Friday, May 31, 2013

I Make A Few References To Our Birth Experiences In This Post And Believe Me, You Should Be Grateful You're Getting An Edited Version. There Really Isn't Any Dignity In Childbirth, Is There?

Oh, Friday!  You're here at last!  Are the rest of you feeling a sigh of relief knowing the work week is behind us?  I'm so happy to be at this point.  I'm wrapping up my big staging project today and it feels so good.  It's funny how when you're in the thick of something challenging it seems like such a burden and you think, "How did I even get myself into this?"  Then, when the project is done and you're happy with the results, it's like you can't even remember the hard times, you just feel pride and relief and you start hoping you'll get a chance to do it again.  Kinda like having a baby, really.  Your memories never fixate on the vomit trays, the 36 hour labor, or the need to sit on an inflatable donut for three weeks.  You just remember the overwhelming love and the joy of meeting your child for the first time.  

The pain tends to fade quickly in life, doesn't it?  It's a good thing - or we wouldn't make a lot of progress in any arena and quite possibly, could have gone extinct long ago.  It's proof that good overpowers bad - I'm going to try to lean on that for some confidence during the hard times.  Oh, Enlightened Self, where are you when I'm standing alone in the pantry polishing off an entire baguette?

On to the weekend! 

We're looking at another couple days full of lacrosse.  This weekend we're at the Jamboree and we can't wait for it.  Our tournament in Steamboat was fabulous and was made even more enjoyable by the delicious sangria one of the moms from our team prepared and discreetly served at our evening games (it seems the teams we've enjoyed the most in our youth sports career have all had cocktail traditions for any game after 3:30 p.m.)  I don't have her exact recipe, but she said it was almost identical to Emeril Lagasse's version.  So I hopped on Google and found it just for you.  Try this, it is really lovely.  All the flavors come together so well and it's not too 'wine-y'.  Goes down a bit too easy, if you ask me, so you might want slip in a glass of water and some pita crisps and hummus in between rounds.  And by all means, please do have another.

Emeril Lagasse's Sangria

1 (750-ml) bottle red wine
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup orange flavored liqueur (recommended: triple sec or Grand Marnier)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 orange, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 unwaxed apple, cored, and cut into thin wedges
1 (750-ml) bottle sparkling water, chilled

Combine everything but the sparkling water in a large plastic container or glass pitchers. Cover and chill completely, 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve, add the sparkling water.

I'm wearing this today:

I'm gonna try to make these Anthropologie wide legs work today.  And look!  I'm wearing the Kimberley again.  I'm starting to concern myself with the attachment I have to this necklace.

gratitude:  toasted nuts, lists, honey-scented lotion, a car with large storage capacity

thanks and love.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Little Something On Stress And Hanes Products.

Ok.  I have tried to post a blog every Monday, Wednesday and Friday since sometime in December and I missed Monday.  I tried to convince myself I was taking the holiday off, but I just plain ran out of time and energy.  That's why today's theme is accepting that sometimes we fall short.

Often, we aren't as "perfect" as we imagined we could be or, worse yet, should be.  I had a wonderful weekend in Steamboat.   The whole family sharing a hotel room was crowded, messy and fabulous (I would like to apologize in advance to any future roommates Eliza and JD may have).  I literally laid awake in bed in the early hours of the morning just being so thankful that we were in this moment together - all sleeping mere feet away from each other in an amazingly beautiful place.  And I was also proud of myself because I forgot to pack my underwear and handled it really well.

Normally I would have felt like an organizational failure by forgetting such an important and personally sensitive wardrobe element.  But not this time.  I just calmly informed the family that I would be needing some undies and, while we were in Walmart getting a cooler to hold cocktails for our 5:00 games, I bravely found a nice set of Hanes Wedgie-Proof bikinis.  I also would have fretted silently about the cooties that may be on these garments, but I stayed cool.  I purposely selected undies with packaging that seemed too intricate to reproduce on a returned item.  Turns out, I was fabulously wedgie free (and cootie free, as far as I can tell) the entire weekend.  It really was quite something.

I thought to myself how well I'd handled a crazy weekend - traveling with a team we didn't know that well, dealing with lots of new people and three days of group activities all while wearing underwear that could have been worn by someone with less than perfect hygiene.  But I was calm, cool and collected through it all.  I was present and very, very grateful.

Upon our return, however, the tide turned.  I came back to a work project that feels a little overwhelming to me.  On top of that the kids are finishing the last week of school and, while I'm at one of my rare, super-busy periods, I'm most needed at home.  And there are some other little "stressy" things rattling around my head that are sucking up a lot of my extra energy (we all have them, right?).  We even ate meat on Meatless Monday.  It was salmon so it wasn't like a side of beef or anything, but what made me feel really weird is I realized we blew Meatless Monday on Tuesday.  I'd gone through Monday's meal prep and consumption and never once realized it was our big "meatless" day.

