Dagny Taggart Tatum is not investigating Daddy's slippers. He's not chewing. He's not wrestling. He DID do those things, all day. Nope, this kitten is sound asleep, face fully inserted into Daddy's shoe. If I were small enough to sleep inside my slippers, I might be tempted. When we're not busy ruling this house, the Tates and I like to be cozy.
I looked for days for a picture of me doing something athletic. I guess I am more of a “get picked up and thrown above the head of athletic people” kind of gal. Seriously, if you want a picture of me standing or sitting, I have thousands. Running, jumping, or sweating? Not so much.
It was a spring morning in 1979 when she was the last chosen for Kickball, the day the boys had finally let the girls join the game. For the life of her, she could not understand why. Why last? Why the reticence on the part of her fellow classmates? She was the best speller in the class. The best hand-raiser and question-answerer. It had never occurred to her she couldn’t play kickball. She distinctly remembers the look on Andy’s face as he underhanded the first…what was it called? A pitch? A throw? A mind-blowing roll? The red rubber playground ball, spinning wildly toward her leg…wait. Where did it go? How could it be behind her? Had she missed it completely? Derek was guarding first, eyes rolling. What was happening? The 2nd…for the sake of expediency, we’ll call it a toss…comes with a look of pity, and Andy rolls it gently. She grins and prepares to make up for her prior gaff in playground etiquette. The sun was hot. She could taste the sweat on her lips, but at the age of 7, could not have known it was more nerves, and less heat stroke related. She kicks, just barely grazing the ball, mind racing with blank thoughts…WHAT IS GOING ON?…and makes a dash for 1st. After all, she knows she can run in a straight line. Little did she know that skill would both start and end the list of physical feats she would master in her first 4 decades of living. She was out before she made it halfway to the base, embarrassed as she turned away from 1st, and Derek’s belly-rolling laughter which could be heard across the entire playground. She looks at her girlfriends, anxiously waiting for their turn at…kick? At bat?…to hell with it…Kickball is the dumbest game ever invented. Anne buries her face in her hands, hiding her shame that she has failed to inform the 1st graders about her fellow bus-mate’s lack of coordination. Marianne gives an encouraging smile, as if to say, “it’s OK…we’ll be playing Barbies before the sun goes down, and this will all be forgotten.” With blessed reprieve, Mrs. Phillips blows the whistle, and an air of relief washes over her, the same odd sensation she got every time she changed out of gym shoes and back into saddle locks. As she neared the merry-go-round with kids streaming past her at the speed of light, it hit her…Oh…Dear…Lord…
She was failing gym.
The learning curve for gym would never flatten out, but graciously, her gym teachers offered extra credit. She would spend the better part of 2 decades writing reports about the escapades of The Great Bambino and studying the mechanics of baseball statistics, which thrilled her sports-addicted Grandfather to no end. Thinking college would offer a reprieve, she discovered kids who loved gym class in elementary, loved it even more in college. The units of study were divided between Beach Volleyball, Frisbee on the Quad, and Frat Party Dances. These events required a more relaxing form of hydration than the public school water fountain, and she soon discovered it was hard to judge failure vs. success when surrounded by people too drunk to complete a round of Dizzy Bat. College rocked.
It’s not that I CAN’T dance. No wait. Correction. I can’t dance.
She survived her 20′s fairly unscathed, save the blips when her Father became convinced she was born to rollerblade, and those awful years America became obsessed with line dancing. The roller blades gathered dust until her roommate decided to attend a party across campus, long past the hour one does such things. She hid the car keys, and even locked the bike in her bedroom, thinking she’d protected her best friend from doing something silly. She heard a loud giggle, looked out the window, and watched her best friend blade effortlessly down the street, rather inebriated, at 3 o’clock in the morning. At least someone finally used the rollerblades.
Her 30′s brought marriage to a man who swore he was an “Athletic Generalist”, not good at any one sport, but a man who loved the gym all the same. He knew she’d grow to love working out. He KNEW it. He gave her Personal Trainer gift certificates. He video-taped work outs on the iPod, also a gift. He begged her to get off the treadmill and try other things, which seemed a waste of good air, because no one needed to beg. She usually just fell off on her own. She knew he simply wanted to share a hobby with her, and here, the tides turned, as she began to fear she was failing at something larger than gym class.
She wondered if their honeymoon was a dead giveaway to her a-athleticism when he attempted to take her snorkeling, and almost immediately after entering the water, she had a complete, screaming meltdown while being attacked by eels. The “eels” turned out be the straps to her life jacket, but in all fairness, they were extremely menacing straps. Snorkeling is much harder than Dizzy Bat. You’ve been warned.
