Getting Old is not for Sissies

At least that’s what my 95-year-old Nanny (grandmother) tells me, and after spending a little over a week with her in Illinois last week, I would whole-heartedly agree with her.

My daughter Bryn was going on vacation with her grandparents, so I flew her to St. Louis from LA, handed her off to her grandparents who were driving to Florida for a week of fun in the sun, and then drove the three hours north to my grandmother’s house in Bloomington, IL.

Upon my arrival, my grandmother burst into tears and announced how happy she was to see me.  I had just been to visit her the month before as part of our annual summer vacation, but sadly, at 95 years of age her memory is not what it used to be.  Although it had only been a month, she was unable to recall my previous visit.  This always breaks my heart.  She will say things like, “No one ever comes to visit me.”  I gently remind her that I see her every summer, and although she believes me, her reality is such that she cannot remember the visits, so for her it’s like it never happened.

10422269_10153164412434668_2062150226730818813_n[1]While my Nanny is very healthy physically, her memory loss and diminished capacity for independence grates on her self-esteem.  She hates that she can no longer stand at the stove and prepare full meals or bake the delicious cakes and desserts she always enjoyed having in the house.  Every time I came to visit she always had a cake, pie, or some amazing sugar creation waiting for whatever company happened to stop by.  She was always prepared for company.  Now, she is still able to care for her own physical needs, prepare light meals like sandwiches, and also do some very light housekeeping, but for the most part her recliner in the living room occupies most of her attention these days.

12019820_907152482686906_3905592130149668443_n[1]My Nanny is 95 and my grandfather turns 97 this week.  They don’t have computers, internet, Wi-Fi, or even a DVD player.  They have cable TV, but that’s about it for modern technology.  Their day consists of rolling out of bed around 9am, and sitting in their chairs in the living room all day long, watching baseball, Mass, Fox News, and AMC movie classics.  That’s it.  I imagine I will find that life pretty enjoyable if I make it to their advanced age, however, for a 41 year old active woman, it was enough to make me want to throw myself from a cliff.

I wanted to spend quality time with them, so that meant sitting with them in the living room.  For hours.  Every day.  For nine days.  Watching Fox News.  And Lawrence Welk.  For the love of God, Lawrence Welk.  Watching her sing along to songs she has known for fifty years was heartening, but it was also like nails on a chalkboard.  My grandmother sings beautifully, and it made me happy to see her happy, but an hour of Lawrence Welk is enough to make me want to grind my ears through a pencil sharpener.  Now imagine a week of that.  (If you are reading this and you don’t know who Lawrence Welk is, google it.  Right now.  Then drink a bottle of wine and thank your lucky stars you weren’t me last week.)  I used to watch it with her when I was in college, just because it made her happy.  I did the same thing this week, just to make her happy.  Damn, I’m a really good granddaughter.  One night I came upstairs to find them watching AMC Classics, and Animal House was on.  OMG!  Talk about awkward!  But I sat through the movie because it was two hours of something funny and relative to my age group.  At the end, my Nanny declared it to be “junk” and she stated that if people actually thought this movie was good, then she held little hope for the future of our country.  I informed her that Animal House is a cult classic and almost everyone loves this movie.  She was thoroughly disgusted with humanity and went to bed.

11870911_511767202313147_6626111183102035627_n[1]Oh, and did I mention that many people tend to lose their filter when they hit advanced ages?  Well, my Nanny is no different.  This is a Christian Catholic woman who took her responsibility as a Christian seriously, and my whole life she refrained from talking trash about others because she felt it was a horrible sin.  However, that is no longer the case.  She has become brutally honest and says whatever pops into her head.  For example, among other shocking statements, she told me one day that I was the fattest she had ever seen me, and what the hell did I think I was doing letting my body go to shit like that.  I’m totally serious, and this is a woman who never cussed.   I reminded her that I’m not 25 anymore, I’m almost 42 years old and I usually work out 3-4 days per week.  She said, “Well, whatever you’re doing, it’s not working for you.”  One day I came upstairs wearing fashionably distressed jeans.  She said, “Are those the best clothes your husband can afford to buy for you?”  So I said, “Yes Nanny, and can you believe I bought these jeans with the patches already sewed into them?”  She rolled her eyes in disgust.  I winked at her.  We both laughed.

Due to her memory loss, we also had many repeated conversations.  She would ask me the same questions every few minutes, and I would give her the same answer, every time she asked.  We did this every day.  Several hours per day.  I was kind to her.  I was gentle.  I tried to remind her that she was still pretty and valuable.  Whenever I told her she was beautiful, she would say, “Yeah, pretty ugly, and pretty apt to stay that way.”  I’m laughing as I type this because her sense of humor is awesome.

IMG_1163I had to leave the house for a little while each day to maintain my sanity.  I found myself falling asleep on the couch with them at 6:30pm.  I was sleeping until 9am in the morning.  I was becoming an old person.  One day I looked at my VivoFit and saw that in the entire day, I had only walked 892 steps.  In a whole day!  The next day I went for a four mile walk just to combat the sedentary inclination.  I also went to the local campus, Illinois State University, my alma mater, and walked the quad.  It felt good to see the buildings, the new renovations and the efforts made to beautify and modernize the campus.  I found myself thinking, “Damn, I went to a nice school.”  I relived a lot of great memories that day and refreshed my old lady soul.

One day, Nanny let me take her for a drive.  She was alive with excitement driving around this town where she had spent her entire life.  She was seeing old and new buildings, construction and modern architecture, as if she were a young child in a new and enchanting land.  She was filled with memories and emotion as we drove past homes where she lived as a young woman with my grandfather, and cried when she observed new buildings where her old favorites no longer existed.  She lamented the time when she also would no longer exist, torn down and forgotten like an old, worn out building.

