Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kind Thoughts Appreciated

Yesterday (right after I hit the send button on the last post, actually), my paternal grandmother became unresponsive and was placed on life support. The hospice team has now stepped in, and so we are now playing the waiting game, standing close by and awaiting her suffering to end.

My grandmother was a wonderful grandmother. She kept this huge pitcher with lemons on it in her fridge at all times and she filled it with Tang. She called it "Grandma's Special" and of course, whenever I was at her house, I drank gallons of it. Once, my mom told me it was just Tang and made me some at home. It did not taste the same--Grandma's Special was otherworldly, divine in its sweetness.

I wish I could say something here about death that is poignant and lovely, but I can't. My grandmother is dying from a score of health problems, not the least of them being stage 4 melanoma. For her, death is not poetic or heroic. It is grisly and ugly and wrong. My only hope is that she is already in another place, and the shell of her body that we see now is not indicative of how she feels or the pain that she is experiencing.

Perhaps because of this, I keep thinking back at this one moment, tiny and small in the whole scheme of my life but that which plays over and over in my mind. My grandfather, her husband, passed away when I was in 7th grade. My mom picked me up from school and told me, and drove me to the tiny town nestled between three large mountains and a river where my grandparents lived. When we got there, my grandmother was standing in her living room, which was, of course, amazingly spotless--I have never been to my grandparents house when I was not able to see myself in the reflection of all her tables. She was wearing a purple silk blouse, beige slacks and gold jewelry. Her hair was done. She talked to my mom for a bit--despite my parent's divorce, my mom and grandmom always got along well--and I remember her saying that before he left the house for the last time, my grandfather had told her that she "looked nice." She seemed to take a lot of pride in that. She was not tearful or upset; in that moment, she had a lot of pride in herself, in her relationship, in her life. And as I go through the day, preparing myself for the inevitable, I cling to that pride and imagine her clinging to that and to her unmistakable beauty in the next life.

My family and I would appreciate your kind thoughts today and the coming days as we navigate this tough period. Perhaps more importantly, I encourage you to reach out to a loved one today and enjoy the spring sun, the gentle breeze, the amazing love that makes a family strong and Tang taste like nectar.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Message from Your Local Feminazi Bonerkiller

Yesterday I went to pick up my kids at school. I relish this time because it is not super often that I get back from work in time to go in and get them. I like seeing my son in his classroom, asking his teacher what he has been up to, seeing Gabby as she emerges with friends. I also like seeing other parents and teachers and hearing about activities and news that my kids either forget or neglect to tell me about.

Yesterday, however, I am chatting with another parent as we waited for the bell to ring and she asks me innocently if Alice was going to be in the Miss OurTown Beauty Pageant (a note to the uninitiated--Alice is 20 mo. old. She likes Dora, going down slides, and eating tomato sauce. Her future goals include learning the rest of the colors (she knows purple and yellow) and being potty trained. Not exactly the picture of poise, let's say.) Now, as someone who reads this blog regularly, what do you think I did in this situation?

A.) Replied, "Yes, I think that I will put my daughter in a beauty pageant so that she can learn as soon as possible that being a woman means she is only as good as what she looks like. While I'm at it, I'm going to explain that she will make less in the workplace than a comparably employed man, may have the right to make decisions about her own body ripped away at any moment, and may someday be forced into a sexual situation not of her choosing because her heels were too high or her skirt was too short. Oh, and while I'm at it, I'm going to punch her in the stomach and tell her Santa isn't real."
B.) Politely and resolutely responded with, "No. We don't do beauty pageants."
C.) Stammered out something unintelligible, stared at my shoes, and shook my head "no" in a noncommital, rather strange way.

If you guessed "C," you are correct, my little profiterole. You win the internet. Congratulations.

This is one thing I despise about myself--I really back away from things for fear of any kind of conflict, even if it is something that I feel strongly about. Feminism, and by extension, child beauty pageants, are things that I feel very strongly about. However, because of my kumbaya/let's not piss anyone off mentality, I just sit there and smile, not even responding with a polite, well-meaning "No." I become hilariously non-commital, trying to please everyone, much like the centrist politicians that I rail about in so many booze-fueled 2:00 am conversations with my husband. And then I am angry at myself, at the freaking beauty pageant for even EXISTING, and I ponder walking into the school and announcing over the PA system "Good afternoon. Please go to Gabby's and Sam's mom's blog so that you can read her eloquent and well-informed missive on child beauty pageants. Thank you."

I am a feminist, ya'll. I believe that women can do anything that they wish to do, whether than means being a stay at home mom, or running a Fortune 500 company. I believe that women are equals and should have the right and responsibility to make decisions about their own lives, their own futures, their own bodies. I believe that women should receive equal pay in the workplace. I believe that women are more than a pretty face, that they can express themselves through beauty and fashion if they so choose as a method of gaining self-confidence and self-appreciation. I do not believe that they have to do that if they do not so choose. And most importantly, I believe that every woman is beautiful and that their beauty should not be judged or used as a tool in the war against other women.

When I got home yesterday, I thought about it. Alice was running around in her favorite Dora t-shirt and a pair of striped cotton shorts. She has darkening, fluffy, still nearly nonexistent hair. She is chubby and has dimples in her cheeks, her thighs. She smiles brighter than any kid I've ever seen. I think she is gorgeously effervescent--the best qualities of a girl, of a daughter, of a human being. I thought about the whole concept of a beauty pageant and how ridiculous it is for a child of Alice's age, or hell, of any age. I thought of all the women in my life who I find amazingly gorgeous--my mom, Patti Smith, Michelle Obama, my grandmother, D'Arcy Wretzky, cousins, my freshman roommate, assorted fashion bloggers who amaze me everyday with their beauty. Very few of these would do very well in a beauty pageant. So while I do not think ill of the person who asked me about entering Big Al in a pageant, I find the society that condones such an event to be questionable at best.

Did I say any of that? No. I didn't. But I hope that someday I will.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Good Old Fashioned Monday Rant

Yesterday was Easter. Since I am not a religious person, I choose to celebrate the holiday in the truly American fashion, not in the religous one. This means, I spend way too much money on baskets for my kids (this year, personalized buckets!) and then I let a goddamned bunny take credit for my ingenuity. And then I prepare a humongous meal, fit to feed, say, a minor league baseball team. This year, I made, among other fattening, horrible, yet amazingly delicious things, a fluffy, homemade yellow cake with silky chocolate buttercream. It was wonderful. Trouble was, I continuously (and I literally mean continuously) found myself eating fingerfulls of the leftover icing. Like all day. From the moment I made it. At 10:00 last night, I had finally cleaned out the mixer bowl, and was sitting on the couch with Alice, who had eaten about 50 Hershey kisses and helped with the frosting as well. Everyone else was alseep, and there we sat, both of us, our t-shirts not hiding our distended, grotesque stomachs. We were both WIRED. And you have not seen wired until you have seen a chubby toddler and her similarly physiqued mother dancing to Yo Gabba Gabba at 11:00 at night.

Alice finally conked out at 12:06, but I remained up until between 2:30 and 3:00 when I finally succumbed to the ole balm of the weary. Which brings me to Rant Numero Uno:

1) How the fuck did I get this old? Seriously. When I was in college, I used to work the 4-midnight shift at a coffee house. I would leave work with a 20 oz. cup filled with leftover espresso, chocolate syrup, and a few chunks of ice. Basically an iced mocha without the milk, and add about 6 shots of espresso. And my dinner would consist of an everything bagel with cream cheese and two frozen brownies. I would drink/eat the whole thing greedily and then do some homework, and then pass out happily in my bed. Last night, I ate a lot of sugar, sure. But you have no idea how wired I was. Basically, I have turned into that lady who shows up at MacDonald's and looks at her watch before ordering an iced tea. "Oh, it's after 2:00! I shouldn't be having this!" Back in college, I used to laugh about those people all day. But now, due to my lower sugar lifestyle and my extreme age, I have become one of them. I cannot take the sugar, and I'm going to be a damn bitch about it.