Still, she swore to herself she’d make an effort. She had traveled the world, achieved the career of her dreams, and despite a list of ridiculous and unusual illnesses, had turned out to be very hard to kill. SURELY she could learn to do…things…while…you know…moving. Little did she know, America was creating a gym class so unreal, so unattainable, that even the fittest people in her life could not compete. She came to the realization that America’s drug-infused, hard rock culture of the 80′s had turned into a decade-long hangover in the 90′s, which created a type of mid-life Renaissance in 2000. We fell asleep to a sequined Richard Simmons telling us we should be sweatin’ to the oldies, and woke up to Jillian Michaels, screaming in our faces that workouts should involve resuscitation. Anything less was a complete character failure. Richard wanted to hug her, and tell her she was beautiful. She had a sneaking suspicion that Jillian wanted to murder her, in a very Hunger-Games kind of way.
What started as a simple kick-boxing craze (which she mastered…kicking shit was EASY), turned into a Cross-Fit, Race For Everything, Insanity-laced collective nightmare. When her friends brought up P90X at lunch, she wrongfully assumed they had become drug-traffickers. Meth sounded less toxic than P90X. Was it a Biological Weapon of some sort? It seemed you were sure to throw up if you tried it.
Feeling lost, she took to the books. If she could pass gym by reciting the batting averages of Pete Rose, she could study her way through this. She should never eat carbs, unless carb-loading, in which case she should definitely eat carbs, and then burn them off. Load up-burn off seemed like odd math for weight loss, but math was never her favorite subject, and who needed an excuse to eat a bagel anyway? Tight hip flexors cause a pooch, but everyone has a pooch, but NO ONE SHOULD HAVE A POOCH! Strengthen those hip flexors, but make sure they are loose. Get rid of the love handles IMMEDIATELY, although beware, there is no such thing as targeted exercises. So hurry and get rid of the things for which are no remedies! What are you waiting for? Skinny jeans are being invented, and you’re just standing there, looking all love-handley! Get off the treadmill and pick up some weights. What are you doing to your joints with those weights? Get back on the treadmill because only running will slim you down. You are KILLING your knees! Get the hell off that treadmill! ROW. SWIM. Do anything but running with weights. Who told you to run with weights? Absolutely never run with weights. Spare your joints! Be kind to your body! LOVE yourself, but make sure it hurts. If it doesn’t really, really hurt, you’re doing it wrong. If you are satisfied, you have plateaued, which means you will die soon of a heart attack. MAKE YOUR HEART BURN BEFORE IT KILLS YOU! SHOW THAT HEART WHO IS BOSS! Now SMILE! And HURT! Woo-saaah.
Half the battle is just LOOKING like you MIGHT work out. America loves their work out clothes, maybe even more than their work outs.
Cycling was now called spinning, which looked more like a group cardiac stress test. Dying in a dark room on a bike, surrounded by sweaty people moaning loudly scared her as much as that stop the insanity lady. Why would someone shave their head bald, and then yell at the top of her lungs to stop the insanity? It’s like getting a tattoo which reads, “I hate tattoos”. Work out harder…NO…HARDER…NOOOO…HARDER! NOW RELAX! Meditate! Woo-saaaah. NOW! Woo-saaah like you mean it. Stretch and relax RIGHT NOW. Intensely. Be intense in your meditative focus. Be at peace with the pain. Are you in your Roman Sandal? Unless you’re in aerial yoga, and then…get out of the Roman Sandal. If you’re aerial, it’s claimed you are anti-gravity, which is really only possible outside of our atmosphere, so she assumed it meant you were aging upside down. And hey, if she had to choose between having wrinkly feet or a wrinkly face, she was choosing feet. Yoga turned into Hot Yoga, Pilates turned into a list of classes which required full interviews with the gym staff to understand which session didn’t involve torture equipment, and a 2nd mortgage on her house. Aerobics turned into Boot Camp, with instructors outfitted with microphones, telling the class to eat a half of a plain chicken breast for lunch, and if they ever felt faint from hunger, eat an almond. If that gets boring, add a squeeze of lemon. It will change your life. All workouts were now designed to change your life, which presented a paradoxical issue with her motivation. In the quiet of her peaceful home, when no one was around to see, she would admit to herself she didn’t want to change her life. She kind of liked her life. She loved her husband, and even though her kids drove her crazy, she secretly admired that about them. She was sure she didn’t want to eat plain chicken, but it was hard to think straight while hanging upside down.
