Subourbon Mom


My “Senior Project”

yougotthisAs the end of Daughter #1’s Senior Year approaches, the final sprint towards final exams, AP tests, and Senior Project has begun. Not to mention prom, graduation, college selection, and the never-ending game of Senior Assassin (more on this later). For Seniors this means tearing themselves away from watching vines and shopping for prom dresses and studying for exams, throwing together last-minute power point presentations and agonizing over roommate selection. ugly prom dress For parents this means panicking when you realize you never ordered graduation announcements, approving and paying for the last prom and graduation dresses, and deciding how to celebrate this momentous of times – do we have a keg at the party for the adults or not?

It also means attending the Senior project presentations. At our school, Senior Project is a year-long process involving learning a new skill or challenging yourself in a new way (like learning to make cheese, hatching and raising chickens, trying to understand the lyrics to Rhianna’s songs, etc.), documenting it, doing a research paper, and presenting the whole thing in front of a small group of parents and teachers.

As I sat there watching these impressive young adults show how they started their own yoga classes, created scholarships, ran half-marathons, published their own international blog on Russian politics and even learned how to fly fish, I wondered What the hell have I been doing with my life?

I was impressed and depressed all at the same time. These young people were avidly exploring new ideas, challenging themselves and getting out of their comfort zones in ways that many adults never will.

Thank goodness these kids will be in charge of me when I finally become an adult.

I was depressed because I took an inventory of my recent years and realized I haven’t done much in the way of challenging myself other than to start a new job. Somehow I don’t think trying new food at the local Iranian restaurant counts.

And then I realized that my Senior Project isn’t done yet. I’m still researching how to raise successful women on a daily basis. I’m nearly always out of my comfort zone. My PowerPoint presentation is currently still housed in my laptop under “Pictures” and in the copies of report cards and assignments I’ve kept over the years. And, I present my project in front of my parents every time they visit or call.

I don’t know what my final grade will be, but I’m no longer depressed. I’m more and more impressed with my project every day.

Now if I could just figure out how to cite all those parenting how-to websites I’ve visited over the years.

 



Lily the Rescue Dog or, My Weird Dog Toy Fetish

We have a house full of cats, (by that I mean we have three, which makes any house smell like there’s a cat hoarding situation going on – call Animal Planet), cat hoarding and I’m not a fan. Hubby and the Daughters each have a cat that loves them – I am merely the House Staff that is tolerated. I have been relegated to taking care of Larry The Fish – who, let’s face it,  isn’t exactly stimulating company.

I wanted a dog.

So our latest acquisition, quickly falling under the “What were we thinking?” category, is our new “free” dog, Lily. Lily is a rescue, and she’s everything I said I didn’t want when we first decided to get a dog: she’s a puppy, not housebroken, and high-energy. I’ve since been informed that what I really wanted was a housebroken sloth.

We’re pretty sure Lily’s never been in a house before, walked on a leash, or hung out with people…ever. She’s terrified of just about everything except other dogs. In the 3 weeks we’ve had her she’s run away 3 times, decided that pooping inside is preferable to standing in the cold by the woodpile, and will only walk through the front door.

But we love her.

Ok, I love her. The rest of the jury is still out.

store displayWhich is why I found myself standing in the dog toy aisle in Wal-Mart, looking for something Lily might like to play with to get her mind off the Scary Box That Talks (the t.v.), the Scary Smaller Box That Talks (the radio), the Mean Cats, Scary Couch, Scary Pillows, Scary Kitchen, Scary Bathroom, etc. I’m a pretty firm believer that the same parental coping strategies can apply to dogs as to children – give them something to keep them busy so you can do the things you need to do.

So for the same reason I gave my kids questionable Mac-n-Cheese and off-brand Cheerios when they were little (they don’t know the difference and I’m cleaning up their poop anyway), I decided to go the cheap route and visit my local big-box store to get Lily some toys.

I stood in awe, looking at the range of wild animals and Muppet-like things that squeak, crackle, crinkle and smell like peanut butter. Some even looked disturbingly like sex toys. (My co-worker’s dag actually has this one, but she assures me it doesn’t come with batteries.)  Dog toy 1None of them were under $3.00, and none of them are any kind of off-brand, that I could tell. Um…just to be clear, this is something I’m buying for my dog to shake and chew on, right? What happened to just having your dog pull on an old sock?

So there I was, squeezing every toy like a toddler in one of those saucer things parents use to keep their child occupied while Mommy drinks her wine. I was obsessed. I couldn’t stop making those toys squeak and crackle over and over again, sending loud, annoying, fake mouse shrieks up and down the Pet section, and into Lighting and Paint. It was like scratching an itch – it was wrong, but it felt ooooh, soooo right.

