Sunday, September 22, 2013

Glamour Don'ts

I have a tendency to take pictures of people on the train and send them to my friend Cori. They are all of fashion infractions, with the exception of the picture I sent of the bald man with a piece of yarn stuck to the back of his head. Sorry bald guy, but it was funny. Last week, I saw quite a doozey. I'm not going to post the actual picture because I want to protect the innocent but let me see if I can describe the visual accurately. It's about 8 am and an Asian woman gets on. I can only see her from the waist up but I was immediately sure, from what I saw, that she was just coming home from the night before. The first thing that caught my eye was the sequined shirt. Bedazzled really. The sequins were the size of quarters and were blinding. Her face was covered in white powder. Either she didn't know how to apply make up or she was going for the Geisha look. She had long straight hair with a little girl's plastic clip holding her bangs back. WHAT?! I couldn't stop staring...and as luck would have it, she said across the aisle from me. Rather than watch her like a t.v. show, I decided to take a picture and stare at my phone instead. Now, Cori, can't understand how I can take a picture of someone and not have them catch me. Let's just say I have skills in this area. First, I make sure my phone is on silent. Then I do a test photo and take a picture of my backpack, very innocently. Then I very innocently and yet intently pretend I am doing something on my phone while lining up my subject and then just snap the photo. Works like a charm every time. At least so far. So, I snap the photo and then zoom in. So, this is what I saw. In addition to the pale face powder, she has ringed her eyes, raccoon style, with black eyeliner and then topped that off with gold eye shadow. And when I say gold, I mean sparkly bling. Nice, dainty look for daytime. She has paired the bedazzled top with a pair of wrinkled khakis. I know....I wanted to take away her Lady Card the minute I saw it. What are you doing, I wanted to shout!! She had a cream cardigan on that was a bit ill fitting too. Then I scrolled down and before my eyes, appeared little pink ruffle socks...like a little girl wears with Mary Janes...and black flats. It was at this point that I had to look up to make sure what I saw was real. Annnnddd...that's when I realized she was eating a Tupperware container of cold ravioli. The smell was almost too much. Did this girl not have any friends? No one in her life that would say "Don't pair that top with those pants" or "Hey, you overdid it on the powder and you look like a mime" or even "You might have gone a little far with the eyeliner"? Look, I'm not saying I'm a fashion "do" every day, but that whole look was cause for concern. The kicker was when I got off the train, I was behind a man in high-waisted jean shorts who was wearing white socks and sandals. It was apparently Bad Fashion Thursday.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

