ll always remember him as all those things, he will also always be the guy who’s concert marked the bittersweet coda of the worst relationship I ever had.

I will not bore you with the details – let’s just say that I was younger, dumber and desperate to mean something to someone in a guy-girl situation, and this man was wrong, wrong, wrong for me, like big blinding billboard so bright you can’t sleep at night WRONG WRONG WRONG. But he liked me OK, and so that was close enough. Until it wasn’t.

There is a line from a Patti Griffin song that goes “Ain’t no talking to this man, he’s been trying to tell me so,” and indeed he did all the time. He used to break up with me all the time, sometimes to be cruel but mostly because he knew something I couldn’t see, that we were WRONG WRONG WRONG and toxic and incompatible and blech. This is the guy who was so wrong for me that one of my best friends used to make me take him to dinner every time I got back to together with that guy because “When you get sick of paying for my food you will stop going back to that guy.”

So after a lot of really gross breakups over maybe 8 months, dotted with too few oasis-like moments of happiness, or whatever fake carbon copy of happiness I’d settled for, it finally ended, to the and delight and relief of my friends, my daddy and my wallet, because I was getting sick of buying that one buddy dinner all the time. I think it started with him offering to help me move and not showing up, and then offering to come over for dinner that night and me sitting on the steps with the cordless (yes, a landline!) for an hour watching the car lights that weren’t his pass by until I knew I was just a cliche from an ’80s movie and went inside. Fortunately, I did not then sit in the freezing cold in my furniture-less living room in front of a giant and unexplained painting of Billy Idol’s head, because that would be weird.

And then I went to his apartment and begged him to talk to me and he wouldn’t even walk me to the door and I said “You’d walk a hooker to the door if only to make sure she didn’t steal anything, so I’m never coming back” and he was like “Don’t believe it,” and I was like “If I ever start to I will remember this moment you made me feel like less than a hooker and stop myself” and then Carly Simon started singing about running rivers and the new Jerusalem in my head and that was that.

That was, until I don’t know how long later…a couple months maybe…of judiciously avoiding each other at work, and he came over to my desk and said “Streeter, you wanna go see B.B. King with me?” And it was clear for both of us that this was not a date – I got the feeling I was his last resort, like he bought them for someone else and he couldn’t find anyone else to go. The show was in Philadelphia, about two hours away and I had a moment of panic – this was a person who made me feel as low as anyone ever has, with my permission, and I was a crazy psycho toxic person to him as well, and what would we talk about?

But then I thought about being an adult, and I remember looking at him across the newsroom and trying to conjure any attraction, any gasp of that craziness that used to make me throw all common sense and self-preservation to the winds, and…nothing. Maybe this is what being grown-up looked liked. I felt I had put it all behind me, but going to this show with him and getting through it without incident would be a nice coda. So I said yes, sure, and it was really casual, and we were both overly emphatic on the platonic nature of the event. It was so long ago I can’t remember a lot of it, but I know we had dinner, and there was a conversation in the car – I think sitting outside the restaurant? – in which somebody said “So we’re cool, right?” and the other one said “Yes” and there were apologies and nods and some brief wave of relief and the understanding that it would not be quite so weird for the rest of the evening, because we still had a whole concert and a ride home to get through.

The show was great, but long. I tend to fall asleep around 9, no matter what’s going on – friends call me Narcoleslie – and after Bobby “Blue” Bland’s set, and then BB, I remember nodding off, and the guy elbowing me during “The Thrill Is Gone” and saying “You are missing this and you better wake up.” So many years later, it seems to have been that he knew this was our final thing, and he had taken a gamble that we could do this as adults and not be insane and I was ruining the closure by falling asleep. I remember how impressed I was with King, because at that point he was already elderly, sitting down a lot. But he talked, and he laughed, and when he held Lucille and closed his eyes and wailed, I felt a jolt of genius and inspiration that kept me awake.

Until the ride home, where I nodded off probably immediately after the seat belt clicked. I remember the guy nudging me awake, parked across from my house, the one whose steps he’d left me sitting on like an idiot, and saying, jokingly but quite emphatically, “Alright, get out,” because he wanted to make sure that this was not our old dance, that we were not gonna kiss or hug or have some sort of anything that was anything other than a goodbye. The girly inth of me that watches too many movies was, even then, a little taken aback because that girly part likes being kissed goodnight, but the other parts of me wrestled the girly part to the ground and slapped her around and bound her in the corner until we could all get out of the car.

