Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pack your bags! We are going to the West Coast.

Greetings from the West Coast. Also known as the Best Coast and NOT the Wet Coast like I was told yesterday. We woke up this morning in sunny Seattle. Oh, I know. You don't believe those two words fit in the same sentence. The sun shines here, I promise. I am working from Seattle for the next week. Spending time with my family and the last stop on my multi-week birthday celebration.

I love the West Coast. From top to bottom. For those of you who live here, or vacation here, you know all the reasons I like it. And for those of you who have never been, you must visit. Since I am still celebrating my birthday, should you get a treat too? Of course you should.  So I want to bequeath a party favor comprised of two of my favorite things: Vacation and The West Coast.

I have partnered with Larkspur Hotels and Restaurants for something special.  This fabulous boutique hotel group has 23 hotels and extended stay locations from Bellevue, WA all the way to L.A. Including one of my absolute favorite hotels in San Fran: Villa Florence.

And this group of hotels will cover everything you need for a fantastic visit to the Coast so we are hosting the Pack Your Bags Giveaway for a weekend stay at any Larkspur Property! Doesn't that sound fun?

Here are five signs you are LONG OVERDUE for a vacation:

*You drop your child off at school at the usual time. Except school is closed for summer.
*You try to cook your microwave popcorn. Except you put the bag (THIS SIDE UP) in the freezer.
*You start thinking about Happy Hour. At 10:15 am. And no, Jimmy Buffett, it is NOT 5 o'clock somewhere.
*Instead of responding to that problem-laden email at the office, you delete it. And laugh. Before saying OHSH*T and digging it out of your trash folder.
*You wear your flip flops to the office. WITH your swimsuit and sari.

Don't you need a vacation? What is your YOUR sign?

How can you win and start packing your bags? First entry: You must be a public follower of my blog and leave a comment telling me the #1 sign you need a vacation.

Additional entry love. Please leave me a separate comment for each.
1. "Like" Let's have a cocktail on Facebook. This easy  (1 entry)
2. Follow me on Twitter like so  (1 entry)
3. Give the tweetle de dee about the giveaway and send me the link. You can do this daily for one entry per day.
4. "Like" Larkspur Hotels & Restaurants on Facebook with a click of this link. (1 entry)
5. Post about this giveaway on your blog and link back to me. Leave me your link to show the post. (2 entries)

Plus, you should go to their site or FB page, they are doing an awesome giveaway over the next six weeks: hotel accommodations +  airline gift card + restaurant gift card! OH MY!

Pack Your Bags Giveaway will run today through August 8, 2010. One superstar will be chosen at random from all of the entries and will be announced the following week.  Cheers from Seattle and what I hope you will soon call The Best Coast too. Have a fabulous weekend!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ponytail

On a previous weekend, I took MiniMac to the park. My seat on a picnic bench provided a perfect view of him flitting from swing to slide and back. At the end of the bench, a man also sat. Sporty and tall, his U of Georgia t-shirt caught MiniMac's attention as they quickly made friends. The whole time our son telling him about the game day chant and the recent UGA spring game. As MiniMac ran off, a little girl, approximately MiniMac's age, ran over to him.

"Daddy, can you fix my ponytail?"
"Sure," he said and turned her around to adjust the sprig of hair with a tiny boing at the nape of her neck.  As he adjusted it, she reached back to feel it. 
"You're doing it wrong, Daddy. Do it like Mommy does." He attempts to pull it tight through the tiny band bedecked with a little flower, yet it is no better off than the first time he tried. 
"Is Mommy coming back?" she asked.
"No, honey," he answers. As he does I felt a little shift and static in my heart. 
"Do you remember where I told you Mommy went?" he asks in a tone that I recognize as being pleasant but manufactured as such.
"Yeah," she says more matter of factly. "Heaven."

He is sitting less than two feet away from me but I feel like an intruder in a very private conversation. I don't look toward him as his daughter goes running along after his "go play with your sister" suggestion. 

The daily sounds of the park consume the air and he then says to me, "I am not so good with the ponytails."  His statement had less to do with ponytails than the fact I just heard this man ask his toddler if she remembered her Mom is in heaven. His voice seemed to hold two sounds in tandem: Yes, I can do this. But how in the _____ did I get here.

I look at him. He might be 35. He clearly has two young daughters. And I say, "Yet."
He looks back at me and I say again, "You are not so good with the ponytails, yet." He gives an uneasy nod. And I say, "Remember the first few times you played frisbee? Or basketball? You are probably much better at it now." He gave a chuckle that sounded a bit like his whole laugh track was dusty and neglected.

Our Mom was a single parent at one point in her life. Her segueway from work to home rarely included, "How was your day, Mom?" And more often included a barrage of: Where is/are my cleats/skis/shinguards/tennis racket/legwarmers/Blondie cassette? And we are lucky that in between running us to every event and activity, my Mom didn't add a new weekly activity:
Every Saturday morning at 10 am, beatings for the children of this house.

I know the weight and magnitude of raising a child and I don't know what that would be like on double time, as a single parent, whether by choice, by accident, or by default.  And this man, likely capable of successfully achieving a litany of milestones, made me take notice not because he could not put a 3 year old's hair in a ponytail, but because he, even more so than this tiny sprite bouncing around his legs, wanted to do it exactly how Mommy did it.

I am a person who occasionally is moved enough to want to hug a stranger and this was one of those moments. Not because he needed it, not because I related some profound wisdom, but because I think the circumstances would be a bit overwhelming at times if I wore them as my own.

And it is a reminder that sometimes a ponytail is symbolic of something so much greater.

And because I never realized for my own Mom the task at hand when you are a single parent, so thank you. And yours was a job well-done. Sometimes she made it look rather easy. Maybe that is the trick, or the strength, or the stamina single parents have to master.

