Thursday, July 29, 2010

The post in which I don't talk about stuff

So I know I mentioned a little thing about a job interview yesterday and yes I did indeed have a job interview but I don't think I'm going to say anything about it here. Not because it did not go well-it did. But because a. my head is still spinning and 2. I'm conflicted and also c. if I do take a job I will not be blogging about it for privacy place privacy that is, not my own. Suffice it to say I tossed and turned all night and finally fell asleep only to be awakened in what felt like the middle of the night because my hubs left the alarm set from yesterday when he got up at ridunkulous o'clock. And our clock is up high on his armoire and is operated by a miniature remote control which is kept on his side of the bed so not only can I not easily reach it but I cannot read the buttons when I do.

On the bright side, I'm having my highlights done today so all will soon be almost right with the world. And then I'm going for a pedicure. There is nothing like a great haircut and color topped off with a pedicure to clear the foggy head and provide clarity about life's big decisions. At least that's what I'm hoping.

Plus, I think...I think that I might possibly meet my very first blog stranger friend tomorrow. And I'm not going to say anything else about that either. Aren't you glad you popped in here today to not read about stuff. I will most definitely be writing about it after the fact but I want to make sure it actually happens before I do.

Enjoy your weekend everyone...hey, it's Thursday, that's practically the weekend, right?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A little nepotism, a lot of random

It's Wednesday which means it's time for the weekly random dozen you have come to count on. Right?

Here we go...

1. I feel much more like an official blogger now. Daughter1 designed an original header for me which I think is really cute. I like a simple page background so we looked around to find something that would coordinate with the header. When I asked daughter1 if she thought this one was too yellow she said, 'No, yellow is kind of your color.' I asked if she meant on my blog and she said 'No, in life'. She's a keeper that one!

2. If you are interested in a blog header of your very own visit her blog Sincerely Shannon and let her know. She has done a few now for friends and will have pricing information up shortly.

3. I suppose I could call daughter1 by her given name since, if you read #2, it isn't much of a secret. Nah. I've grown accustomed to calling her Daughter1.

4. Hubs had a ridiculously early flight this morning and a button broke off his shirt sleeve just as he was getting ready to walk out the door. His ride was waiting in the drive so he stood breathing down my neck as I attempted to a. find a pair of scissors that were small enough and sharp enough to remove the remains of the old button b. thread a needle without using my reading glasses c. give up and thread a needle while wearing my glasses and d. finally sew on the button. All without coffee. That was pleasant.

5. We have finally gotten some sweet relief this week from the humidity and that pesky thing they call the heat index. It's nice to walk outside and not feel like you've just stepped into a pizza oven. Not that it's cool, it's just that temperature is relative.

6. I did not watch The Bachelorette this week. It was that strange episode they always have just before the finals where the contestants who were booted off come back on and talk about each other. Daughter2 and I were curious about the people who sit in the studio audience for this one. And listening to a group of men whine and 'tell all' is icky.

7. I finally took all my kitchen knives to be sharpened and wow! They are sharp! My husband says its only a matter of time now before we are at the ER reattaching one of my fingers or stitching up my hand. I blame it on genetics. The women in my family are not known for their prowess with a knife.

8. The bear. Monday morning my neighbor phoned to let me know a bear cub was at the end of our driveway. I missed him. This was his second visit (that we know of) in less than a week. We were away on Saturday and the same neighbors said they saw him stand on his hind legs with his front paws resting on the pillar that holds our driveway lights. He then proceeded to look around and sort of survey his domain. He seems to come out of hiding on the days we have our rubbish picked up which is why we never put ours out until the morning of and always bring the empty can immediately back inside. I'm slightly tempted to leave it and see if he shows. One question though...where oh where is mama bear? That would be good to know before I trek all the way to the curb unarmed. And by unarmed I of course mean without my camera.

9. I've got a couple of fun little short breaks planned in the next couple of weeks so I may be in and out of the blogosphere for a few days. That's all I'm sayin' about that.

10. Except to say that one of my short breaks will include seeing these guys...

What's your favorite Brooks and Dunn song?

11. I think the Garden State Parkway is one of the absolute worst roads in the universe to travel...always bumper to bumper, always cars zigging and zagging from lane to lane, always under construction, always at least one minor fender bender that backs up traffic for hours, almost always at least one major fender bender that backs up traffic for days and, best of all, you get to pay frequent tolls for the privilege of traversing this highway.

12. I have a job interview at 3 o'clock today. Or a discussion. Or something.

Thought I'd end with a cliff hanger...Happy Wednesday!

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Taylor over at The Lumberjack's Wife is starting a little online challenge for anyone who is trying to drop a few pounds. You can write a post on your own blog or leave a comment on hers if you want to take her up on it...I figure what do I have to lose except these last few pesky pounds?

When I was growing up I was 'stick thin' as they used to say. Or maybe they still do but whatever, I was skinny. Really really skinny... there was not an ounce of body fat on me anywhere. My stomach was oh so very flat and perfect. Sigh. I remember being kind of excited to reach the 100 pound mark. (Whyyyyyy????) I was in the 10th grade. Big sigh. When I went off to college everyone said, "Beware the freshman fifteen"..blah blah blah. No worries... I was the girl who could eat pizza at 3 o'clock in the morning and not gain a pound. I bought clothes because I liked them. I wore a bikini. I was active but not purposefully 'working out'. I didn't need to because no matter how much or how little I ate, how often or how seldom I exercised, I never gained weight. I was the woman who gained only 17 pounds while pregnant. Both times. And I was 30 years old when my youngest arrived. I didn't have to work to lose 'baby weight'...those few leftover pounds dropped off while nursing and caring for a newborn and a toddler.

