Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

This time last year I was so relieved to be saying goodbye to 2007. It was a year of mixed blessings, the highlight being the birth of the little guy. The six months after he was born were probably the worst of my life. I had a breakdown of sorts and it took some medication and therapy to get through it. I developed a horrible case of insomnia and the stress of having two children, a business to run, and two parents with pretty severe heath issues seemed like more than I could bear. Even though I was well on my way to recovery by the time we rung in the new year, I still felt pretty wrecked. But that is the beauty of a new year. It gives us a place to start fresh, a threshold from which to launch our hope for better times, and a moment to reflect on the time that has just passed.

If 2007 was a year of bumps and bruises, then 2008 was certainly a time of healing for me. This spring I sold my business and we pulled up stakes and moved 2000 miles west. Although I miss my store terribly, I feel so liberated. I have come to realize how much I needed a pause in the crazy pace I was keeping. As I ponder 2009, I feel so optimistic and excited about what the year may bring. Sure, I want to lose 10 lbs and start running again. Of course, I want to eat healthier and get back into yoga. I would like to start having people over more often and expand our group of friends here in Phoenix. But most importantly, and here is the one I'll stick to, I want to write and write and write.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I just expect things to work properly...

I wouldn't say I am a pessimist, but then again I tend to think that a glass half full is still only half full. Half empty? Half full? How about a full glass? Now we're talking! Anyway, I tend to view things with a cynical but optimistic eye. In other words, I expect things to suck, but hope for the best anyway.

So my vacuum cleaner is now around five years old and I honestly haven't used the thing in years. When we moved to Arizona and I sold my business, I also sold my biweekly paycheck, so one of our budget cuts involves me cleaning the house again. Every time I take it out to vacuum, I dream of a Dyson. The Cadillac of vacuum cleaners. When the English guy on the commercial says "I just think things should work properly." I swoon a little. I am sure that this machine could make my carpet stand up and sparkle. I just know that I could get used to my first house without hardwoods if I owned the gleaming yellow model of centrifuge engineering. I try to justify the gazillion dollar price tag. It would protect the carpeting and beautify the house. It would banish microscopic dust that we are certainly inhaling. An investment!

As usual, I was grizzling over the vacuum cleaner while trying to clean up the remnants of our Christmas tree. This thing just doesn't work! I turned it off and started poking around the bagless filter, checking the hoses for clogs. Suddenly I discovered a hidden compartment! Filled with dust! Huge chunks of five years worth of disgusting dust! And a washable filter! Turns out I didn't need to get a Dyson. I just needed to get a clue. I took the vacuum cleaner completely apart, cleaned it out, and guess what? It works like a charm.

It seems like lately my cynicism is overriding my optimism, especially with products around the house. Nothing really seems to last past a few years and instead of taking the time to really investigate, I wrote off my vacuum cleaner as another disposable purchase. I can still remember my Mom cleaning with an old stainless Hoover that she got when she and my father got married. She wouldn't have dreamt of tossing out a five year old vacuum cleaner and I shouldn't either. I am sure a Dyson would fulfil its promises, but right now my budget is prodding me to stick with my good old standby. So for now I will put off indulging in a luxurious new vacuum cleaner and treat myself to a nice bottle of wine for my outstanding handiwork on my existing machine. Now where is my half full glass...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Amazing Grace

This year it has been a little harder to get into the Christmas spirit. It probably has a great deal to do with my minimal holiday decor. After five years of owning a gift store, I gave myself a big old break on the usually insane pace of December and barely got a wreath on the door. I can blame it on the little guy and girlie too. While I am busy handling this little crisis...

or making sure this doesn't go disastrous...
I haven't been too motivated to deck the halls. In all fairness we did whip together a Charlie Brown tree from Home Depot. We did hang stockings. We baked a few holiday treats. We drove around and admired other people's lights. I drank some wine (hey that's holidayish isn't it?).
So few days ago in a last ditch effort to dig up some merry making, I splurged on tickets to see the Soweto Gospel Choir. The concert was a beautiful mix of traditional African music and gospel. The harmonies were both melodic and mesmerizing. Near the close of the concert, the group sang Amazing Grace. It was phenomenal. By the end of the song, tears were streaming down my cheeks. And there it was, the Christmas spirit. The grace of God that can't be found in the mounds of wrapping paper and piles of cookies, but can only be felt in the heart. Amazing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ode to the cookie