In the end, I opted for a raccoon, a blue elephant and something that looks like a rat crossed with a parrot. Two days later, raccoon stuffing littered the dining room, and the elephant’s ear has gone missing – I’m pretty sure Lily ate it. I’m looking forward to seeing that on the dining room floor tomorrow morning.

But somehow Lily managed to worm her way quickly into my heart, and the Fam’s too.  She always manages to redeem herself by putting herself in her crate when she’s been “bad”, or lying next to us (only slightly under duress) on the couch while we watch the Scary Box That Talks.  But the next toy I buy will be a toy in the shape of a cat, with life-like meows…or I could go high-end, and just let her chase our actual cats.

Who’s the Staff now, little kitties?

(maniacal laughter fading….)



Treadmill Tourette’s & Other Winter Exercise Hazards

After walking around all winter grumbling about how I hate the way my stomach has started moving independently of the rest of my body, I finally realized I was actually going to have to do something about it.

I was going to have to start…dare I say it?

Exercising.

And even worse… Eating Better.

So I did what I always do when I realize Virginia winters don’t require the amount of extra insulation I’ve been building up.  I tried a few things, and quickly realized my intentions do not match the reality of the situation.

Intention: I am trying to eat 5 fruits and veggies a day and limiting bread to get more good carbs and limit the bad.
Reality: My body went into a fiber-induced shock. Apparently, granola is not everybody’s friend, at least not at first.

Intention: I am limiting alcohol – and by that I mean I am only having drinks Thursday through Saturday. (Some folks asked me “why include Thursday?” Well duh…because Thursday is “Little Friday!”)

Little Friday

Reality: Middle Age takes care of some of that desire; I now have a whole list of drinks that make me have hot flashes, so I’m definitely weighing my choices more carefully – is it really worth having to change out of my sweat-soaked my PJs at 3:00am to have that glass of wine? Nope.

Intention: I bought a few Clean Eating and exercise magazines to give me inspiration and ideas.

Shape CoverReality: They make me feel like I am being healthy without actually being healthy…until I look at the 20-year-olds in the pictures who clearly have never had children and don’t sit in an office cube all day like a veal. I also refuse to spend a lot of money on special spices and high-end oils that those Clean Eating magazines seem to demand. And, I have never once tried any of the exercises in the fitness mags – mostly because I couldn’t follow the diagrams any more than I can put together anything that says “some assembly required.”

Intention: I am regularly exercising at the office gym, mostly doing ab work and cardio to get the weight off as fast as I can.
Reality: Running on the treadmill comes with two hazards I wasn’t expecting:

1. Watching my reflection in the windows as I run makes me unbalanced – I had to grab the rails before I shot off the back of the machine like a sweaty, horizontal human waterfall;

Unknown
2. I thought my new cheap headphones were mildly electrocuting me every few seconds, until I realized that in the winter treadmills acquire a lot of static electricity.  So, every 3rd or 4th step I had to slap the metal rail with my hand to prevent the static zap from reaching my headphones and inner ear.  I don’t know what the people walking by the gym window thought, but I’m pretty sure I looked like I had a case of Running Tourette’s.


Intention:
 I am going to look awesome in a bikini this summer.

Bikini
Reality: I will once again spend too much money on a conservative tankini that my mother will approve of.

 

Vintage bathing suit

 

But in the meantime, I’m going to be burning those extra calories flailing at the metal treadmill rails – maybe those expended calories will turn into that bikini body I remember. Or maybe they’ll just let me eat that extra helping of summertime happy hour appetizers.

 



Moving Super Powers

A year ago I never would have thought I would find myself standing in the bathroom at 2:00 in the morning, cooling my feet off on the cold tile. Gone are the days of  worshipping those cold tiles after a night of drinking.  This sin’t the only thing that’s changed. The first couple of times I woke up in a light sweat, I thought, “Right – this must be what menopause is like.”

Yeah….about that.

