Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Confessional Tuesday

Sometimes I take a quick shower before my kids and husband get home just because I don’t feel it’s fair for them to be subjected to how gross I am.

This isn’t really my confession.  My confession is that I wish more people felt like this.

Skunk in the barnyard, P.U.


photo credit

Uniformity

I love Vogue magazine.  I spend hours reading it cover to cover and gaze admiringly at the designs.  I get chills and have gotten a little misty-eyed over the beauty of some of the couture on the pages.  I am not kidding about this.  Tears.  About clothes.

America’s Next Top Model has a permanent place on my DVR, as much for the drama and makeovers of pretty girls into – gasp – models as for seeing what Tyra Banks will be wearing at panel judging each week.

I would watch Sex and the City without sound, thus sacrificing the witty banter and Samantha’s potty mouth, just to see the fashions.  I like to guess what year an episode was aired based on Carrie’s wardrobe choices.  It’s harder when she’s wearing vintage, which she often did, because vintage fashion is fabulous.

The Oscars?  Forget it.  The gowns and jewelry make me drool more than I ever will over the thought of a Christian Bale and Colin Firth sandwich.  That’s significant drool, folks.

You’d think with all this passion for fashion that I’d be a fashion hound. 

In reality, I wear a uniform every day.  It’s comprised of three basic elements: long-sleeved T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers.

Colors vary, but not much.  I have three pairs of sneakers that take turns – they are all gray.  Different shades, of course.  Sometimes I get a couple of days out of a specific uniform, and that cuts back on the variations.  Last week I wore the same pair of jeans every day, and wore the black shirt twice and the purple shirt twice.

The best part of the uniform is the jeans.  As everyone knows, jeans only need to be washed occasionally.  In fact, the less they are washed, the better they fit and feel.  I don’t care how gross it is.

The fact is that I am a mom.  I work and play in my clothes.  I paint walls and go to breakfast with the girls and run errands in this uniform, all in the same day.  I typically don’t have the time to do multiple wardrobe changes.  Fussy fabrics, heels, and lots of accessories only get in the way.

Plus, my five-dollar rhinestone earrings go with every combination I come up with, so extra accessories aren’t necessary.

My lifestyle stipulates that high fashion is out of my reach, both financially and sensibly.  It doesn’t make me sad, because my uniform fits who I am and how I live my life.  I observe couture from my couch and kitchen table, wearing my jeans and sneakers, and it’s okay.

What’s the point of all of this?  I’m not sure.  But I did give you the image of a Christian Bale and Colin Firth sandwich, so there’s that. 

Try to contain your enthusiasm
for my exciting fashion sense. 

It's kind of embarrassing.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Road Warriors

My friend Roxane and I were in San Diego, having tagged along on our husbands’ joint business trip.

We decided to rent bikes for the week.  Actually, Roxane suggested the idea.  She golfs and crafts and knits and builds stuff.  I do not, because I am lazy.  I rarely choose physical exertion when I’m on vacation.  Or any time, really.

Despite my laziness, I am a good sport and will try most anything.  This is why I was easily convinced that while sitting at the pool getting smashed on margaritas while watching workers unload a banana boat docked in front of our hotel would be fun, it would also be fun to rent a couple of bikes to see the city.

We planned where we could bike during the day when our husbands were out doing work stuff. We decided that we could easily bike along the paths overlooking the bay, take our bikes on a ferry to Coronado, maybe even venture to one of the beaches nearby.  Then we could bike back to our hotel, meet our husbands, and go out for dinner at night.

It was going to be so much fun.

We set out one morning with Mission Beach as our goal, about nine or ten miles or so from where we were staying on the bay.  No problem.  We had wheels, and it’s not uphill. 

Much. 

San Diego is beautiful, like everyone says, and the weather is always gorgeous, like everyone says.  It just is.  Even the homeless people seem pleasant - I’m assuming it’s because of the jackpot they won from getting to live there.  The bike ride was pleasant and we saw a lot on that trip to Mission Beach.

We even saw a little bit of the San Diego Freeway, that we somehow started to exit onto.

With our bikes.

As in BICYCLES.

