September 19, 2008

Date Night: Married Style

OK, so remember those days before you got married? Remember dating? I do. I remember the anticipation, picking out just the right outfit, spending hours on hair and make up, making sure I smelled just right, and that my shoes were just the right height so that I wasn't taller than him. The date itself would go on for hours. He would pick me up, we'd go to dinner, a movie, out for drinks, and just spent the evening enjoying each other's company.

Yes, I remember dating.

Married dating is so different. Oh, so different.

Case in point...last night. My dear hubby surprised me last weekend by buying us tickets to a traveling theater company performance of Chicago which was just so exciting because I LOVE musical theater. The show was last night.

Well, me being me, I got so jazzed about going to a play that I absolutely insisted that we dress up for the occasion. I had a new dress that I hadn't had the opportunity to wear yet (I bought it for my high school reunion and then didn't end up getting to go...but that's another story), and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to unveil it in all of its glory.

Tuesday night while the girls were at dance class, I ran to two different stores looking for shoes and jewelry. Of course, I also needed a light jacket because I had nothing that was suitable to wear over my beautiful dress. And I needed some...ahem...foundational garments as well. (Yeah, I was really excited to be going out, right??)

So, last night, I got all showered, made up, hair done, perfumed, and dressed. I made Mike wear one of his few dress shirts, a tie and dress pants. When he tried to put on the sneakers, all it took was one of my looks for him to put them away and dig out his dress shoes. We looked like a nice cultured couple going out for a nice cultured evening.

I only forgot one thing...this is Fargo, North Dakota.

When we arrived at the theater (which was really just our local sports/concert arena converted into a theater) everyone else was dressed SOOOO casual. Our seats were great, but they were elevated in the reserved arena seats, so I had to climb up those steep steps in my new heels. Before the show even started, my feet were screaming. (To Mike's credit, he never ONCE even mentioned that we were completely overdressed in comparison to every other theater patron.)

The show itself was absolutely wonderful!! The two lead actresses who played Velma and Roxie were amazing. The girl who played Roxie completely reminded me of a young Liza Minnelli. The actor who played Amos was hysterical with his rendition of Mister Cellophane! Billy and the chorus were completely engaging in the courtroom number, Razzle Dazzle. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance.

When we got out of the theater, it was right around 10:00pm, and though we'd enjoyed ourselves, we decided that we were too tired to go out anymore. We drove toward home, stopping only long enough to fill gas and grab McDonalds. Once we got home, I ran downstairs, put on my sweats, scarfed down my food and fell asleep on the couch. Oh, I did get a good night kiss, a quick peck before I went unconscious.

Dating used to be different.

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My new dress and jacket.

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Look! Heels!!!

June 1, 2008

Seattle Rain

I tried to get this blog post done both Friday and yesterday, I really did, but got in the way. I really wanted to get it done because dear, dear Barb is in the midst of a transition crisis after her recent move from Austin, TX to Long Island, NY, and something happened here on Friday that actually made me melancholy for Seattle. (Yeah, that doesn't happen often.)

So, Friday morning, I rolled out of bed and onto my computer, and just like magic, I was at work for the day (I work from home every Friday). After about 30 minutes of checking email, I got up to open the curtains covering the patio doors in the living room. What I revealed made me step back for a moment and just stare.

It was raining outside, but not the normal North Dakota pouring rain where the wind blows so hard that most of the time it looks like it's raining sideways. No, this was Seattle rain.

Eight years ago, when we first told everyone we were moving to Seattle, the first reaction was always "Oh, but all that rain!!" We ended up living there for four years, and even now, I still maintain that the weather is Seattle's best kept secret. When it rains in Seattle, it doesn't pour most of the time. It's just the most beautiful light, gentle rain. In the springtime, the clouds are thin enough to be able to tell that the sun is going to make an appearance in an hour or so, and this is just a short shower to make everything look lush and green and full of life.

And there's no wind. None. Not even a little bit.

I could sit on the deck of our third floor apartment and just watch that rain forever. After an hour, sometimes two hours, the rain would stop and the sun would come out, but for the rest of the day, that clean, sweet end-of-the-rain-storm smell would linger in the air.

So when I looked out my North Dakota window and saw Seattle rain, it made me miss Seattle just a little bit, like I do every now and then. And it made me remember that, even though the move had been hard, Seattle had once become home to us.

The transition to a new place takes time....and patience....and sometimes, it takes a lot of exploring to find one or two things that make you feel like you belong.