I feel like I should be euthanized soon, before it gets worse.

I should also note that I brought up Facebook this morning and a friend of mine is turning 30 today. Which means that I am inching ever closer to the big 3-0. You know, I don't care about the age THAT much. What I care about is that I would really like to have some shit figured out by then. Moreover, if I reach that (advanced) age, and I'm still living in this area, I will strongly consider stepping out in front of a train. You think I'm kidding. Surely she jests, you say. You will think that when you find my little red purse beside a coal car.

(Apparently not getting much sleep turns me into a 13 year old girl who has spent the last hour listening to Nirvana's Unplugged album on repeat.)

2.) I do not give two flying fucks about the royal wedding.
You know, when I woke up this morning, I lived in AMERICA. Land of things like Nascar races and Baconalia and simultanously puritanical and pornographic views on sexuality. We rebelled so that we didn't have to listen to "King-This" and "Queen-That" and whathaveyou. Basically, we gave up free healthcare for all so that we didn't have to deal with that shit. And now? NOW? It is like I'm living in a goddamned Disney cartoon. I don't care what she wears! I don't care what he wears! I don't care if the entire United Kingdom expands with so much pride and love and whatever that the fucking place explodes and we all get covered in commemorative Will and Kate nuclear detritus!

Listen people. I'm just going to put it bluntly. I very barely cared about my own wedding. I mean, it was great, and I got to wear a pretty dress and eat bbq and my dad bought me a lot of champagne and that was AWESOME. But what I really cared about was the marriage, and for the love of God, the honeymoon. Somebody's wedding who lives in a whole different country? Oh and I don't know these people? Yeah, fuck that.

And if I see another Facebook status about this shit, I will spit on the picture of a baby panda. In fact, I'm printing out the picture now because I know I'm going to see it oh, in about 4.5 seconds. HACK. See? I spit on you.

3). I hate your faux sympathy. My office building is big, ya'll. Like there's a whole bunch of different offices and a whole bunch of different groups here, and I just don't know everyone. Let's rephrase that: I don't care to know everyone. I mean, sure I'll smile at you if I see you everyday, even if I don't know your name. But do I care to really get to know you? Get your life story? Ask your views on current events? No. I'm a horrible person, you see. Anyway, last week, a lady who works here, yet who I do not know, suffered a horrible tragedy in her family. When I heard about it, I was saddened. Not because it happened to her, per se, but because the world is cruel and awful and this happened at all. A card was hurriedly sent around and I signed it, even though that I knew seeing my name there would not help her really in any consequential way. And over the week, I've thought of her a couple of times and sent good wishes her way, even though I don't really know her. What I haven't done, however, is talk about it all day everyday. I haven't asked for gory details, I haven't tried to bully others into signing yet another card that I have purchased, I haven't asked accounting to reimburse me for said card, I haven't sat around spewing half-truths just so that I can feel close to some horrible tragedy so that I can have that tiniest feeling of excitement that such a proximity can bring.

Every thing that has gone on in here since this happened is indicative of how much I hate the way death is handled in my area of the world. Here, death is not a natural part of life or even a private family matter that is handled with grace and tears and silent questionings. It is a motherfucking event. If someone dies, it is like the community is brought together to gossip and eat fried chicken and talk about how awesome each person is for having done the gossiping and the fried chickening. I grew up with that, and it saddens me that my children have to live amongst it for the remaining time that we are here.

Which brings me back to my first rant.

If you need me, I'll be listening to Ray LaMontagne and growling at small children.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Daredevil and the Superstar

Last night I took Sam to baseball practice. I had not been the one to take him since last Thursday, as Matt accompanied him on Sunday, and my mother in law took him on Tuesday because Matt and I had to take Gabby to an academic team event (more on that in a bit). I was anxious to see how he had improved.

However, Alice, of course, wasn't having it. She saw the trampoline and playground equipment and was off like a shot. Now, the last time we had been there, she had not been interested in the trampoline at all, and only interested in the first level of the playground stuff. But today, she got to the other side of the trampoline and was struggling to pull off her Dora sneakers (her "Boots-Boots" as she calls them). I warily helped her inside, feeling she would be safe since the thing is enclosed and she was the only one using it. She bounced a bit, and laughed maniacally.

At some point, two other girls walked over. One was maybe 6 or 7, and the other was about 10 or 11. They politely asked me if they could jump with Alice and told me they would be careful of the "baby." The older one even related that she had an infant cousin that she watched "all the time." I said ok, and told them that if Alice got uncomfortable, I would just get her out. Alice happily welcomed them by yelling "HI HI!!!" and point at her vintage-y Alice in Wonderland t-shirt (which you totally know she had) and saying "Allie." The two girls introduced themselves to, and took turns bouncing her lightly. Somewhere in this, they started a game where they would bounce, and then say "BOOM!" and all of them would fall down. Alice found this to be hysterical; they found Alice's fake falling and loud "BOOOOO!" yell to be amazing. They had fun for a good long while, and I stood there, smiling goofily and being amazed at my child, who was having fun with kids so much older than herself and putting herself in a situation that other kids her age would find frightening.

When Alice finally got tired, I got her out and put her shoes back on her. She didn't skip a beat walking over to the other playground equipment and crawling around on it. I watched in amazement as she shimmied up a small, two step ladder to the Allie-level she had played on last time (I had just lifted her to it last week!) and then up another ladder to a level with a slide. Then she crawled over to the slide and put her little feet at the top. Soon, she lifted her hands up and said, "Ready!" I watched in complete and utter awe, as my 19 month old baby slid safely down, breathing loudly before going through the whole thing again.

As I watched Alice get to the top of that slide, something hit me. There was this look in her eye, a kind of devil may care, watch-this kind of glint, that I recognized. In that moment, sitting at the top of the slide meant for kids much older than her, the wind blowing through her scant, feathery hair, the knees dirty on her 18-24 mo. jeans, I saw myself in her eye. She giggled, placing a still-chubby, starfish like hand over her little lips, and I could see me, smiling, heading into something unknown and unsure, but damn happy about it, and a little proud of my gregariousness. In just a second, it was gone, and she was sitting at the bottom of the slide, giggling. But she was mine--all mine in that moment. She has her father's hair and a Russian middle name, but in that moment, she was just me.

(I should take a moment from this sweetness and joy of my wonderful, loving parenting to relate that shortly after this moment, Alice was encountered by another 19 mo. old toddler. However, this toddler had a pacifier and didn't talk. At all. Alice introduced herself and started up some sort of odd conversation about rocks (I would assume), and when the other toddler didn't respond, she picked up a handful of very fine-grain gravel (the kind they use on playgrounds that is like a sandy mix stuff) and frustratedly hurled it at the kid. Yes, she did. And I had to take the other toddler and her very shocked elder sister to the bathroom and wash it out of her pacifier and nose. Yes, I did. It was in the older sister's braces, ya'll. But I guess it should be noted that the toddler still didn't say anything during the whole ordeal, or cry for that matter. At any rate, Alice is a social FAIL, and I am a great big parenting FAIL, three times over. Feel free to judge.)

