Sunday, February 26, 2012

THAT's my girl...

“Nevermind, I’ll find…someone like youuuuu…I wish nothing but the best….for you toooo…”

If I hear that damn Adele song ONE more time…I really think my head may explode. As of the last two weeks, the repeated torture has been not only for my daughter’s pure entertainment but in practice for her performance at her school’s annual talent show. Ooooh…wow…that’s coming up again isn’t it.

Which begs the question…which one of us, the gentleman or myself, will fall subject to the painful two hours of awkward song and dance where the microphone is perpetually screechy and the speakers are never turned up enough to overcome the heating and cooling system in the gym? Yes, it’s that time of year again. The hubs gets an instant nomination from me so as to keep me at my post in the kitchen for dinner prep. And frankly these are one of the many events that we have to tag team…taking our 5 year old is a non-option. I’m certain it would end in tears, hurt feelings and an expulsion…and that’s just from the principal.

“I REALLY need to make a healthy, home-cooked dinner tonight…the kids had chicken fingers last night and frozen pizza the night before. YOU should go…really. Take some pictures for me…help me feel as though I were there myself,” I pleaded.

And then…I heard him mutter to our daughter, “So…do you know where you are on the list of performers? I really don’t want to sit through ALL of the songs and skits…could you text me when you get close? I’m going to run some errands but I’ll get back in time to hear you sing.”

What. The. Frick?!?!

No. That’s it. I’m taking her to the show…she is nervous enough about singing, she shouldn’t have to worry about sending you smoke signals prior to the start of her performance. Done. Where is my purse?

Thankfully she and I arrived early enough that I found a seat in the front row, which NEVER happens for me at such things. No coat on this seat…no legs laying over it…it’s mine. (Tell me why I continued to get the stink eye from the family sitting two seats away for the rest of the night?? If granny had gotten here sooner, maybe she’d be in luck. You snooze, you lose…too bad so sad.)

I cozied up on what felt like a folding chair of’d think with the amount of cushion on my ass it would feel like a Lazy Boy. I perused the play list handed to me by the sweet pea in pigtails and realized…HOLY SHIT. There are SIXTEEN acts/songs/skits/dances/etc in this God-bless-ed program! Me and my big-ass mouth.

Don’t get me wrong…I know they’re just kids. Feigning an entertained smile with ferocious applause every time Sally Sue attempts her cartwheel without landing on her ass just. Gets. Old. Fast. I never claimed to be an uber-nurturing person…another one of my fatal flaws. BUT…I’m here to support my daughter enthusiastically. Smile on, clapping hands ready…and go.

Act one…dancing duo of 4th grade girls. Not horrible. Totally takes me back to the “routines” we made up as young girls during sleepovers. Bee-boppin’ to Huey Lewis, Madonna or more than likely Cyndi Lauper. Ya know…the kinda dance where you literally act out every word in the song? (Point to heart, ears then feet…and repeat.) Sporting matching neon T’s and socks…with side ponytails. Side ponytails, I tell ya!!! I couldn’t hate it. I actually…kinda…loved it. They were horribly choreographed…but they were having a BLAST. I couldn’t help but lend a genuine smile and clap along to the music. Despite a few off-steps and incongruencies, they kept going, kept smiling and finished with dignity. Hmm…maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

I glanced down to my list, mentally checking off performance number one…what’s next? Does that really say “jump-rope”? Out bounced an 8-or-so-year-old girl…jump-rope in hand…Adele cued aaaand jump. And jump she did…for the entirety of the song. Just plain old jumpin. Nothin’ fancy. Just front to back with a bounce in between, jumpin’. The poor girl’s hair wasn’t pulled back at all…it was hanging completely in her face. Within a minute or so she began to miss about every third jump. Then every other. By the end of the song, the poor girl was tangling that rope between her legs and gym shoes literally every jump. The beauty? She. Kept. Jumping. Not once in any of the brief glances I could capture of her face was she red-cheeked or embarrassed. When her hair parted I saw a smile. She was having fun. When the song was over, she swept her locks behind her ears, sweetly smiled, took a bow and confidently darted off of the stage.

There were more dancers and singers to come…most of them grooving to Adele. (So I wasn’t the ONLY parent ready to ship the bodacious Brit and all of her CDs off to a deserted technologically void island.) I won’t detail each of their performances but suffice it to say that it was girl after girl, putting themselves out there, on stage, with a smile regardless of the outcome. I found myself tearing up with pride despite not having a drop of blood relating me to any of these young ladies and their smiles. THESE are the girls my daughter will be surrounded by as she grows and transitions into the cruel harsh world…and it warms my heart.

