Thursday, July 31, 2014

Class(y) pictures

And so it began, almost fourteen years ago, this business of class pictures. Right there on the left? That was preschool, age three, just after his very first shaving accident as evidenced by the mark near his lip. Then second grade on the far right, soon after he became acquainted with the barber shop and the Princeton with a flip haircut.
Then I must have blinked, as third grade through seventh grade took us past elementary school and middle school as well.
Are you growing your hair again? When is picture day again? Eleventh grade? I blinked again.
These photos all sit in the desk in our kitchen, most of the packages nearly intact. We tend to not give out the class photos every year. Part of the reason is that we barrage family with photos at plenty of other times during the year. Mostly though, I just don't think these tilt your head and say "cheese" photos capture much personality. Make no mistake, I love having them and am amused every time I look at them. I enjoy seeing the evolution of the cheesy grin and how some of those shirts were only worn once, but their existence in the closet has been documented. (I'm looking at you second, fourth and seventh grade. Oh, eleventh grade, you came out of the husband's clean laundry.)

Every year, before flipping that big white picture envelope over, I ask my kids the same thing, "Do you like how they turned out?" That is all I really need to know, so that I can adjust my own reaction accordingly. Do they find the picture an acceptable representation of themselves for yearbook distribution? That sort of makes it sound like a lot of pressure, but they just need to come up with a simple yes or no. To retake or not to retake, that is the question. Who am I to make the decision as to whether or not the folded arm pose is cool or if someone really intended to have that hairstyle immortalized in a one inch black and white?

This year is different though...senior pictures, portraits even! Cue some dramatic music, and grab me a tissue.
I had no idea what my son's senior pictures would or should look like, but it seemed like they were supposed to be different from our usual package E. I wanted them to capture him somehow. I figured I would try some shots on our own before deciding whether to call in professionals. The first round was terrible. He was in a very bad mood, and even if one had turned out well, I could not have happily looked at a framed version every day knowing how grouchy we had both gotten with each other.

I started to consider relevant props and settings, then merged the two ideas as we got ready for our trip to Cape Cod. The idea of being himself seemed to intrigue the boy. I had to plead a bit one evening and threw in the honor of getting to drive the seventeen year old beach mobile to the beach parking lot. Here is a glimpse at what happened...


I hadn't gotten a shot that I could call a senior picture, per se, but that jump in the air was what I had set out for. We walked, laughed and clicked a few more times, and then headed out...
...and then this happened...
...I checked the camera display just to see what I had, and something caught in my throat. How had this boy aged just in the few minutes it took us to head off the beach? This? This is what his senior picture is supposed to look like. I quickly drew in a deep breath, told him it was perfect, and asked him to just stay put for a few more seconds...
...just a few more seconds.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Speaking of random

I suppose it's worth finding out if getting some of these thoughts out of my head with free up some space for more valuable information. There is a chance that such prime real estate will quickly be taken over by seventies and eighties song lyrics, but maybe some pearls of wisdom will find tiny spaces to call home.

Speaking of things I may not need, I think it's about time to get rid of the freezer that is in our basement. I realized that my supposed deep storage approach to food is not doing me any favors when I actually need a container of Cool Whip.

I cannot say that I fully embrace gazing balls as lawn decor. However, I guess they make more sense to me than this bowling ball art I passed.

Speaking of art...Calling all DIYers, get your shell collection, playdough and neon paint...
...and be fabulous!
I am sorry that these photos just do not seem to be capturing the true ugliness.

Speaking of a bit of ugly, I just have a hard time warming up to our local minor league baseball mascot, Scooch...
Pops, the baseball headed train conductor guy makes sooo much more sense.

Have you ever found yourself filling your gas tank, and thinking "My gosh, I wish there was something I could do to make these three minutes pass by more quickly?"
Yup, GSTV...Gas Station TV.

Speaking of gas stations, we can talk of automobiles, which means we can bid a fond farewell to the flair that was on our van that we just traded in.
May the Force still be with us in our shiny new Volkswagens!

It's blueberry season! We went picking today and the likelihood that I will be able to refrain from eating too many berries is still up for debate. The kids kept tabs on me while we were picking, asking frequently how many I had eaten, but now those filled containers are just sitting on the counter with no branches or stems to slow me down!

