I AM the Crazy Neighbor Lady!

A few months ago I was a bit bored and when I’m bored, I sometimes decide to find something around the house to take pictures of. While meandering around, I found a little dandelion in my front yard growing up against the landscape block in front of my house. I decided that since this little guy had somehow escaped the perfectionist yard tending of my detail oriented husband, G1, I would see about getting up close and getting some pictures of it. In fact, I had decided to see if I could somewhat, re-create this .

So I went and fetched a cup of water and G2 (my beloved camera) and proceeded back outside to my front yard. I glanced around,  saw that my neighbors all seemed to be inside, so I, a grown woman, laid down on my stomach, reached my hand in the cup, submerged it in the water, then pulled it out to sprinkle it on this tiny dandelion. Soon, as I was sprawled on the front yard, facing a block wall, G2 and I were snapping away, trying to find the ‘just right’ angle at which to shoot this little guy. I was in my own little artistic world, both creating and at the same time marveling at the intricate detail and the frail beauty of this God forsaken weed when suddenly I was pulled back, into the dimension of consciousness with the words “What are you doing?”

I, flat on my stomach, feet stretching towards the street, turned my head to see my neighbors, a nice, young couple standing next to each other in their driveway, her, with their precious one year old son in her arms, looking at their crazy neighbor lady with bemused smiles on their faces. Initially, I felt my whole body as well as what dignity I thought I had, cringe at the thought of how I must look. I clumsily got to my feet and stuttered out “T-taking a picture of a, a um, dandelion?”

They looked at each other, chuckled to each other as if their previous conversations about their “not right neighbors” were somehow backed up by this newest piece of evidence and said “Ok”. I, started laughing at myself (with them) and told them I’d email them the link to my picture. I promised them that as ridiculous as I know I looked, I hoped that they would see that something so tiny could be a thing of beauty. We ended with a good laugh as they took their son for a walk around the neighborhood.

Yes, I too think I am crazy at times but honestly, once I get past that initial cringe of self consciousness, I don’t care. I enjoy getting down and close up to things most pass by. It brings me peace, and reminds me of the beauty in all things, even the little ones.

Half Way to Spring

 

Snow.

There’s been a lot of it this year. Even the U.S. South which closes schools and roads when there is only an inch or 2 is just recently melting from several inches which totally shut them down (Cough-Wimps-Cough) for darn near a week. Here in Mo, they’re calling for more snow this week.

 Sigh.

 After the snow there is always the soggy, muddy mess that is left behind until the warmer/drier days reappear to dry up the mush. Days are still gray and dull here in mid Missouri and I am looking forward to the signs of life, the sprigs of green to appear on the ground and in the trees, when spring is on our doorsteps.

Here are some pictures I took last spring to remind us all what is just around the calendar corner. Spring waits to greet us in the matter of more than a few weeks.

 Hang in there!

Really? That’s What They’re Singing?

I’m sure most of us have done it before,

 we’re singing merrily along thinking we know darn good & well what the words to the song we are singing are.

Until,

 someone starts laughing at you.

Not because we can’t carry a tune (which could very well be the case with me)

but because we’ve managed to mutilate the lyrics.

I can think of 2 songs off the top of my head that I’ve done that with.

Don Henley – Boys of Summer

These are the real lyrics:

Nobody on the road,
nobody on the beach.
I feel it in the air,
the summers out of reach

Empty lake, empty streets,
the sun goes down alone.
I’m driving by your house
though I know that you not home…

And I can see you
you brown skin shining in the sun
you got your hair combed back
sunglasses on baby.

And where they say “Your brown skin shining in the sun”, I remember thinking it was “Your breasts keep shining in the sun” (Like bikinis people!) That’s what I thought until one day my friend and I were riding along in the car, singing at the top of our lungs, and she stopped, mid lyric, and started laughing hysterically at me.

Good times!

Then there is a song most of us know, Winter Wonderland.

This time of the year always brings back this memory.

One of the verses’ goes like this:

Later on, we’ll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we’ve made,

Walking in a winter wonderland.

(I hear you singing!)

As a child, I remember our family riding home in the car singing along with the radio to this very song when my mom, stopped & started to laugh hysterically and my older brother muttered “What a dork” when they heard me singing;

“Later on we’ll perspire, as we dream by the fire”.

I don’t know about you, but I can see where MY lyrics make perfect sense.

