Monday, September 30, 2013

A Celebration Of Potential Greatness, Hope For The Future, And A Lesson In Valuable Laundry Enhancements. This Blog Is Really Bringing It Today.

For years I used to joke that the hardest thing you could face in life had to be folding a fitted sheet.  I thought it was a funny and ironic statement - you know, making light of hard things and narrowing the focus to a minute homekeeping task.  To be fair, folding a fitted sheet can be really, really hard.  And it's nearly unavoidable.  So the challenge and its inevitability made the statement worthwhile to me.

Then I found myself a couple years ago feeling challenged by life.  I was flopped on the couch mindlessly flipping through the channels on the TV when I stopped, for whatever reason, on the Martha Stewart Show.  This is where it gets really weird.  Not a second after the screen settled on a shot of her logo I heard, "Next up, Martha shows the studio audience how to fold a fitted sheet."  It felt like the Universe was telling me, "You can do this.  The hard things are solvable, see?  You just need to believe."

And sure enough, after the commercial break, Martha returned and unraveled a mystery of the universe.    By folding that fitted sheet, she proved that anything is possible.  That even the hardest things can be overcome.  We just need to take the time to do it right and follow simple steps.  Don't overcomplicate; don't try to shortcut.  Just start.

So to remind you all that there is a way through everything - and to make your linen closets look fabulous - I present you with Martha Stewart's fitted sheet folding lesson.  Enjoy and know that you can, indeed, do anything.

I'm wearing this today.

Hot Fall days call for summer tops paired with fall footwear.  It's really the only way.

gratitude:  now, anniversaries, the end of Homecoming chaos, making plans

thanks and love.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Losing A Pet Is Sometimes Like Those Glaucoma Tests With The Puff Of Air. You Know What's Coming, But It Still Shocks You A Bit When It Does.

It's a sad day at the High house.  Our guinea pig, Spike, passed away overnight.  He went peacefully, it appears.  Just closed his eyes and fell asleep one last time inside the blue plastic cave he had in his cage.  We knew this time would come - likely sooner than later.  We weren't positive, but Spike had to be about seven or eight years old.  Which in guinea pig years is the equivalent to making it on a Smuckers jar during the weekly segments with Willard Scott on the Today show.  He was an old pig.

We noticed he'd lost weight recently.  And become a little finicky about his food.  It reminded us of how our Bassets were toward the end.  You recognize the signs of a body slowing down its run.  His nails were really long too - our nail trim experiences were exhausting for all of us and I think Geoff and I both believed, without speaking it, that at this point in his life one more session with the clippers would have only hastened Spike's end.  So we passed on the maintenance and I think he appreciated the decision.

Spike was kind of a nervous pig, so he didn't spend a lot of time out of his cage - it was his happy place.   But last night we took him out and held him while we sat on the couch for awhile.  He actually seemed happy with the situation.  And looking back on it, I guess it was a pretty nice final evening - watching the Colbert Report and being held by people who love you.  You will be missed, sweet Spike.  Thanks for being our pig.

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
- Anatole France

I'm wearing this.

In typical fashion, life serves up sad and fun all at the same time.  While we're missing our sweet Spike, we'll also be enjoying Homecoming weekend.  The black will conveniently represent school colors and mourning depending on the setting.

gratitude:  animals, peaceful endings, white seeds (because Spike loved them), fur

thanks and love.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Technology Is Amazing, But It Still Bothers Me To See How Bad My Signature Looks On All Those Pads We Use At Checkout.

It must be a generational or a techy vs. non-techy thing (and I'm clearly in the non-techy group), but I don't understand the rush of excitement people get over a new operating system for their iPhone.  Thanks to the children, I am the proud owner of an iPhone and an iPad full of iOS7 goodness and to be honest, I miss the good ol' days.

I think when they downloaded the new system,  the sound and vibration alerts were turned on for every feature imaginable.  I haven't slept well lately because if my phone is nearby it makes so many noises during the night it's like sharing a room with a chatty R2D2.  I've even muted the phone, but for some reason the weird dings and beeps keep coming.  I'm trying to turn off all the alerts, but it has do be done one-by-one and at this rate, things should be back to normal by Christmas.