The day I left we said a tearful good-bye.  We are both painfully aware that at the end of each visit there is a very real possibility that it will be our last.  Before I left she looked at me and said, “You know I may not remember you at all next year.”  I held back my tears and said, “Yes, but I will remember you.”  And I drove away watching her in my side mirror as she stood in the driveway, beautiful and proud, with her hand raised in the air.  As she always does when I leave her.

So yes, whether you are 41 or 95, getting old is most definitely not for sissies.

Priorities, and stuff.

Don’t pay the ransom!  I escaped!

Just kidding.  No one would kidnap me.

Since my last post over a month ago, life has been ridiculously busy, and clearly I’m not good at finding the time to write while managing all that must come first.  For example, I’ve already been interrupted ten times in the last seven minutes since I sat down to write this post.  At this rate I’ll be lucky to get three posts up this summer.  In the past six weeks or so we’ve had my son’s Kindergarten graduation, a new puppy, our annual vacation back home to the Midwest, my wedding anniversary and my mother-in-law flew in to spend the 4th of July weekend with us.  It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s all been good.

FullSizeRender (1)And I know what you’re thinking….”Did she say she got a new puppy?!”  Yes, and she has taken up the bulk of my time and attention since she joined our family.  I didn’t mean to get a puppy.  I didn’t want a new puppy.  We already have three cats and a large dog.  But the universe sort of thrust her at me, and when the universe hands you an adorable little baby like that, well, you just can’t hand it back.

This is Mavis.  The last week of school while I was waiting to pick Bryce up, another mom from our class showed up holding this adorable little baby girl.  I took one look at her and my soul screamed, “Mine!”  I immediately asked the mom if she had gotten a new dog and she explained that her cocker-spaniel had “accidentally” mated with her sister’s Chihuahua.  The IMG_0086result was four of the most adorable Chi-Spaniel (that’s apparently what they’re called) babies you have ever seen, and they were giving them away to good homes.  Done!  I took a picture of her with my phone and texted the photo to Dan.  I took her home with me that day.  And now I remember why we decided we were done having kids.  She is adorable but exhausting.  Having a new puppy is just like having a new baby in the house.  I can’t turn my back on her for a second.  One second she is my Sweet Mavis, and the next she is Mavis the Destroyer.  Potty training sucks.  My only consolation is that when she’s FINALLY potty trained, I’m getting all new area rugs.

FullSizeRender (2)

I don’t usually post personal photos, but I think we look hot in this picture, so Happy Anniversary to us!!

Everything else seems a bit trivial in comparison to Mavis.  Our vacation back home was good.  I love the Midwest, I just can’t live there full time.  But summers there are heaven.  My anniversary was awesome, until it wasn’t.  Dan and I had tickets to a private chef’s table dinner at our favorite ocean-side resort.  Twelve couples enjoyed a five course gourmet dinner over-looking the ocean.  We had yellow-fin tuna ceviche that had been caught that morning off the coast of San Diego.  We enjoyed freshly caught and prepared lobster and other fresh sustainable foods that had been grown on the property of the resort along with wine pairings from a local vineyard.  It was fantastic.  We made some new friends and enjoyed drinks and live music in the hotel lobby bar after dinner.  And then I had to haul ass back to our room and spent the rest of the night praying to the porcelain god.   It wasn’t food poisoning because nobody else got sick.  It wasn’t alcohol because, sadly, I wasn’t drunk yet.  Whatever caused it ruined my night and I’m still a little pissed about it because when I get to eat food that amazing and that expensive, you bet your ass I want to hang on to it.  I need a do-over.

Now that life has returned to a normal speed for me, I’m trying to play catch up.  I’m reconsidering my rule about not posting my personal opinions about politics and/or religion on social media.  The world is going crazy and I might need to talk about it.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, I look forward to stalking all the blogs I’ve neglected over the past month.  I’ve missed you guys!  🙂

See!  She was meant to be my dog!

See! She was meant to be my dog!

Girls Trip 2016

Hello, world!

It’s been awhile.  I’ve been absent from my blog for almost two months now, in part because life is so busy and requires my complete and total attention, and also because for a while there I just didn’t have anything interesting to share with you.

However, I’ve recently returned from my annual high school girls trip and that is definitely worth sharing! Every year in the spring I go on a girls only trip with three of my great friends from high school.  Last year we went to Charleston, SC.   This year, my girls came here to Los Angeles.

LA is a big city, and for most of the vacay we wanted the feel of paradise.  Originally, we had planned to go to Catalina Island, but El Nino is an asshole and we couldn’t predict whether or not the weather would hold up for us.    So we opted to stay at a resort in Palos Verdes called Terranea.  It’s one of the most beautiful properties I’ve ever seen, and spending four days there was absolute heaven.  We hiked the trails around the cliffs of the resort, took a whale watching tour out on the ocean, laid by the pool and drank fun cocktails in the sun overlooking the Pacific.  We laughed, cackled at each other, talked and caught up on everything that’s happened over the past year.  Yeah, we know how to girls trip!

 

The view from our room!

The view from our room!

IMG_0170

 

From the pool, looking out over the Pacific ocean.

From the pool, looking out over the Pacific ocean.

IMG_0157

IMG_0149

A Sea Cave!

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0156

Hiking trails

Whale watching!

Whale watching!

 

Sea Lions!

Sea Lions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0011

There were, shall we say, moments that weren’t so perfect.  But my annual girls trip wouldn’t be what it is without some mayhem and madness along the way.  As usual, each of my friends has elected to use the name of their alter ego to protect their privacy and what’s left of their reputations.  We come from a small town, so….you know.