So after a minor panic attack, welling up during a 10 minute yoga practice, and standing in the pantry eating handfuls of corn chips and crackers, I have accepted that sometimes I'm going to fall short.  I realized we must remind ourselves that it's all going to work out one way or another - whether we do it perfectly or not.  The bumpy parts never last forever.  Sometimes they drag on a bit, but I think the worst happens when we don't admit when we're not in the best place.  A stiff upper lip can really get in the way of a clear path to happiness.   Sometimes we need to cry and feel worried and eat all the gluten that is available to us.  Then, when we feel we've given ourselves some time to be sad or worried or angry, we need to move on.

I'm doing the best I can.  I'm going to always try to put my best self forward, but also to accept I may not always be able to give 100% in every single area.  I'm just getting it done as joyously as possible.  And no one needs to know I'm actually wearing unwashed underpants from Walmart while I'm doing it.

I have this on today:

It's my cherished Kimberly necklace over yet another print.  This is one of my favorite shirts from Anthropologie.  I'm never sure if the things on it are flowers or moths, but I like it anyway because the colors are lovely.  And this necklace looks fab over it.  Honestly, if you get one necklace this season, I'm convinced it should be this one.

gratitude:  husbands who listen, flexible kids, marinated tomatoes, my own shower

thanks and love.

Friday, May 24, 2013

If You Need Me I'll Be The One Adjusting My Tank Top To Better Manage My Sun Exposure And Cheering On 13-Year-Olds Like I Had Money Riding On Their Game.

Oh, a long weekend!  The fabulous start of the summer season.  We'll be heading up to Steamboat for a lacrosse tournament and I can't wait.  As excited as I am for our weekend in the high country, I may be more eager for the drive up.  I love it when we're all in the car together for road trips.  The three hour drive to Steamboat is just about right.  Any longer and I start to think flying might have been a better option.  Road trips are a bit of a challenge for me though - I get so sleepy with the movement of the car - even a drive to the grocery store can leave me feeling a little drowsy.  But I'm pretty good at getting to Steamboat without giving into my body's desire to drift of to dreamland and I don't want to miss this time.  Three hours together inside a Volvo, with snacks, music and virtually no cell phones sounds like a slice of heaven.

Prior to departure though, I have to get the house in a better condition than our usual standard of slightly unkempt, but not quite trashed.  I can't stand coming back from a relaxing time away to a messy house.  I like the beds made, dishes put away and everything picked up.  I think it lessens the shock to my system caused by returning home after a few days with the benefit of housekeeping services.  A massive vacuuming is certainly in order this morning.  We have a 'no shoes in the house' policy, but I think it's being violated regularly.  While I was making some toast today I noticed our floor looked like something you'd see under a stadium seat.  We have bits of grass, money, flower petals, a gum wrapper, some lacrosse shooting strings, corn chip scraps, and peanuts under our table and along the bottom of our cabinets.   Disturbingly, I don't even remember buying peanuts.

I'm wearing this:

I feel a very bohemian summer coming on.

And I'd like to wish my sweet Geoffrey a happy anniversary for tomorrow.  It's been quite an adventure together and I'm happy to say, while we've had some wonderful times,  I like where we are today more than any place we've been so far.  I love you!

gratitude:  quick delivery for internet orders, sitting outside at night, pedicures, long weekends

thanks and love.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Have A Clicker And I Know How To Use It.

As is the case after tragedies like the one in Oklahoma, there seems to be a constant barrage of news reports and coverage detailing every aspect of the situation.  All this attention certainly doesn't improve the conditions for those going through the event and I find, after a while, it really starts to affect me.  At the beginning, I feel sick about what has occurred, but after a while I almost feel numb.  It's like after hearing the same terrible story for the 20th time, I no longer have that pain in my heart, it just becomes a mere fact.  And I don't think it's really healthy to hear so much bad stuff that it no longer gives you a physical response.

I think it's absolutely important to bear witness to these terrible events.  We need to be aware of what happens and listen to those that are sharing their stories - we need to feel their pain and put them all in our thoughts and prayers.  We need to donate money to help if we can.  But listening to the same sound bite, until it's background noise, isn't right.  That's when we need to step in a turn off the T.V. or radio or cell phone.  Personally, I don't want Brian Williams to be a major part of the soundtrack to our lives at home.