The whole (good) moment though, was very similar to earlier this week when Matt and I accompanied Gabby to a Battle of the Books tournament. Gabby had sort of halfheartedly decided to do this competition. She had wanted to do it, then she couldn't talk any of her other friends into doing it, and there was this girl on the team who said something about her other friend....oh, you know, DRAMA. The kind you don't understand unless you are 12. So, Gabby had started off strong but then slacked off and hadn't read all of the books, much to the chagrin of her literature loving parents. At any rate, the county-wide competition was on Tuesday. Matt and I really didn't have any expectations for this, because we knew Gabby had slacked on the reading and we, despite pleading with her to bring us a list of questions to help her with, never saw her actually practice. Nevertheless, we both took off work early, left the other two monsters with Matt's mom, and headed over across the county to the competition.

I should probably note that Matt and I were huge geeks in high school, which you probably imagined. And we did this thing called PACE, which is a Jeopardy style academic competition for teams. On a scale of 1 to 10 of total nerddom, (one being, say, a frat party and 10 being a joint Star Wars/Star Trek convention with a chess club meeting in the back), PACE is about a 14. I went to the school in the county that won this thing year after year. Matt went to a school that is better known for its skankiness and prevalence of Natty Light cans in the parking lot. However, in my junior year (Matt's senior), they beat us in a competition, much due to the fact that Matt went out of his way to memorize every battle of WWII, with dates. Matt and I were dating of course (Hell, Gabby was in the audience). This, I shit you not, is a defining moment in our relationship. More tears were shed over that PACE match than over anything else I've ever experienced, including natural, med-free childbirth. I should also note that this is the only PACE match that I ever lost (we ended up beating them soundly in the tournament--the way that God wanted). And no matter how many times I beat that SOB at Trivial Pursuit (AND IT HAS BEEN A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT), he will always bring that shit up (and also the fact that he got a perfect score on the Writing SAT II, and I, ahem, did not). I tell you this, not because I want to relive my high school glory days, but rather because Battle of the Books is basically the same concept, except it is all about books. They even used the same buzzer system that we had back in the day. So, um, Matt and I were invested, despite the fact that Gabby was a little less so.

We get to the competition, and Gabby is not studying, but rather, playing Angry Birds. My blood pressure shoots up crazily, and I'm like, "SHOULDN'T YOU BE PRACTICING? DO YOU WANT TO GO OVER QUESTIONS? LIKE NOW? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CAN WE PLEASE?" And she just rolls her eyes and walks away. While I'm trying to calm down, she goes over and talks to the girl who up until last week had been her mortal enemy. They giggle and laugh and at some point decide that maybe, just maybe, they should read over some stuff. Before long it is time for the first match. The parents all take seats behind the players in the classroom (Matt takes stock of the other team, which includes a chubby Asian kid in a Star Wars t-shirt and tells me that "We're doomed."), and the match starts. And in that moment, Gabby transforms. As soon as the questions start, she takes the buzzer in her hand and straightens up her back. I was sitting behind her, couldn't even see her face, but oh shit, I knew what she looked like from the front. She looked like ME. I straighted my back, just like that, sat on my foot, JUST LIKE THAT. And I haven't done it since. And yes, Gabby is a rock star at this. She answers questions like you would not believe. They HANDILY win each match until the third one when the get defeated by 3 points. And my girl? My kid? She got 16 of their 19 points in that one. And she does it all with her back straight, her buzzer handled just so.

There are a lot of my traits that I hope to God my kids don't get. I'm shit with money, I can be a total ditz with stuff, I don't accept help when I should, I'm self-indulgent, and I try to bend the rules in a way that they should not be bent. But there are these moments when I see my kids doing something that I have done and enjoyed, something that makes ME an individual. And it feels so good. Like an affirmation, not on my parenting skillz as they are, but rather on me as a person. And most importantly, it reminds me of just how exciting it is--it makes me downright giddy--to get to experience it all again, in a slightly different, yet amazing, way.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Spring Shopping List: Beauty

So here you have it--the much-awaited follow up to "My Spring Shopping List: Fashion." Try not to wet yourself out of sheer excitement. And if you do, for the love of God, don't tie a hoodie around your waist and pretend that it didn't happen. We will all know anyway.

  1. Clinique Chubby Stick in Chunky Cherry. I originally wanted this item back in February after seeing it in (you guessed it!) Real Simple. Trouble is, everybody else wanted it too. I walked up to the Clinique counter at a local mall one day and asked to purchase it, and the lady looked at me, I shit you not, like I was in flames. She goes, "Honey, now we don't have any of those. We've had a real run on em. Did you not know how popular they are?" And I had to say that, no, I didn't know because really, I thought I was the only idiotic person who saw something in a magazine and said, "I WANTZ IT NOWWWWW!" Not to be swayed, I called two other malls the next Monday at work to see if they had it. Nope. One mall said they had it in Richer Raisin, but I WANT CHUNKY CHERRY AND I WANT IT NOW. (And by the way, seeing it typed out like that, I realize that Chunky Cherry sounds like a fetish film that I'd rather not imagine.) So I put it off. And then one day, I remembered it, put it on my list, and the rest you know because you read this blog. I woke up with a burning desire the next day to purchase it, took my kids to a nearby pizza restaurant under the auspices of "Moms Eat Free Monday's" and then took a quick trip to the lovely and exotic Belk store and purchased my large adult crayon. And I'm not disappointed. This is a great Spring lipcolor because I get the glory of wearing red lipstick, but without the hassles of having to line or to find a red that matches my skintone. The color is so light that it just doesn't matter. That said, the red really does do what I want it to which is to liven up all the whites and neutrals that I seem to be moving to this season. And for those of you who are into having lips that don't feel like sandpaper, it is moisturizing and silky. A big WIN here, I'd say. And I can understand the hype.

  2. Conair You Curl. When I first got bangs cut, I really wanted to rock them with loose waves. So I bought a curling iron (let's disregard the fact that up until that point, yes, I was a woman, born and raised and currently living in the South who did not own a curling iron). And I used it a couple of times. But I never really got the look I wanted. I always managed to get a few curls that were...kinkier than usual. And I got a few curls that were like freaking Robert Mapplethorpe photos (i.e., VERY KINKY--don't google image search that on your work computer if you are unsure as to what I just referenced). I blamed it all on the clamp. When really, I could just have easily blamed it all on my hair skillz which are nonexistent. But the curling iron seemed like a good place to place blame, so that's where it went. And I basically quit curling my hair because I like it straight and because I also acquired another fun beauty tool that I'll write about some other time (gotta give you a reason to come back!!!). But then, I saw some bloggers who had purchased the Conair You Curl, which did not have a clamp, and I felt rather vindicated that someone else had a clamp issue and that the good folks at Conair had seen fit to graces us with a clampless iron. And then I imagined how much I thought the glossy look and the wavy hair would really complete the Spring look I was going after. So, of course, I went out and bought it. The package contains the iron (of course), but also this wacky little glove that only has three fingers in it. I think it is worthless--I have very few nerve endings in my hands and fingers (or at least, I must, because I can basically withstand inhuman amounts of heat without realizing it), so I can curl sans protection. My husband thinks the glove is AWESOME. He puts it on and makes really, really bad jokes. We have seen him do the moonwalk in the glove--"Michael Jackson after a shop class accident!". He has tried to use it in the kitchen to comic effect, mostly while preparing bacon. And he has made many, many jokes about the faltering economy and the need to start paying for clothing items based on what actually you want it to clothe. ANYWAY, glove aside, I like the tool, and it is a good deal easier than a regular clamped curling iron. HOWEVER, if you have zero skillz like moi, you need to allow some time to really get to know the thing. And I haven't had that yet. I've used it maybe two or three times. I'm getting better, I'd say, but I'm still not creating perfect wavy loveliness, you know? The most important thing to note is that I probably do not have the patience for it. I try to section off my hair with clips so that I can curl individual sections, but I get so impatient that I end up really half-assing the last bits of hair. But that's me. And surely you're a better person. So you could really like it. I will say this: it heats up quickly, it does its job (if you have the skillz), and it is a lot easier to handle than a regular iron. And when I have used it, I have gotten compliments on my hair, even the first time when I screwed up a bit and ended up brushing the curls out a bit and finger combing it. So kudos on that. And Matt says it looks like a sex toy. So that's a plus too I guess!