And my apologies when we were young and fully absorbed in soccer games, singing Our Lips Are Sealed, or saying, "We are not having meatloaf AGAIN are we?" that we did not inquire more frequently How was your day, Mom?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pants on fire

I read an article last week on Forbes.com regarding 10 signs someone is lying to you. This list included intel from former CIA agents, police officers, and interrogators. The list included things you may not already know such as: look for dilated pupils and a higher pitch of voice. Both signs of stress more common in liars than non-liars. And watch out for people who use the phrase "to be honest" since most people assume they will be trusted and people who have to clarify their honesty might be lying. The list also included things I think are quite obvious like: watch body language for fidgeting and sweating, both signs of nervousness. And, people who avoid eye contact when telling you a story are doing so for a reason.

I am confident in the ten magical components of my personal formula used to determine honesty or lack thereof. Here is the breakdown of that formula. Feel free to borrow anyone at Forbes.com. 

1. First, my Father's favorite: Lying by omission. It is not what you are saying, but what you are not saying. For example. When your Father asks you " How was your day?" And you answer "Well, it started with a great breakfast. And now, I am back home with my loving family." And yet you leave out a critical portion like "I accidentally touched the garage door with the car." That is lying by omission. This is the lying that takes place when you know there is more to the story, but it is not being dished up. Glad it was pointed out to me so young. This knowledge served me well in law school.  

2. When someone clearly hears your question and yet repeats it back to you, they are buying time. Beware. The sentences that follow the reiteration of your question are likely to be untrue. For example:

Girl: What time did you get home last night
Boy: What time did I get home last night? (Buying time) Ummmm, I am pretty sure it was a little after 2 am (And by a little you mean four hours.)

Repeat for other common questions some young men and women ask one another like: Who was that on the phone? Who was that person I saw you with? Why didn't you answer my call at midnight?

3. When someone can not keep their story straight and the details change every time the story is told. Also known as: Why is the crap you are telling me now not match the crap you told me yesterday. Or the day before.  It should be a direct recollection from memory, not creative writing. For example:

When your child tells you how they got a speeding ticket and it starts out "I was framed" morphs to "I was rushing a friend to the hospital" and ends up "I was involved in a drag race."

4. When you watch a person's face and not only do they avoid eye contact, but they make crazy eyes. And we all know at least one person with the crazy eyes.

5. When you ask for details and there are none available.  I once asked one of my direct reports how close we were on finishing this significant quarter end report. She said, "Very close." I asked how many pages were in the report so far. Her answer was "I am not sure. But I think a lot." Can I make a quick review of it? "My computer crashed." As she sits at her computer that looked fully operable.

6. When the person makes a statement like: "It depends on what the meaning of is is." Same rule applies to anyone who says "I can see Russia from my house." 

7. When someone says, "For a small investment, you will make millions of dollars."

8. At least 50% of the time when someone says, "Oh, I never got that email."

9. When the details are so outlandish, you almost think you are talking to Tommy Flanagan or Penelope from Saturday Night Live. We had a neighbor like this. In fact, I am going to have to write an entire post about him.

10. When you see their pants. On fire. Wouldn't this be awesome if it happened? Not for the necessary white lies like "This cake is delicious!" but only the real zingers. I would like to see that on Forbes.com as well.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Well, bless my heart

I am now fully recovered and refreshed from my fabulous weekend in New York City where reasons to celebrate abounded. I am also off the delicious and ever so comfortable Cloud 9 after my Fox segment. Well, if not on Cloud 9, at least down to say, Cloud 5.  And I had a really phenomenal birthday, likely one of my top ten of my life. I hope the year ahead is spectacular. In honor of this year’s birthday, let’s me dish some advice in a different way. This is what I like to call Bless My Heart: The Early Years.

If you don’t take opportunities to look back and laugh at yourself, you should. Others are so join in the fun. 

Bless my heart in grade school: 

*That I let my Father talk me into getting the eyeglasses that automatically turned to dark tint when exposed to sun. Those were hideous. Coupled with the fact they were comparable in size to a windshield, I looked like Mr. Magoo. Or a very, very tall fly.

*That I overheard my brother and his friends talking about a girl they knew and later relayed to our Mom, "Tumble said X was giving people Valentines Day." Our Mom was perplexed.  Actually he said VD but I thought VD stood for Valentines Day.  

*For winning the all-school Spelling Bee the very same week I started a food fight in the cafeteria.  

Bless my heart in Junior High:

*That a boy asked me if I knew how to French kiss to which I replied No. He then laughed at me. To which I said, “Don’t be stupid. You know I am not French.” 

*That I opted to enter our school talent show doing a lip sync of Madonna’s Holiday with bangles and hair to match. And I had the best dance moves. Oh, what else did I add? The pelvic thrust. In front of the entire school. I think my parents did a prayer that night : Please don’t let our daughter grow up to be a stripper.

*That I, along with a big group of friends, opted to go skinny-dipping in a river in our town only to lose my shoes. When I got home that night my Mom asked me why I came home barefoot. I gave her the baffled look.
Her: Let me be specific, where are your shoes?
Me: I don’t know.
Her: Really? They simply disappeared off your feet?
Me: More or less?
Refusal to budge on my part ended that conversation. Who won in the end? Her. Why? They were my favorite jelly shoes and when I requested more, I was politely declined. How did she win without ever knowing she won? I HATED skinny-dipping and attempted to cover myself with blades of grass and leaves. I also didn't skinny-dip again.  (for a very LONG time.)

*That I attempted to sneak a puff off a cigarette left nestled in an ashtray by my Aunt Suzie while she was on the phone. Little did I know, at night time, when the world is dark yet the dining room lights are fully blazing, the dining room windows act like mirrors. So while her back may have been turned, she saw the whole situation in the giant recording device called reflective glass. Double bless it that when she asked me if I tried it, I responded with, “ I am not sure what you mean.” Nevermind smoke was coming out of my mouth and nose like Puff the very NOT SO Magical Dragon.  

