As for my stylist, she will not be nominated for a Grace, that's for sure!
This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.
Friday, March 27, 2009
As for my stylist, she will not be nominated for a Grace, that's for sure!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I think it's good to look at other people's lives. I have never found someone whose life I would rather have. We are not rich, I am not beautiful, I am not famous, and I will probably not win a Nobel Prize, but I have a good life that suits me well. Even lives that look really good on the outside seem to have problems on the inside that I would not want to have. My daughter is healthy. Steve is healthy. I am healthy. My parents are both still alive. I have fabulous friends. I have enough to eat, good books to read, a roof over my head, and comfy flannel sheets on my bed. I may not have my own reality show (which, let's face it, would be one boring show), but neither do I have to divide my attention between 8 children each afternoon.
I like hearing about other people's problems, not so I can judge how messed up they are, but so I can appreciate how perfectly suited my problems are to me.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Let's just assume for a moment, however, that these style-challenged individuals (SCIs) are grateful for this dubious honor. They then have to humiliate themselves further by choosing 3 inspiration rooms from other Rate My Space website participants who were rated much higher and therefore given 'Expert' status. Then, while Angelo looks on lovingly, the SCIs ask the 'Experts' how they could possibly have achieved their look without the help of a designer and a network-funded-budget. The 'Experts' always grind the knife in a little further by saying things like 'Oh, we just moved in 2 weeks ago and since I work 12 hours a day I had to pull this look off with only 3 hours of work time and the spare change found in the couch. It looks great though, doesn't it?' Good lucky copying me.'
Phase 1: it's time for the makeover to begin. The room is cleared, the carpenter's tent is opened and Angelo begins giving his insults-masking-as-tips to the SCIs. 'You always want to choose a color palette for the room before you begin decorating. Your room didn't look pulled together because you had too many different colors competing with each other.' Translation: you have bad taste.
Phase 2: the SCIs lose control of how their home will look. The SCIs look doubtfully at the paint colors Angelo has chosen, look disappointed when the see how cheap the construction of their new media cabinet is going to be, and look horrified when they see the patterns on the new furniture/curtains Angelo proposes to put in the room. Gamely, they paint, work with the carpenter, and laugh at Angelo's jokes.
Phase 3: the Reveal. This is where we really get to see who can act and who is just too disappointed to put on their game face. I would love to know the amount of editing that must be done to turn "How could you completely ignore my personal style and likes and dislikes and throw together this poorly constructed-cheap-MDF crap?" into "Wow! I love it!" My favorites are the people who are honest and say things like "I don't even know what to say!" Angelo always beams especially proudly at those folks.
Now I am all about personal responsibility. If you are willing to post pictures of your home on a website to be rated, well, you better be willing to accept whatever rating you get. Still, the whole concept seems a little harsh.
I have been rating a lot of spaces lately. The MLS of homes for sale is really nothing more than a big Rate My Space website, except you only win big if you have the highest rating, rather than the lowest. I have seen a lot of homes occupied by SCIs. I won't be showing up at their doors with my checkbook anytime soon, but hey, there's always hope: maybe they'll get Angelo.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I have always loved 'Bond' movies. I think it all began with my grandfather, a huge fan of 007, and a man whom I admired greatly. He had the entire collection of Bond movies (those made prior to 1988) on VHS, and when he died it was the only collection of his that I wished I could have had. Bond movies have, for me, always been the perfect blend of sexy, comedy, fantasy, and action. I am always excited to see what deformity the villain will have, what over-the-top name the Bond Girl will have, and what wonderful new gadgets Q will have created.
I personally think this shows growth on the part of filmmakers. For years the only scantily clad body in a Bond film belonged to the Bond Girl. Now, finally, Bond himself is coming into his own and taking center stage as the one with the bod.
I'm sure Steve will tease me about this blog entry, but that's okay. I've seen his eyes glued to the screen when Ursula Andress (Dr. No), Maud Adams (The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy), and Halle Berry (Die Another Day), came on screen. He looked pretty thankful for those girls.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
As we began discussions about this year's car purchase, neither of us felt totally sanguine with the idea of spending so much of our monthly budget on a car payment. Maybe because of Steve's new job, maybe because the roads in Massachusetts are so full of potholes that riding in a low-slung sportscar was actually painful, maybe because nobody here seems to care what we drive, or maybe just because we are older (wiser?) we were more concerned about safety features, gas mileage, resale value, and hauling capacity than WOW factor. Perhaps we are actually learning maturity.
