Monday, June 29, 2015

Interview With The Children - The Younger One

Recently, I found this old meme floating around on Facebook:

Without any prompting, ask your child these questions and write down exactly what they say. It is a great way to find out what they really think. 

When the kids were in preschool I got a list of these “Questions about Mom” each year.  Their answers were precious in their inaccuracy.  And I think I interviewed my kids in the early days of Facebook.  These days I'll take any excuse to talk to my children, so I grabbed the questions and caught my kids on a couple of lazy afternoons to see if they know me any better now that they’re older and wiser.

Here is the interview with my twelve year old daughter:

1. What is something mom always says to you? 

“Hmm.  Probably ‘Clean up.’”  :: a few moments later::  “Probably ‘I love you.’”

Yeah, that’s right.  ’Atta girl.

* * *

2. What makes mom happy? 

“When we clean the whole house without her, and we actually do a good job.”


* * *

3. What makes mom sad? 

“When we don’t listen and when we argue.”

Sad and crazy, you mean.

* * *

4. How does your mom make you laugh? 

“With her faces and her um, like her word plays, like with what you say, sometimes.” 

Note: This child can stretch a five minute conversation into forty minutes or more.

* * *

5. What was your mom like as a child? 

“I remember you talking about how you liked creating hair and clothing for your Barbies, so probably fashionable.  I liked how your hair was in the 80s – your curly hair.  Yeah.  Fashionable.”

What I looked like in the 80s:

* * *

6. How old is your mom? 


She answered that so naturally, so swiftly.  No thinking needed. 


* * *

7. How tall is your mom? 

“Probably 6’2”.  Am I right?  In the 6’s?” 

I love that children always think their parents are larger than life.

* * *

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

“Blogging, and maybe probably reading.”

Maybe probably reading.  Maybe we probably need a book on proper speech up in here.

* * *

9. What does your mom do when you're not around? 

“How am I supposed to know?  Probably cleaning!  I don’t know!  Cleaning and blogging?  Going to the gym?”

“I quit the gym over a year ago.”

“Oh!  You did?”

. . .
* * *

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? 

“Probably for her writing.”

This is my favorite daughter.

* * *

11. What is your mom really good at? 

“Cooking and writing.”

The flattery is getting obscene, now.  These children are skeptics of every single thing that comes out of the kitchen.

* * *

12. What is your mom not very good at? 

“Math.” ::giggles::  “Just kidding.”

I raise my eyebrow.  We don't allow people to be bad at math here.

“She is bad at… ::whispers “Thinking, thinking…”:: You’re not really bad at anything.  Probably you’re bad at something but I can’t think what.”

She will receive all of the good jewelry.

* * *

13. What does your mom do for a job? 

“Takes care of us.  And cooks and writes.”

Again with the cooking.

* * *

14. What is your mom's favorite food? 

“Oh!  Now I remember doing this before!  Remember back when you did your host thing, like when you did Jamberry, and you asked your guests questions about you?  I remember your favorite food was pizza.  So I’m going to say pizza.”

I do love pizza.  Clearly I also love to ask people questions about what they know about me.

* * *

15. What makes you proud of your mom? 

“That you never give up on me when I’m sad, and that you shaped us into good people. And that you like, are good.  You don’t mess around; you take care of the house and the family.”

This answer pretty much made me feel like Wonder Woman.  At the very least Supergirl.

* * *

16. If your mom were a character, who would she be? 

“I’m thinking of three people:  the first one is from Looney Toons, and I forget her name, but it’s Daffy Duck’s girlfriend.  She is also a duck, and she’s okay with weirdness, but she’s still on her job.  Her point is to not fall apart.  You don’t fall apart, but you can sustain silliness.  Tina Fey, because I know you like her, and because she’s funny, like a jokester, but she’s successful in her life.  I know you’re funny in your blog and that you’re very successful in your blog.  And then we have Ellen, because she is also very funny, but she can also be serious to get her point across.  I think you are silly but you also want to get your work done and you don’t want your life to crumble.”  

A cartoon duck and two of my favorite funny women.  Two out of three is pretty great.

“And Ellen because of her fashion sense, right?” 

