Saturday, June 30, 2012

Feeling Like an Olympian

We've been watching the Olympic trials this week and watching the gymnastics brings me right back to 7th and 8th grade gym classes. Gym classes back then were a little different than they are today.

First of all, we were pretty sure that our married gym teacher was having an affair with the other gym teacher. They would tell us to walk out to the tennis courts and they would "meet us there". They would come out about a half hour later and they were always walking together awful close. While they were doing the deed in the locker room, we would walk out to the tennis courts with a boom box. Yes, I just said that. A boom box. One of us would carry it out on our shoulder, Say Anything Style, blasting songs like "It Takes Two". We would spend our class alternating between playing tennis and dancing on the court. Those were the days.

Also, in gym class I would only change my bottom half. You had to wear shorts. That was a rule. They never said anything about wearing a t-shirt. I didn't want to mess up my hair so I would leave on my popped collar Izod, and sometimes even a sweater if it was a little chilly out. On the bottom half, shortie gym shorts. So stoopid. After class I would dose up on my Love's Baby Soft perfume to mask any sweat I might have dripped. 

So, during one winter gym session, we were doing gymastics, taking turns on the horse, balance beam, and uneven bars. For some reason, we had to set up in the hallway in the school because the gym was being used for something else. And they didn't want us marking up the floor with our sneakers so I ran in socks, on shiny linoelum, running like a bat out of hell towards the horse. I was going to propel myself onto the horse by jumping on the wooden springboard but my feet just kept going....straight under the springboard. My white socks immediately turned pink because I had torn off the first few layers of skin on the tops of my feet when they got wedged under the springboard. I got yelled at by the gym teacher...for doing what he told us to do....run with no sneakers on in the hallways. Hey, dude, maybe if you weren't so busy with the other gym teacher in the locker room this might not have happened.

Just a quick aside, thinking of this made me think about the time in art class that we were using awls to chisel wood plaques and of course my awl slipped and instead of engraving the wood, I engraved my hand. The blood immediately starting spurting and I put my head down on my desk to prevent myself from passing out. The kids were yelling for our teacher...who for some reason was locked in the supply closet. What was it with these teachers?? I ended up with 3 stitches and a permanent scar.

You know, it just hit me that maybe Jack got his clumsy/freak accident gene from me! Literally, that just hit me. I guess the good news is that once I graduated from high school, I didn't have any other crazy accidents so maybe there is hope for him still!

Anyways, back to gym class...for our final grade in gym, we had to prepare a gymnastics floor routine filled with cartwheels, back handsprings, and dancing while flailing your arms and sticking out your chest and butt. I, of course, syncronized my routine to AC DC's Back in Black and I thought it was something else. I would practice for hours each week in my yard after school. I'm pretty sure any of my neighbors could have done the routine by the time I was finished practicing. And there I was...during my final routine  in class with my popped collar, monogramed pink sweater, and nylon short shorts. In the words of Paris Hilton I looked hot. And I rocked that routine. I don't even remember what I got for a grade, but I remember how fun that was.

Every time I watch gymnastics I think of the good old days!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Let the Summer Begin!

While the arrival of summer for many parents is an exciting and welcome time of the year, as a working parent, it has typically been a stressful time for me. Actually April and May are more stressful because that's the time when I have to plan the whole summer, sign up for camps, and find babysitters. I have always wanted my kids to just be home to relax and hang out with their friends. Instead their time was taken up with camps and babysitters and although they always had a great time, it just wasn't the way I envisioned my kids spending their summers.

A few years ago we took a different approach and the kids went to the Cape for the summer, spending time with my parents, Tim's parents, and my sisters. We had "visitation" on the weekends. There were a few camps sprinkled in there and they would occasionally come home and have a sitter for a week but they absolutely loved being at the Cape. Who wouldn't?? They were spending their days at the beach, mini golfing, eating ice cream and candy, having soda, going out to dinner, and Cape Cod Baseball League games. They were staying up late and sleeping late. They were playing with their cousins, going fishing, and taking boat rides. They were living the life.

Year one Timmy and I didn't know what to do with our free time. We went out to dinner with friends, hosted happy hours at our house, ate at 9 at night if we ate at all, showed up at our friends house with a deck of cards and bottle of wine, and stayed up late watching whatever we wanted. We loved having a taste of freedom as much as the kids did. Although in the end, the kids asked if they could be home a little more the next year. They missed their pets and us. And yes, in that order.