Fast forward a decade and a half...I woke up one day to discover I was in my mid forties. And it was about that point in time that my metabolism said, 'hey let's slow this party right on down'. Honestly that is exactly how it felt. Like I went to sleep one night and woke up in someone else's body. Now, keep in mind that at the time I was living in the land of the world's best cream (England). Their motto is 'dessert is good but wouldn't it be even better with a little cream or custard poured on top?' By the way, yes it would. Anyway, we used to tell newcomers to the UK that they needed to beware the "ex-pat 15" because essentially you're living in a very social environment where you are attending breakfasts and luncheons and dinners full of fabulous food several times each week. We won't even mention the wine.

However, I was walking everywhere....into town several times each week, big hilly hikes out into the countryside each week, I joined a local gym, and I was on the go a lot. Still, something had changed. And I like to call that something hormones. They wreak havoc with your metabolism and create all sorts of other fun issues too...almost every woman I know has a metabolism malfunction when they hit their mid-late forties.

I am well within the normal weight range for my height but for me its more an issue of where the weight lies. Why isn't it a little bit here and a little bit there instead of congregating in my middle? These days I eat less of the foods I enjoy and I pay attention to what I'm consuming. I think about menus and foods to prepare that are satisfying but lower in fat. I use skim milk, very little butter, make sweet treats only when we have house guests or dinner guests or 'stick thin' grown up daughters home to visit....I resist my biggest craving of all which is salt. Because in addition to a few pounds that refuse to budge my blood pressure borders on high along with its ugly obnoxious twin sister, cholesterol. Ugh.

I know some people have spent their entire lives watching what they eat and counting calories and depriving themselves of some food or other. But that has not been me. I have spent most of my life eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and to be honest that was way, way more fun. Now I work out several times a week, skip the after dinner snacks, omit the bacon and the cheese from the bacon cheeseburger, limit my pasta and bread intake, and indulge in dessert only on very special occasions. And still...those few pounds linger. What is up with that???

I figure I'll take on Taylor's challenge and try to kick things up a notch. I'm taking a couple of mini trips here and there in the next couple of weeks which always means less control over my food options but I'll do my best. Let me know if you join in too...a little moral support can go a long way.

I have a BIG birthday coming up in a little less than two months. That's my first marker. I'd like to get a glimpse of my 30 year old self on that day but will happily settle for a glimpse of my 40 year old self, before the body snatcher invasion of course. And I think Taylor is calling this Torturous Tuesdays but I am all about thinking positive so how about we call it Triumphant Tuesdays instead?

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Jersey Shore minus Snooki and The Situation

Okay I don't even really know what those nicknames mean but I've managed to work them into the conversation a few times this weekend. For the record, I like some reality programming but Jersey Shore? um, no. Anyway, Saturday hubs and I decided to brave the Garden State Parkway and spend the day at 'the shore'. Or as I like to call it, 'the beach'. We only live about an hour and a half from the shore (I can't help it...something about blogging from NJ forces the word shore as opposed to beach into my brain and onto my blog).

Let's begin again, shall we?

We are not far in miles from THE BEACH but a little something called 'shore traffic' does stand between us and the crashing surf. We left the house at 8 am and had our toes in the sand by 9:45. Not bad. Did I mention it was in the 90's with a heat index over 100 degrees? What is a heat index anyway? Whatever it is I know its nothing good when it arches over 100 degrees. Fortunately it was really breezy sitting in a beach chair facing the Atlantic Ocean. Normally I don't even put my big toe in the water at the 'Jersey Shore' because even at the end of one of the hottest Julys on record the water is still icy cold. Saturday was so hot that icy cold actually felt pretty good.

There were some awesome waves too...maybe not awesome like Hawaii surf conditions awesome but still really good waves for body surfing. Hubs spent a lot of time in the waves. I spent most of my time reading in my beach chair which is my most favorite of all pastimes.

If all you know of the Jersey Shore is what you've seen on a questionable television program of the same name then you might be surprised by the loveliness of Spring Lake. (Hello NJ Dept. of Tourism. I'm back with more free advertising.) There are some gorgeous homes in Spring Lake and I'm pretty sure I would love to have a beach house there. It's a quiet town but you can always drive up or down the 'shore' a town or two if you feel the need for anything more entertaining than the ocean.

Speaking of the ocean...what is up with people loudly making and taking business calls while standing on the beach??? On a Saturday no less. We saw this in Marco Island too so its not a 'Jersey Shore' thing. I think its more of a 21st century thing. Hey, its the ocean people! One of the most awesome displays of God's power and creativity we have here on earth. Put down the phone for goodness sakes! If you don't you may very well end up on a stranger's blog.

Just sayin'.

One thing about NJ beaches...they are crowded. As in lots of people. Lots and lots of people. NJ is a tiny state but it is packed with people. And cars. And taxes but that's a post for another day. Anyway, I think the fact that Spring Lake doesn't have all the arcades and amusement park rides and casinos, etc. that some of the other shore towns have are what has allowed it to remain a little less crazy. Which is how I like my beach towns.

We found a parking space without any trouble in a beautiful neighborhood only one block from the beach. There's not a lot of town to Spring Lake, mostly pretty neighborhoods, some restaurants, the ocean of course and also, a lake. Hence the name-Spring Lake. I would love to have a beach house someday but it's pretty safe to say that as lovely as Spring Lake is my future beach house will not be in The Garden State (Hello NJ Dept. of Taxation. I blame you.)