Or was it the Pacific Highway?

No matter.  The point is we left the quiet bike path onto a motor vehicle throughway.  On a Tuesday morning.

Did I mention that we had no helmets?

And that I was carrying my purse?

Was it here that the road suddenly started to ascend?  I mean really start climbing uphill?  For what seemed like miles?  And was it here that we found the entrance to Sea World – I mean the back entrance, where the employees enter, where there is no friendly sign that welcomes tourists to the amazing world of sea life, but instead reminds you to show ID to the security guard posted at the razor-wire gate?

No matter.  Eventually we made it to Mission Beach.  Cool boardwalk, pretty beach homes, some sand, some surfers.

I think there were surfers.  I was a little wobbly from our harrowing invigorating ride up the freeway coast.

It was at Mission Beach where we decided that we made it this far, why not go a little bit farther?  Like La Jolla?  It’s even more beautiful up there, and we are certain to have a spectacular view, see some beautiful homes.  It’s only a few more miles up the coast.

Like 8 more miles.  Eight.

We stayed on the scenic side of the road to get there.  La Jolla is located on cliffs.  You have to get to those cliffs by going uphill the whole way.  At that point Roxane and I were feeling like badasses from our day of extreme SoCal bicycling.  Badasses with purses.  We passed all those luxury homes going two miles per hour with sweaty red faces.  At one point I was actually grunting. 

We made it to the tippy top of La Jolla.  Okay, maybe there’s no tippy top of La Jolla, but we were there.  We rewarded ourselves with lunch and drinks and guffawed and congratulated ourselves on our accomplishment and said “I can’t believe we biked to La Jolla.”  I have no idea where we were, but the fish tacos we ate there were incredible.  We sat there for a while until the shaking in my legs stopped.

Then we remembered that we had to make our way back.

On our bikes.

We laughed.  There’s no way we’re doing all THAT again.  We’re not THAT badass.  We’ll call our husbands and ask them to take a ride in the SUV we rented to pick us up.  We’ll spend some time here tooling around and see what else we can see until they get here.

I reached into my purse to get my cell phone to make the call.

I pulled out the rental car keys.

Thank you, greater San Diego area, for public transportation.

With bike racks.


Our route.  Exit ramps taken are not represented.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Unpopular

Attention:  Smartphones are marketed as Smart.  People are not.  Not automatically, anyway.   On this day and in this age, a person still must prove himself or herself smart before being marketed as such.  A person is not smart just because they consider their smartphone to be an appendage.  Sorry if this news wrecks your day.

A person will still be rude if they use their smartphone to interrupt a conversation to read a text, or check a score, or Tweet, or update a status on Facebook.  And rude is rude: it is not smart.  Texting is something else entirely that makes us look stupid.  I’m not exactly sure who thought it would be easier to communicate through typing (and thus spelling) instead of talking.  Many people are not great spellers. When you talk, you don’t have to spell anything, unless there’s a toddler around.  Why make yourself look stupid by communicating via misspelled words?  And autocorrect (while sometimes hilarious) often makes people appear even dumber.

If you exclusively use your smartphone to find your way around the globe, you might not be very smart.  My husband and I have been in situations where someone has given us straightforward directions, and instead we choose to follow the route a smartphone suggests.  That route usually is longer, out of the way, and sometimes just plain wrong.  Using a smartphone to find your way in the world has made me look dumb, and it probably has made you look dumb, too.  Imagine how dumb our kids will be if in the future someone asks them to use a map to find a location.  They won’t even know what a map is if we’ve only taught them how to access directions via a smartphone.  They’ll be doubly dumb.

Moreover, if you are a parent and you look at your smartphone more than you look at your kids, you are dumb because you are Missing Everything.  Plus you are teaching your kids that smartphones are more important than they are, and more important than people in general.  That’s untrue, and it’s dumb.

We rely on smartphones for the news, our friends’ phone numbers, where to eat, what to buy, ways to get gum off of furniture.  Sometimes the news is wrong, the restaurant sucks, and we end up getting bad information that leaves a big bleached out spot on the couch.  And we can’t even contact the important people in our lives when the battery runs out on our smartphone, because we have allowed the smartphone to hold all of their information.  Dumb.