The most important smile that night belonged to my daughter. She was nearly last on the list of performances. She slowly but confidently made her way to the center of the stage and cued the “music” girl. (Despite having managed the music for 12 or so skits already that night, the poor girl still seemed to fumble.) The music was too quiet…and in true school talent show form the microphone started off rather screechy. But she sang. It didn’t phase her. She just. Sang. Now…I won’t lie and say she’s a natural singer. Truth be told, she will likely end up a band geek like her momma. (I save my singing for the car and shower.) But I’ll be damned if that girl didn’t belt it out…like it was her JOB. Was she off key? Yes. Was her timing off? Sure. Not once did I see her appear shaken or embarrassed.

As I nervously peered from my seat, I started to see myself in her…not necessarily in her appearance but in her hopes. As a girl I WANTED to do something like this. I dreamt of performing on a stage but never had the proverbial balls to bring it to fruition…not even for an elementary school talent show. I was a total puss back in the day. My sweet little blond fuzzy duckling, however, was becoming a beautiful, tall, talented, intelligent, witty swan before my very eyes. It was in that moment that I realized how much I admire her. That there is much to learn from her. That I still have time to be like her.

I was the lucky one that night. The gentleman may have gotten to relax at home but I got to witness a group of young ladies strut their stuff, spread their wings, use their voices…with confidence. With smiles. They didn’t expect perfection. They expected to be seen and heard. And they were.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We Don't Call Him "Benji" for Nothin'...

The other day I read a variety of comments on Facebook reflecting opinions on seemingly poor parenting choices…including but not limited to, the use of “leashes” on children. Apparently such a practice is frowned up by some. But it got me thinking…

“Would I?”

Let’s rewind my life about 15 years. I was 22, single, in college, working two jobs and had the world by the tail. Because I had spent a number of years working with children, I had them all figured out…kids, that is. I mean, being a day camp and before/after-school caregiver is TOTALLY the same as raising children. Right??

At the time I held the general belief that more often than not, parents were lazy…at least those who were raising the precious offspring I was overseeing on a daily basis. They packed Lunchables for their kids because they couldn’t take the time to actually make a real sandwich. Mommy only built an endless arsenal of Disney movies to serve as a babysitter. Ritalin was being tossed at their children as effortlessly as M&Ms just to refrain from actually providing a structured environment and discipline. They never dressed them warm enough in winter nor cool enough in summer. They took their kids to daycare even when they had the day off work…those poor babies! They weren’t firm enough with their kids about taking naps…”what do you MEAN they won’t stay in their bed??” Don’t even get me STARTED on kids with leashes. I was convinced…those parents were idiots.

“When I have kids, I’LL be the one in control. I won’t take the easy way out. Kids simply need structure and consistency and the rest just falls into place.”

HAHA…ahhhh…God love her. I needed a serious punch in the throat, kick to the undercarriage, flick in the forehead. Right between the eyes.

I think about my perspective back then and I can’t do anything but laugh at myself. There may have been a tiny bit of accuracy to my thoughts at the time but three kids later I realize…I truly had no clue. I don’t know that I realized it after my first or even second child…in hindsight both of them were relatively easy babies. But I sure as hell realize after #3 that parenting is more than it often appears to others.

What some may see as a lazy-ass shortcut is really just a last ditch effort at salvaging a tiny bit of sanity when possible. My kids may get Lunchables in their lunch from time to time because, dammit, I’ve made so many freakin’ PBJ sandwiches in the last week we're out of bread…and you know, the kids LOVE those stupid cellophane-wrapped kits. I swear if I laid crackers and cut up bologna in front of them with a random Butterfinger they would look at me like I was a complete nutjob. Must be the neat and tidy compartmentalized packaging. (I see three more Type A housemates in my future.)

I own a plethora of Disney movies as well as a subscription to Netflix and a worn path from my front door to our local Red Box. There. Yep, I use movies to help distract the kids. Sue me. Why? Because when they’re watching a movie they’re NOT fighting, they’re NOT asking me to get them one more God-blessed thing they can’t live without, they’re NOT tearing my house apart…and I. Can. Breathe. OR have an uninterrupted phone conversation before everyone in the western hemisphere is already in bed asleep.

And yes, I have a child on medication. You know the story. I don’t know if this is long-term but I do know that his treatment was well thought out and not a knee jerk reaction to a whiny, undisciplined mess of a child who is probably just dealing with trouble in the home. On the contrary my “poor” son lives in a wonderfully boring, splendidly predictable, good ol’ fashioned Midwestern home with a mommy and daddy who still kinda like each other. He has consistency. He has structure. His struggle is real.