1338993291108_8649686[1]

The first night at the resort was the most intense.  And by intense I mean absolutely, fucking, bat-shit crazy.  Belinda lives a very responsible life of dedication to her family and her community.  So during girls trip she likes to let go.  With us, it’s a safe zone.  Jasmine is slightly more tame than Belinda, but only just.  Piper is  far more restrained and likes to relax and rest during girls trip.  I’m somewhere in the middle.  I enjoy going out and having fun but I don’t want to feel like death for three days, so I try to balance my alcohol intake and late nights in a way that allows me to enjoy the entire weekend.

10346188_10204729490055839_5592960337039461547_n[1]After an afternoon of drinking by the pool, and then drinking at dinner, Piper went to bed to read her book while Belinda, Jasmine and I went down to the lobby bar for some live music and more drinks.  I was tired, so I knew I wouldn’t stay out long but wanted to experience the hotel and I love live music.  After one drink in the lobby I went back up to the room, leaving Jasmine and Belinda behind to no doubt wreak havoc on the other guests and each other.  (I later heard some stories about a male, Armenian ballet dancer???)

An hour and a half later, the girls staggered into the room.  I have no idea what Jasmine promised Belinda to get her to go upstairs, but  I have no doubt bribery was involved.  When intoxicated, it takes an act of God to get Belinda to leave a party.  Regardless, they had the brilliant idea to turn our spa-style bathtub into a “hot tub.”  Piper was sound asleep.  I wasn’t.  I laid there listening to them filling the tub with scalding hot water, sloshing water all over our luxury hotel bathroom.  The conversation was as you’d expect.  Drunk, nonsensical hilarity.  They didn’t have a candle for the ambience so they put Vick’s Vapor Rub in the “hot tub” water to make it smell like a spa.  And do you know what happens when you’re drunk and you get into really hot water, which then thins your blood even more?  That’s right, it heightens the sensation of being drunk, makes you dizzy and disoriented.  And do you know what happens when you’re drunk and become disoriented?

11889619_872407892795412_4534014423081678605_n[1]I heard Belinda say, “I’m not feeling so well.”  Annnnnd, here it comes.  I was actually glad she got sick.  That way she could expel all the alcohol from her stomach and she could just pass out and sleep it off.  A little while later she stumbled to the bed and fell asleep next to me.  I got up to use the restroom and spent the next twenty minutes cleaning up the bathroom.  Water and vomit.  Good times.

I tried to go to sleep.  It wasn’t happening.  I was so tired and I had Puky-McPukerson on one side of me and Snory-McSnorerson on the other side of the room.  Jasmine was sick with a chest cold, wasted and passed out, snoring like a damn freight train.  Somehow Piper slept through the cluster-fuck.  I laid there, forever, pissed off and contemplating the purpose of this nightmare.  Why was I awake and unable to fall asleep while everyone else caused havoc and then slept peacefully, unaware of how much I was hating the whole world in that moment?

Then it happened.

10570476_10152232302186751_7149028096365490249_n[1]I heard Belinda making a weird noise next to me and realized she had begun to get sick in her sleep.  I jumped up, rolled her over and ran to the bathroom to get a towel.  At one point Piper woke up, saw me standing there with a towel in one hand and a pillow covered in puke in the other.  Our eyes met and she registered what was happening.  She smiled a smile that said, “better you than me,” and she rolled over and went back to sleep.   Bitches.

I cleaned her up, made sure she was turned on her side, and tried to go to sleep.  I’d like to think I was awake all night because I was meant to save Belinda from an ugly, Jimi Hendrix style death.  But there was nothing I could do to stop Jasmine from snoring all night.  So I laid there in my expensive, fancy hotel room.  Hating the world.

I think I finally fell asleep sometime after 4am.  The last time I looked at the clock it was 3:45am.  Then at 6am, Jasmine gets out of bed and starts moving around the room.  She slams the bathroom door, twice.  She opens the heavy draped curtains and let’s a flood of light into the dark room that blinds me, even with my eyes closed.  She staggers to the phone next to me and starts randomly punching numbers in the dark, trying to call for room service.  Then she stage whispers as loud as she can, “I’m so sorry.  Did I wake you up?  I’m still drunk and I feel like shit.”  Then she says to the person on the phone, “I need a spoon!  Can you bring me a spoon?  I need a spoon for my yogurt.  Does this room have coffee in it?”

Are you kidding me?!  Awake….at 6am….for a spoon.

5430_1117012754976571_6374602042068399513_n[1]Much later in the day I was able to laugh about it.  After I had taken an afternoon nap and stopped hating everyone.  Belinda felt really bad.  She thanked me for taking care of her.  That’s what friends are for.  You should never worry about drowning in sick while in the company of life long friends.  And I know that if I was at my worst they would take care of me.  Probably.  If they weren’t all passed out drunk.  Except they wouldn’t write about it and tell my sad tale for the whole world to read, which actually makes them better friends than me.

Sorry, not sorry.   😉

Labor Day weekend, a wedding and a lot of wine!

chicago-skyline[1]Labor Day weekend Dan and I went to Chicago without the kids for a wedding.  One of my college roommates was getting married and we haven’t had a grown-up only weekend in almost a year.  It was fantastic!

When I travel without my kids everything is different.  I can drink wine on the plane, only pack for myself, and read smutty chic-lit on my Kindle instead of entertaining two kids for four hours with snacks, Ipad games and constant reminders to stop kicking the seat in front of them.  I relaxed, enjoyed the flight into my favorite city, and did my best to get over the fact that I had to sit in the suck-hump-middle seat in order to sit next to my husband on the flight.  No one likes the middle seat, on any airplane, ever.

