NFL-No F*cking Law

Posted on September 17, 2014

I’ve grown tired of the soft responses to situations, by the quotes of “he just overdid it” or “it is a private matter.” I’ve heard them blare “Are you ready for some football?” I’d like to raise the question, “Are you ready for some backbone?”

How about you treat your players like human beings and not animals? How about you hold them to the same standards you would hold your children or office employees to? How about, oh powerful NFL, you follow the letter of the law and acknowledge that dog fights, elevator beat downs, and scrotum switching are all against the law?

How about you do something more than add pink wristbands four games a year to suggest that you give a sh*t about women? How about you have a playbook so that you don’t bumble and stammer as you try to figure out just how bad a certain thing is?

See, the thing is, eventually you are going to sidestep your way into utter irrelevance because you refused to take a stand worth sticking to for yourself, your players, or your audience.

Abuse

Stitch Fix (the bitching & the fixing)

Posted on September 12, 2014

There are a lot of complaints that get thrown around these days, online and in person. I am no stranger to having people question why they should have to pay for something that my company does, “But it’s just an idea, it’s not like it’s a product or something that cost you money to make.”

Umm, wrong. The only reason you have the idea is because we came up with it. You didn’t walk through the doors of a public library, you came into a place of business—a place where employees come to work and earn the money that will buy their groceries and pay their rent.

I get a little annoyed when people gripe about Stitch Fix and its associated costs. The model is that they do the shopping for you, not that they scour the stores for the best deal for you. They can resell what they offer at a higher price than they pay for it. That’s what grocery stores and restaurants do, it’s what stores at the mall and online do. It isn’t criminal, it’s business.

You pay $20 for the chance that maybe they find something that you wouldn’t have tried on or would not have been able to find on your own. If they do a good job, that $20 comes right off the price of the clothes, if they miss the mark, it might cover their time, though I imagine that they spend more than an hour curating the outfits. I don’t really want to get into debate over living wages, but if you think their time isn’t worth $20, than you never should have signed up for the program.

Stitch

 

I’ve seen the video of a clothing item from a fix with a lower price tag than it was listed for—yes, that was clumsy, yes you can be annoyed, but it doesn’t mean that Stitch Fix isn’t a viable option for other people.

My latest fix came today, I think it’s about the 7th one I have received.

TheGoods

When I opened it and saw two pairs of pants I was annoyed because in my feedback I have made it clear that some of the styles they send are not great for me. This time it was different. The pants were the right style, the right length, and they were within the price range I said that I would pay.

The first pair is a mid-rise skinny in bordeaux. I couldn’t believe that they were long enough. They don’t do that thing that tight pants do on women with calves like mine, you know that thing where they go taut over the backs of your knees and don’t even touch your skin? I did a deep knee bend and they didn’t show my underwear or make me grunt. I smiled at my deep teal painted toes from my date with Heather Barmore the other day.

InseamToBoot

I know that high-waisted pants are coming in, but they are not going on me. These mid-rise were high enough that they don’t require tiny hip hugger underwear and not so high that they flirted with my belly button.

NoPeekaBoo

 

The second pair is some magical color between navy and black. Long enough and even cuffable!

Cuffable

 

The thing with these stretchy kind of pants, they can make you look flat in back. As I awkwardly tried to look at my backside and photograph it I was pleasantly surprised by the fit.

Boom

Let me talk about the tops, because I have agreed with some of the naysayers about the flowy and boxy styles they’d been sending.

Not this time. The first shirt actually made me moan. I love a long sleeve shirt, but the broadness of my shoulders and the length of my arms usually makes for very ill fitting stuff.

I am in love with this shirt. The quilted look on the shoulders has stretch and easily managed to extend from one side of me to the other without pulling in other areas. The black sleeves are stretchy and soft, same goes for the grey torso area. It’s like it was made for me.

Everything

The other shirt, which has an odd line in the earlier shot because I am neither a fashion blogger nor a planner, was a creeper. I wasn’t sure at first if I’d even try it on, but then when I did I loved the tail in back and the slits on the sides—not too high, not too low.