Seattle did become home. Eventually, Long Island will become home for Barb and her family. It just might take awhile to learn to appreciate the little things that are special about a the Seattle rain.

May 22, 2008

Love Thursday: Thank you, boys and girls and Norma Zimmer!

So, tonight I was saying goodnight to the girls and a broke into song...

(Just so you know, I tend to do that from time to time when the right inspiration strikes.)

Good night, sleep tight and pleasant dreams to you

Here's a wish and a prayer that every dream comes true

And now 'til we meet again

Adios, au revior, auf weidersehen.....Good Night!

For anyone who doesn't recognize this, it's the closing song from "The Lawrence Welk Show". Lawrence Welk is something of a folk hero in North Dakota because he's one of the first really famous people to hale from our great state. (We deserve more famous people because this state is just that great...just want to make a note of that!)

So, I'm singing to Marissa as she's trying to say goodnight and escape to her room for her 30 minutes of Nintendo DS before sleep time, and both girls start looking at me like I've suddenly sprouted a second, then a third head. Of course, I then had to explain where the song came from and why it was forever burned into my memory.

I actually love little moments like this because I like sharing memories of my childhood with my girls. Besides, it's good for them to hear about a time when we didn't have five TVs with 3 zillion channels and 4 video game systems in the house. Ya know?

When I was a little girl, we would spend most of our weekends at my maternal grandparents' farm. The farm was about 5 miles outside of a very small town (population less than 2000. Yes, VERY small), and on Sunday evenings after my cousins and I had spent all day outside climbing trees, running through fields, getting dirty, just being kids, we would come in for dinner and then a little bit of TV.

At 6:00pm sharp, however, Papa (Papa is the name I gave my grandfather when I was 3 because I couldn't fathom the idea of two Grandpas. Two Grandmas was fine, but I couldn't have two Grandpa. So one became Papa.)...anyway, Papa would take control of the TV so that he could watch Lawrence Welk. It was his favorite show and he (just like every other self-respecting German in North Dakota) never missed it.

All of us kids found the champagne orchestra and bubble music terribly dull, but would tolerate it because we knew that at the end of that hour, we would be rewarded with "The Wonderful World of Disney". (Oh, the girls were completely fascinated to hear that we didn't have Disney Channel, so WWofD was a highly anticipated event!) Mickey, Donald and Goofy were only an hour of mind numbing cheese away. We always knew it was almost time when the trite little waltz would start to play and the singers would sing those familiar words....

Adios, au revior, auf weidersehen.....Good Night!

Yep, forever ingrained in my mind. It's never gonna go away. Hmmmm....I think that's a good thing.

May 16, 2008

"That Age"

Yesterday, in my Joy Rush list, I mentioned the fact that my older daughter has reached "that age" where giving me and Dad hugs just isn't cool anymore. Well, that's really only part of the story to being "that age". It turns out that 12 means has lots of advantages and an equal number of drawbacks. I wasn't fully prepared for some of the drawbacks, but more about that later.

On the up side, 12 means increased independence and a higher level of personal responsibility. She's now able to baby-sit her younger sister which means no more hiring a sitter every time I want to step out of the house. When Dad and I want a date night (and we do get a few of those here and there), we pay her, of course, but if I just want to go to the grocery store or run errands without dragging children behind me, I can just go and not worry about them.

She's taking a home economics class in school right now, and has become increasingly interested (and excited) about helping around the house. She is able to cook simple meals (good thing I like grilled cheese and scrambled eggs!), make coffee (bless you, child!!) and she even made Rice Krispy treats all by herself for dessert on Mother's Day (yummy!).

The simple fact that she doesn't have to be supervised in every activity is such a treat for me. The down side, however, has been a true shock to my system. It was bad enough when, about a month into 6th grade, she suddenly began to fight me at every turn about every little thing. I knew nothing about what she should wear or how she should do her hair, couldn't be trusted to help with her homework, and every little suggestion was met with a sarcasm that just made me want to scream. All of these things were bad enough, but what happened the other day just about put me over the edge.

(Ok, first let me say that if she ever finds her way to my blog and reads about this, I may be a dead woman, but I like to live dangerously.)