Spring Lake did make for a a wonderful day out...we soaked up the sun, had a nutritious and delicious hot dog on the boardwalk, drank our body weight in water (did I mention it was HOT?), and did lots of people watching because truly, is there anyplace better for people watching than the beach? When we headed for home close to 6 PM it was still 100 degrees. Literally. At 6 o'clock in the evening.

We have a few busy weekends coming up but we'd love to go back before summer comes to a close. It was the perfect little spot for a day-cation...

Sun, sand, surf.
That's what I think of when I hear the words "Jersey Shore"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Write it down

I ordered a new date book recently and it arrived in the post yesterday. And I might still be living in the 1980's in some areas of my life because seriously, when was the last time you heard someone use the words 'date book'? I have tried to embrace technology in all its many forms but I have not let go of my week at a glance calendar obsession. My hubs tried to convert me to one of his old palm pilots years ago but it didn't take. I'm not even sure an IPhone would win me over...I still like a great pen and clean paper. And yes it is July and you may be thinking it's a strange time of year to be starting a new calendar but, I personally think calendars should begin in August like the school year.

I love a new calendar. No crossed out appointments that had to be re-scheduled. No new addresses written on top of old addresses. No notes scrawled on pages where they don't belong just because the calendar happened to be sitting beside the phone when I needed something to write on. No pen know where you grab all the pens in a drawer and scribble to find one that writes. That's not just me is it? Instead you have fresh clean unmarked paper in a super cute cover.

It's important my calendar fits certain criteria-
  • It must be spiral bound.
  • It must be in the week at a glance format.
  • It must have a few address pages tucked in there somewhere.
  • The cover must be super cute.

This one also has a few pockets and some lined pages for notes which earns it bonus points.

I love the way a new calendar makes me feel like I'm getting a fresh start. In reality we're given a fresh start every day but the blank pages yet to be filled remind me that a lot happens in a year. Sometimes its hard to part with the old book. I go thru it to copy addresses and any important dates and phone numbers I may have written there and as I do I feel grateful for my everyday life. For people and places and moments.

And I'm pretty sure syncing an electronic device via another electronic device does not have the same effect. Just sayin'

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Medley sounds so much nicer than random

I can see why Linda needed a break from hosting the weekly random dozen meme every Wednesday. Coming up with a dozen random bits of nonsense on a weekly basis is hard even for me. Especially when its the middle of a hot and sticky summer and you're not venturing out and about too awfully much. We'll see what I can come up with today....

1. It's hot and sticky. Did I say that already?

2. The Bachelorette. Oh my. Actually I could probably come up with a dozen comments on Monday night's train wreck show alone but I'll leave it at this....the drama feels so staged and crazy its not that much fun anymore. Oh, and I need a trip to Tahiti.

3. In keeping with my television theme...Pillars of the Earth begins on Friday. It is a 6 part mini-series based on Ken Follett's book which was fantabulous. Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the building of a cathedral in Kingsbridge England in the mid-12th century. I read this book before I ever had an inkling I'd live in England so that was not why I loved it. And the book is historical fiction which is not my favorite genre but I picked it up because it had generated so much talk. In reading the back cover my first thought Oh but it was not boring. It was a great story and I can't wait to see how the mini series is done.

4. Hubs and I saw the movie Inception last weekend. Wow. In the words of Rick James it was super freaky. It's long and in the first few minutes lots of things are happening that you don't quite understand but it soon makes sense. My husband said it was a little too long and he had to think too much. However, last night as I was getting into bed he said, "So explain to me how the architect part worked." Yeah, it kinda stays with you.

5. Sunday morning a ginormous hawk landed on the rock wall in our back garden...

We see hawks around here a lot but never down in the yard. He did something strange too...he spread himself flat out on the rocks. I took a picture but the combination of my not wanting to startle him, my stellar photography skilz, his camouflage, and the awkward pose he was in make it a little bit hard to see.

A family of chipmunks live in this wall...maybe an entire clan, and they are neighbors to a family of groundhogs so I suspect the hawk was looking for breakfast. I was sure we were going to have a Marlin Perkins moment but all the little creatures stayed out of sight and he eventually flew off to greener pastures.

6. You can see the tips of a five foot high tomato plant in that picture that to date has produced zero tomatoes. We were thinking of chucking the plant because its kind of like Jack's beanstalk in that it keeps growing and growing and growing but still, NO tomatoes, not a single bloom. Then suddenly, on Saturday, a bloom appeared. And another. And they are at the tip top of the plant so it will need to be staked yet again but still, tomatoes...yay!

7. Sunday night I clicked on my blog and saw I had six comments to moderate. Five of those comments were on a post I wrote back in May just before my daughter graduated and they were made on the date the post was written. They were all from readers who regularly comment and I have absolutely no idea why they popped up now. One of the mysteries of the internet universe I guess.

8. We had dinner guests last night, two co-workers of my hubs but they are both also old friends of ours. I had not seen one of them since we both moved away from NJ the first time round, 1994. He and his wife have sons about the same age as our daughters and when we all lived here before we used to get together for dinners and fun with our toddlers. The toddlers are all college or (gulp) post college kids now. Seriously, time? Slow down!!!

9. I made a delicious peach cobbler for dessert last night. I haven't had peach cobbler in forever since its not technically on my list of approved foods which, by the way is heavy on salads and light on desserts. Is there anything better than warm cobbler with a scoop of cold melty ice cream on top? No. There is not.