That was the last time we did anything just the two of us – months later we were part of a group that went to see a band in Baltimore, an hour away, and we talked about the girl he’d fallen in love with across the country, who he moved away to marry, and I talked about whatever loser I was losering with at the moment. And it was even more final, but more relaxed, and happy and goofy and something like friendship. It was a huge relief to me, a huge sigh, a thing to put behind me, which is weird because I didn’t usually deal with things that well.

That was it. But it wouldn’t have happened without B.B. King. Thanks for helping me act like a grown-up.


Bad Acapella DeBarge

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here.

So, you didn’t seem apalled by my Bad Acapella Air Supply song I did last week, so I hope you will be okay with this, my version of “Rhythm of the Night” by DeBarge. I love me some DeBarge. And bonus points if you can name what movie this song was in.

Enjoy!


Bad Acapella Air Supply

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here!

So, I wanted to post something today, but I was running out of ideas.

But I have had this song in my head all day. And I once said on Facebook that I wanted to record myself lipsyncing power ballads of the 1980’s, and someone said I should sing them instead, and I never did, but I decided to go for it. And I am hoarse, and I hit at least one wonky note, but I am all about the real. Kinda.

So, here it is…

Bad Acapella Air Supply


Open your Eyes

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here.

So, my son is almost 3, and every day does something new and often funny. His newest thing is to close his eyes and say, “But I can’t see everybody!”. And I explain that’s because his eyes are closed. If you aren’t open to looking, then everybody and everything is going to pass you by. Some people are okay with that, and close their eyes to the things that they don’t want to see. But whether or not they decide to look, the people are still out there, living.

And I believe that a lot of people’s eyes were closed to the depth of the racial tensions in this country, but some of those eyes were pried open with crowbars after the events in my hometown of Baltimore the past few weeks. The death of Freddie Gray while he was in police custody has spawned sorrow, resignation, peaceful protests, violent riots, marches, hateful Facebook comments, and many, many words, both written by many bloggers and spoken by the countless number of reporters who descended on the city that I love.

And although I worked out some feelings on Facebook, trying to grieve and reflect and heal in a group along with friends who are from the area and some who have moved away (I no longer live in Baltimore, but about 45 minutes away in Annapolis), I waited to write something on this blog. I needed time to process what was happening. And although I am writing now, don’t think that this post is some definitive manifesto on what happened in Baltimore last week, what has been happening there and all over this nation since its founding, an on what I think will and should happen. Because it’s not.

It’s not that easy. I’m not healed.

Because although it would be fantastic, and I am serious when I say this, if these feelings and tensions went away once people saw evidence, and once a trial happens, and once a court of law decides whether or not the officers accused of Mr. Gray’s death were actually responsible. But that’s not going to happen. Because people are prone to see what they want to see, based on their leanings and whatever they bring with them to any incident, and those leanings often prevent them from seeing anything else, regardless of whatever evidence they are presented with to the contrary. I mean, some people don’t even think we have any racial issues in this country, and that it’s all about taking advantage of opportunity, and that we are all treated the same way in society based on how we act, and that it has nothing to do with your race, or where you came from, or anything like that, and if you just obey the law, you will never have any problems, and that race issues are all in the heads of the ones who claim they are being oppressed.

And I think that is the highest level of wrong, and absolutely not true, but I won’t try to give you evidence of that right here and now. Because, I think, trying to list all of the ways I see racism in the very fabric of this country trivializes the gravity of the issue. Because I would give you evidence, and you would explain it away and say that I imagined it, and that everything is fine, and I would disagree, and I think this conversation is so important, that I won’t even pretend to hash it all out here.

