Archives for October 2009

Extracurriculars, Lessons and Why I’m Doing Things Differently Than My Mom Did.

When I was a kid, I played flute in the school band. I sang in the school choir. I was a cheerleader. I loved choir. I loved cheerleading. I was a little neutral on band. The reason I was able to do those things, though, was that for the most part – they were free. Sure, I had to come up with money for cheer camp or new shoes or band camp that one year – but for the most part, I was able to supplement the out-of-pocket expenses with school-driven fundraisers. Had that not been an option, I don’t know if I’d have been able to take part.

My family didn’t have a lot of money for extra activities. My mom was essentially a single mom for a big chunk of my childhood and the logistics of the expense and getting me to and from lessons was probably more than she needed to deal with.

It’s part of the reason why I have vowed to let my children explore their interests and find the things they like to do and nurture the opportunities that come their way. Currently, both of my daughters take gymnastics. The Princess can wrap herself up like a pretzel and loves to show her flexibility and strength. Pumpkin is fearless and is the only kid in her class who can walk on the high balance beam without a teacher’s hand steadying her. Are either of them the next Nastia Liukin (don’t be too impressed – I had to Google that)? I don’t know. But – I want it to be up to them to decide if this is or isn’t an avenue they want to pursue, and just how far they wish to pursue it.

Likewise, if one of them decides at the end of this session that gymnastics isn’t her thing and she’d like to try an instrument instead? I want to find a way to make that happen. Yes, I’ll do things along the way to minimize the cost (for example: borrowing or renting versus purchasing an instrument), but it’s my hope that my daughters get to find a chance to explore different activities and develop their skills and talents — or, in some cases discover that perhaps that particular avenue isn’t really their cup of tea.

I don’t want my kids to end up thirty years old, sitting on the couch watching “So You Think You Can Dance” (or whatever the future version of that happens to be), bemoaning the fact that, “That could have totally been ME if my parents had let me take dance!” Or watching the US Olympic Gymnastics Team take the gold knowing that maybe they had the talent to have gone far with it – but they didn’t even get to try. Or seeing someone nail a triple axel and wondering if they’d have been able to do that and wishing that they’d had a chance to learn something like that. Maybe they go to an opera and they hear an aria and wonder what it would take to perform like that.

We don’t believe in spoiling our kids – and it’s not that we particularly ENJOY spending money. I am finding in my 30s, as I’ve been taking guitar lessons for the past year, that it’s something I really enjoy. And no – you’re probably never going to hear of me making some awesome recording and making a boatload of moohlah with my wicked guitar skills, but it makes me so unbelievably happy that I get to do it at ALL – even at this point in my life. I want my daughters to have a chance to explore their options, the avenues open to them, and find out what makes them happy. Even though I complain about the stinky-feet smell of the gymnastics studio and how it’s too hot in the summer and bone-cold in the winter, I’m glad that The Princess and Pumpkin are getting the opportunity to try.

Thursday Ten: Not Another Wedding Post, I PROMISE!

1. You’ll be happy to know I’m officially done dissecting the wedding and related events and I’ll probably shut up about that for now (If you just breathed a huge sigh of relief, it’s totally okay. I was driving my own self crazy as well).

2. I am watching Snow White at the moment. I haven’t seen this in forever. (Review coming in the next few days)

3. Music… I’m listening to the new Five for Fighting album (again, keep an eye out for the review). Also, some Kate Earl (the more I listen, the more I like it). And today, I heard a song by Sherwood that I love. Check it below.
Qu Video Sneak Peek Video #1 – Not Gonna Love

4. Guitar lesson today had me revisiting the same songs I’ve been working on for the past few weeks – but we spent most of the time on “Fast Car”. I’m finding clarity – but it still needs some smoothing out. Also, I’m working on the bridge for “Dust In The Wind”. GAH.

