The bearded lady wants to give you some advice…

I was just going to write this to my daughter, but I’ll share my thoughts broadly – you’re welcome.

Thanks to Ulta, Sephora, and YouTube stars like Jeffree Star (RIP his relationship to Nathan) – we all think we are skin/make-up experts. Believe me, I’m the leader of that group. I’m all about knowing and trying every single product that comes out. I’ve written many many blogs on my love of all things that can smooth, flatten, brighten, tighten, etc. I’m for all of it. I also love getting a good, violent facial. Scrape it, squeeze it, laser it…bring it all on. But I’m really nervous about something that’s been creeping up everywhere.

Dermaplaning. At home. With expensive or cheap tools you can buy online or at a local store near you. The benefits they tout are vast. Remove peach fuzz and have more radiant, glowing skin! Make-up goes on easier and lasts longer! Skin feels and looks smoother and softer! Sounds like a revelation. But it’s not. It’s shaving your face. Just plain old shaving your whole face. The razors look different than the ones we use on our legs, but the concept is the same.

Listen ladies, I get it. I’m hairy too. If you saw me with my natural eyebrows and upper lip, it wouldn’t be pretty. I mean I was a junior in high school before I detached my unibrow. As a mom, I was ahead of the pack letting my daughter know we could wax, shave, peel anything she wanted whenever she was ready. I think that was in 4th grade. Believe me, I get it. And, if I’m honest, I’ve had days where I didn’t have time to go get a quick wax when I reached for my razor and took care of my upper lip issues. There’s no shame in that game. You do what you need to.

But this idea of shaving your face …no no no. Just don’t do it. Remember when they told us that pencil thin eyebrows were cool? Or that fat free bread would help us lose weight? All lies. Don’t buy into it!

Your peach fuzz is fine, leave it alone. Your uni-brow and mustache are not, take care of that now. Please people. Let’s go back to our face masks and charcoal treatments and put the face razors down. I love you.

Call it the “everything’s fine” filter….

Sometimes the picture doesn’t tell the whole story. We all know that. This is the age of social media. We filter, we tweak, we tune-up. Every post or pic looks like it was smooth and effortless. I thought I’d share one of my favorite pictures from this past weekend and give you some scoop on what happened right before this cute shot was taken.

First, some context: It’s my cousin’s baby shower. That’s her in the adorable dress with the adorable bump. We were so excited to celebrate with her and her hubby.

My sister and I had helped her plan all the details. I wanted to be there early enough to help set-up so I came the day before. Drove to my hometown, spent the night with my mother.

I Got up early, showered and came down to breakfast with my parents. I was dressed for the day but didn’t have my make-up on or my hair done.

My mother said, “I like your gown.” Hmmm – gown? It was a long dress for sure, but I didn’t focus on it.

Some more context: the night before, after dinner, my mother had laid out nightgowns for me in the bedroom. This may seem strange to many people – I think an immigrant parent is needed to fully understand this. There’s always a clean nightgown waiting for my stayover. There’s also a brand new toothbrush, toothpaste and anything else you need. If, for any reason you ask for something my mother doesn’t have for you… you better know that there’ll be 19 of those things next time. To make up for this time. It’s very sweet. On this visit, however, I’d brought my own pjs. I’m 47. It’s completely normal to want to wear my own pajamas. Right??

This did not go over well. She’d laid out a winter one and a summer one – what was the problem? Why couldn’t I just wear those? After a 10 min of conversation, I convinced her that I was ok but so thankful for the options. I had my own nightgown.

Back to breakfast. Once done, I ran upstairs, put on what I considered a full face of make-up, blew-out my hair before the eventual drop of humidity would kink it out, and headed out the door. As I was leaving my mother said,” oh you’re changing out of your nightgown at the party?”

It took me a minute to catch-on. My what? I calmly smiled and said, nope, this is my actual dress for the party. Not my nightgown. Up until that moment I thought it was a really cute dress.

What’s the moral of the story kids?

Yes, just wear her nightgown.

Anyhoo I’m in such a good mood about the shower I don’t even get fazed. I get into the car, in my nightgown dress and head to the venue.

In the car were the flowers, the cupcake toothpick flags, the pink and pumpkin colored chocolate covered strawberries, the gifts, the welcome sign and some other things we needed to decorate. Because I didn’t have enough stuff in my car, I made a pit-stop and bought balloons – just in case.

I pulled up to the venue, parked right at the front door blocking the small entry way but decided it was ok because it was just for a short time. I just wanted to run in and grab a cart to take all the stuff inside.