10. Daughter2 is working for a babysitting service this summer. This week she has been caring for a 14 week old baby boy and his 2 year old sister. She arrives at their house about 6:45 am and babysits until about 3:30. She is exhausted. Yesterday she said she got home about 4 and napped until almost 7 PM. A little taste of the reality that smacks you in the face when you are raising young children. Well, all except for the three hour nap bit...I'm pretty sure I was never able to grab a three hour nap during the dinner hour ever when my kids were that age, could you?

11. I read a blog post yesterday that I thought was hilarious..if you have toddlers or have raised toddlers and you have ever in your life been to a fraternity party click here to read...'Why having a toddler like being at a frat party." There are some really funny comments too.


Cutest dog ever, yes?
Hey, I needed an even dozen.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Tattoo...and I don't mean ink

We watched a lot of the British Open this past weekend. One look at the flags flapping in the wind and the golfers wearing jackets let you know it wasn't Florida in July. They were in fact at St. Andrews. Scotland.

And yes I am going to turn a mention of the British Open into a travel post so consider yourself warned. The thing is, I didn't start my blog until we were leaving the UK and I'm enjoying re- visiting some of our favorite places in my posts... putting words with pictures before the details become too fuzzy. I've had my blog bound into a book (two actually) and I'm glad some of our special trips are included there too.

Okay back to Scotland, which is known for lots of things besides hosting the British Open...gray skies, steady rain, stunning countryside, the Highland games, a monster named Nessie, a delightful accent, whiskey, haggis (can we all say ewww!) and the Tattoo. And when I say Tattoo I'm not talking ink. I'm talking about the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo which is a military band performance held throughout the month of August in front of Edinburgh Castle. If you are thinking that doesn't sound like your cup of tea you might find you are mistaken.

When we informed our girls (teenagers at the time) that we were going to drive to Scotland (flights were cancelled due to terrorism the previous day) to see military bands perform and oh, by the way, we will be sitting outdoors in a country famous for its rainy weather well, they were maybe a little less than thrilled. Sometimes teenagers need to just be pulled along with the family current and they end up falling in love with a place, a culture and an experience. They make a memory.

Edinburgh is so charming we couldn't help but love it. First of all...cute shops and lots of them. Teenage girls momentarily forget they are in town to see some sort of military band thingy when there are shops. Plus it was August which means The Fringe Festival was also in town and that is loads of fun.

The festival features street performers, musicians, theatre acts, artists, name it.

Can you tell they liked it?
We did a little sightseeing too which of course included a tour of the ancient castle.

A castle which incidentally sits perched on the edge of an extinct volcano.

And hey, how about those gray skies?

We wandered thru the shops and learned how good Scotch Whiskey tastes is made. When in Rome, right?

John Knox, the founder of Presbyterianism, hails from Edinburgh and his home is the oldest house in the city...

And then of course we had tickets for the Tattoo...

I confess my kids were not the only ones who had no idea what they would be seeing. All I knew was that everyone who had been said it was something you had to see if you were in Scotland in August and I try never to ignore a good travel tip.

We had fantastic seats facing the castle...the night air was dry and clear...there were bagpipes which always get the emotions churning...the music and lights and our family all scrunched together in our narrow uncomfortable stadium seats...and there were fireworks too. What is it about fireworks that make everything just a little bit more magical?

There once lived a well known Scottish poet named Robert Burns. He is sometimes referred to as Scotland's favorite son and every January an occasion known as Burns' Night is celebrated with dinners on or around his birthday. His poetry is read and there is a meal which traditionally includes haggis and whiskey. And I say if you're going to eat haggis you definitely need the whiskey to make you forget what you're eating but that might just be me. For those who don't know, haggis is a dish containing the sheep's heart, liver, and lungs all simmered together with spices for several hours in a sheep's stomach. Or in a casing but still...Shudder.

Anyway, I am going to close this post with a quote by the famous Robert Burns who wrote,

'Nae man can tether time or tide'

And isn't that the truth?

And a great reason to blog?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunflowers and Salsa

It was another hot and humid weekend so pretty low key here. So low key its hardly worth blogging about yet, here I am. We didn't do too much which is kind of what the hubs needed....I've said a time or ten that his schedule has been Ka-Razy lately.

Friday night we went out with friends for Mexican food. Their oldest daughter is getting married later this summer and after talking to them I felt like I should go home and vacuum the sofa for loose change because apparently, with two daughters we're gonna need it.

Saturday morning we went to check out a local farmers market. To be honest it wasn't any better than our local farm stands of which there are many. Lots and lots of farms in this part of North Jersey so I can pretty much pick up fresh fruit and veggies any which way I turn. And I know bears and farms are not what you think of when you hear the word 'Jersey' but hey people, the nickname 'Garden State' had to come from somewhere.

I remembered to bring my camera along because I wanted to get a picture of a field that is only about a mile from our house. I don't remember this field looking so lovely last July but maybe we were still in our post-relocation fog and it just didn't register. I can't believe that could be true because it qualifies for one of my favorite words...spectacular-

And NJ Dept. of Tourism really should be paying me a stipend for all the free advertising they get on this little blog don't ya think?

In other exciting yawn weekend girls got me a subscription to Southern Living as part of my Mother's Day gift and I received my first issue last week. I always love their recipes and wanted to try the blueberry salsa. It's delish...and easy...and the recipe follows. Enjoy!

Blueberry Salsa
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh blueberries
1 cup whole fresh blueberries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro (I will use slightly less next time)
2 seeded and minced jalapeno peppers
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Toss together in a large bowl...

and serve immediately or chill 8 hours...