Have I ever taken my child to daycare when I don’t have to work. Hell yes I have! Are you kidding me? Chances are, if you’re a working mom paying for daycare, you’re paying for the whole week regardless of how often you take them in. May as well use every day! Now…do I always do this? No. In fact my kids are all school-aged at this point. But when I actually had to be in an office everyday and relied on a daycare center for my children, there was a time or two (or ten) when I took a day off work and still took the kiddos in so they could spend time with their friends. Saving. Grace. There are just some hidden opportunities to recharge our batteries that we simply cannot pass up. A few hours to ourselves, or hell, even grocery shopping in solitude, knowing our child is in good care? Priceless.

So...I come back to the question that got me thinking about all of this in the first place: “would I ever use a leash on my child?” The answer? “Abso-freakin-lutely.” And here’s why…

I have a child who may appear to others to be out of my control at times but truly is existing in his own little reality. One in which the world is safe and at his fingertips…it’s his for the taking. And he has in fact taken it before. When he was two years old he literally made my heart stop for the first time in my life and it’s never quite been the same since. Before there was ever a concern he may be experiencing any kind of emotional or behavioral issue, we trusted he was just like our other children. That he had fear of the unknown and would stick close to home. I learned the hard way that he would forever be our child that we must watch like a hawk. One Sunday evening I was cooking dinner while my husband was working upstairs. Ben was in the living room completely in my line of vision and earshot, watching one of his favorite shows. Our front door was open with our screen door locked, allowing in the warm spring air. Amidst the sounds of cooking and pans clanging, I must have completely missed the sound of the door unlocking and unlatching. After an unknown amount of time…may have been 5 minutes, maybe 15, I called up to the gentleman that dinner was ready and to have the kids come downstairs…including Ben who I assumed had joined his siblings to play. He wasn’t upstairs. He wasn’t downstairs. He left. My heart was in my throat as I threw open the front door instantly yelling his name as I choked back the panic. I called my neighbor to see if he had meandered next door…she was one of his favorite people. No luck but she quickly met us outside where we feverishly began to assign search areas.

The neighborhood was impossible….a ray of homes only 10 feet apart lining both sides of the street capped at both ends with retention ponds. Jesus. I went to the dark place and fast. I ran…shoeless and with my phone down the street to the pond closest to our house. My husband jumped in the car and drove around the neighborhood asking kids if they had seen any sign of him, recruiting small search parties of older children along the way. As I sprinted down the sidewalk, the homes on either side began to resemble an Alfred Hitchcock movie…the street lengthened and my legs began to feel like stone, growing heavier the closer I got to the pond. Flashes of our family on the 5 o’clock news, police canvassing the neighborhood, all flooded my head and finally brought the burning tears to my eyes. How did I lose this baby?? How could I be so careless?

As I reached the pond I saw a large rubber ball floating along the edge…and in that moment a switch was flipped. I looked down at my phone and knew it was time to call the police as I headed toward the water. As I lifted the phone I heard a commotion. I looked back down toward my house and saw a cluster of children screaming undeterminable words, almost dancing in the middle of the street. As I focused between the scurry of neighborhood kids, I saw two chubby bare thighs and I knew. It was him. (God love him, he was in nothing but a thermal shirt, diaper and sandals. At least he put on his shoes.) I don’t know that my sadly out of shape legs could have carried me to him any faster…I probably could have qualified to wear a Jamaican jersey that evening. I won’t lie…I was sore the next day. I scooped him up as the kids in their excitement followed us all into our home. After thanking and hugging our helpers, the gentleman could see that I was on the verge of losing my shit and quickly sent them on their way…lest they see me “ugly” cry. Nobody wants that. I didn’t know whether to spank or squeeze him…or both. After I regained my composure I held him tight the rest of the night...and vowed from that point on we would provide an environment that would keep him safe and contained. I generally don’t take him places where he could get lost in a crowd. Lord knows if he slipped out of my hands and ran, I would not likely be able to catch him. I know because he’s done this with me in thankfully safe environments. He still tries these stunts four years later.

So…if someone put a gun to my head and said “here is $5000, you’re taking your kids to Disney World”? Screw what people would think of my bet your ASS that boy is going on a leash.

I love him too much not to.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Here's your hat, what's your hurry?

It’s going to be a loooong weekend.

