Monthly Archives: March 2014

Bulls on Parade!

I don’t know if you are a soccer fan, but you probably don’t have to be to know that traditionally the players are escorted out onto the pitch by children. I think it’s a way of reminding them that they are role models. Or it might be a way to keep the hooligans in line before the start of the match. Either way, I can only imagine how cool it must be to do something like that: meet a famous player or two, go out onto a field in front of thousands of people.

Well, now I can do more than imagine. I was able to live it vicariously through my children. Toughie’s travel soccer team was invited to participate in what’s known as the Red Bull Experience. They were given replica uniforms and entered the pitch to stand with the teams during the National Anthem. Through an interesting turn of events, the Regulator was able to participate as well. (His travel team had a similar opportunity a couple years ago, before he joined them. So this was great.)

In case you don’t have an almanac handy, I’ll just tell you: it was honking cold today– 45°and rainy. The Red Bull Arena, while an architectural marvel, causes a fishbowl effect with the wind. But I am happy to report that even though the rain was quite heavy at times, we barely felt any of it. There was a hint of thunder and lightning, but it never affected the game. My sister was able to join us for the fun, and while she was undoubtedly cold, she was content to hang with us. In hindsight, we really shouldn’t have brought Buttercup, but I have to say she was a real trooper– with the help of some popcorn, of course.

There was a huge fan section behind the goal, in the level below us. There was a drumline and several guys leading cheer after cheer. I always wondered how soccer fans coordinated cheers and chants during the game. So- now I know. 

The game itself was… ok. First half was awful: the opponent (Chivas USA) scored on a penalty kick in the goal box. The Red Bulls couldn’t get anything off the rest of the half, nor did they look as if they were trying. The second half proved much more exciting. They literally scored at the last minute; off a corner kick by Theirry Henry during the additional penalty time. So it ended in a draw, which proved a point Regulator’s coach made: MLS teams aim for the draw instead of the win.

I was worried that the boys would be cold, or hungry,  or bored. But they were none of those things. They discussed penalty kicks and passing tricks. They cheered the home team and critiqued the opponent.  They all agreed that we should come back for another game… but hopefully it’ll be warmer.

Here’s to family fun and professional sports: may they both be within reach.

(Oh, and the post title is from the Rage Against the Machine song that played when the Red Bulls scored. See what they did there? Well, I liked it.)

You better shop around

This is probably the moment when I really wish my blog was insanely popular. Not because I want to be famous (although who doesn’t??), but rather because I would probably get the right attention to actually solve my dilemma.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big dilemma, but it does affect me in my everyday, away from the blogosphere life. Even though I am a stay at home mom, I don’t always stay at home. I have to see other people sometimes, and I’d like to not scare them when we meet.

Also, as any mom can tell you, having a baby causes a shift in perspective. I did let myself go a little bit– I’ve already blogged enough about my appearance to prove that– but I realized that as Buttercup gets older I have to be her role model for healthy living. It’s not vanity to want to be clean or well put together on a regular basis. So I’ve made a few changes here and there to be a good model for my daughter.

Before I got married, I was a makeup everyday/cleansing every night type. I could roll up to the Clinique counter just as often as the bar on a Saturday night.  I even got the Hubs into it, because he really had dry skin issues- he’s hardly one to be vain, either. And now that he works with people up close and personal, needs to put his best face forward, as it were.

But as marriage, kids, and work pervaded my life, my cosmetic endeavors waned. I was up too early or too late to take care of my face. I blamed my severe acne on pregnancy hormones. I skipped most makeup when I was running out the door for work (unless I was pregnant again and needed to hide the dark splotches on my chin that came along with it).

But as I said, there’s a pretty little face watching me. So I’ve become more regimented in the skin care routine. Wash, apply toner, and use a BB cream in the morning and a skin renewer at night. Heavy lotion after showering in the winter to hold in moisture and a lighter one in the summer to prevent skin damage.

Clinique was always my “go-to” when it came to cosmetics, and quite honestly I’d like to say they still are. But I just cannot justify the cost anymore! So I’ve been trying to find decent alternatives at the local drugstore and largish department store (think ‘bullseye’…). Now comes the dilemma (thanks for holding on this long to read it): now that I’m running out of face care supplies, I’m not sure if I should purchase the same ones over again or look for something new. Should I go back to the Clinique counter, or save some money by going elsewhere? Do I need to purchase acne-fighting products, or will I be okay with regular products used consistently? I used to think that the products were all ineffective, but truth be told the great issue was my inconsistency.

If only I had the blogging clout to get my hands on a bunch of samples. I joined one of those websites that promises to send you a bunch of free stuff, but they never work out as well as I expect. I’d happily review the products for the companies. If anyone knows how to make that happen, get in touch with me, ok?

