Why I’m So Hot

I can feel his eyes on me as I dress and move towards the door.

“I thought for sure you’d do it today,” he says through sleepy whispers.

My gaze drops to the floor and I sigh, “Not today; maybe next week. I’m just not ready.”

He mumbles something and rolls over, not wanting to press the issue. How can I explain this to him in a way that he’ll understand?

I can tell by his reaction he thinks I’m a certifiable basket-case; a nut; a kook.

But he’s called me on it, and he’s right.

I’ve developed a phobia of sorts.

I just can’t bring myself to wear shorts this summer.

And today? We hit the 100-degree plus mark.

They taunt me from the drawer with their short legs and breezy leg openings. In their neatly organized piles sorted by color and fabric, they promise summer fun and cuteness.

One pair even has pleats that I carefully ironed last fall before putting them away for the last time.

But was it the last time for the season, or the last time at all?

I’ve always been a shorts-in-the-summer kind of gal, always made sure that I had all the basics covered: a white pair, a dressier pair, denim, khaki, and maybe a crazy plaid pair. Funky cut-offs for the beach; snazzy linen for brunch.

But plans like that were made with legs that I haven’t seen in a few years.

Not the legs I’m hobbling around on these days.

Lately I’ve become rather fond of knee-length short-type things (Bermudas?), skirts that end at the knee, and capri pants. All of those styles that cover that back part of the leg. You know, the longest part.

My ankles are rather nice, thank you very much.

As I get closer to that looming 50th birthday in a few years, I find that even though I’m comfortable with myself, I’m not so comfortable subjecting other people to the horrors that age is bestowing on me.

While my legs have always been pale, now that paleness is accentuated with purplish veins like the doodles of a distracted middle school girl.

In purple Sharpie pen.

Knees are never really sexy, but mine are now encased in baggy skin. Where exactly did the fat under there go?

It quite possibly migrated north and stopped for a layover on the shores of my belly button.

That explains a lot.

And don’t even start on the exercise thing. I suppose that exercise alone would transform my legs, make them shorts-worthy in no time. Or possibly make the veins even veiny-er.

If I were willing to commit to it.

I even went shopping, determined to find the pair of shorts that I could actually wear with confidence this summer.

If I thought my legs looked horrid at home, they looked like abstract art under the tragic fun-house lights in the dressing room at Kohl’s.

Do they do that on purpose? Is there a hidden camera show I’m not aware of that taunts middle-aged women with cute clothes, then lures them into a room with hideous lighting and crazy mirrors?

If there is, I was a contestant.

This battle isn’t over, but for now?

Shorts:   1
Sherri:   0

Free Bird

Both of my kids went back to school last Monday. My job at the school doesn’t start for a few weeks yet, so I have some free time on my hands. There is still the school drop-off/pick-up for my 12-year old and everyone still expects to eat dinner for some reason. But other than that, free time.

Since my kids aren’t little anymore, I do actually get some time alone during the summer. I’m just usually the taxi driver/short-order cook/driving instructor/problem solver/nagger/cruise director and feel like I’m “on duty” 24/7 when they aren’t in school.

During the school year, I know where they are from 8am -2:30pm. It’s kind of like they’re in jail, with no possibility of parole until 2:30 or a vomiting episode, whichever comes first.

As our summer starts to wane, there is always much anticipation of my upcoming free time; so many possibilities. Mani-pedi?? Massage? Meet friends for coffee/lunch/walking/shopping? Lie around the house and do nothing? Write my novel/exercise/knit/crochet/start a money-laundering scheme/walk the dog/scrapbook?

Let’s just say I’m not crafty, so several of those ideas do.not.apply.

But the possibilities are endless.

Monday morning came and the kids went off to suffer through enjoy their first day of their new school year.

I hit the ground running….I was on fire! Drop off daughter, make menu list for the week, shop for groceries at two stores, unload groceries, play with the dog, blog, tidy up family room, make some lunch.

It was only 11am. And then I was stumped.

My problem is that I don’t know how to relax. Deciding what to do is not easy for me, especially when there are so many options.