5. I stopped at Panera for lunch before my guitar lesson and got an Asian Sesame Chicken salad. There was tons of cilantro on it which made me very happy. It’s recently come to my attention that some people don’t like cilantro – and that seems crazy making to me. How can you not like cilantro?! And then I remember the look people give ME when I say I don’t like mayo. Eh. Let’s just agree to disagree, I guess. (Maybe if there was cilantro IN mayo….).

6. The power went out yesterday. The weather is getting a little too chilly for the power to comfortably go out. Also, I would make a rotten Amish person. The power goes out and I start getting twitchy. I actually ended up taking the kids to Starbucks for hot coffee and cocoa and then dropping The Princess off at school. Pumpkin and I then went shoe shopping and came home just before the lights came back on. Whew.

7. Speaking of Amish – someone tweeted about Amish friendship bread the other day. I love that stuff. The funny thing is, once you get a starter, you can’t seem to get rid of them. You’re stuck making bread and handing out those stupid things until you finally say, “That’s ENOUGH! I give up!” And then… when you REALLY want one? No one has one. And you’re outta luck.

8. You know what’s super UN-fun? Finding a very important work email in your Spam folder. Three weeks later.

9. Rachel from A Southern Fairytale has taken her blog PINK for the month of October and is tweeting and blogging in the name of raising money for breast cancer research this month (you can find her tweeting with the “blogging for boobies” hashtag).  Check her out, and if you can, donate. Also, she has some cool giveaways. Earlier in the week, I won an AWESOME scarf from Chickdowntown. I can’t wait til it arrives – it’s definitely getting to be scarf weather – and it’s so beautiful. But… back to the bewbs. Check out Rachel’s blog – support the cause if you can. Also, be sure to swing by on Mondays when Rach posts recipes. Delish.

10. I wish they wouldn’t use Beyonce songs on GLEE. The “Walking on Sunshine/Halo” mashup was only tolerable because I really don’t like the song “Halo”. Or Beyonce. BAH. But I love that show. I’m also relieved that our cheerleading squad wasn’t called “Cheerios” when I was in high school. That’s kind of ridiculous.

Engineering the Caboose

Friday night, at the wedding rehearsal we had moseyed up (down?) the aisle and were standing at the alter when the minister turned to me and asked, “What did the bride tell you your title was?”

“Maid of AWESOME,” I replied.

“No,” the minister objected.

“Really,” I said, “I am the matron of awesome. I am.”

“No. YOU are the engineer.” He then proceeded to tell me that the main purpose of my role in my sister’s wedding was dress fluffing. And holding her flowers.


Way to minimize my role there, mister.

Of course, I believe there is more to it than that – and not just because I was miffed about him squashing me down to a peon who basically carries the queen’s skirts. The minister wasn’t someone familiar with my sister, her groom or our family – he spent a lot of time trying to be witty, cracking poor jokes and acting as though he was headlining a comedy club rather than officiating a rehearsal for a wedding.

The weeks leading up to the wedding, I was a sounding board for everyone who had a hurt, a complaint, a vent, a question about wedding hooey (and THAT is why I slept so poorly in the weeks leading up to the day). The day of the wedding, I spouted optimism when my sister was fretting about her fiance’s (NOW HUSBAND!) having the flu and how he spent all night puking and what if he were too sick to be at the wedding. We went on with our morning as though everything was fine, getting our makeup done, eating bagels, drinking SUPER BIG coffees from Starbucks (and I don’t usually get a Venti, but if ever there was a Venti-day, it was Saturday). We laughed and kept the nerves at bay for MOST of the day.

Eventually they hit – but for the most part, my sister was this picture of grace. She was chill, doing other people’s hair, messing with my mom’s eye makeup.

I was the one who used the double-sided special tape to make sure there were no fashion malfunctions with her strapless gown. And I guess engineering was involved in getting her to the restroom when she needed to pee (don’t ask – really. Just know that I sang “Oklahoma” so I wouldn’t have to listen to her pee).

We’re sisters.

Sure, I fluffed her dress.