She overhead a woman at Starbuck’s: “You have GOT to go to my trainer. I hate him. No, seriously, I hate him. I die a little bit every time I work out with him. It’s pure treachery. But I’ve never felt better (taking a sip from a 500 calorie cup of coffee). He will KILL you. Sometimes I wish he would break into my house at night and try to kill me, so I could choke him to death, just to prove to him how much he’s taught me. You must call him. I LOVE him.” Working out was now a religious choice, with the specific workout standing as a proxy denomination. Insanity should never be confused with Cross-Fitters, who were clearly the Catholics in the new Millennium. P90X are the Nazarenes, making the Yoga/Pilates converts the Unitarian Universalists. Real church suddenly became relevant again, which is where one goes to grab a coffee and take a Zumba class. But no matter the choice, one thing was for certain: everyone was sure everyone else was doing it wrong. Join their workout or be damned to a life of weakness. WEAKNESS, I SAY! It’s like you WANT to be weak! Now pick up that dumbbell and hurl it at the wall! Praise the Lord, you are saved from yo’ blobby thighs!
Her husband asked her to join him for a half-marathon. Everyone was doing it. She thought about the stickers on the backs of so many cars in town: “13.1″, “26.2″, “140.6″. She thought they were satellite radio stations. But of course, just running had become too easy for America. Anyone could run. Why not add some spice? Run through mud. Run with mud being thrown at you. Run with PAINT being thrown at you. Run through mud and paint and hurdle your body through almost countless obstacles. Jump off stuff and land on rocks, dig them out of your skin, and keep going. Be the bloody, mud-covered Ninja you dreamed you could be. Her husband wanted to be that Ninja. He wanted her to come along. After 10 years of marriage, how had he missed the un-Ninja-ness about her? Love is blind, my friends. Love.is.blind.
Love is blind. And not always terribly coordinated.
The night he asked her to race through mud and clear 40 Marine-esque obstacles, her life flashed before her eyes. Kickball was lifetime ago. In Information Age years, it was a million years ago. What could become of this trend? Who could look into the future and say for sure how far the human performance kick could go? Planking would be replaced with “Push”, which would be so great FOR YOUR CORE (Hoda would swear on morning TV): it’s simple: just push your car to work. Put that energy-consuming piece of metal into neutral, get your 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock engaged, and PUSH it. But Push would screw up traffic patterns, so we’ll revert back to Saturday morning races. Keep the mud, lose the paint, and add a pack of rabid dogs. Chasing you, hoping to grab a piece of juicy flesh. Your flesh is sure to be juicy, because it’s now vogue to carry entire gallon jugs of water around the gym. She had taken notice at the copious amounts of hydration needed to just enter the gym, and her only thought was, “How long are they planning on being here?” Bumper stickers won’t be awarded for the Rabid Dog Race (known as the RDR), but stitch kits will be free of charge. Push won’t have stickers either, for obvious reasons. Your ass pushing your car IS the sticker, in case you hadn’t guessed.
She tried to shake off the fear of failing, and agreed to walk the half-marathon. Her best hope was there would be a game of Dizzy Bat in the refreshment tent. So look for her on Saturday at the Indy 500 Mini-Marathon. If you are also a Gym Class Drop Out, just stride on up beside her and chat for a spell. She might be good for a laugh or two, or at the very least, a woo-saaah. Godspeed, my friends (or Lori speed…you know, NO JUDGEMENTS.)
*No names or stories were changed or fabricated in the writing of this post, but it should be noted that Andy and Derek turned out to be really nice kids who taught me how to laugh at myself, an invaluable skill to a comedian. Mexican life strap eels are deadly, and the only cure is a really tall margarita. Seriously guys, I can’t make this stuff up. Kathy H. and Holly L., thank you for encouraging me to not give up on this piece, and Susan…I wrote the trainer paragraph days before you told me you wanted to kill your trainer. However, I appreciate the verification of my highly scientific research, gathered at my lab, aka Starbuck’s.
This post is for Greg, who never gives up on me, even when I whine that I’ve sprained my soul by working out. I promise to force feed you delicious, healthy food, just as you’ve promised to keep me moving. And of course to my Dad, for being a lifelong example of healthy living. He looks young enough to be my brother and will probably outlive me, although he’ll be doing it upside down.*
Tonight Sara stood, tall and proud with her fellow 1st Grade classmates at the Spring Concert, just singing away, confident on every single world, certain of every move. The tired, lost little girl who barely mouthed the words 1 year ago had simply disappeared. It’s possible 2 people I might know never stopped smiling, even as they hushed a cranky Kelly. Even after the singing had ended. After Sara had delivered her lines, which were memorized weeks ago, and completely on her own. After she asked to have her hair curled, especially. After she took extra time to spin onto the risers so the packed house could get a full 360 of those curls. Her Momma knew she was putting on the dog. Momma knows. Momma always knows.
My cheeks still hurt from the grinning.
But as if it couldn’t get any better, the 1st and 2nd graders crowded together for a final song in unison. Sara whispered to the girl next to her, who graciously switched places, which put Sara squarely between BOTH GRADES. She was blanketed by…her entire life. Kids on each side smiled at her. She was literally sandwiched in the love, the purest kind…the kind only children can carry. As they sang, “Make new friends, but keep the old…”, it’s possible I stopped breathing for a moment. Her face was so bright. Her eyes were solidly fixed on the crowd with a gaze so sure, so astonishingly present, I’m certain if her soul could speak, it would be telling the audience, “Thank you for witnessing my journey this year. I made it. I love you.”