In fact, I still sing MY lyrics sometimes.

Who among us hasn’t gotten a little too warmed up by the fire and had a little perspiration?

So now that I’ve shared some of my embarrassing lyric mishaps,

What songs & lyrics have you messed up in the past?

Mom’s Got Cooties!

Approximately 8 years ago, my husband was getting up at 4 am to get ready to go in to work and while he was getting ready, I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.

It was a Friday,

 not just any Friday,

THE Friday,

Black Friday.

As I sat and drank 2 of my overly large cups of coffee, I felt a sudden burst of energy and started looking at the ads that sat taunting me on my table. I had never gone to a Black Friday event before, I thought those people who did had completely lost their marbles but I wondered if I were missing something, I secretly wanted to try it and there were some great prices on toys that would save me some money and hey, I was all ready up, bonus!

While I was still contemplating this, my eldest daughter got up to use the bathroom and I spotted her as she walked back towards her warm, comfy bed obviously still 3/4 of the way asleep, her eyes seemingly still shut.

 I, in my highly caffeinated state, said, “Amber, do you want to go shooopiingggg?”

At that point, my daughter stopped, and, in slow motion, turned to look at me and the look on her face was priceless. She looked at me as if I were an alien who had just landed on Earth and asked her if she wanted to go to Mars. I honestly wish you could have seen it. She then, in an equally incredulous voice said “Mom, it’s still DARK outside!

I then had to guide her sleepiness over to the couch where I was sitting and explain to her the concept of Black Friday. I assure you, she was wishing at that point in time that the woman who gave birth to her wasn’t a bit of a nutcase. In fact, if I read the expression on her face correctly, I think she was trying to figure out if she were living a nightmare. All she wanted was to make her way back to slumberland. She just sat there….speechless, trying to figure out how to get out of this.

I didn’t give her the chance. It’s the ‘attack while the brain’s still sleeping’ strategy.

Next thing we all knew, I went in, woke up her younger sister, told them “Get dressed! HURRY! Oh and dress warmly, we’ll have to wait in a really long line in the cold until the store opens!” Good times!

 My poor, defenseless daughters

So I too readied myself, bundled us all up, grabbed the ads, some hot chocolate & we bolted out the door. Ok, I bolted, they dragged their butts still in utter, complete shock at the abuse I was inflicting on them.

As we  arrived at the store and saw the line, the adrenaline hit me. It’s that feeling that we Black Friday shoppers know all too well, the “OH no! I have to hurry, the line is getting long and I may not get the things I came for” feeling. I believe my main shopping goal was a radio for an unbelievable low price and a few games for my nephew who was 4 at the time.

So we made our way to the line. Ahhh… here we are, we’ve now assured ourselves amongst at least the first 100 or so to get in the store! The girls, a little more awake now, shivered beneath their layers of clothing. I got the ad out and we huddled & strategized.

Ok, I strategized, they glared

and shivered.

 Before we knew it, it was time. The line was moving. I told them to stay close, and hold on to my clothing so that we would all stay together. (For the record, I purposely did not take my gentle offspring to one of the stores that are known for causing violence during this tradition. I took them to one of the milder ones for all of our safety.)

So there we were, shuffling along with the line, towards that open door,

and warmth

and good deals

and chaos.

As we passed the “late arrivers” who were kept at bay by security so as not to rush to the front of the line that we early birds had spent freezing our noses and our toeses off, I couldn’t help but feel a little bratty schoolgirl come out in me and I secretly wanted to yell “Ha ha! No butting! WE actually got here EARLY” but now that wouldn’t be a good example for my impressionable teen & preteen would it? So I spanked that bratty schoolgirl and sent her to the corner of my mind while I walked exactly 2 inches from the lady in front of me, grasping my children the whole way.

Once through the doors, we hurriedly grabbed a cart and walked quickly towards electronics.

The adrenaline & excitement were palatable.

As we neared the area where the radios were, I could see a palette of them towards the back of the aisle. I guided the girls to a safe area out of the flow of traffic “Wait here and hold on to our cart. I’m going in there” and pointed towards the huddle of about 40  sandwiched people sardined in the aisle waiting to get their deal, the same deal I wanted. The girls looked at me with that all too familiar “Are you crazy” look on their faces. I do believe I also saw fear for the safety of their caretaker,

 their mommy. 