These days, I am enjoying the lovely combination of night sweats, which now include a literal puddle of sweat nestled between my collar bones, feet that feel like they’re on fire (hence the time I now spend standing on cold bathroom tiles.) and a racing heart that I am currently attributing to stress of moving to a new house and a marketing campaign at work, but which I have been informed can be a symptom of menopause as well.

article-2637654-1E24A1AA00000578-184_634x421But at least I’m not on FaceBook at 2:00am. That’s the kiss of death for me as far as menopause is concerned. When that hapens I may as well throw in the towel and start shopping at J.Jill and Hallmark for everything (if you don’t know what J.Jill is, you’re not there yet).
So I was standing in the bathroom topless (because my shirt was too wet to keep on), cooling off my feet and eating a granola bar, when it dawned on me:  when you are trying to sell a house while still living in it, you gain some serious Moving Super Powers:

  • Your heightened vision can spot the tiniest crumb on the new carpet in the house you are trying to sell;
  • Super Ears hear the cats at any time day or night as they scratch and paw in the kitty litter box, sending showers of gray litter all over the floor that you will have to vacuum up later on;
  • Your Super Nose can detect the last thing anyone cooked – especially when there’s the possibility of a showing the next day – even something as bland as a peanut butter sandwich has a lingering smell;
  • You can vacuum, dust, and load and empty the dishwasher faster than flow of money hemorrhaging out of your bank account;
  • And, you can simultaneously sleep (snore), review your massive list of things to do and have an anxiety attack at the same time.

Superman and Wonder Woman were definitely over-rated. I bet Superman and Wonder Woman never found themselves in the bathroom in the wee hours of the morning, unsuccessfully trying to silently open a granola bar wrapper while putting on a dry pajama top right-side-out. And I’m pretty sure they never had to coordinate the movers, stager, helpful friends and family, utility disconnection, and getting the garage door fixed.

I’ve got Moving Super Powers, baby – I’m invincible…except when my feet get hot.



Stagers and Build-A-Bear – A Moving Story About…Moving

There comes a time when every suburbanite needs a change, so they turn their lives upside down, become instant HGTV experts and get the overwhelming urge to purge.

Since there’s no good time to have kids and there’s no good time to move, we decided to add the challenge of doing it in the fall of Daughter #1’s senior year. I mean, really, there isn’t much going on except SAT Tests, college visits every weekend, college applications and Senioritis.

Once the decision was made, we realized we had to get our stuff out of the house (all 15 years and two children of it), and try to make it look like no one ever lived there except June Cleaver and a decorator from Crate & Barrel.

It quickly became clear that we needed a Stager. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, a Stager is someone you pay to come to your house and tell you what you need to get rid of or change so your house will sell. What no one tells you is that having a Stager come into your house is a lesson in humiliation.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – our Stager is a seriously nice lady with good decorating sense who was trying really hard not to be too critical when she was talking about my decorating.

Apparently, there are decorating rules.

I decorate by seeing a picture in Southern Living or Coastal Living, buying one piece of furniture to start the look, then covering that piece of furniture with stuff until you can’t see it anymore. Then I start the process all over again. After walking around the house with my Stager, she said in an exasperated but kind voice, “Are these also the same curtains that were here when you moved in?” When I nodded, chewed her lip and asked hesitantly, “So, do you like shopping?”

I looked around and said, “Um, does it look like I like shopping?”

She just nodded to herself, like a therapist would after hearing some whackadoo story that confirmed their theory that the client is definitely…skewed.

After realizing my serious decorating deficiency, I decided I would channel all of my pent up anxiety at having my world (voluntarily) turned upside down onto the Stager.

And Build-A-Bear.

I now despise Build-A-Bear. Not only did they raise the stuffed animal bar so high you spend half a paycheck picking out fake roller skates and a tutu for a leopard, but they did something even worse – they created memories for the children.

Oh, it was great when my sweet baby girls’ faces lit up on a Build-A-Bear day. I loved watching them pick out the outfits and “adopt” their animal at the kid-friendly computers. Fast forward 10 years when we are trying to fit everything into a pod and there are two more trash bags filled with stuffed Build-A-Bear creatures that just won’t go in. Can I give them away? Of course not – each bear is a memory. They say you can’t put a price tag on memories – well I call bulls#*&t. The price tag is $25-$35 dollars, if you’re lucky and get the basic model without the fancy clothes.

images-2So in went the Build-A-Bear bags (yes, I kept them, damn you, Build-A-Bear) and all of the syrupy memories, and out went two trailer loads of junk to the dump. In went boxes of schoolwork from kindergarten on, and out went my jean skirt from 1989. The closer we got to the show date, in went a lot of bourbon, and out went sentimentality.

Now that the Stager is no longer in our lives and the Build-A-Bears are packed away, I’ll have to find something new to channel all of this self-inflicted anxiety onto.

I’m thinking it will be the person who decided the NFL should play football on Thursdays. I’ve already missed my picks for Week 1 – maybe I’ll go get a football bear.




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