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What the Puck?!

I am sitting the in parking lot of a suburban ice arena.

I am will get to know this parking lot very, very well,  five times a week, well.

The windows are down, because the AC doesn’t work in this car and it is hot and sticky with a storm on the verge of unloading.

I am wolfing down a leftover Sloppy Joe sandwich and stale potato chips in the driver’s seat before venturing into the main lobby where there is nowhere comfortable to perch oneself.

I have the hiccups.  It’s hard not to choke with a mouthful of Sloppy Joe and the hiccups.  I don’t care.

The cold, hard reality of Jack’s high school hockey season sunk in this week when his first practice rolled around.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, mostly at 9:20   pm and always at this suburban ice house.  Why practice cannot be at the arena that is walking distance from high school is a cruel question.  What this means is that Kate and I will live hockey along with my son and will spend many very late school nights watching a Zamboni slowly shave the oval to fresh perfection.

Though I am looking forward to Jack’s high school hockey career, the girl and I  are not too excited about the journey.  She would rather eat ground glass than sit in a chilly ice arena and stare at her IPad for hours.  She has done her time there and at many, many baseball practices and games, too.  The kid needs a break.  Our sitter will probably save her from one of the nights, but I couldn’t seem to figure out how to shield her from the rest.

Today was one of those days.  One the way to  work, the “CHECK ENGINE!!!” light blinked on and I quickly veered to the dealership.  My worst fears were realized when the service manager said, “The repair will be $1,000.00. Oh, and the brakes are shot…”  I called Tom to verify if we should really have the repair done, but six hours difference and a continent away (UK) messed up communication.  By the time he messaged back,  “Decline the repair!”, it may have been too late.  Grrrrr……

About lunch time, my son messaged me that his phone ceased working, as in his Internet and apps.  He blamed a new parental control app we installed and he became completely unglued.  It really is interesting to read shouts and snarks over texting…  I impressed myself with my ability to remain calm and to not reach through my phone and strangle him.

All the while, I was at WORK, you know, having meetings, writing reports, making sales calls, earning my PAY.  The world does not revolve around whether your SnapChat works or not, Son….

Back to the hockey schedule from hell….  After I finished my gourmet dinner, I emerged from my car and trudged toward the ice house and ran into some other hockey moms who were just about to go on a walk together.  They looked so relaxed and happy in their yoga gear and gym shoes.  I looked liked Working Mom meets Medusa!

We started talking about the late night practices and next thing I knew two  ladies offered to take Jack Monday and Wednesday!!!  How nice is that?!  This day has a silver lining after all….  I might not even mind driving home in the rain with the windows down…

 

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Black Leggings….

Image result for black leggings

Last night I was forcefully introduced to high school fashion, 2016.  Kate and I innocently decided to take in our first “Friday Night Lights” football game at my son’s new high school.  He, of course, took separate transportation to the game and could not be seen within the same zip code of us, or so he thought.  More on that later….

It was a beautiful evening, perfect for football.  The high school stadium is large, dignified and breeds excitement in the autumn air, simply with its presence.  There was a cool breeze, so we donned jackets and jaunty scarves and we briskly walked to the gate and paid the nominal entrance fee after getting my purse checked and wanded by security.  This is Chicago, after all….

The masses of band members were excitedly taking their places in the stands and the pumped up football players were running plays on the field in preparation for the game against the Wolves from who knows where.

We took in the energetic scene as we walked toward the bleachers when I noticed that my son was directly in front of us.  He unfortunately glanced back to see us, registered a millisecond length recognition of horror, force an even shorter smile, whipped his head around and scurried ahead of us, with two girls alongside.  Bravo, my son!  You have friends!  They are girls!  Ohhh, and they are cute, too….   Waaaiiiit a minute!  WHAT are they WEARING?!  Or maybe the question was, WHAT ARE ALL OF THESE GIRLS WEARING?

When did skin tight black leggings with no underwear, not even dental floss thongs, paired with cropped tops become a fashion staple???  It’s like the entire student section was ready for yoga! What’s in fashion next year…….pasties?

