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Run (Ins) with Cows…

Sure, they look peaceful…

If I’m being truthful it’s more of a runs from cows situation…

Yesterday, after we got through a semi- productive day of home learning, Father of Gingers came home from work, and offered me a chance to run for the hills get out for a walk to get some exercise, fresh air, and the chance to complete a thought without interruption.  It was, as they say, an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I got into my workout clothes, grabbed my earphones and phone and made my bid for freedom headed out the door.  Living in the English countryside means options when it comes to our allotted outdoors time right now, something I am very grateful for.  I decided to walk up to the next village, cut down behind the church, go down through the field where the cows are, take the footbridge over the river, walk by the sheep field towards the next town, then turn around and come back.  We’ve done this walk as a family several times, and I usually wind up wearing Little Ginger in the toddler backpack for at least part of the trip, so I thought it would be nice to do on my own, and maybe even throw some running into the mix…

I headed off, listened to a Marco Polo from a friend, and then attempted to record my reply while walking.  There are people who are coordinated enough to exercise and send messages at the same time.

Unsurprisingly, I am not one of them.

I managed to send off a message in which I only forgot to answer 80% of the questions I had been asked and not fall in a hedge, so that was a win, and I continued down the road.  I did a bit of jogging and was feeling pretty good by the time I reached the church and the field behind the church.  I had big plans to run through the field to the foot bridge.  I stopped to take another video for the Marco Polo message of the scenery.  Said scenery is so quintessentially  British countryside that one expects to see Mr. Darcy (played by Colin Firth, preferably) striding over a hill at any moment to offer a mildly withering comment. To be honest, if you factor in my workout outfit, we’re probably looking at a level ten withering comment.

The view for reference (without Mr. Darcy)

As I stopped to do this, I realized that the small herd of cows that occupy the field were not on the far side of the field but laying down right right on the side of the path I usually take down the hill to the bridge. This gave me pause, given my less than stellar track record with wild life. I decided to ignore the little voice in my head that was frantically reminding me that cows are freaking ginormous and that I always forget this fact until I’m up close and personal with a member of the bovine community.

I started to go down the footpath at a very cautious jog/ walk, keeping an eye on the potential killers cows. Then I realized there was at least one baby cow in the entourage. My first thought was, “oh how sweet” rather than, “hey, most animals are super protective of their babies.” This is why I wouldn’t last long in the wild.

Then two cows stood up very quickly. One, a rather sizey brown cow, turned to face me head on, and started to stare me down while standing right in my path. She was looking at me like she just knew my favorite bag is made of leather.

I don’t think she was waiting for me to ask her, “How now, brown cow?”

At this point my brain was causally shrieking asking me, “I can’t remember, is it a fact that cows kill more people than sharks, or is it lightening, or maybe plane crashes? Anywho, maybe, just maybe, it’s time for us to skedaddle, shall we?”

Taking the cows-as-harbingers-of-doom statistics into consideration- I started to rethink my plan. I then factored in the fact that Father of Gingers has repeatedly stated he is not prepared to be a single parent and I started to turn around. Yet another cow stood up to provide backup to her sisters in being surprisingly menacing for animals that feature prominently in such classics as “Old MacDonald” and are frequently portrayed as wise and gentle in a number of children’s movies.

At that point I decided that running back up the hill was the best choice as having she was trampled to death by cows in a pandemic written about me felt a little bit excessive and definitely not how I would want to be remembered.

On the upside- I knocked some serious time off my mile time average. I continued on to a cow-free route and finished up my outside time. Then I realized- I’m totally like Ernest Hemingway…

Kinda…

He ran with bulls, I ran with away from cows- practically the same thing, right?

Sorta…

I’ve never driven an ambulance in wartime, though.

Not really…

I’m honestly not a fan – this really wasn’t the best comparison…

I wonder if Jane Austen had any close cow calls?

Groceries with Gingers…

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written due to a combination of busyness, working on other writing projects, flu, visitors, and general life with the Gingers. I’m trying to get back in the routine.

