True Christmas Spirit

‘Tis the season for my 6-year-old daughter to go around the house gathering her toys, jewelry and crafts made out of toilet paper rolls  to wrap up. She is the queen of re-gifting. I remember going to a birthday party as a kid and one of the guests did something similar.  She re-gifted used earrings. Some of the girls laughed behind her back. Others felt bad that she couldn’t afford something new. As an adult I think differently about that box of tarnished stud earrings. Perhaps, the gift was actually more thoughtful than any of the scrunchies, banana clips or jelly bracelets we purchased. Maybe she sacrificed her prized possession in order to make a friend happy. Today my daughter wrapped one of her favorite teddy bears, football cards and a few crayons for her grandmother. She was so proud to deliver this gift. “Grandma is going to be so happy,” she said skipping to the front door. I patted myself on the back for raising a daughter with such a giving heart. It doesn’t hurt that she saved me $50.  

This video of equally as thoughtful children popped up on my Facebook feed. It was in between a post about a friend frosting Christmas cookies and another demanding I share a post to prove I love my dog. I won’t be bullied into expressing my feelings. My favorite chain letter-eque Facebook post is Share this if you love your children. I think we should be asking people who don’t love their children to ‘like’ a post so Child Protective Services can intervene. Those are the people I’m worried about. Anyway, I ugly-cried watching this video.  In this clip, children were given the option of taking a present on their wish list or one for a member of their family. I know at least two of my children would have done the same thing.

Instagram Husbands

This video is pretty funny.  It’s funny because it happens.   I went to a wedding this past weekend and forced a friend’s boyfriend to retake a photograph a dozen times. (I also may have participated in a dance-off.  A.C. Slater doesn’t have anything on this girl after a few cocktails.)  I blamed the boyfriend’s photography skills.  The truth is the lighting was less than flattering if someone was overdue for a Botox injection.  The camera has to be positioned at the right angle to get the Jennifer Lopez glow and avoid the double-chin shot.  If that doesn’t work you can go with the black and white filter.  In desperate situations you can add the blur effect.  The technology we have is simply amazing.  My children will never have to manually rewind film in a camera.  I miss banana clips and pinning my jeans, but not having to wait for film to be developed.  There was a 50/50 chance a picture would turn out to your liking. Nowadays, we can delete a bad shot in an instant.  Instagram is a gift from above; a middle-aged woman’s best friend.

 

 

 

Victoria’s Secret

I caught the last 20 minutes of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show on TV.  I was flipping through the channels when the musician “The Weekend” caught my attention.  He has an amazing voice, but crazy hair.  It looks like a horn is protruding out of the top of his head.  I don’t know if it is hairspray or a lack of washing that helps keep its form. I wish I had the confidence to leave the house like that.

Over six million people tuned in to watch women walk. That’s it.  Well, actually they walked while wearing angel wings.  They also pointed to the audience and blew kisses.  These ladies must have been exhausted by the end of the night.  I am sure their mothers are proud.  I don’t blame them.  I just hope my daughter doesn’t look up to theirs.  It’s an unrealistic goal.  Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.  

I cannot deny Victoria’s Secret makes quality brassieres.  I usually wear one while sitting on the davenport with my pocketbook on my lap.  The bras are more expensive than those at a big box store.  It’s worth it to avoid an awkward encounter with your elderly neighbor or son’s teacher while searching for a cup size.  The bras also hold up well in the wash and keep the girls from getting scrapes and brush burns on the pavement.  As for the rest of the store?  Lingerie is bait.  Thongs are torture devices.  The end.  

These models are making a fortune because they can put one foot in front of the other.  Meanwhile, somewhere there is a woman working the overnight shift at a factory to make ends meet.  There is a teacher who spends countless hours nurturing young minds who is vastly underpaid.  I know what you are thinking: She is just jealous.   I was jealous when I had to cram my body into a pair of Spanx on a 90 degree day to fit into a dress.  I was sweating profusely.  My body was begging for mercy.  I’m sure these models have never even heard of Spanx.  

