Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Life At 40

The children are fed, dressed, groomed, packed, and marching to school. It's the first year they are making the trip, for both of them. I wave, brushing the tears out of my eyes. They are too busy chatting with friends to notice. I close the screen door after they are obscured by the top of the hill and go back into the bathroom.

My make up is spilled across the small yellowing counter. The flat iron's green button is blinking an 'I am ready' message. Carefully, I finish applying my make up, checking for evenness. I pick up the flat iron and slowly work it through my damp hair, straightening colics out of my barely curly hair. I squint at my reflection, seeing the laugh lines around my eyes and mouth. My skin is still smooth, which is a blessing compared to the faux-sun-baked skin of my sisters'. I look professional, approachable. The soft grays and pinks of my sweater pull out the buried rose color of my cheeks. I don't wear blush because of this. When I do, I am reminded of my high school picture the first year I was allowed to wear make up. I shutter a little at the thought and then smile at how much I have matured since those long ago days.

Still looking at myself, I flip off the bathroom light and head to the kitchen. I put on my coat and pick up my new leather bag, a gift from my husband for starting my first job in five years. I take a deep breath, pick up my purse and keys, and then softly close the door behind me. It's my first day as a career woman and I don't want to be late.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Seize The Day

I have already seized the day in 2010. I am taking risks I have promised myself I would take over the last couple of years. The hard part is done. I've reached an understanding that my life is mine and does not need to be divided evenly among everyone else, leaving only the scraps for myself. All I have to do now is wait for the calendar to change and then show up. That is the easy part.

*** One Minute Writer***

Because I Can

Because I can and that is a good enough reason.

I've known I can for a long time. Too long really. I shouldn't have waited to have it validated two years later. Probably longer. I should have listened to my gut. I could have found a way to pursue it. But, I didn't. I sat around admiring, wishing, envying others who were there. Others who made it look so simple while I played it safe.

Now I am making the leap, taking that chance, and learning that I always could. Learning just how much time and money I have wasted. I've only made it harder on myself. Now, I have a relationship to add into the equation. One that I appreciate and don't want to watch dissipate. One that will slowly disappear because I won't pursue it.

Because I don't have to and I question if it is a good enough reason.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I never thought I would stay home with my children, but I did. It wasn't me. I was a career woman. The thought of staying home while they were young made me cringe! But, having made such an unconceivable commitment (at least for me), I can't imagine why I ever questioned it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Looking Back

Rather than write a story, I wanted to comment on some of the posts I've seen from friends on facebook. Even though it is only Christmas Eve, many have posted about looking back on their lives and a brief comment on how they feel they have faired so far. Some are happy, most are unsure, and a few are waiting for some big mysterious event to happen that tells them their life has been worthwhile. Personally, each of you is worthwhile. If nothing else, you have all touched my life in some way and without you I would be much less blessed.

As far as my life is concerned, I am proud to say that I am one of the happy ones. I am leaving a footprint in the world. It may not be a big print, nothing the size celebrities or the very wealthy have the ability to leave, but it is a mark and a positive one at that. The regrets I have are few and not things that tug on my conscience. My need for gratification for work is small and non-existent when it comes to good deeds. The feeling of accomplishment and doing the right thing keeps me going and wanting to do more.

Looking back, things are good. Looking forward, things are great! If nothing else comes your way this holiday season, I hope you find the same sense of ease and joy I have found.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Ornament Memory

I remember always loving my Grandmother's Christmas Tree. It was covered in white porcelain ornaments of various shapes and sizes. The old fashioned kind you can't buy anymore. When she died, her belongings were split among her children and I was disappointed not to receive any of the ornaments I treasured. I never told anyone. A year later, I received a package in the mail at Thanksgiving. It held a dozen white porcelain snowflakes. Thank you to whomever sent it to me. I wish I knew who you were and how you knew how desperately I wanted them.

Holiday Movie

A romantic comedy.

John is walking along Michigan Ave when an old woman tells him he has just met his wife, pointing to a woman he just helped a moment ago. Thinking he is being punked by his friends, he decides to play along and returns to invite her to a Christmas Party. A year later, still in each other's company, he has to decide if this relationship is "the one" and has given himself until the annual Christmas Party to move on or propose.

*** In the spirit of the holidays, I give up on writing long entries that require much thought. Instead, I fall in the direction of the One Minute Writer just to stay motivated while making other memories to write about another time.***

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Build a House out of an Unconventional Material

I asked my five year old son what he would use. At first he said, "Why do we need to build a house? We already have one." Then he said, "I know! I would build them out of the ABC blocks I have downstairs. My house would look like a pyramid with little windows so I could see when it was snowing." The more I think about it, the more I would like to live in his house.

