Holiday wrap up

54cd238f-fa07-4fcb-95e4-36d1a7ec9337-7056-00000503bacda6d6_tmpSomehow 10 days have flown by and it’s back to school time. It’s been a quietly busy vacation and I’m pleased that I resisted over scheduling myself, something I’m inclined to be guilty of doing. So – what did I do? Let me tell you!

I went to the movies, twice. Bonus – neither film was rated G, produced by Disney or animated. La La Land was lovely and pretty much charmed me from beginning to end. The cast, dancing, singing and costumes all combined to give me a simple, happy movie experience. Almost equally enjoyable from a performance perspective was Jackie. Natalie Portman was really remarkable in the role and I’m certain I’ll spend some time reflecting on the story that was told, wondering how close to reality the script may have been.

As you might imagine, I ran. There were miles with the Lunar B*tches, with Jeter, solo, and as part of two different organized group runs. I also checked out an aerial class at Good Karma yoga studio. I enjoyed the class and was surprised by how comfortable and well supported I felt in the swing. Accustomed to a hot yoga studio I was a little underdressed and found myself chilly at times. Next time I’ll wear another layer.

Jeter and I got to the golf course quite a few times. Romping around in the sunshine with a bunch of buddies makes Jeter happy and tired. We always love our time there, especially when there’s snow on the ground rather than mud. A nearly white dog and mud are not a great combination, because our time outside needs to be immediately followed by a bath and then, of course, a bathroom cleaning.

Speaking of cleaning, I vacuumed almost every day. What can I say? I love my Dyson vacuum and Jeter is the most sheddingest dog I’ve ever known. I wish I could say I did some other major cleaning tasks or maintenance projects, but, I didn’t. There’s always February break for that. I’m already looking forward to it.

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Filed under Christmas, Exercise, holidays, Local, running, winter

Face wash (is not a) game

img_0800After much experimentation with my constantly changing skin (Is it dry? Sensitive? Aging? All of the above?), I’ve gathered together a collection of facial cleansers that feel like they’re working out ok for me. It’s a mix of creams and lotions,* many of which come from Origins, but there’s some Philosophy and Bliss thrown in, too. (As I wrote that sentence I had to laugh at what a sucker I am for a well named cosmetics line! Who wouldn’t want to be associated with origins, philosophy and bliss?!) The various washes and scrubs vary in price, but I think they’re a decent value just because you really only need a small amount to wash your face and they seem to last quite awhile. Unless, someone else is getting into your face wash, that is.

My middle son has been taking my Origins face wash from my bathroom in recent weeks and it has turned into a mini war. The first time it happened, I was puzzled. Where could it possibly be? The second time, I was annoyed. Really? Again? The third time I was absolutely pissed. How did this kid get to be so damn entitled? You see, if he had asked me if he could have the damn face wash, I would have said yes. I’ve got a back up Bliss I could have happily (blissfully?) used and everything would be fine. But, no, he chose to repeatedly force me out of the shower to retrieve an alternate product mid-shower which is really beyond annoying.

In the spirit of the season, and against my own sense of right and wrong, I went to Macy’s Christmas Eve eve and picked up a couple of things, including a face wash for the metrosexual boy-man I’m raising. I wrapped it up and placed it in his stocking in the hopes that this situation would now be resolved. The day after Christmas, I stepped into the shower and reached for my face wash and…it was gone, but this time so was the apricot scrub. Unbelievable.

After my shower, I went into my son’s room and retrieved his stocking with the still wrapped tube of face wash. He’s going to have to get his own. That sh*t is mine.

*Can we agree to call them potions? It just sounds so much more magical. Maybe I should create a product line called Potions?..

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Filed under aging, Boys, Christmas, family, holidays

Cookies – shipped, snatched and swapped

778899c1-1d67-4ffd-bd84-c5ba034c8751-3052-00000288fdbbdb93_tmpIf I had to pick my favorite type of baked good, I’d go with cookies. I mean, the varieties in flavor, texture and size mean it would almost be possible to have a different kind of cookie every single day! That being said, black & whites, chocolate chip (with walnuts, please) and molasses cookies will always be my favorites. Not that I would want to neglect linzer, oatmeal raisin or sugar cookies…

For the last couple of years I’ve been pretty diligent about producing dozens and dozens of cookies to share with friends and neighbors. My best tip for managing this is to start making cookie dough, in double batches, in November and create a stockpile of ready to go dough in my freezer. It isn’t too difficult to bake off a few dozen in the morning while getting ready for work and I love the idea of my children waking up to the smell of freshly baked cookies. Bad mom, pshaw.