Year two, I was on my sabbatical and we had the kind of summer I had imagined. We camped - alot! And we went to the Cape and also stayed home. We spend the time together going to the beach, mini golfing, getting ice cream, and doing all those things that I hoped our summer would be filled with. We had a blast, although being together with your kids every day, all day, without a break for 3 months can wear on all of you. I'm just being honest people. I love them but oh dear, those summer days that blazed with heat and had no breeze...and we were stuck at home....it can wear even the tough souled down to the nub.

Year three, we had fun for about two weeks and then we decided we really needed to spend this time doing projects around the house. Summer #3 was not as much fun. We started projects and then it got late, it was hot, and we lost our motivation. So, we had a lot of unfinished projects laying around. And we missed the kids alot. I spent a lot of nights sighing...aka pining for my kids. They did come home more often which was good but when we reflected on what changes we wanted to make for this summer, they said they wanted to be at the Cape more again.

This year is summer #4 and we have a good mix of time when the kids are at the Cape or at home, although they will mostly be at the Cape again, as they requested. So far Jack has had a week with each grandmother and has been spoiled rotten and loved every minute of it. Mimi was away with friends for a few days in Vermont and then spent this week as an only child - babysitting for her cousins in the day and then going to field hockey camp at night. And typcially spending each night with her friend who went to camp with her. Two nights ago she told me she was exhausted from being a "working girl" and last night she told me this has been the best week "ever"! I wish I could have their summers!

Next up, a little family camping time in Truro and then they are off to their grandparents again to some more time to be spoiled, as only grandparents can do.

I know they will look back on these summers as the best times and I have to say I have great peace of mind knowing that the kids are with those that love them and truly enjoy having them there each summer. And I'm sure I'll be sighing in two weeks when they are gone again all week. In fact, I'm sighing just thinking about it :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What's On Your Fridge?

Right now, on my fridge, I have school pictures of my nieces and nephews from this school year, a picture of Mimi kissing a sting ray and Jack holding a giant conch shell in Grand Cayman, an old picture of Tim's dad in his red jeep with Tim, his brother, and his sister in the back...his sister sitting in her "car seat"...aka an umbrella stroller that was held in by the boys. Oh yeah, and a pamphlet entitled "Trauma to the Teeth", outlining steps you need to take when you have such an injury....which Jack now has.

Remember when I wanted to put him in a giant hamster ball? Well, I'm ready to buy one. Right on cue, it's been about 8 or 9 months since the last major injury, which was a broken arm that he got in his first soccer game of the season. What happened this time, you ask? Oh, just a baseball to the mouth...that's all.

It was a semi-final baseball game, about 7:30 at night, with the sun blazing just before it set. He was in left field and lost sight of the ball at the last minute in the sun. It hit off his glove and into his mouth. There was a collective "ooohhh..." from the spectators but Jack made the third out and THEN put his hand to his mouth. Clearly he has his priorities straight...make the out first, Buddy. He seemed ok as he ran off the field so I got ready to head to my car to watch the last 2 innings. By the time I got to my car and turned around, I saw Jack and Tim walking towards me with all of Jack's gear. Uh oh.

As he got closer I saw he was holding an ice pack to his mouth and it looked like he was wearing a crime scene on his white baseball pants. I think I have been very clear with everyone...I don't do well with blood. Thank God I was sitting...I immediately felt woozy. Then he took the ice pack off his mouth and I tried to keep a straight face so I wouldn't worry him. Have you even seen the Martin Short movie "Pure Luck"? It's about a guy with terrible luck, including the scene where he is deathly allergic to bees and gets stung by one causing his face to blow up like a puffer fish. That's immediately what I was reminded of when I saw Jack's mouth. I have come to learn that the mouth really swells...and bleeds quite a bit. Let's just put this on the list of things I wish I didn't know about from first hand knowledge. His mouth was swollen and his beautifully straight teeth which had just been freed from braces about 5 months ago, were no longer straight. He had 3 loose teeth, and two of which were a bit out of place.

Deep breath. Tim took him home while I called the emergency line at the dentist. Apparently as long as you haven't knocked out any teeth or have any dangling, it's not really an emergency. I hung up with an appointment in the morning. He was asleep about an hour later, with trickles of blood still drooling out of his mouth. I slept on the couch with him because I didn't have the heart to wake him up once he conked out..and I was worried he would wake up in pain.

