Monthly Archives: May 2013

Chick Click

I am lucky to have an incredible group of girlfriends. I think most women would say that. But, I know I’m a bit nuts and my girlfriends are there for me through thick and thin. Actually, they all have their own bit of crazy which makes them that much more amazing. I couldn’t imagine getting through the ups, downs or mundane times in life without them. And, because this is the one area of my life in which I’m completely satisfied, I never question if it could be better or try to look for ways to change it.

It isn’t that I don’t like meeting new people or see value in expanding my circle. I am just busy and there is never enough time to enjoy the friends I already have. (Granted, I can’t ever imagine saying there is enough time with them. Yet, my husband’s opinion may be that they get the vast majority of my time.) So, I do not seek to make new, close friendships. Though, I enjoy making new acquaintances. Like all things, though, sometimes you can’t control what happens.

Once in awhile, I just run into someone, and it is an instantaneous “chick click.” These are women that I have an immediate draw toward (almost a magnetic pull). One of my friends calls it my “girl crush.” Usually, they are chance meetings in random places:

  1.  A yoga teacher I met at a Power Plate class (after a tequila happy hour, our bond was sealed)
  2.  A neighbor I never met ringing our doorbell on Halloween night (an offer of wine for her treat was all it took)
  3.  A woman I met in Korea while we were both adopting, and we met up for a few drinks in a hotel bar prior to meeting our children (and ending with her knocking on the Eastern Orphanage windows to get back in past curfew)

Please note: I realize all of these also have a drink or two involved, but isn’t that where most good stories start?

good story

Each of these are women I instantly bonded with. The draw came before the drinks. My crazy could feel their crazy. And I mean no offense to them by crazy. As my yoga friend would say—embrace your crazy. These bonds for me come from the women who on the outside are so put together and shock you when they say they don’t have their shit together. I love them because they admit it. Nothing endears someone to me quite like admitting a bit of crazy. These are the girlfriends where it is no holds barred on being silly, sharing, laughing, and getting you through life.

The other night I met another one. (I need more time—or less work.) We had a dinner party. My “trick-or-treat” girlfriend brought another couple. Drinks around the table. Good food. More drinks. Tons of laughs. My neighbor had to leave early, since she was flying out for work the next day. Pretty soon husbands tire out and my “new” friend and I decide to keep going. This is when the bond is sealed. We stay up sharing, talking till … who knows, but way longer than we should. Mixed within our conversations were a lot of, “wow, I like you a lot!” and making of future plans.

Will we get to all these plans? Probably not. But even after only a few hours of sleep (with kids raring to go), I wake up with a big smile and I ride the high all day.  It’s like a great first date that went too far. Except no regrets after!

Unlike a first date, I know I will see her again and she liked me too. Neither of us will worry if we don’t connect for awhile (wondering what it means or what we did wrong). And, when we get back together, there will be no problem picking right back up.

I love times when I forget I am anything but me (not a wife, employee, boss, mother, daughter). Just fully enjoying the moment and living completely in the present. That is where my girlfriends bring me. So to all my girlfriends, thank you—you have no idea all you get me through and the pure joy you add to my life. Yes—I would choose you over my wine! XOXO

The curative powers of a well-timed hair appointment?

I’ve already mentioned that I can’t easily pay for services without feeling a twinge of guilt. In particular, spending money on hair cuts/color. First of all, hair grows, so whatever you do to it has temporal value, at best. It’s like when you drive a new car off the lot or buy top-of-the-line electronics. A rapidly depreciating investment.

"Good enough" or "tragically trendy"? You decide!

“Good enough” or “tragically trendy”? You decide!

Then there’s the vanity aspect: My mom used to cut my hair when I was a child—and though my haircuts weren’t always the latest style, they were deemed “good enough.” Likewise, my natural hair color (mousy brown) is fine, if a tad dull. My parents aren’t exactly puritans, but they are frugal, so I was raised to believe that spending a lot on a haircut was a waste of money as well as rather vain.