And the sounds are different too.  I spent 45 minutes the other day trying to find just the right tone for my calls and texts.  How am I supposed to remember what Presto, Radiate and Sencha sound like?  There's barely any difference.  I could program the old sounds back in (they're listed under a pathetic sounding subgroup called 'Classic'), but it seems like a waste now that I have all these new noises to choose from.  The way it is now, if I get a text, a call, and an email at roughly the same time my phone sounds like the soundtrack to 'Chariots of Fire'.  It's really something.

Apparently, the photo features are vastly improved as well, but all that progress is lost on me.  I've actually learned to send a picture in a text which makes me feel pretty savvy, but it stops there.  Last night though, Eliza and her friends were asking me what filters looked best on some photos they took after the girls had all found dates to Homecoming.  I felt like I was taking an eye exam:  "Which is clearer, one or two?".  "Two, maybe?"  In less than three minutes the girls had layered various filters over the photos for the greatest effect, wrote snappy captions for each including no fewer than six hashtags, and posted them to every social media resource available.  It takes me longer to find my phone in my purse.

It's important, I think, to at least try to stay current.  So to that, check out today's outfit photo.

I'm wearing this.

Please note my clever usage of the filter called Instant.  Enjoy.

gratitude:  flexibility, new ideas, an busy but messy house, Colorado weather

thanks and love.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Weather Says Fall, But My Couch Pillows Are Still Talking Summer. Feels Like Wearing Shorts With A Turtleneck. It's Not Right.

At last, it's Fall.  What a great time of year!  And not just because we can comfortably invest in a few cute sweaters and some fabulous boots - or that we can expect opportunities to eat pumpkin pie for  breakfast.  It's also a good time to lay some groundwork for the future and to celebrate where we are in life.

Like trees that allow their dead leaves to release so new ones can emerge come Springtime, we can do this for ourselves this time of year.  Use this time to let go of behaviors and habits, even ways of thinking or negative experiences, that aren't making you feel as good as you would like to feel.  Take the time to identify them, then consciously let them go.  Nature releases what it no longer needs in the Fall -  and we can benefit from doing the same ourselves.

Also, think about what you'd like to see develop in the future.  Get some new ideas going and start dreaming.  Take a class, talk to someone who knows something about what you're interested in, or read things about what's making you curious.  Seeds are scattered each Fall as the winds blow and land where they'll bloom next Spring.  This works for ideas and life plans too.

And finally, celebrate!  Fall is the season of the harvest and a perfect time to be grateful for what we've done over the year.  Big or small there are accomplishments worthy of recognition.  Whether we chose to do it or not, we've learned and grown over the year - we've experienced life and been made richer for it.  So look around and celebrate where you are right now.

And, of course, don't forget this is a perfect time to switch to red wines from white, if you're so inclined.

I'm wearing this.

This shirt makes me feel like Fall leaves and Rhoda Morgenstern all at the same time.   A perfect combo.

It's Meatless Monday again.  The farro I prepared last week was not well-received by the children.  I tried to wow them with the fact that it's a superfood and an ancient grain, but they were unimpressed.  I don't get it.  So tonight, Geoff and JD will be at the Bronco game - I'm sure they'll uphold the Meatless Monday practice while there and forgo a hotdog or burger (right, boys??).  Eliza and I will dine upon tomato soup and grilled cheese taking the game in from the couch.

gratitude:  no need to run the air conditioning at night, sitting with Geoff while watching JD play lacrosse at DU, buying Eliza's new phone, getting up a little earlier

thanks and love.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I'm Entertaining Ideas For Better Ways To Provide Water For The Children. Currently, The Backyard Hose Is In The Lead, But That's Only Because I Can't Find A Trough That Works With Our Decor.

I carried 14 glasses all at once down a flight of stairs and into the kitchen this morning.  I looked like the Cat in the Hat on that infamous rainy day with Sally and her brother.  It was pretty impressive, really, but it felt like failure.  The kids should have brought those glasses downstairs themselves.  But, parenting sometimes is about who blinks first.  And this time, it was me.

I'm a big water drinker and I can get through an entire day, amazingly enough, using only one glass to feed my addiction.  The kids, on the other hand, treat our kitchen like a water station in a marathon.  They run in, grab a glass, and leave it behind.  I'd use Dixie cups if I didn't think after throwing back a cup of water, they'd just crumple it up and toss it over their shoulder as they ran on.  And because I like everyone to have some water with them with they go to bed, their bedside tables are filled with so many glasses they look like a shelf at Williams-Sonoma.  It was the combo of the single servings throughout the day and a build-up of nighttime waters that led to my defeat.