A trip to the grocery store with Little Ginger the other day reminded me that shopping with small humans is always a gamble….

Groceries with Gingers is much like Tuesdays with Morrie in that lessons are learned and anecdotes are shared. Unlike “Tuesdays” there’s a much higher chance of mortification and possible unintentional swearing…

When Big Ginger was my Little (and only) Ginger, he had a deep love for the song “Uptown Funk.” We played it nonstop- I can’t hear any version of the phrase “I’m too hot” without feeling immediately compelled to add a “HOT DAMN!” regardless of circumstances.

It can get awkward, but not as awkward as Big. Ginger’s tragic mispronunciation of the word funk at age three. I’m sure you all can see where this is headed… We were at the grocery store, enjoying their music and a much needed break when we came across the group from a local retirement community, also out on their weekly shop. I’m fairly confident they had not listened to Uptown Funk on repeat on the ride over (but this totally reminds me I have a great story for next time). As we were in the aisle with all of these sweet old ladies who were waving to Big Ginger and telling him what a good boy he was to help me with the shopping, he chose that moment to look at me and say,

“Mommy, I don’t like this music! It’s time to sing the F$%# you up song! Let’s sing the F$%# you up song. You start Mommy- F$%#. YOU. UP!”

The kid had the clarity of diction you’d expect from an evening news anchor. There was no pretending he’d said something else, it would have been easier to convince people Walter Cronkite wasn’t really saying, “And that’s the way it is.”

There is never a hole to crawl into when you REALLY need one. So, we did the walk of shame down what was apparently the worlds longest cereal aisle and moved in with our day. We switched to listening to the “Hamilton” soundtrack shortly thereafter and he promptly misheard the lyrics to “Helpless” as “Topless”. It was marginally better and I’m big on celebrating the small wins. A preschooler singing “I’m TOPLESS” earns fewer glares in public – verified by my highly unscientific and embarrassing study.

I had actually managed to successfully repress forget about this until I had Little Ginger at the grocery store last week. A very sweet and proper elderly lady started talking to LG in the checkout line and told her she had pretty hair and she liked her coat. She went on to ask LG if she liked shopping with Mummy. Little Ginger took a deep breath, looked up at this lovely woman making pleasant conversation in the store and said, completely deadpan,

“Did you know that it’s REALLY important that blood stays inside your body?”

It’s nice to know that mortifying grocery story experiences know no national boundary. I smiled weakly at the rather shocked lady in line and mumbled something about learning/science/school. She gave me and (I’m sure she thought) my little potential serial killer plenty of space for the rest of the checkout experience.

I guess there’s no real way to wrap this up beyond saying if anyone from a grocery delivery service is reading this and wants to sponsor me, it would probably be best for everyone.

Circle of Life (ish)

So this is a totally random post, but I felt like it was time for some more nature-based perspective.

A couple of years ago, when Little Ginger was really little and Big Ginger was in preschool we were careening through our days, one of us on less sleep than she thought humanly possible, one who slept whenever the mood struck her, and one who had probably taken a solemn vow against sleeping past sunup at birth.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out who was who.

One day after coming home from the preschool/ drive through mandatory caffeine Starbucks run, we pulled into the parking space.  I immediately told Big Ginger to stay right where he was and NOT get out of the car.  Most people would probably use the tone I used if there was a life-threatening emergency going on outside the car.  I opted to use it for a woodland creature-related crisis.  There was an enormous (I thought in my sleep deprived state) squirrel on our front stoop.  This thing was a monster.  It was the Godzilla of squirrels. It was terrifying.  It was proudly standing up on its hind legs as if to say,

“That’s right b*%$!, I LIVE HERE NOW!”

I was getting ready to carefully get out of the car and get a picture of this beast to have for later when I was explaining to Father of Gingers why I’d handed the keys to the house over to a woodland creature. I took another look, and it wasn’t a squirrel, but a groundhog or woodchuck.  It was still concerning as it did not look like it was going to back down and I was busily googling rabies and deciding if this was an emergency that warranted asking FoG to come come.

