Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Spy....

Hidden in the littlest ballerina's (aka The Kleptomaniac) playroom can you find?

- a pair of pink Tweezerman tweezers (my eyebrows will be forever grateful)

- one 1/4 carat diamond stud earring (I really don't want to pierce my nose to have a use for the other one)

- an old sippy cup of milk (it's either that or a dead rodent causing the stench in there)

- one purple dog leash (left behind from the last time she held Ruby hostage to play Barbies)

- a tiny pair of sharp silver scissors (the clumps of blond hair she cut from her head with them don't count)

- one $35 DS game (Mommy has a headache listening to the big ballerina whine incessantly about its disappearance)

- one baby molar (the Tooth Fairy needs it back)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This or That? A or B? Jersey or Silk?

I've been considering taking an online class for a while now. It's something I've never done. I guess I'm old school. It seems strange to me to take a class yet not physically sit in a lecture hall with a spiral notebook and my favorite Paper Mate pen. I love being part of a class; sharing a common interest with others. Will an online class leave me lonely and unmotivated? The course description talks about "classmates", but who are these people? How will I know who to sit next to if I can't see anyone? This is starting to sound like that dorky TV show, Dating in the Dark. Yes, I'm ashamed to admit I watched some pathetic TV programs this summer.

There are actually two classes I'm considering. Both are writing classes. I learned about these classes from The Writer Mama Riffs blog. I'm pretty sure I'm going to take one of these classes. I just need to figure out which one.

The first class is called Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff (Especially for Moms!) [WPSS]. I love the title. I love the idea of this class. You work on writing and submitting short articles to get your feet wet so that you can move on to lengthier pieces when you're ready. This class sounds like it was made for me. Of course it's for me. I meet the prerequisite... I'm a mom.

The only problem is what kind of articles can I write? What subjects am I an expert in? I guess these are the things you examine about yourself in the class. This sounds like a great way to figure out "what I'm going to be when I grow up." While this sounds great, it also scares the heck out of me. What if I have nothing to write about? What do I know enough about that a magazine would actually publish? Here we go...I'm starting to talk myself out of this. The only difference is I'm actually sharing the idea first.

The second class is called Personal Essays That Get Published. In this class you're supposed to "get real and personal". Write about your own life. Now, this I feel more comfortable with. It seems like a natural extension of what I'm doing here with this blog. And if I can earn some money from writing what I already know, it sounds like a perfect fit. This class seems safe. Interesting, yet comfortable. Aaaaahhhhh.....

So...which class do I choose? Do I go with what makes me comfortable? A simple jersey dress. Or....do I go with WPSS and push myself to put on one of those unworn silky dresses in my closet? My inner voice is telling me jersey is more practical. Of course it is...

The classes start October 7th. I need to make a decision already! HELP!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Snake in the Grass...and on the Path

Running along the bike path a few days ago, lost deep in thought, I was suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. I let out an audible gasp and the words, "HOOOLLLLYYYYY  SH$T" slowly escaped from my lips. I had just encountered a snake. An almost 2 foot long, black snake with a red belly was stretched out across the pavement right in front of me. I was frozen with fear. Should I step over him? Should I try to go around him? If so, should I step by his tail or his head?  Nope, I just stood there staring at him, braced for sprint if need be, until he finally slithered off the path into the woods.

If you are afraid of snakes as I am, this may seem worthy enough to write about or it may not. But, you see, this is not the first time I've had a run-in with a snake on my daily run/walk. A few months ago, I stepped down with one foot while running in the grassy area, and a snake (I swear it was the same one) coiled back and hightailed it into the woods as I ran by.

I came home this time, told BSD about it, and tried to determine what kind of snake it was. My good friend, Google wasn't a whole lot of help, but I believe it was one of these Northern Red Bellied Snakes, or as I like to call him, The Huge Freakin' Ugly Scary Ass Snake That Won't Leave Me Alone (THFUSASTWLMA)!" At least Google says he's harmless.

Ok...so it's been a few days since my last encounter, and I can't seem to get THFUSASTWLMA out of my head. I've continued my run/walks each day along the same path, and he's had the decency to leave me alone, but I know he's out there waiting. Waiting for me to let my guard down so he can scare the piss out of me the next time he decides to taunt me with his red belly. I'm tense already sitting here at my computer thinking about that moment. I have flashbacks of that TV horror mini series, Harper's Island, I got sucked into watching this summer. I picture THFUSASTWLMA stalking me through the woods just as John Wakefield patiently stalked each of his victims. I KNOW better than to watch horror movies. WHAT was I thinking?!?!?

I started to think about this on a deeper level. What is this snake trying to tell me? Why do I keep running into him...literally? After doing some research into old superstitions and Native American Animal Guides I was blown away to find this information...

