Shoes Matter

My parents taught me a lot of important lessons to remember in life. Be kind to others. Honesty is the best policy. Always wear clean underwear. Make sure there is film in the camera (while not applicable in today’s digital world…it is a funny family story for another time). The one lesson that took me almost 45 years to learn is this – shoes matter. Everyone looks at your shoes. I did not know this. Shoes were never a fashion statement for me until recently.I am probably one of the few women who has more pairs of earrings than shoes in my wardrobe. I just never cared about them. In the past, I would find a pair of shoes that fit and are comfortable and buy them in black and then purchase the same exact style in brown or navy. A practical, no-nonsense approach to shoe shopping without any serious consideration to style.   Carrie Bradshaw would be mortified if she read this. Apparently, I was wrong and now I’m making an effort to change my ways. I’m paying attention to the difference between Nine West and Manolos.    

The Fake Cake

Years from now, we are going to look back on Andrew’s 12th birthday and tell the fake cake story. It is one of those parenting moments you don’t forget. In my defense, I had a long day on Saturday after attending a leadership conference in the city. I waited until the last minute to buy the birthday cake and just needed a small one for the four of us to light candles and sing to him. And for the record, the person who sold me the cake is an incredibly sweet girl who I happen to know pretty well. She is a senior in high school who hasn’t worked at the bakery for long. She was working by herself and it was truly an honest mistake. We looked at the cake together and tried to figure out if it was chocolate or vanilla. It wasn’t labeled which should have been my first clue. It was also sitting on top of the refrigerator case which should have been my next clue. Obviously, we were clueless! Neither of us realized it was made of icing and flavorless Styrofoam. I swear to God it looked real and who would think bakeries sold “decorative items.” If it looks like a cake and smells like a cake…I naturally assumed it was a cake. That night, we went out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and opted for a special birthday slice for Andrew. We decided to save the bakery “cake” until the next day. This decision turned out to be rather fortunate because if we tried to light candles on the Styrofoam cake, I might be telling you a completely different story right now. The next afternoon, the moment of truth arrived. As I was walking into a meeting, my daughter called me on my cell phone. “MOM! You aren’t going to BELIEVE this. THE CAKE IS A FAKE!” Words I will remember until the day I die. How the hell did I manage to buy a fake cake? She softened the blow by reporting that the icing tasted delicious…thwarting any attempts for me to return the fake cake to the bakery. My kids took the whole thing in stride–especially the birthday boy who was cracking up in the background. At that point, I did the only thing I could do–I laughed. I laughed with my children. I laughed at my own stupidity. I laughed at the fact that this cake sat in my refrigerator overnight in a cardboard box so it wouldn’t go bad. And then, I posted it on Facebook. 🙂 I could have gone in a completely different direction. It was definitely a “mom-fail” on my part and I easily could have slipped down the rabbit hole of imperfection. The typical self-loathing, embarrassment and tears of frustration would have surely followed. But I didn’t let myself go that way. I chose to laugh instead, make the best of it and get a new cake. And this time, I sent my husband out to buy it with one specific request. I didn’t care if it was chocolate or vanilla…as long as it was real.  

A New Gym Perk

As my kids get older, they are busier. They have lots of homework and now social lives. Football games and outings to Friendly’s have replaced birthday parties. Soccer games, swim practices, and scouts meetings are filling up the calendar. I feel time slipping by and I’m constantly looking for things for us to do together and keep the lines of communication open. Most of the time, these bonding moments are brief and will likely take place in the car when I’m schlepping them to activities. My favorite part of every day is when we share our “roses” and “thorns” of the day. I even get a turn to share with them what I liked and what didn’t go so well. These brief conversations with the kids tell me so much about their lives that I don’t even care if that moment is spent on the road. Recently, a new opportunity has come up for Jenna and I to spend time together although it is not in one of my favorite places -like a coffee shop or the mall. She has been begging me to take her to the gym where we can work out together. I bought her a membership last year when joined the school track team. She wants to do it again and get herself in tip top shape. And although I welcome another opportunity for us to connect, I have to say our gym habits are not entirely in sync (yet). Hopefully, this is something we are both willing to work on. For instance: She likes to run a mile (or two) on the treadmill, AND THEN select the elliptical or the bicycle before she goes downstairs to lift weights. I am used to doing my 30 minutes of cardio and I’m out the door. I am a morning person and I like to get my workouts over with as early as possible. She is a night person who refuses to get out of bed on weekends until absolutely necessary. She loves to work out. I don’t. She has tons of energy. I don’t (especially at night). She is motivated. I’m semi-motivated. Last night, we talked about her science class and the upcoming homecoming dance. I talked about some things I’ve been doing lately at work. And then, I started getting tired. I sat my butt down on a bench, checked my Facebook page and waited while she worked out on the lat pull down machine. I could not have made it more obvious that I was officially done with the workout portion of the evening. 🙂 It was then that I received the wake-up call I needed as to why going to the gym is important to both of us. For me, it isn’t logging in the hour of physical activity….although I know it is very important to do so. It was when Jenna stood up from her machine, looked at me and said the following: “Mom, I know you are tired, but can you just come over and talk to me for a while until I’m done lifting weights?” Of course, I can do that. I want to do that! It is what I’m here for –to talk to you, to hear your stories, to be a part of your life. So, I’ll work on being a night person and try to enjoy the physical benefits of our workouts. I’ll get motivated. I’ll even learn how to work those crazy machines that intimidate me because I want to connect with my daughter. And that is the biggest benefit of all.

