A Conversation with Myself

It was an innocent enough question.

“Uh, so what is your age now?” she asked. A light little voice with a Romanian accent.

“I’m 40,” I reply.

“Ah,” she breathes. Now I’m worried. She ever so delicately asks me what skin products I use and what my routine is. She then asks me if I have any products for Mature Skin. I have dry, sensitive skin which is the BEST skin EVER if you want to age prematurely. All I need is a heaping helping of leathery skin from OD’ing on sunbathing and it’s the perfect storm of old lady skin. She’s giving me advice, every so kindly, about taking care of myself; making sure I have the right products; the proper routine and regimen.

Here we go….

I’m laying in the dark with lovely, relaxing Nature Music playing. Little Sister has started the two-part process of covering the greys. My head is now turbaned and I’m getting a variety of lotions and potions applied to my skin. One feels like water, the next feels like Jell-O before it sets. I get a mask and a neck and shoulder massage before my little European friend leaves me alone in the dark while the mask seals on to my skin.

Vanity is not a tolerated characteristic in my family. Look good, yes. “Maintain” yourself? Who do you think you are? My big indulgence is the dye job (sorry Little Sister – “colouring”) but my nails aren’t always done. I give my own manicures and pedicures, mostly in the summer time when they are exposed. LS and I have talked about me going grey, since that’s what my hair has had in mind since I was 19. So I’m starting to think, why fight fate?

But as I lay in the dark I start a conversation….with myself.

“This feels SO good! I really need to do this more often!”

“Really?? You have the time to come down here and get all pampered and primped for most of a day once a month!?”

“But I think it’s good for me! This is the most relaxed I’ve been in a long time!”

“That’s great, but where are your priorities?”

“Well I try to take care of everyone else, why can’t I take a break for me too?”

“Really?! Sounds rather self-indulgent!”

“If a doctor told me I had to take something for my body’s health, I’d do it. What’s so different about my skin?”

“Vanity.”

“I’m NOT being vain!”

“Sure sounds like it!”

You get the idea. I focus on the babbling brook running through down through the speakers and into my head. So much better than my inner voice.

In my truck on the way home – with a jar of moisturizer beside me, the second chapter of the conversation begins. But it includes the information given to me by my new little friend – the magician who makes me look fresher, if not slightly puffy from spending two hours flat on my back in the middle of the afternoon.

“I’m going to do this! I’m going to start taking care of myself.”

“Of COURSE you are.”

“Well, you know what? She told me it’s easier to start taking care of myself now, than it is in 10 years when things REALLY start to slide.”

“Next you are going to be shooting crap into your face.”

“NO that’s GROSS!”

“Well then you’ll end up with surgery.”

“I don’t want plastic surgery!!”

“Ah! You want a nose job!”

“Well that’s different – it’s a genetic thing!! It’s a brutal nose.”

“And your eyes?”

“Well I’m convinced I’m going to wake up one day and won’t be able to open my eyes – and I can thank my father for that too!!! Freakin’ droopy eyelids! You know WHAT?? I don’t want to CHANGE myself, I just want to TAKE CARE of myself.”

“Sounds like justification to me….”

At this point I turn up the radio and sing, because honestly, how does one end an argument with one’s self?

One books next month’s appointment…..

Valentine’s Day in Three Parts….

It’s only two days after Valentine’s Day, and the Easter swag is on the shelves, but I’m still reflecting on the events of two days ago….

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I’ve been watching the commercials that start in rotation every January 2nd. The message is the same. If you have someone special in your life, you’d better do something for them on February 14th.

Or risk not having someone on February 15th.

I will admit, when I was young and naive, I bought into this commercialism. I’m not sounding very romantic right now, but if you stand back and set aside the Pink coloured glasses, you will see that there is nothing romantic about being forced to show how you feel about someone. Even the most emotionally emotive man gets a heavy dose of insecurity in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. The bar is set high. Anything less will result in disappointment and frustration, not to mention reliving the moment for years after – if you are “fortunate” enough to stay with your loved one.