Sara sends her love to you as well. She has felt your cheers from across the globe, as I’ve shared your fist pumps with her. Godspeed to you tonight my friends, and my wishes that you can feel my love for your witness of my journey as well. Godspeed.
I easily took 30 pictures of the Kindergarten musical today, and the only one even remotely close enough to Kelly? She closed her eyes. So I’ll have to vouch for her and say she was an extremely animated Zebra Fish with Spots. Her hair ribbon fell out, so she improv’ed it into a prop. It must have been a food prop, because she spent the final 2 songs eating it. The entire show was impressive. 40 little ones, dressed as a variety of unusual fish, singing and dancing their hearts out, with every single word clear and audible. Did I cry? YES I cried. Any less and you would have taken my Mommy badge.
With this week including final reports, the musical which has been a school year in the making, and many of the kids reading their first books to the class…I jokingly called this Kindergarten Finals Week. These kids were WOUND up and are about to CRASH out. Kelly had her 2nd violin lesson immediately following the musical, and I was surprised at how well she followed along, concentrating and repeating everything Miss Chandra taught her.
And so it went until Minute #29, when she went from a wide smile, to head buried in my chest, and a little voice that whimpered, “I want to go home now Mommy.” It’s official: we broke the baby. I packed up her tiny violin, and escorted the Mythology Expert/Magic Computerologist/Actress/Violinist out to the car. She is tucked safely into bed, humming “Castle on a Cloud”, no worse for the wear.
I hear “Arf!” may be resurrected, along with “Go Fish!”, so I hope to pass along the Dalmatian/Mutant Fish/Cow costume. I’ll need to send it with clear instructions: wear the pants backwards. It’s tradition.
Amazing job Kindergarten! And more amazing is their Music Teacher who believes great things lie within these tiny voices, and leads them through projects for which they will be forever proud. Songs, lines, choreography, solos, sets, costumes, props…I had to see it to believe it. In the near future I will be saying goodbye to certain Early Childhood Specials teachers whom have become a very large part of my children’s lives. Wait…tears coming…earning yet another badge…gotta run…
FIRST, watch the video. It’s very short, I promise.
OK. SO, the Kindergarten scholars at the girls’ school do a final report on anything they want. I wrote about it here: The Other Fake Pegasus. Oh honeys. The reading, the interviewing, the typing. She wanted to type her own Reference page and her own Introduction…and on, and on. She’s 5! She can’t type! But type she did. At one point I actually lost my patience with my FIVE year old for not being diligent about her Reference page. Don’t worry, I slapped myself in the face for you.
The big report was yesterday. She wanted to take a presentation board, a movie clip, and a toy. Done. Here is a key component to this story: Sara wanted to watch her presentation and be present for moral support. I thought she was fibbing and wanted to show off in front of younger children, but I was wrong. Honest to God, she wanted to dress up and show her sister some love. It started like this:
“Mommy, I already know what you are going to say, and I asked my teacher and Kelly’s teacher already if it was OK. It’s first thing in the morning and I’ll only miss a few minutes of Language Arts. Mrs. B. says if it’s OK with you, send her an email, and it’s OK with her. See? I took care of it.”
WOW. Wow. I’m kind of glad I didn’t sell her to the circus last week. A huge thank you to the school’s Child Psychologist for talking me out of that plan.
Sara is in the front row in the very fanc-ay blue dress, playing with her sash. What is more impressive than Kelly MAKING UP an answer about our “special computer” which magically researches mythical creatures, and what you cannot see in this video (go ahead, watch it again….these 2 should be in the kiddie CIA) is SARA FED HER THE ANSWER. They told me about it on the way home. Kelly invented the “special computer” on the spot, and Sara mouthed the words “fairy and mermaids” to her so she would be able to drive home her point. She barely moves. They are sisters speaking telepathically. Impressive.
Do we have a mythical-centric computer? Of course we do. Greg went to Radio Shack (it took 3 trips and a coupon), ordered some special wires from Tiger Direct, put 11 holes in my wall, and built a computer the size of a Jackson Pollock painting which can MAGICALLY research made up things. We desperately needed it because the internet only holds verified facts. I LOVE the little scholar who asked the question, and Kelly swears (this month) she’s marrying him. I hope so. He’s perfect in every way.
What’s so sweet is that I’m pretty certain they think their answer is true. Daddy builds most things around here. He put a mobile server in the minivan so they could watch all of their movies while driving across the country. He creates electronic working what-nots out of thin air. I’m not going to bore you with the lengths he went to while trying to rescue the Dustbuster (Zed’s dead baby. Zed’s dead).