Home needs to be a place that nurtures us.  Light candles, even during the day.  Listen to more music and less MSNBC or other news stations (are there others?).  Sometimes even try quiet.  It's amazing to me how noisy nature is - although it may just be that we have the bird equivalent to the Glee cast living outside our house.  But it's nice.  Even traffic noise can be more soothing than a constant stream of tragedies, complainers and bickering politicians.

We have the ability to control a lot of things in life.   Of course, we can't control tornadoes (although required safe rooms in schools seems like a no-brainer), or random contact with bad people, but what we can control we should.  Pick up your clutter, light candles, turn on some music and open the windows.  We are alive and should be filled with conscious gratitude for that fact alone.  Let's try to make our aliveness beautiful in all ways.  Not just in what we say or do, but in the environment we create for ourselves and the ones we love.

I'm wore this today (note the past tense as this post is more than a little late in the day).

The necklace garnered many a compliment today.  And I'm wearing jeans over freshly faux tanned legs.  At my age, I just can't seem to incorporate shorts into any activity not involving youth sports or yard work.

gratitude:  the sound of silence, my home, evening light, morning yoga

thanks and love.

Monday, May 20, 2013

We May Not Have Provided Adequate Nutrition For Our Child, But We Did Find The One Place That Sold Beer During A Lightening Delay.

We had a great weekend that flew by faster than I can comprehend.  One of our highlights was JD's state lacrosse tournament.  The boys made it to the championship as the second seed and lost to the first seed by only one point.  Both teams had been undefeated all season and it was quite a battle to watch.  Something about youth sports just gets to me - those kids work so hard and to see them psych each other up and support each other, makes me well up (of course, in the spirit of full disclosure I also well up during pet adoption segments on the local news and any time I hear Pomp and Circumstance - so I clearly have a weak spot emotionally).  But this aspect of youth sports is a great thing to see.

Tournaments though, also make it clear that we are by far one of the more unprepared families out there.  It's a little embarrassing.  We show up to these day long events grateful that we've remembered our chairs and the sunscreen.  But after the first game it becomes crystal clear that we really needed to think farther ahead.  People are setting up tents and grills.  Most of them come with coolers full of sandwiches and cut up pieces of fruit.  They are mixing large vats of sports drinks and filling water bottles like they're in a factory.  Meanwhile, we're standing in line at the concession stand debating whether or not a Snicker's bar or peanut M&M's would be a better choice for our kids between games.  I filled my purse with the last four bottles of Gatorade from one stand, hoping it would last the day and Geoff and I even bought JD a turkey sandwich that was so sketchy we returned it - the packaging didn't even allow you to see the sandwich inside and the ingredient list was a four inch paragraph.  For a turkey sandwich.  After some negotiating with a vendor from a stand with a grill, we ended up cobbling together something "nutritious" using chicken tenders wrapped in a piece of lettuce from a hamburger topping.  Impressive, huh?

So we're going to do a better job for this next tournament.  I found a cute cooler at TJ Maxx that we could fill with some good stuff to eat and look chic doing it too (I know how important that is to my family).  My plan was to utilize it to serve cocktails poolside when we entertain this summer, but I'm very inspired now make it my tournament cooler and attempt to redeem ourselves as parents before this season is over.

I'm wearing this today:

Most of my day will be spent in the jeans and blue shirt because I'm having a glamourous Monday highlighted by 78 loads of laundry, but there's a meeting later so I'll add a white blazer and slip into some wedges to take me from washer woman to writer.  Kinda like Superman, I think.  Or not.

And it's Meatless Monday.  I'm serving a bunch of cucumber sandwiches along with some Boulder potato chips because I can't seem to enjoy a sandwich of any variety without some kind of chip.  The cucumber sandwiches are crazy good.  Try this:  Spread mayo on a slice of French or Italian bread.  Top with slices of cucumber and basil leaves.  Salt and pepper generously and top with another slice of mayo covered bread.  Oh my.

gratitude:  new opportunities, pots with flowers on porches and patios, a little rain, the morning

thanks and love.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What Happens When Outdoor Design Magazines Collide With French Philosophers.

I don't know, but I kinda think now that we have temperatures near 90 degrees, the faux snow covered sticks I have in pots by the front door aren't really getting the job done anymore.  It's time to make the seasonal transition over here and get the house ready for summer.  Considering the sticks have been in the pots for more than half a year, no one can accuse me of jumping the gun.  Although, while we haven't taken a lot of action recently to prep the house for the warmer months, we've spent vast amounts of time planning grand improvements to our backyard.

Oh, the plans we made.  There would be a patio extension, a stone covered fire pit and, the piece de resistance, an in-ground hot tub. Surfaces would be covered in stone and stamped concrete and the hot tub would be designed to look like a natural hot springs.  I'd even imagined an opening ceremony for our fabulous outdoor space - we'd invite people over and our family would act out a scene as Native Americans happening upon a magical hot springs (good times, huh?).  There would be speeches given and lots of champagne - maybe I'd create a commemorative t-shirt.  Perhaps, I'd gone a bit far with the introduction, but for a non-actress I am strangely drawn to creating public events.