Of course, we can be dumb without a smartphone.  But we have filled these handheld devices with our lives, and we look at them as holding all the answers.  And sometimes they do, and the answers are good.  But we still look dumb looking into our palms instead of up into the world full of people, 7 billion resources that we have access to if only we look around.

By the way:  I do not own a smartphone.  I learned a long time ago that I don’t need any help looking dumb.

This is not your brain.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wasted

Just how long does it take to paint a room?

Well, if you’re me, and it takes you much longer to do anything because you just can't drop everything to do something outside of your normal jobs of feeding kids and doing laundry and helping with homework and running to the store and spending time with your husband, it takes a while.

Considering there is no new paint on the walls of the room that is intended to be painted, and we are approaching the fifth day that the room in question has been ripped apart to accommodate a painting project, I’d say it might take longer than five days.

Where, oh where, does the time go?

Besides the grocery store, the school, the kids’ practices, the kitchen, the laundry room, the appointments with friends, the gym, online, in a book, and in front of the TV, I mean.

There’s so much to do.  Sure, my house is a mess, but that corner needs to be vacuumed.  The furniture needs to be dusted, and all those leftover Christmas decorations that I left out as “winter d├ęcor” could probably be collected and stored right now.  My bangs – man, they are so long – need a trim.  And while I’m at it, my eyebrows could use a good grooming.  And it’s been a while since I got a haircut, or cut coupons, or wrote back to my friend who touched base with me a week ago.  And the DVR, the blog, and email – sigh.  I’m so behind.

And there are a lot of furniture websites that I have to peruse to find that one really great piece that I have to have – for two hundred dollars or less.

Life just can’t stop, can it? 

Tomorrow.  Tomorrow I will start.  The walls are prepped, the holes are spackled, the paint brushes are selected, the rollers are ready.  It’s time.

But yoga’s at ten, and that other appointment’s at noon, and I probably have to do a little bit of sprucing up before our company comes.

Man, I hate painting.

Ugh.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Three Little Things

Once in a while there's a little surprise in the air, one that is waiting patiently for you to come across or stumble over or even one that meets you wherever you are. It could be a lost ring that you find in the toilet, a kind note in the mail, a twenty dollar bill that you left in your coat pocket last winter.

Or maybe even a little gift on the table from the cat that you mistook for a piece of chocolate.

Surprises happen, and it’s much better when they’re good ones.

I’m not a huge fan of the big loud fancy surprise.  I have been surprised in big ways before, and it never goes well.  There are always tears and sometimes screeching.  At the end of a surprise is an overfed self-consciousness, and the resulting self-doubt that holds its hand.

But enough about me.  Let’s talk more about me.

When surprises are little and unexpected and sweet and just plain nice, I feel pleasant and warm and thankful.

This is how I felt when Martha sent me this big ol’ three and asked me to link up with other bloggers who I felt might like to have some warm sweetness for themselves.

In the blog world there is thing where you “link up” with other blogs on a unified subject.  When you link up, you all write about the same thing, so when someone reads your blog on the subject, they can link to another person’s blog, and read that person’s blog post on the subject, and so on and so forth.  The idea is that contributing bloggers may garner a wider audience, because let’s face it, we are here to write and we like it when other people read our writing.  Linking up is like paying it forward, spreading the wealth, sharing your cookies, or something like that.  It's actually more like a chain letter, except there's a reason for it other than doling out unneccessary pressure.

(How’m I doing, bloggers?  I’m just making this up).



So, the idea behind Big Three is to share Three Things about yourself.  It could be silly, like when Martha confessed to dancing with Elvis, or serious, when Billy B. admitted to loving romantic comedies.  Then you mention three more bloggers you love and hope they grab the Three from your blog, link it up, talk about their Three Things, and move it along.

So let’s get this show on the road, shall we?