Sure, models have rock hard abs and long legs.  They don’t have to push their skin aside to zip up tall boots, but my glass is half full today. Here are a few things I have that the models do not:

1.) The freedom to ask for extra cheese 

2.) The freedom to eat the extra cheese.  

3.) A stomach that is also a comfortable travel pillow for my young children.  

4.) A friendly upper arm that keeps waving when my hand has stopped.    

5.)  I can walk into a room without anyone noticing. 

6.) The acne of a 17-year-old and children to point out each blemish.  It’s a fun game. 

7.) You could light a match on my thigh after a power walk.  It will come in handy during the zombie apocalypse. 

8.) I don’t hesitate when the Barista asks “Do you want whip cream on that?” Hell yeah! 

9.) I get to try on a few dozen pairs of jeans before finding one that fits. It is hours of entertainment.  

10.) My back makes a cool ‘suction cup’ sound when I’m doing sit ups.  

 

 

 

 

 

Neverland

Christmas came early for millions of women (and some men) this weekend.  Ryan Gosling hosted Saturday Night Live.  He broke character in many of the skits, but his giggling was endearing.  He has come a long way from his days on the Mickey Mouse Club.  Many other child actors didn’t fare as well.   I admire parents who encourage their children to pursue the arts.  Unless you were a student on the fictional TV series “Fame”  singing, dancing and acting isn’t usually popular.  My teenage son joined the drama club in 7th grade.  He is generally a quiet kid, but comes out of his shell when he steps on the stage.  It is a beautiful thing to watch.  Plus, the actors are so supportive of one another.  It is a great group of kids.  

His high school drama club performed Peter/Wendy this weekend. The entire cast worked very hard for months and nailed their roles.   The script, however, was not as great.  If I were nice I would describe it as different.  If I were honest I would tell you it was freaky as hell.  There was a scene when the cast was simultaneously listing their  ‘happy thoughts’ while walking in circles.  So, there were about 25 people talking at the same time, but saying different things. I was waiting for Tom Cruise to start jumping on a couch.  Tinker Bell cursed like a trucker in this play.  The characters jump from speaking in first person to third person and back.  There were a few comical scenes. Overall, the  students did an incredible job in his/her perspective roles.  I was blown away at their ability to memorize the script, let alone stay in character through difficult transitions.  They didn’t have props or a grandiose set to use as a crutch.  There was a black back drop with writing and three black boxes on stage.  

  

Being the proud, helicopter mother that I am, I attended all three performances.  Then, I treated myself to a large margarita – which may have been what the playwright was drinking when he crafted this dark interpretation of Peter Pan.

Perhaps one of the students on that high school stage will grow up to be the next Ryan Gosling.  Here is one of my favorite skits from his appearance on SNL:

 

This one was good, too. Kate McKinnon is hysterical in this skit, but Ryan is still pretty.

 

 

and this one…..

 

Nails did

I went to a salon to get a manicure. I left with baby poop colored nails and hurt feelings. I’m not sure what was said, but I don’t think it was good. Please allow me to explain. My friend and I scheduled a ‘girls day out’ with our young daughters. First, we ate lunch at Ruby Tuesday. No, we didn’t have a time machine. It still exists for those desperate enough to eat flavorless food in order to avoid waiting for a table with whining children.  After lunch we decided to take the girls to get our nails done.  We rolled the dice that there would be a salon in the mall.  We stopped at the first one we strolled upon.   The prices were descent.  The manager directed our crew to choose a nail polish color.  The girls picked two bright colors.  Apparently, the trend is to paint one finger on each hand a different color.   I’m guessing the trend was started by a cosmetics company.  The girls were excited.  Their smiles were contagious.  ‘What a wonderful memory’ I thought.   