The next morning at the dentist we got some good news. No root damage. But we were instructed to be on the lookout for his tooth to turn color, which would mean it was dying. Ultimately that would mean he would need a root canal. And, I learned, this could happen anytime in the near future....or within 4-5 years. Oh great. Next it was off to the orthodontist. I'm not sure what I was expecting...because his teeth definitely needed some help getting back into place...but I just wasn't expecting the words "We'll have to put his braces back on for 6 months". He wasn't expecting it either because as I yelled "What?!", his eyes started to well up. Which, of course, made me well up, which made him well more. It got to the point that the orthodontist was comforting both of us. Jack couldn't stand the idea of going into high school with braces on and I couldn't stand the idea of him being upset. We left there with all the staff rubbing our backs and telling us it would be okay. In hindsight, as a mother, I wish I had held it together more, put on a smiley face, and said something inspirational and motivational. Instead I cried alongside him and apologized in the car for not being stronger for him. He told me "It's okay...it's just bad news. What else were we going to do?"

In the grocery store while we shopped for soft foods together we talked about the things that could have been worse (he could have knocked his teeth out completely, could have root damage, and could be in terrible pain). By the time, we were done Jack had come to accept that "it is what it is" and he would just have to deal with it. And we both agreed, that 6 months would go by fast.

Today, Jack had his braces put back on and said he immediately felt better. "I could feel my teeth crossing over a little in the back before and now they don't. And they don't feel like they will fall out when I eat." Oh good. (Insert picture of me getting naseous).

Here is what I learned from the latest "incident". I am still no good with blood. I do cry at the drop of a hat. Jack is shortening the time it takes him to move from "I have the worst luck" to "it's not so bad". Ice cream 3 times a day makes everything all better. Sometimes just laying on the couch all day with your mother waiting on you hand and foot is just what the doctor ordered. And shit happens...and continues to happen....and you just have to make the best of every moment.




Friday, June 15, 2012

What Do You Do?

I have to admit, I have a pretty cool job. On my sabbatical list 2 years ago was to find a job with a socially conscious company that allowed me to do meaningful work while providing a work/life balance. I really didn't think I would find it, although at the time, I was working with such a company before I even left Fidelity. In my job, I often consulted with Collective Next and they were considered the "cool kids"...wearing jeans, "chunky glasses", and carrying forth a collective spirit of teamwork and passion. I so wanted to be a cool kid....

As I was leaving Fidelity, Matt, the CEO of Collective Next, approached me and said if I were interested in working with them in the future, I should call him. It seemed too perfect and I spent months exploring all different kinds of options before I contacted him. Like in the dating world, they seemed "too perfect" and I didn't want to get my hopes up. Fast forward almost a year after my sabbatical and I accepted a position with them. Today, I work with incredibly creative, fun people doing interesting, inspiring work. But, as Mimi often asks, "What do you DO?" I describe it as helping companies rapidly solve business problems in a very creative way." In addition, I help keep our company focused on our own growth and development, which is hard when you focus on that as your day job for other businesses each day.

I count myself as one of the lucky few that get to do a job they love every day with people who make them laugh and feel appreciated each and every moment. How many times a week do you laugh at work til you almost tinkle?! This happens to me multiple times a week. If you know me at all, you know I love to laugh so this is such an important element of every day for me. I used to work at a job where I laughed maybe once  a week. At Collective Next, I feel at home...a place where I can laugh each day, have fun with my friends, yet still contribute significantly to the company's success.

My colleauge, Mason Smith, recently started a series called Transcribe Live in the Lab, which is our collaborative effort to focus on a particular topic and get people to share their thoughts and opinions. I have not been able to join until today, but if truth be told, I was nervous about attending...feeling as though I might not have much to add because in the scheme of things I work with incredibly creative people. As I tell my kids all the time, "never sell yourself short...you have more to offer than you believe."  and today I found this to be true. Our work is collaboration. And true collaboration involves sharing your thoughts collectively to creative something powerful and meaningful. Today, I felt a part of that. Check out our discussion and comment on it, tweet it, think about it!
http://collectivenext.com/blog/dirty-little-secrets-transcribed


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Running To The Finish

Well, after 10 weeks of running 3 days a week….through below freezing temperatures, the dark, drizzle, one humid bad hair day, lots of laughs, and beautiful sunsets….we completed our 5K! I say we because I really look at my ability to run this 5K as an extension of the team of great ladies in my running group. Shout out to Steph, Cori, Meena, Lee, and Lyn! Also a special shout out to my cousin Jill who was in town that weekend and ran with us as well as Cori’s daughters Megan and Shannon!

So, how did it go, you ask? Well, the night before Jill and I had gone to the Red Sox and hydrated with beer. Then Jill capped off the night with a sausage dog.  ‘Nuff said for setting the stage.
The morning dawned and I woke up completely nervous. I’m not sure why…it’s not like I was gunning for the number one spot in this race.  I had two goals – one was just to finish and the other was to beat my time from last year which was 34 minutes.

