Archive for Girl Talk

He Never Promised Me A Herb Garden

I was wandering around my backyard last week, admiring the spring bulbs that had flowered. The hostas that I had planted the week before Easter started making their appearance. The fruit trees were in full bloom and gorgeous. It was a happy moment, and I felt pretty pleased with all the work my husband and I have done  over the 17 years we’ve lived here.  And then I turned the corner and saw it.  You can’t help but see it. The eye sore of the yard. The cause of bickering between my husband and me over the past few years.

It’s supposed to be a flower bed that runs the length of the walkway that connects the backyard gate to our back door. The previous owner had put railroad ties along the length of it to make it a raised bed. Over the years, we’ve stuck a couple of rose bushes in it, a couple of dwarf fruit trees, and a few spring bulbs. In short, it’s a hodge-podge of shtuff. To top it all off, the railroad ties have shifted over the years, claiming more and more of the walkway.

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to plant herbs in there. It’s right off the kitchen, so how convenient would that be? Before I could have fun planting, though, I wanted my husband to put the railroad ties back where they belong. (For those not familiar with railroad ties, they are long square logs that are heavy as all get-out. I have three of them along that flowerbed.) Before he would do that, my husband wanted me to transplant the spring bulbs. And round and round we would go about who needed to do what to get this project started, let alone finished.

When I looked at the eye sore last week, I heaved a sigh and thought, Hmpf! Since he’s not here, this is going to be another year it’s not going to get done. Immediately after that thought, came another one that pulled me up short:

When the hell did I become helpless?

Trust me, I’ve done a heck of a lot harder things in my life  than shifting a couple of railroad ties a few inches to get something I wanted.  Why I thought I couldn’t do this little project without my husband is beyond me.

And a “little project” was exactly what it turned out to be. Transplanting bulbs, moving dirt aside, shifting the railroad ties over five inches, and planting the herbs took all of three hours. Not only did I do this by myself, but with a toddler “helping” (and adding “replanting hostas” onto the project list).

Now whenever I look at the former eye sore, I grin. It’s going to be nice having such a gorgeous reminder of what a waste of time self-imposed helplessness is.


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Three Weeks…

Three weeks is the amount of time it takes me to get used to any change in my schedule. Kids going back to school or starting summer vacation, my going back to work or quitting a job, getting accustomed to my husband being home all the time when he was first laid off…you get the idea. It takes me three weeks to go from total bewilderment to a new happy groove.

My latest situation has been no exception. A little over three weeks ago we had some good news/bad news around here. The good news: my husband went back to work for a construction company that has numerous jobs lined up that will give him enough work for at least a year. The bad news: those local jobs don’t start until June or July. Until then he’ll be working in Georgia. We live in Michigan.  He was given a few days to pack, drive down to Georgia, and report for work.

I know this is a great opportunity. I know we’re lucky he has a job. I know this is our choice. I also know this separation sucks. I’ve never had a greater respect for military wives, and I’m not even going through a tenth of what they do.

Back to talking about adapting to my current situation. Today marks the end of the third week since my husband left. It’s been… interesting.

Week 1: A frenzy. Two outings with girlfriends that were planned ages before the new job came up. Recovering from not just my husband’s departure, but also hosting Easter dinner for 20+ of our family and friends. And a realization of exactly how much my husband does around here.

Week 2: Acceptance. Started to get the hang of what slack I need to pick up, and what I could delegate to the teenagers. Cancelling some appointments, rearranging others. A false sense of calm descended.

Week 3: The Glitches. Where to start? How about with the toe I stubbed, and looked like I had broken. My beloved hairstylist quitting  without letting me know. My toddler getting sick. The stove dying. The bank confusing me with someone else, and bouncing my payments. And, just to make things a little more interesting, let’s toss in a couple of emotional whammies: receiving my toddler’s preschool enrollment packet for next fall, and my oldest turning 20. Those two events happened within two days of each other.

Now we’re entering week 4, and the new groove is starting to show its self.  This morning I woke up with a clear game plan for the weeks ahead. All glitches from last week have been resolved. I got through the emotional stuff without getting a tatoo, or at the very least curling up in a fetal position with a bottle of vodka. I’m ready to embrace this  “happily married single parent” phase of my life.  But I can’t wait for my next three-week adjustment when my husband comes home.