I grabbed a bottle that appeared to be gray. That’s a little edgy for me, but I decided to take a walk on the wild side.  I can let my hair down every now and then.  In fact, a few days ago, I crossed the street outside of the crosswalk and took a drink of my latte before stiring it.

The technician assigned to do my manicure didn’t speak much English.   She seemed lovely, but we wouldn’t be having a deep conversation about global warming, the crisis in Syria or Ryan Gosling.  Actually, we wouldn’t converse at all until she cut my fingers.  She got a little cocky with the clippers and took part of my skin with the nail.   She quickly apologized and dug through a drawer for a small bottle.  It had what appeared to be rust on the side and was about three quarters full of a thick blue fluid.  She preceded to pour this magic liquid on my fingers to stop the bleeding. Funny how I’ve never seen this used by a licensed doctor or surgeon.   I have no idea what it was, whether or not I will get an infection, but it worked.  At this point the manager suggested I cash out before the technician painted my nails.  They ran my credit card and overcharged me $5.   I told the technician that I would give an additional $3 for her and the young girl who painted my daughter’s nails to split a total of $8 for a tip on a $15 manicure.  I thought that was fair.  Plus, I only had three ones in my purse.  She looked confused. So, I turned to explain the situation to the manager.  When I turned back around the manager said something loudly in Chinese and every worker in the joint laughed.   They laughed hard; deep belly laughs.  They were making fun of me.  I don’t know what she said, but my gut told me it was rude.  I wanted to stand up and shout, “What’s so funny, huh? Huh? Huh?”  I would have said three “huh’s” for dramatic effect if I were brave.  Instead, I sat silently as the technician began painting my nails.  I instantly realized the color she was using wasn’t gray at all.  It was baby poop green, but I couldn’t complain.  My ego couldn’t handle another foreign language put down. 

  

 So, I walked out with baby poop green nails.  I guess I faired  better than the last person to sit in this chair: 

 

 

 

 

I hate myself for loving you

I have set my children up for a lifetime of disappointment.  They are Buffalo Bills fans. I was born in raised in Western New York.  It’s in my blood and now theirs.  My 8-year-old son went to bed last night when the game was tied between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots. The first thing out of his mouth this morning when I woke him up for school, his eyes barely open, was,  “Did we win?”  Bless his heart.  Like most Bills fans he is the eternal optimist.  We may complain about the team after a loss, badmouth a player here or there, but we never give up hope.   They will grow up to be loyal and, perhaps, have a prescription for Xanax.

If you missed last night’s game, there was a moment when Tom Brady was exchanging words with a player on the Buffalo Bills.   After telling the defenseman “F*ck You” Brady preceded to run to the referee and complain that he was being taunted.  He may be one of the greatest football players of all times, but he is also a tattletale.  Here is the video with my 6-year-old daughter as the voice of the cheater, I mean, Brady.  Did I mention Buffalo Bills fans are a tad bitter?

American Music Awards Wrap

When I was a kid I begged my mom to let me stay up and watch the American Music Awards. This was back when we had to walk from the couch to the television to turn up the volume or change the channel. Then, we actually had to walk back to the couch.   I lost my mind when Michael Jackson did the moonwalk across the stage.  I dreamed of performing on the show even though a dying cat sounds more soothing than my singing voice.  Actually, I had a descent set of pipes until I entered puberty. Not to brag, but I once had a solo in the Christmas concert at my elementary school.  That is when we were allowed to sing Christmas songs in December.  Now, it’s called a holiday concert and often includes cover tunes.  Here is what I took away from tonight’s award show: 

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Nobody told Prince he wasn’t performing.  He walked on stage with a giant guitar.  Either that or he thinks a musical instrument is an accessory.  A bracelet would be much lighter and goes with just about everything.   

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Jennifer Lopez is not human. It’s impossible to have skin and a body that perfect. She even looked  good when dressed like a raccoon in her opening dance number.  