In our training, we had never run in anything over 60 degrees…but mostly in temperatures between 40-50 degrees. When race time arrived it was about 73 degrees and climbing.  I’m pretty sure by the time we finished, it was 180 degrees.
Just before the race started, I began obsessing that I might have to go to the bathroom, even though I didn’t. Mentally, I couldn’t shake the feeling for the first 2 miles. It felt like I was running a UTI. It wasn’t fun.

Our trainer, Stephanie, asked us right before we took off what we wanted to accomplish. I told her I really wanted to shoot for 30 minutes. She looked me straight in the eyes and said “So, you’re giving me permission to get up in your face and push you?” I was on a pee pants, heat induced high when I said “Absolutely!”
And we were off! It’s always so exciting in the beginning….everyone is enthusiastic, full of hope… you look over at your running friends with a big smile and give them a nod that says “We can totally do this!”. Then a 5-year old passes you going twice your speed and your enthusiasm begins to wane.

The first mile seemed like a piece of cake because I was riding that high. I climbed up the first hill with no problem and made my way through the next ½ mile. Then I began to think about the next hill…It’s a long, slow upward slope. Normally, we are running on the sidewalk and there are just a few of us. This time I was on the street, weaving in and out of runners, walkers, people with baby carriages...it was ugly. Some people just stopped running right in front of me and it took all I had not to plow right into their backs. It was hard enough getting up the hill but adding the bobbing and weaving just wore me out. And did I mention it was hot?!
At the top of the hill I was struggling but knew my family would be there. I didn’t want them to wave with frozen smiles silently thinking to themselves “Things look bad for her…” So, I threw on my happy face, gave them a wave, and picked up my pace. That’s when Stephanie came up and said, “Okay, you wanted to do 30 minutes right?! This is where we have to pick up the pace right now. You ready? Come on!” At that moment a pregnant lady passed me. I mean one who was about to give birth. Seriously??I looked her straight in the eyes and with my sweaty, unhappy face I said “Nope, I’m out”.  It was obvious I meant business because she just moved on to run with Cori. For the last mile I just continued to say to myself, “I am never doing this again”.

I came across Cori who was walking and immediately breathed a sigh of relief. I now had permission to walk – yahoo!! I walked with her a minute and this guy with a male tramp stamp on his back yelled “C’mon…you don’t have much further to go! “ I hated him but knew he was right. I gave Cori the nudge, gave her the “Let’s go” look, and off we went again.
I was so hot at this point and was rounding the corner that I always think is right before the finish line but then I realize there is another whole section I forget about….it always makes my heart sink. But I knew if I just made it through there, I would be home free. That’s when I saw Cori stop cold and Stephanie turned around to go back to her.

I turned the corner, saw the finish line up ahead, and turned my wheels on. I always turn it on at this point…because I know I can make it just a little bit further. And it doesn’t hurt when there are tons of people cheering you on. It also makes me feel like a marathoner coming in for the first place finish when I run that fast. Finally, I crossed the finish line!! I wanted to sit down so bad and just lay on the grass but I knew if I sat down, I would never get back up so I grabbed some water and waited for Cori and Jill with my shaky legs.
Turns out Jill had to hurl in the bushes with about ¼ mile left, no doubt due to the beer, sausage dog, and peanut butter sandwich she ate in the am. I was just thankful it wasn’t me! Turns out Cori felt something pop and came up lame so the two of them walked a little. Then Cori said there was no way she was walking across the finish line and pushed herself to finish.

In the end, I did finish and I even beat my time from last year….32 minutes! And Cori finished and beat her time too, even with a little walking and her injury. Imagine what we could have done under the ultimate conditions (about 55 degrees, light breeze blowing, someone handing us water anytime we needed it, and no people to trip over).  All my running buddies finished and I am so proud of all of us!! In hindsight, I don’t think we realized that we actually ran about 6 5K’s in the last 3 weeks because at least 2 times a week we were running and finishing the route.
Last year, after we finished, Cori and I were ready to do another 5K that week. This time, with her limping and me overheated, we both said “We are not doing this again!”  Fast forward to about 8 hours later when we were celebrating with a glass of wine on Cori’s porch and we said “Well, maybe one more….”

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Book You Must Read

I just got finished reading Tina Fey's book "Bossypants". I have seen lots of people reading it over the last year but I generally don't find books by celebritys to be very good so I tend to stay away from them. The exception to that being Denis Leary's book "Why We Suck". So inappropriate yet so funny.