Or so I thought…when the gentleman initially advised that he would in fact be taking a trip out of town this weekend to hang out with his “bro-friend” for a few days.

Well…let me be clear…they’re not just “hanging out”, rather they are reuniting for one more rendition of the Blues Brothers. (Eye roll, heavy sigh, Dear God make it stop.) For whatever reason these two are perpetually stuck in their college days and the novelty that recreating this duo brings to large crowds. These days, said crowds are generally composed of men over the age of 65, red-faced drunk on bourbon. Good times. But I digress…the concern here is not the goings on of the gentleman during his bro-mantic weekend. My gut reaction, though, was admittedly “If you think you’re gonna leave me here with three kids so you can dance around with God-blessed sunglasses on all damn weekend while intermittently giggling with your boyfriend like a 7 year old girl, you’ve got another thing comin’!”

But then it occurred to me…

GOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please. Go.

With the gentleman out of the picture this weekend I may actually have an opportunity to partake in a myriad of activities for which I never have time. Yes I’ll have the children but let’s be honest…we women can multitask like nobody’s business….I’m solid. I’ve got this. When I think about my daily schedule, though, it amazes me how much of my time is spent on activities that are beneficial to him and not necessarily what I would choose to do. SO…with that said…and with my fellow Hoosier and Ball State grad in mind, I present:

TOP TEN Man-Free Free-Passes

#10 – Couch sleeping:

I LOVE to sleep on our couches! They are extra long, super soft and are conveniently placed in front of our living room television. Falling asleep on the couch at night and crawling upstairs at 2am or so is a rarity simply because I prefer to avoid the whole “were you upset with me last night” standard that perpetually follows such a stunt. I just don’t do it unless one of us is a contagion carrier or physically incapable of climbing stairs (know that was one of the aspects of foot surgery recovery I DID enjoy. “I’ll just sleep down here, hon…I don’t think I can bear to climb those steps right now. I know…I can’t wait to sleep up there again too!”)

#9 – WWF:

Words. With. Friends. I don’t know what to say other than right behind Facebook, WWF is a pretty significant addiction these days. I won’t lie…I’m no Alec Baldwin but I’m pretty damn good at it. BUT…I get the stank eye from him every time my phone vibrates. He knows what that means. “But I have ‘Q’ AND a ‘U’ this time…and I’m not afraid to use it!!” No matter…more than 10-15 minutes played on my phone and I’m just short of having it yanked from my hands.

#8 – Read:

I started a book (“The Hunger Games”) back in, oh….November?? And I’m still only halfway through it. Every time I pick it up I hear “so….you’re just gonna read tonight?” (Sigh…hang head) “Nope, battery in the Kindle is about to die anyway.” I HAVE to read this book though. There is a MOVIE coming out next month and if I start to see extended previews before I finish this freakin’ book I’m gonna flip out. I don’t DO movies before books…even IF the book is mediocre at best. I still make it a concerted effort.

#7 – Snuggle:

I abso-freakin-lutely LOVE snuggling, particularly with my 5 year old. The other two are getting to be almost as big as me which complicate the mechanics of snuggling. But Ben…he is my little brown bear who literally just melts in my arms. The problem? Every time we snuggle I get an earful from the gentleman about how I treat him like a baby…that he is a big boy now…and so on. (Secretly he’s jealous.) Blah. Blah. Blah. I’m getting’ my snuggle on!

#6 – Have a “headache”:

I don’t really need to explain this one do I, ladies? I just. Don’t. Feel like it. Instead of saying so, there is the ever-pervading “headache”. Not all the time…I’m not cruel or a complete prude. There just seems to be a lot of pressure on the weekends to make up for lost time through our exhausting early-to-bed weekdays.


It’s MINE, baby!!! Do you know how much smut-TV I’ve NOT been able to watch in the last several months?? I have a ridiculous number hours of criminal drama, and Housewives saved on that damn thing just sitting there collecting dust, awaiting my children’s bedtime and my ass on the couch. (The comfy one I plan to sleep on!) I actually MISS Kim Kardashian’s train-wreck ass! All of the Star Wars Clone Wars, America’s Game, Daily Show, etc are viewed regularly as my sad shows glare longingly at me from the menu. Someday I’ll get to them. Saturday…is THAT day.