“Um, yeah.  Sure.   Well, you do have the same hair that she does.”

You know, she's right.  Me and Ellen?  EXACT same hairstyle.

* * *

17. What do you and your mom do together? 

“Ooo, we go shopping together, go out to eat, we go to the dentist together, the orthodontist ::we both bust out laughing::, and we also get our nails done together sometimes.”

Lies.  We never get our nails done.  I hate getting my nails done.

“Well, our toes, usually.  Sometimes.”

* * *

18. How are you and your mom the same? 

“Well, when I look back at your old pictures, I see that you look the same as me when you were three and when I was three.  You danced like I do, and we are both hardworking in school.  Both of us liked playing Barbies.  I think I get my creativity from you.  We’re both silly.”

* * *

19. How are you and your mom different? 

“I don’t like doing work that much.  When you know you have to work, you get right on it so you don’t have to do it later.  I wait on work.  Like taking showers and stuff.  You get right on that.  You’re probably more hard working out of school than me.”

She’s right.  I do get right in the shower even though it's hard work.

* * *

20. How do you know your mom loves you? 

“You tell me so.  If you didn’t love me, then I don’t even think I’d be living here.  You gave me a house, food, even when I argue with you.  And you do all this stuff for me.  And you taught me how to do laundry, and you taught me how to be a good person.”

Teaching laundry skills is at the top of the list of ways to show love.

* * *

21. What does your mom like most about your dad? 

“Hmmm. Maybe you like him because he’s the same height as you…”

False.  A person's height has no bearing on how I feel about them.  If this were true, it would mean that I prefer tall people.  In fact, I think most tall people are total jerks.  Ha ha, not I don't.  Only some of you.

“…You just love him because he’s nice and because he does a lot of stuff for you.  He’s a nice person, and you know that.  You know he wants to do nice stuff for you and he also works hard for the money.”

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce my daughter, Donna Summer.

* * *

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? 

“It’s probably that perfume store we went to, because you started liking perfume a lot.”

We went there once, and it’s for research purposes, but okay.  You can read about my shenanigans herehere, and here.

“You like nice, soothing, calming restaurants.  I can’t think of a name, but you like restaurants that are calm and that have good food and not junky food like Pizza Hut.  Sorry, Pizza Hut.”

Not sorry, Pizza Hut.

* * *

23. How old was your Mom when you were born? 

“Thirty, right?  In your thirties?  In your twenties?  Twenty-four?  Thirty-eight?  It has to be 38, right?  No, no!  It was 28."

School’s been out for a week and already her math skills are at zero percent.

* * *  

Anything else?

“You are a good cook even though sometimes I don’t like what you cook.  It’s usually good for me even though I don’t like it.”

It all comes down to food.  Naturally. 


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Now You Can Hear What’s In My Head

Don’t you just love summer?

The heat, the half-naked people, the children running free all over.

Don’t call the cops, people.  Pretend it’s 1980 and people under age 18 are allowed to use their legs, brains, and will to live without a parent present to catch them every time they fall down on their precious wittle knees.


Anyway, one of the things I love about summer is hearing music that reminds me of summer.

I’m not a super-uber-serious music lover, preferring the sounds of silence to any other sound in particular.  But I do love thinking about music playing in the background of life like a soundtrack.

You have an internal soundtrack, don’t you?  Like, the Rocky theme plays in your head when you walk around.  Or Superfly.  Thunderstruck?  Think about it.  You know you have one.

I made a list of songs I hear in my head when summer’s on.  Not many of the songs have summery themes.  They either became popular during a summer of my life, were my favorites during a summer, or make me feel summer.  Spoiler alert:  If you’re specifically into country pop, hardcore rap, thrash metal, or obscurity, I’m not.  Your music won’t be featured here.  Sorry. #notsorry

* * *

Here's the whole playlist on Spotify:

1. Drive – The Cars
The anthem of my angsty MTV years.

2. Boys of Summer – Don Henley
“I saw a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac.”  Obviously.

3. Everlong  Foo Fighters
“Breathe out, so I can breathe you in.”  Okay, Dave Grohl.

4. Pink Moon – Nick Drake
This song is sweet like cotton candy.  I have no idea what the words are, but I sing along like I do.

