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!

The Equinox

20101010_5245As I moused over the Google animation this morning to see what the “special occasion” of the day was, an ominous pop-up indicated that it’s the “first day of autumn.”

“Huh,” I mumbled to myself and glanced at my old-school wall calendar, thumb-tacked to my cubicle wall. My eyes scanned to find “September 23,” and there it confirmed the day as the “Fall Equinox.” The official changing of the season. A day where the amount of light and dark are perfectly equal. Balanced. The way I like my life. The way I want my life. The way my life so is not.

I focus on one area, only to neglect another. I finish a half marathon, but my writing halts. I try to be the best mom, while my house falls in a shambles. I hone in on my career as my children clamor to get my attention. Ugh. It seems the more I try to make my pizza crust perfectly round, the more lopsided and out of whack it gets. I wonder if I quit pinching and stretching and just let it “be” that it would just naturally take its proper shape. What? Probably not, but being a pizza it would still taste good. (Another one of my balancing problems!) Don’t worry, I don’t know what I’m talking about either.

Circling back to the fact that today is the first day of autumn, I reflect. How is it possible that it can be autumn already? The summer blew by me. My last post was dated April 29. An entire season went by in virtual silence. Not that anyone probably really cared or even noticed, but still my voice went quiet over the past four months. Why is that? I’d like to say it was because I spent those carefree, summer days running, picnicking, vacationing, relaxing and just plain old having fun. I’m thankful to say it wasn’t because of a failing health problem or some dire family problem or because I didn’t have anything to say (because we all know I always do) . Mostly, it goes back to that whole balance thing. It goes back to my difficulty setting priorities and finding the time to fit them all into my day.

Thus, today, one of two perfectly balanced days of the year, I’m reminded to re-adjust, to reassess and get a bit more balanced. So, that on my evening running when those words form and flow through my mind, afterwards I sit in front of my computer and tap away, capturing them instead of letting them float away. I continue on through the interruptions – my youngest daughter’s shower-singing and my eldest’s request to examine her bug bite – until my thoughts are complete and I click “Publish.”

Here’s to a fall full of “Just Words” from me. (I know you are excited!)

What keeps you on track?

I’ve Got The Winter Blahs

Winter seemingly weighs me down like the heavy snow blanketing my front yard. Stepping out my door to fetch the mail, I slip on the thick ice, skid, but don’t fall. I take a tentative step forward as my nose hairs frost over and snow fills my boots. I’d hoped to lightly skim across the top of the deep snow drift that was once a cleared path only days before, butImage sink to my knees. Sigh. I finally make it to retrieve the mail, hoping to find a birthday card or my tax refund, but return with our propane bill that is double what it normally is (and unfortunately for me my salary is not). Winter, you’ve sapped my energy. I’m tapped and tired, although that may be more the fault of the influenza I’ve caught despite the flu shot I got. Lying in bed, I try to rest and force fluids, but instead obsess about the bills that are late, the work I’m missing, being a better mom to my children, helping my husband finding a better job that he likes, the book I don’t feel like writing and the half-marathon training I’m now falling behind in.  Much like the snow, the ice, the snow, the bitter cold, the snow, the snow, the snow (did I mention the snow?), my negative thinking blasts me.

Enough already! It has to stop. While I can’t control ‘old man winter,’ I can control my thoughts. I can choose to see the ‘silver linings’ and remember trying times only make me stronger. I can focus on the positives and smile.  I can live mindfully, but purposefully; moving forward, not dwelling on past mistakes nor worrying about the unknown, following my instincts without fear or second-guessing. I can look back to where I was and be proud of where I am now. I can look ahead and know better days are coming. They always do. As Elsa, in the movie, Frozen (hmmm…any coincidence that we too are frozen?), sings, “Let It Go, Let It Go…”  Yes, I need to take that advice. That will be hard, but not impossible. Starting now. Ready, set, go!