Chicago was amazing, as always, and the wedding was so fun.  I’ve been blessed in my life with the gift of incredible, life long friendships, and my college friends are some of the most outrageous, hilarious, intelligent, dynamic, beautiful women I know.  We’ve all gone on to do different things with our careers and family, but when we come together it’s like no time has passed and we’re all nineteen again with fake ID’s trying to sneak into bars and pick up hot guys, except now those hot guys are our husbands.

10403139_880825068611248_7951955788546716562_n[1]

 

Here’s the recap, and nicknames have been given to protect the guilty.

On the way to the wedding, TSGHLM’s (This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like A Motherfucker-her requested nickname) dress split up the side.  Dr. Evil and I took turns sewing her back into her dress on the Uber ride into downtown Chicago.  Unfortunately,  Dr. Evil gets car sick, and trying to sew TSGHLM’s dress caused her to become extremely nauseated.  She managed to hold it together, I took over the sewing, and no pre-wedding car sickness occurred.  TSGHLM’s dress was repaired and I can now add car seamstress to my list of party tricks.

1338993291108_8649686[1]During dinner Dr. Evil kept trying to build a glass pyramid on the table with all the empty wine and champagne glasses.  The wait staff would calmly walk over and dismantle her pyramid without too much fuss and take the empty glasses.  She would wait until they walked away and we would drain our glasses so she could re-build her crystal masterpiece.  We had a lot of glasses.  When they finally reprimanded her for her inappropriate behavior, she responded by adding another tier to her tower.

Also, at some later point during dinner, someone who’s judgment was definitely questionable decided that the party favors on the table, which looked to me like crystal candle holders embossed with the bride and groom’s name and wedding date, were actually small wine glasses.  So they became wine glasses, and I’m still unclear on their actual function.

dirty-dancing-wallpapers-983074-2-s-307x512[1]During the reception, Trixie decided to re-create the Patrick Swayze/Jennifer Grey scene in Dirty Dancing by crawling across the dance floor, on her hands and knees, in her evening dress, toward another of our friends sitting at a table.  She completed the crawl but might have been too drunk to get back up.  I was laughing so hard I missed part of it, but I’m pretty sure she had to call for an assist.

Drevil_million_dollars[1]During an epic dance performance, I may or may not have allowed Dr. Evil to motor-boat my chest on the dance floor.   I’m super classy like that, and you may be realizing why we call her Dr. Evil.

The Bride, whom we shall call Ellie, got busted in the bathroom for smoking an e-cigarette.  The event staff had to reprimand her, at her own wedding!  She also had her sister cut the tulle out from under her dress during the reception.  Nothing says good times like vandalizing your own wedding gown on your big day!

There was a really beautiful moment when the DJ played Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper.  Our small, drunk army of roommates and friends gathered around Ellie and circled her on the dance floor.  We danced around her, singing at the top of our lungs while each of us took turns dancing with her in the center of our circle.  It was a complete and total love fest as well as a gesture of loyalty and solidarity that has remained unchanged for the past 23 years.

10375120_10152852902922819_24777841281501259_n[1]I’m pleased to report that there were no public displays of nudity or pressed ham.  And  believe me when I say that’s progress, folks.  At this point in my life, with this group of friends, I could never run for public office.  There is way too much photographic evidence of the good times we’ve had in life.  Dan showed me cell phone video of me rocking out with the ladies like a wannabe 80’s rock goddess on the dance floor, and I said, “Oh, that’s the wine talking.  That’s ugly dancing!  Delete that and we shall never speak of it.”

I woke up the next afternoon feeling like road kill.  We spent the day like we would’ve in college.  We laid on the couch, watched movies, ate good food and made fun of each other and our epically bad behavior.  We’re forty!  It’s like all maturity goes out the window when we’re together.  We egg each other on and enable each other for the sake of entertainment and bragging rights.   When I expressed this to Dan his most wonderful and appreciated response was, “I love your friends.”

Yeah, I love them too.

Vacation!

Hello, world!  I’m home!

The family and I spent nine days visiting with friends and relatives throughout the Midwest.  I call this trek our annual Midwestern Tour, as we hit Illinois, Indiana and Michigan in the same week. This time of year the area where I grew up is amazingly beautiful.  You wouldn’t believe how green everything gets.  Even the corn fields look beautiful when I haven’t seen them in a while.

We spent the first couple of days in Chicago, then drove south to central Illinois to visit my grandmother.  We then drove three hours north through Indiana and Michigan to reach my mother, other grandmother and various relatives who live in the area.  It was fast, organized, exhausting and incredibly fun.

Here’s the highlight reel…

10635748_10152955877379574_8811372455149121989_n[2]While in Chicago, my college friend hosted a house party and invited all of our girlfriends from school, along with their families.  We BBQ, drink, laugh and relive our glory years together while our kids run around and make new memories and form new friendships.  This year the adults sent the kids to the basement to play so we could play the game, Cards Against Humanity.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s an adult card game of mostly vulgar and inappropriate topics.  If you’re not too uptight and appreciate a dirty joke, then this game is for you.  I will say that I did surprisingly well in the game, and my two most popular cards read, “Altar Boys,” and “Two Midgets Shitting in a Bucket.”  Feel free to use your imagination here as to what these cards may have been in response too.  🙂

We visited my grandmother, who is 94 years old.  I’ve always had a very close relationship with my Nanny and she’s an incredible woman.  She is in amazing health but starting to lose some of her short-term memory.  We looked at the same photo album about four times, and although it was new for her every time, I continue to be amazed at her ability to remember details about family history from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Her own mother was born in 1897, and every conversation feels like a history lesson, but one you don’t want to miss.  When I ask her how it feels to be 94, she tells me, “getting old is not for sissies!”