TailWink

The cap sleeves, which can be a problem with my arms and shoulders, were so soft. Usually I experience armpit torture, not to mention unsightly bra lines on my back. Not with this!
NoBind

 

After trying everything on I looked at the stuff within the context of clothes that I already have. Will they mix and match with things that I already own? Are they colors that I will get sick of before spring? Do I believe that the prices are fair? Will I wear the necklace?

The answer was that they all work. Both pairs of pants will play nicely with the boots I have and several of the sweaters that I own. The tops are perfect immediately as we have cold mornings and muggy days. When it gets even colder, they grey tee may need to go into hibernation, or I could layer it for weekends by the wood stove.

As I look at the box and imagine what it would have taken for me to get to the mall that is 45 minutes away—a sitter, or a free weekend day, the right mood…it goes on and on. Trying things on at home is so much less demoralizing than standing in the dressing rooms at some of these shops. I have my favorite store locally, which I still go to for jeans and tops, but the benefit of Stitch Fix is that it comes each month without fail. I can keep things or not, but it is my guarantee that once a month for at least a half an hour, I focus on me.

It won’t always be perfect, but it will always be worth $20 for that chance that it might be.

If you want to try it, here’s a referral. If you sign up and order a fix I will receive a credit, then you can go on to do the same thing on Twitter or Facebook or just through an email to a friend. You don’t have to do any of this. What I do hope that anyone who is reading this will do is consider the value of other people’s time; from the contractors who come to your home to give you a quote, to the accountants you work with to file your taxes, to the nurses who call you hon as they draw blood.

We’re all working and we’re all trying.And, maybe if we’re lucky, we’re looking fabulous as we go about our day.

 

The Wisdom of it Being About the Journey

Posted on September 7, 2014

SunsetCrownPoint!

 

We worked over the weekend. We had thought it would be a bit of a sneak-attack getaway, but it turns out that photo shoots at watermarks, no matter how amazing the resort or how kind the staff, are challenging on little sleep with three kids. We made the most of it, but the drive home was a gauntlet—missed turns, weak bladders, construction, stopped ferries, and all sorts of other impediments…I did some snapping, the girls did some whining, Sean might’ve done some selective hearing, and then at some point we just gave up.

“Another bathroom break? Sure, why not,” and then at that convenience store (beautiful, because it was in Vermont) we encountered a graduation party with a live band, so we snacked on bananas and pretzels as we swayed and tapped along to the sounds. Then, back in the car, we motored along until realizing that there was a camel in our midst. We stopped and marveled, saying things in an imagined camel voice like, “Nothing to see here, I’m just a part of the flock. Move along.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 6.15.29 PM

 

 

“Should we just stay in Burlington for the night?” Sean whispered. I was weak, ready to be done, whether it meant a hotel room or another 2 hours in the car. “Sure,” I whispered.

“Naw, let’s go home, maybe catch dinner in Bolton,” he said.

We trudged on, changing the music every so often.

“This is the turn we took on our honeymoon,” Sean said as we took a right on another seemingly nameless road. I searched my memory, our honeymoon was bliss, but all I remembered from the drive home was an—

“Oh my gosh, what is that smell? That stinks so baaaaad!” Avery blurted.

“Now, I remember,” I said.

We drove along Dead Creek marveling at the endless swaths of corn fields. We stopped to take pictures of cows. We played non-internet Words With Friends as the girls lamented our signal free status.

“Just ask each other for a 5 letter word with G,” I explained.

Ave said, “Give me a four letter word…”

I couldn’t help myself and said, “I’m good with those.” Sean laughed, Ave said, “Whatever,” and we moved along toward the bridge we needed to take.

“Is that it? Are we going on that?” they screamed. We did that parent grin, relief and a little bit of cockiness. “Sure is.”

