Something’s Got to Change

It’s become a pattern, an annoying part of my personality that follows me into middle age, whether I am conscious of it or not.

Starting over.

Every new year, the first of every month, every Monday and even just every morning I feel my brain saying it.

A fresh start.

A new day to be a better person, get more done, exercise, eat right, be kind, read a book, visit a friend, help someone in need, clean something or accomplish a nagging to-do-list task. It doesn’t matter whether I face a crazy day of students and freelance work until the wee hours near bedtime, or if it’s a lighter day when I could really grab some relaxing time.

My brain just tells me it will be different.

Better.

And I seize the hours at the beginning of the “new” with great intentions – full of energy, caffeine and the attitude that I can take on the world.

The clock continues to tick away the minutes and hours, no faster or slower than before.

But I feel the loss of time as it slides out the door. Time I won’t get back.

Ever.

At the end of the new day/new week/fresh new month I feel the same way.

Like I didn’t show up. Like I sat on the bench, watching the game from the sidelines.

Put me in coach – I’m ready to play.

This time I have to make some changes – before this amazing and wonderful life I have been gifted just slips like sand through my fingers.

I am going to try to work smarter, play harder, laugh more and slow down a wee little bit.

Middle-age is a cruel BFF. She energizes me one day and defeats me the next. I am not finished parenting but I haven’t started to care for my parents yet. My body is changing but my mind is still young. My young friends make me laugh and yearn to have been born a decade later.

But then I wouldn’t have what I have.

And what I have here in my tiny piece of the world is pretty damn awesome.

I’m just on a mission to make it even more awesome.

Stay tuned.

Denial: A Page in my Christmas Book

The boxes are down from the attic, stacked in haphazard fashion in the garage and waiting to be refilled.

I am not ready.

For seven weeks and three days, Christmas has filled this house. Santa, baby Jesus and all of their various snowmen and reindeer friends have been happily perched on shelves, hanging from the tree or just chilling out on top of the piano.

Last night we finally took the tree down, only because the garbage man will pick it up today.

Everything else remains.

I am not ready.

Not ready for these holidays when the kids are so old that Santa’s magic no longer has any power…when nobody believes they heard reindeer on the rooftop as they snuggled in their beds.

I love our Christmas traditions — cutting down our tree at the same farm each year, decorating it together. The unwrapping of each ornament and my incessant need to tell the story of each and every one. Again.

Homemade cinnamon rolls Christmas morning…gingerbread houses carefully decorated with all-things-sugary, only to be eaten later in chunks.

I love how my teens still expect certain things to remain the same about Christmas, even without the magic of Santa.

But there was a shift this season — ever so slight — and I felt it in my heart. My family is growing and changing, and while it’s amazing and awesome and wonderful?

There are days when I would gladly take a page from my Christmas Memories Book and have a do-over.

Like the year I found out I was pregnant on Christmas morning, but kept the secret all day long as we watched our 3-year-old son open presents and laugh.

Or the year Santa brought the huge dollhouse bookcase for my daughter that was taller than she was.

Maybe the year when we sat on the couch with grandparents — all showered, ready for presents and drinking our coffee — while little ones somehow slept way past their usual wakeup time.

This book — my Christmas Memories Book — has one page left.

One page.

Nineteen years of these memories fill this book and flood my heart when I open it.

And now? I need to fill in that one last page.

I am not ready.

I will buy another book — maybe even another with 20 years to fill. And I will cherish each page as they are filled with the new memories of our growing family…a family that will still hold dear to old traditions while the kids bring in something new each year. A friend, someone special, a spouse one day, maybe a grandchild or two.

I think I will be ready by then.

Vows

I watch them from my seat in the dimly lit ballroom, watch the sparkling lights dance on her gown as she spins.

Her smile fills her face and his heart, as he gently dips and sways with her to the music. They are so young, so much in love and so very newly-wed. Less than one hour old, their marriage is as fresh as they come and filled with promise and hope.

I want to stop the music and tell them to go — go NOW and start their life together. Before it’s too late. Before life gets in the way. Before obligations and bills and children and sickness scare them into being adults. Before the drudgery of Monday morning creeps right into Sunday night.