I've asked the kids several times to bring down all the glasses from their rooms so we could replenish the supply in our kitchen.  I asked nicely at first, then I tried humor, and finally a bit of anger.  None of it worked - the multitude of glasses in their rooms remained.  So when I went to get my first glass of water for the day, my container options were a stained coffee mug the color of hospital walls that was once in Geoff's office kitchen, or a slightly-oversized Tequila Rose shot glass that came in a mystery six pack of designer beers from our local liquor store.  It was unacceptable on many levels.  My love of water and non-depressing glassware won out and in a fit of desperation I gathered up every drinking vessel I could find around the house.  I filled most of the dishwasher with my harvest.

So they got me.  I lost the battle, but least I'm not drinking from a measuring cup.

I'm wearing this.

I love this shirt - it feels very French countryside.  If it cools off tonight I'm going to throw the leopard cardigan over it.  The pattern mix is a daring one and I'm hoping it doesn't just read 'crazy woman in the French countryside'.

gratitude:  Udi's Italian Wheat bread, mini-Altoids, fall colors, Friday afternoon

thanks and love.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baking Is A Nice Way To Scent Your Home. Especially If You Enjoy The Odors Produced By Burnt Egg And Scorched Flour.

So today I'll be taking another stab at baking.  Not unlike running, baking is something I didn't enjoy and disparaged at every opportunity.  It was just too precise - all those exact amounts and things at particular temperatures - who remembers to take eggs out so they can come to room temperature?  And now, like running, it's something I'm trying to do on a regular basis.  I'm not exactly sure what it is that's causing me to haul out the flour and sugar and the freakishly heavy Kitchen-Aid mixer once a week, but think I can trace the origin back to when Tickle the cat passed away on my watch a month or so ago.

I felt there had to be something that came from her passing aside from my new understanding that cats can look pretty normal even on their deathbed.  I thought I could work on being more mindful in each moment, so I made a tomato tart.  Personal improvement and savory French pastry just seemed an obvious match for me.  Typically when making anything requiring a dough (shudder), I would whip out the Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, or the Pillsbury pie dough, or the Whole Foods pie dough (if I had recently won the lottery), but this time I thought I'd try to make my own.  I hoped the process of taking the time to actually measure ingredients and put them together in the right order would be a good exercise to slow my mind down.  Like a meditation only you get to eat something tasty afterward.  And it did.  The dough kind of stuck to my counter when I rolled it out, but it worked and I actually enjoyed the process.

So the next week, I made a peach tart.  This time I tried making the dough in my food processor like Ina Garten does, but my processor convulsed and smelled like burning rubber while it whirled the ingredients together - Ina's doesn't do that.  The dough worked anyway, and now I'm shopping for a new food processor.  Last week I made a peach cake.  I forgot the salt and it overflowed in the oven, but I'd call it mostly a success.  Apparently, if the recipe requires a 9" pan you should go buy one if you don't have it already, and not convince yourself that the 8" one you do have is going to work just as well.  It won't, and your house will not smell anything like the cinnamon and sugar the recipe promised, but more like smoke and miscellaneous burning oven darkness.  Live and learn.

Today I'm making an apple cake from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook.  I've managed to keep the family from eating the six apples I need, so I feel like I've cleared my first hurdle.  I'm sure something will crop up and make this baking experience less than perfect, but I'm okay with that.  Even failed baking can be delicious.  And as part of my mindfulness exercise, I'm trying to not be annoyed that I'm spending extra time doing something that never works quite right.

It's kind of like what I've learned in my yoga practice.  Some people refer to it as 'living your yoga' this behaving in the same way off the mat as on.  See, sometimes when you're doing yoga, you'll attempt poses you'd really love to be able to do, but from day to day or year to year those poses just aren't gonna happen for you.  But you try them anyway and when you land on your head or fall on the person next to you (or in my case, since I practice at home, I'll fall and knock over a lamp), you just get back up, laugh it off, and try again the next time.  It's a practice - you don't focus on perfection - you just take your time and do it as best you can.

