Make Over Cure All?

maincureIn a futile attempt to get my pajama-clad body off the couch and take them somewhere, anywhere (because they are soooooo bored), my daughters gave me a make over this past Sunday. My youngest gave me a manicure and a pedicure, while the eldest braided my hair and did my makeup.

Upon completion of operation “let’s go,” my eldest daughter told me, “You look so beautiful Mom! Don’t you want to go out and show off how great you?” While the little one chimed in, “You look so pretty. Now all you need is clothes!”

I s pulled they blanket up around my neck and coughed. “Thanks girls! You did make me feel a little better. But, there’s no way I’m looking remotely attractive right. Sorry girls. It’s not happening today.”

You see my throat started to feel scratchy Friday night. I downed some OJ, but by Saturday morning swallowing was painful. Sunday morning brought the sniffles, sneezes and watery eyes. So while I may have looked marginally good on the outside, and the inside I still felt like total crap. My littlest brought me tissues, cough drops and a glass of water (bless her heart!) and my oldest told me she “hoped I felt better soon.” And I drifted off to a fitful sleep.

The next two days, I “Dayquilled” and chicken-souped my way through work.  Today, while I still have a bit of a stuffy nose and a cough, I feel 100 times better than I did Sunday. I glance down as my rainbow-colored nails tap on the keyboard and smile to myself. (I’ll take it off tomorrow.) Somehow, I think, getting a make over and a little love can make you feel a just bit better no matter how bad you feel. So maybe tonight, we’ll go out for a special treat…unless the scratchy throat has moved on to one of them, in which case, I’ll do their nails:)

Mommy Gone Berserk (over a Cheezit)!

cheezitInstead of spending my typical, lazy Sunday afternoon taking a much deserved siesta, I let my 12-year old talk me into a cleaning frenzy (she wants to have a friend over next weekend – read ulterior motive). Me, being, me figured, OK at least I’d get some help with the drudgery and agreed to her plan. She’d start in the kitchen, I’d focus on the living room/dining room, and the little one got stuck with the bathrooms. She plugged in the iPod and the tunes blared through the house as we got down to work.

After about ten minutes, the youngest decided to “help” me instead of working on her designated room (can’t say I blame her there). One corner of our living room is called the “peace” corner. Originally the idea behind said “peace” corner was to give the girls a place to “chill” when they got overwhelmed and needed a “time out.”  Unfortunately, it quickly became the dumping place for all the stray toys that never made it back upstairs to their bedroom. We targeted that area first, sorting stuff into various piles: the Barbie pile, the American Girl Doll pile, the Polly Pockets/Littlest Pet Shops pile, the book pile, the hair stuff pile, the pens/pencils/markers pile, the stuffed animal pile and laundry/shoe pile. As you can tell a lot of stuff fit/crammed into that little corner.

I made painstaking progress as my helper found her “long, lost” something or other and switched to playing instead of helping. I let it go as I could clean a lot faster (and put a bunch of junk in the “trash” pile) without her watchful eyes. My 12-year old was still on a mission to somehow turn our house into one out of Better Homes & Gardens (I applaud her lofty goals). Three hours later, the kitchen gleamed and the living room looked descent (at least we wouldn’t be showcased on Hoarders Buried Alive this week). I’d just finished wiping the sweat off my brow, priding myself on a job well done, when the incident happened. (I shutter even now thinking about it:))

The little one is making her American Girl Doll kick an American Girl Doll-sized soccer ball across the freshly vacuumed carpet. My oldest saunters into the room and informs her little sister that she doesn’t get to have a friend over because she didn’t help clean up. (I know that’s a lot of she’s, but you get the idea.)

“Yes, I did too help!” the youngest screams in her loud, screechy, seven-year-old voice (you know the kind that makes you wish you had ear plugs). She then reaches into the box of Cheezits that sat on the end table (she hadn’t gotten around to putting away yet) and throws one at her sister. I watch as it sails across the room and lands in the middle the carpet. It was in this moment (the last straw so to speak) that I lost it and am ashamed to say dropped the “F” bomb. My oldest recoiled in horror. The little one just shrugged her shoulders and smiled at me. Can you believe her audacity!?! I let a few more expletives fly and looked directly at my oldest daughter and said, “Yeah, I said a bad word and I’m going to say some more if you two don’t stop fighting and some one doesn’t pick up that blankety-blank Cheezit right now.”