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Recently a package of cookies baked by my Aunt arrived from Germany and I excitedly shared a photo of it on my various feeds. I regret now not having taken a picture of what was inside the box since it may have provided me with an inkling of how delicious all of those cookies might have tasted. You see, Jeter, using his uncanny (canine?) sense of smell, detected that within the cardboard box and sealed plastic bag there were an array of tasty treats with his name on them…and he ate them all. Every single one.

Despite being exiled to the hallway as punishment, Jeter followed this display of bad manners a few short days later by housing an entire baking sheet of M&M cookies as they cooled on a rack on my counter. He went back to the hall again after that episode and we’ve been stashing the cookies on top of the refrigerator ever since. And, once I committed to participating in that cookie swap, there were a lot of cookies.

Have you ever done one of these cookie swap things?  Prior to this year I’ve successfully ducked the demand of  baking an extra 7 or 8 dozen cookies, but, Will caught me at a moment when I felt up to adding an additional holiday task to my list.  I’ll be better prepared for that next year.

img_0742Since this was my first (and only) cookie swap I don’t really have a sense if my experience was typical, but I imagine it was.  Nice people, a lovely dinner and a shitload of cookies.  When I finally got home with my much more festive than mine boxes and tins, Quinn and I settled in with glasses of milk and started sampling.  Not only do I now have a ridiculous number of cookies in my house, but I might even have a new favorite or two.

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Superman never made any money

Both of our names start with

Both of our names start with “S.”

Let me preface this by saying I do not consider myself to be a superhero in any fashion. Actually, that’s kind of the image I’m trying to dispel here. After receiving a couple of really nice compliments recently, I feel I need to lay a couple of things out because I wouldn’t want anyone to perceive me as any more than simply human. Just like you.

My only similarity to Superman is the fact that I’m not motivated by money. Fear about wasting the life I’ve been given, though, is a strong incentive. The thought of not being able to physically or mentally or emotionally continue to do the things I currently manage keeps me inspired. And, when I start feeling overwhelmed by the demands of life I have created, I remind myself that:

A. I am the person most responsible for how busy I am.
B. Life goes by so quickly that it makes sense to try to experience as much of it as possible.

My life philosophy for more than 30 years has been to try to gather as many moments as possible in the time given to me. With the passing of years and some health issues, my commitment to this has only been strengthened. A number of months ago I responded to the question “How long do you want to live?” with this:

I want to live every day.

When I’m asked how I do it all, how do I manage to have a full-time job, a business, a family, a relationship, friends, activities, etc, I don’t really have an answer. I just do it – sometimes better than others, by the way. More specifically? I am in touch with my calendar and I’m super organized with my time. When it comes to scheduling things, my German side takes charge and I’m probably guilty of trying to do too much. That being said, I occasionally recognize that I’ve overextended myself and I bail on commitments, social ones usually. Sometimes, more than anything, I need to sit on my couch and watch something mindless on television. I do that, you know. Just like Superman.

But (s)he stayed in the city
And kept changing clothes in dirty old phonebooths
Til his work was through
And nothing to do but go home.

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Filed under aging, cancer, musings, Uncategorized

Being a bad mom

Last month, my youngest son and I watched the movie Bad Moms together. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that to you that since I told Quinn to deny seeing the movie if his father anyone asked. There were scenes that I really thought were funny, but I squirmed and covered Quinn’s ears and eyes at more than a couple of moments. I can’t deal with vulgarities, especially when I’m sitting on the couch with my kid, and thought the movie would have been better without all of the crudeness. Just an opinion.

The reality is that Quinn lives Bad Mom. For instance: I have a hard time remembering when his birthday is. Seriously, until recently, when a friend suggested a technique to help me remember, I couldn’t recall if he was born on the 5th or the 9th of February, 2005. Obviously I was there, but it just refuses to come easily to me. Kind of like that delivery.

There are times when I completely lose my patience with my children and I’ve been known to use language that I’m not proud of including in my Mommy vocabulary.  Prior to actually becoming a parent, during that time when I was reading everything I could get my hands on about parenting, I never imagined a day would come when I would look at one of my offspring and silently say “asshole.”  Where was that chapter in What to Expect When You’re Expecting?