I’m sure they assumed because this young scholar indicated he was unable to research fairies, that their great and invincible Daddy had made it possible for them. Daddy is in charge of our computers. Of course they are special. What started out as a Greek Mythology Report and a bullshit answer turned into a little love letter to their Daddy. Awesome.
*A special thank you to the Mommies who gave me permission to post this video. You aren’t just my mythical friends, you are my REAL friends. I don’t need a special computer to tell you I appreciate your generosity of spirit. And super-duper special big thank you to the teachers who videotaped this hilarious part of Kelly’s Q&A session, and sent it to me with the words, “blogworthy?” OH YES, yes it is. I cannot imagine a world without the beauty of Sara & Kelly’s Kindergarten experience in it.*
First, I must apologize to my dear friend Shayla, who has a visceral reaction to the word “panties”. It’s an awful word. Just horrendous, I agree. But it’s one syllable shorter than underwear, so I use it. I’m a Mom…always saving time. But I need not apologize further for the repeated use of the word PANTIES, because at this point, Shayla has fainted on the floor and can no longer hear me. JAY! Go get your wife! I put her into a PANTY COMA! Shayla, when you regain consciousness, I owe you a glass of wine.
While we’re on the subject of forbidden words, share with me yours in the comments. Mine is “crisp”. It’s a word that makes my soul cringe whenever I hear it. Crispy? Fine, no problem. But never, not ever…crisp. I digress. On with our story…
Kelly drew a picture for Greg on Saturday, and with her deadpan expression, told Daddy to put it in his work purse. We roll every time she calls his briefcase a work purse, but no one has the heart to correct her. Knowing she’s getting a laugh, she repeats it several times, until Greg and I are almost hysterical with giggles. To be fair, he wears Mary Janes, so it only seems appropriate he carries a work purse.
But his fancy purse and shoes pale in comparison to what came in the mail last week. Greg is famous for pinching pennies, so when he saw an online sale for high quality boxer shorts at a great price, he ordered many. And by many, I mean…why on earth do men need so many boxer shorts? I do the laundry! He’s not going to run out! He read the small print on this particular sale as, “colors cannot be chosen and will be different per shipment”, but Greg didn’t care. A bargain is a bargain, even it’s chartreuse.
The girls and I opened the shipment, finding it contained the most brightly colored underwear ever made. If the Wet & Wild Makeup Company went into the business of making underwear…wait, no…if the movie “The Wedding Singer” were a line of underwear, they could use these boxer shorts in their ads. Seeing the veritable cornucopia of colors, all folded tightly in plastic and hearing me mutter something about underwear, the girls squealed:
“Mommy! Are these for us? These are the best panties ever!!”
“Are they yours?!”
“What? No way. They are…DADDY’S PANTIES?!”
They could not WAIT for Greg to get home, certain that big, strong Daddy would be traumatized to realize he’d ordered everything from tangerine to magenta boxer shorts. But Daddy the Finance Guy should never be underestimated. Not only does Greg swear these are the most comfortable boxer shorts on earth (they are from MeUndies.com), but I think he loves his teal boxers. They are the color of savings. The girls chase him around, “What color Daddy?! What color is it today?!” Putting away the laundry is a trip. It’s like sorting out a rainbow.
There is another possibility. Greg lives with 3 women and a female cat. There ain’t a tomboy in the lot. It’s possible… just possible, that Greg has decided if he can’t beat ‘em, he should join ‘em, and he shall be starting with accessories. Cerulean is your color baby! Own it!
*MeUndies did not pay me or reimburse me in any way for this post. It’s doubtful they’ll want to know me after reading my review of their dye lots. OR, they are PROUD of their color selection (as they should be), and they’ll be all like, “HEY, this girl gets us. We want to do a giveaway on her blog and give her readers the world’s most comfortable boxer shorts. Readers, you should leave many comments to impress upon them your dedication to brightly-colored, high-quality boxer shorts. And if MeUndies is actually reading…you should sell a line of women’s underwear that actually covers a butt cheek. SOME of us have left our 20′s. I’m not paying full price to cover half a buttock. If you designed some undies for the REAL female butt, Greg and I could be twinsies. TMI? Yeah, OK. I’m going to get email with this one.*
You know, I’m just tired of you doubting me. I don’t NEED the yarn. I can walk away at any time. I DECIDE. I’m in control of the whole yarn situation. That intervention thing you staged last year was such a waste of time. I spent an entire month in Rehab, and for what?! So you could prove some kind of point? That I needed help? That I was living off the edge? YOU need help Buddy. It’s YOU who can’t control your yarn. I shouldn’t feel like I have to sneak around, hiding this stuff under beds and behind couches. I’m PROUD of my relationship with yarn. I’m totally OK with who I am. This is ME, being me. You should get comfortable with YOU and leave me out of it.
