Gail Shust, Anthropologist

Gail Shust, Anthropologist

Through dinner conversation, summer board game play and my continued fascination with the useless nuances of life, I have recently made an important observation.  I haven’t quite honed it, so bear with me, but the general concept goes something like this–

People can be broadly divided into social groups based on which character they choose to be in the game, ‘Clue.’

As far as I can tell, most women (or girls really, how many grown women are playing Clue?) are immediately drawn to Miss Scarlet.  Oh sure, she has the superficial looks, but what can she bring to the game aside from that?  So, if you’re a little more creative, you might gravitate toward Professor Plum.  Sense of humor?  Colonel Mustard is your guy. On a whim maybe somebody will go for Miss Peacock.  Mr. Green?  Who are you?  And don’t even get me started on Misses White.

Monopoly‘ brings up a whole other set of issues, but we’ll save that for another day.

image c/o

Technology Rant

Technology Rant

I f##*#ing hate smartphones.  More specifically, it’s a love/hate thing.
A camera at my fingertips.
The fact that I feel compelled to “document” and post everything I/my family/my friends do.
Google maps. This has helped me out numerous times because I have very little sense of direction. Also, it has saved Joe and me from fighting in the car
“I didn’t tell you to turn there.  Miss Google did.”
Absolutely nothing to hate about this.
Texting as a means of brief communication.
Texting as a replacement for actual human connection.
Probably my biggest pet peeve is the fact that people seem unable to engage in contact with others (see above) and/or are unable to sit alone with their thoughts.  Everyone on the subway is playing Candy Crush (or whatever the popular game is these days).  No one seems capable of riding an elevator without staring at their phone. Don’t even get me started about texting and driving.
I admit, I do some of these things too.  During The Whole Life Challenge, that Joe and I recently completed, one of our challenges was to not use screens during mealtimes.  We never do at dinner, but I always seem to be on my phone/computer during breakfast and lunch.  It was absolutely liberating to stop that habit, and I’m trying really hard to continue.  I’m also working hard to not reach for my phone every time I’m waiting for a subway, riding the elevator, waiting for a friend.  It’s surprisingly challenging, but I keep reminding myself that I used to have plenty of “downtime” without constant digital stimulation.
Louis CK seems to be of a similar mind, and he explains it way better than I ever could.
image c/o www.
I know you are shocked to see me back on L2S Slink. I too see the pitfalls of the smartphone in our society but my ranting is more when it comes to kids. I get frustrated when I see tiny little tots playing with their parents iPhones in places where plenty of other things could be amusing them. books, sand, trees, dirt, friends, crayons, etc. But let me follow your format:
Love: all the things you said
Hate: folks using it as a distraction for kids and don’t allow their kids to just “be”
Love: being able to check my email no matter where I am
Hate: people expecting me to respond to my email immediately even when it is not urgent
Love: being able to find my teenager when I need to
Hate: knowing my teenager will always have his phone at his fingertips even when he could be doing other things
Love: the camera
Hate: knowing I have a camera and feel I SHOULD be taking photos. I have been trying to sit with the moment and forget about pulling out my “devise”
Love: auto correct
Hate misspelling things and having the autocorrect mess it up
Love: it’s sleekness
Hate: it’s fragility
Birthday Love

Birthday Love

This morning around 5 AM, Sara Rose came into my room and said, “Mommy, I feel like I have to…” the sentence completed itself when she vomited next to my bed.  The next episode landed in the toilet bowl.  She then went on to tell me, there were two previous occurrences in her bed.

Huge bummer.

But even  bigger bummer…today is her 6th birthday. This was birthday puking!

Not only did her tummy hurt, but she was devastated the cupcake party planned for her first grade class would not happen.

On a usual Wednesday, I would soon be on my way to the gym.

But Sara didn’t want me to go.  She was afraid she might throw up again.  Her tummy hurt, and even worse, I think her heart hurt at the idea of possibly missing school.  She wanted me to snuggle close to her in bed.