  3. Olay Pro X Scrubber-Thingie (Clarisonic Rip Off). I'll just be honest and say I haven't purchased this yet. I am basically putting it on here because I want to see if others have and what they think. Here's the dealio: I really want a Clarisonic--it's been on my wish list for over a year now. In theory. But here's what would happen if I spent the $100 or so and bought one: I would love it for about a week. I would write a blog entry about how awesome it is. Then my usage would slowly taper off and I would forget about it. And it would lay on my bathroom counter and taunt me. And someday, when Matt finds out how much I spent on it, he would add it to the list of things that I've spent cash on and then forgot about a week later. Or at least, that's what I think I'd do. SO, I kinda want to purchase the Olay version for $30, see how it works and how I like it, gauge how much I would use it, and then decide if it is worth ponying up for the Clarisonic or sticking with the Olay version or just forgetting the whole thing and using a washcloth like the rest of the plebians. I'm pretty sure I will pick it up next time I'm at Target, just based on some reviews I've read on the blogosphere, but I'm still soliciting info on it. So let me know!

That's really all I have right now, which is good for my wallet I guess. In Spring/Summer, I tend not to put as much emphasis on make-up, although it is fun to play with sparkly stuff. So I'll probably be posting some on that. Which I realize makes me sound like a large dog that gets distracted by the shiniest toy. But if the shoe fits, rock the hell out of it. That's what I always say!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Spring Shopping List: Fashion

Something I do every season is make a list of the fashion things that I want to buy. It is not an exhaustive list, and I purchase more things that what I end up putting down. However, it helps me stay on track and keep from, say, purchasing yet another scoopneck black t-shirt when I already have four (and, I guess I should admit, none of those are perfect, so if you know, what the perfect scoopneck black t-shirt is, I invite you to tell me in the comments. Or, you know, purchase it and send it to me. Good karma, ya'll. Get some.)

Anyway, this time around, for good ole Spring 2011, I combined the beauty and fashion items onto one list, but today, I will post on the fashion items. So, my lovely lumpkins, you get to wait with bated breath on the next post, which will be creatively titled "My Spring Shopping List: Beauty." See what I did there? Calm down! I'll do it soon! Foaming at the mouth like that is not attractive. Maybe you should get that checked out.

  1. Nude peep toes. This was at the tip-top of my list because this is the thing I wanted the most. It is also the thing I have looked for the most exhaustedly. I have searched malls and Targets and several online boutiques. To be honest, though, I was wary of ordering online because of the issue of color. The thing about nude shoes of any kind, I think, is that they must be the right color, and a little mussing of the gradiant can really eff things up and turn a cute shoe into something that is not flattering. Therefore, online shopping is not the most convenient, especially when it takes FOREVER to get stuff shipped here and returned correctly (and I'll admit that a lot of that has to do with my own laziness in returning). Since my skin is roughly one half shade darker than a piece of white paper, I can't do a dark nude color. I was also afraid to do a suede--I tried a suede at Belk's one day, and for some reason, it wasn't flattering. Something about the texture of my skin. Maybe I need to moisturize more? I don't know. Suede is what I originally wanted, but I found myself having to walk away. Thankfully, I ended up finding a pair in TJ Maxx on Friday. I know! TJ Maxx! They are these shoes, however, not in a slingback. Everything else is exactly the same--color and all. These were the ones that flattered my skin the best, and I felt could do the most justice to all of my skirts and dresses. The one negative with these shoes is the fact that the heel is damn high. The platform on the front mitigates that and makes them pretty damn comfy, BUT I don't foresee me wearing these with trousers, which makes them a bit less versatile than what I at first desired. However, during spring and summer I wear mostly skirts and dresses, so this is not as big a deal as it could be. And for $40 (which is about half of what my original budget for this item was), I can definitely deal. I wore them yesterday with a denim pencil skirt and an army green button up with gold jewelry, and I liked the look a lot. Even though I ate a lot of salt over the weekend and I was crazy bloated. You didn't need that image did you? Sorry.

  2. Perfect Khaki Pants. I have never liked the khaki look to be honest. When I was in high school, khaki is what you wore when you were "dressed up" (because NO ONE wore dresses unless someone was dead or your mom made you and you were therefore a huge, huge laughing stock). Plus, I'm kinda messy, and having light colored bottoms on me just begs for me to spill barbecue sauce on myself and for a lot of cursing to ensue. But then, I saw this picture. And I thought, holy effing crap, I MUST HAVE A PAIR OF KHAKIS. POST HASTE. Because that's how my mind works. I have also hated beets my entire life, but if someone dressed them up and made them look preppily, fashionably relaxed and then piped some sunshine in on top of that, I would eat borscht for every meal. I iz dumb. ANYWAY, I must have a pair of khakis, and the only reason I don't have them right this very second is because I haven't found the world's greatest pair. Oh, and because I have one kid who needed all new baseball equipment this year and another who is going to a dance competition in a couple of weekends and I had to make hotel reservations and such. DAMN KIDS TAKING ALL MY MONEY. So, at some point, when the fashion and financial gods decide to jointly smile on me, I am going to trek to my local Gap and find my size in these (because their name says "Perfect". Would the Gap lie to me? NEVER.) I haven't ordered them because I'm unsure of the sizing and much too lazy to order three sizes. Were it two? Maybe. But three, possibly four? Yeah. And Gap's sizing is just fucked up enough that I would have to do that. Plus, I am a friend of my local Gap store on Facebook and they send me coupons everyday, so I can cash one in. If I ever decide to travel and hour and a half to do that.

  3. Perfect white shirt. I have never looked good in button downs, and actually, just ignored their existence for about 5 years or so. Also, I think I overdosed on them with all the flannel in the mid nineties. You can only take so many unbuttoned shirt over Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt in ones life, eh? But now that I've lost some weight and my boobs do not have their own orbital pull, I can pull one off. Hell, my favorite shirt right now is a button up. So I want a white one. I bought this one, and I like it a lot, but I'm wanting to expand with something a bit more casual, something that I can use to dress down a pencil but also add an air of pulled-togetherness to a weekend ensemble. I'm thinking this. My favorite button down is a chambray from Lands End Canvas, so I think it could work, and the price is really awesome. In fact, I don't know why this isn't hanging in my closet right now. I will once again direct blame on to my kids and Alice's burgeoning addiction to fruit leather.

  4. Gold hoop earrings. I have worn exclusively silver/white gold/platinum jewelry for years now, but I have found myself wanting more gold. Strange, I know. I don't know where this came from--I haven't seen any pretty pictures of gold jewelry that distracted me from my long held fashion beliefs. It started, I guess, when I got these earrings, which were sort of a gateway drug for me. That, and a silver necklace with a gold "M" on it that Sam got me for Christmas. Whatever the reason though, I now dream in gold. To ease my desires, I bought a cheap pair at Target so that I could decide if I really want like them or not. So far so good. I especially like the look with the white Gap button down.

  5. White dress. Deep down, I think, all women want to be Marianne Faithfull. We would all want to be shacked up in an English estate with a few members of the Rolling Stones (what is my obsession with the Rolling Stones, one wonders?), left to make legends of ourselves and eat a bunch of candy bars. But moreover, Marianne is obviously one of the more fashionable, gorgeous ladies who has ever walked the planet, and when I think of her, I think of her with blunt cut bangs, flipped out hair, and a white dress. I dream of rocking this look all day. Like I imagine myself eating breakfast (note: I eat a really boring breakfast) in a lovely white dress, my hair effortless, all rock and attitude and swagger. This can be the only reason why I ponied up $130 big ones and bought this dress. Having read the comments, I sized down, and yes, this is a lovely item. I adore it. I wore it last Friday to the Garden Faire, Memorial Day be damned (although I did wear it with black leggings and my Frye's to make it a bit more appropriate). I have come up with at least half a dozen more ideas for it since I bought it, which will be another post for another time.

