When Asked About Friendship, This is How I Answer

I was watching an episode of Charlie Rose the other night and Matt Damon was on promoting “We Bought a Zoo”. It was an interesting interview and I enjoyed Matt Damon — though it appears as though his hairline is receding. How did that happen?? Feels like something that happens to old people…turns out, we’re getting there.

Anyway, I digress already.

Charlie Rose asked Matt Damon about friendship, about his friendship with Ben Affleck, and that right now, Charlie’s writing a book about friendship and wondered what Matt might have to say about friendship.

Matt answered something to the effect of “Start Early.”

Which is where tonight’s story begins…

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My high school girlfriends and I have been attempting to get together each year on Memorial Day…it worked for a couple of years, and then last year there were too many pregnancies and new babies in our group of gals that it just didn’t work. We decided to try for the holidays.

Christmas came around and it turned out that just the Katie’s were coming to town…Jay and Mindy and Lindsey and Megs and Kristy and, well, everyone else was out. They were doing other things that hitting up the hometown for the holidays.

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I live in my hometown, and I’m glad of it. Glad to live so close to our families, to have the home and the friends that we have. So, when the Katie’s were both available on December 26th, it was that day that we opted to choose for a get together, and I offered to host (what’s one more in a series of holiday parties, anyway?)

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Erin was another high school friend – her and one of the Katie’s even lived together for a blink of an eye in college. But somehow, our friendship sort of traveled a different path.

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Because of the Wonderful Wide World of Facebook, we were able to coordinate our time and location, etc., but I was also able to get a hold of Erin and see if she would be interested in getting together with Katie and Katie and I. We opted to bring spouses/domestic partners (in my case 😉 and children. Erin’s five month old son Easton, Katie’s four year old daughter Maria (they left little sis Juliet at home with her Grandma), Katie’s six month old son Carter, and Elle and I.

So yes, Erin opted in, the Katie’s showed up and the bar was stocked, the wine was flowing and conversation ensued. Until about 30 minutes ago, when the last visitors called it a night.

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When asked about friendship, how do you answer?

Start early. Well, Katie and Katie and Erin go much farther back than I do, but we all came together in at least middle school at some point to become friends. We continued through high school. And college. And now, here we are mothers, with children the same age, getting together over wine and beer and cocktails and laughing — about the same things we used to, about the stupid things we used to do — but also laughing about new things we share. Our children, our body-after-baby complexes, nit-picking about how our significant others help (or don’t, rather) with the laundry.

When asked about friendship, how do you answer?

I can answer this way: I have known these women for years. In high school, we often don’t know what we’re choosing in friends and what that might mean for our days then — and down the road. These women share common history. And while our lives have taken different courses, while we have veered from one another and found our own paths, man, what a life we have had and how great it feels to be together again, like tonight.

When asked about friendship, how do you answer?

Are your abs sore from laughing after just a few minutes together?
Are you already planning the next – albeit too long interlude — until you can meet again and retell the same stories?
Does your heart and soul feel warmer, fuller somehow for having shared time and space with them?
Do they listen when you talk about the challenges of motherhood, of raising a child, of hospital stays and doctor visits and specialist visits?

When asked about friendship, though you can’t answer with any of those questions, I guess here is what I would say:

Start early.
Stay late.
And laugh at everything possible in between.


Love you girls.

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Elle’s Empty Box, 2011

In searching my mind for something to get for Elle’s first Christmas gift, I realized she NEEDS nothing and wants for NOTHING. She is so terribly fortunate to have so many people who love her and spoil her with gifts of toys, clothing, jewelry…long before she was even born. Since that wonderful day in October, she’s received more gifts from people who, because they love her Dad and/or I, they want to gift things to her.

Again, every time we receive something I am overcome with the realization that she is – we are – so very, very lucky.

So, I got her a few little gifts that I’m keeping a secret from Jon so there’s at least an element of surprise to the opening of the gifts. I’ve got some objects to put into her stocking, too. But, I probably spent $30-40 on everything that she’ll open on Christmas morning from her Mom and Dad. I could, of course, wrap up the extra canisters of formula, diapers, bottles, etc., but that’s not Christmas material and those are things she NEEDS, not gifts.

I have been reading other blogs of new moms searching for a tradition to begin with their children at their first Christmas and I was feeling slightly guilty that I didn’t have one to begin for Elle and us. I even asked Jon if he thought we should begin some sort of tradition this year – that we’d lose our window of making it an “EVERY YEAR” tradition if we didn’t begin this year. Practical Jon said that we could just fake it and come up with something next year and SAY we did it every year.

But then, I remembered my Empty Box thought that I mentioned here a few weeks ago. And to me, this is what I want our tradition to be.

