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Tuesday, April 17, 2012


There's been a lot of "gray" talk in the media lately. Most of it centers around the racy book series most of the women I know have either read or are going to read (meh), but I've also been seeing a lot of stuff about the beauty of allowing your hair to go "naturally" gray.

As a woman who has fought my gray hair every step of the way, I find myself very bothered that I am now being told to embrace my grayness. That I should "empower" myself to reveal the authentic me. Enjoy the beauty of the silver.

Thank you, but I would rather file my teeth down to nubs and chew a roll of aluminum foil.

Please don't get me wrong - I know that gray hair is beautiful on some women. Heloise has always been gorgeous. I respect that certain individuals feel comfortable with gray hair, and that's awesome for them. And I certainly take no issue with the random strays of gray that some ladies sport because seriously, it just makes them look cool. You know who you are.

But please do not try and tell me that a full head of gray hair makes any woman look younger. Have you been watching "The Biggest Loser" this season? Did you see gray-haired Christine walk into the room with her husband Santa and think - gosh, she looks like she's younger than him but that gray hair... and then choke when you realized she was only 42??? I'm not sure there was ever a contestant on that show who needed make-over week more. Praise God she let the hairdresser color her hair.

All joking aside, just 'twixt us kids, if I didn't have a close personal relationship with my wonderful hair stylist (Betsy I love you), I would be looking like Christine in no time at all. I, too, would be sporting a completely gray head of hair. And let's be very clear. I DO NOT enjoy my gray hair. It's wiry. It's unmanageable. It makes me feel older than I am. Now, I have no problem with being 44, but gosh golly, I do not care to have my hair make me look older than I am. (That job belongs to my wrinkles!) This has nothing to do with not loving myself but with loving myself enough to continue to do something that makes me happy.

So here's the thing - I will put up with wearing "cheaters" to read every menu and freaking medicine label; I will pop pills to help control my stomach acid; and I will learn to live with the aches and pains that I am realizing come with inching up the age meter. But I will not, at this time in my life, under any circumstances, embrace the gray hair. It is not happening. How's that for authentic?

And to you, Today show, Yahoo, Oprah, et al, I say Bah Humbug!! Your youngster fashionista style editors seem to enjoy making us all feel crappy about everything from skirt lengths to high heels, but you will not pull this one over on me!

I am old enough to know better!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Springing Forward

I love Spring.
Except for the whole time-change thing. That sucks. 

But in honor of the springing of Spring, I'd like to show you a few of the things my camera has enjoyed seeing over the last few weeks. I realize yesterday was the official first day of Spring, but here in FLA it has been pretty toasty for a while. I expect it's going to be a long, hot summer...

Kitty enjoying the sunshine...

Azaleas blooming... almost all of them...
And then the rest a week later!

                            Kid enjoying the monkey bars
                       (yeah, it's my kid. My blog, my kid.)

And finally -- I wish I had the smell-o-vision for this one...
Orange blossoms! Let's hope we have some great oranges next season!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why ya gotta be so mean?

I generally try to maintain a positive outlook on life. I am definitely a "glass half-full" kind of girl. When I relate the stories of my life to other people, it's generally with for others' amusement. I believe in laughing about what ails you because if you can't laugh about life's little problems, you run the risk of becoming bitter. Crabby. Angry. Mean.

It's a painful word, mean. When I hear it, I generally think of several things:
Mike Tyson.
School yard bullies.
People who catch butterflies.
My ancient fifth-grade teacher who used to pull our hair if we weren't listening.
In short, anyone who tortures another living being for pleasure.

My husband and I have had a running joke about me being the "mean mom." The mom who wouldn't let her kids ride their bikes without a helmet. The mom who makes them put away their own clothes. The mom who won't allow them to swim without adult supervision. Yep, that's me, definitely the mean mom.

And yet it still came as something of a gut-check recently to find out that I am, really and truly, the mean mom... in the eyes of a... teacher?

We were attending an information session at one of the kids' schools when I found myself feeling slightly under attack by one of the teachers. This particular instructor felt very strongly about the merits of a certain class. When I questioned what would happen if certain requirements were not met by my child, the teacher was clearly taken aback. Aghast, even, that I would dare to question my brilliant daughter's brilliant-ness. Now, let's be clear. She's a very intelligent kid. She's mine, after all. But as I like to believe that one's education should be well-rounded, I wanted to weigh how she would handle the extra demands of the particular class versus keeping decent grades in other classes in which she's not as well-versed.

The next day my sweet, smart, daughter came home and with a laugh, related that her teacher had said - in front of the class - that her mom was really mean.

Mean. Me. Zoinks.
The first thing I did was apologize to my daughter and make sure she understood that I have complete faith in her. I have no qualms about her taking the class but I wanted to make sure she could keep up with her work and still maintain some kind of life outside of school. She thought it very amusing. Since then I've debated - do I call the teacher and apologize for questioning her authority? Did I really and truly come across that badly? Did Taylor Swift write a song about me?