It seems the gods-of-car-ownership have another lesson for us to learn as well. Patience. The plain-vanilla-white-Subaru-Forester that we planned on buying seems to be adrift on the Atlantic Ocean with no arrival date in sight. So, each morning I drive Steve to work, take our daughter to school, run errands or workout, go back to school for volunteer duty, back home for laundry/housework, back to school to pick up daughter, take daughter to various afterschool activities, pick up Steve from work, pick up daughter, go home and make dinner. It's a lot of 'together' time for a family that already spends a lot of time together and frankly Steve is chafing a bit being chauffeured around. That's okay, just like all 3 of us fighting for space over one pedestal sink each morning, this too will end.
We're lucky, I know that. Lucky because I know many families for whom one car (and one bathroom) are the norm, not the exception. Most of those families have a lot more kids than we do. Lucky because we had a choice about which car to buy because my husband is employed. Lucky because our lives, no matter how much I do love to complain, are really good. Great. Blessed, even.
It may be the end of an era, but it feels more like the beginning of a life ruled by priorities that feel a lot more comfortable to me, more comfortable even than those butter-soft-leather-BMW seats.
Oops, I better go, it's getting late and I need to pick up Steve...
Thursday, March 19, 2009
This year for your birthday I am giving you four gifts: gratitude, acceptance, acknowledgement, and love. I hope they fit. I hope you like them. I hope you already have them. I hope you can always use more. I have spent plenty of time telling you the things you did wrong the last 39 years, now I want to tell you what you did right.
Thank you Mom for my childhood. Thank you for surprising me with a canopy bed and matching dresser. Thank you for attending all my band concerts and soccer games. Thank you for staying home with me during my 100+ bouts of strep throat. Thank you for taking me on emergency "Mom! I don't have anything to wear tomorrow!" shopping trips. Thank you for my adulthood. Thank you for buying my first set of dishes and towels. Thank you for buying my wedding dress. Thank you for attending my wedding and giving me away. Thank you for believing in me when I said I wanted to go to law school, medical school, be a computer programmer, a personal trainer, a teacher, and now a writer. Thank you for ooohing-and-aaaahhhing over my new house(s). Thank you for baking chocolate chip cookies for me when my daughter was born. Thank you for helping me leave the house in Cincinnati and move forward to Toledo. Thank you for not breaking down when I told you about the brain tumor. Thank you for staying up all night, every night, with me in the NICU after my brain surgery. Thank you for not looking away from my scarred, shaved head. Thank you for introducing me to Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer. Thank you for imbuing me with a deep spirituality that transcends Catholicism or any organized religion. Thank you for sharing your love of nature and Mother Earth. Thank you for introducing me to Karen Drukker's music. Thank you for giving me my first Janet Evanovich books. Thank you for understanding when we moved to Massachusetts. Thank you for being my mom.
I accept you Mom, exactly as you are. What ever relationships you have, with whomever you choose, for however long they last, they are fine by me. I accept your parenting. I accept your friendship. I accept your grandparenting. (I'll even accept your chocolate chip cookies, if you're offering them, though that is really another letter...).
Your parenting, your personality, your genes, and your spirituality have helped to shape me into the person I am today and will be tomorrow. It is from you that I inherited my spirituality, my love of laughter, my silliness, my ability to budget, my sense of responsibility and work ethic, and my appreciation for fine chocolate. (You also contributed to my unibrow, but again, that's another letter...).
I love you Mom. Happy Birthday!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Now, I'm going to buy. Just a magazine here or a special edition there. No commitment, except to nurturing myself by allowing myself the little luxury of owning those glossy pages and reveling, if only for a moment, in the 10 minute organizational tips for spring cleaning. I love decorating magazines. I get inspired seeing 'Before' and 'After' photos. I like reading about ways to simplify my life or alphabetize my spices.
I don't need subscriptions, long-term relationships, or renewals: just occasional glimpses at what life can be like when professionally lit and staged. That's enough wellbeing for me.
Like many teens, I had issues with figuring out where my childhood ended and my adulthood began. After my parents divorced and my mom went back to school I took over much of the household duties for my younger two sibs. This "playing house" gave me a really inflated sense of myself as an adult. I justified that if I was taking on adult responsibilities (like cooking dinner and helping my younger sibs with homework), then I should be allowed adult privileges (like not having a curfew or wearing whatever I wanted). With my dad temporarily out of the picture, I resented any parenting by my mom as interference. Unfortunately, as I was only 16, my maturity hadn't caught up with my ego and I was still naive enough to believe that my mom knew everything that was going on in my life (especially with boys and dating) and that her silence was acceptance. By the time I matured enough to realize that my mom had been oblivious to much of my teen-hood due to her preoccupation with her own personal life, I was married and had a child. Add to the mix that no one in either of our families ever thought Steve and my marriage would last (18 years and counting) and that my mom has very little relationship with my daughter (20% geography, 40% her, 40% me) and you have the perfect recipe for a mother and daughter that really don't know each other very well.
