Monday, September 29, 2014

50 Questions That Are All About Me. Pull Up A Chair And Get Ready To Be Amazed.

So the other day I was doing a little blog reading and I came across a post from my friend Alison of Writing, Wishing fame and I snarfed it up as if it was a fresh snack-sized Butterfinger right from the Trick-or-Treat bowl.

Now, if you don’t know Alison or her blog, you should, because she is a great writer and she just had twins and she is still writing and this is a big deal to me because after I gave birth to each of my children ONE AT A TIME I could barely get off of the couch to go to the bathroom for like three months so she is pretty much a rock star.

And she is the sort of person who is consistently kind, encouraging, and selfless, and I was excited and honored to be selected by her to continue this little list of questions post, to be connected to her blog in this way.  You know, like in a One Degree of Alison Lee type of thing.  So I decided to do it.

Plus I love answering questions about myself.  Fun bonus fact about me: I pretend I’m being interviewed by Jimmy Fallon and after the interview we go out for cheeseburgers.

1. What are you wearing?  Jeans, socks with teacups on them, a cotton button-down from Old Navy, and I’m writing today so I’m also wearing a chevron scarf.  It’s a common fact that all bloggers wear chevron.

You may not be able to tell I'm wearing chevron.
That's okay.
Look how great my hair looks.


2. Ever been in love?  Boring question.  Yes. 

3. Ever had a terrible breakup?  The worst was the one that ended, and I wasn’t absolutely sure that it had.

4. How tall are you?  Most of my life I’ve been able to say I’m six feet tall.  Recently, though, my doctors have been informing me that I might only be around five-eleven.  I started wearing lifts inside all my shoes, so now I'm six-two.

5. How much do you weigh?  When my children get on the scale, they announce how much they weigh.  I always respond “What a coincidence!  That’s how much I weigh!”  It makes me feel good just to say it, even though, sheesh.  I’d have to cut a leg off, I think.

6. Any tattoos?  One, a sun, in the middle of my back.  Dear all nineteen-year-olds: don’t get a stupid tattoo.

7. Any piercings?  Just pierced ears.  Sometimes I wear clip-ons and tell people I don't have my ears pierced and they are outraged.

8. OTP (one true pair, favorite fictional couple)? Me and Christian Bale. What?  It says fictional.

9. Favorite show?  Mad Men.

10. Favorite bands? I just love Coldplay.  I realize that might make me the most boring person in the world, but I don’t care.  They are my people.

11. Something you miss?  I miss my old friends who live far away.  I miss the nineties.  I miss having a flat stomach.

12. Favorite song?  I still looooove Chandelier by Sia.  Old school love: Copacabana by Barry Manilow.  Also Freedom by George Michael.  15 Step by Radiohead.  And OMG It Takes Two by Rob Base.  That song comes on?  It’s a club up in here.


One day I listened to this song on a loop for hours.
It just played in the background.
It sounds weird.  I guess it is.
The upside is that now I know all the words.

13. How old are you? I’m 41, nosy.

14. Zodiac sign?  Taurus.  Best Z sign EVA.

15. Quality you look for in a partner?  Kindness.  No BS.  A sense of humor. You know, if I was looking.

16. Favorite Quote?  I have a bunch on the wall at eye level right now:

The parent must always self-parent first; self-preaching always comes before child-teaching. – One Thousand Gifts

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? – Isaiah 43:18-19

We can’t wear all of the hats and all of the capes.  That’s why there is the Justice League and not just a single hero. – Val Curtis, BonbonBreak.com

Humor usually works at the moment of awkwardness – fortune cookie

17. Favorite actor?  Christian Bale.  What?

18. Favorite color?  Yellow

19. Loud music or soft?  Soft.  Mostly.  Unless I’m able to sing along.  Then loud.  To drown out my cracking voice.

20. Where do you go when you’re sad?  I just sit and think.  The couch, mostly.

21. How long does it take you to shower?  If I have to wash my hair, 10 minutes.  If not, 5.  

22. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?  If I have to dry my hair, 30 minutes.  If not, 20.  The hair – it’s high maintenance.


Seriously.  The hair today.
It never looks this good.

23. Ever been in a physical fight?  I have two brothers.

24. Turn on?  Strong arms and nice hands.  Also good legs.  I guess I’m into peripheral features.

25. Turn off?  People who only talk about themselves.  What?

26. The reason I started blogging?  I was on Facebook and realized that I wanted to say more than just a status update.  So I started writing a blog.