Oh Christmas cookie, I see you over there with your coy come hither look! Don't bat your sugary little lashes at me! I will not be won over by your buttery charms this time! I will not nibble you into oblivion like your partners in crime. I know your little game! You will let me think I have conquered you. You will lead me to believe I have banished you from existence, crunch by flaky crunch. I will sweep your crumbs away, hiding the evidence of my indiscretion. I will dab the powdery remains of our meeting from the corners of my mouth. Yes, I will have regrets, but once you are gone I will feel relief. I will be able to move on.

But you won't really be gone will you? Oh no. Like the stealth snack you are, you'll be back. Just when I have forgotten you, I will find you again, snickering and squishy, hanging over the waist of my favorite jeans.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm the DJ, he's the wrapper...

How is it possible, that keeping it simple for the holidays is still so much work? I am sorting the gifts for the kids and wrapping my stuff for hubs today, since he'll be home next week. I am not crazy about projects with scissors and tape, so I will be sticking hubs with wrapping the kids stuff! I noticed that my pile for girlie is twice the size as the one for the little guy. I feel a little bad about it, but not enough to buy more presents. He is only 16 months old and I am thinking he won't notice. Besides, it's kind of hard to spend real money on presents for a kid who can still entertain himself by kicking a bowl around the kitchen. Truth be told, I have been holding back art supplies and things I would have normally bought for the kids (like new slippers) to beef up Christmas a little. It's not that our daily finances have changed that much, but since our nest egg is a little scrambled I feel like we should be more careful...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My cleaning service

If you're not going to nap, grab a broom. We've got stuff to do!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Khaki and trashy

Every time he packs for a trip or gets ready for an important day my husband always runs his clothing choices by me. I have to laugh because, really, what color doesn't go with khaki pants? He has had some of the same Banana Republic flat fronts and button downs for years now. But somehow the various shades of olive, light beige, brown, and tan throw him a little and he always wants me to look it over. Does the green shirt go with these pants or is it all too greenish? Black shoes or brown? Throw a sweater over it or not? It used to drive me crazy but now I just indulge him.
It's my little way of saying "Thanks for not complaining about the way I always over stuff the trash can while you are out of town."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Perfect Shot

I am working on getting the perfect shot of the kids for our New Years cards. Notice, I didn't say Christmas cards at this point... I am strongly considering this one.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Purple rain, puurple raaaain...

I have been fighting the blues for the last few days. Maybe it's the approaching holiday season and the fact that we are so far away from the people we love. I have been wanting to hug my sister in law for a full week now and see her cutie babies. My daughter has been feeling the distance too and asked when we are going "home." I explained that we are home and then immediately felt guilty about moving the kids out west. Could be all the doom and gloom on NPR. Here we go again, no raises in sight, sweating our jobs, and watching our 401 K's fizzle, this time with the added thrill of watching our home values go down along with it. Could be the general state of the world. A very close friend of mine was involved in a car jacking, though thankfully no one was hurt. Things just seem kind of crappy and I feel like I need a good cry. The kind where you close your bedroom door and play Purple Rain over and over feeling sorry for yourself because a boy didn't call. A little melodramatic release of emotion would feel pretty good. I know I have a great deal to be thankful for, a healthy family, a husband with a job, a mortgage I can afford, time to rebuild my retirement, etc. But today, I can't shake the crappies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Full Moon

I was driving back from dropping girlie at school and turned onto my street. A handyman was walking up to my neighbors house, lost his footing on the curb, and sort of tripped and stumbled into the yard. It caught my eye and I looked over as I was driving by... just in time to see his pants fall completely down, briefs and all. No one saw it but me and I am sure that he was hoping I didn't see him as he pulled up his pants. Well, I did see you buddy! Yup. Might want to tighten the tool belt a little more next time. Seriously.