  6. Fedora. And yes, some of them involve a straw fedora. Haven't found one yet, but haven't really looked that much. Will update with progress as it happens! Definitely hold your breath!

  7. Nude cork wedges. Another thing I haven't looked for that much, mostly because most of my shoe energy has been used on finding the nude peep toes. I foresee me getting some that can roll with the self-tanner I will be applying in mass quantities once hardcore spring finally decides to hit. These are an inspiration, but would like to find something in a lower pricepoint, and maybe with more strapping. For some reason, I see an ankle strap here. Why an ankle strap? I have no fucking clue.

  8. White jeans. White jeans are a staple for me--I love the look. I have worn them when I was a 14/16, I have worn them in a 4, and I have always found the look flattering, fresh, and cool. The problem is, I am messy, so I get one season of wear out of a pair, tops. I have purchased a pair of cropped ones with a nice cuff from Target (their Merona line, believe it or not, is a good place to look for unfussy jeans--the rise is not too low, and they have a selection of fits that is pretty nice. You should definitely size down though. I do a 4, and I would love to live on the planet where I am a true size 4). I need a full length pair though. I did Gap Long and Leans last year, which is probably what I will return to this year. However, Gap did eff with the Long and Lean fit a little last Fall, so I'm hopeful that it isn't too screwed up now. Why you gotta do that to me, Gap?

  9. Colorful, lightly embellished tees. What I'm looking for here, is basically a t-shirt in a more refined fabric that I can wear with a skirt to work or with jeans on the weekend. So far, I have two--a lively coral one with a pintucked top from Old Navy (not online) that I am wearing right now, and a navy scoopneck with ruched sleeves from TJ Maxx. See, I'm not looking for anything expensive. Here is probably the only place where quantity approaches quality because I foresee me wearing a lot of these shirts, especially on days where I have to go straight from work to the baseball field. However, I still want the fit to be nice and the embellishment to be enough to create interest without being "OMG, BECKY. LOOK AT HER SHIRT. SHE MUST BE ONE OF THOSE RAP GUY'S GIRLFRIENDS." So basically, I want it all, and I don't want to pay much at all to own it. Kay? Simple enough? Good.

So there you have it. What is on your spring list, and how successful have you been in finding these things thus far?

Monday, April 18, 2011

For the Love of Men

It is always fun when someone that is not familiar with me or my past hears me say how old Gabby is. They take a minute where they look at me, taking it all in. You can see them try to place my age. Then, their brow furrows a bit and you can see them trying to do the math. Most of the time, at this point, they just ask me how old I am. Then they try to do the subtraction again. Most people don't say much at this point. A few though, soldier on bravely and get me to admit that I, yes, had my daughter at 16, and yes, she lives with me, and no, I'm not addicted to anything harder than Diet Coke.

Such was the case a few weeks ago when a coworker of mine finally put it all together. We ended up having a nice chat about kids, college, and life stuff. She was complimentary of me and my daughter, and we were kind of finishing up--I was about to go run some copies, she about to go do whatever she needed to do. Then all of a sudden she says, "The only mistake you made, the way I see it, is in getting married. You shouldn't have done that."

Because obviously marrying the man you've been in love with since you were 15 years old and has sired your two pre-marriage children was pretty dumb.

You know, I shouldn't say it that way, I guess, because that kind of simplifies the whole thing. If this comment had existed in a vacuum, I probably wouldn't pay it a lot of mind. But it doesn't. In my office, of the women I frequently eat and converse with, I am the only one who is currently married. Everyone else is divorced and remains unmarried. Two have long-term boyfriends who, most of the time, seem to be hated/barely tolerated because of domestic needs. A frequent lunch time conversation topic is how horrible men are and what this particular one did to me, remember him? This explains why I've been more likely lately to eat my lunch at my desk with or Facebook as my lunch mate. And the thing is, these are all lovely ladies, who I like to spend time with. It's just that as women, one thing we think we all have in common is how much we dislike the other.

It is also worth noting that this kind of talk/behavior doesn't exist in a vacuum either. Women everywhere share the same kinds of conversations about men. I was talking about this to Matt the other day and he reported similar situations at every workplace he's ever had--and he said he was amazed at what women brought up in front of him, so he could only imagine what they said when he was not around. Hell, watch commercials once in a while. Men make messes! (Women have to clean it up!) Men will not commit! Men prefer beer and yardwork to just about anything else! It seems that companies think that the only way they can appeal to women is by denigrating men.

Perhaps it is just my background of having found someone I really, really like when I was young and then not having to fuss around the whole institution of dating later on, but I find this all troublesome. I like men. Just like I like women. I like PEOPLE. If you are funny and nice and intelligent and have correct opinions on things like abortion, healthcare and The Rolling Stones, then I want to hang out with you. Hell, even if you don't have those opinions, as long as you don't start screaming about Glenn Beck the second you see me, then you are probably pretty cool. Let's hang out. We can be friends. I don't care what kind of sexual equipment you are carrying around. You're a person, I'm a person. Let's talk. Even more importantly, I don't think any thing negative about you because you are a man. I don't imagine that you make messes, I don't think you are frightened by Zales stores in the mall. Just as I hope you don't imagine that I enjoy the color pink and having my nails done. Because ohmygod I hate fingernails and anyone touching my fingernails or anyone saying the word "fingernail." I am not even kidding--shivers are running down my spine right now. ICKIE ICKIE OO OO.

As I type this, I can hear the counter-argument swirling in my ears: "But I don't hate all men! Just the ones who did this to me! He was horrible! Have I told you what he did! ACK!" And my answer is this--SO WHAT. Get over it. Discussing it for the rest of your life is not going to help. There are better things to complain about. Do you even watch TV? There is some seriously fucked up shit out there, masquerading as entertainment. Complain about that.

But let's get back to me, because it is all about me, amirite? When I think of this phenomenon, it makes me look at my relationship with Matt in a new light. Not only is he my husband, but he's my best friend as well. I can't imagine a day without him in my life. And I'm mature enough to say that we have both hurt each other more times than we can count. You do things in a marriage, in any relationship, and you knowingly or unknowingly hurt the other person. That's just what you do. But then you fix it. Or you try. And you think about what you love about the other person and you live for the moments when you see that. I'm not downplaying anyone's divorce because people (men AND women) do really messed up things to other people and divorce is there for that. But a relationship is work. Hard work. And no divorce was ever caused by one person alone, male or female.

Even beyond that, though, I look at Matt and I know that even if we got divorced for some reason that I can't foresee now, I would want to talk to him every day. I would want his opinion on things. He knows me better than anyone else, he knows what I'm thinking when I'm lying through my teeth, he knows the tone I get in my voice when I'm saying something really passive aggressive about someone else and am trying to hide it. For better or worse, he's a big part of who I am, both as a person and as a mother. And I want that in my life, no matter what comes my way in the future.

Yesterday, we took the kids to an Easter egg hunt and then came back home and laid in bed and drank milkshakes and ate waffle fries. We were just laying there in the bright and sunny room, the bed messy and the floor piled with stuff I needed to clean up. There was a silence there, and a comfort, and a love and I couldn't help but think that because of that moment and so many more we have had, I could never say an ill word about the guy. When my coworker said that, I should have replied, "No, marrying him was one of the precious few good decisions I've ever made." I should have stood up for him in all those lunch time coversations about men. But I didn't.