So my mindfulness practice will be ongoing.  I don't know how long this baking thing will be the avenue I use, but I'll keep at it until it gets boring or I gain 20 pounds.  It has made me feel good though, to take time to do something I would normally shortcut, and I highly recommend giving something like this a try.  It brings you into the moment more and you gain some new skills to boot.  I'd love to be that neighbor that just pops by with a basket of freshly baked muffins someday - looking fresh and smelling of home.  I'm clearly not there yet.  My baked goods taste better than they look and after these episodes I'm usually sweaty and smell of burning hair and egg.  But we carry on.

I'm wearing this today.

My shirt is the color of flour and that is not a coincidence.  No one really needs to know what goes on behind the scenes.

gratitude:  the smell of cinnamon, sweeping views, clogs, Downy Wrinkle Release

thanks and love.

Monday, September 16, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different, Let's Talk Fantasy Football. For What It's Worth, Marshawn Lynch Is No Friend Of The Unicorns.

So, for the first time ever, I'm in a fantasy football league.  My team is called the Unicorns.  I chose the name because it is a fantasy league and unicorns lend themselves naturally to a "We're Number One!" cheer.  Plus, we have a salute (right arm fully extended out of your forehead) and a "Hook 'em Horn" chant.  I like an identity concept with carry-over potential.

I had a great first game.  I'm not 100% sure who all my players are, but they seem to be very nice people.  Since I'm new to football team ownership, I'm modeling my management style after Abby Lee Miller on Dance Moms.  Love her or hate her, she is effective and I think her pyramid technique makes it very clear who's on top and who's on the bottom each week.  My 'Unicorn of the Week' prize is the equivalent to being on top of the pyramid.  It goes to the player making the biggest contribution to the team and last week it went to Andrew Luck.  I picked him as my quarterback because Luck and Unicorns just seemed a nice match and for some reason Payton Manning had already been selected when my turn came around.

This week, I'm a little disappointed in the 'Corns.  We were projected to have almost 135 points (thanks to some key player adjustments) and unless Antonio Brown earns 40 points in tonight's game, we're going to have our first bitter taste of defeat at the hands of J.D's team, Jake from State Farm.  I don't like losing - and if you've watched any Dance Moms, neither does Abby Lee.  If you screw up your solo or your headpiece falls off in the group number, you will find yourself at the bottom of her pyramid so fast it'll make your head spin.  So, to make a point that my starters need to start playing like Unicorns, I'm awarding the 'Unicorn of the Week' award to my entire bench.  That's right.  The bench players are on top of the pyramid now.  I hope the Unicorns get my message.

I'll be working a bit these next couple days to determine my line-up for next week's games.  I try to imagine what Abby Lee Miller would do in my situation.  She's pretty ruthless, and I think she wouldn't hesitate for a moment to replace Stevan Ridley (who brought me a measly four points as one of my starting running backs) with Rashad Mendenhall (who pulled in a solid 15.40 on the bench).  I mean, I think Abby Lee truly believes each of her dancers could be the best on the team on any given day - and that's how I feel about my players (mostly because I know little to nothing about each of them).  You know what they say in show business, "You're only as good as your last performance."  So, maybe Rashad gets the call next week.  And I might be in the market for a new defense too.  Seven points in a game isn't going to win us the championship, Texans.

Unicorns are mythical creatures, but when they trample you on the field of play, your pain is real. (Still working on our trash talking.  It doesn't come easily to the 'Corns - it's just not in our nature).

I'm wearing this today.

It's clear there are some major gaps in the wardrobe that need filling before Fall arrives.  Until then, summer tops are 'autumned up' with a cardigan.  Bor-ing.

And it's Meatless Monday.  I really need to redeem myself from last week.  Our stir-fry went all wrong so this week I'm sampling a new recipe -  Farro Salad with Creamy Artichoke Dressing.  It's a Williams-Sonoma recipe that is available also on Oprah's website - I found it using the Flipboard app on my iPad.  The salad is described as "toothsome."  Is that a good thing?

gratitude:  less rain, lists, the smell of clean laundry, my new Burt's Bees lip gloss

thanks and love.