So, when I signed the girls up for their own internet accounts, I set up the parental controls so that they would send me a report of what web sites they visited, how long they spent online, who was emailing them, and I totally blocked them from IM. I got the report the other day and was not prepared for what I found...searches for topics that, quite frankly, made me blush furiously. I won't go into detail, but one of the words rhymes with "Bilbo" as in Bilbo Baggins, but this one had NOTHING to do with Lord of the Rings. WHAT????? (Now, thankfully, those parental controls appear to have blocked the actual content, but that didn't mean she couldn't type it in and search for it!)

Thank goodness I found this early in the day while said-child was in school or I might have strung her up by her toe nails right there and then. Fortunately for her, I had plenty of time to calm down and plan my strategy for the coming discussion.

That night, when she got home from school, I sent her sister outside to play, and then sat her down with the "we need to talk" introductory statement. I asked her if she knew that I still got reports of her online activity when she is on the internet. Holy cow, I don't think I've ever seen her face that white or her eyes that big.

Of course, she immediately knew what I was talking about. We discussed the fact that this material was not only not appropriate for someone her age, but how looking up things like that on the internet can lead to a great deal of misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Just because information is posted on the internet, doesn't mean it's correct. As we talked further, I found out by probing a bit that the words she was searching for were things she had heard kids talking about at school, and she just wanted to know what they were or what they meant. OK, I can understand that. I knew how it feels to be that kid at school who doesn't get it when the other kids are talking about "stuff". So I told her she could ask me any question about anything, and I would always answer her honestly. I would tell her what things meant, but that didn't mean I thought it was appropriate conversation material and CERTAINLY didn't condone her actually trying any of those things.

Amazingly, this and a few more questions led into a conversation so frank, I couldn't believe afterward that I'd actually been talking to my 12-year-old about topics like this. Again, I won't go into detail (because this is a family show, after all!) but use your imagination and think about the things kids used to talk about in middle'll figure it out.

We talked for about an hour, and when we were done, I think we both felt much better. I also told her that next time she has questions, she needs to come to me. I said I would always tell her the truth and give her the right information. (I really hope she listened and takes me up on it.)

Overall, I felt pretty good about the way I handled it. She understood that I wasn't happy with what she did, but hopefully, I also opened a line of communication with her. There was no yelling, no crying, no screaming, just talking openly and honestly. Whew!

I'm glad it turned out like this, but I just was NOT prepared for this to happen yet. Were we that aware of these things at 12 or is "that age" just coming on earlier now days? I'm not sure.

May 15, 2008

Tagged by Barb: Love (My Life) Thursday

For those who don't know who Barb is, she's the absolutely wonderful, saintly woman whose blog I have been reading since she started it. She is witty and joyful and quirky and sometimes, her life is crazier than mine which makes me feel so validated. Anyway, I love Barb to death! (I really do love ya girl, and I'm not just saying that to win your meme contest!)

So Barb posted this wonderful list today that she calls a Joy Rush about it for yourself, it'll truly warm your heart:

So, the thing Love (My Life) Thursday

Then, she tagged each of her readers, challenging us to create our own Joy Rush list. Sooooooo.....without further ado, here's my attempt at LaDonna's Joy Rush List:

1. Hugs from my girls...I love hugs from both of my girls, but for incredibly different reasons. Paige's hugs are few and far between (because she's "that age" where hugging your parents is just NOT cool) and so when she voluntarily gives me a hug, it feels like such a gift. Marissa, on the other hand, is still young enough to be a snuggler...not as often as when she was younger, but she WILL snuggle with you. Since she's my baby, and in all likelihood, I won't get another one until I have grandkids, I treasure every hug and snuggle since each one may be the last. (You just never know when "that age" is going to strike!)

2. Singing the high notes...Those who have known me for a long time know my love of music and singing. This year, since I decided to go back to school, I had to forgo church choir, but last weekend, I went back and joined them for the last Sunday of this season (my church choir takes summers off). When I sing with the group, I always get to sing the highest parts and I can't tell you how much joy I get out of that. There's just nothing like hanging on that note and hearing the ring after the director cues to cut off. The feeling is like soaring through the sky without ever leaving the ground.

3. North Dakota...When we move to Seattle in 2000, I never would have imagined how much I'd miss North Dakota, but I guess when you're born here, it just gets in your blood. I can totally identify with those penguins that go back to the exact spot where they were born every year to mate, because once we were gone, the pull to come back was so strong. And how could you not love this?

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4. My mom and her sisters...They are just about the nuttiest group of women I think I'll ever meet. The older I get, the more I feel like they are my own sisters, rather than my mom and my aunts. Of course, the youngest is only 10 years older than me, so when I was growing up, she really was that older sister I never had. And when all six of them are together, the laughter is never-ending, especially when they start their Tim Conway impersonations! (Right Marjean???) Here they are...don't they look like a fun bunch???