27. Fears?  Not being able to move, or being closed in.  It’s becoming worse as I get older.  I think I need therapy for it.  I’m only partly kidding.

28. Last thing that made you cry?  I cry so often now it’s just a regular part of my day.  An article I read.  A funny video I watch.  Thinking about my kids growing up.  Looking at old pictures.  TV.  Movies.  Life.
 
29. Last time you said you loved someone?  Just a little bit ago, I talked to my husband on the phone.  I always say it, because I don’t always show it.

30. Meaning behind the name of your blog? ::sighing:: My husband follows up every story I tell with one of the following statements: “She only tells part of the story,” “She exaggerates a little,” “That’s not all true.”  Which is correct, I guess, because I tell stories from my point of view, which is my unique perspective.  If you read my blog, I’m advising you ahead of time that everything you read here is About 100% true.  It’s a caveat mostly because I use a lot of absolutes like every, always and never.

31. Last book you read?  I read the Bridget Jones books over the summer, and Rachel and Leah from Orson Scott Card, and the amazing Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson, and several others that I can’t remember right now, because the one I’m currently reading is all-consuming.

32. The book you’re currently reading?  Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.  It’s taking me forever.  I have a habit of selecting difficult books that take me months to finish.  I’m also finding time to inhale Get The Behavior You Want… Without Being The Parent You Hate! by Dr. Deborah Gilboa.  The two books couldn’t be more different.

33. Last show you watched?  Suits.  Do you watch Suits?  I’m on Season 2.  I’m in love with it.  And I love suits.  Why don’t more people wear them?

34. Last person you talked to?  My mother.  It was her birthday.  I called her to say Happy Birthday and that I forgot to send a card.  She said “That’s okay.  The money will spend just as well even if it’s late.”  So now I should also send her some money.

35. The relationship between you and the person you last texted?  The youth group leader at our church – she asked me if I was still okay with bringing drinks to youth group tonight.  I replied, “Yep!”  Text conversations are fascinating.

36. Favorite food?  I can rip through a pile of meatballs like nobody’s business.  Not really.  I just thought that was a funny thing to say.  Anybody else tired of reading these questions?

37. Place you want to visit?  I want to stay in that place in Italy with all the little houses on the hillside.  I would drink Italian wine and eat raviolis on my rooftop terrace.  Positano? 

38. Last place you were?  Um, in my house.  Dumb.

39. Do you have a crush?   Like I’d say that here.  My husband reads this.  What?

40. Last time you kissed someone?  My kids before they went to school.  Little extra: I kiss our daughter on the lips.  I kiss our son on the cheek.

41. Last time you were insulted? The other morning our son was eating an omelet that my husband prepared for him.  He said, “Dad, you should open a restaurant.  You’re really good at cooking.”  All of the food that the people in my family eats, save a few omelets and the odd nights out, I cook.  I am a good cook, yet compliments on my food are rare, and complaints are common.  When he said that to my husband, I felt as if I was slapped.  Neither one of them realized it, but man.  That stung.

42. Favorite flavor of sweet? Chocolate, unless you’re talking cake or ice cream, then vanilla.  I also love caramel. 

43. What instruments do you play?  I played the flute once upon a time, and also the piano.  I mean, I’m no professional accompanist, but I can plunk out a tune here and there.

44. Favorite piece of jewelry?  My rings.  I love them all.  I wish I had more than ten fingers.  It would be weird.  I’m not saying it wouldn’t be.

45. Last sport you played?  Last spring our family played basketball on our backyard court.  Rather, they played basketball.  I just sort of ran around and threw the ball around.  Which is sort of how I view sports anyway, so I wasn’t actually half bad.

46. Last song you sang? It Takes Two by Rob Base, obvs.  That freakin’ song, man.

47. Favorite chat up (pick up) line?  Are you a magician???  Because Abraca-DAYUM! 

48. Have you ever used it?  Snort.  No, but I’d love to say it without laughing.

49. Last time you hung out with anyone?  Do kids count?  Because I hang out with them a lot.

50. Who should answer these questions next?  Oh jeez, I don’t know.  How about you?  It’s free to enter, and fun to play!  Let me know if you do it!


Go ahead.  Hit play.  You know you want to.

*******

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Old School Blogging: Fall Edition

Old School Blogging is happening here, folks.  Get ready.