Thank God above, they didn’t argue over who was going to pick it up and the little one bent down and actually picked it up. I don’t really know what she did with it next (I doubt she ate it, though, as she is my germ-a-phobe) as I headed upstairs to lace up my running shoes. Five minutes later I hit the pavement. Forty minutes and four miles later, I felt much better. I apologized to the girls for yelling and swearing. They apologized for fighting and being a tad messy and we forgave each other. Hugs all around and our house is mostly clean.

Next Sunday afternoon, though, I’m definitely taking a nap!

What Do Fuzzy Caterpillars Have To Do With It?

The past few days on my evening run (I wouldn’t have believed it either if you’d asked me six months ago!), I noticed several fuzzy caterpillars cross my path and thought of my grandma. I live on the same road that she did and on the “back” of my “out and back” route I can see her old house as I return to mine. Strangers live there now. She’s been gone from this world for 16 years now. It hardly seems that its been that long since she put her arms around me and hugged me.

I still remember that giddy feeling I’d get in the bottom of my stomach, that rising excitement and face-splitting smile that’d cross my face when my Dad turned our old Malibu station wagon  on to her country road and her white farmhouse would pop into view. My sister and I would bounce on our seats – “we’re almost there!” Almost too Grandma’s house and staying up late to watch Dallas, eating frozen oatmeal cookies and laughing uncontrollably over a hand of cards. I miss my grandmother. I miss getting her letters and hearing her voice on the telephone. I miss lemonade under the big tree and sleeping under the light-up Jesus picture on her living room floor.

When we moved into our house twelve years ago I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about seeing her house everyday and knowing she wasn’t there. I thought it might make me sad. For the longest time I’d used my magical thinking powers to “pretend” that she wasn’t gone, gone. She was just in Florida or on vacation and would be back soon. My twenty-something self couldn’t bring myself to think of her as dead. It seemed so, so final. When I see her house now though, I smile even though I know she isn’t there or in Florida or on vacation. While she may not be on this earth, she is in my heart. I see her in the smiles of my children.

photo 1So when I see a fuzzy caterpillar cross my path on a run and pretty yellow butterfly, I think of her. I wonder if she sent them to me as a sign that she’s still around, that she’s smiling and proud of me. What do fuzzy caterpillars have to do with it, you might ask.

photo 3Well, here’s the story. When my sister and I would stay with my grandma, we’d always take a long evening walk (she’d always take her manicuring scissors with her as protection from bad guys of course). As we walked along the side of the road she pointed out the caterpillars to us. She used to say you could tell how bad the winter would be by the color of the caterpillar. I, however, can never remember if it’s the darker the color the worse the winter or the darker the color the better the winter. The caterpillars around my house are pretty light-colored this fall so I’m hoping the light color means a light winter. I Googled it and found out the caterpillars are actually called woolly bears or woolly worms. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a definitive answer on what the caterpillar’s color actually predicts. So, I’m thinking that legend is much like the ground hog’s shadow and winter will be what it will be.

Does anyone out there know what the caterpillar color winter predictor legend is? I’d love to know!

Yeah Right, Keep Dreaming Baby…

The girls officially started summer vacation almost two weeks ago already. They love the warmer weather, playing outside, no homework and later bed times. I love burying my nose in their sun-kissed hair and watching their arms and legs brown up, despite the sunscreen I insist they lather on. The other night as we were walking along, I talked about what we were going to do the upcoming weekend. My oldest looked at me and smiled. She said, “you know what I love about summer, Mom? I forget what day it is! I bet you don’t though, because you still have to go to work!”Sigh. Alas, she is quite right, though. For the most part, I know what day we’re on and how many days left until the weekend! I’m quite envious of my daughters. It’s days like that, I wish I’d gone into teaching (unfortunately, my authoritative aura is lacking and I’d be like the substitute that goes home crying because the class ran over her – not good for me or the kids.)