Friday, September 13, 2013

While I Don't Believe Attitude Is Everything, I Feel It's The Most Important Thing. Like Pants. When You Think About It, Would You Rather See Someone Without A Shirt Or Without Pants? I Think Pants Are The Most Important. Or A Skirt, Depending On Your Mood.

When I first started out in advertising I worked in "The Pit."  There were about six girls who worked with me there and it was our responsibility to route all projects through the account, media, and creative departments.  It was a thankless job, but I made some of my very best friends there - I guess, hardship can be a very bonding experience.   We worked All. The. Time.  We had no windows in "The Pit" and there were many days when we came in before the sun came up and left way after darkness had fallen.  When we finally were able to see the light of day we squinted in the bright light like people who had emerged from a very dark cave.

We would find little ways though to lift our spirits during our excessively long days.  Once someone brought in a 'Baby Name' book.  The kind that tells you what your name means, its origin, etc.   We gathered round and looked up each of our names one by one.  The girls' names all had meanings like "Chosen One", "God's Gift", or "Beautiful Leader" - it was very inspiring.  When they finally got to me I looked forward to hearing a phrase that would bolster my energy in the same way the others seemed to be feeling.  When we found my name, which took a while because it was actually listed under male names (of course), a brief silence feel upon our little group.  The meaning of my name was... "To beat with a hammer."  We became hysterical.  Sure, providing some comic relief felt good, but I deeply wished my moniker had more had more too it than a murderous response to bad carpentry.

I was in the grocery store a few weeks later and saw one of those little pocket-sized name books on the magazine rack by the gum and Tic-Tacs at the checkout lane.  I had a bit of a wait ahead of me so I grabbed the booklet and flipped to the M's (in the Boys' Name section, naturally).  When I read the definition this time - I immediately regretted my quest for a second opinion.  Per this delightful little tome, my name meant "Unlucky" or if you prefer, "Luckless".  "Well, there you have it", I thought, "I'm doomed."  But a few days later,  Shakespeare saved me.  His "What's in a name?" line popped into my head and pulled me out of one of those funks only people who have been told they are cursed can truly experience.

At that moment I decided to turn the tables on my unfortunate identifier.  I determined that because my name meant "unlucky" I would actually be immune to things normally associated with bad luck (two negatives make a positive, right?).  So black cats, Friday the 13th, and the like were not things I should fear.  Then I upped the ante.  Wanting more than just immunity, I concluded that these superstitiously harmful events were, in fact, auspicious occasions for me.  I could expect bonus luck.  I had no written proof this would be the case, but I believed it to be true - it was the new reality.  And even though I have yet to receive large piles of money or treasures of any sort bestowed upon me on these days, it feels good to at the very least, experience them with a sense of positive expectation instead of dread.

It's an important lesson about mindset.  Why not set our consciousness to a frequency of joy and gratitude rather than melancholy and lack?  I use this technique every day - some days are more challenging than others, but I believe that how we think affects our experiences.  Our thinking helps shape our responses to life and if we are in a positive state of mind, we'll respond to things from our best selves and the outcomes we experience will be improved.  I have a screen saver on my computer that reminds me of this every day - we have to choose this approach.  Take this quote with you today and believe this Friday the 13th will be a good one.

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. 
 The mind is everything.  What we think, we become."
- Buddha

Your Friend,

Unlucky (a.k.a To beat with a hammer)

I'm wearing this today.

Considering the rain we've had in Colorado this week, I may consider adding flippers and a snorkel.

gratitude:  Eliza embracing a quote I gave her,  the weird accent JD has been using, Geoff's return, fantasy football

thanks and love.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I'm Rewarding Myself With Fashion. A Nice Tunic This Time. I Wonder How Far I'll Have To Run For Boots?

I've almost completed my third week of running.  Or, in my case, a well-choreographed run/walk routine directed by the voice of Jeff Galloway who apparently runs a marathon or two a day.  It's pretty incredible, I think.  Not so much his 700+ miles per week, but rather the notion that I'm running at all.  Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm not a runner.  In fact, some of my funniest remarks have been made in an effort to mock running in general, but here I find myself wrapping up my third week on a rainy Wednesday wondering how I'll cover my iPhone if I have to run in a downpour.  Because I am going to run, whether or not this rain ever stops.  I hardly recognize myself.