During a family visualization session over dinner on the back patio, one of the kids asked about the timeline for completion.  We thought about it and realized, if  we were going to finish the projects inside our house, play sports year round, and enjoy a lot of family travel, the backyard project would be wrapped up just in time for college graduations.  The whole goal of creating a space we can enjoy with family and friends was years off.  Our ideal backyard suddenly seemed like an impossibility.

That's when this quote by Voltaire pushed itself to the top of my consciousness:  "Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good."

The whole point of the backyard plan was to create a space we could enjoy together.   The fancy-schmancy factor was just for aesthetic purposes.  So we drilled down to find out what the important elements would be - for us it was a fire pit (this appears to be how the teen crowd likes to spend their evenings - certainly better than playing quarters), some sun/shade control, and a consistent color palette (that was my request).  We researched options to meet each need within a reasonable budget and came up with a great solution that used a lot of what we already had and added a few new things that would be considered "good deals" rather than top-of-the-line items.

And now, for a fraction of the cost and in a matter of weeks rather than years, we'll be able to have a beautiful, comfortable space to enjoy.  It's not the Disney quality recreation of a perfect mountain hideaway, but it'll look great and provide us all with exactly what we really want.  And, what we really want is something to enjoy NOW, because the days are flying by.

This whole focus on good rather than perfect is also a great reminder about how to live every day.  The clock is ticking, so don't wait for your house to look perfect before you have people over.  Light some candles, pour some wine and throw a hunk of cheese on a board.  It's the togetherness that people remember not the spotless countertops.  And we should all remind ourselves that we don't need to be perfect people either.  As long as we try to do our best and admit when we haven't, we'll be good.  And  good is really pretty great.

I'm wearing this for drinks tonight:

I'm digging the loose, black summer dresses I see out there.  This little number was found at Old Navy on sale for less than $20.  It's really versatile and can be worn with a flat sandal or a pair of Converse sneakers, belted, or even tossed on over a skinny jean for the cooler months.  Cost per wear is mere pennies.

gratitude:  time to weed the garden, lacrosse tournaments, Sunday golf, brie

thanks and love.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Have You Ever Been To The Same Grocery Store So Many Times In One Day That Even The Employees Are Looking At You Like You Really Need To Pull It Together?

I'm having one of those weeks we all seem to enjoy more frequently toward the end of a school session - the ones filled with meetings and celebrations and tournaments and school projects that require numerous trips to the grocery store and printer to complete.  And, in an ironic twist of fate, during the busiest time of the school year, it appears the staging business I ran with my mom for several years, has somehow risen from the dead.  Like a Phoenix, High Style Staging is cranking out estimates and sourcing furniture for a home.  Of course, this means we are hanging by a thread at the High house as we navigate through the expected and unexpected busyness of this week - but everyone is being fed and no one has missed an event, so I'll consider that a win.

This is one of the drawbacks to not having a regular career in an office, one that is consistent week in and week out.  Because I have chosen to work a variety of jobs from my home, I rarely have a schedule that is the same week to week.  I like it that way, but it does pose challenges.  It requires split second adjustments and sometimes efficiency takes a backseat.   I've actually found myself in the same King Soopers parking lot four times this morning.  It's not that I don't plan, I make lists - detailed lists - but I leave them at home and usually remember what I forgot about the time the door starts to lift as I'm pulling into the garage.

I'm also wearing this:

I had every intention to shower at some point, but that too has slipped through the cracks.  My outfit was not intended to last all day, but I'm glad I bothered to put on pants with a zipper.  That way I still feel "dressed" and not like I'm zipping around all day in something better suited for a bout with the flu.  Although, this look seems pretty close to flu-worthy.

I was feeling generous today and bought some cupcakes at Whole Foods for dessert.

They're on top of my cookbooks.  Does anyone else have to hide special foodstuffs?  These wouldn't last five minutes if my kids knew they were in the house.

gratitude:  going with the flow, budding trees, Method laundry detergent, grilling

thanks and love.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I Ate Altoids For Breakfast. I Think It's Time For A Trip To The Grocery Store.

I don't know about you other moms out there, but I kinda wish every day could be like Mother's Day.  It was a great weekend all around (yesterday was the tops), but we're feeling a beat behind over here at the High household.  It appears we forgot to schedule in any downtime this weekend and as a result have been going non-stop since about 2:00 on Friday afternoon.  Lots of fun, but we need to regain control.  We have hard limes and soft avocados on our counter, piles of laundry in the upstairs hall, 300 pairs of shoes scattered around our kitchen table, and we're down to yogurt and leftover Chinese in the fridge.