I hope that next time, I remember the nubby feeling of the sheets on my legs, the warmth of his breath, the funny conversation about his friend Roy that made me laugh so hard I snorted, and I do.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Kids are Amazing #845

Last night, Sam had his first practice for minor league baseball. He was supposed to have practice on Tuesday, but it rained. Originally, I didn't think Sam was going to be that into minor league. He played t-ball the last two years, and loved it, but mostly loved the fact that he was outside and could get into on-field shenanigans while grandparents and parents looked on. Yes, he was the kid running around, doing pratfalls on second and attempting to roll halfway to third. But anyway, when the practice was rained out on Tuesday, he cried. Like big buckets of tears. I was amazed that he was looking forward to it that much (and even more amazed when he wailed, "The ONLY thing that will make me feel better is if you let me WASH THE DISHES). So, obviously, he was looking forward to last night.

We got there early, so he ran over to the playground/trampoline that is near the field. I could hear him conversing with the other two boys who were already there. They were both a couple of years older than him, and quite a bit bigger. Still, he was hanging tough, telling them (loud) stories about science shows he has watched (black holes were brought up several times) and other random things that I remain incredulous that boys actually talk about. Pretty soon, they had warmed up to him, and they were all playing together. When they went on the field to start practice, I was happy that he had found someone to pass with and that he still seemed excited.

This is where it gets funny. Sam, it seems, had decided to work on some freakish Tim Lincecumesque throwing delivery, so his coach had to come over and give him some pointers. You could really see the wheels turning as he worked to get his throwing right. And that was cute. But the best part was the fact that during the whole thing, he loudly cheered for himself, his throwing partner, and his coach. When he threw it, he would yell "GOOD ONE!" and when the kid catching it caught it, we'd here "NIIIIIICCCCE!" When the coach caught it, he said, "Great job!" At one point, he yelled out, "J'AIME THE BALL!" because no minor league practice session is complete with a little Franglais.

When it came time to bat, I tried to corral Alice, who up until this point had just been walking around, occasionally playing with rocks, so that I could see Sam bat. The first two kids were the older ones and they did well, easily smacking pitches around with some ease. Then it was Sam's turn. Sam walks up there, and for some reason, thinks it is a good idea to stand on home plate facing the pitcher head on. Never mind the fact that this kid has played t-ball, so he knows how to hold the bat (I had even reminded him before we left the house). Never mind that his parents used to have season tickets to baseball games so he's seen a few batters in his life. Never mind all that. There he stands. On home plate. The coach, who I'm sure at that point decided to pick up a case of beer on the way home, comes over to show him how to stand. He listens and does it--kinda. So the coach starts pitching to him (underhanded, I might add). He doesn't hit it. Every once in a while he hits it softly, or hits a foul ball. In the middle of this, Alice, who had been trying to sort white rocks out of the rest of the gravels, decides its time to have a nice trek back to the playground, so I have to follow her, walking to a place that is much farther away from Sam. But I'm watching the whole time.

At some point, I begin praying. Now, I'll tell you: I am not a religious person. Not even a spiritual person. I am nothing. I spent the better part of my childhood and adolescence deeply enmeshed in organized religion (and not just that, SOUTHERN organized religion), so religion and I are having a well-deserved break right now. When someone asks me my religious views, I say "From afar" which is partly said because I think it is funny and partly because it is oh so true. But at this point, I am praying like Jerry Falwell right before a fried chicken luncheon. "Please, God," I say, "Please let him hit it. I will go to church. I will build houses for the homeless. I will never say curse words again (except in very real, extenuating circumstances that involve the stubbing of toes or especially bad plays made by Athletics third basemen). Just let him hit it." And I watch as best I can, but he doesn't. He just swings and the pitches go by.

Alice walks around the playground for a few minutes, and then we walk back towards the field. Sam has finished batting and is now walking back out on the field. His head is down, and I imagine him crying softly. I wonder if I can return the batting helmet that I had just bought, if some other kid can use the glove.

But then he looks up at me with this huge smile and his blue eyes are crazy big and filled with joy. "MAMA! DID YOU SEE THAT! I HIT IT FIVE TIMES! I AM AWESOME!"

Yes. Tears sprung to my eyes at that moment, which is again, odd because just as I am not religious, I am not sentimental or sweet or tear-y either. I choke them down, and yell with abandon, "YES, SAM, YOU DID GREAT! YOU ARE AWESOME!"

He takes his spot between first and second and spends the rest of the practice making the other kids laugh and trying to remember to field the ball when it is hit at him. Some of the other kids bat much the same as him--not hitting much at all--and I am happy to see that. He doesn't notice. He is too happy with what he has--new friends, a new glove, a sunny spring afternoon, a killer batting stance.

When practice is over, he sprints to the car, brimming with news about a "special" practice for him and a few of the other kids on Sunday. How awesome! He can't wait! Can he come early!?! Can we bring brownies!?! Can Daddy come too!?! I just nod. He does his homework and then when I'm putting him into bed, he says, "Mom, I think I'm going to go all the way to the major leagues." I smile and tell him that he'll have to practice. He seems happy with that. When I look out again, he is asleep and when I look at his face, I see the fat little baby who I wondered so much about. Would he be smart? Funny? Would he be happy? And I feel very, very proud that he is all that and so much more.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Becoming "That" Mom

Last night I spent the evening doing a science project. I don't have to tell you that I wasn't happy about it. Ya'll, I'll just be real: I hate science. Science is what happens when the devil and math have babies. I don't understand it, I don't want to understand it, and seriously, I'd kinda like to pretend that it doesn't exist.

But 7:00 pm found me writing the steps of the scientific method on a poster board (you see, I have better handwriting than my daughter does. And our printer ran out of ink. Right before the washer overflowed. Did I mention that? Cause it happened. And yes, it was horrible.) And 8:00. And at 9:00, Gabby was finishing up, and I was rocking on the couch, moaning inconsolably about hypotheses. We worked hard on that project really, for the last two nights. Both of us. Because here's the thing guys: when a teacher assigns a project, he/she doesn't assign it to the kid. Nosiree. He assigns it to the kid, his/her parent (the one who is unlucky enough not to be working late), and possibly the kid's neighbors who have to open up the door when the kid and her mother are standing (in the rain) with yogurt cups of different colored liquids saying, "Here. Drink this. FOR SCIENCE."

Gabby told me that she had to do this project two days ago. On Monday. And that it was due on Wednesday. For those of you who aren't parents and don't have the intimate knowledge of elementary school science projects, I'll just tell you this. That ain't a lot of time. Especially when a good deal of the science projects you can find listed online take multiple days to do. Like last year when we used vinegar to turn an egg into a bouncy little rubber ball. That took days just for the experiment. Add that to the fact that you have to scramble for materials (and some of them take some doing to find in a rural area like ours), and you are really looking at not much time. I, of course, immediately started lecturing Gabby about telling me these things. At first, she took it like a champ (meaning, of course, stared at me with steely indifference, all the while pondering how best to put the Nair in my shampoo), but then she started telling me that she didn't know about it. The teacher had only told them about the project that day. And even then, I continued on with my lecture. Responsibility! Timeliness! Work ethic! I can really get on a roll with these things. But she persisted. She hadn't known.

And I realized that she was probably right and probably not lying about it. Gabby's science teacher is, in PC terms, eccentric. In non-PC terms, she's an idiot who probably shouldn't be left with a room full of cats, much less impressionable children. Gabby couldn't tell you diddly-squat about anything science related, but she sure can tell you about who got up during science class and sang a Katy Perry song and did the hula. Because that stuff happens. Every day. Every parent of every kid who goes to my daughter's school knows about this teacher and kind of laughs about it. But no one really does anything. Because, you know, that would take effort. And I think we all want to think that when we send our kid to school, they will actually have a productive time. And then we stop thinking about it because there are bills to pay and practices to get to and the car needs oil. We just assume that things are going as they are supposed to.