Do you love it?  I love it.  It’s so nice to have something easy to write about, because the ideas, people.  They are hard to come by sometimes.  Oh, you’ve noticed?  How nice of you to keep that to yourself.

I'm linking up with Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life, who has teamed up with Mindi of Simply Stavish this month to ask a few questions related to everybody’s favorite season: Fall!  Okay, Fall really isn’t my favorite season.  I like it okay.  I mean, it’s fine.  The leaves, the gourds, the cooler weather.  It’s nice.  It’s sort of the lead-in to that time of year where claustrophobia reeeeally takes hold for months and months and my skin dries out like tissue paper and my bones feel like ice cubes.  I do love Halloween, though.

Let’s talk about Fall, shall we?




What Fall traditions do you have?  I always put up fall decorations in mid-September.  Each year I try to do something fun and unexpected, like hide tiny pumpkins around, or string a garland of leaves around our life-sized cardboard cut-out of Joe Paterno, or put a horrible rubber mask on top of a broomstick and stick it in a different place in the house every day.  Then I record my family members’ reactions when they come across it.  What a bunch of scaredy-cats.

What is your favorite fall recipe?  Our family loves comfort food, and I make a ton of soup in the fall.  This kind is awesome:


The recipe is pretty easy.  If you give me your contact info I will send it to you.

What is a favorite Fall photo (or photos) you’ve taken?  Last year our son and his friends wore those rubber horseheads and I drove them around.  Why no, that’s not four children in the back of a sedan.  Why do you ask?


Okay.  One is a giraffe.


This one's cute, too.

Football – love it or hate it?   Hate is such a strong word.  That’s so cute.  Multiply hate by infinity and we are approaching how I feel about it.  I’ve written about it before here and here.

What was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid? In the 6th grade my girlfriends and I dressed up as punk rockers.  I got a little too excited and became Emo Goth Girl instead.  Incidentally, this photo is a fair prequel to my high school years.


Pumpkins or ghosts or both?  Pumpkins.  You can’t make pie from ghosts.

What’s your favorite fall fashion item? In the fall I start wearing jeans, boots, and scarves, and I don’t stop until April, which is also around the time when I start suffocating under all the clothing that must be worn to keep from freezing to death.

Is “leaf pile jumping” your thing or not?  Leaves are outside, yes?  Then, no.  It is not my thing.

Is “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” a must-watch at your house?  That’s one of those shows that is on at like 8:30 on a Monday night during the first week of October when school starts ramping up and there are a zillion other things going on.  I haven’t seen it in years.

What are you going to be for Halloween this year?  I don’t know.  I’ve always wanted to own a tuxedo.  Maybe Halloween will be my excuse for finally getting one, and I’ll tell everyone I’m a penguin.

***

So there you have it.  I'd love to see you take part in Old School Blogging this month!  How do you bring in the fall?  Link up with Elaine or Mindi and let us know.  You can tweet it up using #OSBlog, and in the meantime, Happy Fall, Y’all!  Saying that is a fun part of fall.  Try it today!  Be sure to record people's reactions when you say it, then post them online.  You will be an internet star, I promise.*



*I don't really promise

*******

Monday, September 22, 2014

Keep Your Friends Close

We have a spider.

This spider first made its entrance to our lives a couple of weeks ago, when our son remarked on the scope and breadth of a web within the shrubs planted close to our deck.  It made a living feasting on the most foolhardy flitting bugs that aimed their trajectory a leetle too close.

The spider left most of them alone to die naturally.  The smallest gnats and flying insects lay in the web to decorate it once their teeny wings gave out.  The rest, the big guys, made it just in time for dinner.  Our family, amazed at nature taking place close by but at a comfortable distance, witnessed one or two of its catch-and-eat projects.  We took pictures and posted them online for everyone to enjoy.

Nature!

Last week the spider lost its original web due to a particularly strong rainstorm, and built another even closer to our home, just inches off the deck.  

The rest of the family lost interest except me.  I visited our guest daily, sometimes two or three times, to make sure it was still there and not lurking over my shoulder.  You see, I like to keep my eye on wild animals that want to kill me.

Oh, it wants to kill me, friends.  It wants to kill all of us.  This is a fact of every wild animal that lives outside in the wild.  Even those that I could squish in the palm of my hand let’s not think about holding a 4-inch spider with any part of our bodies because it would climb into my hair and probably right into my ear or down the back of my shirt and bite me and I would die.