Bridge

 

We saw walkers and I said, “Oooh, it looks like you can walk on this bridge.” The girls asked ‘please’ just as I looked at Sean with a face that asked the same thing. “Sure, if we can find a place to park, he said” We spent the next hour walking along the bridge and then the historic military site just below, along the banks of Lake Champlain.

 

Run

 

Scaling IMG_4681

 

There was no rushing, no fussing. The girls took the lead and we followed wherever their curiosity took us. Step by step the road funk and travel fatigue slipped away. We squatted to examine carvings in the stone, some historic, some sophomoric. We wondered aloud about war and about water. Before I knew it, the tickle of wet grass on my ankles and that particular sensation of night air passing from the lake’s surface to my face gave me a kind of timeless peace, summers past and evenings still to come. I willed a thank you out into the night for the unexpected time without boundary of minutes or rules.

IMG_4682

 

We drove quite literally into the sunset and I wondered if maybe happily ever after is possible night after night, rather than just once in a lifetime, when you just let go.

Unbelievable

Saturday Lessons on LEGOs and Saying Yes

Posted on August 31, 2014

I woke up this morning to Finley spooning me. Her face was close enough that my hair fluttered as she sighed. I kept my eyes closed because I wasn’t ready. She ran her finger up and over my shoulder again and again. I listened, the house was quiet but for the ceiling fans running.

“Where are your sisters?” I murmured softly enough that she’d know I still wasn’t committed to waking up.

“Briar is downstairs, when I looked for Ave I couldn’t find her in her bed. Did Dad leave?”

I nodded, she hugged me tighter. I cracked an eye, she beamed at me. I tried to keep it open, but the pull of sleep and the resistance to all that the day would hold was too strong. She was still as I drifted off again. Dreams and thoughts chest bumped in my mind, good sleep was over.  I opened my eyes.

“You ready?” I asked her. She nodded. “Me too,” I said.

As we got breakfast together Finley rattled off all the things we were going to do. These were things I’d said to her as I tried to get her to go to sleep the night before, most of them preceded by, “Maybe we’ll…

“So, ok, girls. Are you listening? Girls? First, mom is taking us to the market, you know, for cider and a heart cookie. Then we’ll go to Friends of Phoebe to donate for Mae. Then we’re going to a park. Then we’re coming home and mom is going to build a fort in the backyard and we are going to play faeries and tell stories. We aren’t getting a cat at Phoebe’s but we might, right mom?”

I looked at her sisters and said, “We’ll see.”

I made good on my promise when we got to the market, they looked like the Cheshire cat as they held their heart-shaped, rainbow sprinkle cookies and clutched cider and chocolate milk in their hands. They followed me, weaving through the shoppers in the pavilion. They helped me pick green beans and onions, pickles and baguettes. By the time we got to the park we were tired and it was getting hot.

We darted from the swings, to the monkey bars, and then over to the natural playground on the other side of the park. They called out character assignments, I was Queen Clarion, guardian of all of Pixie Hollow. Ave was a fast faerie, Fin was a water faerie, and Briar was, very nonchalantly, a Tinker.  “Do you not want to play?” I asked her.

“No,” she said softly.

“You embarrassed, sweets?”

“No, not at all. It’s just that I kind of want to wander and maybe just sometimes float in and out,”” I rubbed her shoulders and then ran, tiptoe-style down the hill while calling out, “Faeries, faeries are you all alright?” We played like that for a while before making our way back to the other side of the park.

“Mom, I’m kinda hot. Can we leave soon?” Briar asked as we walked down the ramp of the wooden ship.

“‘scuse me,” came a voice below us. A boy, maybe 5 or 6, was leaning on a railing and looking at Briar. She started to side-step him.

“Ek-thk-use me,” he said deliberately, stepping toward Briar. “I kinda need some help. Do you know how to LEGO? Because I don’t really know how to LEGO and I got a kit at the store and if you could help me it’d be really thuper,” his lisp ducked in and out of his words. His summer-worn tennis shoes scraped at the ground and the spikes on top of his head reminded me of a dinosaur back.