We fell back asleep nestled together like puppies.  She woke up two hours later and declared she was ready for school.

I like to think it was mom’s love that healed her, but there was probably just nothing left to puke.

Divergent Book Review

Divergent Book Review

In thinking of the topic for today’s post, I asked Leah if she would like to be a guest writer on Letters2Slinkie and to my surprise she said “Sure”. She quickly decided she would  write a review of one of her favorite books this summer, Divergent by Veronica Roth. How fun to read a review by a 12 year old! Enjoy.


“My older brother suggested that I read this book called Divergent. I hadn’t heard much about it but I’ve seen kids reading it at school and I saw some stuff about it online. I decided to read it this summer during our time in Costa Rica. My friend who we were traveling with and I were reading it at the same time…we both got hooked fast!

Divergent is an amazingly written, creative story that keeps you on your toes ALL THE TIME. It’s about a girl named Tris who lives in a world in the future where you are assigned a ‘faction’ or group based on your personality and actions. When  you are young, you are in the same faction as your parents but when you turn sixteen, you take a test and choose your own faction, one you feel like yourself in. But when Tris takes her test to figure out what faction she belongs in, turns out she’s a special case…

I think Divergent is kind of like a mix of The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and The Giver. It’s written like The Hunger Games and it’s full of suspense. Also, the factions are kind of like the houses in Harry Potter. When you are reading you can’t help but think about what faction would you be in, and what faction your friends would be in. It feels like you are in all of Tris’ adventures and accidents with her, which is awesome. This was one of my favorite books I read all summer. I really recommend it to kids around my age, twelve and up. And a bonus…the movie is coming out in 2014!!”

Leah, Thanks for being our first guest poster!  I’m always looking for a good page turner and this sounds perfect.  I can’t wait to read it and find out which faction I would join!
Media Madness

Media Madness

Can I watch a show? Can I check my instagram? Can I read a book on my ipod? Can I listen to my ipod in the car? Can we watch funny videos on YouTube? Can we just want one more show? Can I play on your Iphone? Can’t I just quickly post this one photo? Is my anger toward media at it’s maximum…YES!

I decided to do a bit of research this morning prompted by a heated discussion with Lucas about why I don’t want him to read a novel on his Ipod (no I am not of the generation with kids under 8 and comfortable with media) and it turns out, I need to calm the F… down. Imagine that!

From the google search results, I decided to click on the links that had positive things to say about technology instead of my normal approach of reading articles to support my negative gut instincts. I discovered, their eyes won’t be damaged for life (and neither were ours from watching TV too close), there are ways to bond over problem solving apps, social lessons can be learned through technology as well as a host of other positive influences.  So hopefully, after two weeks on vacation with no technology, we will all reboot and start over with a clean slate and a mom with a more open mind who notices the positive effects technology has on our family.

Oh, Slink.  I have so much to say about this one and my brain is just fried with work and camp and work some more.  And, sadly, mindless wandering around on the internet.  What a f##$@^g time suck.  This is something that Joe and I really disagree on. I generally feel that we (I include myself here–note previous sentence!) are all on screens way too much.  I like that you tried to look at the positive side of the issue.  Somewhere, there’s a happy medium.




Songs of Summer

Songs of Summer

Now that Fourth of July has come and gone, summer has officially begun.

For me, summer always brings a certain sense of freedom.  Whether it’s the freedom to travel (and, yes, Slink, the more I think about it, I can’t believe our parents let us go to Italy by ourselves at the age of 15), the freedom to be outdoors, the freedom to run, swim or just be free of homework (hallelujah).

NPR (with the help of Billboard) put together a list of Top 10 Summer Songs from 1962 to 2012.