Over the years, I’ve managed to squash that pragmatic and wholesome attitude and have been seeing a professional stylist for a cut and color ever since an untimely home-dying episode left me with “hot roots”—in my case bright orange roots and dark dyed locks—the same day as my sister-in-law’s mother’s funeral. Although with a little foresight I could have called it “ombre” and been a trendsetter, at the time it was merely an inappropriate hairstyle for such a solemn occasion.

The professional stylist (my niece) was able to bring my hair back to balance with a nice rich color and tasteful highlights, but such expertise comes at a price (even with a family discount), so as my nod to frugality, I convinced myself I’d drag out the time between appointments as long as possible.

I had been in this wanting-to-make-an-appointment-but-it’s-still-too-soon phase for a couple of weeks and noticed that when I don’t like how my hair looks, I don’t like how life looks. My auburn hair always fades to a nondescript light brown and blah hair = blah life. I’ve never been lured to the light side by the promise that “blondes have more fun,” but I’ve always had a preference for hair color with some oomph to it. I also have the attention span of a gnat and don’t need to explain that switching hairstyles or hair color when I’m bored is easier than switching jobs or husbands.

Before

Before

But in addition to the color issue, my hair has taken a weird turn of late. A couple of years ago, I noticed a very decided “kink” partway down my normally stick-straight hair. And from there it continued to twist and turn until now, three years later, I’ve got wavy hair for the first time in my life at the age of 47 (admittedly, I’ll be 48 next month, but let’s not rush things, okay?!). Yet, despite the recent disposition toward kinkiness, some of the longer (older) hair is still straight toward the bottom—and a bit frizzy and fried from all the coloring and styling tools—so I was also in pretty dire need of a cut to shape things up.

Of course, after waiting until enough time had elapsed to justify another appointment, I discovered that my niece was booked for the next two weeks. Frustrated and impatient, I considered my alternatives. I have another niece who was finishing cosmetology school (it may seem odd that I actually have THREE nieces in this line of work ’til you realize how many nieces I have—let’s just say a lot). Unfortunately, booking a coloring slot would require leaving work early and I was too busy to do that. So, I waited…impatiently… until my scheduled appointment with my niece last week.

After

After

Which brings us to now. Although I did breathe a sigh of relief looking in the mirror as my niece dried my newly colored and freshly trimmed hair, I’m sad to say the euphoria was short-lived, and the next morning old troubles were still troubling me. I guess I’ve gotten more complex as I’ve gotten older, and no longer can my problems just be washed away with an expensive Aveda shampoo. Hmmm… Maybe I need to go shoe shopping instead. 🙂

Lazy parenting tip

Sometimes after a long day at work, one of the worst commands I can hear is, “Play with me.” Worse yet, it is often self-inflicted from having snapped about no more electronics or instructed them to go find something to do.  To balance my guilt from not seeing my children enough with my exhaustion of work and family schedules, I have become a master at creating lazy parenting “family fun times.”

Tonight’s newly discovered lazy parenting tip: Balloon Challenge

This game is great if you have a few balloons handy. All you need to do is pour yourself a drink and plop down in your favorite spot. Once comfortable, then  challenge your kids to keep a balloon in the air. If it touches the ground they get a point. Kids can move and run around. Parents can’t get up (best rule of the game).

balloon

If it seems like you’re losing momentum and you still haven’t finished the magazine you’re flipping through (yes, you can play, drink, talk to your spouse and comb through a magazine all at the same time), simply add more balloons. How many can they keep up at a time? Not only does this game keep my kids happy, it lets me interact with the kids and be lazy all at the same time.

Some may be shaking their heads, sad at the fact I am not enjoying every precious moment with my children. Perhaps someday, I will look back with regret, nostalgic for the days of young children. But while in the midst of it, there is an unending amount of moments, so if I can grab a few for myself all the better. Plus, I figure it’s better than setting the clock ahead and pretending it’s bedtime.