I was in between books and pulled out my book list...yes, of course I have a list of books that I haven't read yet but want to based on reviews I read or recommendations from anyone that will share one with me. I don't follow 30 Rock but watch it occassionally and many times just don't find it very funny. But I have always loved Tina Fey on SNL, so I figured, "Why not?" Within 10 minutes after starting to read it, I was literally CRYING laughing. When Mimi asked me "Did you just get bad news?" I tried to read her a few parts of the book but couldn't get through them without crying so hard I couldn't talk.

There are very few books that have had this effect on me, but when I find a book like that, I have to let the world know. So, I'm telling you now...you MUST read this book! Let me just give you a few snippets that made me tinkle....

Right off the bat she talks about how she asked her mother if she could start shaving her legs...so timely since I just experienced that with Mimi. When I read the second line in that paragraph I couldn't re-read it to Mimi without crying laughing..."My dark shin fur was hard to ignore in shorts weather..." When I finally did get it out Mimi and I were dying laughing about her dark shin fur...that's exactly what it was like the day before when we tried to hack her fur off.

She then gets right into how her mother gave her a "my first period" kit by Modess and inside were pamphlets with "vaguely threatening titles like 'Growing Up and Liking It' and "How Shall I Tell My Daughter'", which Tina's mother didn't bother to read or explain to her. The "Growing Up & Liking It" pamphlet consisted of two fake friends discussing what you could and could not do when you got your period like "If I roller-skate while I'm menstruating, will I die?" and the friend responded "Of course you can roller-skate! Don't be silly! But be careful of odor, or neighborhood dogs may try to bite your vagina. Friends Forever, Ginny" OMG.  Tina went to say that she quickly shoved the kit in her closet where it haunted her daily. "There may have been a guy dressed like Freddy Kruger in there for the amount of anxiety it gave me. Every time I reached in the closet to grab a Sunday school dress or my colonial-lady Halloween costume that I sometimes relaxed in after school - 'Modessss it hissed..." Wait, too many things to laugh at there....first, the image of Freddy in the closet with the period kit and then the fact that she relaxed after school in a colonial lady costume was too much to process all at once.

At one point, Tina talks about what it's like to do a photo shoot. There are so many funny parts in here! She says that the stylist will have racks and racks of clothes . "She has been given your sizes ahead of time and has chosen to ignore them. All the shoes are too big and all the pants and skirts will be a 5T". HA! It reminded me of the time I had "won" a private fitting at Ann Taylor for myself and two friends. That means I paid top dollar at a school fundraiser but walked away feeling special because the store was open to us after hours and we were served wine and cheese. They had selected outfits for us based on our measurements and I found myself having to ask my co-worker and friend, who had never seen me in my underwear (for logical reasons) to come into the dressing room and pull the dress over my head. No amount of shoulder dislocation was getting that thing off. It's such a panicked moment...when you realize...while you are alone in the dressing room...that you can't get the clothes off without either asking a stranger to come in pull it off your half naked body, or pulling your own arm out of its socket. Lucky for me I was with "friendlys" and I opted for my friend Lynne to come in and resuce me. Once again, I'd like to apologize to you, Lynne for the sight you had to see. Are you still wearing the sunglasses, or has your sight come back yet?

There is a section in the book entitled "The Mother's Prayer for Its Daughter" in which Tina shares her wishes for her daughter which are all funny but the one that made laugh out loud on the train was "And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give the me the strength , Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, for I will not have that shit. I will not have it." Now that I have entered the teen years, I feel I am one step away from this at any given day. God, give me the strength too.

And although there are so many other funny parts to her book, I will leave you with this one because I think it is one that many of us can relate to. The page is entitled "What Turning Forty Means to Me" and it is just a three line sentence on this page that reads "I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn't used to have to do that. But now I do." Who CAN'T relate to that??!! I guess you bitches that aren't 40 yet....

But seriously, if you have any sense of humor, you must read this book. And if you don't find it funny, I can't like you anymore.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Run For The Hills

Yesterday,  during our 3 mile run with our group, we ran a different route to help increase our stamina and speed for Sunday’s 5K.  About a mile in, we ran down this very big hill which we have done once before. It wasn’t pretty on the way back up then and on a cold, misty Monday morning, it was even worse.  For the first month of running, it was only about 30 degrees each morning and I took to wearing my pink and green argyle hat (of course) and my white mime gloves. If I was feeling good, my mime hands would turn into jazz hands. If the run was particularly horrible, my mime hands would be balled up into little fists. I really wanted my mime gloves yesterday...and there wouldn’t have been any jazz hand action, that’s for sure.