But we did the science project. And then when Gabby was getting ready for bed, she comes out of her room and lets me know that some kid told her via Facebook chat that they didn't actually have to do it. That because the teacher didn't tell them in time, the whole thing was off. I told her that kids spread stories like that and sent her on to bed so I could watch the goddamned A's. Then, I checked my own Facebook and another parent had posted something similar on my wall. Still not feeling sure about it, despite the fact that this parent said she had gotten a call from the school stating as much. Then this morning, I get a call from another parent wondering if Gabby was bringing her project because she thought her daughter and Gabby would be the only ones. Awesome.

So I came to work and I wrote a careful, nicely thought out email to the principal about the whole situation. The lack of communication. The antics I hear about every day. I proofread it about 10 times to make sure I didn't come off as crazy lady, and I sent it on.

And then my stomach hit the ground and I immediately thought, "OH SHIT. I have become "that" mom." You know, "that" mom. She's the one who calls the softball coach to make sure her kid gets playing time, threatening stuff about going to league officials. The one who begs the College Board for extra time on her kid's SAT despite the fact that he has never been diagnosed with any kind of learning difference. The one whose kid never does anything wrong, it is always the teacher/other kids/Twinkies. I have always prided myself on not being her. But now, I am her. I am the emailing mom. The principal will probably roll his eyes at me the next time I come in the office.

I adore my kids. Like flat out, I am freaking in love with them. They are awesome. But they are kids. They are going to screw some stuff up. When I was a kid, I was like Godzilla, and my mother's poor brain was like Tokyo. So when something like this happens, my first thought is, "Ok, first, how do I get through this? Second, is this face mean enough to show how FILTHY STINKIN' MAD I am at this kid?" Because I know the kind of crap I pulled. And I know that my kids will be no different. So, yeah, I blame them. So when something like this happens and it ends up not being their fault, I feel guilty that I thought that in the first place, but also even more mad that someone dropped the ball. Because it's ok that kids mess up. I expect it. But adults? And the adults that are working with my kids? Yeah, not so much.

Which I'm sure is the justification "that" mom has when she pens her 50th email to the soccer coach. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Self Hating Baby

You know that Dave Chappelle skit where he is a KKK member that doesn't realize that he is black? You know, that one that every guy you went to college with made you watch about 10 times because they thought it was so "groundbreaking" and "genius?" (And yes, I'll admit that Dave Chappelle is pretty damn funny.) Anyway, that black KKK guy is totally Alice.

Alice is going through a phase right now where she talks seemingly endlessly about babies. Certain things (the backpack carrier, certain toys, graham crackers) are for babies. And she, as best I can tell, is not a baby. She has a few dolls or stuffed toys that are babies. Infants we see in their baby carriers in Target are babies. Not Alice. She is a grown up with a love for freeform jazz and tax exemptions.

Last night, Alice was still inexplicably up after the other two kids were in bed. She has a runny nose right now, which has forced her schedule a little off track as far as naps/sleep goes, but she was still in a good mood and happy. I was indulging her (and watching the A's). She went over and picked up a Dora Beanie Baby type thing that my mom bought her when she was in last. She held it up to her shoulder and patted it. "Good baby," she said. I told her that yes, Dora was a good baby. She picked up the matching Boots. "Sweet baby," she said. I nodded. She walked over to me and sat down in my lap. "Mommy no baby," she said. No, I'm not a baby, I told her. "Allie no baby," she said. I hugged her, and without thinking, said, "Oh, Alice, you are my baby! You'll always be my baby!"


At this point, she is facing me and looks pretty damn perturbed. So I did what any good mother should. I told her that she wasn't a baby. She was a big person, and it was time for her to go out and earn her keep, perhaps in the coal mines. Alice, now satisfied, turned around and watched the baseball game like a good grown-up should.

The funny thing is, I feel like I am clinging on to baby-ness more so with Alice than I did the other two kids. I dress her in little dresses, in things that aren't frou-frou by any means, but that bely her youngness and sweetness. I persist with things like backpack carriers and sippy cups, when I had Sam drinking out of a regular cup by 18 months (and Alice can do it to, I just choose not to force the matter). And, of course, she is still breastfeeding. Most importantly, when I look at her, I see BABY. Despite her protests to the contrary.

Perhaps it is in response to nothing that she has done, but rather because Gabby seems to be growing up so damn fast lately. There has been talk of her attending a 7th grade prom (she is in sixth grade), and Matt caught her chatting away on her iPod the other night at 1:30 a.m (she was on Spring Break, so we didn't take the iPod like we normally do on school nights). So while I really want to slow Gabby down a bit, I take it out on Big Al. Who is not a baby. Must remember that. Not a baby.

I am an only child, so it remains very interesting to me the kind of dynamics between my three kids. I never saw this kind of thing growing up, so now, seeing it as a parent, and seeing how I relate to each child as a sibling, is very nearly mindblowing. I was a happy only child growing up, but seeing how the kids play now, with their inside jokes and petty skirmishes makes me wonder what I missed out on. Or not. Yesterday, Sam and Gabby gave each other matching facial lacerations (interestingly enough, right after I posted on Facebook how happy I was that they were playing with each other), so I'm kinda glad I didn't experience that. Interestingly, though, 15 minutes later, they had made up and were playing with Alice and some Hot Wheels cars and laughing so hard I had to turn up The Barefoot Contessa to drown out their jubilation. Yup, I'm that mom. The one who turns up the TV to drown out her children's joy.

Alice, however, remains my baby, despite her protestations. I have a friend who has a newborn (or, really, about 15 friends scattered throughout the country--I maintain that the best way to get knocked up is to friend me on Facebook), so I am really wanting to take Alice to see the baby just to see what she would do when confronted with a real-life specimen. Love it much as she loves the stuffed Dora? Or burn a cross in its yard? The mind boggles. For now, though, the most important thing is to remember that Alice is no man's baby.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Two Make-Up Product Reviews that Allow You to Have Sex with Joe Mauer

Seems there are a lot of Joe Mauer fans out there, as my Google Analytics would attest. So I'm catering to that demographic. From now on, I will only provide insight into how you (YES, YOU!) can have sex with Joe Mauer.

He's looking at you, thinking, "Hey girl. You want some pearly skin? Pretty little easy to do eyes? Hmmm... Yeah, girl, I want you to have that. So we can be together. Now, talk to me, girl. Talk to me about how you do your eyeliner. Because that's sexy to me. Then I'll cook you some blackened salmon that I caught this morning and we'll call some pitches. And by "call some pitches," I mean "make sweet love." I'll leave the gear on if you want."

And since Joe Mauer wants it, here you go!

L'Oreal The One Sweep Eye Shadow (in Natural Brown)--I bought this, I'm not gonna lie, because it was featured in Real Simple magazine. I pretty much will buy just about anything found on the pages of Real Simple. For real. I really like the magazine because it is clean and just damn pleasant to look at. And well, I'm very gullible. And a bit of a spender. Basically, I should never be allowed out of my home with more than $.53 in my pocket. Anyway, the magazine says you can do your eyes "in a blink" because you apply all three colors at once. And I need that in my life, you know? I mean, sure, I don't spend that much time on my eyes as it is. But I could shorten my make-up routine by about 45 seconds. And that 45 seconds is time that I could use laying on my couch and pondering the meaning of life. Or lamenting the lack of a decent third baseman the A's could have picked up this past off-season. You know, important stuff. So, in the cart it goes!