Monday, December 8, 2008

How to succeed at motherhood

Shortly after my daughter was born a good friend stopped by to visit. She didn't have children yet and I am sure I horrified her by answering the door at lunchtime in my bathrobe. I was suffering from a lovely parting gift from pregnancy called post partum depression but had no idea at the time. I didn't figure it out until five years later when I got it again (and much more severely) after having my son, but that is a story for another post. My friend brought me a delicious lunch and mercifully my cranky new baby was sleeping. Terrified of waking her, we nibbled on shrimp rolls and spoke in hushed tones at my kitchen table. I teared up as I told my friend how disappointed that I was in myself as a new mother. I was so prepared. I just wanted the first few months to be laid back. I thought that having a plan was the key to staying relaxed, but I was more tense than ever. She laughed at me and said "You've never been laid back a day in your life." At the time I was so annoyed with her. I guess I thought that she really didn't understand what I was trying to say since she was not yet a mother.
Years later, after having a second child, I am finally starting to come to terms with what she meant. Becoming a new mother completely changes everything about your life, and it certainly makes you feel like a new and different person. But at the end of the day, you still bring yourself along for the ride. If you didn't like baking before having a child, you probably aren't going to whip out the homemade cookies for your kids' preschool class. The women who seem to relish in motherhood probably truly enjoy the activities that make you envy them. I am starting to let go of my idea of being the perfect Mom and just be me. So I can barely stitch on a Brownie badge? Who cares! I ran a successful retail business for five years and never lost a penny doing it. So I don't make up clever games to keep everyone occupied while dinner is cooking? Whatever! I am a decent writer, quick to laugh at myself, and I adore my husband.
Instead of focusing on what I should be, I am really trying to focus on who I am. I don't view motherhood as a calling, but I love my children fiercely. I work every day to nourish and protect them and grow them into good people. I will admire those other women who sew and bake and play make believe and keep a detailed scrapbook. I will be inspired by their ability to take things in stride, not overanalyze, and live in the moment. But I won't really feel bad that I am not like them. After all, I have never been laid back a day in my life.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Who's your Momma?

Sunday morning. It was chilly in the house, so we had a wonderful fire lit in the family room. For a few minutes, I sat in my chair quietly sipping coffee while the kids played on the floor. Then the little dude brought me a picture book and crawled up into my lap. Next, girlie squeezed on to the tiny space left on the chair to look at books with us. Not to be outdone, the dog stood with her paws on my knees until she was picked up too. Hubs was busy in the kitchen making us banana pancakes and there I was buried in my chair by the rest of the family, all covered up by the people (and pets) who love me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My guy

Hubs and I are celebrating our 13 year anniversary this week. My idea of a perfect date is to slip on the Pradas and take out a second mortgage to cover the wine we order at dinner. My guy, on the other hand, would prefer something with a little more fresh air and a lot less cash. So I planned a surprise hike and picnic at McDowell Mountain Park outside of Scottsdale. We left the kiddos with a sitter and headed out for a few hours alone. The weather was perfect and the conversation couldn't have been better. It was heavenly to be away from all of the distractions of our daily lives and remember how much we enjoy just being together. This year has brought so many changes to our lives - selling a house, selling a business, a new job, leaving our extended family behind, and moving to a place we had never even visited. I couldn't imagine anyone I would rather have by my side. As we sat down for our picnic after a couple of hours of hiking, I had to admit, it wasn't so bad trading the high heels for hiking boots once in a while.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Just before my husband gets home from a business trip, I hurry around the house straightening up and then put on some makeup!

How very 50's housewife of me...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Love me like a rock star

The night before Thankgiving we went to see Coldplay in concert. A friend hooked us up with the best seats in an owner's box just to the right of the stage (thanks Mark). As Chris Martin skipped around the stage wiggling his skinny behind I couldn't help thinking about his relationship with uber goddess and screen royalty Gwyneth Paltrow. She is a gorgeous blond screen icon and he is a scrawny oversized elf of a man. After having been with the likes of Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck, you have to wonder what Chris Martin has got that these other delicious men didn't. But then there he is on stage, ripping out his heart with some of the most profound lyrics and I get it. When he softly sings "I will fix you." I totally get it.
On our way out I asked my husband if men really feel like they sound in rock songs. While most of my friends have great husbands, none of us are feeling the heartfelt romance these days. I said "When he sings, I will fix you, do you ever really feel that way?" He looked at me with a smirk and said "Baby, I quit trying to fix you years ago."