Big Ginger then announced he had to go potty in that special tone that preschoolers use when you have minus two minutes to make it to a bathroom or you’re going to be cleaning a car seat, at minimum.  The time for debate was over.  I took a deep breath, told my children Mommy loved them, and got out of the car to face my woodland demons.  I slammed the door and the behemoth turned to look my way.  I took a few steps closer, it took a closer look at me and practically flew under the front stoop.  I should mention that at this point I was getting maybe three (non-consecutive) hours of sleep a night and had elevated the messy bun concept to an art-form that was probably prize winning. (The prize would  be either more coffee or a dark room to sleep in, winner’s choice.)  Any makeup I was wearing had been applied in less than thirty seconds.   In short- I was a vision.

My ego took a hit at what I perceived as the not-a-squirrel’s judgement on my appearance, but I was just happy to make it in the house and avoid a potty-related disaster. I made a mental note to remember we had a new (most likely very traumatized) neighbor under the front stoop and to keep an eye out.  I also called FoG to announce that I hadn’t given the house away to wildlife, but it’d been close.

Fast forward a few months later.  I’d seen the not-a-squirrel a few times, but we seemed to have settled into a state of icy detente. I think it knew I  had no problem going full messy bun again, and it respected my dominance.

Then, FoG was going on his first business trip since Little Ginger had signed on to the organization.  She was still sleeping on a schedule that more closely resembled a newborn than a seven month old and we had recently found out that there were most likely food intolerance/allergy issues at play.  I was off dairy to help her and feeling a little delicate about the whole situation.

That morning FoG had some appointments and the Gingers and I had errands. I stepped out the front door and was hit by an unholy wall of stink. Something had definitely departed the land of the living. I was devoutly hoping my under the stoop friend hadn’t gotten the last word by dying under said front stoop. I was not equipped for corpse removal. I couldn’t help but think that Disney totally glossed over this aspect of all the Princesses having woodland friends.

Then I looked out over the parking lot. There was my former nemesis. It was definitely very dead and the source of the unfortunate stench. I shepherded the Gingers out to the car keeping my body between Big Ginger and the deceased as that was going to bring up a lot of questions I didn’t feel equipped to answer with ice cream being a non-option.

We accomplished our errands without further incident and returned home. I asked FoG if he’d noticed the stench and if there was someone we should call. He had noticed it too. I then said I was going out to do a few more errands and grab some lunch and would look up the number we needed to call. FoG then informed me in a carefully neutral voice that he didn’t think I would need to make the call. I said,

“Oh, great! One of the neighbors must be on it!”

He said, not in the way I was thinking and maybe I should take a peek out the front window. I looked and there was an entire flock of vultures gathered around the not-a-squirrel. I was upset for two reasons:

1. Not-a-squirrel and I may not have had the best interactions, but I felt bad he was becoming a buffet

2. I am deathly afraid of birds. My bird phobia makes my squirel phobia look completely rational and reasonableAt this point there was nothing to do but respect the impromptu sky burial going on in our parking lot. Nature would run its course, and I still needed to run errands. I got FoG to go out to the car with me in the event that the vultures decided I looked like a good second course. I went and did my errands and picked up my lunch, hoping it would all be over by the time I got back.

No such luck. More vultures had shown up and there was now a sort of line forming. And there I was with a bag of food. I was practically setting up for a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds outside my front door. I gave myself a pep talk and explained to myself that there was no reason to be afraid. I could totally just get out of the car and march myself into the house. I’d just stare down any a-hole bird who dared to even look in my direction.

Then I called FoG from the car and requested an escort into the house. My need for my lunch not to get cold outweighed my need to overcome my bird phobia. I got inside safely and lived to tell the tale. Have I mentioned FoG is really patient and understanding?

A few hours later, it was all over and everyone had left the parking lot. It was almost like it had never happened except for a few tufts of fur. Which was both sad and disgusting.