#4 – Kashi:

Every week I make a point to plan a menu, buy groceries accordingly and spend time on my feet making a nice meal daily for this family. Don’t get me wrong…I truly do enjoy cooking. It is oftentimes a great stress reliever and a good reason to open that bottle of red that has been sitting on the buffet for a week or so. (Like I need a reason….and like it really lasts a week. Please.) Some days…I just don’t want to cook. I feel as though I’m disappointing and being handed an “exception” on days when I make a fuss about the avoidance of dinner prep. Sometimes…I just want cereal, which would never meet argument from the kids. They love that shit! Maybe that takes “brinner” to a whole new lazy level…so be it. Doin’ it.

#3 – PEDI-time:

My poor feet have been waiting patiently for me to take the time to dress them up a bit. Foot surgery a month ago has left these sad healing feet untouched and in desperate need of TLC and I simply never pamper myself. With less time spent in the kitchen this weekend, less time treating my um “headaches” and increased idle time in front of my fabulous trash TV, I’ll have PLENTY of time to do a little scrubbing, lotioning and polishing! I’ll be ready for flip-flop weather in NO time. Now where is my OPI?

#2 – Threesome:

It’s a fact…I’m an admitted early-bird and I’m not afraid to share that. I hate sleeping in, unless I’m sick and medicated so heavily I can’t see the clock. Otherwise I pride myself in being the first one up in this house. Since evenings are usually owned by the gentleman, the mornings are my only opportunity to be intimate with the coffee maker AND remote control at the same time. There is nothing better than a quiet Saturday morning…just me, couch, blankey, monstrous cup o’ java and the morning news. On those very rare occasions, however, when the kids are occupied in the AM and the gentleman wakes fairly early as well, I feel bad darting out of the room to win the gold medal in the living room dash. THIS weekend I can save my running for the treadmill. It’s mine.

And the #1 Man-Free Free-Pass to be enjoyed this weekend…


I have a sister who is bound and determined to convince me that beneath my dude-esque tendencies (my love all things football, beer and wings) I actually AM a chick-flick lover at heart just waiting to be awakened by some sparkly vampires and shirtless werewolves. Sigh. I have spent the last several years making fun of her for the time spent in the “young adult” section of the bookstore. But…I love her. And I know how important my acceptance of all things Edward versus “whats-his-abs” is to her. So…we are planning a girl’s night! Her three kids and my three kids will single-handedly deconstruct the top two floors of my house while she and I lounge teary-eyed with pizza sauce on our faces and wine drops on our shirts. Because I love her.

So there you have it…my laundry list of testosterone-free “to do’s” to be enjoyed over the next three days…a few hours of early morning and late evening bliss to be temporarily cherished. By late Saturday night, however, I’ll miss him. We're not apart often but when we are we do try to make the most of it and in doing so are reminded of everything we appreciate in each other. Funny how that happens. I'm sure by the time he is home I will be ready to make one of his favorite family Sunday dinners, hand over the remote or heck, maybe even turn OFF the TV (wink, wink).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What the Foch...

“I’m going to be consuming an unGODly number of calories today. Need. To. Run.”

I peeled myself out of bed bright and early Saturday morning while the rest of the fam was still snoring and marinating their pillows with saliva…and slowly made my way through the dark cold to the gym. Of COURSE today had to be THE coldest damn day of the winter…it's WINE TOUR DAY!!! The frigid temps would likely work in our favor, however, as we typically find ourselves getting somewhat toasty with 8+ people sharing the quaint, cozy space of a limo. Fine. I’ll take it.

The morning was as festive as a childhood Christmas Eve…the gentleman and I pleasantly bustling about, intermittently gathering the children’s belongings for each of their overnight assignments, preparing treats for the ride and primping for a rare night out amongst adults. With an uncharacteristic lack of grumbles, eye rolls, or animosity:

"Hey sweetie, did you pack Timmy’s shoes for church?”

“Sure did, babe… did you pack Ben’s medication? OH and did you get the cheese sliced up for the snack bag?”

“Abso-freakin-lutely! Does Libby have her coat? ”

“Yep, the kids are all set…but could you grab that cooler bag? Thank you SO much for helping me!”

“No, thank YOU. This is gonna be so much fun. I love you!”
(Please take this time to gag/puke/roll your eyes, etc. I am as I type’s okay.)

Time to go! Cute shoes, nice jeans, and straightened hair (yep… that doubled as my arm workout!)…no yogas or Uggs as promised. My lips are fully lined and glossed (no one looks good with purple-winey lips). We’ve practiced proper wine variety pronunciations: “Marechal F-O-C-H is pronounced fosh...NOT fu--. You get the picture.” We have our assorted cheese and crackers, wine slushy, smiles on our faces and we’re good to go. Hit it.