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People jumping up and down in the shadows can substitute for back up dancers if Gwen Stefani is performing. 

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Nicki Minaj can be inspiring when she isn’t singing about her ass or male genitalia.  She told people to “find their purpose before it was too late.”  

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One Direction won the Artist of the Year Award despite losing one of its members.  Somewhere a guy named Zayn is crying in his tea. 

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The Rihana commercial freaked me out and I don’t even know what it is for.  

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Justin Bieber has talent, but is shopping in the wrong department.  It was nice that they let him have a playdate with his friends at a water park on stage.  

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Ariana Grande can hit high notes, but is incapable of pronouncing consonants.  
The Weekend doesn’t like combs.   
Speaking of combs, Sean Combs is calling himself Puff Daddy again.  You’re welcome. That would have been embarrassing if you ran into him and said “Hi Diddy!”  or “What’s up P. Diddy?” 

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Alanis Morisette’s song “You Ought to Know” isn’t as powerful when sung by a middle aged mother.  

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Jared Leto is the only man who can pull off a man-bun and pink hair. 

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Celine Dion’s voice is angelic no matter what language she sings.  She performed a beautiful tribute to the people of Paris, France. There were a few folks in the audience caught on camera sobbing.  Let’s hope they didn’t DVR the show.   

Vivre sans crainte

I spent part of my Friday night at a beauty supply store.  I was buying hair color to freshen up my roots.  I have had gray hairs since I was in my twenties.  I blame the boyfriend who dumped  me for an Applebee’s waitress. It was a stressful time.  I couldn’t compete with a woman who served all-you-can-eat rib baskets and sang an obscure Happy Birthday song to strangers who wanted a free dessert.  That hurts one’s ego.  

I was due for a fresh color which was pointed out to me by a bald co-worker.  I let a guy with more hair on his back make me feel insecure about my appearance.   I am kidding.  I can take a good ribbing and am even better at dishing it out.

I was standing in the ‘I’m too cheap to have a professional stylist color my hair’ checkout line when I got a text message.  “Did you see what happened in France?” I had no idea.  I was busy chauffeuring my children to appointments and classes.  I stopped for coffee and a ran a few errands.  I hadn’t seen the news.

It was going to be an uneventful evening. I’m sure people in Paris were thinking the same thing.  Unfortunately, evil walked among them that night.  The video and images of the terrorist attack are chilling.  Yet, I found myself awake in the wee hours of the morning scrolling through photographs.  I wanted to know the victim’s stories. I was struck by one picture in particular. It is a photograph of a young woman’s body covered in a floral sheet lying on a stone road, her shoes visible to passersby.  I imagine she was filled with excitement as she got ready to go out that night.  Perhaps she tried on several outfits before settling on those particular boots.  Was she on a date or out with friends? 

I can’t stop thinking about her mother.   Did she see this photograph and immediately recognize her child?  Her daughter went to a concert.  She could never have imagined the horror that would ensue. 

I am sad that my children live in a world where it’s common for bombing and shooting updates to scroll across the TV screen during the morning news.   I hate that we are horrified, but not surprised that men and women are capable of carrying out these attacks. I don’t want my children looking over their shoulder at a concert.  I want them to laugh with friends at a restaurant. They should go to a stadium to cheer for their favorite team without worrying about explosions- even if the team played in four consecutive Super Bowl games and did not win. I don’t want my children to live in fear.  I’m sure the mother of the young lady under the floral sheet had the same wish for her daughter.  

WW – eeeek!

It was a good run.  I have successfully kept my children away from most TV shows, toys, etc. that annoy me.   Caillou has weaseled his way into my home from time to time.  If you thought it was impossible to hate an animated child you haven’t watched this cartoon.  His picture is next to the word evil in the dictionary.  Dictionaries were books when I was a kid.  We didn’t have Google.  We had encyclopedias.  Actually, we had an incomplete collection of encyclopedias in my house.  My parents purchased books as part of a grocery store promotion.  Unfortunately, it ended after they bough volume N-O.  If you needed to information about Ronald Reagan or the history of the xylophone you were screwed.