St. Joe lighthouse

St. Joseph, Michigan

While in Michigan, we visited with several of my high school friends, my mother, grandmother, aunt and a few cousins.  I went to my favorite childhood restaurants.  We drove to St. Joe and took the kids to Silver Beach, which is on Lake Michigan.  My kids ran down the pier alongside the lighthouse, disbelieving that Lake Michigan wasn’t as big as our Pacific Ocean back home.  I found a lake house there I would like to buy for the low, low price of 1.6 million dollars.  What a steal!  LOL!  At one point Bryn looked at me, while having dinner outside on a patio overlooking a beautiful lake active with boats and jet-skis, and she said, “I can’t believe you got to grow up here!”

Yeah, I got to grow up there.  It’s funny how so often in life we don’t appreciate what we have until we can look back with some perspective.  Growing up, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of the fields, the lakes or the small community that looked out for each other.  I took it for granted and was more excited to see other places.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that the older I get, the more I appreciate where I come from, and this annual trip means more to me every year.  I want my kids to experience the things I loved about growing up in the Midwest.  Admittedly, my kids have opportunities that I never had as a child, and I’m thankful for that.  But I also want them to appreciate the simplicities of life.  The small things and traditions that add up to big things when you look back on your life and remember what you loved most about your childhood.

lake canoeingI want them to gorge themselves on strawberries while picking them fresh from the fields, and then bring the berries home to make fresh strawberry jam in grandma’s kitchen.  I want them to canoe the rivers of my hometown and camp under the stars, even if it’s just in their grandmother’s back yard.  I want them to catch fire flies,  sit around a bonfire in a field with their cousins, learn to water ski on the lake and marvel at the incredible beauty of the leaves turning in the fall.   I want them to know who their people are, and why, no matter what they choose to do in life, it will always be special that their family comes from this incredible place.

So yeah, it was a good vacation.  😉

 

 

Wanda Says…My worst nightmare!

It rained spiders in Australia.

Did you hear me?

It fucking rained spiders in Australia!

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/weird-science/pouring-down-arachnids-australias-spider-rain-explained-n361006?cid=sm_fb

The end is near.

 

This is what I imagine Hell would be like.  Thousands of spiders falling from the sky!  Every cell in my body is jumping around and screaming in agony at the thought.

I hate spiders.  I’ve physically shuddered, my shoulders twitching, the hair on my arms standing up and chills racing up and down my spine, like ten times since I started typing this post.  I keep imagining that something is crawling on me.

Just….NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

No shower of spiders, “ballooning” from the sky, covering my house in threads of silk so dense it looks like cotton.  This sounds more like the plot line of a new horror movie, not a true scientific event that’s easily explained by arachnid migration patterns. This is seriously on par with a zombie apocalypse for me.  I would never leave the house again for fear of one of them dangling from the rooftop waiting to touch me.  Or worse, how could I not run from the house for fear that they would invade the openings or crevices of my home and work their way inside to crawl on me in my sleep!  I saw the movie Arachnophobia, and I didn’t sleep for weeks.

One time, I noticed this horrible, disgusting, hairy spider clinging to the side mirror on my car as I was driving to work.  I almost had to set fire to the car to get rid of that fucking spider!

I just threw up in my mouth a little looking at this picture. Thank God this isn’t a picture of my car. I borrowed this from Google.

I wish I didn’t know this.  I wish I could somehow make my brain un-know it.  I can never un-see this.  I may never be able to travel to Australia now, and I’ve always wanted to go there.  Australia is tainted for me now.

Spiders ruin everything.

 

Wanda Says…Random Thoughts, Fancy Cars, Play-Doh and TMI.

cleaning ladyMy house is a bit of a mess and I keep waiting for someone else in this family to take some initiative and clean it.  Then I remind myself that everyone else is waiting for me to do it because as a stay home mom, that’s my job.  I’m looking at the floors and thinking I need a raise.  Or a glass of wine while I contemplate when I may feel like getting around to some housework.

I’m tired all the time.  I thought once I started working out a lot that I would have all this boundless energy.  All I have is sore muscles, some new muscles,  and constant cravings for caffeine and meat.

10154307_596887757062232_1116757788_n[1]

Every Tuesday and Thursday when I go to the gym, there’s a black, Rolls Royce Wraith in the parking lot.  Seriously.  A freaking Rolls Royce!  Every week I see this car and I think…Really?  Because that’s your casual car?

Would you drive this to the gym?

Bryce has been begging me all day to play with his play-doh.  I hate play-doh.  It took forever to clean up the mess he made yesterday with his play-doh, and I just want it to disappear.  He likes to take several different colors, squish them all together and then shape it into a puddle.  Then he brings it to me and says, “Here’s another pool of vomit, mommy!”  He makes these “pools of vomit” and then expects me to save it and display it on the fireplace mantel.  He gets upset when I try to secretly throw them away.  He notices when they disappear from the mantel.  He doesn’t believe me anymore when I tell him I’m saving them in a special, secret location.  Did I mention that I hate play-doh?

My husband had to fly to Oakland today for a meeting with one of his clients.  He’s in the e-commerce business and he works with a variety of online retailers.   This particular client happens to be a company that makes products exclusively for adults.  *Ahem*  To be more specific, they sell sex toys.  Apparently, during the meeting, the company gave out goodie bags to all the executives.  He texted me a picture of the bag and said, “I can’t wait to go through TSA at the airport.”  He won’t tell me what’s in the bag.  He says it’s a surprise.  I don’t actually care about what’s in the gift bag, but I would give almost anything to watch him go through airport security with that bag.  It was a day trip so he didn’t take luggage with him.  It should make him feel better that everyone from his company got a gift bag, so they all have to go through airport security together, with sex toys in their possession.  (I’m crying laughing just thinking about it!)