The whole experience was very Circle of Life but with way less Elton John and more vultures. Unfortunately, there was no parting of the clouds with an accompanying delivery of a profound lesson. Maybe the lesson was I’d be a terrible Disney Princess given my track record with woodland creatures? For now, I’m just going to assume it was a sign to continue my “I’ll stay out of your house, you stay out of mine” pact with nature and leave it at that.

Sometimes you need a Bison…

*** A note to anyone stoping by here looking for a Bison recipe or other Bison-related wisdom, this is not that post. I’m sorry.

So, thirty-nine is here, nothing feels too different. I’m still here and had a nice birthday. The countdown is now seriously on. I have several posts in the works about goal-setting and new challenges to since run the streak is on pause until the plantar fasciitis heals up. I have high hopes these posts will be up no later than my fortieth birthday at the rate I’m currently going. Setting reasonable expectations for myself remains a focus, it’s currently doing battle with the whole procrastination thing, this could get interesting.

However, the bubonic plague a cold moved through the house this week. It was mild, everyone bore up well and it pretty much passed without incident.

HAHAHAHAHA

Little Ginger is more of the “misery loves company” school of thought when it comes to a cold. If she’s congested and having a hard time sleeping- we’re going to know about it and be vigorously invited to participate. This week has involved a lot of time in the rocking chair and a lot of Nose Frida-ing. I’m not going to explain what a Nose Frida is here because those of you who know are cringing and/or giving me the Hunger Games salute in solidarity. Those of you who don’t know what one is, trust me, you’re happier that way and I will not be responsible for ruining your happiness.

The resulting sleep deprivation means I haven’t been as busy trying to iron wrinkles out of my face with my new jade roller as I hoped. It was a birthday gift from Father of Gingers (I asked for it and was happy to get it in case you’re wondering if he has a death wish) and I want to do a post about it eventually. I’ve had to focus on staying coherent and making small trips out of the house to keep us busy and sane.

In an attempt to replace sleep with caffeine I was going through my consolation-prize-from-the-Universe tea at an alarming rate.  I made a mental note to grab some other tea at the grocery store. Then I remembered mental notes were useless at this point and wrote it on a list, on my phone, AND emailed myself for good measure. When we got to the store, I left without the tea. I did get it on a return trip the next day (I may or may not have written TEA on my hand). On the second trip I remembered a tea I saw a while back. I was pretty sure it had a picture of a bison on it and that I needed to investigate this further – if for no other reason than to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. I found it, bought it, and brought it home…

(That’s one majestic bison there- as a bonus, I just realized clouds are bison too!)

I have so many questions. What exactly is Morning Thunder? Why Morning Thunder? Was there going to be a stampede in my kitchen? This doesn’t really sound like something you’d brag about and possibly something that necessitates a doctors care (We’ve run all the tests, and we can only conclude it’s Morning Thunder).

Unless that’s the Bison’s name? Maybe that’s it, although he struck me as more of an Irving.  Honestly, I have even more questions and concerns now.   The box had the magic words on it though, caffeine and energizing. If a stampede of bison was a side effect, I was okay with that. I usually opt for the herbal teas with cute pictures of bears or holiday scenes on the front so I told myself this was growth.

It was too late in the day to brew up the Morning Thunder by the time I got home. This is because I’ve officially hit the age where I have to think about caffeine consumption after a certain hour.  I’m a rule follower, sure, but not to that degree, I’d never let a tea dictate to me when I drink it. I’ll drink Morning Thunder in the afternoon if I want to- I’m a rebel that way.  So, I stumbled down this morning and started the kettle and it was time to meet the bison… I have a feeling Celestial Seasonings isn’t going to be contacting me to be a spokes person anytime soon…

(Getting ready to ride the bison- I’ve got several more of these tag lines at the ready…)

Here I am with my tea in the coffee mug-told you I was a rebel. I drank my mug and then…

I looked like this! No, not really, it’s tea, not a miracle in a mug that is mislabeled coffee. This was after a long shower and time to blow dry my hair, thanks to Father of Gingers doing the school run.  No tea should have that kind of pressure put on it, majestic bison or not.