My 8-year-old is suddenly obsessed with professional wrestling.  (Yet another thing I couldn’t research as a child.)   I use the word professional lightly.  One of the most popular wrestlers appeared on a MTV reality show.  I remember “The Miz” when he was just Mike Mizanin.   He was a cast member on “The Real World.” He often said idiotic things, lifted weights and drank a lot.   Come to think of it, in America that means your destined for stardom. I actually sent in an audition tape to be a cast member on the Real World.  File that under What the hell was I thinking – along with the haircut I got in the third grade and the tears shed for a boy in high school who ended up going to prison.

I’m not the mother who thinks the WWE is satanic. Nor do I think it’s going to make him a criminal.   My son knows not to mimic the coordinated wrestling moves.  It’s as fake as every body part on a Kardashian.  I’m not fond of the fact that the wrestlers allegedly use steroids. I give my kids the ‘Drugs will kill you’ speech on a regular basis.   My parents scared the hell out of me and it worked.

I just don’t like to watch it.  I don’t like to see men who are in bedazzled underwear act like fools.  I suppose this is payback for blasting Ace of Base on repeat in my room when I was a kid. 

love you to the moon

My 6-year-old daughter has started a diary.  Tonight’s entry  began with “Wow.  Octoeer was a great year….”  We will work on the spelling of October and timeframes, but you get the point.  She was happy.  Today was her birthday.  

She was showered with presents and love.  The latter being more important.  She will figure that out when she is older. For now, toys made in China are just as valuable. 

This little girl has brought so much love, laughter and hair bows into my life.  Sure, she told me a few days ago that my mouth smelled worse than garbage.   I am still trying to figure out what she was referring to.   What is worse than garbage to a first grader? Much like the question ‘How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop’  …..the world many never know. 

My daughter was much more complimentary this evening as I tucked her into bed.  “I had the best day ever, Mommy,” she said.   It was at that moment I received a text message from a friend with three heartbreaking words: “She is gone.”  She is a local teenage girl named Courtney Wagner.   This 18-year-old inspired thousands of people during her four year battle with brain cancer.  I never had the pleasure of meeting Courtney, but like many I followed her story.  Courtney’s mother, Jamie, documented her daughter’s courageous battle online.   Courtney was featured in many local news stories and even appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show.  Her positivity was contagious.  In her daughter’s final days Jamie Wagner posted heartbreaking updates.

“No mother should ever watch her child fade away.”

 “Courtney has not spoken today…..I miss her voice already.”

“Courtney is resting….I could sit in her room, holding her hand forever. I wish I could.”

She posted a photo of Courtney, around my daughter’s age, in pigtails.  

“Never in a million years would I have imagined what the future held for her.” 

Just a few days later Courtney took her last breath. My heart aches for her mother, family and friends.  
  
I was inspired by their courage and reminded how fragile life is.   Lately, I stop and really listen to my children’s stories – no matter how long or nonsensical they are.    I find myself appreciating tasks that I may have quietly complained about in the past: helping with homework, making lunches, ironing their clothes, etc.  A few days ago my son informed me that he needed to be chauffeured back to school because he forgot a notebook.  This quick trip put a kink in our plans.  I had to load all three kids back into the car which would make us late for another appointment.  In the past I would’ve moaned and lectured him about being responsible.  But on this day I thought of Courtney and how her mother would give anything to be in my shoes.  I thanked God for my children and responsibilities.  I prayed for the Wagners. 

Tonight I crawled into bed with my daughter and held her until she fell asleep, savoring the  smell of her freshly washed hair.  We had our nightly bedtime exchange.  I caressed her cheek and said, “I love you to the moon.”  She replied, “I love you to the moon and back.”  The moon was even brighter tonight.   Courtney’s mother explained why.