Try It. Own It.

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I pulled off my navy cardigan as I turned the corner from the elevator and walked past the TV with CNBC blaring advice and ticker symbols. I deposited myself before Raymond. He looked up with a curious expression as I turned my back to him.

“I haven’t gotten all the way dressed this morning and I kinda think it would be weird to ask my daughter’s teachers to zip me up. Help a girl out? Single girl problems.”

“What is going on back here?” Raymond stood as he examined the area where my cardigan was stuck in the mouth of the zipper which I’m quite certain also held several strands of my hair.

“I don’t know. My zipper is tiny and I can’t get it up by myself so after a few minutes I just threw a cardigan over it and figured some kind soul would eventually zip me up today.”

He started laughing as he also noticed my zipper was broken. Out popped a tool kit that I didn’t even know existed. In less than thirty seconds you would have no idea I started my morning off sweating in my bathroom while trying to hook the end of a hanger into a zipper as I pulled and chased my own self around in a circle.

Our admin smiled her sweet grandmotherly smile as she watched me get dressed in front of a bunch of filing cabinets, “Honey, you look beautiful today. What did you do to your hair?”

I smiled conspiratorially, “I washed it.”

She laughed as if my response was adorable.  It has been my response every time she asks me about my hair and I am never kidding.

My most OCD co-worker thinks it is “gross” that I don’t wash my hair every morning and five or so years ago I would’ve agreed. I also would have nixed the outfit so that I would actually feel dressed before leaving the house, but when you have a child under your feet with demands you start to just roll with the small things. Yes, I could’ve easily found a dress with a working zipper, but then I would have to change my shoes and when someone is asking you seventy five questions you don’t think clearly, I just have to get out of the house, why can’t we get out of the house? Strapped into a car seat, yes, you need to get in your car seat. Then I won’t trip on you anymore and we won’t have to argue about how your shirt is itchy or your sock is weird or how today your Batgirl panties look like four year old panties and you are three or how your nose is your boogie’s home, why won’t they stay in their home? 

The moment I hear the buckle click my shoulders fall away from my ears in personal congratulations.

I started using dry shampoo the day after Olivia was born. It was a gift from a girlfriend who came to see me in the hospital. I don’t recall the impetus behind the present, but I was hooked.

You meant to wash your hair, but then someone wakes up and announces her belly, her foot and her nose hurts? She tells you she has too many coughs to go to school? Get to parting your hair, woman. Sprinkle, soak up the grease and get that child in her car seat.

You have a big event, but the babysitter is late and you are running behind? Back comb the hell out of your newly dry shampooed hair and your punk rock pony will look effortless and chic and not smell like peanut butter at all.

I have received the most compliments on my hair and makeup when I have had the least amount of time to get ready. I believe this is because my medicine cabinet with the dry shampoo is to my left and the drawer that holds a fine-toothed comb, bobby pins and hair elastics is to my right. My arms fling in opposite directions, deciding on their own to just get me out the door, no one will know. It is instantaneous, like a reflex. I hear the sound of whining or angry clock glaring at me announcing my tardiness?

Dirty hair, y’all.

Try it. Own it.

Clean hair is for twenty-somethings.

Vegas Baby

Vegas, baby. Land of family values.

Vegas Baby

I’m being serious.

I grew up in Las Vegas and am what our community refers to as a “Local” in a transient town.

A real one.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “Well, I’ve lived in Vegas for ten years so I’m pretty much a local.”

No, you are not and that’s ok. We love and accept you anyway. We hope you will stay and love this town as much as we do, but let’s be clear – being a “Local” is reserved for us few hundred thousand born and bred in this dusty desert town. We remember when the strip skyline was only a fraction of the glittering spectacle it is today.

My conservative Catholic family moved to Las Vegas in the early 1950s when the booming population boasted a whopping 50,000 people – and growing (and boy did it grow). I went to the same Catholic elementary and high school as my parents. I also grew up in the same neighborhood my parents did and we lived down the street from my grandparents. I am now married and raising my 2.2 kids in the very same neighborhood, less than a mile away from my parents.

Clearly I didn’t stray far.