Maybe it’s YOU who needs to let go and let God. Denial? I deny that you understand me. Look at me. I can sit right here, with the yarn at my side, and I can look away. I could walk away at any time. You think you’re so great, up on that pedestal, only using the yarn carefully, for like Arts and Crafts. But that’s not even why God created yarn! You’re supposed to roll around in it. Chase it. YES, I know what you’re going to say, and YES. There was that time I nearly choked myself with it, but that was a LONG time ago, and I’m older now. I’m smart enough to leave the big skeins alone. I know my limits. You’re never going to let me live that down, are you? You know what…I don’t…I don’t even know what I’m doing here with you. I’m not sure we have anything in common anymore. Looking away. Looking away from the yarn. I’m not tempted whatsoever. Not at all. I don’t even want that yarn…
Holding her Disney bag in hand, she turned to me and said, “Oh Mommy, I MUST have that dress. I MUST.”
I whispered, “Yes, of course you need it. It’s perfect.”
Auntie Amanda, Sara, and Kelly and I wandered through the store, oohing and ahhing over every last inch of tulle and beading. It hit me: Prom is only 10 years away. The same duration as our marriage, which feels oh-so-very 5 minutes ago. After that, I’ll get one last blink of a year, and then they’re gone. So in that moment, I was suddenly grateful they just got here, these 2 crazy squirts who seem to leak what-nots over every surface of my house. I’m OK with the stuffed animal mountains and weird laundry stains. I asked Sara last week and she replied, “Do you really want to know?” You know what? No, not really. Turns out it was muddy dirt from a worm-saving expedition at recess. Yum.
All the same, as much as I dread the teenage years (can’t decide which one will give me my first heart attack, and before you vote for Kelly, let me remind you Sara is a force of nature), you know they would look amazing in that dress. They do have excellent taste in dresses, which everyone knows is a gene inherited from the Mother. I’ll need the decade to save for it, so I’ve got that going for me. Join me in a cheers to a 10 year Pre-Prom. Let’s rock it, OK?
Thank you to everyone for your kind words and prayers. This morning’s meeting with the Child Psychologist went very well, and her guidance for next steps with Miss Sara shone down on me like warm sunshine. I’ve decided to keep her. Meaning Sara. She can stay a few more days. Parenting Twice-Gifted kids is not for the weak-willed, weak-spirited, or those who like their drinks weak. Just sayin’.
So let’s end this truly awful week (if you like The Onion, here is an excellent summary of this week) with some cherry-picking. Kelly. Carrying a tiny violin and an umbrella. It was freezing. It was raining. And I wouldn’t change a thing about this moment.
[Thank you to Amanda Soule for her weekly "this moment" theme, and for inviting the world to join her and posting a favorite moment from the week.]
I am emotionally spent. Today came at me, ate me for lunch and threw me up at dinner. I had the winning number on the Fates’ Ass-Kickin’ lottery. I saw it coming and with fantastic bravado, pressed play on The Funky Bunch, and while jamming, warned the Fates I was wearing a new dress and peep toe wedges. I was my own force to be reckoned with today. MY CURLS WERE SOFT AND NOT AT ALL FRIZZY. In this weather? Are you joking? NO. I AM NOT EVEN JOKING. I was on a hair high.
In a cocky response, the Universe replied with, “What are you going to do Miss Marky Mark? Throw those shoes at me?”
I should have. It would have at least been a defense. I could have thrown my summery-canvasy slingbacks to the sky and screamed, “DAMN YOU UNIVERSE! DAMMMMNNNN YOOOOUUU!” (Imagine all 5 foot 4 of me shaking my fist at the rain clouds and making Robert De Niro faces. I’m frightening when I imitate Robert De Niro.)
It started rather lightly, in a “ha ha ha, this is almost cute” kind of way. While volunteering in Kelly’s Math Class (tangrams people…tangrams…that should have been my first clue), a classmate lost her first tooth, and while I basked in the joy of witnessing this event, Kelly decided it was the perfect time to land on the floor, roll up against the wall and moan she is “the only girl in Kindergarten to have NEVER lost a tooth! And my hair isn’t perfect and how can I go to my first violin lesson with this messy hair?! AHH!!!” She reportedly could not go on. Not.one.more.tangram. Someone loses a tooth and that equates to her inability to place shapes into oddly amorphous forms. I pressed on. Turns out, I rock at Kindergarten math. Shah!
Blinded by my success of transforming triangles and parallelograms into nothing obvious, I stopped by Sara’s Math tutoring session. Maybe I should have just handed the Fates a switchblade and offered my neck. Before you are too shocked at this graphic reference, let me point out I’ve already compared myself to Robert De Niro. I’m probably drinking vodka. There is no need to play softball gals. We’re too deep in this now to turn back.
