Stacey Loscalzo

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Sep 08

Laugh

by Stacey

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When ‘laugh’ came up as the prompt for today, I almost chose another. Between Harvey and Irma and the general Trump-ness of our country right now, nothing seems all that funny. That said, I suppose Katherine Hepburn is right. It is still important to remember that things are fun. So here goes… a collection of things that make me laugh.

I laugh at silly knock-knock jokes. Knock knock. Who’s there? Cargo. Cargo who? Cargo beep beep. I mean, come on!

I laugh at Friends. The fajita episode gets me every.single.time.

I laugh at mistaken song lyrics. My favorite of all time is a college friend’s version of Sunday, Bloody, Sunday. Someday, Buddy, Someday. Sing it. It works and you will never enjoy the song the same way again.

I laugh at the Popcast. I imagine that I am in real life friends with Knox and Jamie but alas I have to rely on hearing them on my podcast app each week.

I laugh at at Jim Gaffigan on YouTube. If you have not heard his one about being in a reverse hostage situation when putting young children to bed you are missing out.

I laugh at movies. The airplane scene in Bridesmaids is my favorite but there’s a lot to love about the bar scene in This is 40 and the therapy scene in Old School.

I laugh at cat videos on Facebook. Any time I am on my computer and laughing, one girl or the other will say, “Cat video?” And sadly, they are correct more often than they are not.

I laugh when Katherine talks in her funny British accent.

I laugh so loudly on the sidelines of the soccer field while talking with friends that Caroline will turn around in midfield to give me a dirty look.

And I still laugh at the same goofy jokes that Rob has been telling me for nearly two decades now. Every time I roll my eyes, he says, “But I still make you laugh.” And that is important.

Ok… your turn. What makes you laugh? Bring it on. I think we can all use a smile.

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Sep 06

Rhythm

by Stacey

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“Rhythm is one of the most powerful of pleasures, and when we feel a pleasurable rhythm we hope it will continue. When it does, it grows sweeter.”

Mary Oliver

Last week I mentioned that I am working my way back through an on-line class that I took years ago called 31 More Things. In this class, Ali Edwards provides a word a day with writing and photo tips to accompany it. Instead of going day by day this time around, I wrote all the words on a page in my journal and when I sit down to write, I close my eyes and point. The word that I land on is the one that I will use for the day. How apropos that today’s word is rhythm.

Ali writes in her lesson about ‘the rhythm of our days.’ On this, the first day of school, thoughts of this rhythm fill my mind. Never am I more conflicted than in the last days of summer and early days of school. I fight all year, but now especially, between a desperate need for routine and a fear of boredom. I want to know what each day will bring but then struggle when it brings the same thing as the day before. I feel anxious when I look at an empty calendar without plans or appointments to anchor my day. I thrill to look at this month’s calendar with school days and Back to School Nights. With dance auditions and soccer games. But then I realize that with all that comes school lunches to pack and carpools to drive. With the same arguments over clothes and bedtimes. And I begin again to crave something new. And this pattern repeats itself over and over again.

This morning, with a middle schooler and a high schooler, the house was quiet by 7:20, a full hour earlier than ever before. So now it’s a new rhythm I must learn. One in which I make use of my time alone so that I am ready to focus on the girls when they need me. Their requests for help are less frequent yet somehow seem more important when they do arise. No longer is it requests to tie shoes but instead thoughts on questions that have implications. Decisions to be made that impact others feelings. Or choices that will change a GPA for better or worse. So, I settle into this rhythm to make time and space for both the change and the routine that is upon us.