Growing up I didn’t realize how amazing my town was. We were in awe of the tens of thousands of palm trees shipped into town by the truck load that would engulf the Mirage. We watched the Stratosphere being built from my high school biology class window. We read the endless casting calls for Wizard of Oz characters who would open the rebuilt MGM Grand. These things were not unusual because Las Vegas is my home. It is where my entire family lived; two parents who did not work in a casino, who gave me high school curfews and required I go to church on Sundays. They said I could ride my bike until the street lights came on at night.

I consider myself lucky in that I went out of state to attend college. At 18 I left my small city and headed to the Midwest. I am pretty quick to shoot down those Vegas naysayers who argue you can’t raise a family in Vegas. I do admit I noticed a few unique differences once I was away. I had no idea what “Last Call” or “Closing Time” meant (despite Semi Sonic’s popular one-hit radio wonder). I was appalled to learn that at 1 a.m. every single bar in the state was forced to close and there was such a thing as an open container law, Really? When you turn 21 you can’t walk around the street and drink a beer? Weird.

Or that there was not a bevy of 24 hour restaurants ready to serve up a really good breakfast/steak and potato dinner/nacho platter whenever my appetite demanded,You mean to tell me there is not one restaurant in this midwestern town where I can chow down on jumbo shrimp cocktail and apple pie at 2 o’clock in the morning?

After seven years away experiencing college and early twenty-something career life in new cities, something happened. I grew up, I got married and in crept the soul sweeping feeling that there is no place like home.

If home is where the heart is, then my home and heart is in sin city.

But here’s the thing – I’m raising my children here and let me tell you about my city from the eyes of a Vegas baby turned parent.

Our community is tight knit. We work together, our parents work together and our grandparents worked together too. We are neighbors. We give back to our community and we are raising healthy families together. Our streets are flooded with carpooling parents headed to soccer practices and piano lessons. We are protective of each other and probably because of all of the uninformed speculation from outsiders of what Vegas must be like to live. It’s usually not too nice nor is it accurate. We welcome anyone who decides to roll the dice, move here and embrace our town and work as hard as we have to make it a great place to live with open arms.

While I may not let my kids ride their bikes in the neighborhood until the street lights come on like I used to, ummm because let’s be honest, do any of us let our kids do that anymore before the age of 12?, I do insist they go to church on Sundays and I will enforce ridiculously early curfews when they get to high school. I will probably GPS the hell out of their phones, cars, and I’m pretty much hoping that by the time they are teenagers I’ll be able to microchip them like we did the dog.

Just like my other parent friends in their respective towns raising well-adjusted, happy families.

My town just has a little more glitter.

Pin This

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Once Upon A Time I was not a mother. I threw fun and elaborate parties simply because I love bringing people together and widening my circle. I was known for the ridiculous reasons I created to order appetizers and use confetti. There was an MMA fight night replete with vampire mouth guards, Rock Band nights and my own birthday parties that stretched into days and made friends scratch their heads if they hadn’t received a Save The Date a good month in advance.

When I was pregnant I had a ridiculous baby shower that ended in a sleep over and people crawling down my hallway looking for coffee.

I was the only one without a hangover.

Then came baby birthday parties and my world changed. I entered this very strange cultural subset where we stare at each other with smiles and unconvinced eyes that look a little like shame and insecurity. I have heard many moms talk about how they attended a “Pinterest” birthday party; the cake in the shape of a baby swan replete with feathers and the ability to molt, the banners were weaved out of the Shroud of Turin and the punch was made of melted gold and myrrh.

They leave with their coordinated cupcakes, fairy dust and a plastered smile and then sigh into their tired hands.

Women have a tendency to think we are not a good mother if our mothering doesn’t look like another woman’s mothering and this has been reflected in the celebration of a child’s birth, the discussion of organic v non, stay at home mom v working mom and a flurry of self-imposed judging. I am just as guilty of the mom guilt. I worry for every hair, particle and pore when it comes to my daughter. I cried when I returned to work after having Olivia. In the time since I’ve had to learn to let some things go and also realized very quickly – things are not always as they seem.

Let me share a few dirty little secrets with you because I have all too often been asked how I keep it together or offered compliments that feel a lot more resentful and sad than they do sincere. It is as if the mom who says what a great job I’m doing wants to start crying before she punctuates her sentence and solidarity woman, I know exactly how you feel. Let’s cry together.

I was surprised when asked by a colleague who’d just had a newborn, “How did you do it?”

I looked up, eyes as honest as they are in my head, “I didn’t.”