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5. The Seattle Waterfront...yes, I know, I just said how much I loved North Dakota and I do! But Seattle wasn't a horrible place to live. In fact, if our family was closer, we might have stayed. And my favorite place of all in Seattle is the waterfront. The energy of the place is just infectious with sites and smells and sounds that completely accost the senses. Pike's Place Public Market (you've probably heard of the Fish Market there) is a gigantic flea market where the fresh cut flowers, organic produce, ethnic food of every kind, homemade jams and jellies, roasted nuts, and a wide variety of arts and crafts are perfectly complemented by the street performers and bustling crowds. Then the waterfront itself is an amazing collage of specialty stores, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Seattle Aquarium, the old fashioned carousel, and of course the view of Elliot Bay and the ferries. Here, take a look for yourself...

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6. Mike's sense of humor...if there's one thing that has never wavered in the past 13 years it's my dear hubby's ability to make me laugh. Here he is (on the right) with my brother-in-law playing with my niece's birthday presents at her birthday party last summer...

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We all laughed non-stop over this one for hours!

7. Marissa's approach to baby is going to be a force of nature when she grows up. Not that she isn't now, but when she learns to channel her talents and abilities, there won't be any stopping her. She approaches everything in life with such exuberance and joy it's hard not to share that joy with her. Whether she's singing or dancing or playing or just being Marissa, she throws herself fully into every activity. She also has a social confidence that I never could have had at her age...there is not a social situation that makes her scared, nervous or shy. She'll get up in front of a church full of people and sing a solo at the top of her lungs (and sing it beautifully, I might add) or she'll walk right up to a new group of kids making friends with them instantly. Watching my baby girl as she tackles each new challenge just makes my heart swell with pride and joy.

9. Paige's growth this year...with Paige, elementary school was - well, let's just call it a challenge. Between her struggles with ADHD and a reading disability, she hated school, hated studying, hated homework, hated it all. I would often get calls and emails from her teachers telling me that she was throwing temper tantrums, fighting with other kids, or just being generally disruptive. Going into the 5th grade, she was reading and just barely a 3rd grade level and couldn't write a full sentence. After finally getting her into special ed (don't get me started on why it took until FIFTH GRADE! UGH!) and changing her ADHD meds, she made good progress throughout the year, but I still wondered how in the world the child was ever going to survive middle school.

This year, she started 6th grade at a wonderful public middle school with the most supportive staff I've ever had the pleasure to work with. Between her "team" at school and an amazing child psychiatrist, she has made some truly spectacular strides this year. Now, at the end of 6th grade, not only has she caught up to grade level in her reading (the child who wouldn't even look at a book a year ago has finished the first 5 books of a series called Warriors by Erin Hunter since December) and the behavior problems have completely disappeared, but next year, instead of special ed language arts, she will be in a mainstream English class. Her IEP has been scaled back because she just doesn't need as much support anymore. Last week, I went to a meeting with her teachers and case worker to plan for next year, and every one of her teachers praise her growth and development this year both socially and academically. I'm so proud of my girl and how she's becoming a mature, responsible young woman.

10. Singing in the car...both of my girls have inherited my love of singing and they both are as fond of country music as I am. Whenever Carrie Underwood comes on the radio in the car, all conversation stops and the radio gets cranked up loud so we can all sing at the top of our lungs. I can't wait until the day when the girls can hold harmonies all by themselves!

11. Reality TV shows...yeah, OK, I'm hooked. I especially love the good social competition shows like Survivor and Big Brother. I get practically giddy when one of my favorite players makes an especially good strategic move.

12. My job...I can't help it! I love my job! And I love my corporate giant company!

13. Pictures...I just can't get enough! I take pictures of everything at home, at school, at work...sometimes my kids simply BEG me to put the camera down!

14. My laptop...I don't go anywhere without it. Call it a security blanket if you want, but it's how I like to spend me-time. Yes, I work on a computer all day long, but I love to unwind by web surfing or digital scrapbooking or posting on message boards.

15. My house...for a long time, Mike and I didn't know where we wanted to call home. My job moved us from Bismarck to Seattle and now back to Fargo. For more than 11 years, we rented apartments. Some were very nice, but I just never felt like we were putting down roots anywhere. We bought our house a year and half ago and every time a walk through the front door, I still feel this great sense of relief and joy to know that this house is mine.