So, allow me to digress for just a moment…

I have loved the music of Harry Chapin since I was little. “Cats in the Cradle” was the first song I knew all the words to, because my Dad would put the record on and turn it up. I still love Harry Chapin and, at one point, I listened to an interlude on a CD where he spoke at one of his concerts.

“A child is born. The first thing they need is air. We’re fouling up our air, but very few people are dying of asphyxiation. The second thing they need is water, very few people are dying of thirst. The third thing is food. There is enough food to feed everyone on this planet twice over. Why, why, why are they going hungry?”

Since then, and working in the food service industry, I understand the need so many folks have for food, when they can’t provide this for themselves for WHATEVER the reason may be.

I look at the food I toss out when I clean out the fridge and get a little ashamed of myself.

Another quote:

“It is easy to sit in the sunshine and talk to the man in the shade; it is easy to sit in a well-trimmed boat and point out the places to wade.”

To me, this means it’s easy to point out all the wrong in our world, to do nothing more than listen to the news reports of folks that could use a bit of help. It’s much harder, however, to stand up and do something – whether through donation of time or money or both – to help others. I don’t know exactly how I’ll make sure Elle understands how to think outside of herself as she grows up, but I’m starting here, this year, our little Christmas tradition.

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So, for Elle’s Christmas present, I donated the equivalent of 600 meals to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. That means that, potentially, Elle will positively affect the lives of 600 people in our communities because, instead of that money going to buy her ANOTHER toy or ANOTHER object…600 people will, for a moment, NOT be hungry.

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Think about this: Nationally, 1 out of 12 children goes to bed hungry every night. In the county we live in, over 88,000 people are “Food Insecure“. Of those 88,000, nearly 31,000 are children. Like Elle. And not like her at the same time. My hope is that hunger and wondering where her next meal come from will never be a thought that should cross her mind. But I hope that she’ll think of others who MUST contemplate these things. And to try my best to show her how fortunate she is, and how easy it is to help others with the resources we’re blessed with…this year I donated on her behalf.

I hope that down the road, as she grows up, that we’ll be able to work together addressing the issues of hunger among our neighbors and communities. But this year, in her empty box, will be the first of many letters explaining that because of her, 600 people will not want for a meal.

Merry Christmas 2011, Elle.

 

I Don’t Care WHAT They Say on Infomercials or Reality Shows, You CAN’T Quickly Throw on Makeup

In honor of a memo reminder I found in my phone today titled “Blog Topics” I’ve decided to write on one of the topics I have squirreled away…

I think this thought struck me when I was watching an episode of TLC’s “What Not To Wear” when they take the ugly duckling/infantile dressers and make them over – closet, hair and makeup.

So, watching that show, here’s what I thought, as the woman applying the makeup stated “this is your easy, quick makeup solution” as she used liquid foundation, blush, bronzer, mascara, eyeliner and different sponges and brushes for each.

I feel that today, especially, this is pertinent. I walked out of the house, against my better judgement, in a warm-up type outfit with a red hat and scarf with a red tank top underneath. The outfit itself is cream, so I felt like I was looking a little bit festive. But, I opted to go without makeup because, frankly, it takes too long to apply.

I want to know HOW exactly foundation, blush, bronzer, mascara, eyeliner and the different, unique sponges or brushes used for application can be quick. 

So, today I went without.

Ugh.

Not pretty.

On a good day, when I’m QUICKLY applying makeup that includes a routine something like this:

Jergens Healthy Glow face lotion

Quick was of the hands to get the self-tanner off before moving on…

Almay Wake-Up loose powder foundation under the eyes, on the blemishes, and then blend (or attempt to) everywhere on the face.

Blush – from MAC, who knows what color

Maybelline self-sharpening gray-ish eyeliner over the lash line on my top lids. If I feel like I look especially tired, I’ll outline the bottom too…so as to detract from people looking at my flabby belly, the rest of my tired face, etc. Focus on the eyes, folks!

Maybelline Voluminous Millions mascara…and, if that doesn’t do it, use the eyelash curler somewhere in the whole routine.

MAC Bronzer applied heavier on eyelids as a substitute for eye shadow, then as a definer on cheeks and high spots on my face…

 

Ok, so that’s my ‘quick’ make up routine. It took me at least five minutes to WRITE that all out, let alone actually DO IT to my face.

You add in to that a liquid foundation and actual eye-shadow which requires actually THINKING about what colors you’re choosing, which brushes you’re choosing, etc.