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stuff that makes 'em crazy

Inside the walls of every house there lives a language. Family talk. Sayings and expressions you say that maybe your parents said to you and you swore you'd never say yet, whoa there they go..right off the tongue and out of your mouth. You can hardly believe it yourself.

Then there are the things you say that belong to your own family, some come out when you are being mean mom or cautious mom and others erupt when you are being fun
dad mom. Expressions that make only your own family laugh. Or in the case of a certain Generation Y, expressions that make them roll their eyes. They can't help the eye roll...their parents are just so ridiculous sometimes. Secretly they like that.

Today on Flashback Friday we are invited to write about those sayings and expressions our families said when we were growing up. Or when our own children were growing up. Mine is a mixture of cautions and fun expressions and it's possible my baby is turning 20 but we still say 'em. These words and sayings have been, and continue to be, part of the fabric of our family. I guess this post is part flashback, part everyday life.

You may have noticed I like words. So do my girls. We talk a lot. It is quite common for my husband's head to spin around 360 degrees at the dinner table as he tries to follow our conversations. I like crossword puzzles and scrabble and er, blogging. There's a long list of sayings and expressions I could post here but I think I'm gonna go with a top 10 things we say that make our kids alternately roll their eyes/stomp their feet/and laugh when they don't feel like it and sometimes when they do.

10. 'hip'...I cannot explain why this word appeals to me but my girls hate to hear me say it. When I do, they inform me that anyone who uses the word is not. Hip, I mean. Whatever. I still like it and continue to throw it out there now and then. And they continue to laugh at me.

9. 'Psyche!' husband loves this word/expression and it must be said very loudly. He cracks himself up and will look for ways to interject this into life here. He loved nothing better than the year daughter2 took Psychology in school which he felt gave him a legitimate reason to shout the word at least once a day. He also likes to say everyone uses it but um, no...they don't. Once we heard a character on tv say Psyche! and hubs spent the rest of the night saying, "Told you so." If you are not sure how this expression might be used imagine a nearly 20 year old daughter who loves chocolate reaching for the last m/m in a bowl. Just as it is almost within reach of her dainty little fingertips Dad swoops in and pops it in his mouth. This is followed by a loud Psyche!

8. 'SOUSKI!'...this word must also be shouted. Don't ask me what it means but my husband loves to say it and loves to teach toddlers to say it too. Parents of young children love him...he is a walking bundle of hidden talent and entertainment.

7. "Do everything without complaining"...and this one must be sung. Loudly and off key by moi. When my girls were younger they had a cassette tape (yes I'm old) called Hide 'em in Your Heart. It was bible verses set to music by Steve Green and this was one of those verses (you can listen here...#52 in the playlist). When my girls had chores to do around the house and needed a little 'encouragement' to do them cheerfully I'd break into this song. Really really loudly. They would rather dust and vacuum than listen to me sing. I occasionally still break it out when anyone offers a complaint about anything. Seriously, this tip should be published in Practical Parenting.

6. "You look like a Hootie in the Woodie"...This sprang from an expression my dad used to say anytime me or my sisters and brother had hair that needed to be combed, or in the case of my brother, cut (hey, my dad was a Marine, remember). He liked to say, "You look like a hoot owl in a bush." Years later I started saying the same thing to my own girls if they got up with bed head. In their adorableness they morphed it into 'hootie in the woodie' and it stuck. And if I'm being honest these days there are mornings I wake up, look in the mirror and think it about my very own self. Sigh.

5. "Be careful"...if my children had a nickel for every time those words have left my mouth they would not need to phone me with one of their favorite sayings which is, "Can you put money in my account?"

4. According to my girls I have a mantra and my mantra is this-"Call me when you get there." Kudos to my parents for surviving four children's teenage years with nary a cell phone in sight.

3. "I'm just sayin' is all"...said when we want to interject our opinion but, in a nice way. We all throw this one out there a lot. It's fun.

2. "Perception matters"...this one always gets a big eye roll because it is usually associated with their request to do something that I am going to nix. Like co-ed sleepovers in high school (I don't care if nothing is happening, perception matters), unsupervised parties in the early teen years (I don't care if everybody is a 'good kid', perception matters) get my drift. Hey Washington-perception matters! Oops, tangent-sorry.

1. And now... my most favorite of all which my kids will know without even looking...."No hanky panky!" They used to get slightly annoyed when I'd say this but they came around and as they would be walking out the door they would look at me and say, "I know, I hanky panky." In fact in recent years daughter2 has been known to end a phone conversation with me with the words, "Remember mom, no hanky panky." Hey, isn't that why we got married? That's not TMI is it?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Post Party Random

About a year ago I started participating in a weekly Random Dozen meme over at 2nd Cup of Coffee. I enjoyed it and found lots of wonderful blogs that way. This summer Linda decided she needed a little break from coming up with the questions on a weekly basis so I've been posting my own random dozen thoughts every Wednesday. In a lot of ways my life feels very random right now. My kids are not living at home, I'm not working outside the home, my days are my own. To everything there is a we go-

1. I feel like I'm coming up for air finally after all the weekend preparations, festivities and of course the laundry aftermath. Seven sets of bedding to be washed, towels for 13, and four bathrooms to clean...not my normal weekly to-do.

2. No need to waste your time on hold with someone in India when you have 'kids' around...

We'd only been sitting outside a few minutes when my brother whipped out his phone and requested some I.T. assistance from daughter2. Since hers is a permanent appendage he knew he had come to the right place.