The other reason I know it wants to kill me is because when it made its home even closer to mine, when I would peer over the deck railing, it started bouncing back and forth on its web in a sinister dance that I have entitled Back Off Or I Will Jump You And Bite You In The Eyeball.

I have a healthy respect for spiders and their villainous intentions.

One night my husband and I were sidling up quietly to the new web, tiptoeing so as not to alert the owner.  “Kill it! It'll have babies and we’ll have spiders everywhere!” cried our teenager from behind us when he saw that spidey had moved closer to our home.  His aversion to creatures with many legs is alarmingly hostile.  “No,” my non-violent yet gravely football-addicted husband replied. “Let it be.  It is good for our homestead’s garden, good for devouring the vermin that destroy the fruits of our labors, those that threaten to plunge us into the deepest recesses of sorrow and despondency.”

My husband is stunningly eloquent when he speaks to our children in my mind.  He also has a slight accent, like Cary Grant, or even Katharine Hepburn.




“Besides,” I added, just as elegantly, “Haven’t you ever seen Charlotte’s Web?  Charlotte makes that  egg sac thingy and dies at the fair.  We don’t have a pig around here to keep ’em warm in the winter, so most are gonna freeze anyway.  DUH.”

Our son rolled his eyes at me and went back in the house to continue his ongoing quest on how to make it big on YouTube.

Recently it has been chilly overnight, and because I’m merely a scientist in the world of social affairs, I have only a cursory knowledge about the lifespan of a summer spider.  Charlotte is really my only experience with spiders, if you want to know the truth.  And I'm not really a scientist. My interest lies in having firm proof that this thing will die from exposure.  I want to see it curled up in a spider ball somewhere outside.  It can have babies - that’s fine.  But I need to know that said babies are outside.

Imagine my surprise when this morning I peered through the window only to see an empty web.  An audible gasp escaped from my lungs as I realized it was on the loose, probably creeping around my bare toes as I fumbled to make the coffee.

But no!  There it is!

On the inside of the deck railing.

It’s coming closer.  We have been identified as the enemy, I am sure of it.

In the dead of night, when I am at my most vulnerable, I can almost hear the thumping bass line of Sir Mix-A-Lot's anthem Baby Got Back.  Deep within the recesses of my decking lies a coterie of arachnids, chanting menacingly, “I like big butts and I cannot lie.”

*******

Postscript: While I was finishing up this post, barely two hours after this photo was snapped, the spider laid her eggs and disappeared, presumably gone forever in her spidey-hole.  I almost miss her. Then I look at this picture, and I don't.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love – A Review


When I met Anna, her blog was new to me.  I hadn’t heard about her or her experience.  I quickly learned that her life contained a tragedy, the most tragic thing that every parent dreads: she lost her son.

Three years ago, twelve-year-old Jack died in a flash flood that carried him away from this world and the embrace of his family.  I can’t imagine living life after that.  I considered that Anna was a member of that upper level of humans, with those who possess a genius IQ and supreme talent.  She was chosen to live this life for her strength and the ability to shine through the darkest of life’s challenges, to show average humans what it really means to endure.

She’s out of my league.  I can’t even bear to think of losing my children, yet here she is: doing great things through her life and work, and successfully surviving – no, accomplishing, thriving – after such a loss. 

I’ve never been good at sharing grief; when confronted with another person’s loss, my instinct is to stay away, offer sympathy from afar, allow privacy.  My own awkwardness and unease overshadowed many past attempts to comfort others in their loss.  Sitting with someone while they mourned – I told myself that this was not my place, my role.  Surely there is another more qualified.  I’m just in the way.

It took me a while to read Rare Bird.  I had volunteered to read it and provide support to Anna and write a review to give her book word of mouth before its release.  When it came, I hesitated.  I read the front and back covers, allowing myself only a few pages in on each end.   I read the foreword and the acknowledgments, but then I saw the picture of Jack, his big brown eyes smiling at me, and I closed the book and placed it on my nightstand.

I wasn’t ready for this.  By then I knew the story, had known Anna long enough, and read enough of her blog to know the details of Jack’s death.  I couldn’t bring myself to relive it with her, those early days of shock and grief.  I was comfortable keeping Anna’s story just out of my reach.  I wasn’t ready to know the reality of what happens to a person when their child dies.    



But one day I picked up the book, and read.

And I was changed.