The best testament to this lazy parenting tip: My kids went to sleep tonight talking about our fun family night and asking when we can play again. I like finding ways to be considered an awesome mom without much effort!

The “Coffee Achiever” evaluates her options … and priorities

As you may recall, I like my morning cup of coffee. Well, a couple of Saturdays ago, I woke up to make my morning cuppa only to find my standard-issue coffee maker had passed on during the night. (It was a good thing it was a Saturday, too. I had just come off of a particularly busy and stressful week at work and–as “A Coffee Achiever”—if it had died the day before, I’m sure I would have curled up into a little ball and cried.)

I had a brunch date with girlfriends, so I fumbled my way through a shower, pulled on some clothes and navigated my way to the restaurant (a risky maneuver, as I really shouldn’t operate heavy machinery without caffeine in my system). I ordered a cappuccino upon arrival and was then able to think clearly enough to devise a rough game plan:

  • The coffee maker needed to be replaced asap.
  • The death of my coffee maker presented an opportunity to explore new coffee-making options.
  • I could either make a decision quickly or drive to my “cabin” and fetch my coffee maker from there as a temporary substitute until I made a decision.

coffee-32376878468I spent Saturday exploring my options. I wanted something simple, but that would make really good, strong coffee. So I asked for opinions on Facebook about the various one-cup (pod) options. Last fall, while visiting my brother-in-law’s family, I had fallen in love with my sister-in-law’s very expensive “super-automatic” espresso machine. I wasn’t seriously considering spending so much on a replacement, but as I explored other options, I kept coming back to the Saeco espresso machine. As a master of the fine art of rationalization, I could justify it. After all, I drank coffee EVERY DAY. Plus, the super-automatic would make it easy for my husband to make a cup at his convenience throughout the day. But the online reviews pointed to a somewhat temperamental machine and it seemed a bit extravagant for a sensible Midwestern gal like me. So I was more seriously considering a Bonavita coffee maker—very highly rated—but simple to operate.

Sunday morning, after my husband ran out to get our morning coffee, I hit up several stores to consider my options. By afternoon, I was tired of decision-making and headed to the store that carried the Bonavita coffeemaker. But looking at it in the store, I wasn’t 100% convinced and thought about driving up to my cabin-condo to fetch my other coffeemaker until I was ready to make a decision. But walking back to my car, I passed another kitchen store and spontaneously popped in to check out the coffeemaker selection. There it was: The Saeco. In about a minute I decided to buy it. I’m worth it, damn it. And I like my coffee.

Oh, you suave Italian playboy, promising bliss and giving only heartache

Oh, you suave Italian playboy: promising bliss… but giving only heartache

Loading the large box in my car, it looked like the box had been opened and taped shut again. I was a bit concerned that it was a return, but shrugged off my concerns and brought my purchase home. While setting it up I discovered—you guessed it—a piece was broken. Augggh! It was 15 minutes until the store closed so I didn’t have time to exchange it. My darling daughter, taking pity on her mother, offered to run to Starbucks the next morning.

The next day on my lunch hour—fortified by that morning’s latte—I exchanged my Saeco. The only other one they had in the store was the floor model. Again, trepidation, but the floor model was kept on a high shelf and the manager assured me it was neither used nor abused, so I took the exchange.

That night I set up the new machine and… it didn’t work! At this point, I was totally disgusted. Damn Italian design! I spent the rest of the evening Googling various models of coffee makers. While reading reviews from people who laboriously roast their own beans, own $500 coffee grinders, and regard anything other than their personally handcrafted espresso to be undrinkable swill, another realization came upon me: I didn’t want to be associated with these people.