This is the real after the first sip picture.  I’m thrilled to be there honestly.  I got the tea down and while I didn’t feel a need to scale a mountain to touch the bison-shaped clouds, I did feel a little more awake.  I’m happy to report the kitchen remained stampede-free, which is a good thing because I don’t know how I’d explain that to insurance agent.

All of this to say I still don’t know why it’s called Morning Thunder.  I guess some things are just meant to remain a mystery and sometimes when you see a tea with a random prairie animal on it, you just have to buy it. Especially when you’re sleep deprived.

#RideTheBison

An (admittedly petty) open letter to the Universe

Dear Universe,

On the whole, you’ve done very well by me. I’m incredibly grateful for all that I have; my health, education, friends, family, Father of Gingers, and of course the Gingers, just to name a few. There have been challenges along the way, of course, but comparatively speaking-nothing too awful.

The one big issue I would bring up with you is 2016, I don’t think I have to elaborate. At this point I’m just assuming that was some sort of cosmic-level Pinterest fail. I know that it’s taken me a while to remove/repair the debris from an ill-advised Pinterest project more than once. (#DeliverMeFromPinterest, Right?!?!) I can only assume you’re doing the same, but due to scale, the clean-up is taking proportionally long. Keep at it and I’m hoping you’ll have it pulled together by 2020 at the latest. I have faith in you.

If you have a second, I wanted to bring one tiny mixup that happened several weeks ago to your attention. I’m sure it’s in your records that I am a total, shameless Anglophile. I love England, British shows, (I aspire to be the Dowager countess from Downton Abbey one day) and London is one of my absolute favorite cities. I’ve gotten up early to watch royal weddings and made sticky toffee pudding cupcakes to celebrate said weddings. Does that make me a tad basic? Perhaps… When it comes to this, I am fine if you want to color me basic, just pass the fish and chips, (with mushy peas!) please!

So, it stung a bit a while back when Father of Gingers told me he might have to go to London the week of Halloween for work. I rallied, though, these things happen. I wasn’t like he was going to London to spite me. It was just where he needed to be and I needed to be here to ride herd on Halloween. Fine. It’s part of being a grownup. I held my chin high and got through discussions revolving around any special shopping requests, itineraries, and musings on spots he might have time to make it to. I focused on getting some of my favorite Harrod’s tea and getting Little Ginger avocado shoes to match her avocado costume. I had this under control. Then, I was trying to get through the grocery store the morning of Halloween and not having a ton of luck convincing little Ginger that the trip would be way more enjoyable for all involved if she would sit in the cart and maybe not protest at top volume. She remained unconvinced. Then I got the following text from FoG:

This is the point where I was convinced, dear Universe, that my bucket list and the one belonging to FoG got mixed up somehow. I would only have been more convinced if I had run into Jim Harbaugh or George Lucas right there in the produce section of the store. I didn’t, and that’s perfectly okay, because the experience honestly would’ve been wasted on me. I was a little astounded though. I mean, really?!?!?

Then I was informed that there was now video of the Kate sighting and it would be sent to me when there was WiFi. I took a deep breath, reminded Little Ginger to sit in the cart, and headed for the wine aisle. Seriously, I got what we needed for the rest of the week and we headed home to get prepped for trick or treating. It was fine, and a fun evening. I even managed to say in a slightly crazed completely calm voice, when asked how FOG’s trip was going:

“Great! He even got to see Kate Middleton today!”