Bless my heart in High School:
 

*For playing Spin the Bottle at my own house and thinking that somehow my parents would not know what was going on. How did they solve the mystery? By coming into our Family Room  and seeing me deeply engaged in a teen-age make out party and a plastic bottle in the middle of the floor. What is awesome? NOT having your parents seeing you deeply engaged in a teen-age make out party. Ever. Double bless it that I clearly figured out French kissing by this time.

*That I elected to wear my boyfriend’s Letterman jacket around. Everywhere. Never mind it was about 32 sizes too big. And I looked like a tiny head stuck in a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Float of School Spirit. 

*That my girlfriends and I met these super hot college guys one summer. Not to give the impression we were too immature for them, we lie and say we were in college. (Nothing says maturity like a huge lie about your age BTW) and when one of them asks us how many hours we are taking, we say "SEVEN" because that is how many periods are in typical high school students day. NICE WORK. Now they are not merely deterred because you are liars and under-age, they are deterred because you appear lazy and stupid. 

*Being in the back of my Dad’s truck and canopy with all of my cheer squad and shrieking so loudly we almost cause my Dad to drive off the road because a man pulled up next to the truck and was clearly stroking  his monkey. Well, not really stroking. More like strangling with committed enthusiasm. Once we were all calmed down, my Father asked what had happened. "What do you mean?" I asked. He wanted to know if the man just pulled up next to us out of the blue. Ummm, well, hmmm. How do I say this. We were actually…umm..mooning people on the freeway? First rule of how to attract perverts: Be a high school cheerleader, in uniform, and pull your pants down while on the freeway and flash your butts like you are auditioning for Porky's. Or American Pie. CLASSY. How to turn your parents' hair gray: Tell them what you did.

Bless. my. heart. And not in the good way.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I knew FOX was one of my favorite words for a reason.


Fox. I love the word. He is a fox. She is a fox. That is foxy. Vixen (female fox.) Out-foxed. Sly fox. Ergo, it makes perfect sense that word would be attached to one of the best experiences of my life which is also the exciting news I mentioned yesterday and the unexpected birthday gift I received this weekend. A furry new pet fox? No. A sassy compliment? No. Outsmarting a shylock? No, not that kind of fox either.

But rather my first national television appearance as a blogger. 


I was called by a Producer for Fox News in New York last Thursday and hope I didn’t disengage the chandelier doing my high kicks. I was invited to be a guest on the Fox and Friends morning show to respond as a blogger and mother to a controversy that has parents at odds with a component of the fashion industry. Fox and Friends Anchor, Alisyn Camerota, was hosting the segment and since I was actually flying to New York for a long weekend, I would do the segment live in the studio rather than at the local Fox affiliate in Atlanta.

I have been on television a handful of times but this was by far the most amazing (and surreal) experience. I received great guidance from one of the Producers, and I certainly did my research. I am unable to post the video here due to proprietary rights but here is a pic of the set I was on with Alisyn and one more screen shot.

 




Yes, the screen shot shows my debate face. And apparently I like to talk with my hands more than an Italian grandmother.


I am so grateful to Fox News in NY, the Producers, especially LW, and Alisyn for the experience. Two minutes prior to the segment, the woman who would be debating from the opposite stance of me could not present. Alisyn informed me she would then be playing devil’s advocate as opposed to moderating. Off camera, I told Alisyn “Ohhhh, I don’t like the devil.” To which she cracked up. I also asked her to take it easy on me considering she is a long-term TV personality and professional while I am best known for Flip videos made in our house. She was forthright with her questions, deliberate and direct but still the consummate host. And my goal was to avoid sounding like Ron Burgundy.

To summarize the experience: IN-CRED-I-BLE. The segment was three minutes long which can feel both eternal and yet microscopic when you are on live television. I was so honored to be asked and it is further demonstration life is full of surprises.

A few things I learned:

*When something like this happens, you are as giddy as you were when you got a puppy for Christmas when you turned six.  It is made infinitely more fantastic when your best friend in the world is with you. Times ten when your entire family rallies like you were just appointed to the Supreme Court.

*No matter how old you are, you can still get nervous.

*Having a great group of friends is one of the best gifts in life. Friends of mine I have not seen in a decade (or longer) sent or posted awesome and supportive notes and emails. Why does that matter as much in these situations? Because, like I said, no matter how old you are, you can still get nervous.

*Having your hair and make up done is always better than doing it yourself (except that one time at the Estee Lauder counter but that is an entirely different blog post.)

*Having your best friend tell you three minutes before you go on air “Remember, do NOT say the F word” even as a joke is NOT funny. LOL. Thanks Marcia Garcia. I will certainly plot revenge.

*Your 15 minutes of fame can actually be significantly reduced. Case in point: My husband and son watched the segment live in Atlanta. They phoned me shortly after its conclusion  and my son said, “Mommy, I saw you on TV! You looked so pretty. But, WHO WAS THAT GIRL WITH YOU?”  Really? Even on my national blogger TV debut, my son is innately more interested in the blonde girl.  

*We should never forget to make room in our lives for the Giddy. It is not reserved merely for 6 year olds, or those who win a Super Bowl ring. Letting ourselves be giddy about all the wins in between can elevate us, don't ignore it. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Just what The Beatles said

You say it's your birthday? It's my birthday too.  Now, I have just finished celebrating galore in NYC with my best friend. And while there, the universe gave me a really phenomenal birthday gift. However, over our summer travels, I have learned to refrain from writing blog posts when you return home very late from shenanigan filled vacations. SO, by request from one of my college friends, I am re-posting one of my favorite posts of all time. But, this week I will share some exciting news, some new birthday advice, and coming soon is a gift for you. Does not sound like a bad lineup for the week, does it? Have a gorgeous Monday. I know I will. 

