Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Third time, with less charm

The husband and I have a certain dinner we go to once a year. The event is very inspirational at its core, and apparently my preparations for it alone have spawned blog posts, profile pics (2012) and even my first adventure into YeahWrite (2013).

This past May, I made a major purchase. It was a thirty dollar dress that did not fit poorly and I really liked. Yes, all around, these factors count as a big deal in my world. I knew I had one occasion I could wear this no-wrinkle piece of fabulousness for. I also realized that I could just wear the same dress from last year without anybody noticing, thus giving me thirty dollars to spend on something else I most likely did not need. Time may have blurred the edges of my memory, and I might have remembered that dress a bit finer than it really was.

I was completely calm in the days prior to the dinner. The parts of my hair that had wreaked humidity induced havoc for the past couple of years had been left on the hairdresser's floor months ago. I had seen my shoes kicking around in my closet recently. We had even begun our approach into life without minivans by replacing one with some Fahrvergn├╝gen, by way of a new Volkswagen Passat. Oh we were going to be styling on this date night...or so I thought.

T-minus forty minutes and I sauntered upstairs to shower with my head held high. I had this. Got out of the shower, threw my shorter self-styling hair in a towel and took a few extra minutes to put lotion on my legs. So this was what prepared felt like? I threw that dress over my head in a manner that was sure to show it who was boss, and quickly realized that possibly it was not me. Apparently having a bra that actually fits sacrifices the minimizing that wearing one too small was achieving. Um, and what exactly was going on in the back? What. The. Hell? I weighed two pounds less than last year. I am not saying this to suggest that the pretty pattern should've slinked right off of me, but it certainly did not seem as though it should have been a tighter fit. Had I become like the children's stuffed animals who don't actually lose their stuffings, but become misshapen from all of the hugs and love? Had my family squeezed me into some poor shape that was not clingy dress friendly? Or worse, had this dress looked exactly the same last year and I was just dazzled by the pretty pattern?

The storm began. A hurricane of wind started by my arm waving, pacing and hanger grabbing. Cotton and rayon debris flying everywhere. Skirts with no shirts, shirts that did not fit, an outfit I wore seven years ago...why do these things not come with expiration dates? I put the dress on again, taking my hair out of the towel in hopes that I could balance what was happening below my neck with a decent hairdo. How about mascara? Not my usual kind and now I was trying desperately to clean up the stray striping of this new brand. Hot. Why was it so hot? Did I care about panty lines? If so, they were sliding further down the list. Flung the dress off and started regaling husband with the sad state of affairs that had developed since he got into the shower. I was staying home.

I wandered into my fourteen year old daughter's closet, with no actual idea of what I hoped to find, then back to my own room where I grabbed black pants, once again with my powdered hands. Why is this lesson so hard, and why are there so many pairs of black pants and oh my gosh did any of them fit? I narrowly escaped losing an inch of flesh to the rabid teeth of a zipper. My judgement was impaired by the inability to breathe correctly, as I paired completely inappropriate tops with the ill-fitting pants. Ranting, raving, but strangely, not crying. (Perhaps only for fear of what the already troubled mascara might do.)

My husband was nearly beaten with a hanger when I spotted him laying out a brand new suit while clipping the tags off. "Why must you rub it in that you have a new suit that fits?" I extricated myself from the pants, and opted for the floral skirt my eyes kept landing on. I found a shirt to put on that almost matched, and then started to itch while looking for some jewelry to save me from certain doom. The third look in the mirror confirmed that the colors were not even close, and as the shirt got whipped off I realized it was an acrylic/wool blend. Are you kidding me? That did not go back into my closet. How about a black shirt? I must have owned at least...NONE that would work. I asked if we could stop at Marshall's on the way to the dinner. The husband was too busy to answer, as he was torn between which of three ties to wear. Really? He asked my opinion. "Are you really asking me this right now?" "Yes."