I just wanted to make you aware of this mixup in the event that item has been crossed off my bucket list in some great cosmic file. If there was a mixup, and that was the one opportunity allotted to our household, I get it. It’s not fair!!!!Arrrgfhhh!!! No hard feelings. However, if there is a need to balance the scales, I certainly wouldn’t say no to meeting Michelle Obama or Jenny Lawson, that would be amazing. I am a little over 365 days from a certain milestone birthday. I don’t know if you have time to read my blog…

I’d go even more challenging and ask for Julia Child or Eleanor Roosevelt, but I know you’ve got a lot to do. Honestly, just focus on fixing the mess from the Pinterest experiment that was 2016. I’m all good here. Please, the sooner the better.

Hugs and kisses,

Katie

Find Your Tasmanian Tiger Cub…

So, Little Ginger had swim lessons today. In toddler algebra that means the lesson will take no more than half the time it took to prepare for it and you will consume at least twice as many calories in chocolate (or junk food of your choice) as you burned recovering from said lesson.  One of us started shrieking as soon as we got in the water… I don’t think she’ll ever go to a swim lesson with me again.

It got me thinking though, about Big Ginger, who also did swimming at the same pool when he was a bit older than LG is now.  Bear with me, I promise this will all make sense in a minute or two.

Big Ginger has been known to go by the nickname Ginger Fury, if that give you an idea of what we’re working with over here.  But no one pays a compliment like that kid.  I love how little kids give compliments, they’re so sincere and usually more humbling than the most passive-aggressive statement any adult can make. Some recent favorites of mine include:

A morning conversation:
(Getting lunch packed and ready for breakfast)
Big Ginger to me: I like your outfit Mommy!
Me: Oh, thank you buddy!
BG: I really like the pants
Me: (always happy to hear a positive camo pants review) You do? Why’s that?
BG: You look like you could go fight a war if you had to

6 year old fashion sense: where fashion and functionality REALLY intersect.  It’s like he understands my day on a level I don’t even get.

My current favorite compliment:

(On a recent car ride to school)
BG to me: Mom, did you know my afternoon teacher is really pretty???
Me: Oh really?
BG: Yeah, she’s beautiful like a Tasmanian Tiger Cub!
Me: That’s nice, buddy

I mean, who doesn’t want to be a Tasmanian Tiger Cub?

Just so we all know what we’re talking about, this is a Tasmanian Tiger Cub…

His compliment game has always been strong, even if it is occasionally mortifying. Back to where I was before, he took swim lessons at the same pool LG is taking her lessons at.  His class happened to get out at the same time as the senior citizen’s aqua aerobics class.  This lead to three-year old curiosity about canes, hearing aides, and such.  He was very concerned about one lady who walked with two canes. We had a (I thought at the time) good talk about how people move differently and that the canes were nothing to be afraid of.  I really felt like I’d knocked this one out of the park.  Then, the next time we were in the dressing room, he we crossed paths with the same lady and had the following exchange.

BG (to the lady walking with canes):  I’m so sorry you have a hard time walking, but did you know you have some beautifully chubby thighs?

The lady gave me a confused look, I realized she had not heard him clearly and took a second to be extremely grateful for the fact hearing aides are not waterproof (not for the first time, thanks to my time working at the retirement community) and said:

“He said swimming is his favorite exercise!”

Crisis averted. We had a chat about why even though it’s nice to tell people kind things, it’s probably best not to comment on other people’s bodies.  Once again, I left the conversation feeling like I’d stuck the landing and had a meaningful parenting moment.  You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now…

The next week we were back in the dressing rooms and the aqua aerobics class was done and the dressing room was hopping (figuratively, not literally, given the groups we were working with).  Up to this point all of the mothers used the women’s dressing room with their kids boy or girl.  That day however several of the ladies from aqua aerobics were embracing the alfresco approach to the locker room.  Which lead to the following compliment from BG:

“Wow! Your baby pockets are so cool and floppy!”

I should note here that he called breasts baby pockets.  It’s a long story.  I’d also like to confirm that it is impossible to sink through a locker room floor, I speak from experience.  I just had to hope he had not been heard and hustle us out to swim class.  I couldn’t think of anything that could remotely sound like “floppy baby pockets” that was swimming related. We switched class times shortly thereafter.