But their smiles, their laughter and their tears while reading their vows are my answer. They ARE starting their life together, and it begins today. She calls him her “person” and she is his “rock”.

I cannot take my eyes off of them as they dance and whisper and giggle.

I try to find a bit of wisdom, something a long-married woman could share with a beaming young bride that would be inspirational or awe-inspiring — a string of poetry, a line from a romantic movie, even something from a cheesy greeting card.

Nothing. There is nothing I can share beyond the simple words they uttered at the altar.

Love. Honor. Cherish.

All the days of your life — for as long as you both shall live. Because life has a way of moving forward, of ticking along when you don’t see it coming, of throwing curveballs at you when you least expect them.

Love can conquer a lot of stuff, but you have to feed it daily. Give more than your share, with no expectations.

And always remember to dance.

___________________________________

This piece originally appeared on Moonfrye

All I want for Christmas is at Neiman Marcus

When I was a kid, Christmas was all about me. Starting each November, I would carefully turn down page corners in the huge Sears catalogue and circle my must-haves with a marker. Then I would carefully craft my annual letter to the portly man in the red suit, reminding him of all the good deeds I had accomplished that year. There may have been embellishing or a few little white lies, but he always came through.

I miss those days. Sure, running the whole Santa gig is awesome when your kids are young, but I’ve been Santa’s Helper for 19 years now.

It’s my turn. The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book has arrived.

Dear Santa,

It’s been a long time since I last wrote to you, but I’m sure you will remember me. I was the one who was always kind and caring to her little brother, even though he was always getting into my stuff. I always did what I was told, made my bed, said my prayers and did my homework. That’s how I remember it, anyway. Except that one time when I cut my own hair.

I’ve been a mom for more years than I can count now, Santa. I don’t like to brag, but I’m an amazing mom. Except for those times I had to call 911, locked a newborn baby in the car, burned a few dinners, ran out of diapers, said things my mother would never have said, fed small children Doritos and rice for dinner, cried over Algebra homework and lost my cool at Target I really rock this job. So I am sure you can see why I deserve some swag under the tree that’s just for me.

Jimmy Choo Biker Fox Fur and Floral Suede Shoulder Bag ($5,595)

A dramatic play of texture and color, this Jimmy Choo Biker fur bag is for far more than holding your things—it will finish any ensemble with extravagance.

If I had this bag, my status would instantly be raised from simply Soccer Mom to Uber-Chic and Trendy Mom. My yoga pants and ratty Old Navy sweatshirt would suddenly be extravagant. With all that thick fox fur I might even be able to trick my daughter into thinking this is an actual puppy, which is a win-win for me. Lined in leather, so those random pieces of chewed gum and sticky used tissues will be a breeze to remove.

Sofia Cashmere Diamond Cable Knit Cashmere Throw ($1,150)

These posh throws are one warming trend that will never go out of season.

I really need one of these, Santa. I need time on the couch with my remote control, a strong cup of coffee, a pound or so of peanut brittle and a cashmere throw. Maybe even two of them, so I can cover those stains where I spilled my wine and the dog threw up. As an extra bonus, this throw could double for an outfit when the UPS man comes to the door and I need to cover my yoga pants. See how beautiful and relaxed the woman in the picture looks? Totally me.

Michael Kors Leather-Bodice dress ($3,995)

Michael Kors applies true Yankee sensibility to his tweeds, plaids, lace, and leather. All-American sportswear with an English accent!

Well, there you go — I want to be all English-y and have people think I am sophisticated when I pop into Target for laundry soap or drag
the dog to the vet to have her anal glands expressed. And leather? So sexy, especially on someone my age because it wrinkles in a pattern just like my skin. The skirt is made from angora, wool and cashgora which I am pretty sure is some endangered species of mouse found only on mountain tops in Tibet. The model looks like she just stepped on a Lego, so she obviously knows my life. I would totally rock this dress.

Jean Paul Gaultier Lace-Mesh Long-Sleeve Dress ($395)

The only thing better than a fitted dress is our exclusive lace-embellished Jean Paul Gaultier sheath in a bright, sprightly emerald hue.