I'm not entirely sure how to go about reconciling this situation, especially with an 800 mile distance between us, but I know that it is time. I think I'll start the way I started when I reconciled my relationship with my dad: with a letter. I sent Dad a letter thanking him for all the things he did right in my childhood. I'm going to think about that letter and I'll blog it tomorrow.
I am grateful for reconnecting with Cathy. She has brought more dimension to my life because she is able to look at the 15 -year -old me she once knew and see what's changed and what hasn't.
I've certainly grown older, it seems to me like it's time to grow up.
Friday, March 13, 2009
I recently woke the family up early on a sleety Sunday morning, got everybody showered and breakfasted, and braved the elements to go to an Open House. The house was advertised on the website, on a flyer, and in the newspaper, thus I felt safe in assuming the house was really 'Open.' When we arrived at the house there was no sign, no balloons, no evidence of anybody being home, including a Realtor. I called the number on the For Sale sign and left a voicemail for the listing agent. As I was leaving the message the door to the house opened and the listing agent herself came outside, appearing as though she was getting ready to leave. I hopped out of the car and asked her if the house was really Open and she replied that she was going to a birthday party for her nephew and thought because the weather was bad that no one would really come out anyway so she was just showing the house to her mother and then they were planning to go to Toys R Us. Let us all keep in mind at this point in the story that this woman ADVERTISED the house would be Open. She told me she would show us the house if we wanted. We wanted. After seeing the house, which was so out-of-date the ceiling in the dining room was made of canvas (?) she thanked us for coming and told me that if I "get serious about finding a house" I should contact her.
Excuse me? Get serious? How much more serious can one be than to drag their family out on a sleety Sunday morning to see an Open House, including calling the listing agent to ensure the house is really Open? What was she expecting? Should I be toting a wagon full of the purchase price in cash around with me as I look at these houses?
As I was still digesting this latest industry-idiot, Steve received an email from the Realtor who sold our house in Ohio. She wants to know if we can tell the new owners how to work the garage door opener because the keypad isn't working and they have had to use the front door to go in and out of the house. Steve said yes he can help them: they should go to the store, buy 2 AA batteries, put them in the keypad and Voila! It's really not magic, folks. I admit that the new homeowners probably aren't too bright, but how about the Realtor who relayed the message? How is this our problem?
And let's not forget the original Realtor with whom I have already had to dissolve a relationship due to her incompetence.
I know, I know, I'm supposed to be on Sabbatical...
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Cell phones aren't perfect, as anyone who has experienced the frustration of dropped calls can atest, but they add enough safety, value, convenience, and ease to my life to qualify as a Grace.
I like both of those meanings and both can be attributed to me. What am I resting from, you may ask? House hunting. There is only so much disappointment one person can take before you must scream "No mas!" I am there. House hunting is not just looking for a home, it's choosing a lifestyle. How will I live? Will I be urban, rural, suburban? What's important to me: a close shopping center or a close park? How many trees do I want? (How many leaves do I want to rake?) Is appearance (curb appeal) important to me? How much of my monthly budget do I want to put toward my home? What will I give up in order to afford this house?
I thought those answers were obvious and easy until I actually started thinking about the questions. This is the most time I have ever taken to look for a home. Our last three homes had to be chosen in a matter of weeks and while at the time I felt restricted by the deadlines I now see how freeing they were. I didn't have time to think.
I am disappointed in the inventory that is currently on the market. I am frustrated with myself for caring so much about image. I am overwhelmed by the number of trees and the yard work that comes with them. I am astonished at the home prices in what is supposed to a buyer's market.
So I'm taking a Sabbatical. I am going to re-focus, re-calibrate, and re-direct my energies for awhile. I know the right house is out there but I can't possibly find it with my eyes squeezed tight from tension, and it's hard to write an offer with clenched fists.
Sabbath: \'sa-beth\ (noun) a day of rest. That's what I need, a time to close my eyes so that I may see clearly when I re-open them.
Steve is around college kids all day, so he is way more hip than me (does using the word 'hip' kind of prove that?) and my daughter hasn't ever met a Jonas Brothers or Cheetah girls song she didn't like, but me, I'm loyal.
And I'll always party like it's 1999.
I have a lot of excuses:
Bottled water is expensive and bad for the environment and the world’s water supply. Reusable water bottles may be leaching dangerous toxins from the plastic into the water. It takes forever to refill my Brita filtering container. I don’t feel thirsty (well, frequently I do but I mistake thirst for hunger and I eat instead). I eat a lot of foods high in water content. I intend to drink more, but I just keep forgetting.
Yes, they all sound lame, even to me.
The truth is that drinking water is a habit, like brushing my teeth and exercising. Once I’m in a good rhythm then I have no trouble remembering, but any little change to my schedule and the water habit flies out the window. But really, that’s just another excuse. I have had many changes to my schedule and I never forget to brush my teeth. I could have my schedule turned upside down and I wouldn’t forget to eat! Once drinking more water becomes a priority for me, I’ll remember no matter what happens in my schedule.