3. See #2.

4. Daughter1 found some of her old journals when she was home and we laughed alot as she read them aloud. They were from the elementary/middle school years which means there was a lot of detail and a lot of 'drama'. And quite a few entries that ran along the lines of-

a. sister did something not nice to me
b. I told mom
c. mom made sister apologize but also said not to be a tattletale
d. fair!!

5. My husband recently calculated that he has spent 240 hours in the air since November. That is the equivalent of ten days. In mid-air. That does not include the hour ride to the airport and the hour ride from the airport or the many many hours spent in airport sitting. I think he should be really really cranky. He is not.

6. Surprisingly there is not a lot of negative to say about this week's episode of The Bachelorette. Somehow she seems to have ended up with nice guys who love their families. I have been avoiding reading magazine headlines and internet blurbs but my suspicion is she is not going to choose anyone to marry. She does not send off an "I'm ready to get married" vibe. She sends off more of an "I'm ready for my own show" vibe. She has been wearing some really cute clothes though...are they hers or is there a stylist? Just wondering if the wardrobe is one of the perks of the 'job'? I loved the pink dress with the roses across the top. And next week-Tahiti...ooh la la!

7. Speaking of weddings...I was reading the wedding announcements in the NY Times this weekend and I found it slightly odd that people included this item of information in their announcement, "The bridegrooms previous two marriages ended in divorce." Does anyone else find that odd or is it just me?

8. Someone please explain to me exactly when we went from talking Disney Princesses and American Girl Dolls to discussing insurance benefit options and 401k contributions? Or 4-0-onek as daughter1 likes to call it. Time marches on.

9. George Steinbrenner passed away yesterday. There has been a lot of news coverage here and he was apparently a complicated man, alternately loved and hated, admired and despised. Last night I heard the story of how years ago Steinbrenner caught then 16 year old Ray Negron spray painting graffiti on Yankee Stadium. Negron was thrown into a holding cell at the stadium (unruly fans take note) and minutes later Steinbrenner had him in a Yankees jersey working as a bat boy for the rest of the evening. In that moment Steinbrenner literally changed the course of Negron's life. Negron worked for the Yankees for almost 40 years as an advisor to Steinbrenner and penned a best selling children's book. He said himself were it not for George Steinbrenner he would most likely have gone the way of his two cousins who were with him on the spray painting escapade...both are now dead in drug related events. Even if you hate the Yankees which apparently a lot of people do, you have to admire that.

10. I saw this posted on Christi's blog recently and its fun...have you seen it? He is a talented kid...a talented kid who obviously has a lot of time on his hands but talented nonetheless. And why do the youtube videos load blogger so that only a third of the screen can be seen? There are 7 of can always go straight to youtube to see the full screen.

11. I'm going to accompany hubs on a business trip to Chicago in August. His brother, sister-in law and niece live there so we'll spend a weekend with them beforehand. part...we've got tickets to see Brooks and Dunn. Yay!

12. It's raining. That's good. It rained off and on yesterday too. I couldn't let you leave without a weather report now, could I?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A time it was and what a time it was

We've spent many hours recently (make that many many hours) trying to organize some personal travel around my husband's ever changing work travel. We thought we had finally gotten at least one portion sorted out only to discover we were scheduled to fly two places on the same day later this summer. And that's when my husband let out a big sigh and said, "I'm ready for summer to be over. This is insane."

When did summertime become complicated?

I remember so clearly being a kid and feeling those last few days of school crawl by at a snail's pace as we waited for summer to officially begin. I remember being hot because not everyone and everything was air conditioned. I remember the days stretching out in front of us, seemingly endless and waiting to be filled. Summer wasn't organized, scheduled, or structured ...the hours and days and minutes grew from the seeds of our own daydreams and imaginations. It was a world of possibility and freedom, of time and space.

Running barefoot thru the sprinkler then spreading your towel on the hot pavement to warm up. Lying on your back in the grass and watching the clouds go by. Hunting four leaf clovers. Giant games of hide and seek and kick the can and being outside late, way past your normal bedtime. Catching fireflies in a jar and in your tightly cupped hands. The neighborhood pool. A Popsicle eaten while sitting on the curb, sticky and dripping and sweet. The jingle of the ice cream truck. Riding bicycles with no hands. Friends across the street and around the corner and up the block. Time to play and time to fill. Even time to argue and make discover our strengths and weaknesses within the neighborhood hierarchy without a parent interjecting an adult solution and perspective. Sometimes there was a real honest to goodness vacation, maybe to the grandparent's house or a trip to the beach. But mostly summer was marked in days and hours and often even in minutes.

In our grown up-ness we lose a little bit of our childhood selves. Summertime in childhood was a season whose arrival we anticipated, whose days we savored, and whose ending we mourned. But we grow older and life naturally becomes more about schedule and routine, obligation and responsibility. More clutter, less space. Summer is still there but we no longer view it thru the rose colored spectacles of childhood.

Maybe we should.

Maybe every now and then we need to chuck the calendar and sit on the curb with a sticky sweet Popsicle. Slow down the ticking of time...imagine and daydream and say hello again to the kid we once were.

'Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you."

Today's post is part of this week's one word blog carnival...visit Bridget to read more posts on 'summer'

Monday, July 12, 2010


Just think Kool and the Gang. Without the cool because its still pretty hot here. And it was my mom's 80th birthday party so cool isn't maybe the right word anyway. Can you tell I'm struggling with a title this morning? Regardless, my mom really enjoyed her 80th birthday celebration this weekend...

We all did...