So I bring it home, and I'm trying to figure it out. Yes, you just sweep the thing over the eyeshadow. I see that. And you flip it over to do the other eye. But which way do you have to hold it? Is it this way for this eye or that way? Or upside down? See, I don't have a Ph.D. in astrophysics, so this was hard for me. Or, rather, I guess I should say, I don't have a lick of common sense, so this was painful for my brain. I'm standing there, staring at the sponge in my underwear, and Matt walks in to the bathroom. Cue scene:

Matt: What are you doing?

Me: Shut up. I'm trying to figure out how to put my eyeshadow on. It's hard!

Matt: HA! That's what she said.

(pause--he's standing in front of the toilet, motionless)

Me: What are you doing?

Matt: Shut up. I'm trying to figure out how to pee.

Anyway, I got it on. And I'll tell you, it is not flawless. I mean, I don't know what anyone expects when they swipe on ready-shadow (which is my new name for it), but you're not going to have a perfect little mosaic terrine of stripes of eyeshadow. It is more of an, let's say, artful smudge. I dressed it up with a bit of Clinique Eyeliner. And you know, I like the look. It is fast, I guess. I guess though, I don't see the three colors really well just staring at it on my eyes. I will say that the color is nice, and if you were a real 4.0 type student, you could just use a brush and apply them one by one in a more artful manner. But the 45 seconds you're wasting! My God! Won't someone think of the children!

One of my coworkers commented me on my eye make-up the other day, though, while I was wearing it. So Joe Mauer approves.

Note: Joe Mauer would never make fun of your inability to put on your eye make up and to figure out something that was seriously hard.

Benefit Girl Meets Pearl: I have actually had this for a long time. In fact, I ordered it when I ordered the Patti Smith book I wrote about the other day. Anyway, I wanted to touch on it because Joe Mauer would totally approve of this shit. Mauer aside, I'll tell you that I'm very partial to Benefit products. I like their packaging, and I love their stores. Plus, I don't think I've ever had a product of theirs that I didn't really like (although I will admit that Bad Gal isn't my favorite mascara, but it is not horrible). Also, I feel like their stuff lasts. Maybe not as much as Nars blush (and bronzer) but pretty damn close. I have had the same bottle of High Beam for about 4 years now, and it is still ticking away. Granted, I don't use it as often as Nars Orgasm, but it is a great product to have for spotlighting, especially at night. Girl Meets Pearl comes in a tick up container, not so unlike That Gal, which is Benefit's primer (and which I also use as a light sumthin'-sumthin' on days when I don't wear foundation). This causes some problems for little ole dumb me who sometimes can't remember which way to turn it to get more. SHUT UP. DON'T TELL ME THAT YOU HAVEN'T BEEN THERE.

Anyway, once you figure that out, this stuff is AH-MAZING. Like Joe Mauer homerun trot good. Why? Because it is subtle. Like the subtle masculinity of a man who lives in the wilds of Minnesota. Best part? You can rock this during the day, ya'll. In fact, I'm wearing it right now. It gives just a hint of light, a kind of "lit from within, I eat a lot of veggies and never ever have I touched a piece of Smore's Pizza from Mr. Gatti's" glow. Plus, it smells good. Which is not something I usually notice/care about. And the smell fades, of course. But it is a little treat to put it on.

A note on how I use it: I usually dab it directly on my cheekbones and smear outwards. You could really do anything with it though.

So go out and buy these, and Joe Mauer will want to have sex to you. He will come to your house, next time he is town, carrying a single red rose. He will serenade you with "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" and it will make you cry because it will make you think of that time that Kelly broke up with Zack. But before one tear falls, he will catch it and remind you that he came to see your eye make-up, so you shouldn't blow it now. And then, you guys will...well, you know. So make-up! Go get it!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An Open Letter to Teachers Everywhere

Hi Teachers!

First off, let me just say, if you are a good teacher, and you love your job and you imbue your work with the care and love that it should be imbued with, CONGRATULATIONS. I FUCKING LOVE YOU. You are amazing and wonderful and you are truly a much better person than me. No kidding. You are. I was in W&M's education program, oh, for about 3 months before I made the very mature (and selfless!) decision that I was destined to become not an educator, but a very wealthy and fantastic writer. And that sitting around, drinking coffee and talking about Tolstoy was a viable career path. Oh, and that I hated all children that were not mine. So, you know, while the decision to become a writer is not the most, um, lucrative one that I've ever made, it is probably good that I am not around anyone's kids. I guess you've noticed that I curse a lot. Yeah. And I make a lot of really bad "That's what she said!" jokes that really could influence America's youth to roll their eyes so much that their faces freeze like that.

(And to those of you who suck at your job and spend just about every damn day sitting in the gym, watching old SNL skits on the gym teacher's iPad [yes, you] while your students copy things out of a textbook written in 1987, you suck. Go sit in an office somewhere where you can't fuck much up, kay?)

Anyway, here's the thing, teachers. You have a job that I do not envy. And you do not get paid enough for it. You should get paid in, like, panda pelts and gold bullion. But you don't. And that is unfortunate. BUT. But. That doesn't mean that you have to dress like an unfortunate hobo who sat outside the Golden Girl's lot in 1989 and made your living absconding with all the polyester pantsuits you could carry. That also does not excuse teacher sweaters. Yes, if you've ever purchased a clothing item from the store part of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, I'm talking about you. You should really try to dress for more success than what you are doing.

Because here's the thing, my lovely educators. I work in a building that hosts a lot of meetings for teachers. There is one going on all week here, and as I speak, there is a mass of you guys walking around. And here's the thing: whenever a clod of teachers is in the building, I can pick them out. I'm not kidding. Even if I haven't read the email they send out in the morning to tell us who is in the building (and I'll be honest and say that I never read that email), I can tell who the group of teachers are. How? Well, because there is usually one group of them (out of the whole) that is very loud and a bit obnoxious, and because they are dressed poorly. Either much, much too casual or dressed in horrible, outdated business casual with strappy nighttime heels. Because nothing says professional like a lavender pant suit with satin shoes! Amirite?

Ladies, it doesn't have to be this way. I follow one blog of a teacher (the lovely Musings on the Mountain) and she is always dressed beautifully and very appropriately for her job. Also, she always manages to combine things that look fresh with appropriate footwear, which is important and which I honestly need to do better with myself. There are many other blogs out there that I could link, but you know that I'm too lazy too. But the moral of the story is this: it is doable. And you know, I'll tell you, it is doable on a budget. Right now, I am trying to acquire a spring/summer wardrobe that is not too expensive since I am losing weight and don't have a clear sight of what size I am/want to be/will be in June. And I have purchased a good deal of it from the mighty trifecta of Target, Old Navy, and TJ Maxx. You just have to be choosy and spend wisely.

Most importantly, I will remind you that it is not selfish to give a shit about what you look like. I think a lot of people who work in such a selfless line of work tend to put themselves on the back burner a lot, and honey, you shouldn't do that. Because you are doing a damn good thing, and you know, you should be proud of that. And take pride in what you do and how you look and how just generally awesomesauce you are. I take pride in myself, ya'll, and I have a boring office job where I spend a good deal of the day trying to make things look pretty with the Microsoft Office Suite. are saving the world from illiteracy! You are like Captain Planet!

So, teachers, turn that dial to 11 and throw out the polyester. I assure you--you will be happier, and since we all know that it is all about me, I will be happier. Which is very important. Because when I am not happy, I judge you silently. Just putting that out there.

Anyway, love forever,


PS: If you get my son in school, and he uses the word "Juicebag," I'm sorry. He's been doing it for years, and I find it way too cute to correct. I'm sorry about that. Just as I am a failed education student, I have my moments where I epicly fail as a parent. Maybe you can overlook it since he is kind of cute and reads pretty well. If he uses it, just tell me, and I'll bake you some cookies.