I came back outside with the cart, opened the driver’s side door to unlock the trunk, dropped my keys on the seat and pushed the unlock button and shut the door. But it wasn’t the unlock button. I locked the car. For the very first time in as long as I can remember… I locked my keys in the car. Right on the front seat. An hour and a half before everyone was going to show up.

Did I mention I also left my purse in the car? Did I mention my phone was in that purse in the car?

I stood there staring at what I’d done for about a minute and the baby momma-to-be showed up. I put on my biggest smile and said, “can I have your phone?”.

Long story short – everyone should have AAA or is it Triple A or maybe Triple AAA. It’s worth every penny. Especially when you’re blocking a major entrance to a venue with your big old Subaru and have everything you need for someone’s party in the trunk. Everyone should also always serve mimosas at baby showers.

We got everything out. 30 min to spare.

So now look at the picture again. A couple of mimosas and a quick break-in later, everything was as perfect as it looked. Nightgown dress and all.

My darlings

This quote by Aldous Huxley was posted by a good friend a few weeks ago. Besides the fact that we are legit living Brave New World, I’d forgotten how much I loved his writing.

I sent the quote to my kids immediately. They’re used to it. I’m always sending them videos or quotes or things I need to make sure they see and know. Not sure it ever sinks in but I’m calling it an effort and checking my parenting box for the day. Sometimes that’s all I have the energy for.

“Lightly, lightly”…. it is the best advice.

I think about it at work. At home. On social media.

I’m pretty good about not overthinking. Obsessing. I don’t have too many talents but one has always been that I can walk away from anything or anyone that makes me feel bad. I’m not into it.

Someone said to me that I’m always in a good mood. That’s not true. I’m always trying to be in a good mood. I see no point in being miserable. I also think it’s almost always a choice. Unless there’s abuse involved or if you’re a young child – you can choose to not be miserable. At least try.

I know it’s easier said than done. I know there’s a lot of competition for joy out there. Everyone’s got their own definition of what joy looks like. That’s ok. Because there’s enough for everyone. It’s abundant. Your joy may come from hiking a mountain, mine comes from Bravo. Doesn’t make it any less or more joyful.

Don’t let the quick sands drag you in. Don’t scroll Instagram or Facebook and be angry. You’re using it wrong. Don’t blame the game. Use it for what you want it for. Walk away from the rest.

Same goes for people. There are a lot of people in the world. A lot. Like everyone else, I’ve found some good people and I’ve found some duds. The duds have to go. Doesn’t matter if they’re friends or family. It doesn’t mean that they are evil or bad or that they’ve done me wrong in any way. I just can’t carry their weight. Too heavy. Too hard.

I also know that I’m a dud in someone else’s story. I get it. I’m ok with it.

I’ll keep reading this quote. Maybe you will too❤️

Dear Jack

This is your mom. You know, the one who birthed you. Remember me? Sometimes I make you dinner – but most times I buy you dinner. Does that ring a bell? Oh I know! I’m the one who talks to herself all day saying things like, ” lights out!” “wash your face” and the classic, “you can’t wear those shorts again”. Yep. That’s me.

Ok so I know summer is in full swing and you have lots of plans. Which, btw, I love. You don’t know this but our calendars are synced – so every morning I get a reminder of your “to do” list. Today was:

  1. 20 sit-ups
  2. find rope swing place
  3. go to pool
  4. edit video

Whenever it pops up I’m inspired to make my own list – but it wouldn’t be as fun. It would be something like:

  1. defrizz hair
  2. drink 4 cups of coffee and have a carb
  3. go to meeting
  4. go to next meeting

Not that great.

I’m so happy you and your friends are out on your bikes everyday. You’ve found a way to get to the pool and to most of your friends’ houses without going on major roads – thank you for that. I love your intense desire for independence and adventure. I hope you are always always like this. Yes, I know it’s a dangerous world with dangerous people – but you aren’t afraid and so that makes me less afraid.

And now that we have some summer days under out belt, I have some new rules:

  • Your phone is meant primarily for…get ready for this…communicating via voice or text. When you are gone for hours and I write you a text in all caps – that means I’m worried for your life. Please write back. PLEASE. Thank you.
  • Stop carrying things while you’re riding a bike – it’s dangerous. This goes for basketballs, money, a tripod, etc. Please put these things in the empty backpack that’s on your back meant exactly for this purpose.
  • Icees and slushies are not food. If it’s neon blue or green – it doesn’t count as a meal.
  • Get back to the house while it’s still light means I want  you home before it’s dark – it doesn’t mean that you should ride your bike at night with your phone flashlight on. Nice try.
  • Remember I have eyes everywhere. So make good choices. (also your sister follows your snapchats and she is even more protective of you then me so you’ll have to deal with that).