 

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Sep 01

Daydreams

by Stacey

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Day Dreams*

I don’t often remember my dreams and I’m jealous of those that do. I’ve tried to keep a notebook by my bed to write them down but somehow that never works. I don’t tend to wake up in the middle of the night (thank goodness!) unless called upon by a child or animal. And when I wake in the morning, there don’t tend to be any dreams right there in my memory. I did have one recurring dream as a child but not since. In that dream, I am riding my big wheel around the end of my grandparent’s dead end street until I am trapped in a fallen garbage can. Do with that as you will. As I type,, I suppose it is rich for some deep dream interpretation. Instead of going there though, I will take this prompt to day dreams. Here are a few…

I daydream of vacation days. The beach is most definitely my happy place and my mind drifts there often. I imagine recent trips to Long Beach Island and Nantucket. But then also to older visits like the Brewster flats as a camper and counselor at sleepaway camp all those years ago. Or the other Cape Cod beaches I would go to with Mom and Aunt Emmy. I remember a private beach and carrying small folding beach chairs. I dream of the Rocks in Sakonnet and the big crashing waves at the Sakonnet Beach Club. I remember turning blue with cold and Dad saying I just didn’t have enough blubber on me to stay warm. I remember jumping off the low diving board into the ocean and never really having enough guts to jump off the high board.

I daydream of high school these days as Caroline counts down the days until she is officially a Freshman. I think of the big LL Bean canvas bag full to overflowing with homework. I think of turning of our trays vertically on the lunch table to fit in one or two more friends. I think of Mrs. Barrows trying her best to get me to grasp Geometry and of hours and hours spent memorizing dates and names for AP US History only to have panic set in on test days. I remember leaving for lunch as a Junior and feeling like a full on adult.

I daydream of stories and articles written with my name on the byline. I dream of setting up my days to make this happen. I dream of finally gaining control of my schedule and more importantly my priorities.

I daydream of a day when the news is just the news and not always a scroll of ‘breaking news’ that makes me anxious and sad. I daydream of a day when I don’t wake wondering what happened over night. When I can listen to the radio on the alarm not for important updates but for the weather forecast and maybe sports scores.

I daydream more and more these days as the girls get older and Rob and I get older along side them. I can feel a new chapter starting here. The girls are at such a different place than they were just a year ago. Middle and high school begins in days. They are not the babies they once were and I am not the mom I was then. Times are changing for all of us. And that opens the world to fear and anxiety but also to daydreams of things to come.

 

*I have taken Ali Edward’s 31 Days Class in the past and have used her prompts here before. I am desperate to get back to a regular writing practice and am going to using Ali’s prompts as a starting point. I will be posting here as often as I can. Fingers crossed, it sticks.

 

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Aug 21

Picture Book Therapy

by Stacey

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On Saturday, a week after Charlottesville, I realized what I needed to help me feel even a tad bit better about the state of our world. I needed picture book therapy.

I read picture books with the girls each and every day for years and years and years. In fact, Katherine and I read pictures books over breakfast until not so long ago. In the past few months though, our picture book reading has dwindled off so on Saturday, I headed to our favorite independent bookstore, The Curious Reader. I told Sally and Chris, two amazing booksellers, that I needed to read their current favorite picture books. Sally and Chris know me well and we often talk politics when I am there so they didn’t needed to ask what needed curing.

They both headed off in different directions and soon I sat on the floor surrounded by an enormous pile of books. I worked my way through book after book and truly, I did feel better. There were books that made me think and books that just made me laugh. It took me awhile to whittle down my pile of books that I would bring home but I did and here they are.*

Picture Books to Make You Think

Strictly No Elephants written by Lisa Mantchev & illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

Strictly No Elephants is my favorite from this list. Mantchev tells the story of a little boy and his pet elephant who are excluded from a pet club and what they do about it. This book shares an amazing lesson without feeling too didactic.

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet written by Carmen Agra Deedy & illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

The Rooster Who Not Be Quiet reminds all of us to find our voice and use it. There’s even a touch of a lesson about the political process buried inside this story.

This Is how We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World written & illustrated by Matt Lamothe

When I first read this book, I thought it wasn’t all that unique. Each spread shows how children in various parts of the world do things throughout their days like eat lunch, go to school and do chores. The cool part of this book appears on the very last page when you meet the real families that inspire the seven kids throughout the pages. When it is more important than ever to understand the people who are different from us, reading this book was a great way to spend some time.

