Thursday, October 10, 2013

The color of love

Each time I was pregnant, Bil predicted that this baby would be the one to inherit my blue eyes.  Though Bil's are brown, a dominant characteristic, his dad had blue eyes, so there was a remote chance genetically, that this could happen.  Bil would quote genetic statistics proving that our chances were not as minuscule as I predicted.

The baby would be born and Bil would claim vehemently that he/she had blue eyes, as newborns are wont to do.  But each time, the baby's eyes would invariably change to brown, rather quickly. So quickly that I don't really believe they were ever blue.  It was just a trick of lighting or Bil's very strong wishful thinking.   Bil would look into their giant, beautiful, dark eyes and swear they were still blue, that there was a chance, but I knew better.

All three of my darling children have Bil's big, brown eyes.

And I couldn't be happier for it.

One of these things is not like the others.....

Years ago, I was teaching a Sunday School lesson at church, when I looked out into the sea of faces and I latched onto a pair of big, warm, brown eyes filled with kindness.  When the owner of those eyes approached me and chatted me up, I was instantly smitten.  Bil, he said his name was, and he made me feel good, comfortable, accepted, all because of those eyes.  The smile didn't hurt any, either.

There have been a few people over the years who have mentioned that Bil has kind eyes, and they are right. In my husband's case, I agree that the eyes are the window to the soul.  When I look into his eyes, I see understanding, acceptance, and caring.  

And love.

And now I have three beautiful children with the very same eyes;  beautiful,brown eyes that are full of joy, adventure, mischief, and most, importantly, love.

For more posts on the color of love, visit the Spin cycle at Second Blooming or Lemon Drop Pie.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Getaway Skills

I gathered up the remains of the happy meals and head to the garbage bin when I hear a blaring repetitive noise.  An alarm has been set off, and without even looking, I know this is the doing of one of my children.  Call it mother's intuition, experience, whatever.  I know my kids.  And I know this is the work of their hands.

It had been a half day of school and instead of heading home, we decided to drive 30 miles to the nearest McDonald's Playland.  Danny was especially delighted as he needed only 2 more of the Power Ranger Happy Meal toys to complete his set.   Charlotte and Tommy were just happy to play on the brand new, ultra cool playground equipment.

Our outing had been relatively uneventful.  I mean, sure, Tommy spilled his entire root beer all over the recently mopped floor, but I would hardly call that newsworthy.  Had he not spilled something, that might have surprised me.  And yes, Charlotte ended up crying at one point because Danny kept saying we were leaving (when we weren't) and I think he pushed her, resulting in a timeout.  Again, nothing new here, unfortunately.

And even when the alarm started ringing from the emergency exit door, (seriously, who thinks an emergency exit in a playland with the bar at a kids' level is a good idea?  No one with kids, that's for sure.) I wasn't surprised, either.  About a year ago, Tommy pulled the fire alarm at Bil's work, forcing the entire 300+ employees to empty the building in an impromptu fire drill.

I ushered the kids out the door, all while the alarm blared mockingly, as if to say, "Watch your kids, watch your kids, watch your kids, you negligent mother!"  Head down, I avoided making eye contact with the other mothers as if my life depended on it.

We ran to the car while the theme music to "Mission Impossible" played in my head.
As if reading my mind, Danny asked, "Uh, mom, are the police coming for us?"

I felt the perverse urge to reply, "Don't worry, honey, we can outrun the police! Don't worry about them."
Instead, I said that it was an accident.  We weren't in trouble.

When we were safely on our way home, I said, "That's what we call 'making a clean getaway'."

Danny giggled delightedly and said, "Yeah, mom!  That was like we were robbers and had accidentally robbed a bank."

Yep, that's exactly what that was like.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Popping Tags

Shoes I bought at Goodwill for $5

As an adult, I was never a big shopper.   I would look for excuses to bow out on invitations to shopping marathons with friends.  I couldn't really see what all the fuss was about.  Why would anyone like spending the entire day trying on clothes in very unflattering lighting?  Where's the fun in that?