As hard as it is to start a busy week after a frantic weekend, it does become absolutely clear that non-scheduled time is critical to our peace and happiness as a family and as individuals.  Crazy weekends like this remind us how important it is to protect a few hours here and there to just 'be'.  It's fun either way, but we definitely feel better after a slightly less hectic 48 hours.

Since I'm feeling a tad drained, I'm wearing these pants today:

The pattern will keep me alert if I start to fade and it may give the illusion that I'm actually moving faster than I really am.

Meatless Monday will feature avocado toast and sliced tomatoes.  Or cereal.

gratitude:  the wonderful Mother's Day Geoff and the kids gave me, extra moisturizing lotion, patio planning, eating outside

thanks and love.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Looking Back, It Was Totally Worth Giving Up Wine And Coffee For Nine Months.

It's Mother's Day weekend!  I know the calendar tells us we only get one day, but I like the notion of spreading all things Mom over the entire weekend.  Of course, I don't expect the total focus to be on me all the time, but I think a little undercurrent of Mom Love for the next few days isn't too much to ask.

I like this quote, it speaks to me:

Mothering is an imperfect art.  While we want to do everything right, it seems like a few misses are unavoidable.  Anytime you're involved as deeply and with as much love as one is when mothering - you're bound to reflexively think with your heart, when your head would have been a better choice.  I just hope that Eliza and JD are understanding, forgiving and clever enough to turn the times I've fallen short into fabulous comedy and a quirky perspective.

Here is another written bit that captures some of what I feel: "I don't remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don't even know exist until you love a child." ― Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year

I was not a maternal person before I had kids. I was a bad babysitter. To be honest, I wasn't that fond of children.  I'd never ask to hold a baby and I'd avoid conversations with kids at all costs.  They scared me and I felt my nurturing skills were better suited for canines.  But being mom to Eliza and JD has amazed me in how completely and instantly it soaked into me.  It changed my experience with kids as a whole - I have to remind myself now to ask permission to hold someone's baby.  I am blown away by how much love I feel when I think about what Eliza and JD mean to me.  I didn't know I had it in me.

It's not easy though.  Especially as they get older.  The saying that parenting kids is like choosing to have your heart live outside your body is right on the mark.  The ups and downs of life and their growing independence are hard to face.  Sometimes I'd like to just put my kids back inside me and not share them with anyone else.  But, because I'm not totally delusional, I know Geoff and I must let them paddle their own canoe as much as possible so they can continue to sail even when we're not around. 

The knowledge I cling to, that brings me great joy, is that I will ALWAYS be their mom.  They will grow and I'll grow too, but we'll always be connected as mother and child. We get to experience this relationship through all our evolutions and hopefully we make each other want to be our best selves along the way.  I try to be lovingly present in each stage of our life together (though, admittedly I'm sometimes mopey and occasionally crabby about the passing and challenges of certain phases) because, though change is inevitable, the relationship is constant.  And for that, I am entirely grateful.

Cheers to all you moms out there!!

 I'm wearing this.

While in the cooler months, I'm drawn to a Paris street-style vibe, it appears once the sun comes out I embrace the summer in Provence aesthetic.  As an aside, these jeans are developing a bit of a hold "near the zipper", but they are soooo comfortable that I have convinced myself if I keep moving no one will notice.  I hope I don't regret this decision.

gratitude:  8:06 a.m. on February 10, 1998, 11:02 a.m. on November 2, 1999, hysterical laughter, time together

thanks and love.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Betwixt and Between.

It occurred to me the other day, that we are just a few short weeks from swimsuit season (cue nervous laughter).  We have a community pool just up the street from our house, so I can't avoid a Lycra based element in my wardrobe.  I haven't purchased a swimsuit in a few several years, and I am way past the point of needing something new.  Last year, it became clear to me that I'm no longer a good candidate for a string bikini and and I don't intend spend another summer feeling uncomfortable and dashing to the pool when no one is looking.  

It's not that I naturally am drawn to super skimpy swimsuits, but about five years ago we went to Hawaii and, as is the case with many who have a tropical vacation on their horizon, I undertook a vigorous workout regimen to better prepare my then 40-year-old body for some beach exposure.  I must say, it was a success and for the first time in a long time ever, I really didn't mind walking around in nothing more than a $15 Target bikini.  It was delightful, but since then, things have changed a bit.