When I’m stumped on what to do, my mommy-auto-pilot takes over and I start randomly throwing in loads of laundry or tidying something up. Which is never really done, so it’s always an option when bored.

But it’s boring.

As the week moved on, I found something to do for myself each day. I went jogging, trying to find the legs I once had; learned to Tweet thanks to encouragement from my blog buddy Liz; finally linked up to Mama Kat’s writing workshop; I chatted with a far-away friend.

By Friday, I was bored.

And out of the blue, boss-lady called to see if there was ANY chance I could work just a few hours before I’m hired back for good? Just set up the classroom, start getting referrals for at-risk kids from the teachers. She says there are SO many kids that need me this year.

My first thought? Crap. My summer is over.

But after I hung up, I had a different thought. Maybe I finally found what I was looking for all week long.

I think I just need to be needed. Just a bit.

Summertime Then and Now

Today I am linking up to Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop over at Mama’s Losin’ It!. I am dedicating this post to my bloggy friend Cori, who is pretty sure I will never link up.

Mama's Losin' It

Prompt #5)  What five images paint a perfect picture of summer to you? Put those five images together in a piece of writing.

Summertime used to mean bicycle rides to the park, leaving early to beat the heat.

  • Now it’s teaching him to drive while I grip the door handle and try to control my breathing. I just might take up smoking.

Summer used to mean candy-colored popsicles, dripping down his chin and onto a dinosaur t-shirt.

  • Now it’s a 64 ounce Dr. Pepper from the Mini Mart and a Disturbed t-shirt.

He used to be up with the sun in the summertime, ready to start his day with a smile on his face and an Eggo waffle.

  • This summer, getting up “early” means before 10am; he’s lethargic, and wants coffee. And an Eggo.

Summer used to mean freedom from homework and teachers!

  • This summer, he had homework for 3 classes that was VERY time consuming. Reading Crime and Punishment would have been punishment enough without finding 25 relevant quotes and writing about each one.

Summer used to mean endless free time with him, doing puzzles, going to the library, the water park, and getting together with friends.

  • This summer, some of our best free time was spent on a road trip to check out colleges. For next year. When after our summer is over, he will leave.

I have learned to take each summer as it is, to savor the time with my kids and the break in routine. There are no more chubby legs in swim diapers, no more swim lessons at the local pool in the searing heat. The Free Family Movie morning at the local cinema is no longer fun, the park is for babies, and the library reading program is something you volunteer to help with, not participate in.

I watch the mommies pushing their strollers and wiping noses and I miss those days. Some days, more than others.

I absolutely love the people my kids are turning into. People that somehow, through all of my nagging and sometimes feeble attempts at parenting, I have helped shape them into.

But for all of the noses I wiped, all the sunscreen I applied, the hours I spent pushing the stroller, and all of the popsicle stains I vanquished I earned a valuable prize.

The title of Mom.

Hot and Heavy

I’m involved in a love/hate relationship of sorts.  It really shouldn’t be this way, since we’ve spent a lot of time together over the years.  Part of the appeal of blogging is that it’s free therapy, and I need to get this off my chest.

It’s my hair.

No, there isn’t any on my chest.  Not that I’ve noticed anyway, but maybe I should look.

But I have A LOT of hair on my head.  Summertime is when I realize HOW MUCH I really have.  It’s like a warm, fuzzy blanket that I wear around my neck and halfway down my back.  I hate how it looks when I put it up, so I don’t do that often.  Until the temps hit 100 degrees or higher (today was our first 100+ day, hence the blog post).  I guess the hair looks fine up; it just draws more attention to my face.  Ugh.

Cut it short you say?  Not a chance.  The last time my hair was short was during a dark period of the 1970’s, when my mom took me to get a cute shag.  I would post a picture of it, but the only thing worse than the shag was the clothing I wore in the 70’s.  Nobody needs to see that.