It was just family which is what she wanted and we're a pretty big group so it definitely felt like a party. And of course the weekend went by way too fast. It began with my girls arriving home midday on Friday which I will confess was my favorite part of the whole three days.

Oh, and please pay no attention to the mess on the table or the mess on the desk behind us...when you have 13 people in your house for a weekend it is nearly impossible to find a clutter free photo backdrop.

Anyway, on Friday hubs and my brother in law decided to go hit a bucket of golf balls and daughter1 said she'd go too. There is a gorgeous golf course where she works and she can take lessons and play for free so she's thinking about it. Her first thought was to buy some cute golf shorts so she'd know if she liked the clothes before she commits to actually playing the game.

So far so good.

Friday night hubs cooked burgers on the grill and we even sat out on the deck for a bit. Still hot but not nearly as humid as it has been. Brother in law shares a birthday with my mom so on Friday night we had angel food cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream to mark the occasion.

My brother in law may in fact have a pretty big birthday of his own coming up next year but of course we won't mention that here. And naturally when I have house guests the deer and other assorted critters make themselves scarce for the weekend. We did see the colony of chipmunks and, according to the local news headline, "It's a bumper year for the chipmunk." The paper also says they are cute, furry, and destructive but we already knew that.

Saturday hubs and my brother in law had booked a very early tee time for golf but after two weeks of brutal heat and humidity the skies finally opened up and we had heavy rain for a good part of the day. Can't complain too much because the grass actually crackles when you walk on it and the rain stopped before dinner which made the grill master happy.

Of course my four year old nephew was excited to be celebrating....

So excited in fact that he may have cut a corner just a little too close and given himself a nice black eye to go with the already broken wrist. It took a little bit of ice...

a silly wig....

and the thought of chocolate cake to make it all better...

Chocolate cake with raspberry mousse delicately sandwiched between the layers that is.

For the birthday meal we had grilled pork tenderloin with blue cheese slaw, squash casserole, corn on the cob and a tomato mozzarella salad with fresh basil. You did want the menu, right? I've linked the pork tenderloin recipe because its my new favorite marinade and also the blue cheese slaw because people always ask for that one. I'm all about being helpful on this Monday morning.

My mom enjoyed opening gifts and her special surprise which was a DVD we had made...a sort of This is Your Life in pictures and then set to music.

Afterwards we took some pictures outside...

And my brother (who definitely does not look his age-No fair!!) entertained his nephew with some races and rock climbing.

By Sunday afternoon everyone had gone their separate ways including my girls. We reluctantly deposited them at the airport, sniff, and spent the rest of the day watching the World Cup final, enjoying a big giant nap on the comfy couch, and eating leftovers for dinner.

Yay for leftovers!

And for mothers turning 80.
And for family.

And for all the moments of our lives.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


My mom turns 80 years old today. I mentioned here last week that in my head my mom is about 40. I can see her so clearly...she is standing in front of her kitchen window and she looks about 40...why is that? We're having a little family party this weekend which is what she wanted. She also wanted chocolate cake and rest assured there will be chocolate cake.

So... a funny, the person who always has so many words in her head she has to spill a few out here every day...well, I'm having a hard time writing this post. What do you say about your mother? She's mom...she just is. Sometimes we hear a person say 'I carry them in my heart' and that's exactly how I feel.

My mom was born in Arkansas and was raised in New Mexico but she has spent more than half of her life in NJ. I'm sure she sometimes wonders how that happened. She married a Marine which meant moving a lot, as in every year or two for many years. Oh and their four charming children had to be moved too. And there was a year or three where she was completely on her own with those four charming children while said Marine was in Okinawa and Vietnam and other such places half a world away. My mom was always capable...I don't know if she whined or ever felt sorry for herself but I do know that life happened for us kids. She made sure of that.

My mom is an excellent baker and cook. She is famous for her Christmas cookies, both the quality and the quantity. She makes the world's best enchiladas which is what hubs has requested on every single visit since he first sampled them 20 something years ago. She usually obliges by making them and he always obliges by eating way way way too many.

My mom has always been artistic but would probably say she is not. Don't believe her. Her dad was a painter and she definitely got the creativity gene. She majored in art and then Spanish in college. She learned to sew one year while my dad was overseas. She did ceramics for a while. My sister and I loved to play with paper dolls when we were young and we always wanted my mom to cut them out because she never accidentally cut off a tab or a sleeve.
In recent years she has turned her artistic talents to scrapbooking and she is one of those annoying types who can just look at a photo and picture the scrapbook page. She has a bright green thumb and need only look at a plant for it to grow and bloom. She has read a lot of books in her lifetime and she passed on her love of books to all of her children. Thanks Mom!

My mom is very stylish. She loves to shop and she always looks nice. She has beautiful skin which makes her look much younger than her 80 years. I fear I should have listened to that 'no sun' thing she was always going on and on about.

My mom loves the Lord with all her heart and I know she has prayed for her children and now her grandchildren all of our lives. And oh how she loves her grandchildren, three grown up young ladies and a four year old dynamo. My girls liked nothing better than going to mema's house and getting into her dress up clothes, the costume jewelry, the shawl, and especially the Hawaiian mu mu. And I can still see a 4 year old daughter1 parading down the center hall steps into the crowd after my dad's funeral. She was dressed in my mom's slip with the built in bra... a little bit of laughter in a day filled with tears.