ACW - Adult Camping Weekend

Last weekend was our 5th Adult Camping Weekend. This is an annual event when we get together with two other couples and go camping in Truro. For our first year, we didn’t let the boys in the camper to sleep...they had to stay outside in tents. Our camper was smaller then and well, boys will be boys. Gradually we got a bigger camper and they were allowed to stay in with us…although they still can’t use the bathroom. Girls only for obvious reasons. Point in fact, this year, one of the boys forgot the rule, used the bathroom and left the toilet seat up. I sat down and literally almost fell in the toilet. This is why we need these rules. Last year we almost got shut down by the Campground Po-Po when we had a dance party inside the camper at 1 am. 6 of us dancing like fools in a little camper. What can I say, we thought no one could hear the music. Two years ago we were there for less than 24 hours "thanks" to Hurricane Irene. I'll tell ya though...we packed a weekend's worth of activity into that 24 hours. We know how to have fun. This year, we went to a yard sale and our friend Scott bought a shovel. As he was about to put it in the car, Tim called his name and he swung around with the shovel...accidentally hitting an Asian man pedaling by on his bike. Yes, I did just say that. He hit a man riding by on his bike. What are the chances??!! Scott turned around and yelled "My bad!" Ah, damn straight it was your bad! We almost wet our pants for the first time by 9:30 in the morning. Each year we have made improvements….to the menu, what we each bring, the stuff we bring to the beach, etc. This year, we all felt we really perfected our weekend agenda. We used to go on my birthday weekend so we always went out to dinner to celebrate….and that was typically after “celebrating” on the beach for hours beforehand. Once I ordered fish tacos for dinner and I don’t even eat fish. ‘Nuff said. This year we all agreed we would just keep it low key and simple….meaning we would spend time doing what we all come for…relaxing on the beach. In fact, Ann said this year “This would be hard if one of us didn’t like doing what everyone else likes….which is literally doing nothing.” Of course “nothing” consists of us setting up our beach area, complete with a coffee table and magazines that look like they belong in a doctor’s office. We lounge, laugh, read, talk, sleep, laugh some more, swim, eat, drink, laugh a lot, dance, and sing. Sometimes if the boys get “itchy” they might toss a football or fish (although they have no clue what they are doing), but for the most part we just “hang out”. This year, our “nothing” consisted of going to the beach at noon and leaving at midnight…with all that stuff above in between. There was no leaving to shower to go out to dinner. In fact, we didn’t even eat dinner…we just grazed all day. Truth be told, none of us showered all weekend either. There may have been an illegal beach fire….although technically it could have been termed a “cooking fire” because we did attempt to heat up some chicken in there…until the fire singed the hair off our arms. There may have been some singing into a shovel…and we may, at one point, have convinced ourselves that we were as good as any famous singer out there today. Look out T.Swizzle...that's all I'm sayin'. This year we added a beach potty, which might have been the single best improvement we have made over the years. Typically we trudge up to the dunes to be one with nature...or go in nature's giant toilet, the ocean...for those that don't have performance anxiety in the water. It happens, ok? Anyways, I bought this fold up tent that folds down to a circle and when opened it magically pops up to a changing type shelter. There is no bottom on it but it does have a door that zips closed and a little window. We staked it down, used a shovel to dig a hole, and it became the girl's potty. It's important to remember later in the evening that the walls are paper then and not meant to help you get your balance...because then you AND the potty will fall over. The entire weekend was a blast, as always. There is nothing better than spending time with your good friends, especially on the beach. And you know they are good friends when, no matter where you go, you have a great time. But, I will say, when you camp, it only magnifies the fun tenfold. You should try it sometime!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tupperware Containers are Like Rabbits

I have had a love hate relationship with my Tupperware drawer for years. Seems I would find a solution that seemed perfect, my Tupperware would multiply like rabbits and get unruly, and then I would hate my Tupperware organization. Are you with me on this? I know I'm not alone. A few years ago I bought a "system" which was a lazy Susan type rack system that fit lids in one section and Tupperware in the other. It seemed perfect...and would have been if 1)I had the time to gently put the Tupperware in their slots and 2)if I didn't have a bunch of other Tupperware containers. Tupperware containers are like socks. Half of the tops and bottoms are missing their mates. And there are many pieces of Tupperware that should just be thrown out because they are old. Yet we keep them around. About a year ago I found an idea on Pinterest that I thought was great. I bought a 3-drawer Tupperware shelf/bin and used the drawers for lids and water bottle tops. Then I bought a big clear bin and organized all the Tupperware inside. The 1,000 water bottles we have went on the shelf above. This seemed to work pretty good until the Tupperware began to reproduce on a daily basis and we all got too lazy to put the lids in the drawers so they began to take up residence in the large bin. I was once again, back to my old Tupperware situation. Sigh. Since September makes me nest, I decided to tackle the Tupperware drawer once again. Truth be told, my bakeware drawer wasn't working out either. My bowls, corning ware, pie plates, and platters didn't really fit into the pull out drawers on my island. But it felt like that should be their home because it was a nice pullout drawer. One morning at 7 am I decided to just change it all up. Out came all my cookware. Then all the Tupperware. And then the water bottles. I sorted through everything and threw out Tupperware without tops, old Tupperware, and water bottles we really don't use but got free someplace and felt compelled to keep. My bakeware now works out good in the cabinet and is much easier to stack and store. My Tupperware drawer is awesome. All similar Tupperware is stacked together - salad size bowls, little bitty cups, and medium size containers. All of the lids are stored in a basket. On the second pull out shelf I have all our water bottles with the tops in a little basket. Then I have a few other miscellaneous items that worked well there, like my apple cutter and paper plates. I have to say, I am so happy with my new system. I guess because everything is so organized and its own spot, that it is easy to maintain. I'm hoping this works for the long haul. Or at least until next September when I start reorganizing everything again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How Not to Clean the Kitchen