This is not a superhero who wrote this book, who had this experience.  This is a mom, a wife, a daughter, sister, and friend, a fellow homeroom parent, the woman behind you in the grocery line hoping to get home before her kids get off the bus.  Anna is you and me.  And she has so much to offer with her story.

Namely, hope.  Hope that continues on long after the shock of tragedy softens into mourning and memory, and spiritual battles have been waged and won for now.  Hope in the knowledge that we are closer to our lost loved ones than we think.  Hope that our love comes back to us in signs and words and sounds and knowing that life moves forward with new and wonderful experiences.

Rare Bird also offers love.  And laughter.  And the meaning of family, and friendships, and being a good neighbor, friend, wife and parent.  But it also offers the opposite: tears, broken relationships, tested bonds, struggles with spiritual truths and anger, a loss that leaves a hole that cannot be filled.

Anna offers the whole of human experience in the pages of Rare Bird.  She scoots in close and shares her testimony, her confessions, her doubts, and her own failings and guilt.  She trusts us with the precious memories of her son and her family and all that she learned and continues to learn and you can’t help but take it all in. 

The lessons Anna writes are not only for those who have experienced a loss.  They are universal: how to show grace to your spouse.  How to forgive yourself.  How to open our hearts to people in our past.  How to talk openly with others.  How to love despite pain.


Anna expresses wonder over what happens when we share grief:  
“Friends who grieve with us have to face their own version of leaning into or dealing with the grief.  They run the risk of being overwhelmed by it, pulled into their own form of depression, fear, and bitterness.  They risk not being there for their own families as they show up for ours.  I wonder if those who have alongside us feel a burden for us, as if they simply don’t have a choice to ignore it or will it away.”



Anna admits that she is not an expert on grieving and loss.  She would say that she is not superhuman, that on some days she is not doing the best she can, and that she cannot understand why this happened to her son.  She is a woman of faith, and questions God and his ways while clinging tightly to his promises and the scriptures that Jack held dear.  She takes us through the details of those grim days immediately following Jack’s accident, and painfully  recalls her confusion and despair over how he was gone, yet she was still able to stand at his funeral and speak of him clearly, strengthened by the Holy Spirit and not wanting to leave until every single person in the church was changed.

Rare Bird taught me that heaven is closer than we think, that the reality of life is death, and that we owe it to ourselves and others to reach out and share ourselves as much as we can.   We are to love with abandon, and admit when we are fragile and scared, and give ourselves and others space to move and to grow.

I am still in awe of Anna and what she has lived through and what she continues to live through every day.  But she is not out of my league.  She is firmly within it, receiving the love and light that this life has to offer each of us, even through the darkness.

*******

Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love is available on Amazon.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Keep Track Of Your Stuff


**Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Kidecals.  I was compensated for this post with a set of custom labels.  All opinions are my own.**

So.  The people in my family, particularly the kids - they lose stuff.

And I mean they lose stuff as in “MOM WHERE DID YOU PUT MY WATER BOTTLE/ PHONE/HEADPHONES/RETAINER/IMPORTANT SCHOOL PAPER/WALLET/KEYS?

Okay.  Those last two items are things my husband loses, and he doesn’t call me Mom.  That would be weird, and is strictly forbidden.

The worst part of them losing stuff is that they blame me.  I don’t put those things anywhere.

My kids misplace so much stuff all over their world.  I really appreciate that each spring before school ends, hallway-length tables are set up at the schools with all the items that children leave there, allowing families to sift through and claim their belongings.

Problem is, I often don’t even know that my kids have lost anything in the first place.  They don't tell me, because they know I’d yell at them if I knew.

Well, maybe not yell, but you know what I mean.  Yeah – I mean yell. 

So I don’t even know what I’m looking for.  Let’s not talk about the fact that they have so much stuff that they can afford to leave it behind and we don’t miss it.  That’s another, more serious issue.  But each year I sift through the stuff and can’t recall if my kid had a shirt like that at the beginning of the year or not. Maybe he did.  But then again – let’s just leave it on the table.  It’s probably not ours.

The point is, their lost stuff would be easier to claim if it just had their names on it.  Which as their mother I guess it is my responsibility, but scrawling your name on your backpack with a Sharpie really isn’t that difficult now, is it?

No, it isn’t.

However, Sharpie wears off, despite its claim of permanence, and it’s hard to keep it looking nice and crisp and new and – most importantly – legible.