Of course, on a slightly more familiar note, I've decided to treat myself to a cute article of clothing as a reward for my dedication.  I like tangible rewards.  I think the mental benefits virtuous tasks give us are great, but I also enjoy treating myself to something I can touch and preferably wear for at least three seasons.  I've selected a super cute ikat tunic from a catalog that came in the mail a couple weeks ago.  It'll be a fabulous style addition -  I can imagine it working in a variety of ways - layered, buttoned, unbuttoned, with a blazer, a cardigan, maybe even as a pool coverup during the summer months.  Few things give me as much satisfaction as a versatile wardrobe element.

I actually liked several things in this catalog and dog-eared many pages when I went through it one evening.  I kind of thought it was targeted to an older crowd - I mean the outfits weren't too fashion forward, they were stylishly comfortable.  And the models weren't photographed partying in a group around a bonfire, or taking selfies, or enjoying a road trip with friends like you see in some of the more youthful style sources - they were doing things like making dinner, hanging holiday lights, and putting appropriately seasonal flowers in a vase.  They often had a glass of wine nearby as well.  Then it hit me.  It was like I'd looked in a mirror for the first time.  That's me!  I'm not drinking whiskey at a hipster party outside an Airstream trailer, I'm switching out the petunias from our outdoor urns and replacing them with coleus and flowering kale.  And often I'm doing it in a tunic or a wide-legged pant.  With wine, when appropriate.  I am the target audience.

After a momentary shock, I calmed down and have come to accept this newfound awareness.  I still love my skinny jeans, and I'm grateful I can wear a tank top without fear, but I truly value both style and comfort these days.  I'm sure this sounds really crotchety, but I don't understand why visible bra straps are so commonplace anymore.  Seriously, it's kinda gross.  And I notice so many younger women and girls in clothing that really should have been purchased a size or two larger - it can't feel good being squished and encased like that.  Why can't they just size up or buy a style that doesn't cling so unforgivingly?  At the very least they could invest in a nice pair of Spanx, I think.

So, yeah, I'm going to buy clothes from catalogs that also sell fancy brow pencils and lip liners.  Because, not only are my eyebrows and upper lip slowly disappearing (what's up with that?), but I also want to feel good and look good in what I'm wearing.  Life is to be enjoyed and sometimes often it's best done in a palazzo pant with a glass of wine in hand.

I'm wearing this today.

I wore boots and summery top yesterday so today, we introduce a sweater balanced with a sandal.  Transitional seasons are truly a fashion teeter-totter.

gratitude:  listening to the kids and their friends in the car, eating dinner with the kids just standing around the kitchen island and catching up, cell phone calls from Geoff when he's away on business, lunch with Tracy

thanks and love.

Monday, September 9, 2013

When Will Oriental Trading Stop Sending Me These Catalogs? My Days Of Class Parties Are Over And I Don't Want To Be Tempted To Buy Foam Crafts Or Temporary Tattoos For My Own Enjoyment. It Would Feel Weird.

I've seen a lot of articles and blog posts lately about "mom performance" - particularly in the elementary school scene.  They all seem to be snarky, defensive position papers rooted in a perceived judgement by other moms.  It's starting to get on my nerves.

First of all, I don't believe that most moms are judging each other - at least not to the over-dramatized level you read about.  The judgement is only speculated.  Really, these women are judging themselves and using other moms for perspective.  I think it's ridiculous.  Eventually those elementary school days end, and it won't matter one bit whether you orchestrated every classroom event and produced goody bags that rivaled the SWAG bags received by Oscar presenters, or you grabbed a box of store-bought cookies for a school party on your way to the office.  It doesn't matter if you wore sweatpants every day or dressed like you were being featured in Vogue.  Eventually your kids get older and things change, so don't get too wrapped up in the K-6 mom scene.

As I've discovered, with older kids there is an inevitable transition to a less hands-on role as mom. No one cares what you did when the kids were in third grade.  Once your children hit middle school, you're not imagining how you're being sized up at drop-off or whether or not you're present at classroom parties.  You actually don't see other moms that much anymore.  And any insecurity you may feel is no longer camouflaged by the elementary school scene.  It's staring you in the face.

I think we all feel insecure as moms from time to time.  Whether or not you're using your level of outward involvement as a barometer, we often feel like we could or should be doing more.  I believe we feel that way because we love our kids.  We love being Mom.

