Stacey Loscalzo

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Feb 17

There Is No Black & White

by Stacey

I read Gretchen Rubin‘s latest book, Better than Before, a few months ago and learned that I am an abstainer. Moderation is really, really tough for me. I learned that there are people who can eat sweets in moderation. I am so not one of this people. Same concept applies to french fries, cheese and sour patch kids. Who knew you didn’t have to eat them all?

It turns out there are also people who can volunteer a small bit of their time. They say yes to all the right things and no to the things that will drain them. Over the past few months, I have learned, that I am also not one of those people. If I made a list of all the organizations and people that I said yes to this school year, most of you would say that I had lost my mind. And I would agree. This year, I overextended myself in a way I never have before. And that is saying something. Along with all the smaller things that I am committed to this year, I am president of our middle school parent association and earlier this month, I co-chaired our elementary school’s auction.

Knowing what I know about moderation and abstinence, I am tempted to think that I need to go cold turkey in the volunteering world. Once I say yes to one thing, the floodgates open. I meet more people and I learn about more needs. And then the yeses begin.

Over the past few months, I have read less books, taken few pictures and written far fewer pages than I would like and than I usually do. When I am not doing these things, I get really cranky. Ask any member of my family and they will agree wholeheartedly with me on this one. I have missed my time on the page and behind the lens. I have missed connecting with people who read my words in this space. I have missed the community I had begun to grow at Instagram. And I have missed knowing what books to recommend when people have asked what they should read next.

I am determined to wriggle my way back in to these spaces and I am tempted to take the abstinence route with my volunteer commitments. The problem with this method is that it would negate all the great things that have come to me over the past few months. I definitely missed all my creative outlets. I missed time with my family. And with my friends.

But I gained an awful lot too.

I met people that I wouldn’t have known in any other way. I met woman who give of their time, their talents and their energies in amazing ways.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Moskovitz

 

I made friends with people that I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t said yes. I shared so many laughs and (a few tears!) that I wouldn’t have if we hadn’t all agreed to do this work together.

I learned how to do new things. I became (more) comfortable with Excel and Google Docs. I learned how to communicate more effectively with small and large groups of people. I learned how to encourage people to say yes too- to hard but rewarding work.

I learned that I am great planner but that I might bend a bit under pressure. Turns out that hiding in the bathroom can be a great strategy when the stress of an event becomes a bit too much.

I learned to ask the talented people in my life to help. I learned that when we pool our efforts and our talents, great things happen.

Photo courtesy of Patty Connelly

Photo courtesy of Patty Connelly

And I learned that while I need to be an abstainer when it comes to sugar, perhaps I don’t need to stop volunteering cold turkey. Perhaps I can say no a few more times while also saying yes now and then too.

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Jan 04

Welcome 2016

by Stacey

IMG_1279I haven’t blogged in close to a month. This is one of the longest stretches I’ve taken in a long time. As a result, I didn’t truly reflect on 2015 or make plans for 2016. I didn’t compile lists or choose One Little Word as I have in the past. In the midst of the holidays and vacations and planning for a large volunteer event, my daily creative rituals have fallen to the side. I know my schedule is going to remain full for a bit at the beginning of this year, but I want to try to bring this writing back. I miss it. I miss the act of writing and connecting with other writers and readers.

For now, that is all. Happy 2016. With hopes and plans to write more in the coming days.

 

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Dec 02

Why It Took Me Three Tries to Read “Addicted to Distraction”

by Stacey

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It took me three tries to get through Addicted to Distraction by Tony Schwartz. I wish I was kidding but I’m not.

If you haven’t seen this piece yet, take a bit of time and read it before continuing here. And if you aren’t able to get through the piece either, the gist of it is that, like sugar and alcohol, the internet can be addicting. I know this news isn’t new but my experience with the article was.

I sat down to read on Sunday morning over a cup of coffee. Then a child was ready for breakfast so I stopped reading and started cooking. I tried to read it again in the afternoon but then I heard the sauce bubbling so I stopped reading and started stirring. By the time I tried to read it again, Rob had taken the paper to the recycling bin. After looking for the article on Facebook (and finding a few other things on Facebook along the way), it was time to pick up Katherine from ballet rehearsal so I stopped reading and started driving. I finally sat down to read for a third time and had to go back to the beginning because I had forgotten how it all began. That last part is a joke but only sort of.

As I read, I acknowledged that I am fully addicted to the internet. I check my e-mail far more times a day than I would ever admit. I often forget to respond to e-mails because I don’t want to respond to them right away because then people would know how often I check. After a little bit of time has passed more e-mails have come in and I tend to forget the one that I ignored earlier. I am definitely caught in the ‘compulsion loop’ referenced in the article. When I open my e-mail, and see new information, I do a happy dance and when there are no new messages, I feel a bit sad. I have the same reaction on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I have a nearly constant need for new information.