Picture Books to Make You Smile

You Must Bring a Hat! written by Simon Phillip & illustrated by Kate Hindley

This might just be my favorite picture book of the year. A little boy receives a invitation to a party and goes about following all the requirements for attendance. I know this does not sound fun, but believe me, it is!

Professional Crocodile written by Giovanna Zoboli & Mariachiara di Giogio

I am not one for wordless picture books so when Sally brought me this one I was confused. But then I read the book. There is a major spoiler in this one so I will not say anything else about this book other than, read it.

Danny McGee Drinks the Sea by written by Andy Stanton & illustrated by Neal Layton

Danny McGee is a little boy who consumes everything in sight. Or at least almost everything. This is one of those books that I know will make children of all ages laugh out loud.

*And now I’m going to climb up on to my soap box for a moment so consider yourself warned. The girls don’t read a ton of picture books anymore as I mentioned above but this has not stopped me from buying them. In much the same way that we give money to NPR each month, I buy books, even hardcover books, from The Curious Reader at least once a month. I do not take for granted the luxury we have to be able to walk in to a bookstore with owners who know us as readers and who stock books that we would not know about on our own. We can talk a lot about how great independent book stores are but unless we spend money in them, they will go away. And don’t get me wrong, I still go to the library. I use a Kindle and it is possible that I buy some books in other locations (shhh… don’t tell Sally and Chris) but I always make sure to buy books at our favorite brick and mortar store. Thank you Curious Reader for being there for us!

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 15

You Are Doing It Now

by Stacey

 

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When I read this tweet on Saturday afternoon, I felt sick to my stomach. What was I doing? I was cleaning out Katherine’s closet. I had to turn off the tv because I was so upset and disgusted (and this was before anyone died at the hands of an evil message and messenger) and I needed to do something. And I decided that something was to clean out closets.

In the past, when I thought back to what I would have done during slavery, the Holocaust or the Civil Rights movement, I certainly imagined myself hiding neighbors or marching in the streets. I did not imagine myself cleaning out closets and desperately hoping that all the evil and hatred would go away if I just turned my back for a moment.

A bit later, I heard from a friend who has been active in the racial justice community for a long time. She told me that I could use my writing for good. I could be active on social media. I could share information about the March for Racial Justice that she is organizing in September.

And you know what I did? I went back to cleaning Katherine’s closet. And I posted a message about love on Facebook. And I have have been sad and angry since then. I have watched the news way too much. I have spent hours scrolling through Twitter for answers.

Cleaning closets. Watching the news. Consuming social media. These things are not working.

I am scared to march. Or even to attend a vigil. I worry for the safety of our family if we choose to do these things. I am also scared to use my writing and my social media presence to speak my truth. I have read through the posts of like-minded friends and seen the comments that have followed and it makes me scared to engage. I do not know if I have the strength to defend ‘my side’ in a situation where I believe with all my heart that there is only one side that is right and just and true.

I have thought a lot since Saturday about the power of unsaid words. Today I read a post written by Shannan Younger at Between Us Parents. She wrote about her need to speak out and she shared the following words from Desmund Tutu:

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Both this quote and Shannan’s post convinced that it was time to write.

I am not sure how much more I will write about this or what I will do next. But I know that writing nothing is not working. This is my next step.

 

 

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Jul 19

The Beauty of Predictability

by Stacey

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I can’t stop watching Criminal Minds. On the surface, this is a tad disturbing. And I don’t mean the show which is way more than a tad disturbing. I mean the fact that I can’t stop watching the show. In each episode of this fictional drama, members of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) are presented with a serial killer’s case. The shows are full of terror, violence and a bit of interpersonal drama between the cast members. For awhile I told myself I was drawn to the relationships, not the gore. Then though, I realized something.

In each and every episode, the case is solved. The killer is brought to justice. And not just that- this show is the very definition of formulaic. The show opens with the killer murdering a victim. The opening credits role. The BAU is presented with the case and they hop on their private jet to reach the scene as soon as possible. Shortly after landing, the killer strikes again. And then another victim is taken but not killed. The BAU does their thing and twenty three minutes later they find the killer and the victim moments before it would be too late. This is the plot every single time. I mean every.single.time.