But, sisters are more than dress fluffers and engineers. I hope one day my daughters stand together for each other on each one’s special day feeling about each other the way I feel about my sister, the way I felt on Saturday. Knowing that there was a bond stronger than sticky tape and a wrinkled train.

The Calm After The Storm

The wedding is over.

I am happy to report several things:

My speech went well – I only cried a TEENY TINY bit, I didn’t vomit from nerves and I kept it fairly short. The best man gave a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of speech. While he definitely didn’t seem as nervous as I (later, he said he really was), the length of the speech suggested that yeah, perhaps he was a smidgen on the nervous side. Some people said they couldn’t hear me – to which I say, Cool.

My girls did amazingly well. Pumpkin dropped her flowers all the way down the aisle like she was supposed to. The Princess looked like such a big kid and she was adorable at the reception as she made friends with the other kids there and hit the dance floor.

All the pre-wedding drama? Musta just been stress – because the people who had been behaving so poorly prior to the big day were FINE. They were fine at the rehearsal. They were fine at the wedding. They were fine the day after as we watched the bride and groom open their gifts. Some people just do not handle stress well. I guess we know now that the groom’s mom? She’s one of those people.

Waking up with the flu on the day of your wedding doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. The groom got a shot of an anti-nausea medication in his butt the day of the wedding (poor guy – truly insult to injury!). The meds tired him out and made him extremely thirsty – but he was at the alter at the appointed time, and he remained standing through the ceremony and by the reception he was doing alright, if not a little bit subdued.

MAID OF HONOR PRO TIP: Talk to the caterers at the reception and have them set aside a meal each for the bride and groom to take with them after they leave the wedding. They will be busy at the reception – dancing, greeting family and friends, and all of that wedding hooey. This way – they’ll have food when they are done for the night. When they are at home or their hotel talking about their day – they will have the dinner they didn’t eat earlier and they’ll be grateful. Trust me.

When your best friend is the photographer, you will look amazing in every photo because she loves you enough to smudge out the crinkle between your eyes.

If the bride requests “Back That Azz Up” at YOUR wedding, you are totally justified in returning the favor. She didn’t mind, really. She laughed and danced with me.

I have a brother-in-law now. My kids have an uncle they adore.

It was really a very good day.

On Weddings and Miracles


The day my sister was born, my family – my mom, my sister’s dad (my stepfather at that time), my brother – and I were in our van driving through curvy, hilly roads in Napa, California. A car coming from the opposite direction hit us – head-on. My mother was eight months pregnant.

What I knew then: my mom was airlifted to the hospital. I rode in the front seat of an ambulance. The guy who hit us was a patient in the back. My grandmother came to the hospital to get me and my brother. Our dog ran away in the hills and we couldn’t find him.

And then I had a sister.

What I didn’t know until my sister’s stepmother gave her speech last night is just how much over the speed limit the car coming the other direction was going. I didn’t know how severe my mom’s injuries were. I didn’t know that the doctor told my sister’s father that he might have to make a choice – my mother or the baby. And I didn’t know just how miraculous my sister’s birth REALLY WAS.

My sister is 22 – and I’d never heard that full story until last night.

It was the hardest I’d cried all day.

I hadn’t realized how close I had come to losing my mom. How close I had come to have never ever HAVING a sister, let alone the amazing one who I stood beside yesterday as she married the love of her life.

I had no clue.

My sister is an awesome young lady – and despite the ten year age gap, the older we get, the closer we get. While we were kids, it wasn’t ever like you picture a sisterhood – I mean, I changed her diapers and we shared a room. When she learned to climb out of her crib, she used to come over to my bed and wake me up in the morning. I remember moving from California to Michigan – and how in every restaurant across country, she’d spill something on me. I remember how I’d have friends over and she’d want to hang out with us. I remember letters from her when I was in college. She was there to meet her nieces shortly after each one was born – and as an aunt, really, she’d be pretty tough to beat. She’s truly awesome. The love she has for my kids brings me great joy: as a mom, there’s nothing better than knowing that the people you love most are cared about by others who will protect them as you would.