As I said earlier, none of this is new. What I realized was that my addiction came as part of a perfect storm. The internet is there and it is addicting for sure. The distraction provided by the internet is real. What I also know is that my time is divided in to small bites of time perfect for surfing.

While I no longer have the demands of parenting small children, my medium sized children still take a lot of time. They ask a lot of important questions and they need help reaching things and I still don’t trust them with the stove and they can’t drive. My days are interrupted a lot to tend to the needs of the girls. When the girls aren’t home, I spend a lot of time with volunteer commitments. I go to meetings, make phone calls and answer e-mails. I run errands. I spend time with friends.

All of this is to stay that my days are full.

There are though probably dozens of times a day when I have ten minutes to spare. I can’t cook dinner in ten minutes. Or write a blog post. Or finish the photo books. But I can check my e-mail. Or get on Facebook. Or scroll through Instagram. So I do. And the compulsion loop begins. The next time I have ten minutes to spare, I wonder if there is any new information out there and guess what? There is. Every single time. Every time I check, the compulsion loop is fed because there is always new information. And there is always another awkward ten minutes to fill. I wonder if I had large swaths of time in my days if I could have avoided my internet addiction. I’d like to think I would have but I can’t say for sure.

Unfortunately, the author of Addicted to Distraction had a few suggestions to break the chain but nothing that felt like a simple solution. Sadly, I suppose he didn’t offer a simple solution because there isn’t one. Attention to the problem and hard work seem to the only fix. I suppose I will celebrate that I am half way there. Now on to the hard work part of the solution…

 

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Nov 30

What I Learned: November 2015 Edition

by Stacey

A community of writers create monthly posts highlighting what they have learned during the last thirty or so days. Each month, I wish I had remembered to join in but I tend to forget every single time.

Today though, I finally remembered so here goes!

This month I learned that…

I am happy when the weather stays crazy warm well in to the fall. We had the warmest October on record and I’m fairly sure that November is heading in the same direction. No complaints here.

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I’ve long believed in the expression that ‘Everyone is a reader. Some people just haven’t met their favorite book yet.’ and this month, I watched the expression come to life. Katherine has always read but not voraciously. This month, she read during the in between times and at breakfast. She started reading as soon as she finished her math homework and asked to keep the light on longer before going to sleep. The secret? Graphic novels. I have a lot to learn about this new-to-me genre but so far, so good.

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Bullet journaling might actually be the way for me to keep track of my life. I vacillate between a paper calendar and a google calendar and my world is covered by scraps of paper reminding me of what to do each day. Recently, I read a blog post that introduced me to the idea of bullet journaling and I just might be hooked.

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Thanksgiving must be hard on a dog. I’m pretty sure this was Daisy’s position the entire time we were at Rob’s parent’s house and we were there for a long, long time.

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No one was motivated the day after Thanksgiving but it was a gorgeous day and I was determined to get us all of the out the house. We gave the girls a few choices and they chose to go on a hike. It was super fun and we are excited to go back again soon.

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Old fashioned games are not dead. Katherine went to a birthday party at a new store and discovered a great game called Tapple. We’ve all been playing it. A lot. That said, notice the proximity of the iTouch. Electronics are playing way too big a role in all of our lives right now. I am worried but also feel paralyzed by it. I know limits are the answer and we are trying but not succeeding.

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Sisters are the best. When I was pregnant for the second time, I thought I wanted a boy. You know, the whole one of each thing. But I am so happy to have two girls. Of course, they fight but they also love each other so, so much.

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Nov 23

Favorite Family Titles

by Stacey

How is this Thanksgiving week already? I feel like I am still shaking sand out of beach bags but apparently time has moved on as time tends to do.

All the book lists and book podcasts are focused on family themed titles these days so I thought it would be fun to create one of my own.

Below, you can find my favorite family titles for everyone in your family. Enjoy!

Favorite Picture Book About Family:

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We have been in love with the Peters family since the girls were tiny. Seven Silly Eaters remains the most requested picture book read aloud around here and it makes us laugh out loud every time.

Favorite Easy Read About Family:

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Long time readers of this blog know that I prefer Read Together books over easy readers so my pick for this is one of my favorite  Read Togethers of all time, Wait. It contains only a few words but a super important message.

Favorite Early Chapter Book About Family:

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If you haven’t met Dory Fantasmagory yet, you must. Her relationship with her siblings is one of the best I’ve read in ages. And she will make you smile for sure.

Favorite Middle Grade Book About Family:

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I’m pretty sure The Penderwicks will always be our favorite read aloud. This book is a touch old fashioned in feel but remains contemporary enough for my girls who have never really taken to more ‘old fashioned’ titles. Believe it or not, we have not yet finished reading the last book in the series and I know for my part, it’s because I don’t really want our time with the Penderwicks to end.