Let's just say,  I'm more of a long walk and a lot of yoga kind of girl now.  It keeps me in good shape and mentally happy, but I appreciate a bit more coverage in swimwear nowadays.  I like a two-piece mostly for the avoidance of the dreaded lily white stomach effect, but I don't want to be one of those women who has crossed the line of age and body shape and makes everyone sad when she pulls off her coverup because she's clinging to a suit style that's passed her by.  I also don't want to give Eliza any body dysmorphia issues by moving right into a skirted one-piece and fearing the exposure that comes with anything more revealing.  I have never had less of a firm footing fashionwise and I attribute it to my age. The mid-forties are a swimsuit No Man's Land.

I also have non-negotiable requirements now - proper bum coverage and a little something extra in the top.  I've made the mistake before of buying one of the swimsuits from Victoria's Secret that adds an extra cup size or two up top.  I felt like I was wearing a floatation device - honestly, non-swimmers could have held onto it for safety.  On top of that, when I got out of the pool I had to discreetly wring out my "chest" or it would have stayed damp for hours risking a skin condition from the constant moisture.  I'm looking for some enhancement, not a complete transformation.  So I can't just grab a suit off the rack or order it online and expect it to fit properly.  I really need to try it on, but I'm rarely in the mood to do so.  Standing in the dressing room under the florescent lights and studying myself in a swimsuit layered over my underwear makes me need a glass of wine.  Very badly.

I know I need to invest in something quality.  Perhaps it's a sign of maturity that I'd rather have one fabulous suit I feel great in, than five swimsuits that leave me feeling too exposed or "enhanced".  I'll also make sure to have a good collection of coverups.  One needs to be prepared for the days when we want nothing more than to lounge poolside with a good book and a glass of something delicious and not worry about whether or not our stomach looks like a teenager's.

I'm wearing this today.

I love this particular necklace over a pattern.  Sometimes I think when we wear a patterned shirt, we feel like adding a necklace would be too much.  But I've found that's not usually the case.  Putting a necklace over a pattern creates a nice extra layer to look at, but it doesn't make as huge a statement as it would over a solid color.  Suddenly the whole look - patterned shirt and necklace - becomes a bit quieter but more interesting at the same time.  Give it a go sometime!

gratitude:  thunder, the smell of rain, the sound of lawnmowers, good timing

thanks and love.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Another Way Of Looking At It Would Be If This Blog Post Were A Venn Diagram, The Part Where The Circles Intersect Would Be Labeled 'P'.

Welcome to Monday!  In an effort to organize my thoughts and to cobble together enough minutiae to qualify as a legitimate blog post, I have decided that today's entry will be brought to you by the letter 'P'.  Which of course is a nod to dear old Sesame Street.  I loved it when the letter was painted on a bald man's head and when it was slathered in mustard onto what looked like a tasty ham sandwich.  So in the spirit of Sesame Street, here is my 'P'.  I made it with mini shredded wheat.

Moving on.  Our first 'P' word is Pigeons.

This is our owl, Hooty.

He is not real and, as you can see, is mounted on a large pole.  His job was to scare away the pigeons who live on our roof.  Over the weekend, he was relieved of his duty.  He was not very good at it totally ineffective.  The pigeons are mildly annoying to me, but Geoff borders on obsessed at times.  Along with Hooty, he's tried snowballs, Snap-Its, and good ol' clapping to get the pigeons to find another hangout.  He'd wave Hooty over the edge of the roof while standing on our balcony (often in his pajamas) in an effort to freak out the birds.  For a while, it seemed to be working, but I think they either became numb to the surprise attacks or just moved a little farther back from the edge of the roof.  Anyway, the pigeons haven't gone anywhere and having a plastic owl mounted to a broomstick on our balcony was getting a little trashy.  I don't know what Geoff's next avenue of attack will be, but I'm glad to have Hooty gone.  He lives in our closet now and seems happier.  I think it was getting to be humiliating for him to be so openly ignored by those he was charged to intimidate.

Our next word is Patio.

Because even though all the snow and chilly temps are making us feel like summer is a long way away, we know differently.  And if the warmer months are to be as fabulous as we anticipate at the High House, we need need to spiff up our patio.  One of our goals is to find replacement cushions for these chairs.

They are antique lawn chairs.  From the 1920s - very Gatsby.  When we bought them we thought how charming and funky it would be to have vintage lawn furniture.  That was before we realized there are no replacement cushions made in this century that are a perfect even a close fit for the chairs.  We have tried everything.  Big box stores, online cushion retailers, you name it.  To no avail.  It appears now, after a weekend of searching, buying, failing, returning and repeating, we will have to have custom cushions made.  They are not cheap and so, because the list is long for patio expenses this year, we may just have to find some way to block out all the horrible thoughts of almost 100 years of sweaty people sitting for a spell on our seat cushions.  I'm not sure it's possible.