5. Every Ghetto, Every City – Lauryn Hill
I will sing every word of this song for five thousand dollars.  Totally worth the money.  Makes me recall my days in the New Jerusalem.

6. Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes
Reminds me of friends piling into a car, cranking this up and screeching along.  Also reminds me of blowing out the speakers in my car.  Also reminds me of my current hearing loss problem.

7. America – Ventura Highway
Just me, my waist-length hair, a dirty hippie shirt, and a surfboard.  Nothing about this song reminds me of anything about me.  Also why I love it.

8. Where the Streets Have No Name – U2
This song came on the radio one morning long ago as my friends and I were driving home in the wee hours after a long night out (sorry, Mom).  As the sun came up, the intro to this song came on and we groggily rode into town along to the music.  The lyrics started and brought us out of our reverie.  We all sang along.  Perfection.

9. Hey Ya – Outkast
This song is just fun.  Plus it has a mysterious vibe, which I’m all over, every time.

10. Wouldn’t It Be Nice – The Beach Boys
I wish that every kiss was never ending.  Yeah.  Unless my husband just ate Doritos.  Then get away from me with your nasty lips.

11. The Girl from Ipanema – Antonio Carlos Jobim
This song reminds me of my days as a tall, tan, young, and lovely Brazilian.

12. Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow – Picture
I like to imagine I'm singing the Sheryl Crow part.  Except I would NOT be singing about Kid Rock.

13. Simon & Garfunkel – Late in the Evening
What screams summer more than Simon & Garfunkel in Central Park?  Love this live version of one of my favorite oldies.

14. Bob Marley – Could You Be Loved
Who doesn’t love Bob Marley?

15. Steve Miller Band – Jungle Love
Steve Miller Band featured heavily in my teen years, well after they were relevant to the music scene.  A similar phenomenon still occurs among teens everywhere with The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix, which I find fascinating. 

16. Speed of Sound – Coldplay
I just love Coldplay.

17. Get Lucky – Daft Punk
I don't stay up all night just to get lucky anymore, but I do love this song.

18. Primus – Tommy the Cat
It’s the bass.  THE BASS, people.

19. Eagles – Life in the Fast Lane
He was brutally handsome.  She was terminally pretty.  You may be surprised to know that, despite the rumors, this song is NOT about my husband and me.  Are you with me so far?

20. Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
This song got a bad rap a couple of years ago.  I still love it, unabashedly.

21. Lucky Star – Madonna
Like most other girls in the 80s, I went through a serious Madonna phase.  This song played in all of our heads as we covered our wrists with jelly bracelets and stole fingerless lace gloves from Trends.

22. Jesus and Mary Chain – Just Like Honey
Also a throwback to my teen years.  I was no black-wearing goth girl, but I felt allllll the emotions.

23. Spoon – The Underdog
This song makes me want to drink margaritas.

24. Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity
We all need more Jamiroquai in our lives.

25. I Want You Back –Jackson 5

26. Lou Rawls – You’ll Never Find
Classic Lou Rawls is appropriate in any season.  Like silk, from which his voice was made.


This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #2. Create a summer playlist and share it.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Scent Search – Day 3

About a month ago, I posted a general question to the masses on Facebook:

I was surprised to find that so many people were willing to share with me what makes them smell so good.   I had a list of dozens of perfumes.  Armed with nothing but my will, some cash, and ironclad nostrils, I set out on a journey to find my next signature fragrance.  The following is my experience.

You can read all about my other experiences here and here.

* * * * *

Scent Search - Day 3
Thursday, June 11, 2015 – The Unplanned Succscents

It was the next-to-last day of school, and my daughter needed to purchase a birthday gift for a party later that day.  I’m not one of those Pinterest moms or even half-good moms who keeps stacks of general party gifts on hand for these types of things.  I’m not one who buys gifts for my kids to give to their friends, either.  Sue me.

My kid said “birthday gift” and I said “get your money” and off we went.

She wanted to get her friend a gift certificate for a specific clothing store, and instead of whining and crying that it was so far away and that I had important lying around to do, I willingly agreed to drive her there with nary a cross word.  What prompted this onset of goodwill mommy behavior, you ask?  Well, let me tell you.  Because right next door to the gift card store lies a huge health and beauty store. 