Back on with the dress and back into the bathroom where I found that my self-styling hair had been offended by all of the clothing over the head business and sweating. I got out the blow dryer, and realized I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I pulled three of the sixty-seven gray hairs from my head, a little hairspray and gentle patting, using my ears as some sort of styling tools. The husband tried to reassure me that the whole ensemble didn't look bad. I think we all know that doesn't mean it looked good. I headed down the stairs with my head hung low, utterly defeated. My Burt's Bees stick did not have enough shimmer to pull this off. No photos, please.

We got in our shiny new sedan and headed out. I wasn't in a bad mood per se, just disappointed. I wanted to bring back that date night magic. As I glanced down at my legs, exposed from the creeping a dress tends to do when one sits down, I recalled that cheap disposable razor I bought and how I didn't want to cause a crime scene by shaving my knees with it. I slid my hands and purse to cover the situation. The smooth ride as we got on the highway started to lull me into believing that everything was going to be just fine. It was, after all, a beautiful night.

The husband did the most excellent job parallel parking a car that I had ever seen. I thought I could be fabulous by association. I flung my door open, and as I went to step out onto the curb, I realized how high up it was. Since we were parked so close, I had no choice but to go straight for the curb, with no way to angle my legs in that sexy lady getting out of a car way. This was more of a clumsy gal clutching the door frame, trying to roll onto the sidewalk without showing the city her undies kind of a thing.

What a difference a year makes.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Superhero Sunday - Green Thumb

Tending to tomato plants, not fortunate enough to be part of a typical garden, makes them feel special.
Grow...be super...you can do it!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Casual Friday Correspondence* - Week 7

*Yeah, I think I was tired when this rejected name came to mind.

We just got back from a quick trip to Cape Cod, so this CONTEST letter, written back in the winter, seemed timely.

Dear Lands End:

I was looking through your most recent swimwear offerings, dazzled as usual by all of the pretty colors. As a mother of two teenagers, it seems that my bathing suit needs currently rely most heavily on not embarrassing them. When my children were much younger, my bathing suits had to perform a completely different set of tricks.

After getting two small children slathered down with sunscreen, I used to barely have time to take a breath before they slipped off. I remember one day, I had covered all of the exposed spots on my body that I could possibly reach when I realized that a good portion of my back was about to be left completely vulnerable. I decided some sunscreen had to be better than none, and proposed a sort of art project to my little ones. I put my trust in their four small hands, and it seemed like they made a decent effort. Hours later, as I changed for bed, I noticed the pasty white beautiful rainbow they had painted on my back. There was no pot of gold at the end, but fiery red beneath it. That first big color line of the season tends to say for quite a long time...a very long time. 

Within a week, I had ordered two of your fabulous tunic style tankini tops. It was as high in the back as it was in the front, and it was glorious! I had no unreachable parts to sunscreen. As an added bonus, this suit was immune to those tugging little arms. Nobody was leaving this mommy topless in the public pool.Plus, I ordered some swim skirt minis that enabled me to move "efficient personal grooming" farther down my list of frazzled mommy concerns. Once I realized how helpful it was to have lessened my own surface area for sunscreening purposes, I ordered up some long and short-sleeved swim shirts for the kids. I felt like I had uncovered a magical secret, and was thrilled by how fast we could respond to a pool invite. It was also much easier to spot my kids in those shirts in crowded pools or the ocean.

It was a sad day when I finally had to retire my high-backed top, as I have not seen that style in the catalog in a long time. As I celebrated my twelfth summer in Lands End swimwear, I did have some other fun prints and styles in my collection. I saw a long-sleeved swim tee in last year's lineup that I was in love with. The only decision was Deep Sea Leaf, Buttercup Leaf or Tango Orange Leaf. Sadly, by the time I tried to order,every single one of them was sold out in medium or large.

Thank you for making it possible for a mismatched top and bottom girl like myself to buy bathing suits without indigestion and tears! Thinking blissful summery thoughts on this blustery winter day.