*** Another prompt from the One Minute Writer***

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All I Want for Christmas Is....

Is it bad that world peace comes to mind, but only as a joke in a Sandra-Bullock-in-Miss-Congeniality-after-thought kind of way? I'm far too selfish to care what day or what year we figure out how to get along. (Although, I do hope we get their in my lifetime!) No, all I want for Christmas is THE pair of black boots I saw at Kohl's. They screamed Diva! Furry black from the top all the way down to the ankle of the boot where it met with suede. And two cute black balls of fur on the laces. I saw another mom wearing them when she picked her little girl up from ballet. And n ow, I want them! Please Santa?

***This prompt brought to you from the One Minute Writer. And please don't buy me the boots! I'd enjoy them, but feel bad about guilting you into it. My birthday might be the right occasion though.***

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hairbrush Hustle

It is cold, but not as cold as the previous few days. The temperatures should be in the high 20's at some point. They are not there as of yet, but they have broken into the high teens. I am watching the clock carefully. To make the trip work, we must be out of the house by 11am. We are good on time right now. 10:40am. So far, the children have been fed a heavy breakfast of diced potatoes, eggs, peppers, tomatoes, spices, and bacon. A pseudo skillet of sorts. They have brushed their teeth and I am armed with Super Blue, a small blue squirt bottle named for it's color and snarl fighting powers, and a hairbrush.

Xander rounds the corner first. Seeing Super Blue in my hand sends him careening back around the corner. "Xander! Come back please." I urge. "We need to brush your hair so we can go. We are running out of time!" It is all to no avail. I walk through the living room and down the hall, first peeking in the bathroom for his little frame, and then his room. He is laying on the bed, cover over his head. "Come on, honey." I am purring, rubbing his back, trying to entice my mouse out of the covers. "I want to get our Christmas Tree. Pretty soon it will be too late to go and then I don't know when we will be able to get one."

My hand passes lightly over the exposed skin of his belly. I feel his muscles clench and see the blanket tighten in his hands. He lets out a giggle. I smile. The mouse is cornered. "Are you excited too?" I brush the tips of my fingers across his belly again and he wiggles, trying to slide away. I do it again, my fingers following him as he tries to slide out of reach, forgetting about holding his blanket. He bumps against the wall. I start tickling him in earnest. Xander laughs with force and releases the last of his light grip on the blanket, choosing instead to grab his shirt and pull it down protectively over his belly.

I set Super Blue on the bed next to me and use my freed hand to pull the blanket off his face and hair. "There you are!" I hold firmly onto the blanket as he tries to pull it from my hand. My other hand slides under his shirt and begins to tickle again. He immediately retreats from the blanket and goes to protect his belly again.

"No! Stop!" he yells, already low on breath, but with just enough to power a small giggle.

"Okay. I'll stop. But you have to sit up so I can brush your hair." My face communicates a dare, knowing that if I am too serious I will lose the little bit of ground I gained. He hesitates and my hand moves to rest on top of his shirt. "Do we have a deal Little mouse?"

I can tell he wants to say know. His body holds tension. His eyes are averted to my hand. A small smile plays on his face. I move my fingers, getting them ready for the next tickle attack. He inhales sharply and then blurts out, "Wait! I am thinking about it!" The smile has disappeared. A battle is waging inside. He doesn't want his hair brushed, but he doesn't want on-going tickling either. I've known him all of his nearly five years of life. He is working a way around his predicament. Quickly trying to find an option other than the one presented.

"I'm waiting, but my fingers are restless. I can't be responsible if they get bored." I wiggle one and he pushes his body further into the wall. I am standing firm on this, but would rather this battle over an onerous contest of wills. They end in tears and screaming, which I hate to see.

"Okay, okay. Just a second! Ummm...." He is still stalling for time. There is very little time left. This thought makes me want to push a little harder for a decision. A couple of fingers start to wiggle.

"Bad fingers!" I scold as he grabs onto them and contracts his stomach muscles out of my reach. He laughs a different laugh. A laugh born out of silly humor and not involuntary physical reaction. "Bad fingers!" I say again as they begin to wiggle in his hand. "I don't think I can make them stop for much longer.... maybe only three seconds! 1..... Oh, no! Oh, no..... 2....... What are you going to do?" My eyes are wide, feigning fear for his ultimate tickling demise. My fingers are wiggling madly; tossing and turning, swishing and swirling at their bid for freedom.

"Move your fingers away. I'm getting up! I'm getting up!" He is pushing them away. I let go of the blanket and use my hand to grab the other wrist, tugging the other hand back into line and to Super Blue. I pretend to tickle it.

