40 is the new 29

Today is the last day of my 30′s.

Tomorrow I turn the big 40.

Over the fucking hill.

The last few days have certainly been a time for reflection.  Thinking about things I thought I’d be doing by the time I’m 40 that I’m not.  About how my life would have been different if I’d made this choice or that.  About how incredibly grateful I feel to have my amazing husband and rock star kids to usher in this milestone with me.

While it’s funny to joke about how old my body is getting, I’m not really upset about it.  Sure, I wish I didn’t sport these deep, cavernous “parenthesis” around my mouth and kick myself for not heeding early warnings of sunscreen and moisturizer.  And yes, I am still gimping around with a bum shoulder from surgery usually reserved for 60 year-olds.  But my body still feels youthful and strong.

It’s my head that gets me in trouble.  As always.

To remind myself of all that great adventure I’ve had in my lifetime, I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at old photographs, from infancy all the way to present day.

Because I live for nostalgia.

It’s been fun laughing at the awkward cuteness of my nerdy adolescence, gawking at the bad hair and chubby cheeks of my late teens, or yearning for the thin shape of my early 30′s.

And sharing those gems on Facebook.

Like this. 

All of that joy and pain and frustration and success and heartache and love and failure and loneliness and family.  It’s all a journey to get me here and beyond.  The good and the bad.

While I fight to keep my ego from going to dark places lately (like my inability to get a job, the disaster that is my one-handed hair styling, feeling like my life has no purpose, blah blah blah), I also can’t help feeling that this turn of the decade might be what I need.

A rebirth, a new chance.  That perhaps, dear Florence + The Machine, the dog days are indeed over.

That it’s time to stop mourning my youth and start claiming my maturity.  Demanding more of my ego than just putting me down and setting me up for failure.   Embracing my life because it’s the only one I have.  Wrinkles and all.

So, yeah.  40?

I own you.  I’m making you my bitch.  Watch out, 50, I’m coming for you, too.

Preschool beauty secrets…

Her costume was set out.  Her makeup was laid on the counter, ready for application.  Her routine had been practiced 70 times that morning.

And Mommy was in the shower.

What better time to try her hand at this:


Yep, that’s right.  A mere hour before her first dance recital, my daughter had taken scissors to her hair while I cleaned myself up.

When I got out of the shower, she came bounding in my bathroom, a huge, proud smile on her face, and exclaimed “Mommy!  I cut my hair!”

I have to admit, I didn’t make the best choice.

What I should have done:  Perhaps acknowledge her pride and independence, not overreact but instead calmly explain that we don’t cut our own hair.

What I did:  Stomped. Her. Buzz.

A total killjoy, I yelled “NOOOOO!” and scared the crap out of her.  Then searched her hair like a mother howler monkey preening her young, trying to assess the damage.

And when I pulled away from her scalp to look her in the eyes, I was met with tears.  She had come to me, all excited and proud, and I had made her feel horrible.  What’s a mom to do?

Thankfully, she actually did a pretty decent job cutting her hair, creating a little fringe near her chin line in an updated “Rachel” for the preschool circuit.  It was still long enough to put back for her recital, so all was fine.  But I did have to have a conversation about how we don’t cut our own hair, because those snips are real.  Speaking from experience, bad haircuts are hard to recover from.

Still, I think there’s some merit there to her sense of self and beauty.  I wish that I could feel as confident in myself when there are markings on my face (in my case, zits and wrinkles instead of markers and Curious George stamps).  That it might not be a bad idea to not put so much stock in to how my hair looks.

So, I’ve come up with a few preschooler beauty tips to try and follow.  Because, seriously?  That girl could do anything she wanted to herself and she’d still be the most beautiful thing on the planet to me.

preschool beauty secrets

Less is less.  More is more. 

If a little dab of lotion works wonders, a huge blob should provide enough moisture to turn back the hands of time, circa the Newborn Era.

Matching is for ninnies.

Want to wear two garments of uncomplimentary shades in contrasting patterns? If you’ve got enough sass, then coordinating isn’t an issue.  You wear the clothes, they don’t wear you.