Briar looked at me awkwardly. “Honey, I think he really wants your help. You think you might like to help him?” I knew she was hot and, frankly, we don’t really ‘know how to LEGO,’ but she nodded. “Sure.”

“Great,” he said as he led her to a bench.

Lego

 

They sat with him for 20 minutes building the TIE Interceptor, Briar read the instructions aloud, while Ave found the necessary LEGO pieces. I asked a few times if they needed help, “We’ve got it, Mom.” It was strange not being the one who stepped into fix it, it was also intoxicating to watch my girls help this little kid. I played with Fin while they finished building.

“Ready to go?” I called as Briar and Avery bid the little boy and his ship goodbye. “Yes!” they shouted as they ran toward me. “Can we go to Friends of Phoebe now?” I nodded and drove toward the shelter where we’d gotten Mae. We spent twenty minutes visiting the kittens and thanking Kim, the owner, for giving us the best cat we’d ever known. She accepted our donation humbly. The drive home was quiet.

“You guys want me to build that fort that we talked about?” They nodded quietly. When we got home I set them up with a snack as I went out to build a fort. It was still hot and I was tired. I wanted to curl up next to a fan and just be. I sat down with my heap of curtains and tapestries and looked up at the sky. The clouds rippled like meringue. A breeze floated through the yard and I got a whiff of forever, that scent of my own childhood mixed with hope for the season ahead. I stood up and started tying knots—time to build a forever fort. We all needed it.

“Girls, it’s ready,” I called. They came thundering out, “Really?”

Fin screamed, “Oh, girls look!” We all climbed in together.

A Start

They walked around, claiming their spots and marveling at the way the light came through the different fabrics. The breeze was a co-conspirator in the magic, fluttering the different walls as if on cue. Finley ran and got a stack of books.

Reader

 

 

IMG_4453

 

After we read and as the light began to change, we cuddled up close. “Can we braid your hair, mom?” Briar asked. “And can I twist it, because I can’t braid. It’ll still look amazing, mom,” Finley gushed. I smiled as Ave said, “You go ahead girls, I’m going to take the picture and then edit it. I’ll make it look great.”

 

 

 

Braids

 

 

It was a long day and a good day. The platitudes of the years being minutes resonated and yet I found that the energy I gather from those moments of breathing in forever and from seeing my daughters muster the wherewithal to keep going, even when they’re ready to collapse, expands the minutes. We find and build our own fluid minutes and within them capture memories that will live on forever.

All the Flavors—sad to happy to wow

Posted on August 25, 2014

“We’re going to try and have an adventure, ok?” I gently cajoled.

“Really, what is it?” They asked. I shook my head, “I want it to be a surprise.” They blurted out guesses that quickly began to make my plans for an afternoon at the county fair seem kind of lame.

“Nope,” I said trying to keep my spirits up as I weaved defensively through the weekend traffic.

“Mom, is it ok if I take a nippy-nap?” Finley asked quietly.

“Sure, of course. Do you feel sick?” I asked worried.

“Yes, do you feel sick, Fin? Are you going to throw up, because if you are we should stop,” Briar said in a mixture of fret and lecture.

“No, I’m just tired.”

I wondered if I was trying too hard. Sean was going to be home after midnight and another day of going it alone with the flowers on Mae’s grave stopping us all in our tracks made me think getting out would be a relief. The thing is I am hopeless at getting places; my inner compass and instinct always guided me left when I should go right, south when the destination is north.

We got a little lost, but I didn’t lose it, not when Siri, who I only used at the girls’ insistence said, “Boy, that’s quite a distance from where you are,” and not even when the farmer on the side of the road, in response to my question, “Can you tell us how to get to the Washington County Fair?” began laughing.

An hour into what should have been a 30-minute drive, I let go of expectations and just tried to give myself to the current of the day. It was hot. There was a dramatic wrenching right of the steering wheel in bumper-to-bumper traffic to beat the tide of car-sickness. There was the lingering veil of loss, missing Mae and wishing that Sean were with us. Oh, and the last leg of summer, I’m-kind-of-sick-of-you, sibling rivalry. Then we made it.