My child had colic of the demonic variety. I did not sleep for a full year. I don’t know how I am still gainfully employed.

Once Olivia stopped screaming I made the mistake of not being able to say, “No,” when I was asked to do more than I should have as a new mom with a career. I chaired a Mother’s Day tea right after her first birthday. There were hand-painted tea pots arranged with blooming flowers at every table, many speaking parts and a fascinator glued to the side of my head. I stepped down from the stage after delivering a speech about our honoree’s lovely generosity and a woman at my table said, “You make me feel lazy.”

I felt my legs become heavy as if I stepped in mud. It wouldn’t have been socially acceptable for me to look at this woman and explain that my husband and I would likely be divorced by next Mother’s Day and that I cried a lot, being a new mom with a failing marriage is hard, yo.

After our separation I threw my daughter’s 2nd birthday party at what had been our “family home” per the motions that had been placed before the court. There was a petting zoo, giggling children and chocolate cake, oh my.

Someone posted on Facebook, “Way to raise the bar with a petting zoo, Jeanette.”

It would not have been appropriate for me to respond within the comments with the truth. I chose the petting zoo because it was the only thing I could afford. It was significantly cheaper than what my guests realized when compared to jump houses and play gyms and could be done in the backyard of the home with a mortgage that was killing me as a singleton. No one knew that I was working on a payment plan with the utilities to keep my lights, water and gas on until my divorce was final.

No one knew that in lieu of gifts my closest girlfriends each covered the cost of cake, decorations and sandwiches.

If I’m completely honest I would tell you there was some pride involved. Sure, I could’ve thrown my daughter a party at a public park or done away with animals altogether, but you likely would’ve seen me bawling in the fetal position at some point during the day. I was just starting to accept that the family home that I purchased with my husband, the one my daughter was supposed to grow up in, come home from college to visit, a la Princess Bride, was a house of cards.

I was having a hard time seeing my new life as a divorced mom and everything that entailed.

I felt like a failure.

But, I threw a Pinterest party and made other moms feel inferior.

You never know what is going on in someone’s world. You don’t know the internal struggles within relationships, personal insecurities nor the things that keep a person up at night.

No one is ever throwing a party to make you feel like you aren’t the same kind of super mom. The fact that you care enough to worry shows that you are a good mom, a conscientious mom and you are not going to ruin your babies because you don’t have a face painter. Your child will remember the moments you were there, not the moments you outspent or out glued another mom, good for you.

No one is ever posting a selfie of their personal fitness progress to make you feel fat. They have worked very hard and are proud of what they’ve accomplished. They shouldn’t have to hide it, good for them.

No one is ever posting a quote about self improvement, happiness or attainment to make you feel bad. They have risen from something you probably know nothing about and have found peace, good for them.

And Dear mom, good for you, because what you do is hard, painstaking, lovely work. You are raising people. They will go on to take the values and gifts you’ve given them to build out their own families. Your work will continue through them and their smiles, their full tummies, their wonder-filled minds are all you need to know you are killing this mom thing.

Pinterest is simply another organizational tool.

Like a laundry basket.

Fall In Love

LORE Fall In Love

Somewhere in between Kanye antics and Annie Lenox shutting down Hozier during last week’s Grammys was a match.com commercial. You may know it. A man approaches a woman and wants to know why she hasn’t tried match.com as her sister found her husband through the site and is “living happily ever after.”

You expect the girl to walk away with a thoughtful expression, buy a soy latte and then head to her tiny New York loft apartment. She will bite her lip while she stares at the laptop on her shabby chic desk. The matcher man has made her wonder about the feasibility of having someone else use their super match making software to take the hard work out of Likes, Dislikes, Religious Affiliation, Smoker or Non, etc.

She likely walks by her laptop at least three times before she suddenly decides she wants love, dammit. Fingers fly over keys while she uses her marketing degree to catch her prince.

Flashback to my first experience with a match maker – I was a junior in high school and a personality profiling company convinced students that for $10 each love would be delivered to our Homeroom. It would be there in a week and the name of the man of my dreams was going to appear in dot matrix print.

I had to select whether I would prefer Long Walks On The Beach over a Romantic Dinner Out. At 16 I had never felt a boy’s lips on my own so I imagined Long Walks On The Beach because the other options felt too Lady And The Tramp.

A week later I stared at the printed sheet in my hand while my eyes went wide, “Ohhhhhhh myyyyyyyyy Godddddddd.”

