Ask Me If I Want To Go To Target

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Asking me if I want to go to Target is like asking a starving child if they want ice cream. The Hubs rarely volunteers to go along, and almost never suggests it. When I received a text suggesting that we do just that…together…on a week night, I was understandably surprised. 

I love Target. They are right around the corner from my house. I can breeze over to buy school supplies, wine, a pair of sandals desperately needed at the last minute for tomorrow, wine, lunchbox goodies… did I mention wine? I can wear my yoga pants and feel right at home amongst my wine carrying, yogapants wearing fellow shoppers.

Our Target employs many differently abled workers. The store has family and gender neutral restrooms. The clothing racks and isles are arranged widely enough to maneuver my cart around without getting stuck. They make using coupons easy. They are friendly to my kids in the checkout line even when they are whining and on my last nerve.

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From @targetdollarspot

Could Target get any better? Maybe if they put employees in yoga pants too?

Now the hubby does not feel this same attraction for Target. He will go if dragged as long as I promise to steer clear of bedding or curtains.  He is a little gun shy after we painted our bedroom a few years ago and I launched a two week navy seal worthy expedition to find accessories that fit the new color scheme and grownup ambience. Purses, sunglasses and anything requiring a fitting room is also strongly discouraged. 

Call me crazy, but I  can’t think of a single thing that would prompt such a suggestion. Unless he is hoping to spark my interest in something outside the stretchy pants and granny panty realm. Considering my fashion choices as of late, this is a very real possibility. 

I waited with bated breath through dinner to ask if he still wanted to head out. Not a word as to the purpose of the request. I had run down the mental list in my head of anything he couldn’t wait until the weekend regular grocery trip to have: toothpaste, deodorant,  must have daily gatorade… All supplies seem to be in order.

We like to play this game of withholding information from each other to see who will break down and ask/give details first.  This happens with kids schedules, appointments, packages that come in the mail, the results of internet research, you name it.  We like to play curiosity chicken.  It’s how we keep the spark alive.

I made it all the way to the entrance doors before buckling under the suspense and whisper- shouting “What are we here for?”  Hubs gives a side eye smirk before replying to let me know that crossing the threshold before asking still means I lost. “Slippers ”

Disappointment that I broke first courses through me. I folded for slippers. Wtf? As a conciliation prize, I  choose some lovely patriotic decorations for my office door from the dollar spot. As an added bonus, he didn’t find any slippers. Target’s selection of man shoes is woefully small right now. This means he will need to give in and order from Amazon or make another trip out. Either way, I  will not be some easily fooled next time.   I can already taste victory.

Water Terror

With summer just around the corner,  many of us are prepping for fun in the sun. While children, mine included, are gleeful at the prospect of donning a swimsuit and heading to the water, there are parents who quake at the idea.   I am one of those parents.

I grew up with parents who couldn’t swim. Because they never took me to any body of water, I never learned to swim either. I inherited a fear drowning instead. This is a terrible way to live. I stayed firmly planted in the sand while my friends splashed and played in the surf, canoed, skied and otherwise frolicked in the water. As an adult, I  sent the kiddos to swim lessons thinking this would break the cycle of water fear. It didn’t because I never let them use their skills. I restricted them to waist high water. If something happened,  I  couldnt save them. Over time they took on my same fears.

Finally fed up with the shallows, I asked a friend at work to teach me to swim. We spent several evenings at the indoor pool in her parents building.  It was humiliating at first learning to blow bubbles under water and practicing strokes and floats in the shallow end. On the way home from the first lesson, I cried. She encouraged me to stick with it, and in a few weeks I was swimming the length of the pool.

I feel brave in the water now. Last summer, we made an effort to allow our girls the same freedom. During a camping trip, we rented a boat and intertube. I was able to leave the sidelines for the first time in my life. It was exhilarating. 

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My terror is only partially swimming.  I despise everything about wearing a bathing suit including the self esteem damaging process of shopping for one. I have two plain black tankinis that I have been recycling for many years. They are plain utilitarian numbers that hide the worst of my stretch marks. My husband hates them both and has encouraged me to try shopping for an update the last three years in a row.