I want to be bright and sprightly too — like I feel when the holiday break ends and I drop the kids off at school. What this dress lacks in coverage, it makes up for in versatility. The meshy fabric would be great for attracting dust and dog hair. Why buy just a dress when I can have a shirt,
nightgown and dust rag all in one?

Heritage Hen Farm Beau coop ($100,000)

Dawn breaks. The hens descend from their bespoke Versailles-inspired Le Petit Trianon house to their playground below for a morning wing stretch. Slipping on your wellies, you start for the coop and are greeted by the pleasant clucking of your specially chosen flock and the site of the poshest hen house ever imagined.

Poshest hen house? This place rocks! Forget the hens — this is going to be my own little mommy hideaway. It has a living room, library, an elegant chandelier and a broody room — I have no idea what that is, but I think I need one at least once a month. Fold your own laundry people — mommy’s tending her flock of magazines and martinis.

Teardrop Tailgate trailer ($150,000)

A chorus of cheers rings out the minute you pull up. Tailgating will never be the same now that your Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Woody-Tailgate Trailer is on the scene. You park, open the hatch, and slide out the bar—cocktails anyone?

I have to admit it — I am not the best school volunteer/homeroom lice checker/team mom/PTA coordinator. At best I can volunteer to bring juice boxes or send a check for the field trip. With this awesome trailer, I could erase years of bad karma with the uber-reliable room moms! Hook it up to the trailer hitch on my gas-guzzling SUV and haul it to the PTA meeting. Instantly I become the bestest, funnest and most in-demand mommy
on the playground. Extra bonus points if I can play old episodes of Parenthood on the flat screen TV.

Tom Ford Beauty Exclusive 16 Color Nail Set ($480)

Tom Ford Beauty debuts a wardrobe of high-performance polishes, offering mega-watt shine, while staying true to color. The extra-amplified gloss and shine nail lacquer — in a wardrobe of shades, from alluring brights to chic neutrals — lets you express your mood and complete your look.

Who knew that all I really needed was a coat of expensive nail polish? I thought my Old Navy jeans were a “look” but hey, why not take things to the next level? With so many interesting colors I might have to have the kids walk home from school because I am busy doing my nails — in my hen house. I am especially enamored of the colors all moms should recognize: Naked, Fever Pink, Coral Blame, Bordeaux Lust and Bitter Bitch. Seriously, I am not making these up.

Tweezerman Crystal Tweezer and Stand ($200)

Add some glamour to your bathroom and a little dazzle to your brow beauty routine with this Luxe Edition of Tweezerman’s award-winning Slant.

I need these tweezers, and not just because they are beautiful and sparkly. My rusty old tweezers have seen one too many gray eyebrow hair or splinter-in-the-foot and I am only slightly exaggerating when I say the whole family may need updated tetanus shots. Plus, these are classy
enough that I can tweeze my eyebrows (or nose hair) anywhere I need to – even in the nicest restaurants.

all photos courtesy of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book
 

And, Santa? If you are having a tough year – with the price of gas and bacon being so sky high — I would also be just as happy with a new
umbrella, some socks without holes in them and a popover pan.

Love,

Sherri

On My Watch

The flag was the first thing I noticed. Half-staff and limp on this windless morning.

Mourning as we all were, refusing to wave or stand tall.

Driving into the staff parking lot, this familiar drive I have done countless times, my heart was in my throat.

The kids were pouring into school, running to catch their friends or sneak some playground time before the 8:30 bell. Moms and dads walked along behind them, the familiar march I see most weekdays. A bit more somber than usual, I sensed.

This school is home to me. I started here as a rookie kindergarten parent back in 1999, when my son was 5 years old and school seemed the safest place next to my arms.

Years passed, and both of my kids moved up the ranks from the kindergarten crowd to the upper grades.

I snagged an amazing job working with at-risk kids in small groups, teaching social skills and being someone they could count on to talk about their worries or help them deal with rough times at home.

I love these little ones. So fragile, so trusting and so amazingly resilient.

How will I face them today, when that same fragility that endears them to me now makes them seem so very vulnerable?