Here are five positive things about winter:

1. The beautiful ice crystals outlining the trees in my backyard contrasted again a clear blue sky

2. Snuggling on the couch under a warm comforter with my daughters on a snow day

3. Noticing the daylight lasts slightly longer each day

4. Seeing the smiles on my daughters’ faces as they point to the snow fort they just built

5. A ten-day forecast that shows a high of 51 degrees for next Thursday

And, now I think I will snuggle under that comforter (after drinking some more water of course) and take a nap. I’m feeling better already…Who knows maybe when I wake up it will all have been a dream and the flu along with snow will all be gone:)

Anyone else feeling the winter blues? What do you do to shake it off?

A Sharp Stick In The Eye

Image by SidewaysSarah on Flickr

Image by SidewaysSarah on Flickr

My Dad likens shopping with “a sharp stick in the eye,” yet he’d (willingly?maybe?  through coercion of some sort by my mother? perhaps.) accompany my mother, sister and I on various escapades to the mall as we hopefully searched for the perfect Easter or Christmas dress or school clothes. He’d patiently give a thumbs up on the third one out of the dressing room. No matter, we’d still inevitably hit every store looking for something better only to end up purchasing that third dress from the first store. I laughed the day I found him with a piece of mulch hanging out of his eye from the fake planter behind the bench he’d sat waiting for us on.

At the time, I thought he was joking about his aversion to shopping, but I think not. In fact, I can honestly say, I relate to that “sharp-stick-in-the-eye” syndrome. And, furthermore, although some may consider it un-womanly or possibly un-American to admit, but (deep breath) I hate shopping. I really do. It’s not even the spending of money that I detest. I am far from frugal. I can never remember to take coupons with me and comparison shopping is beyond my expertise. I don’t mind spending money. In fact, as many of those charity telemarketers, know I find it hard to say “no” and am free with giving. So free in fact that I really have no idea where a lot of my money goes, which might explain why I often find myself short of said dinero (but that is another post in and of itself).

I digress. So what is it about shopping I hate so much? I think it is the shopping experience that I detest so much. All those people, for one. I can’t stand crowds. Black Friday is a nightmare, I avoid (I’m more of a Cyber Monday kind of gal). Waiting in lines makes me shutter. Even worse is shopping with my kids. Their whining and begging turn me into a mega-b. By the time we’re back in the car headed home, I don’t even like myself. Add to that most stores have the heat turned way to high. If I have to take off my coat (as my sister lovingly knows), I usually take my patience with and we might as well just go home.

My shopping attitude could be the culprit. Maybe if I had a more positive attitude about the whole experience, I’d like it more. I usually start with a good attitude. In my mind’s eye I can see that sweater or the boots or the running shoes I want. I can picture what I want, I can just never find it or if I do it’s the wrong size or too expensive or the wrong color. I either leave empty-handed or with something almost what I was looking for and in both cases disappointed.

Thus, I’ve turned most of my shopping needs over to the virtual world. Online shopping is my holiday salvation. I am a proud Amazon Prime member (free two-day shipping!!!) My co-workers know when the smiley-face boxes begin to fill my cubicle the Christmas season has begun. Opening those brown boxes never fail to make me smile!

In most cases, I can get most of what I need online. The pictures and reviews are helpful – and I don’t miss the dressing room. Although, I still can’t always find what I want, the disappointment is less when I don’t actually have to leave my bed to shop. Occasionally, I’m disappointed but at least my head and feet aren’t throbbing at the end of the day.

Anyone else hate shopping, shopping?  Or is it just me?

Funky Friday

Maybe, if I chase a blinking cursor across a blank page and spill my words, I’ll feel better. Some days peace settles over me and everything feels right. Today isn’t one of those days. Some days I feel like a war is waging within me. That would be today. Doubt. Fear. Anxiety. Panic.

I can feel the adrenaline pumping through my body – the hot flashes alternate with the chills. The tightness settles in my chest. I look over my shoulder and no one is lurking or threatening. No one, but me.

I thought the running, the getting in shape would stave off that dragon of mine. I hoped never to see its face staring down on me. Yet when I least expect it, he taps me on the shoulder, catching me off guard and says “I’m back…” Go ahead and smile or throw-up. 

My lips curl upward as my fingers continue to fly across the keyboard. I will NOT be defeated. The panic does not OWN me.  It does not win.  Breath in, breath out.  Be still. And let it pass. I’m OK.

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!