Monthly Archives: June 2013

WIWW: Summer Work Wear

Hellooooooo there.

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My Pinterest dashboard is filled with images of summery, gauzy outfits that would look completely out of place in an office setting. Can you imagine rolling up to the copy machine in a floaty maxi skirt and tank top? Or pouring a cup of bitter, overcooked coffee in a slip of a sundress and fedora? Me neither.

Once again, employment has thwarted me in my quest for attractiveness.

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Delicate tank and wedges? Summer-y!

Sensible work trousers? Work-y!

Whole outfit: Comfortable!

Thumbs up. Have a lovely week.

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The One Time I Agree with Hillary.

Last week, an article appeared on the Huffington Post entitled “Grown and Flown: Why I Regret Being a Stay-at-Home Mom.” It’s the latest salvo in the tug-of-war between mothers seeking to validate (or invalidate) their life choices. The writer, Lisa Endlich Heffernan, quit her corporate job at the age of 33 because, in her words, her family life was “hopelessly out of control.” Two decades later, she reflects on this decision and feels “real remorse.”

I’ve now read this piece three or four times, and a few things continue to bother me.

If I could wind back the tape, have a do-over, what would I have done differently? Looking on at my grown and nearly-grown sons, I am grateful for the gift of time we had. Yet, I wish I had tried to keep a finger, a toe or a hand in the working world to ease an eventual return. I did not have a job well suited to part-time work, and work at home was technologically impossible at the time. But, the solution required imagination, not capitulation, and with hindsight, I would have recognized that over time, my parenting and career would both ebb and flow, but neither would — nor should — ever end.

Despite the title of the piece, Heffernan states pretty clearly that she doesn’t regret staying home with her sons. What she DOES regret is closing the door entirely on her corporate career, not leaving herself an escape hatch through which to return later. The piece is filled with memories of her former job (which may have been whitewashed by time), in which she worked with cutting-edge technology in a fast-paced environment, where her education and intellect were prized, and where she surrounded by a pleasingly diverse crop of people. Now she feels all her former coolness, hipness, with-it-ness is gone, sucked away by decades at the domestic grindstone.

There’s a term for this. It’s called “mid-life crisis.”

This phenomenon has been recognized in men for decades. The sports car purchase, the new trophy wife, the sudden and overwhelming desire for relevancy through acquisition – it’s a joke now. I believe that something similar is happening to women like Heffernan, but because they don’t have a framework for dealing with these feelings (even a stereotypical one), they flounder.

Quite frankly, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take away from Heffernan’s story. She claims she is deeply dissatisfied, yet wouldn’t do much different if she had the chance. She claims she should have kept a finger in the corporate world she left, but also admits that options that would help NOW (like working part-time or telecommuting) were simply not available when she quit.

You know what I call it when my kids raise complaints without offering reasonable solutions?

Whining.

This brings me to Hillary. Clinton, that is. In an October, 2012 interview with Marie Claire, Clinton said something that I want printed on t-shirts:

I can’t stand whining. I can’t stand the kind of paralysis that some people fall into because they’re not happy with the choices they’ve made. You live in a time when there are endless choices. … Money certainly helps, and having that kind of financial privilege goes a long way, but you don’t even have to have money for it. But you have to work on yourself. … Do something!

Thanks to the work of prior generations, women DO live in a world with almost endless choices. But the simple truth is that every choice we make extinguishes other choices we might have made, due to finite time and resources. And it’s very easy, and tempting, to look back and imagine that if we’d just made Choice B, our lives would be better, happier, more attractive. Heffernan is wasting her finite time imagining the road not taken.

My second issue with the piece is Heffernan’s obliviousness. She complains that she let down generations of feminists because she chose to perform child-rearing and domestic tasks. She complains about using her driver’s license more than her degree. She feels that these activities dulled her intellect, limited her worldview, and (oh, the horror!) infused her marriage with a “faint 1950s whiff.”

Look. Someone has to watch the children. Someone has to pick up the dry cleaning. Someone has to do the laundry, and vacuum, and cook, and dust. Someone has to use their driver’s license to get the kids to school, and soccer practice, and piano lessons. It irritates me when self-proclaimed feminists deride these tasks as sexist and degrading….. and then hire another woman to perform them. If a woman chooses to become a nanny or work at a day care, has she let down generations of feminists? If a woman chooses to clean the houses of wealthy navel-gazers, is her life tainted with a “faint 1950s whiff?”