________

Let's pop the cork on this thing. Now, take a deep breath, and help me blow out all these candles.

Deep in the matriarchal DNA of my family resides the long linear polymer for I LOVE BIRTHDAYS. Of course, I already pontificated on this subject and told you about Sangria Cha Cha Cha which will be served to the rim this weekend at a bit of a bash in my honor. Since I can't pour you a glass from here (oh, I would if I could honey) if you want to partake, here is the recipe . I want all of you to join me for a cocktail as I reflect on a very full and fun life.

In this retrospect, I thought of sage advice and prolific words of wisdom I might share if I had the chance to write a letter to JennyMac at say, age 8. Like to hear it? Here it go....

Dear 8 year old JennyMac:

Happy early birthday. You turn 9 in just a few days. You LOVE parties and always will so enjoy your day.

You little girl, are brave, trusting, and good. Smart as a whip and certainly not afraid to clarify that for others who do not seem to grasp it. You are also sassy and have quite a mouth on you. A natural proclivity toward sarcasm is typically not developed so young. Use it wisely. And by wisely, I mean don't use it on your teachers. As more specifically, don't call Mr. M an "arsehole" to his face. He is your Leadership teacher. This is not good leadership. And you are a kid. Not nice. Oh, and you certainly get in trouble at home so side-step that temptation.

Charm is of utmost importance and the sooner you employ it, the better. It is NOT charming to tell your mom, whilst she is spanking you, that you "can't feel a thing." Wise up. This will induce more spanking. Don't be smug.

You love sports and are quite good. You will love soccer, skiing, tennis, and volleyball for life. Give up piano lessons. Early. Your older brother has the musical talent of ten people. There is none left for you.

Oh, you are a tiny thing. Guess what, you will not grow and look like a real girl until 7th grade. Because of this, when you decide in 5th grade to cut off all your long hair for a Dorothy Hamill hair cut, I will be the first to tell you DON'T DO THIS. People will ask your parents about their "son" on more than one occasion. You will not like it. Pay attention to my words and don't cut your hair, or at least find someone who doesn't cut it like you are about to join the Army.

Your Father tells you at a young age you better find a career that pays you to run your mouth the way you do. You pick Lawyer. From the age of five you aspire to be two things: a Solid Gold Dancer or an attorney. Solid Gold goes off the air but watch it and learn all their skills. Law school is the answer. Although in any given opportunity, you will emulate the deft moves of a Solid Gold Dancer for  a long time. I mean years forever.

And don't tell lies. Like when you borrowed your Mom's bronzer, turned your face orange because you used too much, got it ALL over the impeccable white counters and floor, and then when questioned, you feigned bewilderment and innocence. Well sugar, the writing is all over your tangerine skin. Lucky for you, you learn quickly and just take your licks.

You will get tall, but you will be a size zero until about 13. Don't fret. You will never be a size zero again. And your boobs don't actually feel like participating in the "growth" process so they wait. For about 2 or 3 years. And when they come, its a weak showing. You twist and turn on this. Worry not. Why? Magic words: padded push-up. Plus, Victoria's Secret will solve this problem for you later in life with the first Miracle Bra. Even better ones come. Oh, and the braless, flat girls abound after the 90's.

Skip school a few days in November of 1984. You are only in 7th grade so just hold the thermometer near the light bulb for a few seconds. During November of this year "pants-ing" people becomes all the rage amongst the boys at school. You are not developed yet. You will get pants-ed. You will be called Peach Fuzz. You will react in a way the fuels fire. Not wise. You will need to work on this. Try laughing and telling them you lead the frontier for the Brazilian wax. Instead you will cry. Peach Fuzz sticks with you for about a year. You will laugh about this only DECADES later. Do yourself a favor, and just feign sickness. When you finally do get boobs, these same boys will not be singing Peach Fuzz.

You are going to have a great life. You are so lucky, and so loved. You adore clothes from a wee age when you refused to wear panties and socks that don't match. Nordstrom was the first word you could spell. You will make some wildly poor outfit choices in the 80's but everyone does.

You will wear a velour mid-length snap front bathrobe to school and because it is fabulous and purple, you will tell people it is a coat. Ummmm, one day you and your BFF TazBud will get in a fight and she will out you. Save it for the shower, sweetie.

Also, you will put blond hair color on one side of your hair. Right at the roots. Let's not. It will turn your hair orange and you will be stuck growing this out for over one year. This will be in ALL of your cheerleading pics. Your mom will hang these in the living room for ALL to see. If you don't take my advice, enjoy getting hazed. For years.

Oh, and stay out of Mom's jewelry box. Especially without permission. Yes, you like the jewels but you take her black pearls without express consent and then wear them in your class pictures. Ummm. Really? You have them ON in the picture. What more proof does she need? Perhaps you should have got your tiny arse beat because you will also one day take a ring of hers without asking and lose the stone. Turns out her father gave her the ring as a graduation gift. This will break your mom's heart and you will not know that for years to come. And you can NEVER replace something of such sentimental value. Just be respectful and ask first.

But older brother's room is a free for all. He has sh*t hidden everywhere: love notes, Copenhagen, contraband cigs, a one-hitter. You will have such great ammo against him. Start looking now.

You have some of the greatest friends of your life growing up. You will still be friends with many of them to this day.

Oh, your high school boyfriend was actually not the one who informed your Mom about who bought you alcohol in order to gain her good graces. You and all of your friends have big fun calling him Eddie Haskell for about the next decade but he is innocent. She is reading your journals. But, you are so clever that you often write your shenanigans in code. Brilliant move. She doesn't know HALF of what you are up to.