Ok, I’m old, and when I was a teen, we wore Forenza sweaters that blocked every sensual curve we might possibly possess.  Our jeans went up to our armpits and ended below our ankles and only sluts wore pumps with them.  In college, the uniform dujour was baggy sweats or a totally matched preppy ensemble about as sexy as a nun’s habit.

I get it…..the eighties styles are about one hundred and eighty degrees from what the kids are wearing today, but wow, moms, I feel for ya.  The whole figure is OUT THERE for all to see.  For fourteen year old boys who get turned on when the wind blows, this has got to be an eye exploding bonanza.  And in a world that is super PC, with zero tolerance and no room for error or sense of humor, one out of line comment from anyone is big trouble.

So, moms and dads, how are kids handling this sexier fashion the teens are sporting out there?  It was a bit shocking to me, I’ve got to say.  I will continue to work hard to teach my son to respect women and girls and to give him the tools to treat them well.  High school is a new milestone and pretty girls are another chapter, too.  Wow…..

Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend!   Here is an awesome recipe my father in law prepared for us recently.  It was so good we made it at home!!


Yard Crashing Part Deux…

There are so many ways to show love….you know, flowers, chocolates, romantic poems, puppies, and of course, my favorite; demolished decks.  That’s right, nothing warms my heart more than a man with handy tendencies.  Don’t get me wrong, the occasional impromptu bouquet of  posies ranks up there on the romance scale, but many more points are scored when tools are employed.


Earlier this month, Kate and I left for vacation a week before the guys did due to hockey try-outs, or so I thought.  Hockey was cause for their delay, but the boys had other plans.  While I thought sports and business filled the week, my husband planned a reveal for me.  For so long I have stared at the deck rotting in the back yard.  We have dreamed of a new landscape packed with more HGTV worthy amenities than our postage stamp yard could possibly hold.  He would watch me gaze out back wistfully, I guess, and he felt the call to action.

Once Kate and I were safely out of town, the guys fired up the Sawzall and got their demo on!  Down came the deck  and then they set to work to dig out a window well.   Everything went according to plan until Tom realized the window well needed a six week order lead time.  So, long story short, the project is unfinished, but the awful deck is no more.

The moral of the story is there are surprising ways to be shown you are loved.  My husband knew that the back yard was a source of stress for me and he decided to give up a few extra vacation days to surprise me with a solution.  That to me is better than twelve dozen roses!  The key now is completion, since our yard resembles Armageddon.  Our anniversary is October 7th………Honey??

 

 


La La Lollapalooza….

I am about to feel the gut wrenching terror of unhooking the parental leash for the first time…  My son is joining one hundred thousand of his best sweaty, drunk and stoned friends at Lollapalooza on Saturday at Grant Park in Chicago.  For those of you not acquainted with this little festival, Lolla happens to be celebrating its twenty fifth year of existence, thanks to the brain child of one Perry Ferrell, legendary member of Jane’s Addiction, which, by the way, is one of my favorite bands.  Yes, Son, your mom can still rock out, ya know!  Anyway, here are some righteous statistics about Lolla:

  • Over 400,000 people will attend.  Less than 5% will be over 40 years old….duh.
  • 170 bands on 8 stages over 115 acres will perform, blaring out of 60,000 amplifiers.
  • 2 million water bottles will be consumed while 16 tons of alcoholic beverages will be chugged.  Children’s Hospital is ready and dreading it…..

My son turns fourteen next week and all he really wanted from us was a ticket to Lolla.  It’s the cool thing to attend at this age.  In fact, he has already been a couple of times with his dad and me as a little one, when he got in free.  We had a blast jamming in the DJ booth and to all the bands over the years.  This year, however, he wanted to go with friends and it was time we gave him some freedom.  That’s not to say that I am not a nervous wreck about it and will be sitting up, waiting by the front door until he is brought home by one of the dads later in the evening.

A maiden voyage into the unknown requires some parental preparation not unlike “Scaredy Squirrel”  One must prepare one’s innocent child against the dangers of pickpockets, roofies, shared one-hitters and drunk girls looking for a sweet boy to make out with.  52% of Lolla patron’s are girls and they are all dressed up as half-naked garden nymphs, looking to find any wide eyed testosterone-laden boy to share some spit with.  I shudder at the thought. So, here is my battle preparedness list I will preach to my sweet son:

  • Keep your phone and money hidden, preferably in your underwear. Sorry if the buzzing disturbs you.
  • Buy your own water and soda and don’t lose sight of it for even a second, lest some hallucinogenic drug makes its way into your beverage. Can you say Molly?
  • Never pee alone!
  • Stay together.  Young, lone antelopes get eaten.
  • Smile at the girls and keep walking…..
  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction are from MY era and they are STILL cool!
  • Have Fun, be SAFE, and get home before Midnight!!!!!