Our third word is actually a twofer - Peer Pressure.

You would think, at 46 I would be able to withstand pressure from others to do things that are out of character for me.  Not so.  Apparently, I need to take some lessons in personal strength.  While we were on our quest for cushions this Sunday, we stopped by a Whole Foods for sustenance.  We saw a truck in the parking lot that JD, because he is 13, loved.  Geoff was mocking JD's fondness for it and all cars like it, and I was enjoying the banter (I personally do not care a bit about cars and could not tell a Ford from a Toyota to save my life).  Anyway, the boys thought it would be funny to take a picture of me in front of it giving a thumbs up - I guess the comedic value of juxtaposition is hard to ignore.  I didn't want to do it, but I also didn't be a stick in the mud so I gamely jump in front of the truck and this was the result.

What you don't see here is that, unbeknownst to me, the owner of the truck was about 10 feet behind me returning with his groceries.  As soon as the shutter of the camera clicked I could feel his presence approaching.  I put my head down and scurried away in shame and Geoff offered a "Thanks for letting us borrow your truck" platitude before he too ran away.  It was horrifying.  I want to apologize for being so weak, Mr. Truck Owner.  I don't understand why you'd want such a kooky looking vehicle, but it's not my place to judge.  I. Am. Sorry.

And finally, Par.

The last three Sundays have all ended with a family golf outing and I'm loving it.  More importantly, it appears everyone in the family is loving it too so I guess we may have a tradition or something starting here.  The boys make a tee time for nine holes at about 5:00.  While they play, Eliza and I follow them in the cart.  After the round, we have dinner at the clubhouse.  There are no TV's, no computers and we're outside enjoying some golf course loveliness.  Together.  Of course, Eliza still texts and yesterday she napped, but we're together and relatively focused on each other.  We'd like to get it to the point where Eliza and I could play along with the boys, but that may be a while.  I have an issue with the length of the club and the tiny ball size causing it to be nearly impossible for me to make contact with the ball more than twice in a row.  But I remain hopeful that with a little work we can make it happen, eventually.  Meantime, this Sunday night golf and dinner at the course is a truly wonderful way to end a weekend.  I am perfectly pleased.

So I'm wearing this today.

It's plaid.  I have no shame.

And once again we find ourselves enjoying another Meatless Monday.  I had big plans to whip up something new, but I am feeling rather unmotivated so today's dinner will be Salad Sandwiches.  I grew up eating this, my parents had something similar during a trip to London at one point and it's been part of our family menu ever since.  It's super simple, just make a sandwich of sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, sliced red onion and sliced cheese (I prefer colby-jack).  Slather on mayo and dijon mustard.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  So good.

gratitude:  the smell of the outdoors in the morning, time to pull things together, music, a good book

thanks and love.

Friday, May 3, 2013

JD's Bus Driver And I Are Locked In A Battle Of Wits. Edge Of Your Seat Excitement, No?

I'm ashamed to admit, but when I wake up in the morning, JD's bus driver is one of the first things that comes to mind.  The guy never should have chosen a career that requires adhering to a schedule.  And because he doesn't understand what 'on time' means, I've taken to obsessing over his unpredictability.

Based upon the info we were given at the beginning of the school year, our pick-up time is 6:50 a.m.  The bus driver has been on-time about twice.  Sometimes he's three minutes early, sometimes five minutes late.  But it's not like he stays and waits for kids to show up at the scheduled time if he comes early.  If you're not there at 6:47, he's moving on.

I tried to figure out his system. There really wasn't any pattern to it and that's what was so vexing.  It seemed like he was late mostly on bad weather days - I cut him some slack assuming he probably had to scrape all 300 windows on the bus himself.  So on a few of the days we saw snow this winter, we'd slide in about 6:52 because all our evidence supported his arrival by 6:55.  That worked for a while, then suddenly we were driving up to the stop during a snowstorm at 6:51, and he was pulling away.  A cunning move indeed, Mr. Bus Driver.

He even achieved a personal best in lateness during the big storm two weeks ago.  He came 30 minutes late and by the time he arrived, our car was full of middle schoolers who looked like they were part of an ill-fated Everest expedition.

A few weeks ago, I'd had enough.  I refused to be beaten by his unpredictability.  JD has played along because I think he too, doesn't want to experience defeat at the hands of an erratic bus driver.  The goal (unspoken as it is) is to be at the bus stop at 6:47, rain or shine.  This ensures - whether or not our driver is early, late, or shockingly on-time - we're there.  The new system requires some speed on our part, but it appears to be working and I actually get a nice boost having to channel my competitive spirit so early in the day.