But there needs to be a conversation. Because this isn’t going away. It’s not. And we can choose to keep our eyes closed, like my silly toddler, and pretend that people outside of our eyelids aren’t hurting, aren’t sad, aren’t tired. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It just means that you refuse to see them. What we need is to open our eyes, and actually listen to each other. We need what my former Pastor and the closest thing I have to a mother-in-law calls a paradigm shift. We need to accept that we don’t know everything. That’s not what this should be about. This isn’t about being right, about those other people being wrong, and being able to close the door on this once this case or that case is over. Too many lives are caught up in this, of people who feel like their lives don’t matter to everyone, of police officers who are trying to keep and maintain a peace, of people who happen to share the same color or occupation of those under fire. These feelings are bleeding through in living color on Facebook, and in comment sections, and it’s ugly. The hate I have seen in the past week is enough to make me want to scoop up my husband and son and move somewhere far away. That won’t help. And that doesn’t change the fact that these things are still happening. They are. And they will. So we have to talk about it. To try to hear each other. Something. Because I am sick of dead young men, and of dead officers, and hate. Even with talking, I don’t know if these things will ever go away. But we can start by at least seeing each other. At opening our eyes.

Please.

Thank you.

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Budgeting Like a Boss. Kinda.

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here. The following is a sponsored post for Discountrue, a website that offers various coupon codes and budgeting advice. We wrote this post, however, and all opinions and such offered here are totally ours. 

I told you guys before that my family and I were really trying to set budgets for what we spent in our daily lives. Budgeting is a smart thing to do, because unless you have a money tree in your backyard, there is a limit to your resources. Ask the many lottery winners and sports stars and trust fund recipients and other folks who ran through their many dollars like Will Farrell streaking the quad in the movie “Old School”. And you feel just as crazy and bare when it’s all gone.

So we know that we SHOULD do it, but it’s gosh darn hard to do it. Because it takes sitting down, and coming to terms with what you actually spend on stuff, and that isn’t always pretty. Then you have to do math. But you feel better when you get it all done.

But then you have to stick to it.

Yeah.

Tools of the trade.

Tools of the trade.

And that’s the hard part for me. Because while admitting you have a problem is the first step, you have to actually work any plan you come up with. And that is what we have been doing since the fall, and it’s going pretty well. We have overspent in some areas, because sometimes Tater Tots jump in your cart and you have to take them home, and also sometimes we are tired and want takeout. But we are getting in the frame of mind to realize that if we spend more in one category than we planned, that money can’t go on a magic credit card. It means we have less to spend on something else. Credit cards aren’t magical anyway, since you have to pay them back with interest and THAT money has to come out of something else and oh my.

This is better.

So, we are trucking along. Sure, we’ve had some hiccups, and this month I took money out of the grocery budget so I could buy a bra. We were under on the food budget, and I needed something that wasn’t a nursing bra, since I haven’t nursed in about 2 and a half years. So that needed to happen. It’s all about being aware of what you have so you can make adjustments. And we are also getting good resources online from places like Discountrue, where you can find coupon codes for online stores, plus really useful budgeting tips on their blog. It’s really good stuff.

Hey, any of you guys living on a budget? How is that going? What are your challenges? Victories?

 


Life lessons from a former Coke addict (and three things every water lover knows to be true)

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Today, we feature a guest post by Bekah Carrington, who writes at “I Prefer My Puns Intended”, a wonderful blog about parenting and faith. We like her blog A LOT. A post we wrote is featured on her blog today. Here is Bekah! This is good…….

Somewhere in between walking out of my parent’s home and my senior year of college, I developed a debilitating dependence on coke.

This dependency started small; maybe just this once quickly turned into buying in bulk. By the fall of 2007, I was hooked.  There was no going back.

I was hopelessly devoted to Coca-Cola Classic.

As a red-blooded American, it was so easy to become addicted to this  liquid candy.  Coca-Cola Freestyle machines baited me to try all different types of combinations (cherry, vanilla, raspberry coca-cola tastes like love–or at least I bet it does).  A “small” drink at a drive through looks a lot like what “large” was when I was a kid.  If you order a large drink, you’re sure to be sipping upwards of 32 ounces of sugar-laced carbonated water. I learned to pay loads of attention to the food that I ate, but neglected to check the nutritional value of what I was sipping.

That was until I began to run; and instead of counting calories, I counted miles.  I could afford the 2.4 miles I’d have to run for each of my Coca-Colas.

Thus, I kicked the habit: cold turkey.  I began to hitch my wagon to a new addiction: dihydrogen monoxide. That’s right: water.

And honestly, I freaking love water.  Whether it’s fruit infused water; La Croix; filtered (never spring water); or straight from the tap: I shotgun water like a fraternity boy.  There is something (gasp) refreshing about water.   In our great nation, it is safe to drink and free. 

If you’re thinking of becoming a convert and kicking your coke habit for good, here are three things all water drinkers learn the hard way.