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A Little Link Love…

Well hellooooo, stranger! One day I will figure out how those awesome bloggers keep going when life throws them a curve ball. Until then, I’ll settle for sending myself on guilt trips for neglecting you all.

I may not have been writing, but I have been reading. And I just had to share what’s been showing up in my reader…

Amy over at Earnest Parenting has written her first book! I’ve admired Amy for years, and cannot wait to read Fun & Free Activities For Families on a Budget. Her timing is perfect!

If Gretchen ever hosts any of these carnivals over at Second Blooming, I swear I’ll start another blog so I can participate twice.

I stumbled across Diane Denmark about a month ago, and have been going back ever since for a daily smile.

Finally,  I saw these binders and had to run out to get the supplies to set up my own immediately! (And by “immediately” I mean I have the stuff now, and hope to accomplish them before my toddler enters kindergarten.)

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The “Wow” Factor

I love my hair stylist. She understands when I drag myself into the salon after letting my hair go for months on end, sporting hag hair and Walter Matthau eyebrows. There’s no chastising or guilt trips from her for letting myself go for so long. She smiles, reassures me, and pampers me.  In short, she’s a saint.

Today while she was performing yet another miracle on my head, my stylist went above and beyond. She turned into a combination therapist/priest/doting mom while I lamented yet again about how badly I’ve neglected myself.

Me: I can’t believe I’ve been walking around looking like this!

Stylist: You’ve been busy. It happens to the best of us.

Me: But there’s no excuse!

Stylist: You’ve been broke. You’ve been making sure bills are paid and the kids have what they need.

Me: But it’s not like you charge me what you’re worth! I mean, c’mon! Can you believe….OH MY GOD! I LOVE this style! It’s incredible! WOW!

…and that’s when it hit me. The reason I’ve habitually put off getting my hair styled on a regular basis. I’m addicted to the “Wow” factor.

I’ve been aware of my addiction for years. It was the biggest reason I had issues with keeping my house decluttered. See, the house would look messy. My husband would go to work. I’d go on a cleaning spree. He’d come home, look around in amazement, and say, “Wow! Everything looks fantastic!” and gaze at me like I was a goddess for the rest of the day.

Then came the day I got tired of the cleaning sprees. I started keeping the house in order on a regular basis. There were no more looks of amazement when my husband came home, but that was offset by no longer tripping on things, or searching for clean socks. Maintenance isn’t sexy, but it sure makes things look good.

I had no idea that I had transferred my “Wow” factor addiction from my home to my head until today. To break the cycle, I made an appointment with her before I left the salon, and marked my calendar. I also revelled in the look of amazement from my husband, and basked in the compliments I received from him and my teens.  Maintenance may not be sexy, but neither is sporting Walter Matthau eyebrows. 

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“We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes”

I’m writing this post in January long before my March Madness hits so I don’t forget to apologize to you wonderful people.

You see, in March I tend to become…not myself. I don’t know if it’s because by March I am stir crazy from cabin fever, dealing with the seemingly never ending winter. I don’t know if I’m just breaking down my midlife crisis into a month at a time chunks. Whatever it is, when it hits I just go with it.

I do know when I first “snapped”. St. Patrick’s Day, 2007. My husband was assistant coach for my son’s hockey team. He and the coach arranged for free ice time at an arena downtown. I was pregnant with our third child, dodging St Paddy’s Day revellers that were going from strip club to strip club in an area that, shall we say, isn’t the most desirable. Or safe, for that matter. My two door car was loaded with teenage boys and hockey equipment. When we got to the arena, we discovered it was “double booked”, and the boys refused to get on the ice with players they didn’t know. Where, you may ask, was the assistant coach–aka my darling husband? On a weekend trip with his buddies. I snapped.

Last year’s March Madness was a lulu. I became obsessed with William Shatner and a pair of shoes. I’m not even sure how it all happened. It started with my passing on stalking George Clooney when he was filming ten minutes from my home. I may as well confess all. I didn’t go watch the filming because I didn’t want to shave my legs. Don’t ask me about my reasoning–it’s all beyond my comprehension. Anyway, it some how went from George Clooney to William Shatner (I honestly don’t know how I made the jump. At the time it was perfectly reasonable.) I read William Shatner’s autobiography, reporting each new fact breathlessly to my bewildered but patient friends.