One that features a central area full of perfumes.

And just like that, Scent Search Day 3 presented itself.

* * *

The gift card purchased, we made our way next door to the motherland, where I slung my bag over my shoulder after digging a pen out of its depths.  I grabbed a stack of tester strips and took a quick snort of the little plastic container full of coffee beans, thoughtfully placed there to cleanse the palate.  I thrust it at my daughter to do the same and challenged “Ready for this?”

She sprang to action, returned my steely gaze, set her jaw and nodded snappishly.  I had chosen a worthy comrade for the next phase of my mission.

I scanned the names on the first display as my daughter moved silently past me, a few shelves down.  I instructed her to bring to me anything that she might love immediately, but to be selective.

At once, a uniformed saleswoman approached us: “Anything in particular you are looking for today, ladiessssss?” she simpered.  “No, thank you,” I replied stiffly. “I am on a research quest to find the perfect fragrance.”  Her eyes widened.  “My daughter and I will be spraying many perfumes and we will be here for some time.”

Unfazed, she continued.  “Well, just to let you know, if you spend forty dollars in fragrances today, you get a free beach bag.  You get your choice of blue and yellow, pink and green, or orange and white.”  She waved her arm Vanna White style over the display of beach bags. 

Momentarily distracted by the prospect of free items, I meekly asked when the sale would end.  After answering, she sauntered away and I shook my head to clear my focus.  Keep it together, man! I admonished myself.

* * *

Thierry Mugler and Bvlgari fragrances were first on the shelf, and I sprayed haphazardly and took in the scent of Angel, thé blanc and thé vert, the latter two fragrances I love as bath products but was sad to find not so much as perfumes.  Making my way to the back of the first island, I was dismayed to find few names on my list. 

Juicy Couture!  my daughter screeched.  Oooo, Mom, this one is good, she crooned.  I took a whiff.  Very fruity and sweet.  I liked it, but not for me.  More for her. 

I spotted Coach.  Everyone loves Coach, I said.  I sprayed Poppy, Poppy Flower, and Signature. They all smelled the same.  I remembered a former saleslady’s warning about this very disastrous issue, and took another hit of the coffee beans.  Nostrils cleared, I tried Poppy again.  Again, very nice, but not for me.

We tried Marc Jacobs, none of which were on my list.  We liked Honey and Dot but none of the others.  I didn’t like any of the Michael Kors scents, despite really enjoying Michael Kors as a person.  I grew nervous.  What if I don't find something I love? 

* * *

Banishing fatalism, I forged ahead. There’s Ralph Lauren, I thought.  Romance was on my list, one that I remembered from my teen years – I had stolen this time after time from my mother’s dresser.  I tried it for old time’s sake, then spritzed Ralph Fresh, and fell in love.   I penned the name on the strip.

DKNY Be Delicious was delicious, but too fruity.  My skin will eat you, I announced to the bottle. While I marked DK Liquid Cashmere’s tester, another saleslady threatened to join us.  I stared her down.  “We don’t need any help,” I said, white-knuckling my stack of testers.

On a roll, I moved onto the next area, and found a set of pretty glass jars from Vince Camuto.  No one had mentioned these, I thought.  I might have lost consciousness a little upon testing the aptly-named Bella.  Wiping the drool off my chin, I tried Amore and Fiori which came in at close seconds.  I labeled each of their test strips.

Skipping past the Calvin Kleins, Chanels, Cliniques, and Guccis to the Dolce & Gabbanas, I sampled Light Blue among some of their other offerings, including The One.  This is The One, I asserted, as I closed my eyes to better inhale the aroma of this beautiful scent that made the top of my head touch the ceiling. This is it, I repeated.   I vowed to walk out of the store bathed in this scent.

Thrilled, I moved onto Dior, where my daughter was presently swooning over Hypnotic Poison, one of the names on my list.  As she shoved her tester up my right nostril in her excitement, I agreed that it was a worthy scent.  I scrawled the name on the tester and moved onto the other Diors.  Miss Dior Blooming Rouge was also a crowd favorite.