I’ll keep it short: Sara. Math. Tired of tutoring. Tired of a host of social challenges that come from being held back. Tired of me. Tired of being in trouble for her tone of voice. Tired of being in trouble while doing awful things which would get anyone in trouble. Tired of being in trouble. Tired of being Sara. Tired of her physical challenges which have been especially weighty this spring. Under-dosed on her ADHD meds while we wait for her to gain a little weight. Needs to cry for help in a very 7 year old way. Needs to take out this frustration on someone. OH LOOK! THERE’S MOM!
We did have a bright 30 minutes of enjoying Kelly’s first violin lesson. I hope I look back on today and remember us running onto Butler University’s campus in a torrential downpour while trying to juggle 3 girls, 3 umbrellas, 2 bags of what-nots, and the world’s cutest violin. I sure as hell hope I forget the rest, because cuddling Kelly tonight while she cried about her sore belly (antibiotics and strep throat…again), while listening to Sara cry herself to sleep while she mulls over her current state of affairs (grounded from swimming, math won’t just go away, when the heck will she figure out the social dynamics of this class?)…is just agony. Pure agony.
Oh look! I need to refresh my glass. Feel free to discuss while I step away. And while we’re on the subject, did you know “whoopass” is one word?! It’s phenomenal the things I’ve learned today. And I didn’t even know I liked vodka! Life’s lessons never end, do they?
Ah yes…returning. Sara had a night terror in my absence, and I offered her a clean start tomorrow. Sounded like an idea as good as any. A fresh start for everyone. I’ll be meeting, hat in hand, with the Child Psychologist before I finish my first coffee, so maybe tomorrow will bring some illumination. At some point in the “fall asleep” portion of her evening, Kelly got out of bed, dug through the dirty clothes hamper, and put back on the dirty outfit she wore at school all day. Her antics are as benign as they are ridiculous.
Anyone in the mood to trade prayers tonight? I’ll send some up for you while I’m on my knees tonight. But to quote my Grandmother (who would have no idea what to say about this wreck of day, but would make me feel better just by breathing into the phone, God rest her soul), “Just one more little sip Lori. One more little sip…who is to know?!”
I’d rather not scare with the “before” picture first, so I’ll start with our bed AFTER the remodeling. I’m sure most of you recall my recent post titled “The Beast”, showing the process by which Greg got a wild hair, took 2 bookshelves, and turned them into a full-wall built-in. The project which necessitated an overhaul of our entire bedroom, which, I must say, has been entirely worth the pain involved. It’s just sopretty.
So, after months and months of building and painting, I then refinished our headboard. It pained me to sand and paint over the oak headboard Greg made right after we got married, but honey oak does not match a pure grey and white bedroom. It pained me more to sand this thing in an 18 degree garage. January was brutal for those of us in the midst of home remodeling. I then decided the bed and all that went with it were too SHORT. I’m short. That’s enough for one family. So we lifted everything. Greg was very skeptical, but he’s tall, and by Night #1, he loved his new, tall bed.
The before picture, seen in its natural state, which is accurately called, its “all the time” state.
That meant the bedside tables Greg built, which had always been too short, were now REALLY too short. And I read too much Better Homes & Gardens, so I got the crazy idea we needed mixy-matchy tables, which would coordinate if they were the same color, height, with matching lamps. Uh-Oh. Wait. Aren’t those sconces in my wall? Yeah. Those had to go.
What to do? What to do? I know! Scour every antique mall within a 50 mile radius, armed with a measuring tape and sense of adventure! Greg wanted drawers, I did not. Mixy-matchy was working already! Oh.How.We.Looked. I found Greg’s first (so the garage was its home for most of the winter), and one day as Grandmommy and I were leaving a mall after a long day of looking, mine was right at the door, covered in lamps and what-nots. She looked at me and I looked at her, and we just knew. After sanding and painting those grooves, I wish we’d known less, but it’s a solid table. I paid about $60 for each of them, so I was happy with the price, even if they required elbow grease. That’s half the fun! JOKING. I’m kidding. Refinishing these pieces was not fun, and had my sister not advised me during the minwax polycrylic phase, they’d probably still be sitting in my sewing room.
Mine ended up like this. Like I said…so pretty. Sara found the lamps at Home Goods. That girl has twice the good taste I have. Actually, she keeps the good taste. I keep the Kleenex and ointments.
Greg’s nightstand is above. He has his drawers, although after cleaning out the old nightstands, it’s clear to me we only used them to store dust. Lots and lots of dust. You may recognize those drawer pulls. I’m in love with this not overly traditional, not overly modern pull (Lowe’s, Amerock, custom order). I may just use it all over the house. These pulls will create a constant between rooms, other than dirt and mess.