So, to close…Go. Explore. Have fun. Be safe. Keep sending me pics of your day – I live for those photos.  And for god’s sake, text me back!

xoxo   

    
 

A gem

  
I take a lot of pictures of my kids. Like an abnormal amount. I have a ton of albums and suitcases full of loose photos. I take a ton of pics. Still do. How can I not? First of all they are super cute, and I know I’m not supposed to say that, but #truth. Second of all it makes me happy. So there. 

All our relatives make fun of the way we’ve trained our kids. As soon as I take a camera out, they take position and smile. Usually when they don’t want to. But they do it for their crazy mama.

Every year of their lives is fully documented. Even before social media. That’s why I was so surprised when I got this picture. Taken at the home of a sister friend years and years ago. 

A new picture from those days, a picture I had not taken is like finding a treasure. She sent it to me this afternoon and I’ve been staring at it ever since. 

Kera intensely doing a craft – Jack smiling with his chunky cheeks – both of them golden brown. Where they back from the beach? What was that day? Where was I? 

I thought I owned every picture taken of my kids. It’s a sweet surprise to see otherwise. Thank you aunt Katherine! Xoxo

Don’t read this before, during or after a meal

There was a smell. It was coming from my son’s room. Not the usual shoe smell that I’ve come to terms with. Or the pee-like smell that I’ve also encountered. This was much much worse.

Rotting eggs. Throw-up. Someone throwing up rotting eggs. That’s what it was like.

I am going to be very honest here. I haven’t been to his room in about a week. I wasn’t avoiding it or anything – but he dresses himself (when he wears clothes) and I say goodnight to him downstairs (because it’s the summer and he doesn’t like to go to bed at 9:30pm like I do).

I may not have actually gone into his room, but I know I’ve passed it these past few days – like when I follow him to the bathroom to watch him brush his teeth or when I do a spot check when he’s in the shower to make sure he’s actually standing under the running water. See, I parent.

But this morning I walked past it and almost passed out. You know when you can taste a smell? Like every good mother of an almost 12-year-old I told him to go in there, bring down all the dirty dishes and figure out what the smell is, while I stayed safely downstairs. He said,” what smell?”.

I bit the bullet and went with him. Into the room. It was a sight to see. He lives like a squatter in there. A well dressed squatter with cable.

We took out all the caked on/baked on/tried up dishes that he collects like a hobby. We stripped his bedding and took out all the trash (in the actual trash can and all around the room). He felt very satisfied after this decided to take off to the pool. I was in a daze. Feeling guilty for obviously neglecting this kid and his living situation for so long. How could I let it get this bad?

I decided to go downstairs and pretend we did everything we could. I told myself I hardly even smelled it anymore. Then my daughter walked by it and said,” what happened in Jack’s room? It smells like throw-up and it’s coming into my room”. Great.

I went back up to his room and got on my hands and knees and started smelling parts of the carpet. I have no dignity.

Under his desk was the bag he uses to take to the pool – he must have forgotten to grab it when he escaped. As I picked it up, white curd dripped onto my hand. I would have screamed but my mouth had shut itself from fear. Inside was the bottle of milk I had given him to take to the pool last weekend. Not last weekend as in yesterday. The weekend before that! I quickly took the bag into the bathroom and put it in the sink until I calmed myself down. Why don’t I own a hazmat suit? Or a mask?

I decided there would be no “cleaning” it. I went and got a garbage bag – it was time to say goodbye to the pool bag. It was over. DOA. As I put it in the trash – I noticed 3 dollar bills in the inside pocket covered with the horrific white curd. I could hear my mother in my head,” just clean it off, its money. You can’t throw out money.” I also heard another voice. The one that said,”pretend you didn’t see it. It’s not a $20 dollar bill. Give it to the universe.” I liked that voice better.

Once the bag was out of the house I hosed down his room with Lysol. And then Febreze. And then I put a layer of baking soda on the carpet. Pray for me.

Thanks for letting me get that out of my head. Don’t have milk with dinner. Or cottage cheese. Or Gorgonzola. Sorry.

P.S. – you know it’s bad when I can’t take a picture of it. I’ve taken pictures of cat poop. This was worse. It was a crime.