Trying on clothes always depressed me. I never seemed to look good in any of the current trends.  And when I did give in and shop, I had difficulty picking flattering styles.  I just didn't have that eye for fashion so many other people seemed to naturally have, and I was never adventurous enough to try new things, so all my clothes tended to look the same.

Also, as a college, and later grad, student, I never had an overabundance of money to spend on clothes.  It didn't help once I had graduated, since I became a teacher.  I had to be frugal and save my pennies, so shopping at the fancy malls of Chicago's suburbs was never on my list of fun weekend pastimes.

Once I had children, it got even worse.  I wasn't working anymore, so what was the point in buying new clothes?  Spending money on my appearance typically left me feeling guilty, especially once I was no longer bringing in a paycheck.

It was more than just the money, though.  For my entire adulthood, I have struggled with my weight; there was always at least 30 extra pounds on my frame at any given time, and often it was even more.  I promised myself,  "As soon as I lose weight, I'll buy some new clothes."  But, the time never came.  Sure, I lost a few pounds here and there, but never enough to warrant (in my mind) some new duds.  I didn't feel like I deserved to spend money on my looks, until I lost some of this extra poundage.

As a result, I spent the better part of my 30s feeling dumpy, ugly, unfashionable, and fat.  I dreaded being invited out, because I literally had nothing decent to wear.  And definitely nothing I felt good in.

Last October, I started a new job, and I had very few clothes suitable for the office.  I made do for a few months with some hand-me-downs from my sister and a couple holdovers from my days as a teacher, but eventually, I had to break down and buy some new clothes.  I had a gift card from Kohl's so I bought a couple blouses and a pair of slacks.  Even with the gift card and discount, my credit card took a hit.  I loved the pieces I had purchased and decided that those would have to do, since I couldn't very well spend all my salary on clothes.

The thing is, wearing those couple outfits made me feel good.  I liked how I looked in them.  I actually got compliments on my clothes, for the first time in a very long while.  I got a taste of what it was like to look nice and I wanted more.  Still, I worried about the money.

Then, on a visit home,  my sister took me to her local Goodwill store.  Beth, who is much more daring and fashionable than I, heaped clothes in my shopping cart, ordering me to try them on.  When I balked at a more adventurous outfit (like the blue poncho or the flower-printed capris) she urged me to give it a chance.  "Try something new, Patty!" she would say.  "You'll look great.  Trust me!"

Surprisingly, I had the time of my life!   All of a sudden, I had a legitimate excuse to drop some change on my wardrobe; I had a job and I couldn't very well show up in my flannel pants everyday, like I did as a stay-at-home mom.  On top of that, the clothes at Goodwill were a fraction of the original price, which made it all the more fun.  And having my own personal stylist in the form of my sister only made it better.

Outfit I bought from a couple different thrift stores for a total of less than $10

When I worried about spending all that money on clothes, Beth reminded me that I needed the clothes for work.  She told me that it was important to feel good about how I looked.  And she assured me that I looked great.

It turns out, she was right.  I did look great, and I felt incredible.

I spent over $100 that day and came home with a new wardrobe: new shoes, Anne Taylor capris, blouses from the Gap, jeans, a new dress, and many, many more items.  Every single thing I bought looked great on me. I couldn't believe it.  I had never had that many items of clothing that I loved.

That shopping trip completely changed my attitude about clothes and shopping. Now, I love shopping at my local thrift stores and finding cute clothes for work.  I thrill when I find an adorable pair of shoes for $5 or a whimsical top from Old Navy for $3. But, most of all, I love that I look more put together; I feel more confident and pretty. At these prices, I can afford to buy some cute pieces without compromising the kids'college funds. It's a bonus that I am doing the environment a favor by recycling other people's castoffs.

I still feel guilty about spending money on myself, even at these amazingly discounted prices, but I'm working on that.  I tell myself that I am worth it.  I deserve to feel good about how I look, no matter what I weigh.

I love this top.  Bought at Goodwill for $3.50


For more posts on Everything Old is New Again, visit the Spin Cycle at Second Blooming.

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