My approach on hills is always the same…..I put my head down and just bust ass up the hill as fast as I can to get it over with. Why prolong the misery?  The problem with this approach is that by the time I get to the top of the hill my legs are barely moving and my lungs have jumped out of my chest and now I’m wearing them like a backpack. This isn’t a free ride, here, guys.  
During the next mile, I could only think about the hills we had yet to run. There is a cemetery nearby that has 3 streets and each one has 2 hills each….and I’m talking crazy up and down hills. On street one, I cursed the entire time under my breath.  Seriously, this is stupid. 

When Tim and I travel for long periods of time to get to our camping destinations, we play “Wouldn’t it be great if….?” to keep ourselves from going stir crazy. This game involves describing a horrible accident that could happen at that moment…but of course, everyone would be fine in the end. You can tell you are near complete insanity when you are hoping to spice up the drive with a crazy accident. For instance, once we saw two guys on motorcycles go flying by us at close to 90 miles an hour. Tim broke the silence first with “Wouldn’t it be great if they just wiped out right now” and after we cracked up then I added “But everyone would be fine in the end.” Another time we saw a dead deer on the side of the road and I said, “Wouldn’t it be great if the deer just got up and started running next to that car in front of us and the driver freaked out?” and then Tim added “But no one got hurt.” It’s important to caveat the horrific accident that you are laughing at with a mental note that everyone needs to be okay in the end. When I was attempting to run up the last hill on street number two, I envisioned my friend Cori, who was in front of me, almost making it to the top but not quite …. and just rolling backwards down the hill. It made me giggle. If she did roll backwards, of course, she would be fine. Sorry, Cori….I needed that laugh or I wouldn’t have made it up the hill.

The final set of beastly hills, on street number 3, is designed to just take you down. By the end, you feel like you are dragging your legs behind you as though you just had to gnaw them out of a bear trap. Last week, at the end of a run, I thought to myself “this is just 30 minutes out of my entire day….I can do this.” At that moment, I just didn’t want to run anymore. There was no song on my ipod that was doing it for me. There was nothing I could come up with to take my mind off of running. But then it hit me, it’s not like I have to run for 8 hours. This is just 30 minutes out of a very long day. I can do this. I pulled that one out on street number three. My friend Cori was going to stop and walk and I pulled out my “it’s only 30 minutes out of our day…we can do this” and we kicked into gear, running the final hills.

Cori texted me later in the day saying that she was going to miss our morning runs next week. How could she miss getting up at 5:15 am, running in the cold in mime gloves, attempting to haul ass up hills, all while dragging your heavy legs behind you?? But it’s true. I’m going to miss it too.  There is something to be said for group motivation and doing things you would never do on your own. There is something to be said for going through the ridiculousness of situations together.  There is something to be said for the Lucy & Ethel comedy routine that Cori and I put everyone through each time we run. We don’t even need an audience…we crack ourselves up all on our own. Yep, I’m going to miss it all too.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Taming the Hairy Beast

Well, I encountered a moment that was not on my bucket list…but one that I knew would come eventually. Mimi asked me to help her shave her legs for the first time. Insert sound of tires screeching. At least that is the sound that went off in my head when she asked me. She shoved her leg in my face and said “Have you seen these things?! They are so hairy!” Inside I was saying “Oh Yes….I have seen them….you definitely take after your French Canadian ancestors” but instead I said “Let’s go take care of them”. I was riding that fine balance of not wanting to call attention to them with wanting to take care of them before some schoolmate called attention to them.

Tim was all relaxed on the porch, reading the paper when I said, “I’ll be right back….I have to go shave Mimi’s legs.” He looked up. Blink, Blink. Looked away and then blinked again before saying “What?!” Yep, it’s true. She really is growing up. Although this is just a little thing, I don’t think either of us were quite ready for the reality of it. Especially me who actually has to have all these conversations and do all these things….while Timmy sits, blinks, and screams “NOOOOO!” inside.

I wanted her memory of her first shaving experience to be very different than mine which went a little like this. There I sat in the tub, covered up to my neck with big fluffy bubbles. My kitty, Satin, sat on the edge of the tub with her tail twitching, hunting bubbles that were popping left and right before she had a chance to bite them. It was at that moment that I spied my mother’s pink razor, just itching to be used. I was 6 or 7. And I decided to shave my arms. My mother walked in and screamed just as I was proudly inspecting my smooth arms. “Oh my God! What have you done?! Now your hair will grow back twice as thick and you’ll have monkey arms!” Ka-ching! That’s the sound of the money that should have been dropped into the therapy jar. From that moment on I had a complex about my arms…until about 10 years ago when I just gave up and decided to embrace them. I really don’t think my arms were ever more furry than they would have been had I not shaved but once someone puts that thought in your head, it’s kind of hard to shake that self-image.