We dropped our 5 year old off at my parents’ house, headed toward the first winery on the tour, chatting about the afternoon to come. “Ben will be okay, right? I mean, it’s just one night. He doesn’t stay with my parents that often so this is good, right? He had his medicine. He had a good breakfast and lun…wait…did you feed Ben today? I didn’t feed him. Did YOU feed him?? I thought YOU fed him! Holy shit…we forgot to feed our son! I know he slept in late but how the hell did we forget to feed our child? I’m a horrible mother…I chose wine over my baby! My God I need rehab.” And then came the tears. My husband is accustomed to my periodic self-defeating breakdowns before such outings and in his calm way reassured me that even if we had assembled a buffet fit for a king for our son he would likely not have eaten a morsel. This we know from his perpetual waste of a packed lunchbox each and every day. Besides, he is in the presence of grandparents. Need I say more? Fine. True.

With make-up reapplied and my red-swollen face finally resuming a normal tone we arrive to find our friends and several bottles of loveliness lined along the counter, just waiting for our taste buds. It’s here. We glanced through the tasting list, checking those that we know are favorites and trying a few that are new. I always try a white…just in case…but my heart is in the red. Always. It’s the Italian roots.

After getting our taste of five or so variations, we selected a full glass and made our way to the heavenly buffet of chocolate. It is titled The Chocolate Lover’s Wine Tour and this particular winery ( truly takes this designation to heart. I have never seen such a display or selection of chocolate covered deliciousness: Nuts, cookies, petit fours, pretzels, Rice treats, and strawberries as big as your head. With a view of the wooded rolling hills on a comfortably heated veranda, we sipped, snacked and laughed, getting to know some new faces on the tour. Once our group was complete, we drained the last drops from our glasses, cleaned the choco from our fingers and hopped into our sweet ride.

As is typical, the ride from winery #1 to winery #2 is generally muted and conservative…a get-to-know-you session as we usually welcome at least one or two new faces each year. A few awkward silences soon turned to laughter, jokes, and great conversation.

After a couple of wineries, the tastes began to jumble a bit…pinot noir, chambourcin, foch, cabernet each so different depending on the winery. There were seven locations on the tour but only time for five stops.
Each winery provided five or so tastes of our choice as well as one full glass of wine and a variety of chocolate treats. During our taxi in between, we shared some wonderful finger foods: deli sandwiches, spinach dip, assorted cheeses, individually prepared 7-layer dip, chocolates…the works! Between the snacks, winery desserts, tastings, the full glasses at each stop and the wine slushy shared en route, we likely absorbed the equivalent of an Old Country Buffet as well as a solid two bottles of wine a piece. Damn. I’m pretty sure my liver was cussing me out and my kidneys were transforming into jumbo –wine-soaked Kalamatas but it was all so worth it.

Our evening was winding down, trading the setting sun for the city lights. A little Amos Lee and Mumford and Sons set a comfy ambiance as we pondered the wonder of a trip to Napa someday. A true wine country tour…aaah, we can dream, can’t we? We say it every year. Someday we’ll do it. For now, this is what I look forward to. This is our sweet saving grace in a season of bitter temperatures and gray skies…a trip after which we always sleep well. Could be the satisfaction of spending comforting quality time with great friends. Could be the lack of children waking us with nightmares/potty problems/sickness. Or could quite possibly be the 2+ bottles of wine coursing through our veins. Whichever. It's fine. I’ll take it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Swagger Slacker

Should I go with black, black or black? Yoga pants, that is. The more important question is which sweatshirt? Navy, gray or am I feeling saucy enough for the red one?? Hell, it’s Friday…let’s shake it up and go with RED! Now…ponytail or hair clip?

Yes, those are the burning questions I face daily when approaching my closet. It’s a crazy, spontaneous life but someone has to live it. Jealous much?

What in the hell has happened to me?? A year ago I was working in an office and had been for years …complete with my Ann Taylor (LOFT) wardrobe, heels (despite my freakishly tall frame), and my kick-ass news anchor hair. I loved dressing up. Yes I looked forward to an occasional casual Friday but otherwise I truly appreciated looking put together even if I DID struggle to walk for a solid hour after removing my pumps. I could confidently stop at the store on the way home to pick up a few things and feel completely presentable and some days dashing. I took a lot of pride in my appearance on a daily basis.