I think they thought I may not come back. I assured them it was ok. I will return to go on to our next goal. And with that, I left my young to guard our cart while I threw myself into the hoard of feeding shoppers.

Making ones’ way towards the loot is not for the chlosterphobic. You are squished in a small area with strangers, your fellow humans, all hoping to get a good deal on an item that will make you the family hero, all while saving a few bucks.

As I emerged from the crowd, holding the radio above my head, not in victory but because there was no room to hold it in front of me, my girls spotted me and I could see the relief and the pride on their young faces. I had gone into the fire and emerged not only in tact to feed them another day but also with loot! They started jumping up and down cheering “YAY MOM! You got one!!” because they’re a little crazy too.

 I felt like the champion provider of tunes that day! I think it was that moment that their attitudes changed. Something in their minds ‘clicked’, I had created 2 little black Friday monsters.

 NO time to waste relishing this moment though, this store had games like Ice Breakers and Cooties for $1.88 a piece! What a STEAL! Carry on to the toy department!

Again, the loot we wanted was at the very back of the toy aisle, as I swiftly set my youngins in a safe, quiet place just steps away from the chaos, I said, Wait here, I’m going in! And this time I did not see fear on their faces, I saw pride! They too were pumped with anticipation and adrenaline. I even heard them chanting as I walked into the hoard of people “GO MOM, GO MOM” I was never prouder to have 2 supportive nutcase daughters.

I again, made my way back to the poor, defenseless underpaid workers at the back of the aisle handing out these games off of big palates. I grabbed the game “Cooties” for my nephew and holding it above my head (this time for victory’s sake) made my way back towards the edge of the crowd. Before I reached the end of the crowd I heard my youngest exclaiming at the top of her voice “Mom’s got COOTIES!!! Mom’s Got Cooties!!!” When I finally reached her, through my hysterical laughter I told her she may not want to yell that too loud and the 3 of us laughed our butts off as I saw the realization of what she had been saying fall across her face.

Good times for sure.

I thank God for my little nut cases, they’re the best daughters in the world.

In the end, we stood in an all too long line for the check out, relishing our victories as a team, packed our loot into our car, went to breakfast and relived it all, giggling the whole time.

Now, years later, with my oldest away at college, I called her a week ago to tell her how much I couldn’t wait for her to come home for Thanksgiving. When I asked “So, should we plan to get up at 3 am to go Black Friday shopping?” She answered without hesitation “YES!!!!!!!”

 and so it continues.

Wish us luck!

 

My Baby is Looking at Colleges

Monday I took my baby to look at a college.

Ok, so she’s not exactly an infant as that may sound, she’s 17 and a Senior in High School deciding where to go to college.

But she’s my youngest of 2, so she’s one of my babies. Don’t judge me, they will always be my babies.

She’s my artist child, my right-brained thinker, my music lover.

My oldest will save the earth and the animals, and my youngest will paint the world with beauty and music.

No pressure though kiddos.

So she’s 95.5% sure she’s going to a college close to home, it’s a commutable distance but she still wants to dorm it. I completely understand and am just glad she will be close. She’s also decided that while she wants to be an artist, she also loves kids and wants to major in either Music or Art education as a career.

We went on the tour of the college Monday. When we entered the Arts Auditorium, her face lit up and I could see the excitement in her eyes. Then came the old familiar welling up of tears. I choked them back, after all, I didn’t want to embarrass my baby girl almost grown daughter. I’m all too familiar with this feeling, I had a similar feeling when I took my oldest to college. I unloaded her stuff, walked around the campus with her, ate lunch in the cafeteria then we walked together to the parking lot for my 4 1/2 hour drive home. I had been choking back those tears all day too but I thought it was mostly because she would be so far from home, and I’m sure that was a lot of it. As I got in my car that day, I told myself, “Stay Strong!” and somehow held back the flood of emotion and sobbing until after I had driven out of her sight. I wanted to remain strong for her and I didn’t want to embarrass her. As soon as I was out of sight though, I had to pull my car off the road and let loose. I had to release the flood as the dam walls were going to explode. I cried and I wasn’t even sure why. It wasn’t that I was horribly sad, it was more a cry for the swift passage of time, the pride, the fact that she was 4 1/2 hours away, and something else I just couldn’t put my finger on. After I gathered my composure, I got back on the road & called my oldest baby girl and admitted to her that mommy had to pull over and sob. She chuckled a little and admitted she too went back to her room and cried a little. Let me tell you mom’s & dad’s, cutting that umbilical cord is a strange mix of emotions.