10806242_1572206826353329_5670738414475305045_n[1]

Because I won’t put up a picture of a sex toy, its funny, and topically, it’s somewhat relevant.

Have a great weekend!  😉

Wanda Says…Great Laughs, Great Friends and Good Times in Charleston.

spring break pink car

Every year I take a girls only trip with three of my great friends from high school.  This tradition actually began when we were seniors in high school and we drove from Michigan to Florida for the week of Spring Break.

It was a big deal.

Everyone at our small school had their knickers in a twist over four seventeen/eighteen year old girls daring to drive fifteen hours to the heathen state of Florida for some fun in the sun.  We survived, had an amazing time, and made it home without one traffic ticket or incident of indecent exposure.

And we did it all without the aid of cell phones, GPS, or online internet maps.  We used real maps.  You know, the ones kids today don’t know how to read.  We called our parents to check in from pay phones.  And no one died because they weren’t able to reach us every second of the day.

We were totally independent, smart, capable, badass teenagers.

Fast forward twelve years of being sidetracked with college, jobs, boyfriends who became husbands, raising children, and some husbands becoming ex-husbands, we resumed our tradition of the annual girls trip.  Except now we fly instead of drive because we have more money and we’re scattered across the country.  We’ve been doing it now for about ten years, give or take a year off for unexpected complications.

Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park

Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park

This year we congregated in Charleston, South Carolina.

My travel itinerary wasn’t fun since I was basically traversing the country as far as possible from the west coast to the east coast, but once I got there I was completely charmed.  This was my very first trip to Charleston and I have to tell you, I was not disappointed.  It’s a fabulous city!

We stayed in the historic district and walked everywhere.  We took a carriage Red Brick and Stuccoride through the city and our guide detailed everything from minute details of residential architecture to churches and buildings of historic significance.  We shopped in the open market on Market St. and I bought Sweet Grass Baskets for my children as souvenirs.  We walked the waterfront to Battery Park, which has some of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen.  We toured Rainbow Row and marveled over the charm of flowered window baskets, burning gas lamps, and real wooden shutters that add an undeniable ambiance to the already weighty, historic feel of the city.

And the restaurants in Charleston are amazing!

I fell in love with the houses of Charleston!

I fell in love with the houses of Charleston!

One of my favorite restaurants was called Poogan’s Porch and they serve gourmet southern cuisine.  The food was fantastic and the service was incredible.  If you go to Charleston, plan to eat there, but make a reservation in advance or you won’t get a table.  I had the beef fillet with blue cheese dumplings, and it was to die for!

The other place I would highly recommend is called Kaminsky’s, and it’s a dessert bar.  It’s a bar that only serves alcohol and dessert.

Genius!

The line to get into this place was staggering.  Thankfully, we had stopped in there for hot drinks one afternoon when they weren’t busy and got to know one of the bartenders.  It was raining outside and we wanted to warm up with some spiked coffee.  The next evening we decided to go back to try their dessert menu as well, but there was a mob of people waiting outside to get in.   It would have been over an hour wait, but our dear new friend, the bartender, was able to snag us some seats at the bar and took excellent care of our dessert and cocktail needs for the rest of the evening.  The place is fun, charming and has some of the best dessert Martini’s, ever.  And I don’t like Martini’s, so that should tell you something.

Oak Trees in Battery Park

Oak Trees in Battery Park

Now, two of us, myself included, already had established alter egos.  I am, of course, Wanda.  One of the other girls is known as Belinda, but only when she drinks.  Not wanting to leave the other two girls without a fun, alter ego to enjoy the weekend, Jasmine and Piper were born out of much alcohol consumption and consideration of naming preferences.  I shall refer to my friends by their alternative names out of consideration of their privacy, and well, just because it’s more fun.

Jasmine received a chiropractic adjustment to her back, shoulders and neck by a local homeless man named Byron.  I’m not kidding.  We were walking down the street and observed this man cracking another man’s back while standing on the sidewalk.  Jasmine yells out, “I need some of that!”  Byron then crossed the street and began to work his magic.  I was shocked.  I was waiting for him to feel her up.  He was standing behind her with his arms across her chest, working her arms, back and neck.  At one point he said to her, “Lean back and put your head on my shoulder.  Trust me.”  And Jasmine said, “But I just met you.”  It took every ounce of self-control I had not to piss my pants right there because I was laughing so hard.  Jasmine decided to trust Byron, and he proceeded to give her, as she claims, one of the best back adjustments she’s ever received.  The look on her face was orgasmic.  She tipped him ten dollars.  He rode past us on his bike a few minutes later and shouted out, “You’ve been Byronized!”  Yes.  Yes she had.  (We found out later from our friendly bartender friend that Byron is a bit of a local celebrity, and every one knows him, loves him and he provides back cracking and adjustments free to anyone who needs them).

I love this house!

I love this house!

Belinda was good this year.  She managed her alcohol intake well and there were no incidents of ‘Girls Gone Wild’ this year.  We were really proud of her.

Piper just had a baby last year and is still breastfeeding.  It became fun for all of us to mimic the sound of the breast pump which occasionally made her boobs tingle trying to release the milk.  And we were treated to a special visit by her eight month old baby girl.  Piper’s husband drove down with the baby so she could meet her Auntie’s and enjoy an afternoon with us.  They live a couple of hours north of Charleston.  I’m not kidding when I say she is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen.  I gave her a pink bear, which we named Flo, and she loved her, which means, by extension, she loves me.  So that means I’m the favorite Aunt.  Just sayin’.