The wedding was beautiful – my sister made a radiant bride. She was so nervous – but so beautiful. Her groom, despite having woken up with a nasty case of the flu, rebounded nicely to actually enjoy the day. My daughters were beautiful flower girls. The DJs were amazing, the dance floor was the place to be – and this morning? My muscles ache. My eyes burn. And wow, I can’t believe all that planning, all that drama – and now, we can take a big breath of relief.

But while there’s a sense of relief for the wedding and the planning drama being over – there’s also the breath of relief for how truly lucky we were to have not lost my mom and that we have this amazing miracle of my sister.


1. Yeah. The day after tomorrow is the wedding. Which means that tomorrow I have Bridal Party thingies to do like gettin’ a mani/pedi and going to the rehearsal at the church and the rehearsal dinner and trying to get some sleep so I’m not a panicked mess on Saturday.

2. The wedding is scheduled to take place the day of the Michigan/Michigan State game (GO BLUE). My sister has decided that if Michigan wins (GO BLUE), the wedding party will go into the reception hall to the Michigan fight song. If State wins, we’ll go in to the music of the State fight song. The bride is a MSU fan, the groom a Michigan fan. This is probably one of my favorite ideas of all the wedding stuff.

3. I had to go to the doc’s today for my yearly physical (oh, you envy me, huh? Boy, that’s a FUN WAY to start your day. Uh. No). While there, I got the Flu Mist. I always get the flu vaccine, but lemme tell you – having Flu Mist squirted up your nose is WAY preferable to a needle in my arm. Yay for inhaled vaccinations. I also found out that both my girls are old enough to get the FluMist versus the shot, so that will go over MUCH better with the short people.

4. New music this week – More GLEE stuff. Uh, hello? They performed Heart’s “Alone” this week and I luuuurve that song. (I did however skip the performance of “Last Name”. Not my thing. Also, wow, holy inappropriate for a high school performance. I love that about TV).

5. The Princess was chosen by her teacher to represent her classroom on the student council. She’s very excited about this – even though she doesn’t really know what it means. She’s also a bit frustrated because she’s asked her teacher, “What does this mean? What do I do?” That was days ago. She’s still waiting for her explanation.

6. I’ve been working with Pumpkin on handwriting. She’s learning to print at preschool, but they’ve started sending home “homework” – and frankly, it really makes the kiddo mad. Trying to think of appropriate incentives to sit down and work on this stuff. I did find some cool dinosaur handwriting sheets, which she loves because she’s a big dinosaur geek… Guess I’ll be on the hunt for encouraging dinosaur stickers.

7. Project Runway tonight – Michael Kors will be back! Yay – I’ve missed his snark. (Also, I’m not 100% in love with PR on Lifetime and in Los Angeles. Something is very much missing).

8. Guitar lesson – still working on “Fast Car” and “Dust In The Wind”. Today’s lesson actually had me in a near sweat slowing things down to a degree to get ’em right. I was getting pretty frustrated, but by the end of it, I had definitely improved noticeably. I love that my teacher studied to teach elementary school – it helps – she’s very encouraging like one would be with a little kid. While that sounds like it would be annoying, it’s actually helpful – especially when you’ve been working on the finger-picking pattern and your right hand won’t cooperate and you feel like you are a big stupid goofball – and then you are reminded that “Hey, this is definitely BETTER than last week.” It’s a good thing.

9. But I am SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SICK of “Dust In The Wind”, y’all.

10. Today was the first day I got on the treadmill to run versus run outside (it was 33 degrees this morning, y’all. TOO COLD for this chica to run outside). Running on the treadmill? Miserable. The fear of falling off the treadmill wasn’t helped by my stepping too close to the edge of the belt while engrossed in “When Harry Met Sally” on the television. Guess I better stick to music while I am on the treadmill or I may well break my leg.