There are not enough hours in the day, or dollars in the bank, to have all possible choices available to you at all times. Heffernan seems to think her feelings of being “outdated,” or losing the ambition she had in her 20s, are the product of her stay-at-home-mom decades. But I’d bet that most 50-year-olds would nod along to her fear of growing obsolete.

I’m 33 now, and I feel outdated. I don’t wear skinny jeans or have a Twitter account. My iPhone confounds me on an embarrassingly regular basis. I look back fondly on the ambition I had when I graduated college, but I can also still remember the emotional roller-coaster of my early 20s.

Go back? No thanks.

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Field Trip: Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center

On Saturday Tyler’s cub scout pack went fishing and hiking at the Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center in Lamont, Florida. Beau Turner, son of Ted, opened this center a few years ago “to give all kids a place to participate in outdoor activities close to home, including those who may not regularly have access to natural areas.  By introducing youth to their local habitats, encouraging their curiosity and providing tools to foster their interests we are helping them develop a unique and personal relationship to the outdoors.”

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The center is very well-maintained, and the staff was helpful and friendly. They had poles and safety equipment all set up on the fishing dock, and stood ready with needle-nose pliers and towels to assist with hook removal.

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The hiking trail is a 2-mile loop that meanders through the 160-acre property. We walked from the main building down to the lake, about 1/2 a mile.

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Tyler loves fishing. He does NOT love baiting his own hook, casting, or pulling the fish up on to the dock. So I guess you could say Tyler loves the IDEA of fishing.

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He caught six fish – four catfish and two brim. He was quite pleased with himself. We released all the fish, although the center allows you to keep four fish per child. They also stock fish-fry and other cooking equipment if you want to clean and fry your fish immediately. Adults are not allowed to fish, only to assist the kids.

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Overall, I was very impressed with our experience at Beau Turner, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a family-oriented day trip. The center also offers comprehensive fishing and hunting camps for kids and teenagers during the summer.

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Gallery

Back in May, I had some of my photographs printed with an eye towards actually hanging them up in my house. The cost of photo printing was about $3.00.

A couple of weeks ago, I found 8 good white frames in the clearance section of Michaels, so I got them for $12 apiece, or around $100.

I decided to hang the group of photos in the living room, which has one GIANT ENDLESS BLANK WALL that is currently occupied by a single mirror.

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I had leftover navy paint from my foyer table, so I used that to paint the frames. The blue matches the octopus chairs, which obviously are the most important things, ever.

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It took three coats of paint per frame, so the painting ended up being an all-day process. I kept reminding myself that I was saving money. Saaaaaaving money.

We let them dry overnight in the guest room, with the fan on. The next morning I laid out the frames on the living room floor, to see how I wanted to hang them.

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Ron would not move, so he became part of the art installation.

The process was…. laborious. Each frame had two triangle-shaped hangers on the back. The hangers were not evenly-spaced, nor was the spacing consistent between frames. They were also fixed, so you couldn’t adjust the frame once it was hung (as opposed to a wire or saw-tooth hanger). We made good use of my phone’s level app.

Pro tip: if the alignment is just slightly off, you can wrap the nail in a little duct tape to raise one side or the other, without having to move the nail.

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It took over an hour, but eventually we got all the pictures hung. I also hung a couple of Blue Willow plates that were languishing in the breakfront.

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Here is a more-or-less-straight-on view. Please excuse the glare.

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I am thrilled with the results. I like that it’s uncluttered, and there’s plenty of room to expand.

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Now, where’s my camera? I have more art to make.

 

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WIWW: Thrifty

I stopped by Goodwill on Sunday, on a mission for large glass containers. While I was there, I spied a cute sequined top. On closer inspection, I realized it was quite a find indeed:

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Brand new, with tags, seven bucks. Win.

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Even the back is cute:

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I wore it to work on Monday, so I had to add a cardigan:

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Have a lovely week.

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Four out of Five Divorce Experts Agree…..

Divorce experts (and non-experts! and anyone with a lick of common sense!) stress the importance of not using your children for information about your ex.

Here’s why.