  1. Water cups are cartoonishly-small. In a land where $1.99 buys enough liquid sugar to last a lifetime, it may seem odd that when one asks for water–this is what you’ll get.

 

Is this a cup for ants?

Is this a cup for ants?

 

It seems bigger is better in our country; except of course when the beverage is free…Or decidedly better for you.  On average, each “water cup” holds 5 ounces of water, which is less than my son’s sippy cup holds. It boggles the mind; it leaves you thirsty for more…literally.

 

  1. Chipotle offers the largest water cup; This is something you’ll want to know for the future. Chipotle has water lover market wrapped. Pun intended.

 

 

  1. If this ever happens to you, you can go home. You’ve won for the day.

 

Switching to water only was an easy way to cut out unnecessary sugar, caffeine, and calories from my diet.  Ironically enough, it has not been an easy way to quench my thirst at restaurants.  Will the mouthwash cup turned water cup ever be obsolete? Probably not. But it won’t ever stop me from campaigning to get a real cup for water.

Bekah spends most of her time crafting really bad dad jokes at “I Prefer My Puns Intended,” because life can be punny. She was three years into her career as a secondary English teacher and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who completely rearranged her plans. God has a funny way of throwing us curveballs.
For now, she is a full-time mom. In the future, she will return to the classroom. All the while, she will use her blog as a means to teach, inspire, and encourage all who so willingly and unnecessarily sell themselves short. Her favorite topics include faith, family, education, and pop-culture editorials.
The titles of her blogs may be cheesy, but the content earns cheddar. ..and gets feta……sorry, better.
You can connect with Bekah on Facebook (www.facebook.com/iprefermypunsintended), Twitter(@bekcarrington), and Instagram(@bekcarrington)!


Stitch Fix update: My Pinterest page helps dress me! What a novel idea!

by SweetMidlife

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Howdy guys! This is Leslie, and once again I’m doing my own version of home shopping – Stitch Fix, which provides a box of clothes selected for you by stylists based on your sizes and stated preferences. I’ve been doing it for a few months now, and the boxes are now getting more on the nose than they originally were, when I either didn’t like the clothes or didn’t love them enough to pay full price for them. It’s a real find – I get to try out clothes that I like but still might bypass in a store, chosen by someone with a fresh eye. And getting the boxes and opening them is like a monthly Christmas gift, albeit one I pay for.

Yesterday’s offering was the most successful,  and apparently it’s because the stylist checked my Pinterest page, specifically the one marked “What I want in my Stitch Fix box” before filling the box. She took a look at the things that I Pin from other people’s pages or around the Internet and got a clearer picture of what I really like, or at least what the page says I like. And for the first time I almost bought all five items in the box – a dress, two shirts, a scarf and a skirt – which would have triggered a 25% discount, with which the $20 monthly “styling fee” you pay every month would have made $246 worth of clothes cost only $169.50. Sadly, one of the shirts didn’t fit in the chestular region, and without the discount the other shirt was just a shirt, you know? And the dress was cute but not “me” enough for $58 bucks.

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So I kept the above amazing skirt, and that boss bird scarf (that peasant blouse is my own and doesn’t really match), which with the $20 styling fee I already paid this month come to $66 bucks. And it’s worth it – that skirt goes with anything and I always like adding to Leslie’s Collection Of Scarves – my whole house is covered in drapey fabric to dress up my sweaty workout wear when I’m running out to get diapers and don’t want to look crazy.

The Pinterest thing really is brilliant – it’s one of the things that Stitch Fix inquires about when you fill out your profile. The first time I did it I didn’t fill it out, maybe because I was like “Who wants to know?” But my Pinterest is public, and if seeing the things that catch my eye and viscerally get me to click “Pin” helps someone who does not know me find things for me, it’s awesome. Pinterest is aspirational in that it’s unlikely that I am ever going to recreate a Moroccan tent in my backyard or redo my kitchen to look like something out of Elle Decor. But when putting things on my “Stitch Fix” page, I am not just clicking pretty things. I am thinking about the things I might wear, even if I’ve never bought anything like that before. Looking at the page this morning, I see that it’s mostly dresses – I love dresses – scarves, interesting cuffs and bangles, as well as sleek blazers and pants – it’s my Executive Stevie Nicks look. And the stuff I got this month reflected that.

