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NaNoWriMo: How It Started vs. How It's Going (Not Today, Santa!)

Happy Thanksgiving 2020! Scroll down to the bottom for a turkey bone broth recipe, or keep reading for a dramatic story of despair and redemption. Choose your own adventure! Allora. Those of us with survival instincts are locked down in our own homes this holiday season with no guests, and some intrepid aspiring novelists have taken advantage of this fall's pandemic isolation to try for a NaNoWriMo win. To all you crazy kids who have already certified your 50,000 words so that you can relax on this day of joyful gluttony, congratulations, winners! I am not one of you. Not this year, anyway. When I wrote the blog post below (originally entitled "Final NaNoWriMo Weekend Squeeze,") life was extremely different. I was a wildly busy, messily eager, child-free young adult who didn't let a little thing like a holiday slow me down in my race to become a WINNER WINNER TURKEY DINNER.  So what did I win, exactly? To put it simply, I received a near-delusional shot of confidence

Playing in the Eye of the Storm

My daughter has always loved a summer thunderstorm, and so do I! And so does my husband. And, honestly, so does our cat--she runs to the window to watch when she hears thunder. But we all respect the power of nature too. A few years ago, we attended a beach birthday party at this very time of year, on a lovely summer day, and an unexpected storm came upon us so quickly that there wasn't even time to run to our cars in the parking lot. Above, my daughter is "flying" into the wind that has come rushing through the pavilion, which was momentarily followed by a drenching, sideways rain and a dramatic show of thunder and lightning over the water and all around us. As quickly as it had hit us, the storm passed without doing us any more harm than knocking everything over and soaking us all to the skin. My daughter declared it "the best" birthday party ever.  As magical as that was, we didn't take away the wrong lesson from that exciting and fortunate experience--th

Pocket of Joy: Close Grandparents

One of the best decisions I ever made in my life was to settle close to my parents before having a child. I even convinced my parents to move right into my neighborhood after they retired, a ten-minute walk from my backyard, and everyone in my family has benefited from the arrangement . Grandparents and grandchildren are great for each other's physical, mental, and emotional health. And the support grandparents can provide in helping to care for and raise a child benefits the child's parents. Over the past year, I think we all realized just how important it is for parents to have reliable and safe childcare, and unfortunately our nation has some work to do to provide for the needs of working class families. Those of us fortunate enough to have parents who are willing and able to help us care for our children are blessed indeed. Close relationships between grandparents and grandchildren create well-being and resilience in every generation of the family. It is wonderful to have

Vaccination Celebrations

I... have... IMMUNITEH? Last week, I received my first Pfizer shot! The development of my freedom powers has begun. I feel like a butterfly getting ready to bust out and unfold its wrinkled, soggy wings! Today is my parents' Peak Immunity Day, two weeks after their final shot. That means that now my household gets to "bubble" with theirs. We have been waiting patiently and taking care all year because my husband works two high-risk essential jobs out in public, and my mother is one of the main caregivers for my elderly grandmother. But now, today, my daughter is finally free to spend as much time as she likes inside of her grandparents' house, without masks and with hugs! We can have combined family dinners! And ping-pong tournaments in the basement! In one week, my husband reaches his own Peak Immunity, which will be a big relief. I'll have mine by the middle of May, and although our daughter won't have access to vaccines until maybe next year, there is hope

When Life Gives You Key Limes: Pandemic Key Lime Pie Recipe

Unlock a priceless skilled trade! Honestly, I did not mean to learn a new skill in 2020, but fortunately, my new skill is unmarketable. The last thing I wanted to do is learn a new grind. Fortunately, the new trick I learned has proven a great way to unwind : making the perfect Midwestern pandemic-style Key lime pie! I already love to bake, and my favorite baked goods are those you could never buy in a store because nobody would pay for the time and fine ingredients they require. Like my husband's loaf of all-day, no-knead bread with $8 worth of cheese inside. Maybe that would fly in Italy, but not here. Americans are like, "OoH tHat'S sO expEnsIvE!" and then they go and spend $8 on one mixed drink that tastes like mouthwash and melted popsicles. Now, I know that there are some fancy Florida crackers who would mock my family’s poor taste because we make our pies the old-timey way, with canned milk instead of fresh cream. But I think our recipe is the perfect balance o

Small But Sweet Bathroom Renovation

We have fixed, upgraded, and redecorated our little old bathroom just in time for another pandemic winter! Now that the kitchen and main bathroom are both functional and personalized for our family, we are ready to hunker down in comfort. I had hoped I wouldn't have to spend quite as much time at home heading into 2022, but here we are. At home. What a difference it makes to have a beautiful bathroom, though! For a tall person, it is such a relief to my back to have a higher bathroom vanity that allows me to wash my hands without bending over, and a shower that rains down from well above the top of my head! We put up a taller mirror (an inexpensive antique) than the one that was there before and installed the new light fixture ("rescued" from our local Habitat ReStore) up close to the ceiling, making the room seem taller and bigger even though there is actually less space between the vanity top and ceiling. We saved loads of money by doing as much work ourselves as we co