I will refer to my match by his initials.

A.J.

We weren’t just a little matched. We were like Perfect For Each Other matched. The problem with this was that A.J. was completely and utterly annoying.

He was seventeen. Or maybe eighteen. He had peach fuzz on his ears and teased me incessantly, but always shrugged off his leather jacket when I was cold and had forgotten my own. He’d meet me after my last class and take his jacket from the “matchstick girl” as he walked me to my bus and called me names before I told him I was taking it again tomorrow. I very clearly recall him calling me an albino and telling me I had butter teeth.

This was before the miracle that is Crest White Strips.

When A.J. bought lunch I would eat most of it by the time he sat down. He would shake his head, smile playing at his lips while I would giggle, “I was hungry and you were just ignoring those tator tots like they didn’t have feelings.”

I found him in the courtyard after class staring at his computer print out with a shocked expression on his face, “You are my match?”

I shook my head, “I’m not happy about it either. You must like Long Walks On The Beach, huh? I’d burn.”

There was a lot of teasing. We never pursued a relationship, but I’m fairly certain that had more to do with my inexperience. I didn’t know how to like a boy without being mean to him. I had four older male cousins that regularly drowned me in my aunt’s pool. I only knew how to insult boys and punch them in their junk. The idea that a boy wanted to kiss me made me very nervous. I would almost fall into my shoulders and turn seven shades of shy.

Or disappear down a hallway.

I know. Mad game, right?

The New York Times recently posted an article To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This by writer Mandy Len Catron. It is based on the study The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness by psychologist Arthur Aron, and suggests that anyone can fall in love if you ask 36 questions. The point is to create interpersonal closeness.

Clearly the school match maker should have stapled these to our match results, help a girl out.

I read over the questions and they are definitely personal. I’d be hesitant to answer some right away and not because I have anything to hide, but because I’d be heading down a path of vulnerability.

But, isn’t that the point?

We spend so much time asking what someone does for a living, if they want children and if they prefer long walks on a beach, we don’t get to the good stuff for quite some time. We are nervous to offend by asking something that could trigger, being too nosy too early, but the study suggests that if you really want to know someone you have to develop intimacy.

What I find fascinating is that the female relationships I have are rich with detail and we sit around and talk about our flaws, our values and our relationships. I could probably answer most of the 36 questions for my girlfriends. Granted, we don’t spend time lusting or courting, but we get to the heart of the person. We get to know each other in a way that is empowering, beautiful and requires no birth control.

I wonder what would happen if every person that reads this tried out the questions (link provided, you are welcome) on your dates, your boyfriends and even your husbands? A husband of twenty years may already know everything about you, but what if he’s forgotten about that dimple you get when you reminisce? What if you’ve forgotten he can be soulful and still make you laugh when you aren’t entangled in children and such?

Do it and report back.

That was my bossy tone.

I don’t in any way knock those that find love on match.com, Congratulations, I hope you get your forever after. I absolutely agree there has to be a screening process to make sure you aren’t having dinner with a dog-eating serial killer or a man with fifteen children who wears clown shoes to bed. Whether you choose that screening process to be a computer’s metrics or your own intuition, I simply suggest that you not be afraid to ask the hard questions, answer the hard questions.

Be vulnerable.

Everyone deserves a little love in their life.

Even the guy with the clown shoes.

Glitter: Preach, Girl

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I stumbled on to MILK AND HONEY by Rupi Kaur because I saw the above quote on Instagram and immediately bought the book out of sheer curiosity and hope. Kaur is described as a feminist poet and I wanted her to have beautiful things to say. She didn’t disappoint. Her prose is raw, bewitching and simple. The book is a collection of poetry about survival and per her description, “the experience of violence, abuse, love and femininity.”

The first chapter, The Hurting, hurt. But in that – Ohmygod, YES, kind of way when a woman says something you’ve never given yourself permission to say. She describes the way a girl is raised to view her own body in a hyper sexualized world.

MILK AND HONEY opened my eyes to how a child’s relationships become shaped by their parents and to the sadness that sits in a girl’s heart when she realizes that love doesn’t come the way she first expects. Not every boy she meets is truly, madly, deeply. Some just come to rest awhile.

These are conversations we should have with the girls in our lives.

These are conversations we should have with our daughters.