Listen up spouses, significant others, and children who "help out" by cleaning the kitchen after dinner. Let's be honest...when I say "help out" that usually means one of us has snapped and is sick of doing the dishes and after ranting that "no one ever helps around here", you decide to do the dishes for us. Here is what doing the dishes DOESN'T mean.... It does not mean that you should leave pots on the stove. Those also need to be washed. Just because they aren't right in front of your face, doesn't mean they should be left behind. It does not mean that you should leave giant pools of water everywhere...on counters, dripping down the sink and counters, on the floor. Believe it or not, those puddles need to be wiped up as well. It does not mean that you should leave cabinets open. Why are you even opening cabinets?? You aren't emptying the dishwasher...you are loading it. It scares me to think you may have gotten confused and put dirty dishes away in the cabinets. It does not mean that you leave the dishwasher wide open when you are "done". The dishwasher can not shut its own door. It needs help. In fact, it also needs dishwasher detergent...and for you to turn it on. Please also do not leave the dishwasher door open so that when I turn around to walk away I take my shins out. Walking in my kitchen should not be a hazard to my health. It does not mean that the counters aren't included. When I have ever cleaned the kitchen and left food and sticky things on the counters? Never. So what gave you the idea that this is a sign of a clean kitchen? It also does not mean let's leave salad dressing, glasses, and various other assorted things on the kitchen table. These things will not walk to the sink or fridge. They also need help. I'm also on to you. You think that by doing a bad job cleaning the kitchen, I won't "ask" again? Oh, believe me...I will. I will ask you to do it even more if I think you need more practice so I suggest you do a good job the first time around. I'm just sayin'....

Saturday, September 7, 2013

And the Results Are In!

Last we left off, I told you we were going to run a 5K today ....without really having run in months...or really ever. Here's how it went. Jack came in 55th out of almost 600 people....he ran it in 22 minutes. The first two spots went to kids on his cross country team. Impressive. Tim and I finished. That was impressive as well. We did not run all the way but we did run most of the way...but more importantly, we finished. Tim, who has only ran once in his life and has literally not put sneakers on in two years, beat me by a minute. He was at 32 minutes and I was at 33 minutes. I'm cool with that. I was not cool with the fast walking guy who passed me or the 4 year old kid on the bike with training wheels who passed me...going uphill. And yes, I was running in both of those situations...I'll admit it. But let's not focus on those crazy little details. Instead, let's focus on how it went overall. Many members of the family had organized the event and were working throughout the event. Then, there was a group of us that all started running together. And when I say started, I mean when we lined up we were perilously close to the Walker line. I'm not sure what about us made the girl carrying the Walker sign feel it was necessary to line up right behind us, but she did. Whateves. The first mile was great. We were all on a high, excited to be running together. Everywhere we turned there were family and friends cheering us on along the route. The weather was perfectly gorgeous. And the route was flat. What could be wrong with this picture? Nothing...until we started approaching the long, slow hill. As we approached, I began to slow and Tim's cousin Kelly said "Just imagine the cheetah...you can do it!" I will say, that helped a lot. I made it up the hill and then around the next corner where there was another slow hill that was my demise. This is where the fast walker and small child on the bike passed me. I saw Tim waiting off to the side and that was all I needed to give myself permission to stop. We walked for a little bit but that was my downfall. It was hard to get back into running again from there. And it was hot. If only I had someone to run behind me with a parasol to shade me from the heat...and then occasionally carry me...that would have been great. Fantasies aside, I walked for about 1/2 mile. Tim tried to get me going with him before that but I just couldn't do it. Finally, with a mile to go, I started up again. I told myself "I can do almost anything for a mile..." so although I wasn't very fast, I ran the rest of the way. I will say that I was afraid to look behind me...I was almost certain I was the last runner, but that wasn't the case at all. We came around the corner to the final section, and my spirits soared. I knew I could do it...until I realized the route had changed. I should note that I hate what is called the "loop road" at our school. It is about 1 mile long and it seems like every corner you go around you are almost done, but that isn't the case. It's just your mind wishing you were done. Today, when I realized that we had to run part of the loop road I almost cried. Literally. I kept seeing my sister in law in front of me...she would be walking and just as I was about to reach her, she would start running again. I thought maybe it was a joke but she didn't even know I was behind her. In the end she was my carrot...tempting me along until the finish line. At the finish line Jack and Tim were waiting for me. It felt really good to cross, I'll be honest. I didn't even care about my time...the fact that I ran most of the way, and was running when I went over the finish line, is impressive for me. I felt good! There is nothing better than the end of a race. Everyone is congratulating each other and in a great mood. There is water, food, music, and lots of happy people. It is in these moments when you find yourself saying "Let's do another 5K!" Before you say that you should wait a few hours...like after you sit for a bit...then try and get up out of your car...and you find yourself making guttural noises just to hoist your body up. Yeah...let's see who says "Let's race again" after that. Not too many people. As I was talking to people at the finish I ran into a friend who used to babysit our kids. She has her own little cuties now and is in a different stage in her life. She said "I love eating and drinking my wine too much to give it up to be in shape. I just run these things to equal out all the eating and drinking I do." A.Men. Sister! I hear ya! I love people who are real and admit the truth. I was very impressed with Jack Nealon, Tim's cousin, who was one of the main organizers of this event. It was for his best friend that had passed away. His siblings, parents, and countless friends and volunteers did an amazing job with the entire day. Evan, was no doubt looking down very proud today. Thanks to Tim for never saying no to running with me, even if he isn't a runner. Thanks to Jack and Mimi for running and walking with us today. Tim's family is an amazing group and it was so fun to run with them and be encouraged by them today. Thanks to Lib, Pete, Lyn, Kelley, Matt, Dave, and cousin Kathleen who came all the way from Connecticut today! And congrats to the kids Lily, Eleanor, Will, and Pierce for running and walking today. And although I am sore and tired tonight, it was an absolute blast and I wouldn't have traded it for anything!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Is This a Good Idea?