My mom has an accidental tradition of buying a few Christmas presents early and hiding them in case someone breaks into her house. When Christmas rolls around she can't remember where she hid them and pretty much every family member at some point thru the years has had a gift turn up the following July or August. We like to tease her about that. We also like to tease her about her tendency to go to 'worse case scenario' in any given situation...there is a certain story that gets told and re-told in our family about the time my brother had been in Philadelphia and arrived home late. My mom saw a spot on the carpet and thought it was blood. She knocked on his door and he didn't answer and she managed to convince my dad to take his bedroom door off the hinges just sure he was lying in there close to death. As it turns out he was listening to music with his headphones on and the look on his face when the door came off was priceless. We have lots of stories like that.

Do you ever feel like you have a hundred little snapshots in your head? Moments that are frozen in time but are still crystal clear? We used to say my mom was the fastest walker we knew. Seriously. I can see my sister and I as little girls run/walking always a few steps behind her. I see her dressed up and getting in the car to go to church. I see her working a crossword puzzle at the kitchen table. I see her carrying laundry up the stairs. I see her playing bridge in the living room or a round of dominoes at the dining room table. I see her walking in the door from the library with an armload of books. I see our living room on Christmas morning overflowing with so many beautifully wrapped packages and a fire in the fireplace... my mom sitting in front because it has always been her spot on Christmas morning. I see her stirring something on the stove. I see her sitting on the edge of my canopy bed brushing my long tangled hair listening to all my tween age worries.

Sometimes as parents we want to be perfect. We look back at raising our children and we think of all the things we would do differently...words we would un-speak, moments we'd like to relive. I'm sure my mother has those feelings too. But as the 'kid' looking back on my childhood I see the sunny moments and I feel the height and breadth and depth of my mothers love.

A love that seeps into my being as only a mother's love can.
And I carry that love in my heart.

Happy Birthday today to my sweet mom...I love you!

The meaning of life...or something like that

Okay, it's Wednesday but its hot. I'm gonna try for a random dozen but heat does funny things to the brain so we'll see what happens...

1. Why is hot weather such a big news story in July? Oh, I know I talk about the weather on a pretty regular basis here but this is a blog about nothin' so weather talk is appropriate. I'm pretty sure it's always been hot in July and I'm pretty sure that's the way it was meant to be. I guess when you have 24/7 news channels to fill hot weather in July becomes a big story which may explain why we now have news people advising, "...if you're outside and become overheated you'll need to go inside where there is ac..." Seriously? Do we need the news people to tell us this?

2. Let's get this bit out there right off the bat...The Bachelorette. Or should I say the aftermath of The Bachelorette? Yikes. Did anyone watch that interview with Jake and Vienna or did you cringe, cover your eyes and plug your ears, and then go to the kitchen for an icy cold diet coke? Or maybe something stronger?

3. Lisbon. Must go there.

4. My husband has one of those killer whistles which comes in handy if you are trying to get the attention of your child in a sea of thousands but is completely annoying when you are standing less than one foot from the source. I'm convinced that thirty years of standing right beside him while he whistles at every concert, sporting event, program, etc. is the reason I respond to almost every question he asks with, "What did you say?" I think he finds that annoying but he only has himself to blame.

5. We went to see Toy Story 3 on Monday afternoon and no, we did not have any young children to chaperone. We just wanted to see it and we liked it a lot. I love the detail, especially the baby doll with one eye that stays open and one eye that blinks. Didn't every little girl have a doll like that?

6. Tomorrow is my mom's 80th birthday...betcha can't guess what's on tap for tomorrow's blog post?

7. My sweet girlies are coming home for the weekend. Sad its only for a weekend but so happy to have them home snug in their own beds. Or in sleeping bags on the floor since my whole family is coming to town too and the girls may or may not have a bed to sleep in. I mean, I can't put my 80 year old mother in a sleeping bag on the floor can I? And she would be quick to correct me and say, "Hey, I'm not 80 yet."

8. A friend emailed me this cartoon today...I had no idea the cartoonist at The New Yorker was reading my blog.
Cartoons © 2009 The New Yorker – All rights reserved.

9. I saw an ad for a movie coming out called Ramona and Beezus. I loved the Ramona series as a child but I'm always leery of my favorite childhood books becoming movies. Especially books where the title character is so clearly etched in my brain...very seldom does that translate to a movie in a way that is satisfying. We'll see.

10. Mary over at Life in a Small Town has bestowed another bloggy award on my blog...its called 'A Blog with Substance'.

For some reason I find that funny. If you are a regular reader here you probably find it funny too. Thanks Mary! As part of the award I'm supposed to explain my blog philosophy in five words. Oh dear. There are so many things wrong with that statement. First of all, have I ever managed to say anything in only 5 words? And second, philosophy? I'm supposed to have a philosophy? Hmmm...okay here it is

random musings about everyday mid-life

Is that a philosophy? I think it works because essentially it means I can talk about anything and everything which is pretty much what I do here. And see, I managed to use five words but then I felt the need to explain the five words. Welcome to my world.

11. Is anyone cooking dinner these days? I mean, real cooking? In my opinion its too hot to cook and I like to prepare easy meals in the summertime anyway. We had BLT's for dinner on Monday night and last night we ate big salads topped with a grilled chicken breast. And you do know that when I say its too hot to cook I mean its too hot for me to cook. It is not however, too hot for hubs to stand beside a bbq grill at 7:30 PM with our outdoor thermometer registering a balmy 103. He's a trooper. Most days I'm really glad I'm the wife and not the husband here.

12. If you clicked on every link in this post you deserve your own award. How about I send you out with a little music? Love this oldie but a goodie....oh, and you'll want to please just disregard John Sebastians sideburns.