We had to get all new bedding (duh), which only took months of looking and 2 trips to the store with Grandmommy. In my defense, my sister said I set some kind of world record for duration of Master Bedroom bedding. Excuse me, has she met our grandparents? Grandmommy made the pillows for Christmas, and thought I’d put them in the window, but I like them on the bed. The dark grey in the middle is imprinted with the state of Indiana, our name, and the words “Indianapolis, Indiana”. Most awesome pillow ever…belongs on my bed, clearly.
So that left a big picture above our bed with a brown frame and a brown matte. Yikes. Everyone was sure do-it-herself Lori would paint the frame and re-matte it myself, but at some point guys, I really do wear down. Considering we paid nothing for the print, I decided investing in a decent frame would be OK. As the recession began oh-so-many years ago, Greg came home after Layoff #1 with a confident smile, and this GIGANTIC print in the back of his car. It hung in a conference room, and his boss, knowing he liked it, told him to take it. After all, the entire office was shutting down, why not let someone enjoy this print? I’m glad we didn’t know what would lie ahead (2 more companies shutting their doors, along with me leaving my career to care for the girls). I’m happy for the frugality and resilience this print has come to represent to us. Above our bed it shall stay.
I took it to JoAnn’s, only to discover this picture lives in a matte not available. Anywhere. Not even ON THE INTERNET. GOOD GOD, is that even possible? It’s simply too large. When the framers and I took it apart, we realized it contained a pieced together matte, covered in brown linen. And because it was so unusual, they offered to recover the whole thing for $20, just to see if they could do it. I only had to supply the new white linen. I jumped around my kitchen for a good 10 minutes in celebration. This could have gotten ugly guys. Really expensive and really ugly.
With a cathedral ceiling on a 2nd floor, even I agreed the ceiling fan had to stay. Which is saying something, because I don’t like ceiling fans. But I really don’t like the price of new ceiling fans. I’m not going to PAY for a fixture I don’t even want! I can’t believe those cold lights glared down on me for 7 years. BEGONE ugly lights!
Ah. Yes. That’s better. Diffuse, soft light, with a glittery silver surround which picks up the flecks of silvery from the grey lampshades. Pleasant. I had no idea ceiling fan lights are mostly universal and can be swapped out while leaving the rest of the fan intact. HOWEVER, the inches of dust which collect on those blades cannot be swapped out without cursing, sweat, and red eyes. Wisdom right here for you guys…totally free…paid for by me and a pair of contacts which had to be ditched.
Opposite of our bed is this wall. This big, weird wall. You might be wondering if I ever hung anything on it other than paint swatches? Years ago, my dresser sat on this wall, along with a mirror, but it was moved eons ago. So I’ve stared at those patches for an embarrassingly long time. Apparently I’m good at blocking out ugly. Greg would tell you the painters tape also sat there for an embarrassingly long time, and in his defense, he is not wrong.
In the end, this wall became one of my favorite parts of the room. My Grandparents gave me this mirror when I bought my first house. The girls were each holding balloons in their 2 year old pictures, which was planned, even if I had no real plans as to where to hang them. It only took me 3 years to get them up on a wall together. Well done Momma! I bought the art by Sarah Jane Studios titled “Waiting”, never even thinking of the girls’ portraits. One day as I stared at those wall patches, it all came together.
Maybe it’s the fact that Sara is in one frame, Kelly is in another, and in the middle is a painting of a little girl with my hair color. Maybe it’s the lone white balloon and her white dress, which seems to indicate hope. Hopeful waiting. Maybe it’s just the title, “Waiting”. Either way, I really, really love Sarah Jane’s work, and I really love this print. She captures the best of what is childhood and makes it feel so real, and yet so abstract at the same time.
If you’re still with me, I wish I could say it’s done. But come on, what in home remodeling is ever really done? I’m still staring at my oak dresser and a big, rectangular wall above it. I’m giving myself the summer to refinish it, and figure out what to put on the wall. I don’t want anything too focal-pointy, because the bookcase and the print above the bed are really dominant. I told Greg I was going to paint driftwood and hang it up, and he laughed and laughed. We’ll call that the back up plan. One more wall. One more refinishing project. (We’ll forget the Master Bath no longer matches anything for now. Let’s shoot for 2014, shall we?). I CAN DO THIS THING. Are you with me?
A very heartfelt thanks to my sister, Jenny, without whom none of this remodeling would have happened. Every single color, decision, swatch of fabric, and tint of paint was cleared through her. She does Interior Design as a hobby for family and friends, and had she not eyeballed my ideas, you’d be throwing up in your mouths right now. The hodge-podge alone would have hurt you. Another thanks to my cousin Cynthia, who is an artist, and gave the final call on the new matte and frame. What was an easy call for her was weeks of puzzlement to me!