Maybe, Maybe Not

Over the last 2 weeks, a terrible cold has taken residence in my body and refuses to leave. I took a rare day off from work last week to do all the right things in order to evict it from my system. I slept most of the day, took medicine, drank huge amounts of Vitamin C and then slept some more. I’m finally at the tail end of this thing although it continues to linger and annoy me. Not only has my cold taken over my physical being, but it has also gone to work on my emotions. As a Type-A personality with lists for my lists, I’m frustrated at the sheer amount of things I need to do and the lack of energy I have to do them. The fact that I managed to be pretty productive despite my illness doesn’t provide much comfort. Here are some of the things weighing on me: I should probably plan a birthday party for my son who turns 12 next month. Although we abandoned the $500 play place parties a long time ago, I still want to do something for nice for him. Maybe that will happen this week. This past weekend also marks a year until his bar mitzvah. The countdown is officially on and we need to pick his service project. We have narrowed it down to a few charities related to his interest in sports. I have a few phone calls to make and then we need to make a decision. Maybe that will happen this week. My daughter needs a dress for her first homecoming dance which takes place at the end of the month. We made an attempt to find something this weekend at the local mall, but we need to expand our search to other places. She also needs shoes. Maybe that will happen this week. I have to start cooking some real dinners because I’m so tired of serving variations of pasta to my family as the main course every night. Two upcoming trips–one for business and one for pleasure–need my attention. I have rooms to book and tickets to by and reservations to secure.

Four More Years

I remember moving into my freshman dorm at West Chester University. My dad found a great parking spot out front and made all of the other parents jealous because he had a flatbed to haul my stuff into my room.

September-itis

laundry momIt starts out with a few sniffles. I don’t even think twice about it because I convince myself it is allergies. Out of nowhere, the sniffles turns into full blown congestion, a sore throat and a post-nasal drip right down into the pit of my stomach. All of a sudden, I’m out of tissues and drinking orange juice by the gallon for the Vitamin C. I waited too long to take a zinc tablet and before I know it, I’m face down on the couch barely moving because I feel like I was hit by a Mack truck. As any person under the weather would do, I goggled my symptoms and diagnosed myself accordingly. Seriously, who has the time to go to the doctor this time of year? Here is what I found: September-itis is defined as the annual condition combining cold-like symptoms with complete exhaustion. The cause is typically attributed to an abrupt change in schedules such as relaxing family vacations and unlimited pool time to driving around all night long to find the elusive 3-ring hole punch that fits in your child’s binder. Multiple trips to Target on the same day or trips to multiple Targets over several days will only exacerbate symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no known cure. Treatments can vary from cold medicines and ibuprofen to keep symptoms at bay to ingesting massive amounts of coffee in order to keep up with your children’s crazy schedule during daylight hours. Four out of five parents recommend frequent midday naps. WARNING: Don’t forget to set an alarm or 3 hours will fly by before you know it. Side effects include (but are not limited to): Pizza, hoagies, and Chinese food for dinner instead of home-cooked meals; piles of laundry unattended; dishes in the sink; mail still in the mailbox (because I’m just too damn tired to walk that far); brief memory loss noticeable to friends and family, and juggling nearly missed and/or cancelled appointments, practices, and performances. Sudden bursts of energy may occur intermittently, but it is a huge mistake to consider yourself feeling “much better” too soon. September-itis can last up to 30 days. September-itis is not known to be contagious however you may see more than one mom or dad walking around in a similar disoriented fashion. Please take a moment to give them a hug, pass them a cup of coffee, find them a seat and assure them they are going to be okay. October is right around the corner.

Back to School Blues

If I wasn’t working full-time, I would make a great volunteer at my children’s schools. I could see myself organizing fundraisers, being up to my eyeballs in box tops, and attending and possibly running PTO meetings. I would sell tickets for the play, chaperone field trips, and work in the school store. I try not to feel guilty about it but this time of year brings back those old feelings of not doing enough.