When I got upstairs Mimi said “Do you think you are up for the challenge of these beasts?” Turns out the beasts took a half hour to tame. I gave up after 15 minutes and left her to tame leg #2. In the end, she was very impressed with how soft they were, and excited by her new look.

Enter Day 2. I get a text at work that says:
Mimi: I 4got 2 shave few areas on my lowerlegs and on one nee so I hav weird fur patches there
Me: Just go shave them. Btw, I forgot 2 tell u that u now have 2 shave them every few days….4 the rest of your life
Mimi: u never mentioned that yesterday. I think I need my own razor then. Plz make it pink.
Me: U got it

Day 3 – more hair is found:
Mimi: Ok the hair on the back of my legs are growin back but its like long and its only like in the middle of the bone.
Me: Just go shave it.
Me: Shaving ur legs is never going to be perfect.
Mimi: Shaving is a pain.

Yes, my friend, it is. Although in the scheme of things that we have to deal with as women is not as much a pain as other things. I’m happy to be dealing with shaving legs at the moment. Baby steps. Is it too late to stick her in the bubble and keep her at the age of 5, skipping next to me, holding my hand, with her pony tails flying in the wind?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Using Silence to Recharge Your Batteries

We all have our happy place. You know by now that mine is in Truro on the Cape where time appears to have stood still and life is just much less hectic. Over Memorial Day we went on our first camping trip of the season, much later than normal, but since our lives are consumed by Jack’s baseball schedule, this was the first time we could get away. We had actually hoped to go on our first solo camping trip, sans kids, back at the beginning of May to celebrate Tim’s birthday and our anniversary but my parents would have had to contend with 4 baseball games at either end of the state so we scrapped it. We decided, instead, to take advantage of the long Memorial Day weekend - the kids stayed at my parents for two nights and then camped with us one night. I love my kids, but man, silence is a true gift. In fact, we had so many minutes of silence between Friday night and Sunday morning, that when we picked the kids up, I thought someone had turned my ear drums on high. We didn’t get down to Truro til late Friday night but we set up quickly and had decided to head out to dinner. I have found my new favorite place…Black Fish in Truro. Absolutely adorable, rambling building that maybe was a house at one point. So cute inside with tons of candles, pillows on the chairs, just oozing charm. Their strawberry basil martini had been featured on Zane Lamprey’s Drinking Made Easy. It’s a funny show if you haven’t seen it. Basic premise is this guy and his friend go around the country exploring bars and restaurants, making signature drinks with the bartenders while having a lot of fun. I’m not sure how someone was so lucky to get this kind of gig…traveling the country, sharing drinks and stories with strangers, and doing it all with your best friend…while getting paid?! I’m in! Anyways, they had done a segment on the Outer Cape and highlighted Blackfish's signature martini. I can tell you, it is worth the ride to Truro. I told the waitress that we had come specifically for the drink because we saw it on Drinking Made Easy and she just blinked at me for a minute. I thought perhaps I had made a mistake in mentioning it…perhaps she had no clue what I was talking about but then she said “Oh my God! That was me! I was the bartender that mixed the drinks with Zane!” Jackpot! I think she was shocked that anyone had seen it…and was excited to chat about it. We ended up getting the inside scoop on everything and she even showed us pictures of Zane and his friend Steve that she had taken with her phone. I love connecting with people…strangers really….over little things like this. We left the restaurant saying “See you soon!” to our new friend. Oh, and by the way, the food there is absolutely to die for. On Saturday, we got up early to find the sun had come out and we headed out to breakfast. Afterwards, we just drove around for hours, exploring the ins and outs in Truro. Throughout our travels, we found a road named Meredith Way, got an annual permit to drive on the beaches in the National Seashore, and found a new favorite pottery place in the middle of nowhere. We also hit a bunch of yard sales, with our best score being a little, mini propane Weber-looking grill that we can use on the beach. We did not even have lunch….we had no schedule and we never even thought of it. The kids would never have put up with driving around in the car for hours and not eating. A free-wheeling weekend for me wouldn’t be the same without a list of the things I wanted to do. At this point, items still on our list were take a hike and go to Mac’s Shack for a drink. Tim had mapped out a hike for us but we couldn’t find the starting place. Instead we just drove around the kettle ponds in Wellfleet, along dirt roads, coming across little cottages in the woods. We drove in almost complete silence, both of us entertaining visions of coming across a “For Sale” sign on some ramshackle cottage with a yard sale price tag. Some day. We went back and forth on whether we should bother to go to Mac’s because we also wanted to get out to the beach to enjoy appetizers and watch the sunset. When you have these rare moments to spend some time together, it always feels like you are trying to cram so much into a little bit of time. I said “We should do it…it made the