What is romantic about that??

I remember dating The Big Guy and he brought me a Valentine’s Day arrangement. A teddy bear clutching a plastic vase with fresh cut flowers. I was thrilled – such an obvious gesture of love and affection! Totally cute at the time and it impressed several of my friends, because we know it’s all about the brag factor. Wouldn’t thank you for it now. I love the idea of the unexpected. What is romantic is not what happens on one day, but the connection, the listening you do, on all the other days, that makes that one day memorable. And it doesn’t have to be V-day.

*A special note for you guys – you DON’T have to buy a piece of jewelry to get her attention. <Cue the Crickets>

I’m serious here girls! What would you rather have? A piece of jewelry that you basically TOLD him to buy for you, or a night in with your man, your favourite movie in hand because he LISTENED to you when you said you desperately wanted to see it. He also has your favourite snacks!! One is forced, one is genuine. When it comes to relationships, I prefer the latter.

That’s not to say I will turn away a hinged furry box! But let’s put it in context….

I won’t forget my 12th wedding anniversary because I received my sapphire and diamond ring from The Big Guy. Not on our 10th or 15th…. Completely unexpected – and I LOVED IT.

Surprise is romantic. The unexpected, is romantic. Pressure, expectation, entitlement…..

No so much.

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Second Born Son has taken an interest in baking lately. We made kick-ass peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Not long after, we made cupcakes for a friend’s birthday.

Look at that technique!

In the fashion of all agonizing childhood milestones, Valentine’s Day rolled around for him in his classroom.

At his age, not too many kids are keen on demonstrating affection, so it’s an awkward situation. I’ve told SBS that if wants to take a Valentine to one person, he needs to give one out for each person in his class. Fortunately, he agrees.

But this year, when his peers were marking a day for love and affection, one little shit student was changing the rules.

He handed out his store-bought cupcakes to only a handful of students. SBS was not one of them. To add insult to injury, he walked past SBS’s desk and said, “Jealous??”

To which my son, my little sweetie – who had given this child a Valentine AND a box of Smarties, just like everyone else, came back with this gem.

“No. I can MAKE my own, any time I want them.”

Freakin’ brilliant.

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It has been documented how our sons feel about our anniversary. Maybe because The Big Guy and I don’t gush over these holidays, we don’t expect much from the boys.

It was mentioned at one point that they had “something” for us, but honestly, with the chaos these past couple of days, I didn’t give it a lot of thought. I have a collection of sweet Valentine cards from my little men, and was looking forward to seeing what they put together this year.

But first, I had something else to attend to.

Made with Love - Half the Calories - ahahahahahahahahah

I always believe the motto “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” So these little dreams were sinful!

It looks like The Big Guy had the same idea!

Poetry! Wow!

But for some reason, he thought I was going to share…THIS?!

Uh...YUM

I was ready to mow through dinner, just to get to dessert, but the boys has other ideas. Watch us get our minds blown!

Awwwww!

It was a Valentine’s Day card with a dinner card inside. They plotted and planned with FBS slipping downtown on his lunch to pick up the cards. Who knew they were so thoughtful!

And that, my friends, is the definition of a loving Valentine’s Day.

True love is the soul’s recognition of its counterpart in another.

~ Wedding Crashers

If….Then…..

For the most part, we are blessed with good kids. But every now and then, one of them will pull a boner.

This time it was First Born Son’s turn. Nothing epic, but certainly worth several well thought out words in an elevated tone to drive home how frustrated and disappointed we are. In a day or so, it will all blow over, but for now, there needs to be a line drawn and some consequences.

This has been our approach since we became parents, and fortunately, The Big Guy and I have been on the same page, without really having a discussion about it. I remember while we were dating (long before talk of marriage or children), trying to enjoy a meal at a restaurant while a young upwardly mobile couple tolerated, and indeed coddled their young child. Certainly old enough to know how to behave in a restaurant, it was fairly obvious that we were witnessing a case of the Tail Wagging the Dog. Whining, food thrown and indulgence. Understandable when the child is 2, more than annoying when the kid is 5. We looked at each other and basically said the same thing to each other, “If we have kids, we are NOT letting them get away with crap like THAT!”