It can be confusing though, to find our way as we experience the lengthy stage of metamorphosis as a mom of older kids.  As our kids move into middle school, high school, and beyond, we need to do something to keep insecurity about ourselves and our changing role from making us less than we want to be.  We need to grow as our kids grow.  They are at a fascinating stage in life during these years because they are actively learning and creating themselves.  We need to learn and create along with them.

One of the keys to this self-creating, I think, is to invite new experiences into your life.  I've seen it with so many women I know.  Whatever style of mom they are, they all have more of a light to them, more of a freshness to their spirit when they have stepped out of their box to take on a new experience.  Some are taking classes, some are adding an extra-curricular involvement, others have started new fitness programs, and some are reinventing businesses and careers.  Either way, by bravely taking a step forward and trying new things, they are living more fully.  And it's these new experiences that guide us to what is next, as we and our precious kids grow and evolve together.

Not only does this growth make us better moms, it makes us better women.

I'm wearing this today.

I think everyone should have at least one article of clothing that feels like pajamas.  This particular tunic serves that role in my wardrobe.  I don't wear it often because when I do, if I sit still for too long it turns into a nap.

It's Meatless Monday and we'll be having a stir fry tonight.  Leftover rice from last night makes it imperative and the frozen Asian veggies from Whole Foods make it easy.  Ta-da!

gratitude:  cool morning air, my new running program, watching football as a family, reminding kids about homework

thanks and love.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Because The "Low Battery" Warning On Our Phones Makes All Of Us A Little Freaked Out, Doesn't It?

I don't know about all of you, but with two adults, two teens, and a slight family addiction to Apple products, the need to charge electronics has become an issue in our house.  While it seems to me there isn't a drawer or desktop in our home that doesn't have a ball of white cords residing in it or on it, those cords never seem to be the ones we need at the time.  I'm not even sure what some of them do - I see Kindle cords, camera cords, even headphones that look like wads of angel hair pasta, but there are plenty more lengths of white coated wire that seemingly have no purpose at all.  We are a family with an insatiable appetite for charging cords and the ever-important outlet adapters, but we don't seem to have enough to go around.   Whether the cords have broken, been left at someone's house, lost on a trip, or destroyed in the dryer - we have a constant shortage.  And our family has developed a very ugly scarcity mentality as a result.

It feels like a game of musical chairs - there just isn't enough for everyone.  Some of us have taken to hiding our charging equipment, becoming power cord hoarders and secretly charging in out of the way locations in the house.  Others are more ruthless in their quest for power and will unplug a family member's phone or pad mid-charge and steal the cord for themselves.  Some have started marking their territory and adding a piece of tape or a dab of nail polish to a cord and adapter to make it clear who the rightful owner is.  Of course, those identifiers are easily removed (obviously) and the cord eventually makes its way back into the rotation just like a stolen car.  It's not pretty and it's making everyone at the High house more than a little suspicious of each other.

Part of me thinks we should just buy however many cords and adapters we need to make sure everyone in the family has their own, then demand they be cared for properly as a lesson in responsibility.  But then I think maybe this 'every man for himself'' approach is teaching the kids survival skills.  I'm not sure which is the best option, but I'm grateful to have a little time alone at home today because apparently my secret drawer has been discovered.

I'm wearing this today.
I'm attempting a boyfriend jean without the rolled leg.  It's edge-of-your-seat excitement some days, isn't it?

gratitude:  Fridays, blue pens, big paper clips, Yogi brand kava tea

thanks and love.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Because Parenting Is Really Like Being A Scientist In A Very Strange Laboratory. We Experiment, But We Also Make Dinner For Our Subjects And Wash Their Underwear.

Lessons learned from a forced purge.

I'm a fairly tidy person.  I'm not weird about it or obsessive, but I like things to be picked up for the most part.  The kids however, don't seem to share my ideals.  Their rooms have been disasters since the end of the last school year.  I've had them tidy a bit over the summer and made a request that they do a deep clean before school starts, but their deep clean was pathetic.  They knew it too, but it was all they were willing to offer.  And at their ages, I just wasn't going to walk them through the "how-to clean your room well" process again.  So I needed to take drastic action.