Three things I’d like to share:

  1. I once fell asleep during a NASCAR race.  This may only be interesting to you if you’ve ever been to a NASCAR race, where you know that it is so loud that your teeth rattle.
What did you say?  WHAT?  WHAT?
photo credit
photo credit

  1. I have an inappropriate fear of lions and tigers and let’s just throw in bears for the heck of it.  I do not enjoy zoos for this reason, and me?  Camping?  Ha ha ha.  You’re so funny.
Watch out.  They'll rip your face off.
photo credit

  1. I once stayed at the same hotel as Yao Ming, the pro basketball player.  He was at the lobby desk and I walked right up and pretended not to notice him, just so I could see what it was like standing next to someone so tall.  Yeah.  I pretended not to notice a guy who’s almost 8 feet tall.  I guess I’m kind of a jerk.
Add him to the list of
"People Who Are Not Amused By Andrea"
photo credit
photo credit

Now, for the lucky three with whom I’d like to share my cookies: 
  1. Crocuses in March http://crocuses.blogspot.com/  Jessi is real, honest, gentle, creative, thoughtful, faithful, AND talented in a hundred ways.  She’s a mom and she talks about her life and loves.  She’ll get you thinking, and then you’ll want to have a cup of coffee with her.
  2. Alphabet Junkie http://alphabetjunkie.com/blog/  Jett Superior has an awesome blog that regularly rips my heart right out of my chest.  Raw and emotional and well-written, her stories and point of view always make me smile and sometimes tear up a little.  I always re-read.
  3. Cannibalistic Nerd http://www.cannibalisticnerd.com/ Look.  Carrie writes giggle-inducing synopses about old Super Friends cartoons.  She also writes about other stuff with never-failing hilariousness.  You can't miss it.  I want to be her friend.
So go on.  Visit these bloggers.  You're welcome. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Yay

Happiness is when your kids spend AN ENTIRE SUNDAY AFTERNOON creating their Valentine’s Day Boxes and they didn’t ask you to help once. 

VD came early to my house this year. 

Wait a minute.

Art at its best

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reality Reality

We’ve all heard that reality is stranger than fiction.  In my house, reality is sometimes just funnier than fiction, and in my opinion, better than reality TV any day.  An excerpt:

(Mom, Son, and Daughter are sitting in Daughter’s room at bedtime)

Son (accusingly): Mom, she writes math problems in her diary!

Mom: I think that’s genius.

Son: Well, she’s stupid.

Mom: I think you just gave proof that she’s not.

Son: She has a sign on her door that says “No smoking.”  Who’s going to smoke in her room?  She’s eight!

Mom: She’s just being proactive.

Son:  It also says “No Hippies.”

Mom: She’s also retroactive.

(Son storms off, making loud, exasperated noises)

Daughter (making tsking sound, then sighing loudly):  Kids.

Mom: Word to your mutha.

Daughter:  Word.

In your face, reality TV.

No thanks ladies, we're good.

photo credit


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Bowl Party 2012 or What’s That on the Couch?

My husband loves football and having football parties at our house.  Sigh.  And Le Sigh.

When Super Bowl talk starts happening in early January, my husband fixes me with his “please oh please, can we have a party for the Super Bowl” look and I quickly try to distract him.  Because though I like throwing parties, the shopping and the prepping and the details are my thing, and I’d rather spend the energy on any kind of party other than a football one.

I might start a diatribe on how I don’t “get” Jersey Shore, or muse for hours about how long it might take us to finance a new Lamborghini or an island in the Pacific.  Sometimes the topic interests my husband and he’s distracted long enough to forget about having a football party until one of the other families in our circle of friends decides that this is their year to host the Super Bowl party.  Then, when the subject comes up again I can say, “Oh honey, the Smiths are having it.  Maybe we can do it next year.”

This year, my subject matter must not have been compelling enough, because we had the Super Bowl party at our house.

When we have parties, we do them family-style.  We are not X-rated partiers – there’s not much we do that is inappropriate for children.  We have gone to plenty of adult-only parties that I return home from – early, because it costs an arm and a leg to hire a babysitter these days – thinking “Why couldn’t my kids have come? They know how to behave” and decided long ago that if we are having parties, we are having family parties.  I had kids so I could have fun with them, not so I could pay someone else to watch them when I want to have fun.  Plus, it’s important to me that my kids know the people who I am friends with, and that my kids learn how to behave at parties.