We walked a half a mile from the parking lot to the admission gates. It was easily another half a mile to the rides. We stopped to see the animals. The girls gasped and exclaimed, the big girls reading aloud the signs of each animal’s lineage. I smiled, proud.

“So this is why you had us not wear our new shoes, right mom?” Avery asked as she side stepped a large pile of manure.

“Yup,” I grinned. We walked through the tents and barns remarking on the smells and sounds. Avery snapped pictures with her camera, Briar lingered at each pen holding her hand up gently and whispering to the animal, “Yes, yes, don’t you, don’t you like this? I love you. Yes, yes, I do.” It’s hard not to wince at how unwaveringly she wears her heart outside of her body; free to anyone she meets and startlingly open to hurt.

Despite a large breakfast and snacking before we left, the girls quickly needed a bite. I shepherded the girls past onion blossom shacks and fried dough wagons. I reminded myself that we were at a fair. “Chicken tenders, girls?” They squealed. After buying the food I scanned the area. “Mom, are there tables? And shade?” Fin was still off from the car ride.  I found a patch of grass and shade on the ground behind a ticket boot and beneath a ride called, “Chaos.”

We sat over plates of greasy food. Sweat pooled in my shirt, both sides, and I struggled to enjoy an experience that I had little control over.

TICKETS

“Is it good?” I asked as they dipped French fries in little plastic cups of generic ketchup while Counting Crows crackled from the speakers on the ride above us. “Awesome! Mom, look, that lady lost her shoe. It flew right off!” I looked up and sure enough there was a bare foot whizzing by.

“Wow,” I said.

“Can we go on the Scrambler now?” Ave asked.

“Sure, Fin and I will stay here. When you’re done let’s pick one that she can do too.” They ran off nodding. Finley and I watched and laughed as they zoomed close and away; a blur of whipping hair and flapping hands.

Scrambler

Next we hoofed it to the slides, I was grateful for the three lanes, “Look, we can do it together!” They sidled up next to each other in the line, claimed their carpets from the ride operator with a cigarette wedged between his lips, and made their way up the rickety steps. I chided myself for thinking of tetanus, germs, and mange as they bubbled over about who would take the teal one and who would be pink or purple.

Whee

We broke apart so the big girls could ride something called “Rock and Roll” while Fin and I rode the Ferris wheel. I may have mentioned rides don’t come naturally to me, which seems to enhance the girls’ enjoyment of the rides. I teetered between terror, remorse, and relief that I said yes.

As our supply of tickets ran down we bought more. I declared each ride, “the last one, ok?” We’d walk along with them counting quietly, “One, two, three—thank you mom!” and me saying, “Ok, one more, pick one you all want to do.”

A headache nipped at my temple and I took a slug of water. As I gulped it occurred to me that I hadn’t cried all day, hadn’t yelled either. I gave Briar and Avery the last few tickets and asked Fin if she wanted to sit with me. She nodded and slipped her hand under my shirt and rubbed my waist.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 8.54.17 AM

We left slowly, weaving our way through the barns again. Goats, bunnies, pigs, cows, horses, chickens and ducks. We walked past monster trucks and motorcycle displays. We passed through food tents, 4H booths, and hand washing stations. When we got to the parking lot they asked to take a courtesy cart to the car.

“Sure,” I said. Their heads whipped, shocked. I am usually very much a, “Nope, you have to walk,” kind of mom. It was hot, the car was so far away, and the cart was right there. They hopped on as excited as if it had been another ride.

As the man drove of us over the bumpy field I slipped away in my mind, reflecting on how it was ok, we were ok. It’s ok that we aren’t happy every minute, or eating clean at each meal. Getting sticky and sweaty is a part of summer; climbing the walls and getting car sick are all a part of this whole thing.

Just like with the laundry room, I found myself pretty proud that I braved an unfamiliar drive with all three girls and let go of (most) of my worries. It was fun and we all needed it.

Have you learned any life lessons this summer?