Snakes awaken spiritual and magical intuition in the person who chooses this totem or is chosen by it. Snakes are associated with unseen creative forces at work. With the snake totem the powers of intuition and observation becomes keener and more precise. As snakes represent change and intuition the combination of these characteristics will allow for great new developments in life and the proper instinct for deciding which changes will be effective and which should not be made. They represent openness to new experiences, and thus, opened horizons.

Indeed snakes represent versatility, transmutation and change, their natural inclination to “shed their skins” leaving behind the old, and adapting to the new, supports this idea. 

I am not a Pagan, a Wiccan nor am I a Native American, but when the universe is trying to speak to me I guess I had better listen. I can see the writing on the wall. I can make the connection. I am the snake "shedding my skin", trying on new dresses. This blog is the snake representing the creative force that will "allow for great new developments in my life and the proper instinct for deciding which changes will be effective and which should not be made". I am leaving behind the old and am open to new experiences. I get it! I get it! I'm ready!

But, THFUSASTWLMA are red and black really my colors?

Monday, September 21, 2009

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover (or What I Learned From an Apple)

Yesterday I noticed apples lying on the ground under one of my neighbor's trees. The apples were larger than crab apples, but they were a funky shade of yellow and mottled with black spots. They were not the shiny, pretty apples you find at the grocery store. In fact, they were down right scary looking. Imagine Snow White's apple before the evil stepmother casts her magic spell on it; something ugly and gnarled.

"Are they edible?" I asked my neighbor.

"Yes, as long as you peel them. This is the best year we've ever had. I have tons. Would you like some?"

"Su..uu..re," I answered hesitantly.

I picked about a dozen off the tree waiting for the tree to smack my hand like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I'm telling you these apples were creepy. When my girls caught their first glimpse of the apples, they both cringed, turned up their noses and shouted, "EEEWWW!" 

I decided to make a pie out of them. Isn't that what you do with ugly apples? I turned to my good friend, Google, typed in BSD's answer to cooking..."Best (insert name of food) recipe", and discovered Grandma Ople's Apple Pie. I had all the ingredients so it was an easy choice.

Here are all the ingredients needed except for the apples. 

Oh, but I did add cinnamon which was not part of the original recipe.

Do you notice anything wrong with any of the ingredients in this picture? Look closely. Very closely. I'm guessing only another woman will figure it out. Are there even any men reading this besides BSD?

Still nothing? Ok...maybe this will help...

Yes, I know. I cheated. I used refrigerator pie crust. Martha Stewart will definitely not be knocking on my door offering me a job in her test kitchen. I'll cross that career off my list. 

That, however, is not what I wanted you to notice. Look at that bright pink label over the picture of the pie. The one that reads, SAVE $1.00 in big bold letters. That's a coupon! What is it still doing on the box, you ask? That is what happens when BSD goes to the store for me. He doesn't use coupons even when I tape them to his forehead before he leaves the house. If he had his way, he'd buy everything we need at 7-11 paying 3000% more than it's worth. 

Maybe there is a career for me in teaching people about shopping after all. I just have to change my target audience to men rather than women. 

Ok, back to the pie. My youngest ballerina was very excited to help me bake. She wanted a job so I taught her how to peel the apples. Yes, she is 5 and is just now learning to use a vegetable peeler. I know you Super Moms out there already have your toddlers yielding the blow torch to caramelize sugar on a creme brulee, but in our house if it involves a sharp edge or fire you need to pass the American Red Cross First Aid exam before you're allowed to touch them.

She peeled and peeled until she had every last apple as naked as she was. I wanted so badly to jump in and peel a few of them to get moving, but I restrained myself. Instead I hung out with her, talked to her, studied her and took pictures of her. I stayed in the moment. Something that is very hard for me to do. 

You see, I'm originally from New York City. We don't stop to smell the roses. We push and shove to get where we're going faster. So, the oven preheated for over an hour. Her sense of pride and accomplishment as she handed over the last apple far outweighed the extra pennies it cost to keep the oven on.

In the end, the pie baked up beautifully. Thank you, Grandma Ople. The apples turned out to be perfect for baking. They were firm and crisp like a Granny Smith, but with a milder flavor. After the initial hesitation to try a bite, we almost didn't have enough apples for the pie. We were eating them faster than we were peeling them. I don't know what kind they are, but they may just be apple nirvana. Move over HoneyCrisps with your $3/lb pricetag and 'special limited edition' availability.

From the simple task of baking a pie, I learned more than how to weave a lattice crust. Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't pick a tasty apple by its skin. Slowing down can get you farther than racing, and the things you discover along the way make the journey worthwhile. Making memories is just as important as making money. 