So, you know, if your son or daughter repeatedly leaves their lunchbag on the bus, and he or she has written his or her name in Sharpie and now it looks like a whiskey-fueled home tattoo, into the school hallway pile it goes, gone until next May.

And you’re yelling again.

So I was excited to try out Kidecals, which offers fully customizable, highly durable, and waterproof labels for your belongings that you can stick on your stuff to show the world that you mean business about wanting it back when you carelessly leave it somewhere.

Because that hoodie isn’t going to drive itself home when it’s been abandoned in the cafeteria.

The kids and I sat down one afternoon and scrolled through the hundreds of designs that Kidecals offers, and picked one that we would all be pumped to stick on our stuff, placed our order, and waited for them to arrive.





And when they did, we had a blast sticking those suckers on everything that might be left behind.

Like their backpacks.



And hoodies.




And water bottles.




And pencil pouches and binders.



And gym bags.




I even stuck one on my son’s golf bag, our travel mugs, and even one of our bookshelves at home, just because.

I may have gotten carried away with the labels.

Some of the labels have seen the inside of our washer and dryer and the dishwasher several times already, and all are as intact as the day they were stuck. 

This stuff ain’t never getting lost, people.

I decided against including a phone number or any other identifying information on our labels, because let’s face it, I don’t panic if we lose a water bottle or two.  But if one of my kids leaves something at school or on the bus, any one of their classmates could easily see whose it is and return it when they see my kid next. 

If I could get them to keep track of their stuff, it would be a good day.  Until then, I'm glad I have the Kidecals.

*******

Kidecals doesn’t just make labels for identifying purposes.  They also have food allergy alert labels, labels to dress up your computer keyboard, address labels, labels for teachers, for organization, for gifts, and just plain old cute stickers to stick up any old place.  They even make custom, personalized decals, if that’s your thing.  If you have a need, Kidecals has a label for it.  


Best part: Shipping is FREE on all orders.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering



This day sneaks up on me every year.  Yesterday I sat in my office updating my calendar and there it was.

9/11.

It's no holiday.  There's nothing to prepare for, nothing special to do except remember the events of that day.  I try not to dwell on it, and my thoughts drift to the people I know whose birthdays are today.

But I still can't bring myself to write about any other topic here than the one that is on my mind and on the mind of millions of others.

So for today I will remember, like I have every year for the past thirteen.

*******

Last year I wrote about what I was doing on September 11, 2001.  
Join me in remembering.



Monday, September 8, 2014

When All Else Fails, Apply Lipstick

The other day, right before my children came home from school, I caught my reflection in the mirror. 

Crow’s feet.  Laugh lines.  A hint of jowls.  Wispy hairline.  Downturned mouth.  Divots between the eyebrows.  When did my arms get so… paunchy?

I studied myself for a few moments and looked away, despairing, disappointed.  My kids are too young to have a mother who looks like this.  I have only myself to blame; I don’t take care of myself as well as I could, opting for the couch more often than moving around.  I started sitting more just when it was starting to get harder to stand up.

In addition, I’ve become more lenient with my eating and drinking habits.  Second glass of wine?  Don’t mind if I do every night.  Do we have ice cream?

When did my reflection become difficult to bear?  In my younger years, hours were spent holding my own gaze in the mirror.  Expressions: I had a thousand, and I practiced them all on myself, tearing myself away only when I was satisfied at the resulting effect of a slight eyebrow arch, a wry half-smile.

Now I only gaze into the mirror to investigate stray eyebrows, examine rogue pimples and oh look, another gray hair.  The selfie – what a joke.  It’s unforgiving, unwanted, unnecessary.




Worse: I struggle to keep my weight from fluctuating.  Merely glancing at cookies seems to cause my waist to expand.   I need a full-throttle fitness regimen to keep me in my jeans, two-and-a-half hours a day at the gym.  The just wait until you’re older comments that well-meaning relatives threw my way when I was a kid as I’d inhale a quarter of the Thanksgiving gravy ring in my ear. 

My metabolism didn’t even say goodbye.

I feel old.  

It wasn’t that long ago that a friend and I were chatting about how annoying it is when people age and they announce how too old they are for the activities of life anymore, as if age naturally precedes intolerance for all things previously enjoyed.  I’m too old for roller coasters.  I’m too old for screaming babies.  I’m too old for loud concerts, crowds at the mall, staying up too late, eating nachos at midnight, watching cartoons and wearing short shorts.

That was over five years ago.