* * *

The rest of the visit was rounded out by the various Giorgio Armanis, which didn’t harness either of our hearts.  I had made my decision.  Bella and The One were each claiming an arm for the day.  I doused each one with scent, grabbed my daughter’s hand and ran outside.

Back in the car, we chatted about our adventure.  That was fun!  my daughter exclaimed.  I liked the Juicy one the best, she said.  Which one did you like? she asked.  I liked several, but only time will reveal the favorite, I explained.  Each of them will play out differently on my arm and on the testers as time goes on, and I will make my decision from there.

As we drove home, my head was full of The One.  This is a strong scent.  As the miles wore on, I began hating it a little.  By the time we pulled into the garage, I began thinking how lucky starfish are that they can regenerate a limb if it gets lopped off.  There was no way to release my nostrils of the overwhelming powdery scent that The One left on my skin.

Scrawling “NO” in large letters on the tester, I marveled how quickly a scent can turn on you.  The One didn't make it, but some others got my attention more as their fragrances softened. 

I can feel my desire to make a decision growing more urgent with each scent that I try.  The time is near.  I can feel it.

* * *

Taking them in periodically, I rearranged the testers in order of preference.   Here’s how they shake out, in order of preference after ten days:

Dior Miss Dior Blooming Rouge
Dior Hypnotic Poison
Ralph Lauren Ralph Fresh
Vince Camuto Bella
Vince Camuto Amore
DK Liquid Cashmere
Vince Camuto Fiori


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Share The Conversation

Listen to me.  I have something to say.

I said that before.  Weren’t you listening?

My patience goes out the window when people don’t listen.  I hate to repeat myself, so if you weren’t paying attention the first time around, I will offer you a special attitude with the second time.

I admit that listening is a very difficult skill to master.  One that is becomes better with practice.

Then again, so is talking.  Conversation.  You must practice to become good at it.

It’s sort of a bummer that these two very difficult things are what good, healthy relationships are based upon.  We can assume to know what each other is thinking without listening to their words, but I can almost guarantee that hearing another person’s words is much better than figuring them out on our own.

Two people can’t have a relationship if only one is talking.  And two people can’t have a relationship if only one is listening.  If you’re silent, I can’t listen to you, and if you’re always talking, you can’t listen to me.

When my husband and I first got together we burned up the phone lines with our long-distance conversations.  We exchanged words until there were no words left.  Many of our talks ended with one of us falling asleep.

As the years went on and we spent more time together, the words between us were fewer.  Weariness and tedium took over and we didn’t feel the need to spend the energy saying anything.  Our connection stalled right where it was, and only grew deeper when we resumed communicating.  The years of stalled communication were hard.

I’ve had friendships that ended because one or both of us stopped picking up the phone.  In the end, both stopped listening; both stopped talking.  Sometimes I’d hear through the grapevine that the other person was angry with me.  I’d rack my brain for a memory of something I said or did wrong.  Sometimes I’d pick up the phone and try to make contact, to repair a rift that I wasn’t aware of.

I’m a naturally quiet person.  I like to talk only if I’m in the mood.  The mood doesn’t always strike.  It’s an effort for me to be friends with similar “listening” people, especially if that person entertains a hint of insecurity with the relationship.  Silence begets uncertainty, which leads to insecurity, defensiveness, anger, and relationship breakdown.  Walls go up.  People drift apart, never to speak again.

When a relationship contains a natural talker and a natural listener, each must make an effort.  One can’t always talk and one can’t always listen.  It has to go both ways.  Both parties need to contribute to building a relationship.

I’m no innocent.  Many of my friendships ended because I allowed them to end.  I didn't make the effort to continue talking.  When someone stops talking, the other has nothing to hear.  I have shouldered the blame for a friendship that has died because of my tendencies, which aren’t the friendliest.  I’ve dropped a relationship if I felt I wasn’t being heard, if the other person got so used to my quiet that my words no longer mattered to them and they talked over anything I said and didn’t listen when I finally spoke.

People stay in relationships for a lot of reasons, but communication is usually the key that locks two people together for the long run.  I’ve seen and experienced lopsided communication kill love and respect more times than I’d like.  In the end, when two-way communication stops, relationships break down.  When one person stops talking, the relationship ends.  Two people cannot have a relationship if only one is talking.   Likewise, a relationship cannot exist if only one person is listening.  Both must pick up the phone.