I’ve decided the predictability of this show is what makes me come back to it again and again. As a mom, everything is up in the air right now. It is summer so each week and almost each day brings with it a new schedule. In the fall, we will have a high schooler and a middle schooler so the girl’s lives are changing faster and faster. Their questions and concerns are all new and I struggle to know the answers. All this change can be a bit exhausting.

So enter… the predictable crime drama. If you haven’t tried this slightly bizarre form of self-soothing, I highly recommend it. And if you have, let me know where I should turn after I watch all that Criminal Minds has to offer.

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Jul 08

Happy Fourteenth Birthday!

by Stacey

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Dear Caroline,

Today you turn fourteen. I’ve been writing these birthday letters for a long time now but I am always amazed that another year has passed. Each July I am reminded of Gretchen Rubin’s quote, “The days are long but the years are short.” Somehow, each year, while still 365 days long, seems to go faster and faster as you get older and older.

With each year, I feel more and more convinced that all the moms that talked to me when you were a baby were, in fact, right. I was so sleep deprived in those years that I truly believed as soon as I slept through the night again, this parenting thing would be simple. And all those moms said in a whisper, feeling the need to tell the truth but not to scare me, ‘Little people, little problems. Big people, big problems.’

Fortunately, for us I would change the phrase a bit and replace the word ‘problems’ with ‘decisions’. You are a smart, kind and responsible girl. The problems have been few and far between. But the decisions, for both of us, have come faster and faster. And the implications of those decisions have become bigger and bigger.

Now you are deciding what kind of friend you will be and who you will surround yourself with. You are deciding how to prioritize your schedule academically, athletically and socially. And no longer can we say that those decisions really don’t matter. You will start high school next year. Things start to ‘count’ now.

Now we are deciding if you can be in houses without parents. And if that answer changes if there are boys in those houses. If you can walk across town. If you can take an Uber. If you can be at a party where there could be alcohol. If we should track you on your phone when you are out. If we should read your texts.

Slowly though, we are starting to see that together, we are making some wise decisions. Your hard work at school is being recognized and we know that you will continue to grow academically as you move on to high school in September. You have surrounded yourself with friends that you love and who love you. This is not small feat during these middle school years. And you have embraced your love of soccer and learned through this that sometimes dedication, showing up and a good attitude are everything.

We love you so much baby girl. Have a happy birthday and a happy, happy year!

 

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May 22

What I’m Into (May 2017)

by Stacey

I haven’t written much lately. This blog seems to a be a collection of posts starting with those same words. I’m going to try again and see if I can get my writing habit to stick this time. I miss writing in this space. I miss writing in general so here goes. I decided to start with the easiest type of post for me. And yes, I know it is not quite the end of the month but I think it’s close enough.

What I’m Reading

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Rob and I went away last week and I decided that a vacation called for Jodi Picolt. I started her latest, Small Great Things and it’s giving me a lot to think about. I also started Waking Gods, the sequel to one of my favorites from last year, Sleeping Giants. I’m really enjoying both of them but I have to remind myself to never start two books at the same time. I know many people who can do this but I am not one of them!

What I’m Writing

See above.

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What I’m Watching

Sadly, I am not in the middle of any fun shows right now. That said, what I am watching are all the amazing photographs being shared in Tracey Clark’s on-line class, Picture Spring. I first took a class with Tracey six years ago now and I’m so happy to be in a similar space with old and new photography friends. Having a new photo prompt each day has reminded to look at the world in a different way again and I am so happy to be back behind the lens- or the iPhone as the case may be :).

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What I’m Talking About

So much is in flux right now that change and the challenge of it seems to be filling the spaces in many of my conversations. The political world is spinning and my head and heart hurt from it. And then within our own four walls, everything is shifting as well. We are in the last month of school and at the end of June, Katherine will leave elementary school and Caroline will leave the middle school. They are both ready for these milestones and excited for their next adventures but the change feels huge.