Andrea Casarsa

The result? Zero. Nothing, but an empty mailbox. 
I am fairly certain that the dear folks at Lands End were so busy updating and picking patterns, that they forgot to write back to me, because I am VERY happy to report that the high neck tankini has returned!  Luckily I spotted them, and I am so excited with my new purchase, and how well it pairs with the Lands End bottoms I already have. Oh, I also bought two of the long-sleeved swim shirts that eluded me last year. My daughter caught wind of the fun patterns...and then needed various other Lands End swimsuit pieces to complete her ocean wardrobe...and then my son needed two new Lands End bathing suits as well, since we retired the two that he'd had for four years (for size reasons only)...and how about a new swim shirt for my dad? Here we all are in some of our 2014 finery...
My point total stays at 21 for this week, but our new beachwear gets many points!

Don't forget to stop by Marianne's place to see the object of her desire this week.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A quick bit of random

Well, well, well! This photo was taken one week before the findings were released that smelling farts is good for your health.
Thanks for all of the hydrogen sulfide, my son! It really has been because you love me. (sniff...wait, do I dare?)

Just so you don't think it's always this over here...

Sometimes it's this...
 ...we know better than to have hardcore sweets for breakfast...when we can have pancakes! Always good to have a few blueberries in the freezer. (Oh and you can also envy this piece from our fine collection of dishware that the teens won't surrender.)

The kids and I are at the Cape! It is fantastic as usual, despite my hydrangea envy...and the humidity that is making me wonder if my hair will ever come back down!


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Superhero Sunday - Versatile

You just never know when a homemade cookie emergency can arise. In a flash, one's cape can serve dual purpose...
...as an apron! Chocolate chips - STAT!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fridames* - Week 6

*This rejected contest name was brought to us by my husband. Just wanted to give him credit...for this name we didn't use. I am thoughtful like that. Although I think last week's was his as well.

When we started writing these letters, (not sure what I am talking about? click here) the first ten or so to hit the list were companies I was clearly very passionate about. As a result, these were sort of the love letters of the group. I haven't wrestled with my feelings on paper like this since the late eighties. Here is one from that collection...

Dear Crayola,

I considered writing to you today in Burnt Siena, but then wondered if I wasn’t really in more of a Cerulean mood. As I paused to consider this, I realized  the red-orange and orange-red flood gates that I was about to open. Just flipping the lid on that box of 64 crayons runs the risk of me getting caught up in some violet daydream that might take me a solid hour to ROYGBIV myself out of. I am not exactly sure what that means, but that box certainly does open a rainbow of possibilities for me to get distracted.

Brand new boxes of Crayolas were such a treat when I was a kid, like last week. The box of 48 was actually my favorite. I liked the compact shape of the box, and while 64 certainly held more colors, it also had that crayon sharpener (shudder). In order to use that sharpener, a crayon had to be...well it had to be peeled (shudder). It was best for my sanity to not even be taunted by that destructive device. Instead, I tried to stay away from blue skied landscapes, oceans or night time scenes. Yes, it was the brand new box of crayons that made me smile, or at least the illusion of one; something hard to achieve if tree trunk worn browns and grass remnant greens had slumped below the cardboard line of view. I am sure it comes as no surprise that I am barely able to discuss broken crayons, and can still hear the "snap" that such misfortune makes. Since we are slipping into a Midnight Blue territory, I will admit to leaving a box of crayons on the back window ledge in my mother's car when I was around six years old. I never made that mistake again...so melty and sad. One of my favorite grade school art projects involved ironing two pieces of wax paper with fall leaves and crayon shavings between them. So fancy. If my six year old hands had anything to do with grating those brilliant colored shavings, I have blocked that memory out completely.

When I became a mother of two small children, I knew I was going to have to let some of my non-toxic, waxy expectations slide a bit. I celebrated the artwork and respected the crayons that so willingly gave their lives. Maybe I kept a fresh box of 24 in my own desk drawer, just in case I needed to feel like there was still some order in my universe. One year we did make use of our scrap box of crayons to make the broken up melty crayon chunk hearts for Valentine's Day.