So, Cheers! Bottoms Up!
That was certainly an eye opener!
All this time I was supposed to be using 2 scoops of my whey protein powder so I'd only ever been getting half the protein I thought I was consuming, but using 2 scoops rocketed the calories in my smoothie up to 340! I had always assumed that a fruit smoothie had, maybe, 100 calories at the most. Not so. I did pretty good at lunch, eating only 430 calories. I thought I did great for a snack as I only had a Starbucks Grande-size chai tea latte made with soy: well my friends, that little number cost me 260 calories! Ididn't even get to chew! Then I had 2 of my daughter's gummy vitamins (15 calories), then a piece of gum (5 calories). I was already at 1,050 calories and as far as I was concerned I hadn't really eaten anything! By limiting the dressing on my salad to 2 tsp. I was able to keep dinner to only 680 calories, but let me tell you, I could have eaten a lot more.
Portion control. Serving sizes. Moderation. Let's just say that I ran through 1,730 calories like it was nothing and honestly couldn't find anything in the house I wanted to eat for my remaining 70 calories. Not that I didn't want to eat, mind you, just nothing with only 70 calories.
I am either going to have to ramp up my exercise or buy bigger clothes because this calorie counting is for the birds.
So it is probably no surprise that in this process, sometimes things go astray. I was sure I had put fresh underpants in my bag. Positive they were in there. I undressed. I showered. I stood, shivering, trying not to let any part of my body touch anything and I desperately searched through that bag. I went through it several times. I took everything out and juggled it with one arm while searching with the other. No underpants.
Now it's decision time: do I attempt to pull the old-sweaty-rolled-into-a-tight-elastic-ball underpants back on??? do I go without? What will my mother say if she finds out I've been running around town without my underpants on??? I'm sure I'll get a lecture about rashes and urinary tract infections at the very least. I looked at those sweaty underpants for along time, but alas, I couldn't do it. I chose commando. Unfortunately I was showering at the gym because I had to be at recess duty at my daughter's school so that meant performing a volunteer job at an elementary school without any underpants. I feel confident that violates some child protection and safety rules somewhere.
And just in case you're wondering what type of pants I was wearing whilst going...bare...they were loose fitting cotton yoga pants, not jeans or (God forbid) more spandex. So there Mom, I was wearing cotton, which as I've been told many many times breathes! Well, I don't know about the breathing part, but as it was a very windy day, I can certainly attest to the air flow...
Sunday, March 1, 2009
We had dinner. Dinner was normal. Dinner was do-able.
Then we went to a show. An 'Off the Beaten Path Jazz and Tap Odyssey' it was billed. Now for the record, I am not a huge fan of jazz or tap but when a group of diverse and highly educated women ask you to go out with them, you do not refuse. The show began much as I expected the show to begin: a sixty-something woman, short cropped white hair, black turtleneck, black yoga pants, flowing, shimmery, silver caftan (you were right, Deb!) tapped onto the stage and began a dramatic reading of poetry accompanied by a jazz quartet. Her silver tap shoes winked and sparkled as she tapped offstage and 5 dancers, clad completely in black, tapped onstage whilst the lights flashed purple, then blue, then dissolved into an underwatery-feeling-purple-and-blue-wave pattern. The show went on. And on. Dancers, poetry, jazz. And on. More dancers, more poetry, more jazz. Just when I began to worry that this evening was a little too educated for me, the diversity part took center stage in the form of the single male dancer, now clad only in a silver thong covered with silver disks and a chain mail vest with silver disks over his nipples and one single silver disk stuck to his forehead. He stood there for a moment under a single spotlight: head down, legs spread wide, knees slightly bent, fish-white belly gleaming under the chain mail. Then he began to dance. At first he just moved his feet from side to side making the little disks jangle and clank. Then he stood up straight, threw back his head, closed his eyes and began to pound on his...um...his parts that were barely hidden under the thong. He banged on those parts for all he was worth! Sweat poured down his face and neck, his feet pounded the stage floor rhythmically, his knees flexed, and his flat palms just kept banging those disks. Occasionally one hand would come up and clang the nipple disk, or the head disk, but mostly they concentrated on the ...genital disks.
It was a sight to see.
There was a moment of complete silence when he was finished, then the crowed erupted into applause, cheering, and foot stomping. He was the piece de resistance.
And what was I doing, you may ask? Well, after the initial shock wore off, I was more amused than I had ever been by any other sight I have ever seen. I couldn't stop smiling and my fingers actually ached to call Steve and tell him what I had just witnessed. I kept it together until I reached the privacy of my own car, then I laughed so hard I cried. I laughed all the way home and then laughed some more. I am still smiling as I write this.
I don't care so much about the educated part, but these diverse women really know good entertainment!