And believe me, you and your gal pals are innocent little lambs compared to teens today.

Oh, but when you get asked by one coach if you were drinking during a high school party thereby violating Athletic Code, DENY DENY DENY. She is a cow and will mishandle it. You and your two close friends will be suspended from the team (only for a bit though). Instead, smile at her as say " I would never." And wine coolers shouldn't really qualify as "drinking."

Oh, and when you pitch a full throttle fit when you are forced to watch 90210 because it's your little brother's birthday and he gets to pick, the least you could do is later admit to him you became obsessed with the show and watched it religiously.

While you think it is AMAZING that your first college boyfriend helps you make a beer bong (with a shut off valve...genius) it is HIGHLY UNWISE to bring this home on your first college break to show all of your friends also home on break. Breath-takingly more foolish is that you actually show your Step-Dad. Ummm, they are paying for education not beer-induced sex fest. DO NOT SHOW YOUR PARENTS A BEER BONG. Especially YOUR beer bong with YOUR nickname on it. And then you tell SD who helped you craft it. When that boy comes to visit, your SD calls him a troll. To his face. Your SD does NOT want to think about a boy funneling beer in your mouth at the speed of light for obvious reasons.

And being in a sorority is a great idea. You will love it. Although, those girls can drink. Wine coolers have not prepared you. Oh, and watch those 3 am calzones. Yes, I know you are hungry. Try eating during the day time. You will spend an entire summer working that off your arse.

And "credit card" is not magical slang for "free money" or "something somehow unattached to actual debt". When you Father tells you to pay attention to your credit, that's not French for "MAD SPENDING SPREE". You are smarter than this. Stop acting like you forgot all mathematical and economic concepts because its your first credit card.

Your first really serious college boyfriend is going to break your tiny heart. And he is cheating on you, sweetpea. Don't change a thing, because you learn more from this particular relationship than you can imagine. Its determinism, and it will change you 100% for the better. Pack your tissues though ladybug, its going to be a tough one.

You follow him across the country because you are so wise and grown up. The positive to this is, it is the best mistake you have ever made for the wrong reasons. PS: When your parents are paying for everything, they do, in fact, get a vote.

You will LOVE the University. Thankfully, you will actually like the "school" piece of it too. And you learn quickly skipping class is not wise. You will learn this the day your Western Civ mid term is rescheduled and you were not in class to hear this. Or the next session when they remind people. Oh, you are one smooth talker and overcome this dilemma but just go to class in the first place.

You will come out of your college experience a different and better person (and you think you are pretty fly at the time, trust me). And you will date stellar men from that point on.

Law school is a wise choice. It will benefit you indefinitely. You will have a hemorrhage over your first law school writing grade. That's what you get for being a smarty pants and not studying. Don't be a jackarse. Everyone here is smart. Oh, but you ace the Wills and Trusts exam that you almost have breakdown over fear of failing. Stop carrying on at your apartment on the phone to Mom. You miss your flight and have one hell of a time waiting at the airport for hours because it is winter and there are all kinds of weather issues. Oh, but you do meet a cute boy so all is not lost. And he likes to buy cocktails but easy does it. Don't get off the plane shatfaced to meet your family.

And going to the Grenada every Thursday night for "80's Night & Dollar Pitchers" when you are supposed to be studying Tort Law is a good idea. You will remember those nights much, much longer than you will remember Palsgraf v. Long Island Rail Road.

And when you graduate, you will have achieved your first life goal. And you will meet some of the best friends you will ever hope to have during this time. Well done.

You will have a great career free of blemish. Don't go to work for Big K though. You will get in an argument with him over open toe shoes at the office. In 2001. He is a clown. And you don't work in a manufacturing plant. His wife actually refers to him as fat bastard. Just decline that offer. And save yourself a headache of trying to educate someone that you don't need to wear clogs and bonnets.

You will paint the town. You will fraternize. And you make good decisions. It is BIG fun.

But that guy that says you "suck" because you don't like his friend, and you answer "hardly" and laugh in his face, that's just fine. But then he calls your friend a " ____ stupid ____" because she won't give him her number. You debate throwing your drink in his face for saying that even though that seems, well, a bit of an over-reaction. Well, THROW IT HONEY. He is begging to be b*tch-slapped via vodka tonic. Believe it. And then you and your friend can reminisce about how good it felt to do it.

At your wedding shower, your favorite and beloved Aunt will say "you sure kissed a lot of frogs before finding your prince." But, you will LOVE kissing these frogs. Kiss away.

And you marry someone strong, and smart, and loving. Having a baby will change both of your lives. And when you are raising a son, you will realize the importance of teaching leadership and being a good parent. And you realize how hard it is sometimes and you regret, oh, about 1,000 things you did/said to your parents.

Oh, and then you will remember that one time you went to your BFF's nieces first bday, and all the kids at one point seemed to be screaming. And you said, "For the love of God, I need a drink. How can you bear the racket." And your BFF, MarciaGarcia, says, "Oh, eventually you just drowned it out." And you say, with what for !&%# sake, a hammer? You will finally know what she means.

And the first time your tiny child says "I love you" without you saying it first, you will melt.

And you will achieve another life goal of writing a book, don't be discouraged that after a few agents give you the nod the only real creatures interested are the spiders crawling on the dusty manuscript in the garage, well, we don' t know what's to come of that yet. You just wrote it a year ago. BUT, you want to start blogging three years before you do. Do it sooner. There is an INCREDIBLY witty, fun, sassy, and smart group of people you will meet in BloggyWorld, doing the same thing, and you will become addicted. Soar baby, soar.

Happy Birthday, and yes, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Love, JennyMac at age 38 (now 39.)


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

If Jennifer Lopez can wear white pants, why can't I ?