One of the worst things I see is when parents use threats or ultimatums. These could also be considered boundaries. Nothing wrong with setting terms, the problem is when the child knows the threat is hollow. We have made a point of not doing this, and it has served us well. Its all about the follow through.

I remember when FBS was just a wee guy. We were at a friend’s house and he was enjoying the pool. I was done for the day and back in my dry clothes (fear not, he had enough safety and flotation devices on him, not to mention I was ALWAYS within arm’s reach). Anyway, I asked him nicely to come out of the pool to dry off; it was time to go home. He refused. I told him he had to the Count of Three (another favourite tactic) to get out of the pool, or I was coming in for him.

One beat after I said “Three” he started to laugh – there was no way Mommy was going to get in, she was in her clothes. I stepped right into the pool, sandals, shorts, tee and all, and hauled his scrawny wet tush out of that pool. From that day forward, he knew. There were consequences and not listening to Momma was not advised.

Years later, I coached his ball team. During a practice we were working on stealing home. I advised the base runner, who was a little meek, that he needed a more substantial lead off. Three pitches later, he’s still take two steps. I need him to take at least four. I tell him, “If you don’t get more of a jump out there, I’m going to make you wish you had.” He looks over at FBS who is the third baseman for this exercise. FBS just shakes his head and says, “She’ll do it man.”

Ironically, the runner had an excellent jump and  was able to get to Home Plate with ease.

I took exception to title the Day Care teachers gave me; Hitler Mom, but that’s only because of the choice of villain, not because of the context. I don’t drop the hammer all the time. The Big Guy isn’t irrational. We save consequences for serious transgressions. Laptops and tablets, iPods and TV privileges have been revoked because of serious breaches of behaviour.

Which is why I identify, and respect the position of this father…..

Dad uses Facebook

Naturally, there are people who feel he is the worst example as a parent.

I feel I’m in pretty good company.

Good Genes – AKA Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

I don’t tend to get hung up on “beauty”.

For starters, the concept is subjective – thank God. While you may think blonde hair and blue eyes is the definition of beauty, someone else may go for red heads with piercing green eyes.

My grandmother was considered a beauty. She had raven black hair, flawless skin and amazing bone structure. She did dabble in modelling. We have photos of her wearing early 1950s wedding dresses, with outstanding workmanship since young brides could finally feel good about wearing a big white dress post-war. What she learned during her time as a fashion model stayed with her entire life; never look directly into the camera, never stand straight on, and never, ever leave your arms hanging down by your sides.

When I started my love affair with photography, Gramma would look at my images and even those that weren’t top-notch were deemed perfection by her. She would analyze the light, angle and emotion in the photograph and announce, “This isn’t portrait, this is a STUDY.”

This was the highest form of compliment one could hope to get. Gramma would say not everyone could be a model. There was a certain quality one needed to have; an attitude if you will, that came from an artful soul. All the foot posing and gazing into the horizon couldn’t make someone photogenic. It had to come from within.

Fast forward several decades to this past Monday. Little Sister owns and operates an environmentally responsible hair salon and spa. She wanted to promote the business and her stylists by holding a portfolio day. Five hours later we had shot six models with numerous styles. One of those models was my niece, M&M.

The irony here is that M&M was the poster girl for Tomboys growing up. She identified with animals, dogs in particular, and was the first one to dive into a snowdrift when it came time to play outside. Sign her up if you need a ball player, or want to go for a hike. But makeup? Hairspray? GLITTER??

LS wanted a highly stylized look for her models. I wasn’t sure M&M was going to buy into the idea, after all, there was a lot of primping going on.

But once I got her to myself, something happened.

and again….

Gramma would be proud….