STYLE!!

Remember when High School was partially about developing your identity and style in a safe environment? I don’t think it’s like that anymore. Now you have to come in with a fully formed identity, complete with matching friends, hobbies, and school transcripts. The infamous Chef from South Park used to say, “There’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s called college.” Now it seems more like it’s supposed to be 8th grade, when you still have an largely underdeveloped frontal lobe and it’s still possible to have any criminal records expunged.WiseChef

I would never tell you that I loved my high school years. As a matter of fact, I wanted them to be horrible so that nostalgia would be nearly impossible. Sure, I was involved: band, choir, trips, honors classes, prom… all that stuff. But to me they were just a stepping stone to college, where I could really learn how to do what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Now that I’m not doing that thing specifically, I wonder what I could have done differently. Should I have studied Archaeology, like I wanted to in 8th grade, or medicine like I wanted as a child? Should I have gone into Marketing? If there was some way to go back and do it differently, all while keeping the parts of my history that I do love (read: the Hubs and the kidlets, as well as my spiritual journey), I’d do it in a heartbeat.

I will tell you what I liked about my (public) high school experience: I was free to be me, and so were those around me. There was a girl at my school who had the most outlandish clothes and hair– she was punk, through and through. Sure, other people might have stared for a moment, but we all went about our own lives and (as far as I know) she was never taunted or hurt. She even went to the Prom with another girl: they weren’t romantically involved, but it was the principle of the thing. No one minded– it was kind of the ‘thing’ in the late ’90s.

As for me, I would wear a different style every day of the week: grunge, preppy, bohemian… whatever struck me that day. I’ll be honest, though: as a heavy-set, well-endowed girl, there were some items I should not have been wearing. But that’s what high school is for*– learning the social boundaries safely.

(*= I know that’s not all it’s for! It’s for learning what you need for the real world, and I wholeheartedly believe people should be able to be successful in the real world with a HS diploma. The fact that this is no longer the case is for another time.)

College was important because I was not only learning how to perform tasks in a professional career, I was learning to dress for the occasion, as well as many other occasions. Joining a sorority helped a lot: it was not about forcing me into wearing a certain style, but rather about being a reflection of something greater than myself. I really learned how to do make-up in college, a habit I’m reviving for the sake of my daughter. I’m wearing my sorority letters on a T-shirt as I type this now, and I feel well put-together, albeit not particularly fancy. Being involved in Campus Ministry, I also reflected a lot on modesty (definitely not as much as I should have, but hey, it’s a process). I know people get very hung up on what the purpose of modesty of dress is, and I could probably go on for another essay about it, but what it means to me is that I have a goal of feeling confident about myself and if that takes more (or less) fabric than it does for others, that’s how it is.

While I was teaching, I felt a need to be sort of frumpy for the sake of professionalism. As Stacy and Clinton from “What Not to Wear” would tell you, this is ultimately not necessary. I was young and dumb, what can I say? But then came the whirlwind that is life: In the past 10 years, I got married and had 4 kids and 4 teaching jobs. Now that I’ve landed, I look at my closet and I see that I did neglect myself that entire time, despite the mani/pedis, the spa treatments, the haircuts, the diets, and all the living: I neglected my style.

Sadly, “What Not to Wear” no longer exists, although I follow Clinton Kelly  and Stacy London on Twitter (and Clinton follows me back! It’s so very exciting!) and know that they offer fashion advice in other outlets. And I did audition for a maternity special when I was pregnant with Toughie. I choose to take it as a good sign that I was not chosen because that ought to mean I didn’t need it that badly.

So now, as I sit in the quiet of my living room, I ponder my apparent lack of personal style, as well as my parenting style. I find the two closely related: you can tell the professional working mom from the sporty mom from the “just don’t give a crap” mom. (I saw a lot of moms at a school dance the other day– these and many others were on display!)

I’m still trying to figure it out, and I do hope I’m not alone in the “trial-and-error” phase. So I’m looking for a little help:

1) This Facebook page. If anyone were ever inclined to buy me something, they might want to consult this page. The shoes, the purses, the jackets. Nearly everything posted there makes me happy in a shallow, fun way. And I am totally ok with that.

2) Another Facebook page for Young Moms (sorry, folks– private group! No linkage!). I know a couple of the other members personally and feel we agree on a lot. That’s comforting.  (I used to live on Cafemom.com, but it’s like an online version of “Mean Girls.” No, thank you.)

3)Buzzfeed. Because why not.  EffortlesslyCool

(Gee, thanks Buzzfeed! I knew I liked you!)

Here’s to developing a real sense of style.