Open a cold one, put on your headphones, sit back and be free…

It was not until a few years ago that Jarrett and I were driving and he opened my eyes to the “summer song” concept. It had just never occurred to me that just like summer movies, the marketing angle also exists on music. (Oh, so naive…or just plain oblivious…not sure!) Now with pop music inundating our ears (as you just experienced) by the end of the summer we are ready to jump out the window, while the kids are still just happily singing along connecting this music to summer fun! Luckily, after a few months of “summer song hiatus” we too are back to singing along remembering our dear old summer family fun. Damn you marketing geniuses, it works!
Mary Timony Inspiring Youth in DC

Mary Timony Inspiring Youth in DC

For years I have watched kids wander in and out of a house on our street. Kids of all ages carrying all sorts of instruments. It wasn’t long before I learned it was the home of Mary Timony (Wild Flag), a respected name in music by lots of cool rocker types, people very unlike myself. But one day I was listening to Jarretts ipod on the way to the gym and turns out the song that caught me, was Mary Timony. Quiet, sweet, kind Mary who I had met several times by now — rocking, really rocking on the guitar, full of energy and passion. It wasn’t long after that I was blown away by her performance on David Letterman and just the other day was captivated by an article about her in the Washington Post. (Washington rocker Mary Timony has been called a genius. She just plays on.)

This weekend we got to see the influence she is having on some local young musicians. (I can’t help but wish Leah was taking guitar lessons from her). At Comet Ping Pong we caught a bit of the excitement. Running late, we raced over but unfortunately we did not race fast enough. We only got to catch the last band but it was easy to feel the rock star energy and pride these kids exuded. The room was full of kids following their passion, with the support of their quiet genius of a teacher helping them reach for their dreams. The energy was inspiring and I cannot wait to get to the next performance…on time, even if I am not one of those “cool” musician types. It’s so fun to see kids shining and know they are being guided by a sincere, kind and amazing musician.

image c/o

Thanks for posting, Slink.  I love when talented people pay it forward. Lucky kids in DC!
Getting Comfortable with Chaos

Getting Comfortable with Chaos

Best friends are supposed to kick your ass right?

Isn’t that also known as “bitch-slappin?” Whoa, those words written down are ugly! (Note to self: refrain from that phrase…sorry Paige). So here I am committed to 50 hours of work this week, while simultaneously trying to manage my home, the kids, the dog, all while trying to keep my newly found (mostly) pain free back in check, and YOU Slink, are hounding me to write a blog post! Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

So, after fitting work into all vacant nooks and crannies this weekend, here is what I have to say to you today:

• Getting comfortable asking for help is not easy.

• Getting comfortable with messiness, again NOT EASY! It will be so interesting to see if anyone else notices or does anything about stuff laying all over this house and the floating dust balls and dog hair mixed in.

• We CAN survive things that where accidently forgotten to be written on the calendar.

• Injuries may not have to be taken THAT seriously.

• When I am stressed, so too are the children.

• This is going to take some getting used to…for everyone.

I feel totally chaotic although getting more comfortable with chaos. I have only committed to 50 hours for one week but truth be told, it is fun to let it all go, at least for a week or two! I am admiring of folks who work full time and can manage all that stuff and make it look easy, because IT IS NOT!

Go Slinkie, Go!  I think this is great for you and your whole family.  You know I am your biggest fan and support you 100%.  BUT…since we’re always honest with each other.  I have to tell you the truth.  There have been times over the years where I’ve been jealous of your stay at home life.  It’s not that I think it’s easy.  You know I have so much respect for stay at home parents, and I think you’re such an incredible mom (how often do I call you for parenting advice?!)  It’s just that when I come down to DC to visit and I see your pace of life, it somehow feels so much mellower than mine.  I know the grass is always greener…Anyway, I wish this wasn’t the case, but part of me feels like, “Aha, now maybe she sees what it’s like for me!”  Lame, I know, making it about myself.  And now I’ve put it out there for the world (all 15 or so of our readers) to see.  I love ya’ Slink.  I guess when you’re part of a family, whether you work full time, part time or not at all, it’s always a balancing act.