Contrary to previous fashion mantras, you can wear white all year round. That said, I still don it more frequently in the May to September time frame. White, in all of its crisp freshness, makes me think of classics, and summer, and lounging on the boat.  But one component of the summer whites season always confounds me. The white pants.

I love white pants in the summer time but there should be some guidelines.
1.       Buy the right size. What one might be able to pull off in an extra snug black pant does NOT work the same with white.  What black pants camouflage, white pants highlight. 
2.      Wear appropriate undergarments. Hot pink a la polka dots are not a wise choice. Oh, yes, I know, the polka dots are white. Guess what isn’t white? The hot PINK part.
3.      Scotchguard those babies before you ever wear them. You will have a less tricky time getting out spills if you spritz them with some Scotchguard first. And once you have christened them with red wine, strawberry daiquiri, or ketchup, get the bleach on them or kiss them goodbye.
4.      Wash them after every or every other wear. Long term wearing makes them look gray.

But even keeping all of this in mind, I go through the white pants obstacle course every year to find the perfect pair. I fuss and fight with them because they all fit differently. Some you handwash, some you dryclean, some you machine dry, some you hang dry. Why so complicated?

White shorts: Why are you a magnet for everything that is not white? Why, when I wear you for a few hours do I, like Peter Cottontail, appear as if I bounced through the briars on my way through Mr. McGregor's garden? Apparently,  when I wear you I can only drink milk and handle powdered sugar.

White linen pants: I love you. You are perfect for the boat, brunch, cocktails, or a stroll down the boardwalk. Why don't I wear you? Oh, that is right. Now I remember. I hate you. Even the best linen pants fail me for two reasons. 1: No matter the care taken to treat you gently, you look like something Rip Van Winkle slept in. For a decade. 2: Even when you are the perfect size, after sitting in you for more than an hour, you look like a diaper. With legs. 

White cotton pants: Oh you are tricky. You appear so smooth and crisp at first. You also attract dirt. What am I, a chimney sweep? And the only way to keep you precise is to iron you. And I live in Atlanta where there is simply no need to turn on appliances or gadgets that produce heat when it is 102 outside. 

White denim: I like you. Until I buy you. And then you gather cobwebs in my closet because I knew when I slid that AmEx card across that counter, I don't like white denim. It's like eating fat-free ice cream, I want to like you, but I don't have it in me. 

White spandex /cotton blend: Hmmm. You really had me for a second. I loved you at first sighting. I tried you on and you fit perfectly. And then I turned to catch the backside glimpse.
You are a destroyer of the good mood. Why do I say this? Because that glimpse made it look like I slipped a giant inflated white life raft in my skivs. WTH? If I wanted to highlight my arse like a spotlight was shining on it, I would not wear pants.

I am fussy about the white pants and how they fit. Everyone else seems to look smashing in them. Except the hot pink underwear girl. And then I saw this photo of Jennifer Lopez. Leading back to my original question. If Jennifer Lopez can wear white pants, why can't I?  She doesn't mind a little junk in the all white trunk. She says, I will rock these tight whites. I will let my booty in white pants freak flag fly. Why don't you? I need that gene code.

I don't even have half that situation going on but white pants make it look like it. Let's hope the two pairs I just purchased from Banana Republic can do it for me. I will be prancing around in them as I meet my BFF Marcia Garcia at the airport tomorrow and we fly to my favorite city NYC for the next four days.  I will surely be having a cocktail as next Monday is a big day for me. More to come on that. Have a fabulous weekend.


Monday, July 12, 2010

I am neither Thelma nor Louise

One night during undergrad, the shrill unwelcome telephone ringing disturbs our sleep. My then-boyfriend, CCB, fumbles for the phone. It is his Mom. She is hysterical and needs us to drive over to his little sister’s house. Through her staccato speech, we are able to glean the following:

CCB's parents, who lived in KC, received a phone call from a stranger claiming to have their daughter, K. They had tried calling K multiple times but the line was busy. They attempted to have the Operator break through the line (remember when that was an option?) with no success. After calling the local police, they called us. K and her husband, B., lived three miles away from us so we dress immediately and depart. As I am leaving, I also put my handgun into my bag.

As the child of a police officer, I have been shooting on a police range since age 12. I have logged countless hours of target practice. At age 16, my Father presented me with my first handgun and the 100 rules associated with owning one. My Mom would not allow me to have it in the house. Period. When I left for college, I clearly could not have it and live in a sorority but when I moved into my own apartment, it came too.

And in a moment of potential danger, my natural instinct was to take the gun with me. Would my Father endorse this plan? Hard to say. When is a good time to ask? Not in the middle of the night when you are shacked up with your boyfriend. 

We took a short cut and pulled in the street behind their house. We approached the house like Stacy Sheridan and TJ Hooker. I slid the backdoor open seeing no one and crept into the house, gun in hand. Coming around the stairs to the main living room we saw no one but heard voices in the bedroom. He opens the door and I go in with gun in hand. Staring back at us are K. and B. and two uniformed police officers. They don’t even have time to shout “drop the weapon” before I moved out of the way. K. asks what in the world we are doing there.

We catch our breath and relay the story of the phone call and for some reason, this produces laughter from them as well as the officers. We are churned up by the circumstances and cannot make the connection between kidnapping, guns, and laughter.

Luckily, this was a college town with very little hard crime. It was also a less violent time period than now. And police officers in the Midwest likely exposed their children to hand guns at a young age too. Otherwise, I very well could have been shot.  Deep breath, Annie Oakley.

K. explains. The phone call to the parents? Purely random prank call. The reason the phone was busy? They were on the internet. We all had dial up at that time. The reason they were laughing? Because when the police arrived, they didn’t answer the doorbell. So the police kicked in the front door. We didn’t see police cars or kicked in doors because we came in the back. When the police heard no response, they searched rooms. To discover K and B mid-coitus. What was on the internet? Porn.