I finally relented to subject my fragile ego to the chore.  I am always torn about taking him with me when shopping for any clothes. His opinion about what is attractive relies largely on how much of my boobs are visible.  He cannot understand why this is not helpful.

I tried instead to face the dressing room alone. I found two possibilities. Turns out, like my taste in men, I have a type. They were almost identical two the ones I already own. Now while there is something to be said for tried and true, I  was shopping for something fun and new. I returned them both to the rack and went home to evalute the process.

Many body positive blogs later, I was asking myself why I was worried about the stretchmarks and stomach fat.

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Need a little body positive in your life?
Love the skin you’re in: 9 uplifting body-positive blogs http://mashable.com/2015/02/28/body-positive-blogs/#VcskpcQKi05c via @mashable

Maybe I was ready to show some skin. Don’t get excited, Hubs-not that much skin. This weekend a 50% off swimsuits ad came through my email from Old Navy. Casually I mentioned that I might be in the market for a bikini. I flashed him the ad and suggested he help me pick one out. With visions of supermodels in string bikinis dancing through his head, we headed out.

Trying to be brave, I avoided trying one anything that looked like a grandma suit. I picked out only two pieces and even let Hubs choose a couple. Ignoring dressing room limits, I took the haul in and spent probably 20 minutes trying to figure what suits could magically meet all the criteria: boobs controlling cups, secure ties or straps, bottoms that stayed in places when jumping or running around, and made me feel both comfortable and confident.

Even with this impossible list, I managed to find a cute green bikini top and black booty shorts that seemed both daring and reliable.  Its certainly not the flag printed string suit Hubby hoped for, but a step in the body positive direction. I intend to wear it at the first opportunity and cross another milestone off my list.

Student Driver

Remember putting your child on the school bus for the first day of kindergarten and crying because it was so scary to send them out into the cruel world alone and unprotected? Me too. Her curls bounced as she bounded up those steps in her shiny new school shoes ready to take on the world.  I smiled and waved until the bus turned the corner then sat on the steps and cried real tears thinking surely this milestone was the hardest. HA!

Many more difficult times layed in wait for me. So many times over the years I have watch her struggle, fail and grow with more grace than her poor mother regulated to the sideline. Watching an anxiety ridden preteen face down a middle school bully was especially harrowing. Yet all these things pale in comparison to handing over a set of car keys.

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I was literally putting my life and the lives of others in her hands. In the hands of a child…who takes very little seriously…who can not possible know what its like to lose something  precious…who does not know that she is precious. I was sick with terror.

I remember being a teen learning to drive. A boyfriend taught me in his mustang on a country road in rural WV. It had a manual transmission. My biggest fear was embarrassing myself with the clutch. He was laid back and confident I wouldn’t scratch the cherry red paint. I hadn’t even bothered with a learners permit yet.

This was very different and not just because I was in the passenger seat this time. To begin with, I handed over keys to my still relatively new suv. I am not even a year into a large car loan and don’t even get me started on insurance. We live in a good size suburb of an urban area. Even the neighborhood streets are busy with bike riders and moderate traffic. This was not like keeping it between the ditches on an old back road.

Before we backed out of the driveway, we discussed the gravity of the situation.  I tried to impose the responsibility of driving what amounts to a very dangerous weapon on her soul with my words of warning and grave tone. I received an ” I know mom” huff in response. Ascertaining that the coast was as clear as we were likely to get and all proper precautions given, I  let her put the car in gear.

Until this point in my life, the word horror had no meaning.  I had to shut my eyes and concentrate on not vomiting.  Having had zero experience negotiating gas and brake petals, she zoomed backward out of the driveway at breakneck speed promptly hitting the curb across the street with back tires. I screamed stop resulting in her stomping the brake and squelching the tires again. We sat there for a second in the middle of the road each processing. 

When I  began to order her to put it in park, she jumped in to say she was sorry and just nervous. “Its ok. I got it now. I promise. ” I  was not reassured,  but I tried to tell myself that it takes practice  and that everyone has to learn. She put it in drive and with more confidence straightened up and eased forward.  For about 9 seconds,  I was brave and supportive. We passed a car coming toward us with only a little fright and she got cocky and picked up too much speed.