With that in mind, I realize that when we have a family-friendly party, there will be a mess.

Everyone pitches in to help clean up, which is amazing.  I have great friends.  But the day after reveals more than what we see the night before.  It always cracks me up what I find after a party.  I have found other children’s shoes mixed in with my kids’ toys, weeks later.  This means that someone took a barefoot child home.  There is always a stray sock or sweatshirt left.  This time, I found all those things PLUS a pair of eyeglasses that no one is missing yet.

I have learned from experience not to serve my favorite boxed-brownies-with-a-can-of-frosting at family parties.  Or cupcakes.  No soda in cans and no water in bottles.  There’s a Sharpie next to every stack of cups.  No artificial red or orange foods or drinks. 

This particular party, for its size, was pretty minimal on the after-the-party mess scale.  But one thing was new, and I have one more thing to add to my “never again” list.  Feel free to add it to yours.

If you serve oniony or garlicky food, keep the chewing gum away from the kids. 

Otherwise, I have a few tips on how to get gum off of your furniture.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Whatever I Bring to the Table vs. Whatever Terrible Things They Learn From Me


What makes us who we are?

In psychology we learn that individual human behavior is governed by a perfect cocktail of genes and environmental influences.  No one really knows the percentage of either authority; for instance, we are not precisely 25% genes-governed and 75% environment-governed, or 66% and 34%, or 5% and 95%.  For years, schools of thought have bickered over the weightier influence, and thousands of scientific studies have been conducted to find the exact proportion of “me” that is formed from how we are constructed versus the kind of house we were raised in.

It’s why I love psychology; it’s one of those things that you can study for years and years and never have any pressure to come up with a definitive answer; no one can prove why anything is, and you can ruminate on it as long as you want, and nobody cares.

It’s a community of navel-gazers.  My kind of people.

As a parent I have followed my children’s behavior for the whole of each of their lives.  Because it’s who I am, I see each and every difficult characteristic in my husband and myself reflected in them; my daughter is a people-pleaser; my son, stubborn.  I relive my tragic moments through them as they react to adversity in much the same way I did at their ages.

It’s enough to make a person want to turn in her Mom card and make a break for the nearest exit.

This parenting stuff is hard, and I am ill-equipped to deal with it on my own.

THANK GOD for girlfriends.  A fellow mom who is honest and not trying to impress you with stories about the brilliance of each event in her kids’ lives, a person who is real and shares with you how she had to have a talk with her son about the booger jar that she found in his room.  After she caught her daughter eating from it.  These are friends with whom I want to share parenting stories, and it helps.  A lot.

My kids are going through some hard times.  Kid-sized hard times, but hard times nonetheless.  They are stressed out, maxed out, strung out, and worn out.  They are not involved in ten different activities.  There are no major changes going on at home.  They are just feeling the pressures of growing older and not quite knowing how to handle things.

And I’m not quite sure how to handle things.

Which brings me to this talk about what makes us who we are.  I don’t remember having “growing pains” quite so acutely when I was younger; my parents don’t recall any definitive moments in my life where they can pinpoint when changes started happening.  Perhaps, like me, they moved through the difficult portions of my childhood with one of the many glazed expressions that I feel myself wearing on a daily basis and have forgotten the pain of parenting young-almost-old children.  Or maybe not.

Did I inherit their behavior genes, or did our family life contribute to how I turned out?  Were either of my parents the emotional nerve-endings I was when they were younger?  Did my children obtain these traits from me?  What made us this way, and for the love of everything holy and right, is there anything I can do to make life less strenuous for my kids, those pieces of my heart that I wear outside my body, those small people who when they cry and laugh cause me to want to simultaneously rejoice and rock in the corner?

There is no answer.  I know this, and so do all those psychology studies.

My kids are who they are, and I am who I am.  Who knows what wacky concoction of internal-external factors contributes to it.  Life’s messy and crazy and difficult, even for kids.  My only hope, my prayer, is that someday on this earth, my children will get through it with some success and little scarring.

Scarring that they got from me, of course.