See, my mom was a very smart woman.  She told me I needed to take good care of my dreadlocks hair, since I was old enough to brush and wash it on my own.  I’m sure I listened on some kid level, and that was the extent of it.  Until I got the knot.  THE KNOT at the nape of my neck that birds attempted to lay eggs in.  It was rumored that lost socks were in there somewhere.  Women with knitting needles started eyeing it, picturing the fuzzy scarf they could knit with it.  THE KNOT that no comb could conquer.  Tears, cream rinse, No More Tangles spray….nothing would work.  So, we went to get the cute shag.

That was the last time I had short hair.  Well, that short anyway.

Over the years after that, I had a plethora of hairstyles.  Farrah Fawcett feathers in high school, bangs (grown out and cut again many times over), side parts, center parts, and spiral perms.  My dark brown hair would get a golden tint each summer from time spent in the sun and in the pool.  Not thinking that was enough, I had an unfortunate incident with Super Sun-In right before college, which turned my hair a rancid shade of orange.  I looked like a popsicle.

The orange hair took several years to grow out, during which time my hair did get shorter….just to get rid of the orange.  The last bit of faded orange was trimmed away weeks before my wedding (whew!).

Now my head is being invaded by the nasty grays.  Tons of them.  They have already been invading for years; now they have called for reinforcements.  After several calculations using algebra in front of the bathroom mirror the other day, I am convinced that the brown hairs may be the new minority. 

So I color the grays a shade not far off from the summer color I used to get naturally, for free.  Only it’s not so free now, and I have to go every 6 – 8 weeks to keep from looking like I should be riding a broom instead of driving a Honda.  I will keep doing it until the grays no longer accept any color they don’t like.  I’m hoping this isn’t until I am well into my 80’s.

So between the hot neck and the salon bills, I’m feeling a bit at the mercy of my hair and our tenuous relationship these days.  Not complaining, just taking advantage of the free therapy.

Makes orange not look so bad.  Maybe something in a cute shag.

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Summer Daze

It’s been two weeks since school let out, which means summer is in full swing around here!  So far, I have been making a conscious effort to be lazy relax and enjoy the slower pace.  My family still seems to wind up with clean clothes, a spotless clean-enough house, and a somewhat homemade meal on the table sometime after 6pm.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that chaos hasn’t broken out.  Yet.

I am trying to be more mindful this summer, to enjoy things as they come and not always be thinking of the next thing that needs to be done.  Or what hasn’t been done from yesterday.  Or whether or not I should consider Botox.  Or that we are one year away from paying for college.  Or global warming.

Really, I think it’s working.

So in honor of being mindful and relaxed, I want to share a few things I have learned so far this summer:

  • Puppies do NOT automatically calm down when they turn 1 year old.  That must have been in the fine print.
  • The “gradual tanning” lotion and my skin have decided that they will NOT cooperate with each other.  I keep trying, but the lotion still smells bad and my skin stays pasty white.
  • If I flex my arms muscles in just the right way, I can still wave and/or clap in a sleeveless top without arm jiggle.
  • If you offer a teenager a cup of coffee, he will take it.  And add tons of sugar.  Then he wants a cup the following morning.  A few mornings after that, he will not only pour HIS cup, but he will attempt to put YOUR cup into a travel mug and take it with him.  It’s like that Mouse and that Cookie….except for the fact that Mommy needs her coffee, and that boy was willing to share his cookies.
  • If you go shopping in the first week or two of summer, you will run into many, many teachers and other school employees.  It’s like we are on parole for good behavior, let out of the cage, set free.
  • If you are enjoying lunch with friends and the waiter keeps bringing you endless iced tea refills, do NOT pass up an opportunity to use the restroom before leaving the restaurant.  It’s a long ride home.  A long, uncomfortable ride.
  • Contrary to what I previously believed, the earth does not stop spinning if I leave the house with wet, uncurled hair.  Actually, nobody seems to notice or care.
  • I still don’t like leaving the house with wet, uncurled hair.
  • Guacamole and chips make a wonderful lunch.  Just don’t tell my kids.
  • I really enjoy spending time with my kids.  Really.

What little bits of wisdom have you learned so far this summer?