This happened several weeks ago and clearly it's still bothering me. I guess the most important person in this whole issue - my daughter - seems to be doing well despite my mean-ness. I did, in fact, agree to let her take the course in question and I expect she'll do fabulously.

Meanwhile, her current teacher just assigned another hundred notecards on top of all their other homework. No weekend fun for you kiddo!

 Hey Teach?  Why ya gotta be so mean?

Friday, December 30, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas

All four kids are home from school for "Winter Break."

I like to think of it as "The 12 Days of Christmas" since they are getting exactly 12 school days off. Of course, only 2 of them were actually before Christmas proper, but since "Christmas" in our household continues until Epiphany (this year Jan. 8th), I think it's pretty appropriate. I'm trying not to add three weekend days to my count because then I would realize I actually have 18 days of trying to entertain and keep four kids busy.


'Cause really, it is a gift to have them home all this time... really.

The past week has been spent preparing for Christmas and then enjoying their gifts. This is the easy part. Mostly. Today has been a whiny day as some of the luster is wearing off Kylie's Barbie Town House (With Toilet that Makes a Flushing Sound!) and nobody is at all interested in helping to clean up the detritus from Christmas morning. It is kind-of sad when you look at all the now-empty boxes and ribbon remnants littering the ground, but enough is enough and the mess has to go.

What you will not find us doing is actually taking down our decorations. It is, after all, still Christmas. I find it sad when friends say they've already boxed up their decorations and lights the day after Christmas. My interior adornments will stay until Epiphany. We did find it necessary to remove several lighted penguins from the front yard as they would not, could not, stay upright. I was tired of repositioning them every single day, only to come outside and find them belly-down on the grass like a bunch of drunk monkeys. The inflatable penguins, however, will stay at least until the weekend. 

The next order of business is deciding what to do for New Year's Eve. We used to be big party-givers until we started having kids. Even then we frequently had several friends over for late-night celebrations. This all ended around the year 2000, when our close friends were out of town and we were waiting for whatever craziness might ensue with the advent of Y2K (remember that phrase??) Obvious, nothing happened, and we came to label that night The Lamest New Year's Ever. 

Nearly 12 year's later, we are still celebrating The Lamest New Year's Ever, only now our four children all stay up to take part and we have developed some fun new traditions. The non-stop drinkfest of our younger days has been replaced with a fondue party. We attempt to play board games until somebody gets mad and quits (usually Kylie, but occasionally Keaton). and then we all fight to stay awake until The Ball drops. 

It's... fun. It is. I don't miss the drinkfests (okay, maybe a little), but we enjoy spending that time together as a family. 

And after that, it's only one more week till school starts up for the kids! I still haven't registered for anymore classes for me... maybe this will be my year? 

Last Minute Update... We are moving The Lamest New Year's Ever to St. Augustine this year! It might not be so lame after all!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Guest Blog

A note from Bev...

A dear friend of mine recently posted on Facebook a very thoughtful and well-written essay about her son and his football career.  Laura is a busy mother of 5 children and I have always admired her ability to "do it all" so well! Her essay made me think about my word choices and assumptions I make about my own kids. Our lives change dramatically as our children get older; we find ourselves so caught up in the drama of parenting a teenager that sometimes we forget to just be proud.

I, personally, get tired of hearing how terrible “kids are today.” Most of the teens I meet are pretty darn good kids doing their best in a weird world. I think they’re awesome. And yes, I think Jonathan – and his mom – are pretty awesome too.  

By Laura Zanga

When our kids are young, it’s very easy to show them off and brag. As they get older, it becomes more difficult. It’s not that there are necessarily less things we are proud of, it’s we feel a little uncomfortable with talking about them to others. We don't want to come across as the boasting parent and God forbid we "one up" any of our friends kids.

Growing up I never heard my mom boast about any of us. It just wasn't her. She did, however, tell me once that she really didn't want to hear about other people's kids so why should she bore them with her kid’s little anecdotes? Fair enough, I suppose but at the same time why deny yourself that one little moment when you really have something special to share. That's just what I am going to do.

For the last 10 weeks I have sat in the stands watching my son Jonathan's team get beat every Friday night and for a mother sitting there week after week let me tell you it was rough. Five out of the 10 games they lost by a touchdown or less. Boys (including Jon) were playing both offense and defense some games because there wasn't enough players.

There were a few games I actually had to leave early because I just couldn't take it. One or two games I wanted to cry. Now I know that may seem silly and a bit pathetic to some. I get that, but when you have a son like mine who is quiet, never really expresses himself, it’s hard because you really don't know how much he hurts or how disappointed he really is. But, what he did show me these last 2 1/2 months is a kid with a lot of character, self-confidence and loyalty.