I still want to do something more, but internalizing these simple life lessons should help me figure out just what the right fit looks like.

Here are the updates I've made to my career possibilities list recently:
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Debate coach
  • Martha Stewart Test Kitchen Baker 
  • Teaching people men how to shop smart

There's still plenty of pie leftover. If you leave a comment, I'll warm up a big ole piece and scoop a honkin' pile of vanilla ice cream on top for you. Enjoy...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Where Are the Pictures?

It was a tough call. I knew I would eventually do it. I just didn't know when. But, last week I shared my blog with DH (who from here forward shall be known as "Burly Surf Dude" (BSD) since he thinks that's just the coolest nickname ever). 

My goal was to get a few more posts under my belt before sharing it with him, but I was too excited (and nervous) to wait any longer. Here's how it went down.

"I started a blog."

"Really? I want to start a blog! What's it about?" he asked. "Being a mom?" (Of course, what else would he think?)

"Ummm....kind of." 

"What's it called?" he continued.

"What Am I Going to Be When I Grow Up?" I replied. He looked at me quizzically, and asked, "Wait. Is this about the girls?"

"No. It's about me."

"But, you're already a grown up... and you are somebody. You're Mom." (yup, yup...) "Can I read it? Hey, am I in it?" (isn't it great to have such a high opinion of yourself?)

"Yes and yes," I conceded. 

That night, BSD sat at the computer in the kitchen and pulled up my blog. "Where are the pictures?" he asked. Oh, brother! Maybe I shouldn't have told him about this after all!

He read my first three entries as I anxiously cleaned the sink nearby. He was very quiet. At one point though, he actually laughed out loud. Yeah! I thought. I made him laugh. I asked what part he was reading. It was the part about HIM not being afraid to tell anyone who will listen about his ideas. Figures.

When he was finished, he came over, gave me a great big hug, kissed the top of my head and said, "I love your brain!" Ok, you're a pretty wonderful guy. Definitely a keeper. It also doesn't hurt that you think I'm so smart simply because I can spell.

Since that day, BSD has faithfully been checking my blog for new entries. (Why wouldn't he? It's nice to be the center of attention, isn't it?) He is asking me to add more posts. This is good. He's keeping me accountable and motivated.  

In all fairness, his question, "Where are the pictures?" is a good one. I recently read somewhere that pictures are a good tool for blogs. They help the reader by giving the eye a bit of breathing room. Hopefully, BSD is not the only one interested in hearing what I have to say. If anyone else is reading, I'd love to hear your comments.

And, for my visual learner...here's a little eye candy. Trick or Treat?

13" MacBook Pro available at Macmall.com. $85 rebate valid through 9/30/09. Link through ebates for an additional 2.5% cash back.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Unexpected Side Effect

Wow! Now that I've started this blog my thoughts are spinning and bouncing around in my head like pinballs.  I am constantly thinking about what I'm going to post next. It's exciting and exhilarating, but also a little stressful. I think I'm putting too much pressure on myself to relate every single post directly to my blog title. I may need to add a subtitle to free myself a bit. Instead of trying on a new dress every time, I may need to just window shop a bit in between, or maybe I'll purge some of the dresses that I know will never fit. Some days may I ask you to just join me for a drink and some idle chat?

On the upside is the positive effect this blog has had on my running. Even just saying that "I run" is a big step forward. For years, I've walked. Walking has always been good to me. It's kept me sane and fairly fit.

I've been walking since I had my first child almost 10 years ago. At first it was a way to calm her down when she was crying. I'd strap her in her stroller and just walk until she calmed down or fell asleep. Then the walk became something more for my benefit than hers. We moved on to the sore back stage. If you've ever walked with a toddler in a stroller you'll recognize this phase. This is where you can barely stand up straight when you're done because you've been hunched over the whole time reading stories and retrieving toys thrown overboard. My walking has been my constant companion through two young children. They have both outgrown the stroller, but I have not outgrown my walks.

For a while now, I've been running a portion of my route. I walk the first half and run the second. Slowly, I've worked my way up to running more than walking, yet I still say, "I'm going for a walk." It seemed pretentious to say, "I'm going for a run." when I barely run 3 miles. It feels like I'm cheating on a good friend to call it a run instead of a walk.

Since starting this blog, I have noticed that the running portion has become easier. My thoughts have taken over so that I no longer dwell on how much farther I have to go. My mind is now running alongside my legs instead of against them. I've started increasing my distance, but oddly enough, my time is not increasing with it. I think my manic thoughts are the reason. They are like the wind at my back pushing me forward.

In the end, if this blog doesn't answer the question of what I should be when I grow up at least the experience will have made me stronger. And if I do wind up finding the right dress after all, my legs should be looking pretty darn good once I finally walk out the door in it!