The only thing worse than being hopped up on adrenaline, playing out a live scene from Hill Street Blues, toting a firearm into a room with two police officers is being a man and wife getting down to your frisky business during a porn bonanza and having two police officers kick your door down and point guns at you. 

PS: How awful must it have been to watch porn on DIAL UP? 

And then we knew why it was so funny. At least funny to all of us present yet not a bit funny to the parents.

Luckily this story had a good if slightly saucy ending. And I can confirm  nothing like this has happened since. I am neither Thelma nor Louise.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Get A Lick of This: Espresso Ice Cream AND Raspberry Sorbet

Oh, it's hot. I mean hotter than blazes hot.  Guess what? I have just the relief you need. Get a lick of this: Espresso Ice Cream. I know most of you are coffee lovers so why not blend a creamy sensation in your kitchen that will make you the hit of the neighborhood block party. And wait, before you make a sad face that you don't have an ice cream maker, worry not. I also have a Raspberry Sorbet recipe for you that needs no such machine. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every lick. 

Espresso Ice Cream (compliments of The Barefoot Contessa)
Makes 1 quart

Ingredients
3 cups half-and-half
6 extra-large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch salt
2 1/2 tablespoons ground espresso coffee beans, decaffeinated or regular
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur (recommended: Kahlua)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces (1/2 cup) chocolate-covered espresso beans, chopped

Directions
Heat the half-and-half until it forms bubbles around the edge of the pan and steam starts to rise. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until mixed. Slowly add the hot half-and-half until combined. Wipe out the pan and pour the mixture back into the clean pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 10 minutes, until it's thickened and the cream coats the back of the spoon.

Pour the cream through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. Add the ground espresso beans, coffee liqueur, and vanilla and refrigerate until completely chilled. Pour the espresso cream into an ice-cream freezer and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. Mix in the chopped espresso beans, spoon into a container, and allow to freeze for a few hours. Soften slightly before serving.

Raspberry Sorbet with fresh whipped cream.
Makes 4 servings  (Thanks Martha Stewart.)

Ingredients
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar, plus
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (12 ounce) bag frozen raspberries, frozen or 3 cups fresh raspberries, frozen
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions
Stir together water & 1/4 cup sugar until sugar dissolves. (I added more sugar than 1/4 cup b/c raspberries are very tart when frozen).
Pulse raspberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. With machine running, pour in sugar-water; pulse until mixture is smooth. Transfer to an airtight container, freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
Whisk cream & remaining tablespoon sugar until soft peaks form. I also add 2 or 3 T of powdered sugar too. Scoop sorbet into 4 glasses and top with whipped cream. You can also garnish with fresh mint or basil leaves. 

Now if these do not cool you down, you need a long dip in the pool or a cold shower. Summer hasn't even really gotten started yet here in the South so my ice cream maker is working overtime. Have a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

'Sitting in a tree' made it all sound so easy

While sitting poolside at the Ritz one day last weekend, I met a fascinating woman. And as we chatted she introduced me to her husband. They have been married 43 years. Wondering what is they key to their success, in her heavy southern drawl she said in a conspiratorial whisper, "You learn very quickly what buttons to push. And later you realize you don't always need to push  them."  Shortly thereafter, along came her mother. Another beautiful southern woman equally as fascinating as her daughter. As we talked, she told me she celebrated her 68th wedding anniversary last December. And still talks about her husband like he is the best thing that ever happened to her. 

As a child, my initial grasp of marriage was you sit in a tree, you kiss, then you fall in love, get married and have a baby. Voila!

Later, my concept of marriage could be summarized easily: Partnership and fun because that is how I saw my Mom and Step-Dad. My Aunt and Uncle (married 58 years this year) also demonstrated true partnership, a balance, and the amazing talent of being patient when you want to be impatient, and holding your tongue sometimes when you have more than plenty to say. 

Obviously, as an adult I discovered that in order to have a true partnership, and fun, you have to accept marriage has a certain element of work included too. And somehow when we were singing that song about Kelly and Scooter sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g; the word "work" was not in the lyrics.  In fact, the song makes it all sound strikingly easy. Sit in the tree! Kiss! Bravo! Now we know better. And while I know marriage is work, for me, this type of work is intrinsically more fun than work of other varieties. 

And while we certainly don't have it all figured out, JMac and I give it our best effort. And I would love a future snapshot of myself sitting by the pool chatting with some sassy little whippersnapper, sipping my libation as I share sage advice on how to remain happily married after 68 (or even 43) years just like Ms. Frances and Ms. Amanda did with me that day. It was a great testament that love and longevity are not mutually exclusive. And that happily married is not an antiquated idea. 

Since we are in our late 30's, I gather I will be all kinds of hellcat if we get to the 68 year wedding anniversary mark. Either hellcat or some strain of crotchety but 68 years is a fabulous goal to have in mind. The first one of us to get to that mark, be sure to share your secrets too. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Evolution of the Crush

While at the beach, a darling 7 year old boy invited me to go play volleyball with him. He was adorable. Maybe it was because I was demonstrating stellar volleyball skills in the pool. Or, as his Mom put it, he likes older women. He was one of a set of triplets. All going to be heartbreakers one day. And at the rate our son is going, kissing a picture of Scarlett Johannsen in my Vogue, in a few more years he will be inviting an older woman he meets at the pool to play volleyball too.

Remember your first crush? My first crush happened in about 4th grade. My older brother had a friend I found to be perfectly dreamy. That crush lasted until I was about 15. I did what all poised young ladies do: acted like a total buffoon everytime he was near. I told my older brother once, " I bet he wants to marry me." To which my brother responded, " I think he would rather hold your face underwater for a long, long time."