Rewind to about seven years ago…I had been a stay at home mom for three years, spending my days in my husband’s boxers and oversized t-shirts. What was the point in dressing up?
I was going to get puked on, peed on, pooped on, caught in the middle of endless sweet potato fights…who the hell did I need to look good for? I had two babies, 18 months apart, both in diapers. I certainly didn’t have the money to buy cute clothes just to wash them over and over, never to fully remove the plum stain on my shoulder from the time it just didn’t agree with Libby’s tummy. Besides, the gentleman was a brand new teacher, still wet behind the ears and earning a sad excuse for a salary. We lived within our means which meant I made due. I was comfortable. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. The gentleman was already locked in my marital grip…he wasn’t going to turn back now! (evil laugh…)

When I went back to work shortly thereafter, it was a nice change of pace. More income meant I could actually afford nicer clothes and was able to piece together a real work wardrobe. I liked it. Dare I say, I was pretty damn decent at it. I got in the habit of buying a little here and there and didn’t feel guilty about spending the money. I even put in more effort at home in the evenings and on the weekends…wha?? No, I didn’t throw on the boxers and t-shirts when the work day ended. To be honest, I typically sported my work clothes through homework time, dinner time and bedtime routines…usually not getting comfy until 10 o’clock at night.

About six months ago I was offered an opportunity to work from home. WOO-FREAKIN-HOOO!!!! I had hoped and dreamed for years that someday I would be graced with such a blessing. It finally came. I couldn’t get home to throw on my yogas and hoody fast enough! No. More. Heels. Well…except during the occasional business trip which was actually a welcomed change to my super-comfy-daily-date-with cotton. So here I am…at home…with a ton of skirts, trousers, ironed button-ups, suits and heels in my closet. Still. Hanging. Up. Collecting dust. Why do I not just hit the local Old Navy and go to town on some cute fresh casual wear?

Maybe being back at home every day, re-submerged my old SAHM universe of making all of the meals, laying on the floor doing homework with the stinky one, being here with my babies when they’re sick puts me back in the boxer/t-shirt mindset. Despite thankfully being in the best financial situation we’ve ever known, maybe I feel like I have no business spending money on clothes when there is no one to “dress” for here. It’s just me. Slowly my cute yogas and fitted hoodies have morphed into all-out sweatpants and old sweatshirts. Who cares if I drop my kids off and pick them up wearing the same crap every God-Bless-ed day? (Don’t ask my tweeny daughter…I’m sure she has an opinion!) Who cares if I run into Kroger for milk in my work-at-home uniform…I live in a nice quiet humble town…no one will notice. (Don’t judge my choice of mismatched flats with yogas. It was dark and momma needs some Kashi!)

Okay so maybe I’m not THAT bad (back-pedaling, back-pedaling…I feel your judgment!). FINE. I am that bad. I look both ways out my door before stepping out to get the mail for fear someone driving by will see me. Folks, that’s not good. I want to punch my SELF in the freakin’ throat. I DO want to look cute again. I don’t want to see that presumptuous look in my husband’s eyes at the end of the day that says “ahhh, you’ve had a baaad day” without even asking me how it went.

So here goes…I’m packing the yogas and sweatshirts away in a “just in case all of my other clothes catch on fire” box. I’m going to follow what Stacy and Clinton would probably tell me are my “rules”. God only knows exactly what they would be but I’m guess something with color that “pops” and pieces that are a little more “structured”…but I’ll be damned if I hit a 360 mirror or wear anything with an ohm-peer (empire) waistline.

But I get it…

Sigh…maybe I’M worth dressing for.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Run My Ass Off

THEY CAME!!! I finally got my new kicks in the mail today.

Yes…I’ve decided to head back out to run my ass off. Literally. (I hope.)

As I began pulling the packing out of my new shoes, while admiring the shimmery silver and pink (running shoes aren’t about looks but it sure rocks when they’re cute AND feel good)…I drifted back to my last half marathon and began to wonder: “Am I ready for the four stages again?”

About 5 years ago I decided to teach myself how to run. I mean…I could totally have those gorgeous runner legs someday too, right?? (HA, you silly girl. No.) It took time and a lot of frustrating early morning treadmill sessions at our local community center…with plentiful sympathetic looks from the octogenarians who frequented my gym as well. I was practically sprinting at a 10 minute mile next to Gramps. God love them, they actually were quite supportive and were very nurturing toward me during the first several months of my jog-a-licious journey working up to my first 5k race EVER. The fact that I was able to run (aka slooooowly jog) the entire thing without walking only fueled my desire to push myself further. I continued my daily 5am rendevouz with the treadmill and a couple of months later I decided it was time to attempt…a half marathon (wha???).