Jewelery is best worn in quantity.

See “Less is less” above.

Go au naturale.

Why bother wiping that peanut butter off your face?  Its natural (and organic if you swing that way) properties will provide just the right balance of foundation and protective barrier you’ll need to face your date night with confidence.

That Bed Head look is totally in.

No need for brushing that mane! Knots and matted sections really emphasize that wild side of you. Not to mention that avoiding a comb shaves time off your morning ritual.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

You should feel comfortable in your own skin.  So comfortable in fact that clothing is optional.  It’s all beautiful.  And clothing only gets in the way.

When in doubt, flash those pearly whites.

A preschooler’s precious grin goes a pretty long way, so why not try this fashion accessory out for yourself?

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Parenting Amnesia: What I can’t remember about my daughter…

parenting amnesiaMy daughter’s sound-activated monitor goes off at weird times throughout the night.  Most of the time, it’s just a fluke.

Perhaps I tossed the comforter the wrong way, interrupting the reception.  Or maybe my daughter has moved loudly.  Or I’ve farted.  Or she’s farted.  Or there’s a sudden solar flare.  Who knows why, but it’s rarely because she’s up and needs assistance.  9 times out of 10, it’s nothing.

Still, even knowing this track record, I get startled when I hear her monitor go off.  My chest gets that familiar nervous feeling I used to get when she was a baby and I’d hear the crackle of the monitor.  The one that signaled an end to my “nap” and the beginning of a long night.  It was later replaced with a sense of dread, thinking “what illness or nightmare is waiting for me?”

All of this got me thinking that I can’t even remember what her cries were like when she’d wake at night as a baby.

Were they needy? Angry? Whimpers, or full-on she-devil screams?

I can’t remember. It’s funny how your mind blocks all that out after only four short years.  I can remember a handful of really bad moments where she was screaming at the top of her lungs.  But the like-clockwork sounds of her readiness to eat?  I don’t recall what they were like.  You would think, after hearing them for over a year, I’d have them committed to memory.

She was not an easy baby at first.  She was intense.  Not colicky, but a girl that, from birth, knew what she wanted and what she didn’t want.  Meaning, most of the time, she wanted Mommy, and those who were not Mommy were not allowed in her inner circle of comfort and trust in the wee hours of the morning.

And while I remember a couple of moments when she seemed like the most unhappy baby in the world, when I think back to her infancy, what comes to mind now is how happy she was.

Was she really? Am I suffering from Mothering Amnesia Disorder (a.k.a. MADness)?

Or is it that she’s just so bubbly now that it has replaced any kind of negative memory I have of her?  That her Big Girl verbal requests when she needs us in the middle of the night are far more welcome than the screeches she’d utter as a baby?  That I’ve grown so accustomed to this preschooler who has long since outgrown her initial clingy-ness that the other memories are irrelevant?

Really, it doesn’t matter. I’ll take these happy memories over the frustrated ones from her first year any day.  I’m comfortable not remembering what those cries sound like.  They’ve been replaced with giddy laughter and nightly secrets of “I love you.”

And these sounds?  I want to remember them forever.

Driving an Old-mobile…


Until we moved to Denver seven years ago, I had never owned a car.

Wait, I take that back.

I drove my parents ancient ’80 Chevrolet Cavalier the last five months of my Senior year in college.  It was on the edge of reliable, overheating when the Texas temperature reached over 85 degrees.  I quickly learned how to adapt to zero air conditioning, and became adept at recognizing when my car was about to boil over so I could crank up the heat to avoid blowing up my engine.

Dwelling in NYC, it wasn’t necessary to own a car, and the bus system in graduate school did the job for me, so I never needed secure transportation until we moved to Colorado.

My first automobile, a Volkswagen Jetta, was practical and compact and let me zip around town without feeling like I was driving a land yacht. However, it performed horribly on icy roads, and since I was carrying precious cargo, when it came time to renew the lease, we turned it in for my husband’s company car, a Toyota Prius.