So, our time at the pool made me think back to this and be grateful that LG isn’t able to share what’s on her mind clearly yet, as we are back on the same schedule as the senior citizen’s aqua aerobics class.  I might use that as what I’m thankful for on Thursday…

Seriously though, it is a holiday week, take the time to tell the Tasmanian Tiger cubs in your life how you feel about them. Maybe avoid bringing up chubby thighs unless you’re talking about the turkey, though…

A little perspective…

The Muppet Fur jacket

So, Little Ginger and I went off to story hour at the library… it didn’t go well. Apparently “The Wheels On The Bus,” can be very offensive. Who knew? She has been in peak gremlin mode this week.

One of the unforeseen benefits of counting down to forty is looking back on earlier adventures in my life and realizing with a decade or more of cushioning, they become pretty hilarious. They also can lend a heaping dose of perspective when needed. I realized this earlier today as I was trying to convince Little Ginger that she does not need to wear her favorite jacket (the one that looks like we skinned a Muppet to clothe our toddler) all the time. Outside, yes, inside, it gets a tad warm. As I was considering strategies, I flashed back to my first adulty job out of college…

My first after college job was working in the activities and fitness program at a Continuing Care Retirement Center. This could be the point where I launch into a heartfelt retrospective of how working around so many senior citizens gave me a total zest for life and amazing insight on aging. This could be that point, but it isn’t. I’m sure I’ll write that post someday, but right now I want to tell you about nude paintings and golf carts.

When this story took place, I had steadily worked my way up the ladder and was the manager of the Activities and Fitness program for the community. It was an insane interesting job, perhaps best described by one of the Activity Coordinators. I was filling out some paperwork and had to describe my occupation in a sentence or two; she told me that was easy- just write “crap magnet.” It was tempting.

One of the hazards of the job, (fueled by the fact I was so young and eager please) was when anyone higher up on the food chain was visited by the good idea fairy I was often going to be collateral damage. It would usually fall to me to make the idea a reality. For this particular episode, the director of the community had decided that we needed a gallery wall off the main entry way of the building because we had so many residents who painted, drew, etc. When she brought this up the first time, I did my best to keep a poker face and give a bland reply while inside I was saying a prayer to the gods of interior decorating that it was a passing fancy. It wasn’t. Ten days later I had all of the boxes for the hanging wires in my office and a strict deadline by which I had to have the paintings up on the wall. Defeated, I proposed we invite all of the resident artists to submit their favorite work for a group show for the first month, then we’d feature individual artists. It was agreed upon and I got to work getting the word out and visiting residents to pick up their artwork and get it ready for display.

One of my favorite residents who was a regular in my water aerobics class (seriously, it was a weird job, I don’t know how they wrote the descriptions for my replacement) was very excited about this. She agonized for a week over which painting she wanted to display. She kept saying they were all really big. We agreed that I would come out to her house in one of the golf carts and being the previously mentioned Activities Coordinator in case I needed help. The Activities Coordinator was even younger than I was (I was maybe 24) and very conservative. This will be important in a second.

So, at the appointed time, we hopped in the golf cart (one of the perks of the job- I loved any excuse to drive the golf cart. I think this fact might illustrate the job better than anything else I’ve written so far…) and headed to the resident’s house. She was lovely, as always, and offered us a cup of tea. We chatted for a few minutes and she brought us into the study to show us the two choices of paintings. Let me just take a second to mention that up to now, I had been amassing a mixture of still life, landscapes, and the occasional animal portrait- all done with varying levels of skill. Suddenly, I found myself confronted with two huge paintings of reclining male nudes who looked suspiciously like a younger version of the resident’s husband. It was about as far from what I was expecting as you could possibly get. Not daring to make eye contact with the Activities Coordinator (who was speechless and possibly catatonic) I managed to say in a rather squeaky voice that it was definitely a tough choice. She didn’t need to know I was referring to my choice to not collapse in hysterical laughter as I envisioned explaining this to my bosses when this went up on the wall. After a bit of discussion, we decided on the one in dark blue tones. My reasoning there was hopefully the dark shades of the picture, combined with the lighting in the hallway, would make the subject matter less obvious. We hauled the painting it to the golf cart, and realized it wasn’t going to fit in the main part of the cart. The only solution was for me to sit on my knees and holding the painting in a death grip over the back of the seats while strongly encouraging my art procurement buddy to drive very slowly. I realized, as several residents watched us drive by from their windows, and two wound up behind us on the road, that this was probably not a moment where I was projecting the professional, in control persona I usually strove for. I can confirm that there is really no way to look like you know what you’re doing when you’re hanging onto an enormous painting of a nude blue man (not from the group) out of the back of a golf cart.