This is a text conversation between Hollyn and her mother, from Saturday. What Hollyn didn’t know is that because she used Jason’s ID to download her texting app, copies of all her texts were sent to his phone.

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To be fair, Allison did not directly ask about my medical condition – however, once Hollyn said something, Allison began pumping her for information. Also, Hollyn told us that her mother had been speculating about the cause for my unexpected surgery since Thursday – which is why Hollyn was confirming rather than informing.

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Delete all of this. I’m no family therapist, but I’m pretty sure that instructing your children to cover up conversations with you is never, ever OK. Hollyn did delete the texts – she said she was “just doing what I was told.” Just following orders, sir!

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When Jason picked Hollyn up from Carly’s, she lied to him about the conversation – lied to his face! – because her mother told her to.

The right thing for Allison to do, when Hollyn said, “it was a miscarriage,” would have been to say “I’m sorry,” and move on. But, of course, Allison is not sorry. She’s thrilled.

We spent the rest of the weekend having several long, hurt, tearful conversations with Hollyn. We have taken away her iPod – partly to punish her for lying, but also to limit Allison’s access to Hollyn, and by extension, our home. They continue to talk on the phone daily, but can no longer text each other.

It is an imperfect solution to a problem that has been going on for six years, and which shows no sign of improving in the near future.

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The Art of Losing

Wednesday morning I was scheduled for my first (8-week) prenatal appointment with the midwife. Jason and I had known I was pregnant for almost a month, but had only told a couple of people. We were sent for an ultrasound first, during which the tech told us gently that there was no heartbeat. Everyone at the office was very sympathetic and supportive, but at the same time, we had to focus and make decisions. We didn’t have time to wallow.

We elected to schedule a D&C for Thursday morning, because it required fewer follow-up visits and less monitoring. My GYN agreed to perform the procedure at a brand-new, off-site outpatient surgery center, which ended up being exactly what I needed. It was private and quiet.

Wednesday after work I miscarried, at home. It was awful.

I still had to proceed with the D&C, just to ensure that I wasn’t at risk for infection. I was too numb to be nervous before the procedure, even though they put me to sleep. It wasn’t until I woke up in recovery that I burst into tears and couldn’t stop.

I’m not sharing this story so you’ll feel sorry for me. PLEASE DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR ME.  I’m sharing because 1) this is a Big Thing That Happened To Me, and I figure if I’m going to share small things like what I had for lunch, I should probably include the big things too and 2) it shouldn’t be a Shameful Secret, or any kind of secret. It’s not contagious.

I keep telling myself that it could have been a lot worse. I could have been 30 weeks, with a name picked out and a nursery decorated. But it’s still hard. And the hard hits at the most inconvenient and unexpected times. I went back to work on Friday but was completely useless. I cried at the copy machine. I turned on music in my office (which I never do) and tried to go through the motions of my job.

We told the children Friday night. They had been asking lots of questions about my surgery, and I didn’t want them to find out what happened from anyone but us. Hollyn said the concept of having another child made her uncomfortable, “like when my mom talks about getting a boyfriend,” but she was sympathetic. Tyler was a little outraged at first, because he wanted to be “as close to an only child as possible.” When I pressed him a bit further, he admitted he wanted to be MY only child. We continued talking about it for about 30 minutes, and then he asked, “Well? When are you going to start trying again? Now that we’ve been talking about it, I’m kind of excited.” Plus, he is PSYCHED at the possibility of getting  a minivan. Jensen was sad for our loss, but happy about the prospect of a sibling.

Today I am just exhausted. Physically, I’m fine. But on the inside, I’m a burned-0ut light bulb. Everyone keeps telling me to “take it easy.” But every time I stop moving, stop keeping myself busy, I start to feel the pull of grief.

We’re playing tug-0f-war, me and the grief. I don’t know that I could continue to hold my ground alone; but I have been overwhelmed and strengthened by the outpouring of love and support Jason and I have experienced over the last few days. Jason has been an incredible partner, as always, through this ordeal, and if anything this has strengthened our relationship.

I don’t know what happens now. This may be a speed bump on an otherwise smooth road, or this may be a door closing. Either way, I feel that no matter what happens, our life as it is right now is completely sufficient. There is no baby-shaped hole in our existence; I don’t wake up every morning and wish for just this one more thing.

We’re going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.

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