(Not really) Obligatory Post

It’s Ash Wednesday. Taking the kidlets to church in the evening. Because I know you were wondering.

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(Heh. Heh. Heh. We’ll see, I guess!)

As I said in a previous post, I’m not really into telling people what to do for Lent or really reporting what I do for Lent. It’s just not how I roll. If you really want suggestions, go to The Catholic Gentleman— he breaks it down old school.

I’ll never forget trying to explain Lent to a friend who wasn’t religious (Christian, though– I’ll withhold the denomination, because I have no idea if she’s representative of the denomination). I mentioned that we fast and abstain, and a perplexed look washed over her face. She asked, “but what if you’re married??”

o.O

(See, in our public school district, we had what I now refer to as an “abstinence first” sex ed curriculum. We were told about artificial birth control methods, but refraining from sex was always discussed as the first and safest option. That’s why I get so irked when people slam sex ed in public schools: it’s not a “how-to” class everywhere you go. Yeesh!)

Anyways, what really draws me in– and I guess that’s the English teacher still in me– is the word ‘abstain.’ Clearly its meaning is dependent on your frame to reference: my friend and I… (you know what? It’s a holy day– I’ll skip the ‘meat’ joke and let you form it yourself). As I was saying, the basic definition is:

ab·stain  [ab-steyn]

verb (used without object)
1. to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from): to abstain from eating meat.
2. to refrain from casting one’s vote: a referendum in which two delegates abstained.
Origin: 
1350- 1400;  Middle English abste ( i ) nen  < Middle French abstenir  ≪ Latin abstinēre,  equivalent to abs-abs- + -tinēre,  combining form of tenēre  to hold, keep

Related forms
non·ab·stain·ing, adjective
o·ver·ab·stain, verb (used without object)

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(New York abstains… courteously. Like definition #2. See how that works? Again, a .gif would be awesome.)
It means little to me to abstain from eating meat these days- I end up going with meatless meals up to 3 times a week. So I’m looking for other things to abstain from:
1. Noise: a recent turn of slang has been to shove off unpleasantness with “f*** that noise.” I, for one, LOVE it, and am not afraid to use the phrase unasterisked. But we really do fill our lives with noise, and it becomes apparent when Lent rolls around and we’re forced to examine our attachments. I always say that I turn on the TV for the noise, and usually end up getting sucked in for hours with shows I’ve already seen and items tenuously relevant to my interests, while the Hubs is totally ok with nothing going on in the background. The kidlets are taking after me that way, and this is a good way to do a course correction. I will not, however, be doing the giving up of the TV, because that’s a tad extreme. I will watch the shows the Hubs and I enjoy, but we invested in the DVR and will use it judiciously.
2. Satiety: Any nutritionist will tell you that you shouldn’t starve yourself, and yet some people will suppose they are on a religious ‘high road’ by skipping food often during a fasting period. I mentioned in another post that there should be a balance of fasting and feasting– Jews at Yom Kippur and Muslims during Ramadan have got this quite figured out. Feeling a pang of hunger isn’t the end of the world, but maybe we can lay off the 2nd and 3rd helping, the 4th and 5th ‘extra something’ between meals. Stop stuffing.
3. Distraction: This one is huge. What are we avoiding with the visual and aural noise? What better stuff can take the place of the not-better stuff that we use to fill our days? I’ve been complaining about how I feel as though I never have time to keep the house clean or keep up with my kids: what can I do to change that? (Trust me– the irony is not lost on me here… but I decided I can get this out and be done with it. Besides, in the grand scheme of things, this blog doesn’t take an overwhelming amount of time. It’s the more instantaneous social media that really messes with me.)
Here’s to filling up our days with the most useful actions, and abstaining (courteously) from what is not useful.

I hate to fail

Does anyone like it, really? Faulty thesis statement: C+ at best.

Trouble is, it keeps happening. 

I am determined to keep up my prayer habits; I don’t.

I resolve to keep a clean home: crash and burn.

I set about to be a successful professional: I guess since I’m typing this from my home and not a job, you can answer that one.

I make plans to be more than a mediocre mom: Can’t say as I fail miserably… but I slip up on occasion, and I get so disappointed.

I can’t even finish a medication prescription without missing at least one dose!

Even on the days I don’t look like a total schlumpadinka, I’ve skipped some step that would probably make me look better.

Losing weight? Nope. Keeping up with bills? Nuh-uh. Staying in touch with friends without the aid of a computer screen? Nooooooo…. There are only 29 days to my 30-day blogging challenge, for the love of Mike!  Remember Operation Double Down? Not even happening (Can’t help that one– Buttercup went back to 5-hour naps on her own). 

Maybe I need professional help. Blog therapy is a start.

Here’s to finding a track to get on in the first place.