Waterfront Mansion

Waterfront Mansion

As for myself, well, I had a Ross Geller moment while at dinner on Saturday night.  I wore skinny jeans that night.  I never wear skinny jeans because I find them to be tight and uncomfortable.  But, to shake things up a bit, I wore skinny jeans to dinner.  We walked to the restaurant which was about a mile away from our hotel.  It was warm outside and I was sweating slightly by the time we got there.  Do you remember that episode from Friends where Ross wears leather pants on his date?  And he goes into the bathroom of his date’s house to air out his pants because his thighs are so sweaty?  And then he can’t get his leather pants back up and uses baby powder to absorb the moisture on his legs, but the powder mixes with his sweat to form a paste?  Yeah, well, my incident was sort of like that but without the baby powder.  Skinny jeans don’t like to be pulled up or down sweaty legs.  I went to use the restroom when we got to the restaurant and got stuck in the bathroom for a while trying to get my stupid ass skinny jeans back up my sweaty legs.  Never again.

In short, we had a great weekend.  Great laughs, great friends and good times!

PS–We are considering options for next year’s girls trip, so if any of you have a suggestion for a destination in the US, I would love to hear it.  🙂

Wanda Says…Silliness, Shenanigans, and Good Friends.

This past weekend one of my lifelong friends and her daughter, who was celebrating her 21st birthday, came to visit me here in California.

After three days of preparing my house for the festivities and four days of entertaining, along with pee-your-pants hilarity, I am exhausted.

1338993291108_8649686[1]My friend T (names will be shortened to the first initial of first names) and her daughter K are very special to me.  T is one of those friends that it doesn’t matter how much time has passed since we last talked or saw each other.  Every conversation or visit takes place like its been mere moments since the last.  When I’m with her I feel nineteen again.  And sadly, we often act like we’re teenagers when life allows us to have these brief but special visits.

T lives in my home state of Michigan so we only get to see each other once a year, if we’re lucky.  We met when I was fifteen and she was eighteen.  I knew the very first time I met her that we would be friends forever.  We’ve been partners in crime for 25 years, and every time we’re together we seem to have these unforgettable moments that take my breath away.  Like, literally, I’m laughing so hard I can’t breath.  And there are tears running down my face.  And I may or may not pee my pants.  That may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re laughing that hard so often, it begins to hurt.  Joy can be extremely painful.  And embarrassing.

1335007594068_1430618[1]

I love you, T!

 

This past weekend was filled with laughter, silliness and varied shenanigans.  Here are my top five favorite moments from the weekend…

1.  In our attempt to find one drink K would like on her 21st birthday, T and I got shit-faced while drinking all her cocktail rejects. We ordered her ten different drinks trying to find one she liked.  We failed.  K remained sober while T and I partied like it was 1999.

1342542212685_8236019[1]

2.  T smuggled a Moscow Mule out of the bar in her purse.  Her excuse?  “That drink cost $12 and I wasn’t about to leave it behind.”  She pulled it out of her purse when we got home and gave it to my babysitter, who apparently loves Moscow Mules along with delivery bar service. (Yes, my babysitter is over 21 and is a part-time bar tender.)

3. On one of our cab rides, our cab driver ran every stop sign and attempted to channel his inner Mario Andretti with us in the car.  I think he was showing off for K, who is an extremely gorgeous young woman.  While we were clutching the arm rests and hanging on for dear life, my phone rings and it’s the dispatcher telling us that the cab we ordered has arrived at my house.  I tell the dispatcher that we are in the cab, but obviously this isn’t the cab that was supposed to pick us up.  Who is this cab driver?  Holy shit, are we being kidnapped?  I attempted to communicate my distress over the cabbie’s driving skills over the phone, but the dispatcher seemed to feel it was just a mix-up.  I wanted to use a safe word so the dispatcher would know we might be in trouble, but telling the dispatcher our cabbie was fucking crazy seemed like a bad idea since I didn’t know if he was a kidnapper or not.  The dispatcher then told me to have a good night and disconnected the call.  Thankfully, the cabbie dropped us at our destination before we all died in a fiery crash, or we ended up at the bottom of a well with cabbie man using our skin as a cape.  I’m only listing this as a top five moment because now that it’s over, and I’m not dead, kidnapped or skinned alive, I can laugh about it.

1347712868212_8207722[1]

4.  My birthday gift to K was tickets to the Comedy & Magic Club to see Jay Leno.  It was a blast and Jay was awesome!  We had good seats, great drinks, and it was an awesome night.

5.  We treated ourselves to massages at the spa, and it was one of my favorite activities of the whole weekend.  Since I started working out with my trainer three weeks ago, my body has been in a continuous state of soreness and pain.  Everything hurts, but in a good way.  I can feel myself getting stronger.  But I have knots in my muscles everywhere and no amount of stretching can work them all out.  So I paid to have a massage therapist, aka torture artist,  work them out for me, and while it was 60% pain versus 40% relaxation and pleasure, I needed it desperately.

Overall the weekend was amazing.  We laughed, we danced, we had girl talk and reminisced about days past and our epically bad behavior.  We laughed hard, played at the beach, ate amazing food at amazing LA restaurants and giggled as K stalked and fan-girled over the LA Clippers basketball players working out at the gym.

1340493304009_5871174[1]

 

I’ve missed these girls, and I cried when they left.  They don’t make women in California like they do in the Midwest.  We are a breed unto ourselves and having them here made everything more beautiful and more fun.  🙂

 

 

Wanda Says…Blogging Awards, number 3!

 

neatblog

 

It happened again!

A Girl Named Wanda has been nominated for the Real Neat Blog Award by Ray over at The UnsimpleLife.  I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Ray through his blog and you should head over and check him out.  He has a fun, wicked sense of humor combined with the madness that is raising children, and that makes reading his posts a real good time.  Thanks, Ray!