And share the conversation.


This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #1:. Write a blog post inspired by the word: listen

Monday, June 15, 2015

Life in the Details

We’ve lived here for fourteen years.  It’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere since childhood.

I’ve always liked having a home base, a comfortable landing spot.  When I was a kid and we went away, I always felt like something was out of place when we got home.  The routine was off; dinner may have been eaten at a restaurant, not at our Goldfish cracker-shaped kitchen table.  Bedtime was strange if the nightly ritual hadn’t been done.  It wasn’t until the next morning that things felt better, back to normal.

My parents were travelers. They took us to the Jersey shore and Disney World and Niagara Falls and New Orleans.  They went away for two or three weeks at a time to places like Japan and Australia, leaving my brothers and me at home with grandparents.  I couldn’t wait to be an adult so I could go away for weeks at a time.

I thought I’d be a nomad, a wanderer.  I fantasized about traveling to India, Australia, and Norway.  I wondered what it would be like to live in New York, North Dakota, Oregon. 

What would life look like in these places? Would I dress differently, grow out my hair, drive a beat-up car, take the subway?  Would there be a cool café on the corner, or a great florist down the street? Trivial things seem important when trying to approximate a life out of thin air.

In my adult life, I’ve lived in a dozen different places.  I’ve loved putting down roots in each community.  Finding a good grocery store, the best place for a burger, church – these things become important when you live somewhere.  Knowing the shortcuts, the long way around, and when traffic is bad – no matter how small, these are the details that tie a person to a place.  Familiarity and a sense of belonging result from knowing them.

Fourteen years in the same place has dissipated my romantic notions of wandering.  It’s something I’ve had to work up to, to admit how much of a homebody I am.  I guess when your home is your job, you grow attached to it.  I have done this, willingly.  My home is here.  I like it here.

But I could like it somewhere else, too.  Southern California, a little house near the beach.  A tiny apartment in Paris, close enough to the Eiffel Tower to see the top of it if I lean way out the window.  A tinier apartment in Hong Kong, above the whizzing social scene.  A squat house in Phoenix, where the sun blazes 300 days a year.  Somewhere sleepy and tropical – an island in the Caribbean or South Pacific?  Somewhere robust and colorful – Miami, maybe?  Or a small European town, where residents take a siesta each day and meet in the square before dinner at 9 pm. 

It doesn’t really matter where I live, I realize while contemplating each scenario.  Each place has its own attractions, its own details, the capacity to become home.

Vacations are great, but we never stay long enough to really get a feel for what life there is like.   Seeing a ton of sights in a few days is nice, but I forget what I’ve seen as soon as we’re onto the next thing.  Memories hold better when the mundane is experienced in unexpected surroundings.

Reading an English newspaper in a Parisian café early in the morning.  Watching children swim in the Pacific Ocean while huge iguanas lose their balance and fall out of trees.  Going to the movies with girlfriends in a theater across the country.

I like to live in the places I visit, imagine myself living there for years.  I check out real estate ads, locate the schools, pretend to be native.  Certainly my existing habits would change.  I dream of spending more time in each place I love for more than a few days, trying life from a different angle, saying “I want to live here” and doing it.

That probably won’t happen.  Not soon, anyway.  Our life is here.  We have kids, a house, friends, jobs.  We have a church, a favorite grocery store, and several favorite burger joints.   Finding life in the details is what keeps me rooted here, the home of my own making. 

The dream is there, but I’m okay with it being just that.  It’s fun to wonder.  Plus, we have only skimmed the surface of what this life here has to offer.  There’s still so much to explore, so many more details to discover.

Even after fourteen years.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Same Old Summer

The end of the school year is a frenzied dash to the finish line, each day and night filled with events: awards ceremonies, dances, final games and tournaments, graduations, school trips, parties, and picnics, and end-of-year, graduation, and June birthday parties.  The overarching feeling is Summer Is Coming!  It challenges proficient calendar jugglers to keep up with all the dates, times, and logistics.

