Stacey Loscalzo

Latest Posts

Oct 02

What I’m Into (October 2017 Edition)

by Stacey

IMG_2605

This month I decided it would be fun to link up with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into Series so here goes…

September was… well, it was September. Every year, parents of school aged children know it’s coming but it seems to knock us on our backside every single time. This year, Katherine started middle school and Caroline started high school so the adjustments felt even bigger. Now that we have turned the page on the calendar, I hope that the world (our personal world at least) starts to feel a tiny bit more settled.

Here are a few things that have been keeping me sane-ish during this month of adjustments.

Books:

So apparently one thing that suffered this month was my tracking system for the books I finished. And needless to say, my memory did not stand up to the task. I know I read Hum if You Don’t Know the Words, Young Jane Young and Little Fires Everywhere but I am almost certain there are more…

Music:

Caroline is playing on her high school soccer team which means that she practices right after school and takes a bus to games so there is way less soccer driving than their used to be. That said, Katherine is dancing a ton so there is still plenty of time in the car to listen to our favorite music. Current favorites include Praying by Kesha, All About Us by Pink and Gallway Girl by Ed Sheeran.

TV:

I really don’t know what my issue is but right now the only thing I seem to be able to watch on TV is the news and Criminal Minds. I wrote this post recently about my Criminal Minds fixation and I am pretty sure I am watching it obsessively in a way to feel in control of our otherwise out of control world.

Podcasts:

I am still listening to my old favorites including All the Books, Get Booked, From the Front Porch, What Should I Read Next?, Pop Culture Happy Hour, The Popcast and Sorta Awesome. And then a new to me is Bill Simmons Rewatchable in which the commentators discuss some of the most ‘rewatchable’ movies. I am now dying to re-watch movies like A Few Good Men and Silence of Lambs. If you haven’t listened to this podcast yet, I highly recommend it!

Favorite Instagram:

I have been on and off Instagram for years. In September though, I decided to jump in with a renewed focus on books and reading. I am having a blast and meeting a lot of fun new bookish friends. If we aren’t connected on Instagram yet, come find me! I am @staceyloscalzo.

My favorite Instagram from the month has to be the one in which I am reading with my favorite cat wearing my favorite shoes 🙂 

IMG_2625

 

 

Read more
Sep 27

Little Fires Everywhere: A Review

by Stacey

IMG_2599

When I heard that Celeste Ng had a new book coming out, the first thing I thought was, ‘Oh, no!’ Ng’s first book, Everything I Never Told You, was such a huge hit that a follow up seemed risky. Interestingly, and for no particular reason, I never read Ng’s debut but after reading Little Fires Everywhere I plan to rectify that mistake immediately. Up until this read, either Beartown by Frederick Backman or The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close had claimed spots as early runners for my favorite book of 2017. After closing the cover (which is beautiful by the way) of Little Fires Everywhere, there is now an unequivocal leader.

Typically I enjoy a book for either the story or the writing. It is awfully hard, I have found, to write a page turner using gorgeous language. This book, however, has both. Along with fully formed love-able (and sometimes hate-able) characters. Little Fires Everywhere is a family story. A story of race. And social issues. Of teenage angst and maternal love. And maternal pain. We follow the lives of the Richardson family, a seemingly perfect suburban family of six. Alongside their lives we journey with Mia, a single mom who is raising her daughter Pearl. The families find each other and their lives become entwined in ways that are both lovely and not.

I hesitate to give you any more detail. I knew little of the story going in and I’m sure it made the read all the richer. I recently heard a reader say that they just couldn’t stop reading because they were so worried about the characters. I had a pit in my stomach for most of the book and there were times when I wanted to look away like I do when watching scary things on tv. Nothing truly scary happened but there were so many decisions made by so many of these characters that you just knew were going to have unfortunate outcomes. I guess I thought looking away could change the plot.

Definitely let me know if you have read Little Fires Everywhere. It begs for discussion.

Read more
Sep 11

Never Forget

by Stacey

21433095_10154830011583639_6420534440340556713_n

With Harvey and Irma and the state of the political world, our hearts are all so heavy. But still, the pages of the calendar turn and another September 11th arrives. Our collective heart is so burdened these days. Perhaps that it why the ‘Never Forget’ messages rings more true to me than ever on this September 11th.

While I have the luxury of being able to turn off the news when the family members begin to read the names of their loved ones, there are so many thousands of people who hold the memories of September 11th in their hearts every single day. For them, even when it is super hard, like it seems to be today, we must ‘Never Forget.’

Living as we do now in a suburb of NYC, I have always felt like an outsider on this day. So many of our friends and neighbors were there, in the city, close to the Twin Towers, if not in them, on that day. Rob’s sister and father were both in the city on 9/11. We were hundreds of miles away in Richmond. The stories that others have told me seem like fantasy. We watched that day unfold from afar while so many people were living it. That said, I do still have very distinct memories that I know will follow me always. Here they are.

I remember the perfect fall weather. Even in Richmond, the air was crisp and the sky was a distinct blue. Each fall we have a few days that feel exactly the same and someone will always mention the weather and how much it feels like 9/11. And the stories will begin.

I remember sitting in my classroom at Northstar Academy. Stephanie Brown, the history teacher, a tiny women with dark hair and a tweed skirt, stood in my doorway and delivered the news. There was a faculty room with a tiny television and in-between clients, I would go there and watch in silence with the other teachers. My friend Mary Margaret was pregnant and I remember looking at her belly, wondering how she was going to bring a child in to this changed world.

I remember sitting in this same faculty room pressing the buttons on the grey phone, trying again and again to reach Rob. He was a few hours away at a work off-site and I just wanted to hear his voice. I remember trying to figure out where his dad and his sister were in the city. At that point, I didn’t know the city at all and I had no idea how close or far they might be.

I remember finally reaching Rob and exhaling when he said he would be coming home. The off-site was canceled. Somehow, this more that anything, made me realize the enormity of what had happened.

I remember watching Katie Couric and Matt Lauer and getting cold despite the warm day. They looked as confused as well felt and that just didn’t seem right.

I remember listening to the directors of the school debate if we should tell the kids what had happened before we sent them home. I can’t remember what we did. I know there was a meeting in the gym and I feel like the kids were given a general idea but nothing specific. One of our students was the daughter of a secret service agent and I remember wondering where her dad was.

I remember returning to our first house, the one of Fitzhugh Avenue, and sitting down and turning on the tv. I’m pretty sure the tv was on for the rest of the day and into the night.

I remember that by the time Rob got home, he had spoken to his family and  we knew that his dad and sister were in the city but they were safe. We also learned that our brother in law, who lived in the city but was consulting on a job in Richmond, had been in the air when the attacks happened.

I remember going to sleep that night knowing that nothing would ever be the same again.

*Photo credit to Jin Lee. And if you are lucky enough to live in Ridgewood, stop by the library today (or throughout the month) to remember our community members who died on 9/11.

 

 

Read more
Sep 08

Laugh

by Stacey

1884738-Katharine-Hepburn-Quote-I-never-lose-sight-of-the-fact-that-just

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.

Read more
Sep 06

Rhythm

by Stacey

IMG_2519

“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.

 

Read more
Sep 01

Daydreams

by Stacey

IMG_2044

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.

 

Read more
Aug 21

Picture Book Therapy

by Stacey

IMG_2397

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Read more
Aug 15

You Are Doing It Now

by Stacey

 

IMG_2361

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.

 

 

Read more
Jul 19

The Beauty of Predictability

by Stacey

IMG_1918

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.

Read more
Jul 08

Happy Fourteenth Birthday!

by Stacey

IMG_1622

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!

 

Read more