Did I leave anything out???………….Yikes!!!!

 

 

 

 

 


Crashing Our Own Yard…

Why are all the yard renovation shows in Los Angeles and Massachusetts?  Can’t that Yard Crasher guy haunt my Home Depot?  My back yard would provide a very dramatic before and after, believe me.

After the Great Almost House Collapse of 2009 and the resulting Seven Year Lawsuit Saga, a deep, scarey dirt cavern still exists under our abode.  Covering the entrance to the subterranean mess is our rotting deck. Installed long before we moved in and at an odd level, we have to descend a flight of stairs, toting food, dishes, etc., making the deck inconvenient, at best, to enjoy meals, leisure time, in other words…we never sit out there.

The deck is old and rarely used, and it has fallen into sad disrepair.  I am one major PMS rage away from taking a sledge hammer to the whole thing.  Problem is, there would be no way to exit the back of the house, so I hold my tantrum in check.

Commencing repair in old homes is a game of dominoes.  Try to fix an outlet and you end up replacing the entire electric system.  Attack a drippy faucet and soon you are having the whole dang building re-piped.  Under the house, we wanted to pour concrete, stub for utilities, build a small bathroom and eventually turn the space into a kid’s hang out room.  Achieving that would necessitate converting the back stairwell to extend from our unit, down through the apartment, on to the basement.  Big ticket item not in the budget… Furthermore, demolishing the deck requires creating an exterior staircase for the second floor exit.  The problem is that the stairs will land right where the entrance hole to the basement lies….Chicken or the egg…..Arghh!!

(Rat trap…)

So, the deck sits, slowly disintegrating.  All I need is a sodden couch perched on the deck and an old rusty Pinto hatchback, on blocks in the yard, for the theme to be complete.

When will the basement see concrete?  I don’t know, but the hope is to remove the deck this fall.  With that in mind, the kids and I did a little Yard Crashing of our own, with pen and paper.  We threw out budgets and created back yard havens without restraint. High on the wish lists were fire pits, water features, outdoor kitchens, seating and plenty of seating.  A tall order with only 480 square feet to work with.
Kate likes stone walkways and plenty of flowers.


Jack likes modern elements with an emphasis on the fire pit.  He has yet to produce his “plan”…

Sanctuary is the important ambiance for me; with comfortable seating, the sound of water and ease of entertaining.


Here are some Pinterest ideas of what I like in a back yard:

Backyard Seating Ideas

Aw, c’mon….if Joanna and Chip Gaines don’t come to Chicago, won’t Chris Lambton?!

 

 

 

 

 

 


No More Solo Cups….

 

Last Sunday the LSU  Tigers fought a heroic playoff battle to defeat whomever the hell they were playing.  The good guys did not emerge victorious.  Thus ended nine years of my, I mean Jack’s, baseball career.  Oh, for Pete’s sake, I’m not living vicariously through my kid.  Let’s be real….he is not going to be the next Babe Ruth and I enjoyed my own glory days playing hometown softball a gazillion years ago.


However, that teensy baseball mom quadrant of my heart died when the game ended.  You know, the part that sits in the car during the bone chilling, needles of sleet prickling on the hood of the car, Thursday afternoon March practices.The part that performs the endless routine of Shouting Out dirt stains from his gray polyester baseball pants.  Will I miss the predictable frenzied search for the elusive batting glove at the last minute or watching my son walk three batters in a row?  Probably not, but I will miss the lazy calm of opening my purple folding canvas chair in the cool grass, of Daisy taking a nap under my seat while we watch my boy take the ready stance in center field and hearing the joyful parental whoops following a massive hit down the third base line.