One of the things that I’ve said with even more frequency is the phrase “figure it out.” This has been my standard response for years to whining, sibling disagreements and excessive complaint about problems that are not on par with global warming and immigration. In these circumstances, Tim Gunn is my spirit animal – “Make it work,” boys!

Dinner can be a real challenge around my house – deciding on a menu and then executing it can be a struggle, even if I’m only on the hook 4 nights a week. Confession: my children eat ramen, boxed macaroni and cheese and breakfast for dinner regularly.  Soup and a sandwich was good enough for me as a kid and canned tomato soup, accompanied by a grilled cheese, never hurt anyone. There’s always fruit and yogurt available.

As my children grow older, I’ve made a point of showing them my flaws – my sometimes bad memory, lack of patience, hands off parenting (what’s the opposite of helicopter parenting?), and half-assed meal planning. I’ve shared my struggles with managing responsibilities, finding balance and family and other relationship challenges.  They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am not perfect.  How can I ever expect them to share their own missteps if I am unwilling to do the same?

As one of the characters in Bad Moms said, “…the worst part about being a mom, though, is you don’t know whether or not you’re doing a good job until they’re fully grown.”  I’m going to take comfort in the fact that despite my shortcomings as a mom, my youngest son* seems to be doing ok.  Quinn sings and jokes and makes me smile every day. If the right music comes on, he doesn’t hesitate to dance, solo or arm and arm with me.  He teases me about forgetting his February 9th birthday, occasionally displays salty language of his own, works to resolve issues independently and has no signs of malnourishment. I think I’ll just go on with my bad self.

*They’re all ok, I think! This post is most directly about Quinn, though.

 

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Filed under Boys, Movies

She runs through the streets

As 2016 draws to an end, I’m keeping an extra close eye on my Runmeter App and watching as my total miles for the year draws closer to a previously unimagined milestone – 1,000 miles! It’s funny. I never think of myself as really goal oriented or competitive, but there’s something about running that inspires a little bit of both of those in me.

The idea of challenging myself to attain a certain number of miles first came to me in February, a distinct disadvantage since I was already 25 miles off pace. Cognizant of the fact that my schedule is pretty packed with 3 kids, a full-time job, a business, a personal life and a dog, I decided to just plug away and do my best. I honestly didn’t truly start obsessing about my goal until the end of July, when I had approximately 560 miles under my belt. Things were not looking promising.

I shifted focus and began working towards another, more achievable running mini-goal – 3 consecutive month half marathons. Training for the Chingachgook Challenge, Palio and Hairy Gorilla both took my attention from my 1,000 mile goal and made it more accessible since I had to up my mileage. By the time I completed my trifecta, I realized my challenge was actually looking possible and I’ve been busting my ass ever since to meet the mark. With 2+ weeks left in the year, I have 961 miles completed and I do believe I’ve got this – and a new challenge in mind…

My winter goal is to run the complete HMRRC Winter Series. There are 5 races with distances varying from 3.5 miles to a complete marathon. A couple of weeks ago, I ran the first of the series (a 15K) and I’ve got my eye on the New Year’s Day half. Maybe I’ll see you there? I’ll be the one wearing the 1,000 mile medal.

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Filed under Albany, running, winter

Remember the children

Four years ago, as I sat in the humid warmth of an indoor water park while my children played, 20 children were murdered within the confines of their elementary school. As I read the story online, a bone chilling horror entered my body  and lodged in my head. I considered that it could have been my own 7 year-old child. Ultimately the horrific sadness found its way to my heart, taking up permanent residence  as I grieved for the families who will never again be the same. It remains one of the melancholic days I’ve ever known.

The month of December seems a particularly cruel time for a child’s life to be taken. Isn’t this, after all, the time of the year many devote to celebrating the birth of a child? How do we reconcile those two things – the pointless deaths of innocent school children and the birth of a savior?

Maybe we can honor those children who were killed in Connecticut by making a commitment to the children who are fighting for their lives in Aleppo. Even if the battle is over, children and their families are going to need assistance as they rebuild their broken lives after years of conflict. Perhaps the perfect way to remember some of the children our world has prematurely lost is to make a donation, directed to Syrian refugees, to Save the Children, UNICEF or some other humanitarian organization.  It’s not too late yet to try to save those children.

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Filed under holidays, Observations, politics, Uncategorized