I was still in my thirties then.  Mid-thirties.

I can still rock out at a concert, stay up late, listen to screaming babies, ride roller coasters, brave the mall crowds, wear short shorts, and the other day my husband changed the channel because he thought I wasn’t watching Steven Universe.  That show is so weird.

I will not eat nachos at night, nor do I particularly want to.  Roller coasters are fun, though they give me a headache.  I’m only half old.

But the reflection doesn’t lie.  And there’s nothing to do about it.  Two-and-a-half daily hours at the gym might help my metabolism, but it can’t keep jowls from forming.

I want to look younger and feel better, to hold my gaze just a little longer.  Don't we all?  But time doesn’t travel backwards, and I don’t have a lot of money, so my options are limited.

I ran to my purse, grabbed my makeup bag, and put on some lipstick.  Instantly I felt better.  Turns out all I needed was a little color.

What has my life come to, that I apply lipstick in the middle of the day, right before my middle schoolers come home, to make myself feel better?  Likely they wouldn’t notice if I had teeth on my chin or ears for eyes. 

Which, in a few years, might be an improvement.


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Thursday, September 4, 2014

You Can Tell By My Necklace

This is a review for UncommonGoods.com.  I was offered compensation in the form of an item from their website in exchange for this post.  All opinions are my own.

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Just when things are comfortable, the world tips over and a new perspective floats to the top, something new to get used to.

A few years ago I decided to explore this truth.  My job had been over for years, I was at home, the kids were in school, and I needed an outlet.  So I started a blog.  

I blogged to practice expressing myself, to tell stories, to crack myself up.  I quickly found that websites offered publication, so I submitted a post.  It got picked up.  And then, another.

It was then I realized how low expectations can be for internet content.

Nevertheless, I was hooked.  Along the way, while pondering exactly why I wasn’t rich and famous yet, I discovered other blogs.  And bloggers.  Just like me.

Millions of them.  I scrolled through countless blogs, inhaling ones about traveling, design, and household tips.  I scanned blogs written in different languages.  I read blogs that reviewed products.  I lingered on family and parenting blogs.  I marveled that people published pictures of their children on the internet.

I found that bloggers not only blog, but they also read and comment and spread general cheer around their corner of weburbia.  I claimed my spot and it continues to change and grow and offer up new perspectives.   

Over the last four years, while reading and commenting and cheer-spreading through my blog, I’ve come to know one thing:  not all writers are bloggers, but all bloggers are writers.

At least the ones I read are.

And so am I.

***

When UncommonGoods contacted me to review one of their products on my blog, I said yes yes YES!  I’ve shopped their site in the past, and quietly coveted several of their products, especially those from their personalized art and jewelry collections.  I jumped at the chance to get my hands on something. 

UncommonGoods is a cool company.  Based in Brooklyn, New York, their mission is to support artists and designers; further, their unique gifts are “created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people.”  If you’re looking for something that is thoughtfully and meaningfully made, this is your source.

If you love personalized gifts like I do, visit this page to see what they offer.  And I swooned when I saw some of the items for kids and babies, like fortune cookie booties.  Fortune cookie booties!  I'm in love. Click here here to check them out.  I'll wait.

Half of what UncommonGoods sells is made by hand, and one-third of their entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials.  Most items are made in the USA.

They’re do-gooders in other ways, too.  With every purchase you make, they donate $1 to the non-profit organization of your choice.  They also support several non-profits including RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, and Reach Out And Read, where doctors and nurses promote early literacy, language skills, and school readiness to young children and their families in our country.  

It took me forever to decide what to try, but I finally decided on an item from their personalized jewelry collection: the typewriter key necklace.  You can find it here, along with other items in this collection.

Typewriter Key necklace from UncommonGoods.com

Made from a vintage typewriter key, the charm is encased in sterling silver and hangs from a sterling silver chain.  It’s casual enough to wear every day, but provides just the right amount of sparkle when you want to look fancy.  Best of all, it’s solid and well-made.

The necklace came in such great packaging.  Like a present within a present within a present. 
Within a present.

And it’s a great conversation starter with just about anyone – the older crowd will appreciate the opportunity to reminisce about their dad’s old typewriter, and the younger crowd will get a lesson in ancient technology.  I just love it and will likely wear it every day, because it’s pretty, and because it reminds me of my current perspective - as not only a blogger, but a writer, too.


I'm a writer, people.
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