The past few years Jon has been banged up with bruised ribs, an injured hip that required therapy, and a concussion. But he never once complained, never once was late for practice and never missed a practice or game, even when he was hurt and couldn't play. What I saw was a kid that not only got hurt on the field but off the field as well (especially this past season) by his school mates and even some friends. I must admit even his dad and I made comments about the coach. His response to me was "mom you don't know him. He's good to us, takes care of the players and mom, he's a good Christian man."

Well, talk about putting me in my place. I've never said another word about his coaches again. If Jonathan gained nothing else from this whole experience, what he did gain was the privilege of being coached by someone he respected. I told Joe a few weeks back I wasn't going to miss this. I lied. I will miss very much seeing my kid run across the field, miss very much the talks about the next week’s game and seeing him all dressed up in his good clothes on game day. Even the smelly, muddy, practice clothes will be missed. I will miss it all because it was a big part of Jon's last 6 years and a big part of who my son is.

 The young Man he has become.

 I'm proud of you, Jonathan and I'm not ashamed to say it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ho Ho Ho!!

I always have a little bit of a chuckle at this time of year at how many people get so incredibly worked up about the early launch of the Christmas season.

"Oh no, the Christmas display is up at Wal-Mart!" they cry. "What about Thanksgiving?" they question. "I don't want to hear any Christmas carols yet!" they post on Facebook.

To which I say HO HO HO!!!

The Christmas season is a time of wonder, love and renewal. The birth of our Savior is the highlight to my year. It's also a time of special remembrance to me as I mark another year since the death of my wonderful daddy. I realized many years ago that I could choose to be sad or I could choose to honor his memory by squeezing every ounce of joy out of this blessed time.

You can bet I choose the latter.

The first time I see Christmas lights is always one of my favorite days of the year. I, frankly, don't see that anything gets taken away from Thanksgiving just because some stores are playing Christmas music already. Instead, what I see is an enlarged window of opportunity to enjoy a little of the warm fuzzies as we remember Christmases past. It does not lessen my thankfulness or thoughtfulness over the Thanksgiving holiday one bit.

I think of this small bit of Christmas celebrating before Thanksgiving as a bonus time. I can stop and enjoy the music without that slightly panicky-stomach-upset that I should be shopping, wrapping presents or stamping Christmas cards. Psychologically I know it would make my life so much easier to do it now rather than closer to Christmas, but the deadline-loving girl in me can't seem to get with that program. Since I won't organize and plan early for Christmas, I should revel in it now!!

Plus, since I think people in general tend to be nicer at Christmas-time, it certainly can't hurt to start a little earlier and hope that the niceties start earlier too. Sure, it would be great if everyone were nicer ALL year long, but I'll take what I can get.

So the next time you hear a Christmas song on the radio or see an early-bird light display, stop for a minute and just try to enjoy it.... please? You might find it puts a smile on your face!

Hugs & God Bless,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What are your keys?

The Apology
So it has definitely been a long month since I've posted! I've thought of many, many topics to write about over the last few weeks but have been strapped for time to do them justice.

I thought maybe I could write at night, after the kids were asleep. When I was younger (hate that phrase), I painted entire rooms at 3 a.m.  But these days I find sleep is more of a commodity than ever before, and that trying to stay up late to get something done (like this blog), usually results in something not so great. It's hell to get old!

Moving On
 I watched a segment on The Today Show recently about women returning to work after being home with kids for 5-10-15 years. Now, I'm not entirely certain I'm ready to return to the workforce at this time but it sounded like an interesting segment and I'm glad I watched it. They interviewed two "experts" about some of the issues we face and how to prepare for the job transition. The experts were Sarah Brokaw, author of the book "Fortytude" and Pamela Mitchell, author of the book  "The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention."

One of the most important things I heard from both authors involved self-esteem. Brokaw said that women returning to the workforce need to get their confidence up. “There’s always going to be three key strengths you can develop and hone," she said. Her advice was to figure out what those strengths are at home, and then bring them into the workforce. At the very least, you can remind yourself of what those three key strengths are before you go into an interview situation.

This got me to thinking about what my own three key strengths might be... and that this is a great exercise for anyone, particularly those who are going through some sort of transition. When you've been working in the same job or doing the same thing for many years you can sometimes lose sight of what you are best at doing, and it's important to keep that in the forefront of your psyche. In my particular case my job is being a mother, so I'm going to take some time over the next few days and figure out what my three key strengths are as a mother. I'd love for you to think about this subject and figure out your own key strengths and, if you're comfortable, sharing them! I promise I'm not trying to go all Stuart Smalley on you, I just think it's important not to allow our own sense of humility to sabotage our efforts to grow.

I haven't had time, yet (hah!) to read Sarah Brokaw's "Fortytude" but it's definitely on my list! If anyone has read it, please let me know what you thought of it.  I'll be posting a little review on it sometime soon!

Hugs & God Bless,