It can get expensive if you buy everything, but you aren’t obligated to, and I’ve spent an average of $50 a month, which is a decent amount to spend on new clothes (I should also note that the majority of my clothes shopping is in consignment and second hand stores, because I’m way cheap and because the Palm Beaches have really good thrifting.) I’m looking forward to next month’s box. Maybe it’ll be worth the extra cash!


Interview with the Mommy: Our Mom Wrote A Book, And We are Giving Away a Copy

by SweetMidlife

Hi there! Lynne AND Leslie here, on a momentous occasion: our mother, Tina Streeter, has just released her first book, “Gillespie Dancing: How Gillespie Got His Name”! We repeat: our mommy wrote a book. And it is a sweet one, aimed at kids 5-10, with beautiful pictures by Daphney Williams. It’s about about a family naming their soon-to-be-born baby, and all of the family who make suggestions. You can buy it here on Amazon (in hard copy or on your Kindle), and we will be giving away a free copy at the end of this post! 

What follows is an interview between Lynne, Leslie and their Mommy last week, done on the phone, complete with Mommy’s inspiration for this book, and breaks because some toddler (Leslie and I each live with one) did something that needed our attention. That happens. Here you go.

Our fab Mommy.

Our fab Mommy.

Us:  So, Mommy, why did you want to write a book?

Tina: Well, I was walking in Charleston (where she and our Daddy used to live), and the name came to me. The story and everything else came to me after that. And writing a book seemed like a good idea at the time.

Us: After writing it, do you still think it was a good idea?

Tina: (laughs) Yes. Especially now!

Us: Tell us about the back story, as we try to act like we haven’t heard it. But tell us anyway.

Tina: Well, it’s based on the birth of your cousin Avery. When Avery came, we hadn’t had a baby born into the family in 23 years, and the fact that he was a boy (because the last four babies in our families were girls) was also a big deal.

Us: And what made you want to write about it?

Tina: Well, A LOT of people made recommendations for names, and being that he was the first boy, it got a little heated.

Us: And the name that won, Avery, is a family name.

Tina: Yes, it was the name of my great grandfather, who was supposedly the meanest man in the county where he lived in South Carolina. But it was a strong name.

Picture from Booktopia.com

Us: That it is. So in the book, the name that is chosen, Gillespie, is a mixture of family names, right?

Tina: Yep. There was an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show where the Petrie baby was born (The Petries were Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore and if you have never seen that show FIND IT), and everyone did to them what the Dancings did in the book: everyone wanted the baby named after themselves. It got crazy, so they took initials from everyone’s names and got the name “Richie”.

Us: So, is Dick Van Dyke going to come after you now because you used that idea?

Tina: I hope not, but I would love to meet him.

(At this point, Lynne’s kid started playing a drum solo extra loud to the theme of “Curious George” and no one could hear, so we took a break. Then it was over.)

Us: And, we are back. So after you wrote the book, you decided to self-publish it?

Tina: Yep, through a company called Xulon. And Leslie checked it out to make sure it was on the up and up, and it was!

(Leslie’s little one starts pressing buttons on the phone)

Us: Of course Leslie did. And what are your hopes for the book?

Tina: Well Lynne hopes that it will be wildly profitable, and that works. But mostly, I want it to be an inspiration to all families, big, small, and crazy. I want children to enjoy it.

Us: And why is a person’s name so important?

Tina: Names can speak of how your family felt about your coming. They can be based on traditions. Sometimes babies get named after trends, but are usually about what we want to represent. Some children are named carelessly, or out of spite, but thankfully that doesn’t happen often. I wanted it to be an encouragement to think about what you name your kid, and what that means down the line. Even back to the Bible, names were important and were predictors of what the child would be.

Us: And what do you want kids who read this to get out of it?

Tina: I want them to know that families matter, that they are important, and that they matter to somebody. All families need to treat their kids as important.

Us: And what does dancing mean to you, since that is the name of the family in the book?

Tina: Well, the four of us (She and our Daddy and the two of us) were always dancing at home, and your Daddy and I grew up dancing in DC, and loved to dance together. It’s a way of expressing yourself. And you, Lynne and Leslie, came here dancing. It’s joy. And that was the name that came to me.

Us: Awesome. Well, anything else you want to say?

Tina: Well, I am grateful to God for the inspiration to write this, and to our family, and family in general. Even when families make each other crazy, they can work stuff out, and still like each other in the end.