When I thought about the times I really enjoyed a cup of coffee, I thought of sitting on the dock at my sister’s cabin in beautiful northern Minnesota or first thing in the morning after a late night of client dinners at a work conference. I thought about sitting on the balcony of my cabin-condo with my husband or catching up with KitKat at the local coffee shop. I decided that I didn’t want to buy something that by its very superiority would lessen those treasured moments.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not passing judgment on someone who buys an expensive espresso machine. Not. At. All. If you like coffee and can afford it, go for it. I did—or tried to. (And if that darn Saeco had worked, rest assured that I’d be typing this while enjoying a lovely latte.)

Not as sexy, but he’s there for you in the morning.

However, the reverence with which some of the online reviewers idolized their espresso machines was as eye-opening as espresso itself. As I found myself spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to settle my own coffee dilemma, their obsessiveness hit a little too close to home. After all, I’ll give people second chances, maybe even third chances, but I don’t extend the same courtesy to appliances. Why was I spending so much time and energy on this one? 

I decided that reliability is more important to me than Coffee Nirvana, so the next day I returned the Saeco and bought the Bonavita coffee maker instead. It reliably produces a decent cup of coffee, and I’ll just savor those transcendent moments of caffeinated bliss whenever they happen to occur.

The longest winter ever

I have finally seen the light! If you read Stormy’s post on winter in Minnesota, you will have an idea of how long we wait each year to see the sun break up months of grey. This year has been an especially brutally long winter as it trailed into April and just kept nailing us with more snow. This extra month has had a negative impact on everyone. It was as if we all almost gave up hope. My daughter, the optimist, seemed to be the only one holding out as she would walk out of the house each day, look surpised and sigh, “oh no, there is still snow.”

Five days ago

Five days ago

I thought I was getting through it admirably. Biting my tongue and telling the kids how fun it is to be able to make snowmen in April … trying to be a Pollyanna, which is not my forte. But, I knew I needed to fight the anger and resentment brewing inside me. Everything was bugging me more than normal. Plus, the long dry winter was having ill effects on my looks and this was not a mood helper.  My husband finally asked, “are you okay … are we?” I snapped at him that I wouldn’t know anything till I could actually see the sun. And that if it didn’t come soon, I may just head for the airport instead of home one night and send him a postcard from my tropical get-away.

Well this weekend the temperatures jumped. In fact they doubled and hit the ’70s and ’80s overnight. At first it was almost like waking up on vacation. You barely recognized the place. Everyone had on smiles. All the neighbors came out. Restaurants opened their patios for dining. People multiplied on the streets and around the lakes. No one complained about the crowds because we were all so happy to be out of hibernation.  All concerns took a backseat to enjoying the moment. I even started to look better instantly. It was a sunny miracle!

You could even see the positive effect the sun had on kids. I might go as far as to say they were a delight. They spent hours outside playing ball, bike riding, jumping on the trampoline, heading off to the park and for ice cream. Simply enjoying the freedom summer seems to bring to everyone. I didn’t do a thing that needed to get done. Cleaning, errands, grocery shopping, and bills all got pushed aside for just soaking it all in.

Instead, I spent my days doing nothing. In fact, on Sunday I spent the whole day with a girlfriend sitting on the deck, sharing too much wine, flipping through magazines, and getting fake tattoos from my daughter.  It was heavenly.

Yesterday

Yesterday

I am hearing horrible rumors that we aren’t completely over with winter and temps are going to fall just as quickly as they rose, so I am making the most of it in the meantime. Today, I left the office right a 5:00 p.m. (unheard of), took a walk with Stormy, brought the kids out to play when they should have been heading to bed, and now we are going to go sit out on the deck and enjoy a nightcap.

This blog post was also on my to-do list that was pushed aside this weekend, so I did take a break from the great outdoors to get it written since I couldn’t ask Stormy to cover another turn for me for purely self-indulgent reasons.  I’ll be back in a few days with a real post as I am forced back into hibernation.

I hope rest of you are doing some fabulous things to enjoy this very deserved weather.