Ch Ch Changes

It’s October 3rd. September has been quite a month – full of surprises and change. Nothing new for us. The end of last year was full of changes for our family too. I quit my job after 8 years and started with a new company right before Christmas. My husband was offered a work-from-home gig and jumped on the chance to not commute after decades of trains, planes and automobiles.

Then January through July were a haze. I was traveling a lot for work, which was perfect because my husband and kids were getting into their new “being home together all the time routine”. I was all, “good luck with that, I’ll be in Newport Coast for the week. It’s you, the kids and Common Core. Bye!” It all worked out – no one died. We made it through the winter and spring and then summer was a lot of fun.

We were just hitting our stride and then boom. This is how our life works. For as long as I’ve known my husband, and well before we had our kids, this is our life works. We like to shake it up – or things get shaken up for us. Every change we’ve ever made has come from a small seed of an idea that we can’t let go of. Wanna get hitched and then have a baby in our 20s? Sure. Wanna move out of the city to a town we’ve never heard of? Why not! Wanna have another baby even though I’ll have to quit my job? Let’s do it!

Some changes were our whacked out decisions, and some changes were out of our control. We just had to roll with it.

For the past decade or so (this is not an exaggeration) – I’ve heard my husband say that he’d love to get out of his profession. That the world of finance isn’t making him happy. But because he’s a workhorse, and because it’s been good for our family, he would never walk away. He went from one stressful job to another and made the best of it. But then September started. And slowly a get-away plan emerged. His group was being shuffled and his position would now be based out of NYC. But the kids and i had gotten used to him being home. And he was loving the freedom of not being in an office. Not spending his life on a train. He was going to karate practices, doing pick-up after band rehearsal – getting to know his kids (and they got to know him) in a completely different way. Good, bad and ugly.

It was very much like my childhood. My parents had actual 9-5 jobs for a very short time, then my dad started his own business and never looked back. My mom was either helping him or home with us – actually they were both home with us. I don’t remember a time when my dad was out of the house for more than a few hours a day. It was unusual and wonderful. They were also risk takers. My dad was a pharmacist who could have made a very safe living his whole life, but he tried something different. He took a chance. The irony is that my entire childhood I thought of them as the most boring, risk-averse people – they drive their cars slow and live their lives quietly. Now I think they were absolutely bohemian (I feel my sister rolling her eyes). But really, they marched by the beat of their own drum. And it wasn’t all good – there were failures along with the successes – but they tried. They moved us around. They uprooted our schooling. Money went up and down – but it wasn’t boring. That’s for sure.

Maybe that’s why I’m not afraid of change. It doesn’t really rock my world. Not because I was unhappy before, or looking for the change – but because I know it’s not always bad. Or maybe I’m just dead inside. Just kiddin’.

Because I am my parent’s daughter, I’m constantly thinking of businesses that we can run. After my son was born and I decided to stay at home, I even started one of those businesses. A wedding planning company that did pretty well for three years. I loved it. I only stopped doing it because of another change that came out of nowhere. A phone call from an old colleague who had a job for me. A good job. The only caveat – it was two states away. A job that would force my husband to quit his well paying job if we took the move. Normal people would have laughed and said,”no way”.  But my husband and I,who wouldn’t know what to do in a casino if we tried, took another gamble. We said yes. And it worked out really really well. We loved our new town. The kids loved their new schools. My husband found another job right away, and I was happy with my new job. For a little while. But in the back of my mind, I was always thinking of what “we could start”. Even though my husband is the total opposite of my wandering nature, he got into it too. We would look at empty store fronts and imagine what we could do. We would have hour long discussions about the kinds of things that would work there. Then, like the lunatics we are, we’d even call the renters and ask how much the space cost. You know, normal stuff you do on a Friday night. While you and your husband are out at fancy restaurants and enjoying life, we’re researching franchise options and coming up with company names.

So last month when his job location shifted, we jumped on our chance. Well, I jumped and dragged him along. It was Friday night, we were doing our usual “this is a business that could work” routine – and he left the room to order pizza for the kids. That’s when I pulled the trigger for him and applied for all the legal paperwork for his new company. No joke. He came back into the living room and I said,” it’s done. You just started a company”. Instead of divorcing me like a normal person would do – he sat down and started a business plan. The only thing that saves my crazy is his crazy.

A month later, he’s ready to launch the website and dive in. And I would tell you what it is, but it’s not my gig. It’s his. I’m pretty sure he’ll go postal that I’ve even talked about it at all. But as always, I’ll take the gamble.

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