In the early years of T Ball, we parents bonded in hopes our little ones would figure out the nuts and bolts of the games, that they would pay attention versus pick too many daisies and perhaps the kids would even develop a love of the game.Those T-Ball games dragged on for hours and our only solace was to entertain ourselves with food and drink.  Strict park district rules against alcoholic beverages caused us to devise  sneaky methods of concealment, thus the ever popular Solo Cup.  When wine in juice box containers emerged on the market, I was gleeful, yet careful to pack them separately from the kid’s bona fide juice containers.  Some years the parent groups were duds, and others were so fun I actually looked forward to the games and we planned the menus ahead.  Will it be brunch or appetizers?  Are we grilling out?  Margs or Mimosas?  Look, if we had to sit and watch little Johnny swing at a T ball 73 times, we needed a “Little Helper” to get by!



Over the years we developed some really great friendships.  We saw sweet little boys grow up, couples grow apart, and sadly, some folks pass away.   Plenty of life’s lessons were bundled into nine years of baseball.

As my son leaves baseball behind, I will miss the anticipation and excitement of a fresh new ballgame, but the kid still plays hockey and there is quite enough heart-stopping action to give any mom a coronary!  Oh, and now my daughter may be interested in softball, so my days on the grassy sidelines may not be over!

 


Ch-Ch-Changes…

(Me, in my office on my last day of work…)

It’s like experiencing a full eclipse of the sun or finding out your favorite lipstick is on sale; it never happens…. you know, a week off to YOURSELF!  Having a week off without obligation, people demanding reports, meetings and conference calls, no kids whining for a bowl of Fruity Bombs, screeching for the eighty eleventh time that Brother is flinging his odoriferous socks her way while Cartoon Purgatory Channel is blasting in the background.  Nope.  Nowhere to be found are the husband’s mountains of  computer cords, open boxes of crackers and spent pop cans lying about.

No, I have not locked my darling family away in a closet while I open a fresh box of bon bons and commandeer the remote for the first time in the millennia.  I am much more devious than that.  Child #1 is studying for high school at a tutoring center all week thanks to a  project assigned BEFORE school even commences this fall.  A dear friend who works at the tutoring center has offered up a spare room for him to get the job done sans distracting screens of all types.  Child #2 is loving life at art camp all week, so she is none the wiser as to my anticipated bliss in solicitude.  As for the spousal unit, he is in another country, as usual, leaving me to my own devices.

This week of freedom is what I am calling a “cleansing of the palate,” as last Friday was the last day of work at job of two and a half years.  Next Monday I start a new position with another company in the same industry.  The past couple of years carried considerable stress and anxiety interwoven into the job and I needed a little time to chill out and rev up for the new one.

When a week stretches out long before you, the  plans are big.  “I’ll paint the front porch, cook a week’s worth of food, have lunch and dinners out with all my friends, take the kids out for adventures, knit an afghan with the  dog’s fur, polish the copper pots, demolish the deck, re-landscape the entire back yard…..!”  Um…..Yeah   The realistic answer is if I can avoid watching too much “Rehab Addict” and reruns of “Fixer Upper” I’ll feel victorious.  There is definitely an IKEA run on the list and a massage for me, but the rest of it I can pretty much guarantee won’t happen.

When I went back to work two and a half years ago, I was scared I had been out of the game too long.  I left the corporate world in 2010 to help with the family business and to spend more time with the kids.  In 2014, when I needed to help augment the family income I worried if I still had the skills to make the cut  as many women who leave the workforce do.  We can whip out a baby wipe in a flash and make a mean pancake, but can we cut the mustard on Wacker Drive?  I was one big stress ball the first year back on the job and then I finally got my mojo back.  And thank God I did.

We ladies are superheroes and don’t let anyone tell you we aren’t.  We work as hard as anyone in the working world does and THEN we go home and run the house, kids and all the million details that go along with it.  We multi task at work and deal with the home related crap  WHILE we are at work.  Try to tell me how many gentlemen at work are also juggling camp, doctor, and nanny schedules, conflicts and emergencies while also dealing with work issues?  Not many, I’ll bet. We really do bring home the bacon and then fry it up in the pan!

So, this week, I’m still frying the bacon, but I am also kicking back with my own BLT, with a bevvie on the side…….And I salute all the moms who work in the home, from home and out of the home….I love ya!