A Picture Perfect Contract

gckidsMy dearest children, I am responding to your recent request to cease taking photos of you and posting them on my Facebook page. I have reviewed your arguments thoroughly and taken into account your well-documented complaints regarding the protection of your image and concern over potential parental embarrassment. I am ready to give my ruling on this matter. As your parent, who is incredibly proud of your inner beauty, outstanding accomplishments and adorable faces, I often feel a strong and innate desire to share your lives with friends and family. While this urge comes on a daily basis, I will do my best not to take photos that may (or may not) be later posted and captioned as “your daily cuteness.” Let me assure you that I would never intentionally do anything to jeopardize your reputation as the amazing people you are slowly becoming before my very eyes. However, at this time I feel some ground rules should be established when future opportunities of a photographic nature arise. And please do not let the fact that I spent 18 hours of my life in a long and drawn out labor with no epidural with said daughter as well as 6 hours of an incredibly difficult labor (again with no epidural!) with said son…influence you in any way. Please find my terms below:

  1. Special occasion photos–also known to my generation as “Kodak moments”–will be taken on a regular basis. These include, but are not limited to, the first day of school, the last day of school, all holidays, bar/bat mitzvah, proms, family celebrations and vacations, graduations, etc. You will pose for these photos as directed as long as you live under my roof–and then we can renegotiate.
  2. Purpose– The purpose of these photos are to document your lives in a way that is enjoyable, respectful and representative of your childhood and teenage years. Some photos may be shown to future spouses and grandchildren. The viewing of bar and bat mitzvah videos will not be shown to potential boyfriends and spouses without your permission…but that is a story for another time.
  3. Approval process–I will show you all photos before posting them. Retakes may be required in order to arrive at a mutually-agreed upon picture.
  4. My Promise – I solemnly swear NEVER to take or post a photo or video of you coming out of anesthesia after getting your wisdom teeth pulled. Nor will I take or post photos of you when you are angry or upset in any way, shape or form. You have my word that I will never put you through that kind of torture.

Your compliance of the above guidelines and future cooperation during these photo sessions are greatly appreciated. With much love, Mom  

Deal or No Deal

9th grade JennaOn the first day of school, Jenna came downstairs dressed in an adorable maroon top and jean shorts with her Converse sneakers. It was the perfect outfit for the first day of high school. The next day, she wore another pair of jean shorts and a gray top with a tasteful cut out in the back. I remember thinking about when I was her age and wished I had her great sense of style back then. The third day, she sat at the breakfast table in a 5K t-shirt and gym shorts. I looked at her and playfully asked, “Do I need to do laundry already?” Big mistake. Huge! She rolled her eyes and told me no one else was getting dressed up and she was tired of it already. It was no big deal. This is her new favorite phrase to say when she thinks I’m overreacting to something. No big deal. She feels I make a big deal about everything when many times I’m just asking a question– or in this case–trying to be funny. So, I’ve taken her constructive criticism of my parenting style under advisement and created the Big Deal List. It is a work in progress, but this is what I have so far.

Big Deal

No Big Deal

Her health, happiness & well being Cooking her separate vegetarian meals on a regular basis
Household chores Spilling most of the Starbucks latte I went out of my way to buy for her
Grades Her wardrobe (as long as it is appropriate)
Family time Respecting her need for space after too much family time (ie: family vacations)
Friends Constant requests for money and driving her everywhere
Boys (not there yet, but I see it coming) Minor squabbles with her brother (I know she still loves him)
Kindness & respect to others Occasional teenage eye-rolling

  I will try to keep this list in mind and add to it as I pick my battles and navigate our relationship into the next phase. I can’t promise anything, but I will try. So help me out! What am I forgetting? What is on your list?

Sedona/Grand Canyon: A Travel Log

I was so excited to take my family someplace where an amusement park would not be on the itinerary. I wanted beautiful scenery, a little adventure, good food, and quality time with the ones I love. Many of our friends raved about Sedona and when we made our vacation plans about a year ago we decided to follow suit. When we arrived in Sedona, I couldn’t help but feel like I stepped into the Pixar movie, Cars. Between the winding roads and red rocks in the backdrop, it was a shoo-in for Radiator Springs off of Route 66. I was waiting to find Lightening McQueen fixing the narrow road with Mater alongside him to cheer him on. Anyway, the town was quaint and lovely. We couldn’t get enough of the rock formations that surrounded us and the ever-changing weather (from sunny skies to brief but monsoon-like rain) provided …. Slide Rock

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