As the days continue to grow longer, though at least I get to enjoy spending more time outdoors with the girls after work and on weekends. As I’ve recently started a fitness obsession, we’re walking, riding bikes and shooting hoops in the driveway. What we haven’t been doing (at least not yet), is swimming. While the girls love splashing about, the pool is not one of my favorite summer activities. If I could float undisturbed on a raft (without getting wet) in my own private pool with a tall, tall fence I might enjoy it more. However, the idea of putting on a scrap of material (or in my case a really big scrap) and parading around in a public place with much of my body exposed mortifies me (hence, the above-mentioned fitness obsession!). On the bright side, at least I don’t live in a country where bathing suits are optional!

Me, Age 26

Me, Age 26

The other day I came across an old photo of myself (see right) in (gasp) a bathing suit (with a t-shirt over it). I remember cringing at this photo back in the day when it was first taken. I didn’t think I looked good – at all. I didn’t think I was pretty enough or curvy enough. Looking at the girl in the photo almost 20 years later, I would give anything to look that good in a bathing suit again! So I’m thinking, either I didn’t look as bad as I thought back then or my standards are lower these days! Unfortunately, I don’t think even if I ran 10 miles a day or limited myself to 900 calories a day, I could ever look like that again.  It’s a shame I didn’t appreciate what I had when I had it.

So I’m thinking as I stand in front of a mirror once again mentally criticising my body and they way I look, I wonder if when I look back at my 43-year-old self 20 years from now, I’ll wish I looked as good now as I did then. What would my 63-year-old-self tell me now? Would I tell myself I don’t look half as bad as I thought! Hmmm. Probably. So, why not think it now?  Why not be happy with myself they way I am right now? Well, because I know I could look better and feel better. Out of all the uncertainties in this world, I can control my body. I control what I eat, how much I sleep and whether I jog two miles or sit on the couch and watch TV.  And so, I’m running/walking in my second 5k on Saturday. Yes, the obsession continues….For now…

What about you? How do you see yourself in old photos? Do you think you look better or worse than you thought you did back when it was taken?

 

My Little Card Sharks

photo credit: Velvet Android via photopin cc

photo credit: Velvet Android via photopin cc

The smile that flashes across my six-year-old’s face when she beats me at a game of cards warms my heart. She beams from ear-to-ear. She tries to be a gracious winner, but is unsuccessful (I suspect she gets that from her grandpa – who used to make us kiss his feet when we lost at euchre. I’m still haunted by his “kissy, kissy” taunts as he waved his stinky foot around).

Both my girls love to play cards – Go Fish!, Uno, War, Slap Jack and Trash top the list today. The youngest though by far loves to play the most (unless she’s losing). Her favorite is a game called “Trash.” This is a new one for me that she learned in preschool. We all spent this afternoon playing her beloved game with my parents. Low and behold the little shark won (again) and I came in last (again). She’s either really good or really lucky. Even when I try to win (which is all the time now!), she manages to beat me the majority of the time. I do have to keep an eye on her though, as she likes to skip my turn if I’m not paying attention and my oldest claims she cheats as her sixes become nines and vice versa or she peeks at the next card in the deck.

We have a wonderful time playing though no matter who wins and I hope we are building happy memories. Some of my fondest memories are playing cards with my parents, grandparents and sister. We’d play cards (Rummy 500,Gin Rummy, War, SkipBo, I Doubt It, Euchre, Uno and Hearts) for hours on end, laughing and talking and making memories. I’m happy to pass the card tradition on to my girls.

What about you? Do you/did you play cards? What’s your favorite game?

Dancing Girls

2013-04-18 17.19.36Sorry to disappoint anyone, but my dancing-girls are ages ten and six. We just finished up a long recital weekend. I’m drained and I’m not even a dancer. The girls performed Friday night, Saturday night and again this afternoon. The show lasted three hours and forty-five minutes minimum. Yes, you read that correctly – three hours and forty-five minutes times three shows equals almost twelve hours of my weekend I’ll never get back.