The Prius? Very cute.  And efficient.  I loved how I hardly ever had to fuel up.  And I felt like patting myself on the back every time I got in, as if I alone was saving the environment by driving a hybrid.

But again, it slid around on ice and snow worse than a greased monkey on a slip and slide.

So a couple of summers ago, after much shopping around and vehicular deliberation, I chose my adorably sporty Toyota Venza.

It had everything I was looking for in a kid taxi.  It was substantial enough where I felt like I wasn’t going to get crushed in it, yet small enough for my height-deprived viewpoint to feel confident in parking it in our garage.  I could get all-wheel drive so that I would feel safer in snow and ice.  And it looked hip enough that I didn’t feel like I was driving a station wagon.

And then, Toyota changed up their marketing.

About six months after we purchased it, Jon and I were watching television and saw our first commercial for the Venza.  In it, they show some parents, out living it up with high-octane adventure excursions or big nights on the town, while their kids are at home ranting about how concerned they are that their parents have lost their quest for adventure, their hipness, their will to live.

And then you see them.  The Parents.

Empty Nesters.

Driving MY CAR!

Seriously?  Did I really just purchase a car that was being touted as THE car for the AARP circuit?

Here I was, thinking that I had dodged the Colorado mom-mobile bullet that is the Subaru Outback, and now? My beloved car, the one that still smelled new inside, was being advertised to folks way older than my demographic.

Had I really gotten that old? Did I really have that questionable of taste? Did I just lose my street cred?

Even now, a couple of years later, I take cold hard looks at the other drivers of Venza’s I see around town.  Except for the other parent at school that drives one, all the other drivers of my automobile are pushing 60. And over.

So I ask you, does this car make me look old?

venza 3



How To Live Like a Preschooler…

live like a preschooler

I often forget how young my daughter is.  She’s not even 4 yet, but somehow I demand more of her.  Not fair, I know.  I get frustrated when she takes her own sweet time getting her clothes on, or puts her shoes on the wrong feet, then quickly check myself.  She’s only been on this planet for a short time.

While there’s not a bribe around that would make me want to return to my youth and have to experience the pain and torture of high school again, I sometimes wish I could life my live more like a preschooler than a 40-year old.

Here’s how I’d do it:

•  I’d shun walking as a main mode of locomotion.  I’d run or skip. Everywhere.  Spontaneously.  To the mailbox, to turn on the kitchen lights, to wipe someone’s butt.  Preferably with a loping, Phoebe-esque gait.

•  I’d take great effort to perform the simplest tasks. There is no greater travesty than not being able to put your own shoes on or buckle your seat belt around a sea of Winter Wear. I’d let everyone around me know how hard my struggle is.  With a whimper if I have to.

•  My face wouldn’t be afraid to contort in the most exaggerated expressions whenever I’m: A) Surprised, B) Happy! C) Angry D) Eating something that isn’t a white starch.

•  Forget wardrobe variety!  How freeing would it be to pick out my favorite outfit and wear it at least four times a week?  Oh wait, I already do that.  Scratch this one…

•  I’d jump around.  A lot.  While on the surface this looks similar to the exuberant energy of running or skipping (see above), it’s a different animal.  This one involves no transportation, just pure expulsion of energy.  Jumping while someone is talking to me is required.  But bounding on the bed a thousand times before bedtime?  Even better.

•  I would ignore the invisible boundaries of personal space because I want you to see this thing on my neck.  See?  See it?  SEE IT?

•  I would consist (and insist) on a steady diet of pasta, pancakes and pixie sticks.  Who needs food groups?

•  Foods other than those listed above would serve merely as a vessel for ketchup, syrup or Nutella.

•  I’d put my emotions all out there.  Sadness and frustration would be unleashed like a tantrum of the Tasmanian Devil.  My husband might argue that I currently behave this way.  However, he ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  But the flip side?  My happiness and good mood would prevail and be contagious in their enthusiasm.

•  I wouldn’t underestimate the power of a band-aid to cure what hurts me.