It’s exhausting, and when the kids come home with their backpacks, frayed notebooks, piles of papers, and stubs of eraserless pencils, it mercifully ends, and vacation begins.

School-sponsored activities are done, and summer-sponsored activities take over.

Camps.  Sleepovers.  Swimming.  Family trips. Yard sales.  Library visits.  Movies.  Reunions.  Cookouts.  Theme parks.  TV.  Video games. 

Driven by my enmity toward the listless wails of “We’re bored,” I suggest more activities.

“Take a bike ride.” “Invite a friend over.” “Come to the store with me.”  “Bake something.”  “Clean your room.”

For the love of everything holy, Clean Your Room.

Vacation days are longer than school days.  Charged with filling the hours with activities of our own making, we start out strong, but eventually the burden of this task causes our summer vacation buzz to fade around the second week of summer. 

My days don’t change much.  Laundry still needs to be done and the dishwasher needs to be emptied.  Food shopping must still happen; bills still need to be paid.  Doctor appointments continue to be made and kept.


Wake-up and bed-times are more fluid.  Meals are later, casual.  Ice cream and popsicles become regular dietary supplements.  Naps are encouraged and taken.  Socks are forgotten and flip-flops take over.  Friends come and go more often; neighbors emerge from their homes and have driveway conversations.

Summer vacation isn’t just a vacation from school.  It’s a vacation from the norm; familiarly anticipated freedoms take the place of schedules and prescribed tasks.  Learning is done at a different pace and in different environments.  And everyone has been kissed by the sun.

I romanticize summer every year, thinking this one will be different, that this year we will have enough to do, that no one will wander aimlessly around, that when school finally starts in the fall, we will all look back over the past ten weeks and remark “Wow.  That was the best summer ever.”

No one ever says that.  Every summer around here looks mostly the same. 

And that’s just fine.


This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #2:  Write a blog post inspired by the word: vacation.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Scent Search - Day 2

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a general question to the masses on Facebook:

 I was surprised to find that so many people were willing to share with me what makes them smell so good.   I had a list of dozens of perfumes.  Armed with nothing but my will, some cash, and ironclad nostrils, I set out on a journey to find my next signature fragrance.  The following is my experience.

You can read all about my Day 1 experience here.

* * * * *

Scent Search - Day 2
Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - The Day I Oiled Myself Down

It was brought to my attention that I needed to try the world’s more natural and pure fragrance offerings: essential oils.  I thought, hey, why not now?  Being not-so-natural, I had no idea where to purchase these things, and although every drug and grocery store website said they keep them on the shelves, I was not about to schlub around town unearthing them.  Also, I didn’t feel like leaving the house that day.

So I went out on a limb and ordered myself some essential oils online.  When the little brown glass bottles arrived, I was all, hey, I’ve so done this before, way back when I had babies and I fell for the CHEMICALS KILL BABIES messages that every mom hears when she has babies and I got rid of chemicals and cleaned our house and clothing with baking soda, vinegar, tea tree oil, and prayers.  Then one day I realized that our house never smelled clean, but like farts.  So I went back to chemicals.  Because chemicals smell clean.

I had five essential oils at my disposal: lemon, tangerine, fresh air (a citrus blend), lavender, and ylang ylang.  The citrus ones smelled very much how you think they'd smell, the lavender smelled like heaven itself, and the ylang ylang smelled strong and a little powdery, and it'll either take some getting used to or blending to make me love it, but I guess I deserve the extra work because I bought it blind but mostly I bought it for the name because it's funny.  Ylang ylang.

* * *

If anyone’s going to die from essential oil poisoning it will be me, so I followed the dilution instructions exactly.   There were warnings on every insert in the package and on every bottle to avoid applying pure oils to skin, and dilute it instead to a 2% concentration or some such mathematical garbage.  I even Googled it to double check and Google said the same thing, so I heeded all the warnings.  I have experience with natural plant oils touching my skin, and the result is always hellish (hello, poison ivy rash every time I go outside).  If I slather myself with straight oil it will go straight to my brain and I will die, and people will read about me on Weird News Daily and I will receive a Darwin Award for dying while trying to smell like an orange as much as possible and I do not want my children to have to navigate that legacy.