When other mom’s told me the recital would be long, I had no idea how long. Both my girls started dancing when they were three years old. However, this was the first year they took dance at a full-blown, competitive dance studio. Prior to that my girls were at the lazy-mom’s dance studio. We loved Ms. Karen’s. The girls got to perform in two recitals a year instead of just one. In addition to that, there were no costumes or hair/makeup requirements. It didn’t matter if you had a side pony or a high pony. She didn’t care if you wore pink tights or tan tights. You could wear black shoes or whites shoes or tan shoes. Ms. Karen’s  focused on dancing, having fun, building self-esteem and getting the kids on the stage. Besides the monthly lesson fee and tap/jazz shoes, I only had to buy a $10 t-shirt and some black leggings for recital day. The recital was only one day and only lasted an hour. Ms. Karen broke up her classes into three separate one-hour recitals instead of one mega-long recital. In the six years my girls danced with Ms. Karen there was only one time when the girls were in two different recitals.

Sadly, Ms. Karen closed her dance studio two summers ago to focus on her daycare center. My girls were devastated. I was devastated and so was my pocketbook. Last year, in an attempt to circumvent the inevitability of enrolling them in the high-end dance studio, we tried the only other dance studio nearby. This place focused mainly on gymnastics, but offered several dance classes. Neither of the girls made it past the December recital. My oldest took jazz and there was only one other girl in her class. She didn’t show up for the recital and my daughter ended up doing a solo dance. She was a trooper though and did a great job. The youngest didn’t like doing “ballet” and thought her $60-costume was too itchy. Lucky for me, we weren’t committed to a year-long program and didn’t return for the spring session.

Which brings us back to the high-end dance studio. Don’t get me wrong the production was spectacular, the costumes were adorable and the girls had a great time. It’s just the mommy-stress of it all, the expensive costumes, getting their hair just so, making sure their headband went the right direction and that the tights had no holes that got to me. That and the waiting around for hours. The girls were each in one number, but we couldn’t leave as everyone danced in the grand finale at the end of the show. By 9:30 PM we were all tired and grouchy.

I’m not sure what we’ll do next year. I wish I could find a happy, medium dance studio… I’m guessing I’ll be sitting in the dressing room doing hair and makeup, and waiting for the grand finale. My youngest is more excited than ever about dance now and wants to do baton too. My oldest was ready to quit, but a friend doing hip-hop convinced her to dance another year. On the bright-side, I have three months away from running the kids to and from various activities as after this afternoon all their activities are done until September. Yeah me!

Why? Why? Why?

2013-01-29 09.06.45Wonder what I’ll write about tonight? Me too. We’re winding up the A to Z blogging challenge and this first day of the weekend landed on “W.”  Lot’s of great “W” words come to mind: women, worry, weariness, winsome, wobegone, wanton, whacky and wasted. All great W topics, but alas none inspired me tonight. In fact I’m feeling rather uninspired and really don’t know what my fingers will write tonight.

Pondering on the letter “W” again I’m reminded that “W” in and of itself is kind of a weird letter. Think about it a second. As my “why” daughters pointed out to me the day, the letter “W” sounds like double “U”, but looks like double “V.”  Why is that? they ask. Why indeed? Good question, but I have no idea why. My girls ask my oddball “why” questions like that all the time. Yesterday we were in the Subway drive thru waiting for our food. My oldest starts wondering about the building.

Her: “Do you think the floor of the building is up higher than our van?”

Me: “What?”

Her: “Do you think they built the floor up higher than the road?”

Me: “Huh? I don’t know. Why would I know the answer to that?”

Her: ” I don’t know.”

I am glad my girls are curious and encourage them to ask questions. I  want them to know more about the “wonderful world” around them, but some days they really exasperate me with their never-ending interrogations. Lucky for them, when I don’t know, they don’t have to thumb through an encyclopedia to find the answers. They don’t even have to go to the library, flip through a card catalog and then use the dewey decimal system to find a book that might have the answer. They have the miracles called “Google” and “Bing.”  Two seconds, a couple of clicks and presto they have hundreds of answers to choose from. That’s pretty incredible if you think about it. The Internet makes my life as a writer a lot easier too. I can research without even leaving my bed. That’s powerful. That’s knowledge waiting to be grasped. Wow!