This poor little guy probably deserved his own post...
Not quite ready to fly, and still mastering the art of walking. Have you ever seen a bird just sitting around with his legs out? We did see him get reunited with his parents, after we escorted him across the street with his step, flap, stumble shuffle.

That seems like a sufficient amount of random to hold us over. Stacy has some over at her place too!
Stacy

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Superhero Sunday: Sunny Shiny Selfie

Today was my first time meeting a fellow blogger previously only known on the internet...Kirby from Kirb Appeal! Yay! Obviously word got out about our rendez-vous point as a line started to form at the cafe soon after we arrived. Luckily they respected our privacy though.

We could've chatted well into tomorrow, but Kirby noticed that the place was closing around us. Luckily we remembered to take a few minutes in the blazing sun for a caped pic before melting. 
(Seriously, the reflection off that one could've been dangerous. And no, my perfectly matching cape was not necessarily intentional.)

Friday, July 25, 2014

This is Great - It's Week 8

Envelopes at the ready, let's see what this week has in store. How about some love, in the form of a letter, for Joe...as in Trader Joe.

 
Dearest Joe,

I am so happy when I am with you. I can feel my spirits soar when I grab my fanciful reusable bags from the back of the van and practically skip to your door. You always greet me with flowers, and I find that charming. My favorite visits are when I can just relax and take in all that you have to offer. It makes me feel anxious when I have to share you with too many people, as I feel rushed and fear I may miss something fabulous. Sometimes I make a list of all the things I want from you, and other times I am simply curious and open to whatever you have in mind.

I am allured by your persona as an international man of mystery. I never know who I'll be dining with! Trader Ming can be such a spicy little number with his Kung Pao and Pad Thai (both ready to go in under three minutes). While Trader Giotto brings his old world comfort with bruschetta and pesto. Trader Jose won everyone over with beef taquitos.

Sure it has all been wonderful. Your sweet side has even kept my husband tolerant of our relationship. The thing is...well the thing is that this long distance relationship is wearing me down. It has been months, MONTHS! For years I had to plan a visit with you when we drove the four hours downstate to visit our family. You were only five minutes from their house, so there were times I was able to indulge myself with multiple meetings. I have also been lucky enough to visit you on our annual summer trips to Cape Cod. Things were really looking up last year when you started hanging around in Rochester. Oh Joe, it was so magnificent being able to drive only an hour to spend my birthday with you in October. Still, I was selfish and wanted you closer. Instead, you set your sights on Buffalo. Granted, my in-laws are there, so I can try to fit you in on those travels, but now I have to deal with my longing as well as insane jealousy.

There is a drawer in our dining room where I have been known to hide away secret treasures. Not long ago I opened it to find one last love note in the form of a dark chocolate caramel with black sea salt bar. Oh the memories! I remember my first time as I tried to neatly break the bar on the lines that had been drawn, but as the caramel dripped I was forced to just continue eating. I shared bars with friends and family as gifts, as that is how special they became to me. There have been stressful times and celebratory times that have warranted a gentle tearing of the foil. 

I just felt so empty when I opened my freezer and pantry closet the other day. There was just no sign of you. It had been too long. As I thought of your bright colored Hawaiian shirts, I suddenly remembered that exotic Hawaiian black sea salt. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I carefully opened the box and pulled back the foil. With great precision, I broke off a square, knowing I could not hastily devour the entire bar. As I closed my eyes and prepared to savor the moment, something was different. Something was missing. I tried to tell myself that my memories had just been altered by time, but I knew better. The next day, I tried again with the same results. When I took the time to peel back the rest of the foil on the bar, (nobody else was home, so there was no threat of having to share) I realized there were only two grains of salt. I don't know how this happened, nor when I will be able to procure another. Please Joe, please help me hang on to the incredible things we/you have.

Longing to hear that bell ring,

Andrea Casarsa

The response? Well, I did not hear from Joe himself. Apparently he does have other women, and a very nice one wrote back to me. Here is an excerpt...


About a week after I received this lettter back in  January, I saw the plans for a Trader Joe's to open about fifteen miles from our house. Coincidence? I like to think not. The store is now set to open October third, so that is like twenty-five points for me, right? I sense some hesitation, so I will take my one point for now, and save the other twenty-four for when the grand opening signs carry my name at the bottom.


Current score...22 points
Check in with Marianne to see what's up over there!

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.