I yelled to slow down. More than once. She slowed slightly.  I yelled again. More I got it moms. Some slight slowing. I told her to come to a complete stop and prepare to turn. She took forever to stop- for.ev.er. There was more yelling. Stay on your side of the road, slow down, get over more, slow down, slow down, slow down. 15 miles an hr felt like 200. It was awful, for us both, but mostly me.

We circled the block, with me becoming increasingly hysterical, back to our driveway where the trip ended with her almost crashing into a telephone pole and then my husbands truck. She put it in park half in the road, half in the driveway, left the car door wide open and stomped into the house. It took several minutes to unclench my fingers from the door handle and make my way around to the drivers door on legs shaking so hard I could barely walk.

My husband stood on the front stoop laughing. I hope he enjoyed it. Next time, he would be handing over his own keys and sitting in the passenger seat. I’m sure the view from the stoop will be hilarious.

Five Secrets To Loving The Drive In

On our last visit to our hometown, we drove by the place that used to be “The Drive-In”. It closed two years ago. I  am not sure if it had a real name as no one ever used it. There were exactly three places for entertainment in the entire county: The Pool, The Bowling Alley, and The Drive-In. No need for identification beyond the obvious.

It broke my heart to see the dilapidated screen holding court to an overgrown lot of weeds and the aging snack shack. I have fond memories of cart wheeling down the hill below the screen with hordes of other children who all came early with parents to get front row parking. The smell of buttery popcorn hung heavy in the air. It was a special treat for my family and maybe one of the rare occasions my sister and I would sit side by side without trying to tear each others eyes out.

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We are very lucky to live near a drive-in now. Many have closed over the years as result of light polution encroachment,  increasing land values, decreasing profit margins and technology advancements that allow families to stream movies at home or to mobile devices with the touch of a button. 

A few years ago, the few surviving drive-ins had to commit to an outrageously expensive projector upgrade as film companies moved to digital and stopped producing films in the reel format. Those that decided to take the risk had to invest upwards of $75,000 per screen. Many of these family owned small businesses had to take out loans or close.

Ours is another one of those family owned businesses. They have been able to survive 50+ years of changing times, and I hope they will survive 50 more. We try to visit a couple of times a summer to share the simple joy of drive-in magic with our children. I am always happy to see the next generation of cartwheelers playing under the screen.

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Drive-in date with 9 to see Angry Birds

We have learned a few tips and tricks along the way to get the most out of the experience. Hopefully one might encourage you to find a drive-in treasure and give it a try.

Go Early and Bring Entertainment
Our box office opens at 8, but the movie doesn’t start until dark. This might mean an hour or more to wait. Going early is worth it to get a prime spot and have plenty of time to play. Playing under the screen is a right of passage for littles. On rainy nights we bring a board game. I  like to read or chat with families around us while we wait. It’s fun to hear stories about childhood visits. We bring camp chairs and get to know the neighbors. You will often find grandmas and grandpas in camp chairs beside moms and dads. Lots of “I used to bring my kids here in the 70’s”.

Visit the Snack Bar
Who can have a movie without popcorn? Hotdogs and sodas are some of my best memories. Nostalgia aside, many places do not allow outside food. Visiting the snack bar is important to the business. Most of the admission price goes to pay for the film. The business pays its people and makes its profit with food. I like to think of that box of snow caps as a small business investment and it usually costs less than what you would pay at a theatre.

Wear Your Pajamas
Our kids love to get dressed in pjs and leave the house. It’s like breaking the rules. We always wear long pants and bring a sweat shirt because even summer nights can get chilly. 9 has had some serious reactions to mosquito bites so long pants and sleeves provide some extra protection. We bring  Off clip ons https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DF970FQ/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_8ZiqxbE9F034D

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along for added protection for her but the rest of us are never bothered. The bonus to being comfortable is that they often fall asleep and can be put right to bed when we get home.

Bring Lots of Blankets and Pillows
I can stress this enough. The minimum should be one per person. When we are sure of a clear night, we take Sam the Ram, my husbands truck, and pile every blanket in our house in the bed. Nothing better than snuggling in and watching a movie under the stars. If there might be rain, we just take one per person for the car.