Around that same era, I developed a crush on a friend of our family and every time he would come over, I would flee in the other direction, likely wretching and carrying on to the point he asked me one day, point blank, "Do you think I have boy germs or something?" I was frozen in time. Why is he talking to me? My parents laughed uproariously and then promptly nicknamed him BoyGerms and mocked me for at least five years if not longer. 

My first year of high school I developed a huge crush on a boy two years older, Boots. Maybe crush is an understatement, more like a suffocation. I think it was no secret from any of my friends or him. He went on Spring Break and brought me a present back. Again, I was frozen in time. And then thought, I knew it!!!! Kisses are on their way! Not quite, but once my older brother gave me a charley horse after I was not listening to a single thing he said because I was super busy writing my name  as Mrs. Jenny Boots. My brother also implored "Try not to be so *&$#^*! OBVIOUS!" What? Telling a 15 year old girl how to manage her hormonal fascinations and fluctuations? He would have been more successful getting me to go to school wearing leg warmers made from scrambled eggs. 

In law school, I had a crush on one of our professors. I had told not a soul except my BFF MarciaGarcia. Likely because she would only intermittently mock me for it but  allegedly, she also had a crush on another law professor. It was rarely discussed as fraternizing between professors and law students was uber-taboo. Not because we were puritans but because a few professors and one Dean were up the infamous creek a la sh*t from previous transgressions years before.

A few years after I moved to Atlanta, through some connections, I was invited to a concert at the hottest country bar in the state. Prior to the concert was a private Meet & Greet with the performer, a male country singer.  I like multiple genres of music and while I was unfamiliar with this artist, I thought it sounded fun. The minute I laid eyes on Mr. X, outside I said, "WOW" but inside I said, "MEEEEEEEOW." Later, I was pulled aside and told "Mr. X asked me who you were." I tried to cover my intense desire to do some high kicks with my Smirky McSmug face like, "He did?" and instead asked, "What did you say?"

His response: I told him you were my girlfriend.
My response: Really? 
His response: Jennifer, you are my girlfriend. 
Me: I KNOW but remember when I stated you had a free pass with the lead singer from Trick Pony? I meant it!

Not exactly precious moments. But really, we weren't that serious. And we laughed about it many times afterward.

And now that I am happily married, I reserve my crushes for non-legitimate outlets. Like Mark Ruffalo. Or McDreamy. And maybe I will partially admit I was fine with watching Dear John because of the dirty-sexy combination of Channing Tatum

But the best crushes are starting out with our little man. Who not only adores Scarlett (and she is a fine choice but  I see him trending always toward the blondes and have no problem reminding him brunettes are fabulous too) but Mini got asked to dance one night at the beach by a girl four years his senior. And once he said yes, his smile couldn't be shifted off his face for that entire song. Watching him smile like that reminded me exactly how the evolution of the crush works.

And of course, she was blond. 


____

PS: Blogger is still intoxicated from the holiday weekend. There has been difficulty posting comments since Saturday and some comments will not post today. AND at one point I was locked out completely. If there is no post tomorrow, you will know it is because I am going to ask Blogger to step outside for a duel. 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I'm ready for the Bash

Tomorrow is the biggest celebrated birthday bash in the US. In honor of it, I will share a video MiniMac made last year when he was two. Why don't I have an updated one? Because he only does videos now that include guitars and/or drums. 3 year olds do have their demands.

If you are celebrating, have a great 4th of July. The beach is fantastic and we will see an amazing fireworks show tomorrow night. Where ever you are, be safe and enjoy. And we are proud to be celebrating the birthday of our great nation. See you Tuesday.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kiss me like you mean it


Happy July. My favorite month of the year. Shall we get your hearts racing? Who doesn't love the hot,  burning kisses? Mouths smothering one another in the first blatant act of your animalistic side that thinks, if you don't kiss me, I will likely fall apart on the spot.

But all kind of kisses are good. And, guess what? Good for you. The simple act of lip touching lip has benefit upon benefit. Love it. A healthy activity that doesn't require a treadmill.  And kissing not only revs up your engines, it is practically exercise proven by our friends at The Mayo Clinic.  Your lips are 100 times more sensitive than your finger tips so give your lips some action, and reap the rewards.  And really, Mayo Clinic, why was I not included in these studies?

1. A small kiss can burn up to 3 calories. Make it count and guess what, you just worked off that morning latte.

2. Kissing can also double your metabolic rate and raise your heart rate to 100 beats a minute. Research on CNN.COM indicated that three passionate kisses per day can burn an extra pound. Add "Busy Lips Diet" to your list of things to try this summer.

3. Kissing reduces stress, anxiety AND the endorphins released during your KissFest are 200 times more powerful than morphine. Who needs drugs when you have lips?

4. The adrenaline produced during kissing pumps more blood around your heart while decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol. Think of all the additional bacon and eggs you get knowing that some heavy lip-locking will reduce that cholesterol for you.

5. You also use, on average, 30 facial muscles while kissing. Instant workout!

6. People who give their spouse or mate some goodbye kiss love every morning live five years longer than those who are too sleepy, decaffeinated, or grumpy to kiss goodbye.

7. The average person spends two weeks of life kissing. Two weeks? I am going for two months. If not more.

8. However, be warned that a truly intense and passionate lipsmack can increase the pulse and raise your hormone levels high enough to reduce your life span by one minute. I don't need that minute anyway since I have added five years by kissing good bye every morning. And believe me,  a truly awesome make out party is worth one minute of my life.

I for one am going to practice all my kisses this long holiday weekend made longer as JohnnyMac, the great surprise trip planner, is whisking us off to Amelia Island tomorrow until Monday night. Beaches are perfect for kissing. MiniMac will be back for a 4th of July tribute and I will see you all Tuesday am.