So back to my youngest baby girl (something tells me I haven’t completely cut the cords yet….hmmmmm). The entire tour I choked back those feelings again. I was puzzled because I am pretty sure she’s going to be close to home. I’ll be seeing her often (like when she needs her laundry done!) so why these feelings now?

I looked around at these kids, young adults milling about, busy on their way to class, some sleeping on the sofa’s in the library, some studying diligently, some giggling with their friends,  that is when I realized this feeling encompasses so many things.

It’s about pride.

It’s about the realization that these little bundle I gave birth to, what seems like just yesterday, is getting ready to move on to the next phase in her life, she’s getting ready to cross that bridge from teen to adult.

Being a parent is about caring for these little lives, feeding them, loving them, nurturing them, guiding them and watching the milestones pass one by one then sending them on to make their mark on this world and start the cycle all over.

It’s such an exciting and unsure time for them, such a mixture of emotions for us.

Help! My Melanin is Missing!

 

Ok, so I’ve never had much melanin, but.. 

 Its time to stand up and say something, for all of us Melanin lacking people!! I’m tired of being quiet!

To all of You who were blessed with a thing called Melanin, please read this….

From Dictionary.com

melanin  [( mel -uh-nin)]

A dark brown coloring found in the body, especially in the skin and hair. Produced by special skin cells that are sensitive to sunlight, melanin protects the body by absorbing ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Note : The amount of melanin present in the skin determines the color of a person’s complexion: people with a large amount have dark skin, whereas those with very little have fair skin. Melanin is also responsible for tanning.

So basically when I was created, someone forgot to dump in a generous helping of melanin to my genetic makeup. My mother, God love the melanin hogging woman, can be outside for 5 minutes and her skin glows with her melanin doused genes. My father however, passed on every single bit of his melanin lacking genes to my sister and I.  I don’t fault him, he didn’t have it to begin with. I blame mom for keeping so much for herself.   (Don’t worry mom, I’ve since forgiven you!)

 And before I begin the “awareness” part of this post, let me preface it by saying I’m not a terribly vain person. Yes I do bathe, and I do like to look nice, but thankfully, I don’t obsess over it, I am who I am, and I’m good with me.  

Having said that, I must now venture on to the awareness part:

For some reason, people think its ok, when you’re pale, to make public statements about it. Its usually when in the company of more than one person, better yet, a group of people, when someone decides its ok to exclaim, “Dang, you’re pale, why don’t you tan more?” For some reason  people don’t consider the rudeness of this type of statement before they speak. My theory is when they go in the sun Wha-la, they no longer look like the walking dead,  so they ASS-U-ME I can do the same thing. Well guess what Einstein, I can’t.

 Let me explain. First I’m going to repeat something from above:

 Melanin is also responsible for tanning.

 Its simple science, Melanin, or lack thereof, is responsible for my paleness.

 When you make your ‘pale’ comments or ask things like, “Are you a recluse? Don’t you ever leave the house?” you are, possibly unknowingly, bringing back all of the teasing in grade school, all of the self conscious memories of youth like a speeding freight train, to the present. Just because you can go from pale, to a more tanned state with a little exposure to the sun, does not automatically mean all of us can.

Think for a minute about your most self conscious issue with your body. What is it? NOW imagine if I point out your most self conconsious issue in a group of people and go on and on about it. Get the idea? It is very hurtful. I am surprised almost daily, by the amount of people who don’t consider this.

 Usually we all have something about ourselves we wish we could change and even if we’ve moved on, and in our wisdom & age accepted ourselves the way we are, whatever that issue was, that “thing” can still have stabbing effects on your psyche if someone points it out in a rude tone. So please remember this: Just because I’m pale as the moon does not mean I can help it.

Let me give you an example. I once joined a tanning salon, I would burn after 10 minutes, so I would go 8  minutes at a time, increasing the minutes a little at a time, 3 times a week, FOR 3 MONTHS. Oh I could tell a difference, every extremely pale person can tell when their skin shows an ever so slight, almost imperceptible glow! But after 3 months, and who knows how many minutes of my life, I would still be asked the same rude, pale questions.