Bring a Battery Powered Radio
Gone are the days of searching for the best speaker or fighting over whose window to hang it on. Most places have switched over to radio broadcasting the audio which makes for a sound better experience.  There are a few drawbacks to this. If you want to sit outside your car, it can be hard to hear even with the windows down. The second is that your car has to be on auxiliary the whole movie. If you have a large digital display on the dash, this can be distracting. It can also leave you with a dead car battery. To avoid both these pitfalls, the Hubs suggested a battery powered radio and it has been great. You can move it to where ever you are sitting and never have to worry about finding a jump afterwards.

Are you convinced?
There Are 338 Drive-In Theaters Left in America — Here’s Where to Find Them http://www.nerve.com/entertainment/drivein-theater-open-find-location 

Finals, Not The Basketball Kind

I am proud to say, after many years of dabbling with a class at a time at a community college,  I  finally finished my associates degree last year. Night classes suck. It took forever and I was miserable the whole time.

All those who are working full-time and going to school nights and weekends know what I  mean. The last thing you want to do after working a 9hr day is go to class. In that time, I acquired a husband, a house and had two children.  I have had three different day jobs and a weekend bar tending gig that was supposed to be temporary but lasted 3.5 years. I have had very different bosses ranging from supportive to “What do you mean you can’t work late tonight? Just don’t go to class.”

Struggling to stay awake through biology homework or finish that paper at 2:00am almost did me in. I have had to beg to join soccer carpools or trade band picks to ensure my littles didn’t suffer. My poor husband has had to carry a lot of the load when it comes to dinners, activities, and housework. But every ounce of sacrifice was worth it when I walked across the stage with my family cheering me on from the stands.

In fact, I was so inspired I enrolled at a local state school the next semester to pursue a 4 yr degree. Now what I didn’t realize is that tuition is much more expensive.  I  had to take loans to afford to attend. Did you know you have to take 6 credit hours to get loans? Me either. Double the classes and triple the cost, no more time to bartend. I’m broke, in debt and so tired I can’t see straight. This is what they should tell high school students about to encourage college enrollment. 

Show them my picture.

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You don’t want to be this person kids. Go to college right away. This person sometimes forgets her own name. She falls asleep sitting up during dinner, or in the shower.  Her children have to ask 6th graders for help with homework on the bus.  Her husband eats leftovers and takeout every week . She is wearing clothes from 10 years ago because she has no time or money to shop. It is not a pretty sight.

It’s finals week. All the traditional students in my classes are making study dates and talking about getting beers at the bar after class. They walked here from dorms around the corner after getting up at noon. They have perky ponytails and hot dates.

I hate them. I have sore feet from walking the 3/4 of a mile from the parking lot in my work shoes where I spent 10 minutes digging around my car seat looking for enough quarters to pay the outrageous fees to park there. I got up at 6 to shower and throw something in the crockpot for dinner that my children will hate because it contains vegetables. I was at work by 7:30 after driving 30 minutes through the rain in rush hour. My pony tail says needs a haircut, and the only hot date I have is a soccer game that I  am going to be late for.

There is however light at the end of this semester’s tunnel.  One more week- that is my mantra. Then look out Hubby,  we are going to drink wine, clear a whole season of Scandal off the dvr, and maybe even go to bed at the same time.  I might even read a book that has nothing to do with grant writing techniques.  Thats alot to fit into the next three weeks before summer semester begins, but a girl can dream.

Mother’s Day Yard Work

Somehow, over the years, we have developed a tradition of 8+ grueling hours of yard work, punctuated with one or two soccer games and at least one trip to Home Depot. Fancy, right?

Now you maybe asking, where are the flowers…where is the breakfast in bed?

Tradition demands I get to sleep in while Hubby, 16, and 9 make me breakfast and coffee. I get to sleep till 8am, non-negotiable. Then its right to the manual labor. The flowers come in plastic flats- not glass vases.

At the end of the hard day, I have a weed free patio with lovely flowers to enjoy my coffee on for all the summer weekends to come. While it is not a day for me to rest and be adored, I do feel appreciated. Bleeding fingers and aching backs are my gifts. I wouldn’t trade it for all the brunches in the world.