May 14, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Yes, I'm three days late, but Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful mothers out there...Hi Mom!! I hope you all had a wonderful day and were spoiled beyond belief!

My Mother's Day was far less relaxing that I had originally planned it to be. I had to get up early (which, right there, is a diversion from my preference) because I was singing with the church choir for Mass. It was our last Sunday for the year and so we sang for two Masses, one at 9:15 and the other at 10:45. It was fun to sing with the choir again, I've missed them! (I took most of this year off from choir when I decided to go back to school.)

So, while I was at church, Mike and the girls were making me a nice Sunday brunch...a breakfast casserole made with eggs, bread, cheese, bacon and some crab meat for good measure. YUMMY!!! Well, when I got home, it was all done, but something was very wrong. Mike had a definite grimace on his face. Uh oh...what happened???

Well, as he was taking the bacon out of the oven (we make it in the broiler), he accidentally tipped the broiler pan and spilled hot bacon grease all over his arm. So, what started out with the best of intentions ended up with a trip to the Emergency Room...on Mother's Day. Yep. That's how I spent my Mother's Day!

Mike is actually OK now. The doctor gave him hydracodone for pain and he wrapped it good. The nurse gave me lessons on how to change the dressing and care for the wound. He took painkillers Sunday evening, Monday and yesterday, but today he hasn't had any and the burn is looking MUCH better. It's very blistered, but the blisters have not broken yet. It's not nearly as tender today.

I gave him all kinds of grief over making me spend my Mother's Day in the E.R. Especially considering how often in our relationship I've had to take him to the E.R...when he hurt his back jet skiing, when he got his lip split open "defending my honor" (while we were still dating and I didn't need it!), when he cut his hand open taking the pit out of an avocado....the list goes on. I told him he's used up his entire quota of E.R. visits for the rest of this decade and the next!

So anyway, next year, if he suggests making me breakfast again, I think I'll make reservations for brunch!

March 6, 2008

Hair, Halee and How's this for a birthday present?

About two years ago, I started getting my hair highlighted. From the first time I came home with highlights, Paige (who has always thought herself to be 10 years older than she really is) has been begging me to let her color her hair. Well, after trying a couple of different places, I finally found a stylist who is DA BOMB-DIGGITY! She seriously rocks! (Hi Halee!)

Two weeks ago when I was in to get my hair done, Halee showed me some new colors she had just ordered. For me, they were pretty out-there, yellow, orange, fire-engine red, etc. But she knew that Paige wanted hers done and grinning like crazy, Halee suggested I should let Paige get her hair colored. "Just a couple pieces right in front."

See, Halee loves my girls and she's SOOOO good with them! She even gave Paige her first eye-brow wax a couple weeks ago. (No, seriously, the child NEEDED it! Poor thing has her dad's eyebrows.) And the girls love going to see her because Halee gives them cuts they love (not just your typical kids' cut) and will spend time messing with their hair showing them how to make it look "cool".

Well, yesterday was a banner birthday for Paige. She turned 12, and I've always considered 12 to be a milestone of sorts. I know for me, it kind of marked the end of childhood and the beginning of young-adulthood. More independence, more responsibility, more freedom, more making my own decisions. And I feel like Paige is really entering that phase of her life, too. Dad and I decided that we'd let her mark this birthday with something really dramatic. So here's what she got for her birthday....

Now, before anyone has a heart attack and says "WHAT did you DO????" it's not permanent! It'll last about 30 washes so about a month. After that, she will have a few blonde highlights because Paige's hair is so dark, we had to highlight before putting in the pink or else the pink would not have shown up at all.

The sunglasses were a gift from Dad. Halee works at the liquor store part time with him, and he had given her a few dollars with instructions to pick out some accessory from Daddy. The glasses, of course, added just the right touch.

As you can probably already guess, Paige walked around all night last night like she was the Queen Bee! And this morning, when I came upstairs at 6:30 to get her up for school, she was already up, dress, and ready to leave. She'd been up for over an hour flat-ironing and primping so that her hair would be just perfect for school. (I guess she was excited to go to school today!) She was already planning the big reveal to her friends, too. Ah, she kills me sometimes!

Here's both girls at dinner last night. While we were eating, I asked Paige if she was disappointed that I didn't make a cake this year. She laughed and said "No way! This is better than any cake!"
I guess Mom did good this year!