His belly muscles now tightening to push air through his esophagus in a deep laughter. I pick up Super Blue. "Phew! That was a close one." I tell him. He lets me brush his hair with ease. I bend over, kiss his forehead. "Go get your socks and shoes on. I'll come help after I tackle Eva-Bug's hair." I slide of his bed and start a new search for a much less compliant little girl. Xander leaps past me and heads in the general direction of the closet.

I find Eva by the closet, already dressed. Her hair is a mess. It is always that way. Sometimes I wonder why I bother to wrestle her into brushing it. She sees me walking toward her and turns to run in the other direction. I am much faster and catch up to her in five steps, wrapping my arm over her shoulder and under the opposite arm. I pull her into me. "And where do you think you are going Miss Thang?" I ask playfully.

It doesn't seem to register. She is already screaming, "No, no, no, no!" and batting at the hairbrush and Super Blue based on which one is closest.

I look at the time. It is 10:48am. "Here's the deal Miss Thang. If you don't want to use Super Blue, that's fine. But you have to stand up nicely so I can brush your hair." She continues to swat at the hair brushing instruments. I can hear real tears have begun to fall. I never understand why this is so torturous for her. Her hair is so thin and fine there is rarely a snarl in it. It takes about 10 seconds to brush thoroughly and 5 minutes to get to the point of brushing. The fight seems silly, all things considered. Certainly she knows this is a lost battle already. Her hair will be brushed.

I keep my arm firmly around her, pulling her closer to me as I begin to take a few steps backwards to the couch. She is squished like a sardine in a can. She can't go anywhere. That doesn't mean I am as secure. I want to sit down so I don't end up hurting both of us if I loose my balance, toppling on top of her two-and-a-half-year-old self. I sit down as gracefully as possible, dropping Super Blue on the floor and cautiously raising the hairbrush above her head and out of her reach.

The second phase in the battle begins as soon as the brush touches her head and begins its downward stroke. Her free arm moves up and covers her head, moving her hair all around. It is useless to try and brush with through this action. She knows this well and I am forced to stop momentarily. I stand her on her feet so she has to support all of her own weight. "Eva. Stop. I am going to brush your hair or you and I will stay home while Daddy and Xander gets the tree by themselves."

My voice is firm and the threat invokes even more tears. Her head hangs low and she slides to the floor. "I want you to don't brush my hair!" she yells.

"Okay. Then you want to stay home? Am I understanding you correctly." I know she wants to go, but I want to make sure she understands that brushing her hair is an expectation which must be met before she can walk out the door and climb in the car.

"I want you to don't brush my hair." she states again, although a little less adamantly. I put the hairbrush down and reach for the box of kleenex, keeping one hand planted firmly on her shoulder. She'll run again if I let go.

"Okay. Let's take your coat and snowpants, and gloves, and hat, and boots off. We can put them away and tell Daddy that you want to stay home. No brushing your hair." I emphasize the ands. It's poor grammar, but really helps drive home the point. Eva cries a little harder. I wipe her tears and then her nose. "Are you ready to take everything off?"

It feels mean. Callous really. I know that I have to drive the nail through the oak density of her stubbornness. She is still crying. "I want to go for the Christmas Tree!" Her eyes plead to let the rules slide just this once. There is never just once with this child. Every action sets a hard to overturn precedent with her.

"Then you need to brush your hair." I am pleading too. I hate having this fight with her every day. I would much rather have a tickle fight. Those do nothing to delay the inevitable fight. Besides, her clothing is too thick. The attempt would be futile.... and batted away.

"I want you to don't brush my hair and I want to go for the Christmas Tree." Her tears have slowed down. She is inspired by the idea of putting both thoughts into one sentence.

"I'm sorry. That is not an option. You can choose hair or tree. Not both." At least we are nearing an end. Xander was always a child who chose only from the options we gave him. Or a child who will think of a creative solution, still within the realm of the options. Eva has always looked at the options and completely disregarded them, preferring instead to provide her own choices.

She holds out her hand. "I will do it. I want you to don't touch the hairbrush."

Ughh. I knew it was coming and I would like to reject the choice. More so, I want her to be part of this family expedition. What she does can't be called brushing. It's more of pushing her hair around to make it look generally worse. At the same time, it does leave her more open to some help. The level of some is ever changing. "Okay, but I will help when you are done. I'll use just my hand. No hairbrush." At least I can try and push her hair back into it's original chaotic shape.

She accepts, taking the hairbrush and performing the action as expected. I use my fingers and rake them through her hair. The end result is still a mess. She pops her hat on top and walks to the door her brother and daddy have already gone out. Quickly, I slip my winter gear on and follow them out of the house, turning off lights and closing doors as I go. As I turn to make sure we have everything taken care of, I see Super Blue and the laying haphazardly on the floor.