And the shoes…oh, those shoes. I believe I described them to the same friends as “sexy, snake skin sling backs”, costing about the same as what I pay a month for my cable and internet service. When I wasn’t telling my friends more than they ever wanted to know about William Shatner, I was talking about the shoes. Why I wanted them, why I needed them, what I’d wear them with, where I’d where them, and on and on and on. My poor friends.

By the end of March, I start coming back to my senses. Last year at the end of March I found myself friends with William Shatner of Facebook, and wailing to my friends that “someone else was walking around in my shoes!” (By the time I had talked myself into them, they were sold out).

So please bear with me. I plead temporary insanity. We’ll be back to our regular programming in April.

The “madness” seems to be starting a bit early this year. Heaven help me–I have a hair appointment on Monday!

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Reinventing Yourself…

I remember my plans for college. I was 18, and things were going to be different from high school. I was going to be “one of Those girls” who wore cute outfits and just seemed to have it all together. It was going to make for a huge change from my “jeans-and-a-sweatshirt wearing, homework losing” former high school self! I couldn’t wait for the first day of classes.

It didn’t go as I’d planned from start (when I confidently sat in a classroom with my notebook ready, only to discover I wasn’t due in that particular classroom for another day), to finish (when a very put-together looking girl pulled me aside after my last class to tell me–privately, thank God–that I had my skirt on backwards). The next day I was back to my jeans and sweatshirt.

The first time I had ever heard it put that someone had “reinvented” themselves was used to describe Madonna. It totally captured my imagination. I became giddy at the thought of becoming someone completely different. And I knew just who I wanted to be–Lara Croft: Tomb Raider! Exploring exotic locations, fighting off danger at every turn with a sassy swish of my long braided hair, discovering ancient treasures. How cool would that be?

I discovered very quickly that turning myself into Lara Croft wasn’t practical in my life. Exploring exotic locations didn’t fit into my schedule of PTO meetings and parent/teacher conferences. I didn’t have the energy to fight off danger after spending my day teaching kids how to read at the school I worked for. I couldn’t sassily swish a long braid because I could never get my hair to stay in one for longer than five minutes. I found myself making do with discovering dinner from the depths of my freezer instead of  unearthing ancient treasure.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my life, and am pretty pleased with what I’ve been able to do with it. It’s just  that the power to “reinvent” myself seemed so elusive to me.  If the Material Girl could do it, again and again, why couldn’t I? I found myself looking for a book, an article, a person…something or someone to explain to me how the average person would go about reinventing herself.

Enter LL Cool J, rapper, actor, co-star of the NCIS: Los Angeles. I love LL Cool J. He is the only reason I will watch Deep Blue Sea whenever it’s on. Going Back to Cali? I’m there! And he has one of the greatest smiles in the world.

So when I saw him on the cover of January 17th’s Parade magazine, of course I had to read the article. And then I re-read it. And read it again. All for one comment of LL Cool J’s:

Reinvention isn’t only for celebrities or actors or musicians or athletes–reinvention is for all humanity. All of us should strive for a newer and better self. Just constantly take our lives to the next level.

After reading that, the idea of  reinventing myself seems not only do-able, but easy. Something I have done every year of my life. Even if at times my skirt is on backwards, and my treasure hunting is limitted to digging in the freezer.

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WFMW: Do you have a holiday checklist for you?

I thought of this after we got a call from some friends  the other day inviting us to a Christmas party later this month. If the party were the day of the phone call, my family would be set to walk out the door, properly attired, looking good. Me…not so much. I made a quick checklist fo myself, and thought I’d share it with my nearest and dearest internet pals.

 Hair: Need a cut? Color? Cute hair ornament?

Clothes: Do you have an outfit (or two) for the events you have coming up? Have you tried them on recently? Checked to make sure they don’t need cleaning?

Shoes: Are they a bit scuffed (like mine), or are they polished and ready to go? Do you know where they are? Don’t laugh–I once was late to a dinner because one of my dress shoes was hiding under the couch.

Accessories: Do you have shoes to go with your awesome dress? Nylons? Bag? Appropriate undergarments? Do you know where both of your favorite earrings are?

Misc.: Do your nails need a quick filing? How about your toes? Need a pedicure? Have you checked your eyebrows?

Better to think about this stuff now while were calmly dishing on the ‘net, and not running around like a mad woman five minutes before we’re due to walk out the door. Check out We Are That Family for what’s working for others today.


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