Five pretty maids all in a row

I applied a combination of tangerine, lemon, and fresh air essential oils all over, saving the lavender for another day when I can smell like laaaaavenderrrrrrrrr and only lavender the whole livelong day.  It will be glorious, I tell you.  I dabbed these scents everywhere: on my wrists, insides of my elbows and forearms, backs of my knees, my ankles, the front and back of my neck, around my hairline, my collarbone, and behind each ear.  I even went the extra mile and brushed it through my hair and right before I got dressed, I slapped it, aftershave style, under both armpits.

I smelled delicious, like a citrus grove.  I wanted to eat my hands.

* * *

I had shopping to do, errands to run, and a lunch date, so I hopped in the car to the mall, my first stop.  I figured that was as good a place as any to try my new fragrance, and planned to stand as close as I could to strangers and wait for the compliments to roll in.

I forgot how hard it is to get close to people at a place that is mostly deserted.  Plus it was two o’clock in the afternoon on a Tuesday, the wrong time in general for mall shopping.   That didn’t stop my mission, so I honed in on the few customers I saw, strolling over to each one as closely as was comfortable.  Not one of them remarked on my fresh, citrus fragrance, but I soldiered on, finding a steal on bath towels that boosted my lagging spirit.  I leaned into the salesclerk as she rang up my purchases, but I figured she was too busy telling me how much money I saved to notice that I smelled like Florida.

* * *

Walmart was my next stop.  As I made my way to the air mattress department, I stayed as close to customers as I could without seeming mentally deranged until I remembered where I was shopping and decided that if I was going to seem odd, this was the place to do it.  I saw a Harrison Ford lookalike, complete with crew cut and earring.  I thought about sidling up next to him, until I got a load of his lady.  She looked like she might punch me in my orange-scented throat if I got too close to her man, so I wisely left Han Solo to fight his own rebellion.

Clutching my items, I stood in the checkout line, wondering if essential oils present a gradual fragrance release.  I decided to research it when I got home.  As I contemplated my future as a master perfumier, I considered that maybe I have a vitamin C deficiency and my skin ate it.  My body is so thirsty for this nutrient that it is casting desperate nets to capture it.  I thought about exiting the line to pick up a bag of oranges to supplement my diet, but then immediately caught something wonderful in my nose.  This was it – my time in the sun.  I moved closer to the couple in front of me, giving them no room to miss my fragrance.  The woman inched forward and I realized that it wasn’t the clean, fresh scent of my own lemon-infused hair that wafted back to me, but her own shower-fresh scent.  I wondered what kind of shampoo she uses.

* * *

Dejected, I made my way to lunch with my friend, who regaled me with tales of her life as a woman-about-town, and also getting her nails done.  Across the table, I knew she was too far away to get even the slightest hint of tangerine from one of the fourteen places on my body I had doused with scent.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I thrust my arm across the table, interrupting her mid-sentence, and demanded “Do you smell orange?”

She didn’t.  Not even nose to skin, she didn’t.

Essential oils: 1, Andrea: 0.   Defeat stinks.  Stupid nature.  Everything about me rejects it.

Scent Search Day 2 ended.  I concluded that the good thing about essential oils is that there are a lot of uses for them, so I don't feel as if I wasted any money.  I'll definitely keep them around - our laundry never smelled so lemony fresh.  And the lavender, of course - a few drops in the bath and I'm Elizabeth Taylor again.  I can't believe I never thought about having it around, just for me. Every girl needs a little lavender in her life.

The breakdown:

Tangerine and Fresh Air EO - lovely scents, possible contributors to body’s Vitamin C requirement
Lemon EO - great for adding to husband’s sweaty gym laundry
Ylang ylang EO -  use sparingly, in combination with another fragrance, or to terrorize teenage son, who rudely announced that it “stinks, and smells like diapers" 
Lavender EO - the scent of my soul, and perhaps of love itself


Shopping note:  I ordered all the essential oils listed from Fabulous Frannie, an online oil seller. They also sell other natural products like lip balm and soap and salt and wax.  I don't know.  All I know is the stuff was cheap, it came fast, and I would buy from them again.  They did not pay me to mention them in this post.  I just did.  Because I'm cool like that.