I love blog awards, and let me tell you why…there is validation in being recognized by your peers.  To receive that recognition is to know that other people ‘get you.’  They pick up what you’re putting down, and they enjoy it.  I love knowing that when I write a post and throw it out there for the world to read or discard, that even if only one person hits the like button, or only a handful of people read it or leave a comment, that someone understood what I wanted to say and maybe felt the same way too.  Or maybe I made someone laugh with my stupid sense of humor and not-so-artfully placed F-bombs, which is even better.  So again, thank you for the recognition, and thanks for reading my Wanda!

Let’s get to the award!

Real Neat Blog Award Rules:

1. Put the Award Logo in your post

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

Here are Seven Questions for me to answer, provided by Ray at The UnsimpleLife….

imagesCIAWB5U7If you could be a sound, what would it be?

Have you ever been at an airshow, and an F-18 fighter jet flew overhead?  Have you heard the earth-quaking sound and sonic boom as the jet breaks the sound barrier?  Felt the way your bones compressed with the energy and noise?  If I could be any sound that’s what I would be.  It’s strong and creates an intense physical reaction.  It forces your heart to beat a little faster and chills to sweep up and down your body .  You can actually feel that sound moving through you and the ground vibrates beneath your feet from the enormity of it.  Yeah, I would be a totally fucking badass sonic boom.  (My friends who read this are probably like, “You’re more like a sparkler, or a weak firecracker, Wanda.”  And I would say, “Oh yeah, screw you guys!  I’m a sonic boom and you know it!”).

What is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to you?

Of course, becoming a mother is the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me.  If you’re a parent, you get it.  If you’re not, then let me describe it as the moment in your life when you truly and irrevocably become part of something bigger than yourself.  And I think it’s the most amazing thing in the world.  Everyday I look at my kids and think, “I can’t believe I made you.”  (And please, God, help me not to screw this up!).

loch nessIf you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

I would go to Scotland.  I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland.  It’s so beautiful in pictures and I want to explore old, ruined castles and spend hours imagining the lives of the people who lived there.  And I want to go to Loch Ness and look for Nessie.  I totally believe in Nessie, and I don’t care what anyone says.  And just so you know, Mermaids are real, too.

If you could invite any three people (living or dead) to dinner, who and why?

First and second would be both of my grandfathers.  Each, in their own way were larger than life and two of the greatest men I’ve ever known.  I would introduce them to their great-grandchildren and my husband.  To be able to spend an evening with them, just one more time, would be one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive.

imagesJJGJ5OSEAnd third, I would invite Linda Carter, but only if she shows up as Wonder Woman, parks the invisible jet in my driveway and demonstrates the Lasso of Truth to my kids.  Wonder Woman was my childhood hero and I still idolize her today.

 

What is your ideal sandwich, and why?

The Rueben is my favorite sandwich.  I love it because it’s sweet, salty, and a little bit sour, just like me.  😉

What is true about you today that would make 10 year old you cry?

As a child I was painfully shy and insecure.  I grew up in a dysfunctional household (who didn’t?), which didn’t help with my low self-esteem.  It wasn’t until I became a young woman that I began to embrace my own inner-strength and to speak up for myself, as well as others.  As an adult, I would tell my ten year old self to be patient, because life gets better.   I would tell her that she has to learn that she can survive the hard things in life, because that is part of becoming who she is meant to be.  I would tell her….you are good enough, and one day you will feel the unconditional love and acceptance that you so desperately wanted as a child.  One day, you will feel whole instead of fractured.  One day, you will be confident and happy.  And it will have been worth the wait because you will be made stronger and smarter for the more difficult things you experienced in life.

What do you get out of blogging, and why do you continue to blog?

Blogging helps me to feel more connected to others.  Since giving up my career and becoming a stay home parent, I’ve struggled with my sense of self and my sense of purpose.  I like being a stay home mom, but it’s hard to feel connected to the world when your life seems to be centered behind the walls of your house.  Being a part of the blogging community takes me to different corners of the world.  I can read and share in the lives of others, both near and far.  And I can contribute my own little piece to the ever-expanding puzzle.  Plus, I feel valued differently when I write something that another person enjoys, finds interesting or funny.  It makes me feel good to know that another person appreciates what I have to say, and also appreciates my participation in their blog, or their little piece of the universe.   I also enjoy reading and gaining the insights of others on topics that I may not have much experience with.  People are fascinating, even if you don’t always agree with them.

Now, onto my nominations….to the nominees listed below, if blog awards aren’t your thing, no big deal.  But hopefully you’ll enjoy some new traffic based on the super awesome things I’m about to say about you.

1.  I Refuse to Follow Your Blog  (This blog is very funny and the mastermind behind the catchy title enjoys making fun of all things in life that he considers to be pathetic, which is pretty much everything, including himself.  It’s a great read so check him out!).

2.  inspired4business (I’m new to this blog, but I love it.  Steve’s posts are always positive, upbeat and inspirational.  Just the pick me up many of us need to regain some perspective and insight on life and how we interact with others.  Check him out and I dare you not to be moved by his amazing attitude and outlook on life).

3.  Ben’s Bitter Blog  (Now, Ben’s blog has been around for a little while, and he’s been nominated for multiple blogging awards.  But not this one, because I checked!  Ben is very bitter, about everything.  And I really enjoy reading his bitter ramblings, and if you like to laugh, you will too!).

Now, I could list seven new questions here, but I found the questions provided by Ray to be thought provoking and entertaining.  So I’m going to mooch off his genius and save myself some time.

Thanks again for the nomination, and happy blogging!