What I’m Listening To

I am still listening to podcasts all the time- when I am driving, walking Daisy, cooking, folding the laundry…There are so many great podcasts to explore but my current favorites include What Should I Read Next, All the Books, Get Booked, Sorta Awesome, Pop Culture Happy Hour and The Popcast.

 

 

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Apr 10

Happy Birthday Katherine

by Stacey

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Each year, I mark the girl’s birthdays here with a letter and thoughts from the year. Today feels like a really big one. Our baby is eleven!

Dear Katherine,

I remember when you turned ten. I thought you were getting to be so big. Double digits after all. Today you turn eleven and this milestone feels so much bigger. You are a tween, far closer to your teen years than the toddler ones.

This weekend, you and I traveled to Boston to do what you love most- dance. You were gorgeous on stage and I love seeing you there. But even more, I love seeing you in your classes and with your friends. This weekend was a perfect way for me to think back on all that you have become this year. You worked hard as always in school and you have amazing friends there. Many that you have loved for as long as you can remember. But this year, for you, was all about dance and the lessons that dance has given you.

Dance always came easily to you until you took a big leap (pardon the pun!) to a new studio where you knew no one and realized that, to meet your goals, you had a lot of hard work to do. Many times over the course of this year, I have thought that you were being too hard on yourself. That perhaps your goal and your plan were too big a stretch (sorry- that was also not intentional but there really isn’t a better word!). I have second guessed myself and my role as your guide through this. But never once have you wavered. Never once have you considered quitting. Never once have considered doing anything other than working harder. You are laser-focused on what you want and how to get there.

Yesterday as we drove home you sat, like the big girl you are, in the front seat beside me. I glanced over and saw you put both arms behind your head as you leaned back and closed your eyes. My mind raced back to picture you in your infant car seat still facing backwards. I would watch your reflection in the tiny mirror we had attached to the back seat as your chubby arms reached up behind your head. This was always the sign that you were about to fall asleep. In those days, I worried that if you slept in the car, you would not take a nap. You would not fall asleep that night. Yesterday, I was able to just watch, knowing now as I didn’t then, to trust you. You know what is right for you. Of course, you still need me to guide you but you know yourself. You know what you want. And you know that you will achieve it.

You have learned so much this year but I think perhaps you have taught me more. I love  you for all that you are and for all that you bring to me each and every day.

Happy Birthday baby girl. May this year be everything that you want it to be!

xo, Mom

 

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Feb 10

The Right Book for Right Now

by Stacey

Littlechapel_hc-330-expI know I am not alone in suffering from a type of brain fog these days. I am often pretty distracted but in recent months, I have really struggled to focus. I am pulled toward the news of the day in a way that makes me anxious and unsettled but I can’t stop watching, scrolling and reading.

A few weeks ago I posted a plea on my Facebook page asking for a book that would keep my attention. I was looking for a page turner and assumed a thriller was what I needed. I received a bunch of recommendations but decided to go with the least likely candidate, Little Chapel on the River: A Pub, a Town and the Search for What Matters Most. My friends Deanne wrote, ‘Have you ever read Little Chapel on the River by Gwendolyn Bounds? It’s one of my faves. It’ll make you feel better about people.’ Feeling better about people sounded just right so I downloaded the book and started reading.

Deanne and I have similar tastes and similar feelings these days so I was not surprised that her recommendation was perfect. As soon as I started reading, I actually felt a bit calmer. Despite the book opening with 9/11, the author’s voice was just what I needed to read. And her journey out of the city after the attacks to a small town on the Hudson River was exactly the escape that I wanted to take. Gwendolyn Bounds, a writer at the Wall Street Journal, spends the year after 9/11 getting to know the community of people that come together at small bar called Guinan’s and learns a lot about the world in the process.

I highlighted a few passages as I read and I think this one sums up the book pretty perfectly.

“Obviously, I don’t come here to pick up girls because there usually aren’t any. It’s not about the food, ’cause there isn’t any of that either. It’s just this calm place where everybody’s telling stories and some guy who’s a millionaire stockbroker is sitting next to a  poor carpenter- and they’re equal. You either love it or you hate it.”

I’m pretty sure this is a place that I would love a lot right about now…

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