I suggest we give our daughters their voices and their confidence before they look for it out of cynicism and hurt.

Before they have to write a poem.

Whether or not poetry is your thing or some of her words about young love resonate – I love her mission to make women look at ourselves and each other in a beautiful, accepting light.

Gorgeous.

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Enter Wisdom, Stage Left

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On December 8, 2013 I found my first white hair at my right temple. I know this because I wrote about it and just smiled as I read over the description of this sure transition. I was thrilled this discovered hair was silvery platinum and bragged that I was so going to rock my senior living community as the gray-haired old biddies would be ever so jealous. I waxed and waned about how have a sparkling head of silver was going to be like the Gisele Bundchen of the retirement set.

Well, I got mine.

Jere (pronounced hed-ay; roll your r’s, people) was very thoughtful as he separated my hair into sections. Typically he’d run his hands through it as I’d talk over low lights v high lights, cut, etc. As soon as he nods his head in approval he drops my hair as if he’s almost throwing it away from him, turns on his heel and marches purposefully to the area where he mixes my highlights. I noticed the difference in his demeanor this time, this review of these sections of my hair. There was a moment of silence. He did not throw my hair away from him and was not listening to a word while I watched him in the mirror, curious.

He began very slowly, “There comes a time….”

I swear the pause lasted for fifteen minutes and required the sectioning off of each strand attached to my nape. It was almost as if he were looking to my individual hair shafts to offer him alternatives to whatever the end of the sentence was becoming. I felt as if I were almost standing under his chin waiting to see what words were going to drip from his gorgeous pout.

“…when we have to start coloring.”

Another extremely long pause before he finally finished, “Highlights just don’t work anymore.”

He didn’t even make eye contact.

Laughter bubbled out of me, “Jere, is my wisdom coming in?”

He almost audibly exhaled, “Yes. You are very wise.”

Jere went on to explain that we’d have to start coloring my hair a shade lighter than my natural color, which is a medium/dark blonde and add highlights. The tone would be different and his explanation still seemed to have clipped words and cautious pauses.

I wonder how many people have started crying in Jere’s chair.

I simply asked that we not try for ash blonde because green makes me look sallow and intimated that I was excited to see where this adventure takes us.

I’m ready for a change.

Not a change to polyester pants or Frayne fashions. You will not find me at Naturalizer or putting plastic sheeting over my furniture. Seriously, have you seen my legs? They still look twenty. I’m banking on those bad boys whether or not my feet are starting to kill me.

I’m just ready to wrap my arms around the shifts that I can’t change. They are the ones I’ve earned by way of time, life lessons and hard moments. I’ve earned my platinum locks and that’s not to say I’m not going to shellack the hell out of my head so you can’t be graced by their shimmer just yet, but I’m ok. I’m ok with the softness of my belly where my daughter grew, the lines that make my smile more genuine and the gracefulness of age.

So, I say to Jere – let’s do this. Let’s see where this new adventure takes us and maybe it will add a new tone, dimension and square of fabric to the quilt of my life.

After all, it is sewn together with strands of glitter.

Baby, get ready

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As we get ready to plant our garden and anxiously await our first harvest Olivia and I have been playing with veggies in the kitchen. It is part experimentation and part psychological warfare on a soon-to-be four year old who likes steak and Doritos.

Want to make a child eat vegetables? Rainbow carrots. It was our gateway vegetable.

IMG_5393After carrots we moved to beets and my heart skipped a little the other night when she asked for them for dinner. I regularly look over to the table to find her with a beet-stained mouth and a big smile. I roast them with olive oil, pink himalayan salt and rosemary. When done I quickly blanch them in orange juice and top my serving with goat cheese.

Liv isn’t there yet.

IMG_5360My most recent fun finding is cauliflower rice. It looks just like white rice, but far tastier. Just pulse cauliflower florets in a food processor and add to onion sautéing in olive oil and a little butter. After five minutes you add 1/3 cup chicken stock and let it steam for five minutes. Fluff, add fresh parsley and pink himalayan salt and pepper.

I’m currently working on the perfect (and more importantly – filling) breakfast smoothies including kale, fruits and variations of almond milk, frozen green grapes as my ice cubes and super foods like chia, flaxseed and such. Yesterday’s was absolutely disgusting, but today’s was pretty good. Once I get some decent options under my belt that don’t inspire gagging I’ll post.