We all survived the trip back to the main building and I somehow got the pictures hung. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the face the director made when she saw the display. Really though, what could she say? This was all her idea. The display was up for a month and every day I walked out of the office, there was the painting. Right. There. The resident artist was overjoyed and was eager to discuss scheduling a show of all her work. I wondered if I’d get caught if I raided the happy hour cart or if I could plead just cause.

All of this considered, I’d rather be doing hostage-style negotiations with someone who isn’t three feet tall and clearly thinks I’m about to steal her best Muppet-fur jacket. Or get through a story hour that doesn’t go as planned. I’m not hanging out the back of a golf cart with a nude painting. Perspective.

The Under Control-ness of it all…

Alternate title: My bras decided to go on a road show without asking me…

So, a few weeks back (I meant to write about this sooner, I’m adding not procrastinating as one of my pre-forty goals, we’ll come back to that… later) the big Ginger had his meet the teacher day.  I got him into an outfit that conveyed he is a normal, sane, child who will be a pleasure to have in class.  Then I got little Ginger and myself into coordinated outfits that convey the message that I am an organized competent mother who will be a joy to work with this year.  My teacher brain may have seized the wheel at points and overthought this just slightly. 

We get to school,  I had already decided that little Ginger was going to need to go in the Kinderpack on my back because she’s going through a bit of a gremlin phase so she had to be contained, and the stroller takes up way to much space in an already crowed room. (see above: wanting to make a good impression).  We get out of the car, and I diligently put the baby carrier on, and put little Ginger in it, carefully copying the moves I learned from the YouTube video and practiced over the couch  before attempting out in the wild. Have I mentioned I like to keep things under control? As I’m moving her around from my hip to my back trying to imitate the YouTube mom who flawlessly executed the maneuver, I hear a male voice ask if I need help, and I see it’s the father of one of the big Ginger’s classmates from last year.  I straighten up with my, “It’s okay, I baby wear all the time, and totally have this mother of Gingers thing under control” smile at the ready and feeling like I might even be exuding a slight chewy granola mom aura. (Don’t judge, it was a long-ass summer).

After a, “Oh, No thanks, I’ve got this! See you inside!” I got a very strange look in return. Immediately I start to overthink if I was brusque or short.  Or maybe my chewy granola aura was just that overwhelming? Then I look down and realize that the neckline of my “put together Mommy” shirt has migrated south during the baby carrier gymnastics and my bra is now on full display… First impression, In. The. Bag.

A few days later, after dropping big Ginger at school, little Ginger and I went off to her dentist appointment.  Her one year one went without a hitch, so I assumed this would be the same and once again, went for the “I got this” vibe with cute outfit for her and a nice off the shoulder top for me. (Raise your hand if you can see where this is headed)  The dentist did NOT go smoothly this time and little Ginger went full force gremlin, using the elastic neckline of my shirt to launch her escape attempt while the male dentist tried to look everywhere but at me. Awesome.

There’s probably a very deep, zen way to wrap this up into a life lesson, but I’m still trying to steer clear of the Doogie-ness, so I’m going to leave it at:

Sometimes I can want to have things under control, and even think they are under control, and my bra is just going to come flying out anyway.  Literally and metaphorically.