It's a challenge dealing with kids rooms.  There are so many different philosophies to consider.  We have the "hands off" crowd who thinks the kids rooms so be their own space to do with what they please.  And then there is the group that prefers a more militaristic approach and wants the rooms looking pristine at all times thinking this teaches the kids to respect their surroundings.  As is the case in most circumstances, I fall somewhere in between which makes me question my parenting skills because you never hear much about the middle - I guess it's just easier to have a really firm opinion rather than finding some kind of balance.  But parenting is really all about balance, so I'm sure most of us just walk the lines between extremes in most parental situations.

The rooms were bad though.  Really bad.  So I removed everything from the surfaces in their rooms and put it all in a big box for each of them.  I didn't edit (except for money, earrings, and things I wanted to keep), I just pushed it all off the tops of dressers, night stands, desks, and counters right on into their respective container.  I also emptied their bathroom drawers into the box, trying not to be overly disturbed by the sheer number of old toothbrushes and empty deodorant containers I found when I did.  I gave them the entire Labor Day weekend to take out what they wanted from the boxes and told them what was left would go straight to the trash on Tuesday morning.  No holds barred.

By Tuesday morning, the boxes were still almost completely full.  I could see some things had been taken out, but about 95% of the contents of each box was left behind.  I held back from doing my own perusal of the boxes; I promised a ruthless toss and toss I did.  I filled one giant trash bag - the stretchy black kind - with everything that was left and hauled it downstairs to the garage.  The bag was tearing as I carted it down, and an entire package of Nerds candy dribbled out of a hole, but I didn't stop until I reached the trash can.  It felt good.

I think the kids are feeling the benefits already.  It's only been 24 hours, but JD has found extra lacrosse stringing supplies, Eliza actually wants to do homework in her room, and they are both enjoying their bathroom now that the counter isn't covered with dried up Stridex pads that never made it to the trash.  I'm hoping the visual of the full boxes made it clear to them how easy it is for junk just pile up in our spaces.  How if we don't hang on to everything, the things we do hold on to have more meaning to us.  I'm also hoping now that their rooms aren't bogged down with pointless "stuff" and they're enjoying their "lighter" feeling spaces, that maybe they won't let it get so bad again.  I accept that I may be completely delusional in my thinking here.  At the very least, I'm hoping they will no longer fear using a trash can.  We'll see.

I'm wearing this today.

It's transition time.  I find a thin, printed cardigan in darker colors is the perfect piece to bridge the gap between summer and fall.  It's the fashion equivalent to preseason football games.

gratitude:  sunrises, humor, family dinners, coffee

thanks and love.

Monday, September 2, 2013

To Kick Off September, I'm Clinging To Tradition And Painting My Toes A Dark Shade. Since I Don't Have A Summer Home To Close Up Until Next Year, Nail Polish Is My Seasonal Marker.

Eliza just asked me if I could Google the equation of a circle.  I didn't remember there was an equation to a circle.  When I found it, I couldn't read it out loud because I didn't recall how to word things in parenthesis and there were exponents involved.  It was humbling.

It has been a while since I've been able to help the kids with math homework.  I've used the internet as much as I can, but now we seem to be getting into the kind of math that has a language all its own.  Even as a word person, it's a vernacular I will never understand.  I checked out of math when they introduced imaginary numbers.  Which was early on in the game, I realize, but it just seemed like cheating to me.  I mean, I was being told to trust an equation - to just have faith in the math - then the math people pulled a fast one ad told me 'i' was going to be an imaginary number.  It made me mad.

So now I'm left to Google the exact phrase the kids are looking for, then I have to bring my laptop to them so they can look at the mess of numbers and symbols on the screen because I don't know how to translate the equations into words.  And while they nod their heads knowingly after glancing at the screen, I'm left to wallow in my own lack of knowing and hope that sooner than later they'll need me to proof a paper they've written and I will be redeemed.  Sort of.

I'm wearing this.

I'm never sure if an orange shirt worn in Fall has an autumnal feel or a 'Go Broncos' vibe.  I'm hoping the former today.

And it's Meatless Monday, but since it's also Labor Day we may do a bar-b-qued chicken tonight and save the meatless for tomorrow by turning the day into a Totally Without Meat Tuesday.  Either way the animals will have their day.

gratitude:  reading, Bear Creek Lake Park, light rail, understanding

thanks and love.