Chill Out!

I came to the realization this week that I stink at relaxing.  You wouldn’t think relaxing is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced.  I may be missing a gene, or maybe I was dropped on my head as an infant.  I could have missed a class on relaxation. Whatever the reason, I just can’t relax. Hang out. Chill.

So this summer, I will learn to relax.  Except that sounds like I am planning to relax, which in effect negates the whole idea of relaxing.

This is hard.

I envy people who can just chill out on the couch, watching sports or a favorite sitcom.  I can watch TV, but I am usually also thumbing through a magazine, folding clothes, trying to blog, surfing the Internet, stretching my chronically stiff hips, or playing fetch with the dog.  And relaxing, I guess.

Even if I pour a glass of wine, shut down the laptop, and cuddle next to hubby on the couch I am likely to still be “on” in my head.  Menus to plan, schedules to coordinate, who needs to be where tomorrow at what time?  It’s like that ticker on Wall Street with the same information streaming by every few minutes. Except even the stock market shuts down and takes a break. No ticker, just quiet.

Some people relax while going for a walk.  I usually spend time on a walk thinking about what I need to do when I get home. Or what I should be doing rather than walking.  Walks feel like they need a destination, a purpose.  Other than just the relaxing, of course.

I tried yoga class a few years back.  Friends said it would be relaxing.  It felt good to stretch, but I just couldn’t turn my head off.  After about 15 minutes, I started clock-watching.  When would this relaxing be over, so I could get on with things that needed to be done?  After the class ended, so did my stint with yoga.  I may try again someday, in a studio with no clock.

I do enjoy reading, something that I find more time for in the summer.  But sometimes I find that I want to finish a book so I can start the NEXT book in my pile.  Now it seems like a task to complete, not a method of relaxation.

Maybe my problem is that I don’t REALIZE I am relaxing while I enjoy favorite activities.  Relaxation may not have to take place on its own, but instead with a symphony of other things interrupting it in the background.

Or maybe I just have the attention span of a Cub Scout.

This summer, I have visions of a lounge chair on the beach, a great book, listening to the waves, and trying to soak up some sun through my SPF 50, umbrella, and floppy hat.  Sometime this summer I will relax, and I will enjoy it.  It may have to be while I am asleep, but I will be relaxed.

Dirty Little Secrets

There is something I’ve been hiding from everyone for months now, and I realized this past week that it’s not something I can hide for very much longer.

It’s my feet.

Warm weather always arrives abruptly in California, catching us all by surprise sometime in March.  Not that I am complaining about this!  We have had an unusually wet, cold winter (which we needed) and I have welcomed these sunny days by wearing short sleeves and leaving my gloves at home.

But those cute sandals and open-toed shoes I shelved back around October will have to wait a bit longer.

I have never been one of those mani/pedi people. Friends who keep regular appointments year-round impress me.  We could meet any time of the year for dinner or drinks and they would show up with perfectly shaped and shaded nails peeking out of cute, strappy shoes.  I would show up in boots.  Once in a while, when the desire to wear the cute, strappy shoes takes over, I actually break down and paint my own toenails.  The last time I did this was Christmas morning, when I hastily decided that I HAD to wear the open-toed shoes. Remnants of the particularly strange orange/red shade I chose at the last minute that morning still remain on my toes several months later.

Does anyone really like feet, anyway?  They serve an incredibly useful purpose, I agree. But not many people have feet that would be considered beautiful.  My husband thinks that mine could be used to power a Flintstone’s car.  He’s not even impressed that, due to the way my toes curl under, I can pick up random objects like pencils and lip balms that have fallen on the floor.  Well, it has come in handy on occasion.

Once sandal season hits, you can’t even polish your nails until the feet themselves are moisturized, the nails nicely squared off, all rough spots smoothed away.  This is an easy thing for me to successfully avoid all fall and winter.  But now that warmer weather is here, I may need to scour those calluses, chip away at that old polish, pick a spring shade, and start showing off my cute sandals.

Sounds like a lot of work.  Maybe it’ll rain again this week…..