Us: And we sure like you.

 

SO, in honor of our Mommy’s book, we are giving away a copy of it! To enter, in our comment section below, tell us the story of YOUR name, even if it’s just “my mom liked it.” We will announce the winner on Friday! It is also available here on Amazon. And below is a picture of our very own “Gillespie”, our very much hoped-for cousin Avery, who is now 20. 

Avery


Trying To Raise a Friendly Toddler Who Is Not a Stalker

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here!

I am the mother of a very friendly toddler.

He has his moments, it’s true, when he would rather play on his own, like when people try to talk to him in the middle of his truck playing. He may or may not have time for you at that point. Often not. I am sorry when that happens. I encourage talking to people who are actually, well, talking to you. We are working on that. And he has his share of not playing nice with others, and has snatched toys from people, and I am sorry, and I know kids do that, but rude is not a good look on humans and we are working on that too.

But there are other moments when my child is the host of his own party that you didn’t know you were attending. Oh, you thought you were just playing at the train set at the library, minding your business, chilling with Thomas the Tank Engine. But my son will walk up to you, right up to your face and say “Hi!” It is the sweetest, most terrifying thing in the world. I love that he loves people, and that he wants to play with them. I know that this is him learning to navigate the social world, and getting out there to meet people is where that starts. But I know that kids, little ones and ones my age, can be mean. I can totally appreciate why having this little person with no sense of personal space (and I mean NONE. He gets rightupinyourface) can be startling, and I totally know that no one is under any obligation at all to be nice to my boy just because I want them to be. But he is so earnest and sweet, and I just want people to play with him.

And mostly they do. Which is all kinds of awesome. But I still sometimes walk around with my heart both in my throat, and also in the body of this beautiful boy. Because although I want him to have all the friends, I don’t want him to be your almost 3 year-old stalker.

Last week, we were at our neighborhood playground, and my son became the self-assigned welcoming committee. He went up to a guy who came in to sit on a bench and read the paper. The guy said hello back, but left after a few minutes. I guess it wasn’t the relaxing afternoon he was looking for. Then two teen-aged girls home on spring break came in and got on a swing, and my boy had the sudden urge to swing too, right at that moment. Now, having your mom push you on the baby swings while you yell at the young ladies next to you “Look at me INGING!!! I INGING!” may not sound like you have swag, but my kid doesn’t know that. And they were so sweet, and so polite, and they said hello back. After they left, a car pulled up with a lady and her 2 year-old daughter, and that is when the real party began. At least in his mind. He heard them say they were going to sit a the picnic tables, and he started pointing them out, and actually ran to them before they got there to wait for him. I didn’t want to barge in on this lady’s afternoon with her daughter, so I said, “Let them eat, sweetie”, but they were so nice and gave him a chicken wing. And he practically performed for them while they were still eating by climbing on the the monkey bars but yelling “I up so high!” to encourage them to end their lunch already and hang out with him. He climbed down and went over to the mom and said, “Come one!”, and I, horrified, told him to let them eat, and the mom sweetly said that she needed to stay with her little one. And after they were done, we all played together and had a cool song going on the plastic bongos, and slid sown the slide and laughed and it was all good.  But it didn’t have to be, because again, people have every right to set boundaries and decide that my kid’s dances aren’t cute, and I don’t want to be one of those parents that thinks that everything that their angel does is amazing because I can tell you now that it isn’t. And I don’t want to be a helicopter parent hovering but that is actually my job right now because he is 2, and I have to monitor everything and make sure he isn’t falling off of things or hitting people or running into the street or being rude to your kid.

This whole letting them talk to other people who could not like them thing is hard. And I know that it is a part of life. He will learn to navigate friendships and the like by going out there and being friendly to people, and I want to guide him as much as I can in the right way to do that, and also in knowing when to back off.

Boundaries are hard to teach, because I am figuring them out myself.

But I am in love and in awe of this outgoing, sweet person that I get to be Mommy to, and  we will keep on playing and greeting and smiling, and I will keep my heart where it is. In my chest. But also walking in front of me to the sliding board. Because it’s too late for that. It’s already his. And if we see you out sometimes, I hope you guys get to play together. But it’s okay if you are doing other stuff. But it would be nice.

Somebody play with me, please.

Somebody play with me, please.


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