I have a love hate relationship with running. Mostly hate really. A few years ago a friend of mine roped me into running a 5K. Living at the start of the Boston Marathon I have always had visions of myself someday running the marathon. Actually, the visions are of me just crossing the finishing line in triumph. I don't have any visions of training, through the rain/sleet/snow, or running for hours. But the finish line seems fun. So, when she said "Let's take this Couch to 5K class" I said "Sounds like fun!" Define fun. I'll tell you what fun isn't. It's not getting up at 5:00 in the dark to drive to a meeting spot and then run up and down hills with a trainer yelling at you not to stop. I know I wrote about this before but on the first day of our class someone actually puked in the bushes. I should have thrown in the towel at that point but I kept going and eventually ran the 5K and finished in pretty good time...for me. I was very proud of my accomplishment and then promptly stopped running...until the next year when we decided to do it all again. I beat my time from the previous year, which was my goal. I do love the feeling of accomplishment I get from running and I do feel great afterwards. But the actual running part? Yeah, that pretty much sucks. Some people say they can just clear their head when they run and they actually lose track of the fact that they are running. I spend the entire time thinking "Oh my God...when is this going to be over?!" So, here we are they day before a 5K in our town that is being organized by Tim's cousin Jack who started the LiveForEvan.org foundation with some friends after their good friend Evan Girardi, passed away in his senior year of college. Proceeds will go to fund the Evan Girardi Memorial Scholarships for Hopkinton High School, college-bound seniors and the 2013 LiveForEvan beneficiary, the Boston Cardiac Foundation, a non-profit that brings cardiac medical technologies and services to less developed countries around the world www.bostoncardiacfoundation.org. Not only is it a cause near and dear to the hearts of the Nealon family, but it is a great cause in general. So, I just signed Tim and myself up. A few things to note. The kids signed up earlier this week. Mimi is walking with some friends and Jack is running....he basically runs about 20 miles a week with his cross country team so this will be a piece of cake. In fact, he didn't run all summer and then went to his first practice and ran 5 miles, without puking in the bushes or even looking that winded. God love him. And yet, ya gotta hate him for just a second. I say that with love, of course. I have run 3 times this summer, and not very far. I tend to walk my usual route and then run back home because it is all downhill and it makes me feel like a cheetah. If you ever see me running home, as I'm cruising down the hill, you can be sure the bubble over my head is a picture of me, all cheetah-like, crossing the Boston Marathon finish line. Tim, ran once 2 years ago. I signed us all up for a 1 mile run in the dunes in the Outerbanks while we were on vacation. It was a "glow run"...so we ran with glow sticks around our neck and wrists as the sun was setting. At that point, I had just come off my 5K and warned everyone that I basically would blow their doors off out of the gate. The course basically consisted of us running up and down sand dunes as high as ten story buildings. I'm not kidding. Have you ever been to Kill Devil's Hills in the Outerbanks. Google it. They are stoopid high. Jack took off like a puppy who had just been let off his leash, and came in 10th out of about 250 people. Tim and Mimi ran together and finished about 10 minutes before me. I ran for about a minute before the quick sand sucked at my feet. All I could hear was myself gasping for air. Just a reminder...it was only a mile. Fast forward to vacation this year where I was waiting with the kids at the entrance to the beach for Tim to put the parking ticket in the car and walk back to us. All I hear is "What is Dad doing??!!" I look up and he is jogging back to meet us. I said "He's running" and the kids said "He runs?! This seems weird! What's wrong?!" Now to be fair, Tim is in great shape but he doesn't ever feel the need to run. Ever. He has embraced the idea that he is never going to take up running. I should probably do this. But instead, I hemmed and hawed all week thinking that we should run to support the cause and be with Tim's family. Of course, we could just support the cause with a donation and support the family at the finish line but this morning I decided, "We are going to run!" Tim's response "I'll have to get up at 5 just to stretch enough." To be fair, we don't have any plans of being able to run the whole thing but we'll give it our best shot. Tune in tomorrow to see how it went....