Favorite Graphic Novel About Family:

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So I will have an entire post about this soon but Katherine has fallen in love with graphic novels. Thank goodness for my friends at The Curious Reader because this is a genre that I just can’t wrap my head around. I will be exploring these books in this genre more on my own soon but for now, I’m going to trust Katherine’s recommendation for this category, Sisters.

Favorite Young Adult Book About Family:

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A Monster Calls is one of the saddest books I’ve ever read but also one of the best. I’m guessing this one popped in to my  mind because it’s going to be a movie next year and trailers are being released. I haven’t watched the trailer yet because it never seems like a conveient time to have a good cry. In other words, don’t read this book if you aren’t ready to sob but if you are, this is a great one.

Favorite Adult Fiction Book About Family:

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This list could be enormous. Many of my favorite books are on these lists. And most of the books I love are about families both beautiful and dysfunctional. I am completely unable to chose my favorite of all time in this category so I am going to go with my favorite in this category that I read this year. How’s that for avoiding the question!? My favorite family book of the year was A Window Opens. I would love to hear what you all thought of this title. I think I may have oversold this one to my book club (I am famous for doing this!) because we discussed it last night and while everyone liked it, no one seemed to like it as much as I did.

Favorite Memoir About Family:

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One of my favorite memoirs of all time is Kelly Corrigan’s The Middle Place. It embraces family for all it is, the good and the bad. You’ll need tissues for this one too. For the sad tears and the happy one.

And always, please share your favorite reads about family. I love to grow my ‘to be read list.’

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Nov 16

Quick Lit: November 2015

by Stacey

Today I am joining Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy for her monthly reading link-up, Quick Lit. minnow

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes. I’m cheating a bit because I read this one last month but forgot to write about it. I usually love a cult book or tv show (The Following anyone?) but this one didn’t grip me as much as usual.

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The Ruins by Scott Smith. I’ve learned about a lot of different titles thanks to my podcast listening. I hadn’t heard of this back list title before and I’m so glad I did. It was creepy and magical which are two things I don’t really like in a book but I read this one super quickly because it was so good.

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman. I am writing about this one in a few weeks at Great New Books so I won’t say too much now other than the fact that I loved, loved, loved it.

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Anna and the Swallow Man by Gabriel Savit. Anna and the Swallow Man will not be released until January and I feel really lucky to have read it now. This is a story of love and war and friendship that everyone should read. Children and adults alike.

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Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. This has long been a favorite of mine so I was thrilled when it was chosen as the book for a mother-daughter book club that Katherine and I attend. I loved sharing this story with her and I think we will be reading Kate DiCamillo together for a long time now.

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My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl. I will be reviewing My Kitchen Year at Great New Books later this week so I won’t really say anything now beyond that it is one of the few cookbooks I have read cover to cover.

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Nov 12

What I’m…

by Stacey

I am having a pretty serious case of blogger’s block these days. I am way overthinking what I should write here. Should I write personal essays? Or book recommendations? Children, young adults or adult? Should I write opinion pieces? Should I feature photographs? My questions go on and on and then the day comes to an end and I have written nothing.

So for today, I thought I would go with something simple. A ‘What I’m Into’ post. I haven’t written one in ages so here goes.

What I’m…

Watching

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The Affair: I think that The Affair may well be my favorite television show right now. The story is so compelling and the multiple perspectives in fascinating. And to make it all the more fun, we have eaten many meals at Lunch, the restaurant where it all began.

Listening to

Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts. I wrote about this new fascination over the summer and I am still hooked. NPR’s Popculture Happy Hour, The Podcast, Book Riot, All the Books, Get Booked, Read Aloud Revival and Books on the Night Stand are my must listens.

Reading

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Who knew I liked horror? I could not put down Bird Box by Josh Malarian. I’m reviewing this at Great New Books in a few weeks so I won’t say any more now but let’s just say it was great. And that I now run up the stairs like I did when I was a child if I am the last one going upstairs for the night. You just never know what might be behind you, you know.

Wearing

We have been having crazy weather here. It has been wonderfully, unseasonably warm. I have been pretty much wearing my fall uniform of jeans, long sleeve tees, cardigans and my favorite leopard flats. Every single day.

Eating

A few weeks ago, I had had enough of craving carbs and sugar constantly. I have cut significantly (like almost entirely) back on white flour, dairy and sugar. I am feeling much, much better and will soon be adding these things back in one at a time to see if I can enjoy them in small quantities. Fingers crossed because I truly love ice cream. Like, it’s my favorite food.

Capturing

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The fall colors have been amazing here. I can’t get enough of the leaves against the bright blue sky.

 

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