I have never been as determined as I was to finish my first BIG race. I followed my regimented training schedule to a ‘T’, remained injury-free and when race-day came I was confident that I was going to do it…nothing was going to stop me. WHY on earth I didn’t check the elevation of the race course is completely beyond me. I was a running rookie who had no clue that checking such things might possibly be important. My ignorance for ONCE worked in my favor. When I hit the God-foresaken hill-o’-death I just. Kept. Running. Like a modern-day Forrest Gump. I made it through my first half-marathon (with NO walking, mind you) in 2:25. Of course I had to break it to my kids when their eager faces asked if I “won” the race that I had in fact placed about halfway in the pack of 10,000+ people. Anti-climactic for them, I know.

Four years and four half-marathons later, that was still my best performance to date. Over the last couple of years I’ve been blessed with a new group of friends and training partners through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. (GO TEAM!!!) I combined my interest in running with my passion for finding a cure for blood cancer. While I thoroughly enjoyed making such wonderful friends, running through new places while contributing to such a worthy cause…I’ve chosen to take a break from the team and head out on my own one more time. My races with the team were so rewarding but my focus wasn’t as much on my own personal performance as it was on the team effort and raising awareness of our purpose, appropriately so.

I can’t shake this need to prove to myself I can beat that 2:25…to set a new PR (as the gentleman would say “STOP using your fancy runner talk…what the hell is PR?? Speak English.) Personal Record. I need to up the ante. In order to do so I have to be prepared to dedicate my time daily to the training schedule…and mentally prepare for the four stages. Yes, I mentioned it before. There are, indeed, four emotional stages involved in running an endurance event, specifically a 13.1 miler. And they are…as follows:

(1) Mile 1-5: “What a beautiful morning! I can totally do this! Look at the gorgeous sky! Oh look at that pretty house! I LOVE that girl’s running skirt! I feel a PR coming today! We should totally walk around and sight-see after we finish this morning! I can’t wait to sign up for the next race! Wow, my breathing is really controlled…I feel good…maybe I should have signed up for the full!”

(2) Mile 6-8: “Hmm…getting a lit-tle tired. Can’t stop to walk...if I walk I won’t pick back up to a run. Where is that next water station? I’m getting hot…what can I take off? It just HAD to be warm and sunny today (60 degrees)! God, this gel tastes like warm SHIT. Dammit, I didn’t see any hills on the elevation chart! What the hell is this mountain (slight incline)???

(3) Mile 9-11: “I didn’t train enough…this is HORRIBLE. I can’t believe I was that damn lazy the last few weeks. My body hurts. I’m a loser. I suck. Look at THAT girl, she’s still running…what is wrong with me?? Wait…this is ridiculous. There are people suffering through cancer treatment right now who would give ANYthing to have the ability to be out here running. THEY are the ones in pain. Not me. (Here come the tears and the anxiety-closing-throat-thing) Oh God I can’t breathe. (wheeze, cough, wheeze…and wheeze some more) I’m such a selfish bitch.”

(4) Mile 11-13.1: “FINE. I’m going to finish this God-bless-ed race if it’s the last thing I do. But if I get passed by one more gimpy-legged Grandma I’m going to flip the fuck out. Is that a 7 year old?? Can that guy NOT feel the shorts riding up between his legs…pick that shit out! Why is she smiling?? Did that dude crap himself? If one more of these freakin’ cheerleaders tells me I’m almost there I’m going to launch my last shit-tasting gel packet at them, I swear. Where is the beer stand? There is beer right? No beer? Why the hell did I sign up for this damn race?? Oh Jesus there are the cameras…stand up straight, suck in my weak sagging gut, smile (like I’m loving this shit), make this look effortless! God knows everyone I know who is also doing this race will be looking up my flippin’ picture to see my ugly runner-face and how fat I look…explains the 3 hour finish time. I’m NEVER doing this again. What was I thinking? My body is NOT made for endurance sports. Where is the damn finish?? Oh God, I see it…Al. Most. There. More cameras…pick up the pace….finish strong!”

After meagerly making my way beyond the finish line, struggling to lift my leg for the tag removal and strenuously lifting my arm to accept the courtesy water bottle, while feigning an accomplished smile, I began to think…”Hmm…I DID do it. Maybe if I just train a little harder next time it won’t be so bad. Next time. Yep, I’m a glutton for punishment.” And here I am, new shoes in hand, and a race entry to prepare for…sucker? Maybe.

I hesitate to compare running an endurance event to childbirth…but the pain and suffering amnesia similarity really is uncanny. So here goes…I’m sure it won’t be that bad. In the meantime, maybe I'll run my ass off. Literally.