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Back to Touching Lunch Meat in the Morning....

Ever since the kids were little, I have made a special First Day of School Breakfast. This usually involves me making some sort of animal out of food. Not sure why it has evolved this way but it has. One year I made a butterfly out of fruits and waffles. Another year I made inchworms out of grapes and other assorted fruit. Another year I crafted pigs out of English muffins. To be honest, these breakfast crafts usually involve me swearing under my breath as I try to carve small details out of fruit that doesn’t want to be made into things like pig tails and flowers. I love doing it though. One year, I even went so far as to let the kids have cupcakes for breakfast…but that was for the Last Day of School. Full on, sugary, icing loaded cupcakes. Why not? They weren’t doing anything on the last day anyways….and the day was only 2 ½ hours long. They were actually afraid to eat them and kept saying “Really? We can eat these NOW?” as though it were a cruel April Fool’s joke. For a few days, I was the coolest Mom in town. I’ll take it when I can get it. Even though my kids are in high school now, I still broke out my animal sculpting culinary skills this morning for the first day back to school and whipped up some turtles out of waffles, bananas, and chocolate chips. They were pretty cute if I do say so myself. Of course I got the idea on Pinterest: http://littlenummies.net/2013/07/splashy-kids-breakfast-sea-turtle-waffle/. I’m not going to lie…this is a breakfast for small children, I get that. But my kids still got a kick out of it. In fact, Mimi actually ate breakfast this morning…all of it…I’m lucky if I can get her to take a sip of water before she goes out the door. It’s just too early for her to deal with eating. I thought the kids would roll their eyes and say things like “We aren’t five anymore, Mom!” but they smiled and happily ate their turtles. Then the usual school year craziness ensued....figuring out what to wear, brushing teeth, looking for last minute items that we thought we had covered the night before, and making lunches - ugh. Time to run out for the bus came up so quickly. But before they left, they posed for their annual Back to School photo on the mudroom stairs, each wearing their new backpacks. This year, Jack is towering over Mimi by at least a foot and she was all dolled up for her first day of high school. Sigh. How did they get so old so quick?! I actually thought to myself this morning that I only have a few more years to make First Day of School Animal Breakfasts…and then I’ll be making them anyways and texting pictures to the kids while they are at college…and then making Tim eat Piggy English Muffins and Turtle Waffles.