list…we really wanted to do it.” We made a pact to just have one beer and then head back to prep for the beach. Well, two Whale’s Tails, a Painkiller, and a Heifenwiezer later we were on our way to the beach. At how awesome the beach was. Driving through the dunes, with just the sound of tires crunching into the sand, is like music to our ears. Surprisingly there were tons of people out there but even with the crowds, you can always find your own little spot of bliss away from everyone else because the beach is so big. Out came our $5 yard sale grill and 15 minutes later we were munching on nachos and beer. We took out our books and read for about an hour, watching seals pop up right in front of us now and then. After watching the sunset we headed out, deciding to take a sand dune path we hadn’t seen before. The ride was gorgeous and it appeared to be a lesser traveled route. We couldn’t imagine why…the views were gorgeous and we stumbled upon a bunch of shacks nestled here and there in the dunes. Turns out, there was a reason why not many people traveled on these roads….it was a private road that only a dune tour company and national park service people used. The sign had been worn away by the years of sea spray and sand…but after coming across a tour company driver, he set us straight. And turns out the little cottages we were drooling over were artist shacks that are filled through a lottery system with active artists. They have no electricity, no running water, and no heat. To us, they were a dream. Imagine your driveway is a sand dune, and each day you wake up to the sound of the ocean and the view of a desolate beach? Sign. Me. Up. I could do without the outside chemical toilet though. That is not a vision in my beach shack dream. Not at all. We ended up getting a pizza on the way home. This was certainly unlike any other camping trip we have ever done. We hadn’t eaten one meal in the camper or even busted out the grill at this point. A half hour later we were munching on fattening pepperoni pizza, drinking our wine, and playing rummy. Who needs a grill? On Sunday, we headed out early, eager to get the kids. We had such a great time camping, we couldn’t wait to share the experience with them. And we knew they were excited to spend time in the camper again…it had been a long 7 months without any camping. We started our Truro with Kids Adventure at the White Cedar Swamp Trail in Wellfleet. It’s not a long walk at all, but it is really cool. There is a great path through the woods that then turns into a boardwalk that winds through a cedar swamp and then ends up in the Marconi Beach area. The views from here are just amazing – check it out next time you are down there. After that we headed to the beach for our second night of sunsets. We broke out the appetizers and fired up the grill for s’mores. After stuffing our faces we took a long walk on the beach, which is one of our favorite things to do…to see what treasures the sea has for us. Turns out the sea had decided to spit out 16 starfish! I have only ever seen 2 starfish in my life…that I stumbled upon naturally at the beach…so this was a highlight for me. We also found little bits of sea glass and various rocks and shells that the kids had to keep. It also was apparently seal night because we saw pods of about 5 seals at a time swimming by. Occasionally they would stop and stare at us. They are curious little creatures. The kids would then chase alongside them until they disappeared back into the ocean. By the time they got back, another crew of seal friends would be paddling by and the cycle would start all over again. No book reading but lots of moments of just enjoying simple things. The brilliant orange sun sank into the sea signaling it was time to go. We made our way back to the camper and decided to skip dinner and just have some more appetizers while we played cards. And then once again, the sea air worked its magic and slipped us all into comas very early in the night. These three day long weekends always seem to come at just the right time, don’t they? It was so nice to have the additional day before heading back into the daily grind. We finally got the grill out and made a big breakfast before we headed out on one more ride. We had not been down by the Truro harbor so we decided to explore around there and came across all these little dirt roads filled with houses overlooking the sea. Apparently I have raised worry warts because the kids blood pressure shot through the roof as we started down our first dirt path. Screams of “What are you doing?!” and “We are going to get in trouble!” filled the air. We explained that these were not private roads and we were just curious. We were still hoping to come across a little cottage in the woods that needed our love but the kids began to stress us out so we finally decided to just walk along Fisher Beach. One again, we walked away hauling all kinds of treasures, although the absolute best was a giant piece of lavender sea glass that the sea spit out at my feet! I have never seen a piece of sea glass this color – it was a total treasure to cap off a great weekend. I have camper blood back in my veins and can’t wait to go again. Unfortunately, our weekends are so full we won’t get back out there until July. The weekend was just enough of a dose of camping to hold us through until then, though. And sometimes you just need these little moments to be yourself …allow you to recharge your batteries so that you can go back to being a parent refreshed and ready for more. Bring on the end of the school year – I’m ready!