I just hope we can keep it up until the end of the school year.  Maybe on the final day, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, I'll get out of the car and shake the bus driver's hand.  I'll look him in the eye and congratulate him on a game well played.  And I'll leave, in my pajama bottoms and sweatshirt, holding a cup of coffee, the victor.

I'm wearing this today.

Skinny jeans, black T, neutral statement necklace, and a pop of color in my shoe.  It's casual, but not laying on the couch casual.

And, since it's the Cinco de Mayo and Kentucky Derby weekend we should all enjoy something fabulous to sip.  A Mint Julep is just out of my comfort zone - the thought of bourbon and mint makes me a little queasy.  So, I'm suggesting this - a strawberry basil margarita.  Clearly more of a nod to Cinco de Mayo, but it sounds fab.  Here it is (I found the recipe on the The Effortless Chic website).

First you need to make a strawberry simple syrup.  Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 4-5 sliced strawberries in a saucepan.  Bring it to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Cool the syrup, then strain it through a sieve, pressing the strawberries to get all the liquid out.

To make the margs, you will add to a shaker with ice, 2 Tbs. of roughly chopped basil, 2 oz. Tequila, 1 oz. strawberry simple syrup, 1 oz. fresh lime juice and a splash of Cointreau.  Shake at least 60 times and pour into a glass.  Yum.

gratitude:  Fritos, sunshine, lanterns, green grass

thanks and love.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And Now For My Next Trick, I'll Make A Metaphor Using A Funny Cat Video.

It's a cruel bit of irony when your 46th birthday lands on 'Take Your Child To Work Day' and you're a stay-at-home mom of teens. There are opportunities for insecurity on both fronts.  I can handle turning 46 (I think), but when people ask me what I 'do', I'm tired of not having something definitive to share.  I've loved being a stay-at-home mom.  Really, it's the best career I've ever had.  But my job description is changing a bit and I feel the need to adjust accordingly.

I felt comfortable making the choice to stay home with my kids because prior to becoming a mom, I had enjoyed a pretty satisfying professional life.  Plus, I felt advertising agencies were best left to the young and hip, and those not currently breastfeeding.  I was ready for something new and was up for the challenge of raising my kids 24/7.  I agreed with the notion that life could be lived in chapters, and I still do - the 20-something career chapter, the stay-at-home mom chapter, etc.  It's just that the pages I'm looking at now in aren't that easy to read.

I'm in the process of trying to figure out what I want to/can/should do with myself now that my babies are getting older.  My BFF, Tracy, refers to this as 'struggling for relevance' and that feels spot on.  I've dipped a toe into a few things over the last several years, but nothing has felt quite right - I need a Goldilocks moment.  I would venture to guess this feeling isn't exclusive to stay-at-home moms.  I imagine, to some extent, life direction issues arise for most people and they need to be addressed.  We evolve.  That's life.  And it's cool.

This is very representative of how I feel lately.  Perhaps you can relate.

In this case, I am the cat.  The shark suit symbolizes the appearance of me actually having a clue. The Roomba is my mind, and the duck represents my 'Thing'.  The Roomba seems to be directionless at times, turning randomly and bumping into things - moving the cat every which way.   Much as I'd like to say that's not the case for me it seems that my mind, and my subsequent progress toward learning what my 'Thing' is, is still somewhat unfocused and unproductive.  I'm turning in circles and bumping into the dishwasher. 

 I think the message here is that the cat could hang out and play with his friend, the duck, if he just got off the Roomba.  Our Roomba minds get in our way.  We over-think, we fear, we get confused.  I need to get off the Roomba.

And so I'm attempting to do just that.  I'm working on getting clear about what I enjoy and not judging whatever comes up.  That has led me to understand that family, food, style, humor, yoga, writing, living fully and with gratitude are things that interest me.  Plus, some other stuff that isn't coming to mind right now.  That's me.  I'm really trying to consciously keep myself open to possibility.  I'm also taking action by writing, keeping a little jewelry business going, and living in a way that represents what I value.  I'm hoping this will get me off the Roomba.  I even read that standing on your head can energetically change your perspective so I gave that a try.  Not sure about the perspective shift, but I did notice that we have Kleenexes and golf tees under our bed.

I'm wearing this today.

This is my "summer turtleneck."  I thought when I bought it that I'd never have any use for a Frenchy, striped, lightweight turtleneck but, turns out, global warming or La Nina or El Nino or something has caused Spring to be irrefutably turtleneck weather.  I am contrasting the stripe with a large pendant necklace and wearing my (somewhat shabby) leopard clogs.  I refuse to wear socks.

gratitude:  the spring pillow combo I currently have on my loveseat, our clean floors, finding the other clicker, funny writers

thanks and love.