This year there was a few extras. I was suckered into a kids workshop at Home Depot http://homedepot.com which looked messy and included lots of hammering. I was not enthusiastic. 9 was all about it, so we signed up.

It was awesome! How have we missed these gems before? They are hosted free the 1st Saturday of every month. This month was a bird house that 9 assembled completely alone including hammering several nails that I dutifully held still with my eyes squeezed shut. Then she was allowed to paint it, and gorge on popcorn while it dried. They even include a cute apron to protect your clothes. We will do again!
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As a surprise Hubby constructed a frame for a porch swing that has been in storage since Neenee, his mom, passed away last year. He gave it a fresh coat of paint and we were able to have a quiet few minutes to enjoy it last night. She enjoyed beautiful flowers as well so it was nice to think of her and enjoy the hard work everyone put in yesterday. I certainly felt loved, which is what its all about really. Fancy brunch is overrated.

Nice To Meet You

Hello.

Thanks for stopping in. Im excited to share the view from my yoga pants. Or in today’s case, leggings…with a hole….that I wore to work that way.
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Hey when you stay up till midnight drinking coffee and binging on House of Cards with the hubby, 6 am comes early. Too early, and I  hit snooze -twice. By snooze I mean I  ignored the butt nudge from hubby, then the kick 15 mins later when I was still firmly ensconced in blankets.

I am not a morning person.  I don’t set my own alarm. He hates that about me. But he has lovingly (or mostly lovingly) been waking me up, often three or four times a morning for 16 years, so I must have other redeeming qualities that keep him around.

Since I ignored snooze one and two, I was running late. I use late loosely since it is my regular routine recently. I was picking  up a friend who needed a ride to work today,  so I literally sprang from bed, grabbed the leggings from the basket of clothes that never found a hanger this weekend  (its Thursday), and the first dress I could lay hands on, and ran to the shower.

I ask myself every time I do this, why I don’t just get up the first time. I don’t enjoy the last broken minutes of sleep. I hate the traffic when I leave late, and rushing makes me crabby. I go through the usual self torture as I turn on the shower to heat up and load the toothpaste. Then I remember I need gas.

S#&;t.

I  run to the coffee pot and get it going. Race back to the bathroom ripping off my oh so sexy sweats on the way. Flinging my toothbrush into the sink, i lunge into a *cold* shower. Whooping loud enough to wake our new neighbors,  but somehow not my children, I yank the water too far to hot. Now I need to use the curtain as a shield so I can reach the faucet.

I have wasted three precious minutes. I have 12 left before I need to tear out the door. I’m shampooing my hair with blue raspberry 3 in 1 for kids, and using my not so sweet 16’s face wash because all my stuff is still packed in my suitcase from an out of town training earlier in the week.

Somehow I get passably clean and tear back to the bedroom dripping wet. I forgot underwear on the 1st trip. My husband is still curled up in the middle of the bed. Feeling churlish, I shout a 5 second warning before turning on the light and dumping the rest of the laundry basket on the bed to find socks and undies I can make it through the day with. Precious moments are lost when I have to dump out my suitcase to find deodorant that does not smell like teen spirit.

Finally I pull on a flat pair of boots that can stand up to 2.5 hours of lunch duty, and the mile I will have to walk between the parking garage and my night class. I am feeling pretty good about my time. Only 3 minutes late. I grab items I will need to get through the day on the way to the kitchen: work badge, phone, textbooks, computer charger.

As I pack my three bags,  out of the corner of my eye I see the blue flashing light on the Keurig. I forgot to hit brew. I consider skipping coffee for a millisecond then realize the insanity of that idea.

I abondon the pile run to hit brew , run back and pack, frantically search for my key, mix the coffee, lose the key, find it again, drag the bags to the door, fear I lost my phone, search through two of the bags to find it, search through both bags again to find the key that I had in my hand while looking for phone then almost walk out the door without coffee.

17 minutes late. I still need gas and have to pick up my friend.  I suck at mornings. I didn’t even notice the hole until 2:30pm. Its 3 inches long. My underwear are also inside out.

How am I even a grown up?