Heres one more thought, if melanin protects you from the harmful effects of UV rays and a person has only a smidge of melanin, it not only means it would take  10 times as long to tan, but in the meantime, said person is 100 times more likely to get skin cancer than melanin blessed people. I have to say, in the long run, I think I’ll be glad I didn’t give in too  many times to the pressure of others saying “why don’t you tan more?” Why expose myself to those dangers if, in the end, I’m the only one who could tell? I gave up fake baking to hopefully save my future self from suffering from skin cancer, call me silly!

So the next rude question is, why don’t you go spend your hard earned money on the tanning sprays? Let me tell you, I tried it once, before a trip to Florida where I was afraid people would really gawk. Once in the tube, I HATED to not be able to breathe. Yep, that’s right, You’re enclosed in a space age tube and you can’t breathe lest you inhale tanning chemicals. When the gusts of paint stop, you turn around, and still enclosed in an airtight tube, you can “breathe” for a few seconds before the next gust of paint starts, only, you still have these paint particles floating everywhere so you’re still inhaling them. Not my idea of a good time. Oh and the result of this paint torture? One of the sprayers was clogged! I kid you not. I had streaks down the back of my leg! Being the positive person I normally am, I am truely thankful it wasn’t the sprayer that covered the face! 

Still, STREAKS….

down

my leg. 

Yep. That looked really nice!

 I can definitely accept my situation & I see the humorous side. 

Once, after watching the movie “Dances with Wolves” with my melanin blessed husband, G1, I decided to give us both American Indian names. I dubbed myself, “Glows in the Dark” and we laughed hysterically for a while. He still lovingly calls me by the name at times. I also volunteer myself  as a guage for my friends to compare their tans to, because like I said earlier, I’m me, this is who I am. 

It’s only when people ask previous stated pale questions with a tone in their voice that conveys they think you actually have a choice in the matter that it can come across as insulting. I find myself wanting to proclaim,

 “I’m not an animal!!!” 

 So all I ask of you is to think before you speak when talking to us Melanin challenged people of this world.

We have feelings too.

 

So Much to See

My husband and I went to Chicago recently. It was one of those, “Lets get the heck out of Dodge for a few days” trips, and since it’s only a few hours drive, its easy for us to do on a long weekend.

I’ve been to Chicago a few times before, but he’s from there so I’ve been there to visit family & friends, but I never really got to see the sights. Not until this trip, I insisted.

In fact, we stayed downtown, within walking distance of Navy Pier and other attractions.

 The food there is great if you know where to go! Try Mr. Beef for instance…

Oh it may not look like a whole lot from the outside, but they have some awesome beef sandwiches. They heap on the beef and let me tell you, its delicious. So delicious that we stopped here first….before the hotel! 

But beyond the food, the city is beautiful.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a ‘city’ girl.  I’m a suburbia girl who wishes she lived on some acreage, a country girl at heart. I tend to feel a bit clausterphobic in the city if I’m there for long but I do LOVE to visit. The city has so much to see, tall buildings, people from everywhere, cars, taxi’s, tour buses and chaos.

The buildings. They are a mix of the old and the new, all jumbled together like a tapestry of glass, steel and stone. I have to say that the old buildings are my favorite, so much more character than the new. The new buildings in their tens’ of stories of glass & steel are a sight to see, but its the old buildings made of brick, of mortar and with so much beauty, history, style & detail that I love.

On some, ivy crawls across the cold, hard stone, giving the illusion of warmth.

There is history inside and outside of buildings like this. Men who constructed these buildings with their hands and sweat, without many of the tools we have today. People for centuries have gazed upon the very same buildings admiring the architecture and beauty.

 

We walked to Navy Pier, after meandering & shopping & taking it all in, we sat by a window in a restaraunt just inside Navy Pier. It was a hot, sunny day and I wanted a bite to eat & a glass of cold water. As I watched, I saw people, young and old, big & little, and the expressions on their faces as they walked onto the pier. I watched as couples walked hand in hand enjoying the sun and the sights. I watched moms and dads bring their children and point up at the ferris wheel with wonderment and awe. I could tell the first time visitors with that look on their face that said they had been looking forward to coming here for a while, & now, here they were. 

We all watch t.v. and read our books and blogs, but I recommend you get out and watch life…watch it unfold right in front of you.