As I walk the campus after the bell, I feel like I’m on my watch. Every little thing that seems off is questioned. Doors are locked, gates secured and parents gathered in whispering groups, their eyes full of fear. One of them stops me for a tearful hug, thanking me for what we do.

It reminds me of September 11, when the nation’s eyes were glued to the television and our whole world changed. Our feeling of safety stripped from us as if we were no longer entitled to it. I still sent my kids to school that morning. Many did not, but I felt the intense need to move forward, to make it right.

To make my children believe that there is good and fairness and safety in our world.

How do we do that now?

I pick up my first little group — three adorable, full-of-life little kindergarten girls — and we laugh, we sing, we compare shoes and we learn about taking turns.

They are blissfully unaware that their parents had to make a choice this day. A choice to send them to school and to let them live without fear or worry. To trust that the adults in charge are doing everything they can to keep them safe. A choice to keep their lives normal during all of this chaos.

And the choice to just let kids be kids.

And on my watch, that is just what they will be.

Thankful for the Little Things

There wasn’t enough of it at first. Not for quite some time.

Her father fretted about it just a bit.

His baby girl had hardly any hair.

Granted, nobody ever questioned her gender. Her searing blue eyes matched her brother’s but her features were all girl.

By the time she was two-years-old or so, I could pull together a very small pony tail. More of a collection of wisps, gathered ever so carefully in a tiny hair tie…maybe a small hair clip holding the castaways that were too short to be gathered.

And then, it grew. Her hair got longer and longer, and gathering up a pony tail was easy. It wasn’t her favorite style, but I could coax one out of her before a soccer game or a day at the pool.

Until she decided to cut it off and donate it to someone with cancer.

I was in awe that this tiny little girl would willingly part with her hair. The same hair her father and I were certain would never grow in without that characteristic male-pattern-baldness look we had come to adore.

Her new bob was adorable. She was happy, her hair was easier to manage and life moved on.

And then, slowly…her hair grew back. She still preferred it more medium-length, not too long because it got in the way of climbing monkey bars and swimming and playing soccer.

She always loved to play.

But time marches on.

Mothers grow older, schedules get tight and Monday flows directly into Sunday if you aren’t careful.

I watched this little one of mine walk away from me today…towards the high school soccer field, where the newly chosen freshman team is meeting to practice.

Pony tail swinging confidently, head held high and the world at her feet.

I miss that little girl with the wispy little pony tail.

But I still see her now and then.

And today, I am thankful for pony tails.

 

Jean Envy

They mock me from the closet…from the low shelf, hidden under an old pair of flip-flops and a sweater that’s missing a button.

The pair of Miss Me jeans with the bespangled back pockets (that is totally a word).

I bought them a few months ago, in a fit of enthusiasm that I had scored an awesome deal and they fit.

Having legs that are just about one inch shy of being regular length, I get giddy when I find a pair of LONG jeans that will fit me and not look like cropped pants.

Not that those aren’t cute.

But the Miss Me jeans?

They are awesome.

And yet, they remain with tags, on that low shelf.

I have stolen their chance at glory…stolen their chance to hug the slight curves of a sorority girl or grace the backside of rodeo queen.

What was I thinking?

Tags remain attached, giving slight hope that a sensible return-for-store-credit might be the solution.

And yet…

I want them.

I want to pull them on and admire the blingy back pockets that only draw attention to that flattened place where I sit and write.

I want to wear them to my favorite haunts…the grocery store, Target or the gas station.

I want to sparkle…just a bit.

Isn’t that OK? Does it really matter how silly a middle-aged woman may look with sparkles on her backside?

I took it to the Twitter a few weeks ago…threw it out there…

When is a woman too old for bling on her back pockets?

There was plenty of advice, including this:
“If she has to ask, she probably already knows the answer.”

Damn Twitter.

I want to sparkle a bit longer.

I want to stay up late and run with scissors and eat my ice cream first.

To say no, to take a chance, to dream big and just be alive.

With sparkles on my ass.

…and still, they mock me from the closet.

What am I afraid of? Does it really matter that I am too old to sparkle?

My time to sparkle may be now.

And it may just start with a fabulous pair of jeans.