I found myself on the verge of insulted when restaurants used to hand us that little cup of substandard color sticks and a coloring sheet. How on earth were we supposed to entertain ourselves with such a shoddy selection of supplies? A frog picture and a blue, red or yellow crayon, or even worse, the crayons that left no trace of color in their trail. I tried to remember to pack our own bag.

My daughter and I happened upon a Crayola craft demonstration a couple of years ago. They hot glued Crayola crayons (has to be Crayola, as the waxier less pigment containing brands will not do) to canvas and melted them with a craft dryer. So. Awesome. We started out small, trying to use up crayons that had seen better days. As bigger and better designs have been imagined, we now start with brand new boxes of crayons.  Who am I to stand in the way of creativity?

I have come a long way from being mesmerized by the mere sight of a brand new gold and green box being opened, and it has been awhile since I lost myself in trying to rearrange the crayons by shade by color. It has been a thrill to watch my children's fascination with your crayons. I am never disappointed when any of the small people in our lives wander over to the table with paper and Crayolas.

Vibrantly yours,
Andrea Casarsa

The response? Did I frighten them with my love? Was it unrequited? This was one of the first responses I received, and I nearly knocked my daughter over, grabbing the large padded envelope from her mail delivering hands. I had already seen Marianne's bubble gift package at that point and could not contain my excitement over what I was about to find. IT WAS A BIG PADDED ENVELOPE! 
Stop looking for the crayons, they aren't there. One of those fun themed 8-packs? Nope, but there are coloring sheets...just nothing to color them with. However, I did get a $2.00 coupon! I was also pleased that my letter was actually read...
TICKLED PINK! This was my kind of person. She also gave me "Best wishes for a colorful future. I may have overestimated our budding relationship though when I sent a return letter. (This is also reminiscent of my late eighties self.)

Dear Susan,

Thank you for responding to my letter. We were so excited to see the large padded envelope in our mailbox from Crayola. We ripped it open and found the coloring pages. Now if we’d only had something to color them with…

Midnight blue,
Andrea Casarsa
Reference Number: 001411755A
Mother and Blogger

I heard nothing back. I danced too close to the flame and melted our waxy budding friendship. I still blame that large padded envelope, as the excitement made me delirious! I was thankful for the correspondence we had though, and for the coupon we put towards a brand new box of crayons. 

I think this one was worth 2 points, unless Marianne counts my coloring pages, fun facts, and info sheets as products (which she totally won't). Add that to my previous 16 points and I am at 18**.

Let's see who Marianne is sharing the love with this week. 

**Update: After consulting with the competition, it was left up to me to decide on the points, so after several split seconds of thought, paper is product, so 5 points for me!!! I am at 21!**

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Random ends and odds

So let's see what the sd card has for us this week...

The fourth of July had the girl child and me mustering up all of the bravery we could to trap this guy...
Look at him limbering up before he makes a leap to attack us! How big was he, you ask? Oh, um, well...
 ...Yeah, I. might've almost killed him trying to drop the quarter in for reference.

There was one of these to sample.

I guess I tasted a hint of toffee, but it really just made me want candy.

My battery was dead by nightfall on the fourth, so here is the fifth...
 And some more of these...
 And some of these (there were s'more of these too)...
 And my daughter hiding from bugs...
That brings us to the sixth. This was the part where I was hoping my son's birthday cookie cake would not recreate a previous ring of fire incident in the bottom of the oven.
Phew, we made it!

I will spare you the numerous selfies that my lovely children took of themselves on my cameras. If my son doesn't watch it, one of them will be his senior picture! Although, I do have some idea of what to expect when we actually take those...

I admit that I love every single one of these, but wish me luck with the actual senior photo shoot adventure...tissues, patience...and lots of candy!