So I think that on TV and infomercials they should STOP saying it’s a quick application for any type of makeup. I think I go pretty quickly and it’s NOT quick, ladies and gents. I actually apply makeup more often now that I’m flabbier and a Mom because the last thing I want to feel is ugly when I run into that random old high school acquaintance or someone from whom I’d some day like to ask for some type of employment. And, the more involved I get in community ‘stuff’ the more pressure I feel to not walk out of the house sans makeup or a respectable outfit (not something that could be worn as pajamas, for example). I still have days where I feel makeup is just a waste of time and money, so I don’t apply it (like today) but those days are getting fewer and farther between.

I have this ridiculous fear that if I go too long without doing my makeup, hair or putting on an actual outfit, that those silly people from What Not To Wear will track me down one day and I’ll have to give up all my favorite clothes and be on display on some reality show. Ok, I know I’m not at that point, but that’s the fear that drives me to choose jeans over comfy yoga pants to go to the store in…it’s the fear that forces me to apply a round of makeup before heading out the door.

Anyway, there, I feel better that I actually, finally, wrote about something that struck me in a random moment!!

Women I Know, Chapter One

Tonight begins the Christmas festivities. From here on out, we have something going on every day through the 27th…just a little crazy.

But, tonight I get the great pleasure of celebrating Christmas with my Mom and her girlfriends. She’s had the same group of friends since high school — or before — and I’m so lucky to have them as role models. I know it sounds corny, but I really make an effort with my friends because I see the rewards that long-time friendships have for my Mom and her friends and I WANT THAT.

Not to mention, I really like hanging out with Karen, Kathy and Terri.

The stipulation was that I wasn’t allowed to get them gifts (my Mom says so) because it would just start a whole thing where they feel compelled to now shop for ONE MORE PERSON each year. And I agreed — I really just want the friendship and the warm fuzzies from hanging out with these women I know who have been friends for so long.

So, instead, I got these pictures printed for each of them and put them in a Picasso Peace Dove Christmas card from Elle.

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"Their eyesight was no longer what it once was, but they were ALL pretty sure it was a baby..."

ImageSo, there they are. This crazy group of women who I hope I get to be friends with for EONS and the reason why I try so hard to work at the friendships of my own.

Thanks for including me in Christmas at Kathy’s ladies!

“Dear Me: A Letter to My 16-Year-Old Self”

I came across this letter at the Adventures on the Road blog while reading a “Freshly Pressed” selection tonight. It inspired me, what can I say, and it feels like that happens less and less often the older I get. So, in honor of that inspiration, here’s a letter to my 16-year-old self:

 

Dear Lindsay,

As you turned 16, you were caught red-handed, stumble-down drunk by YOUR GRANDMA. Things get better from there, trust me…though the hangovers don’t 😉

As class president, you have a tendency to believe that your crap doesn’t have an odor. It does. Follow your insistence on being involved, on being busy and go-go-going. Know that this will be a hallmark of who you are as a grown-up woman.It will continue to be something that fulfills you.

Practice the golfing more, would you? You’re THISCLOSE to being a phenomenal golfer at the high school level – and you play in college – but in this area you accept a version of mediocrity that with just a TAD more effort you would grow beyond. Either way, relish the time you’re spending with the girls on the golf team. These are your best girlfriends 15 years from now and though you will scatter across the globe, you will come back to these girls – women – time after time. You’ll have Destination Girls’ Weekends, babies and hangovers with these same girls. Commit the time you have with them now to memory so you can hold this information over their head years from now.

I know you feel like the last virgin on earth as you watch girls in high school have sex, babies or abortions. You will make questionable decisions when it comes to boys you like, certainly, but know that – thankfully – none of those quasi-relationships work out.

Enjoy your time on Clear Lake. You are great at leaving and sending notes to your Grandma and Grandpa there…so when you’re wondering if you should, send one more. You’ll find these in the cupboards of their home, tucked here and there, after they die and it will sustain you for years thereafter. Write the notes. Send the cards.

Your parents are pretty sweet people, though you may think that their seemingly over-protective nature is annoying right now. It is. It will continue to be. But, in 15 years, you choose to buy a house just nine doors down from theirs. Be nicer to your Mom and stop ganging up on her with your Dad. Your Dad is – and will be – fine at it on his own and your Mom could use an ally earlier than you end up coming to the table.

Consider your college choices carefully. You choose Alma College at what feels to be the last minute, mainly so you can keep golfing. Consider this, you’re still staring down student loans 10 years after graduation and they aren’t close to being paid off. You could consider a lower-cost option if you wan to alter the course of, well, everything. On second thought, make the expensive choice. Sure, you make some valuable friendships at Alma as a student — but it ends up being the era when you return to work there as an employee that is most memorable. You fall in love — real love, the heart-pounding-in-your-ears, have-to-see-him-now kind of love — that you write about right now. He’s not the first or the last, but he’s the first real one you’ll stumble into. Because of time and circumstance, you will think to squelch the feelings, the emotions and to end the relationship before it gets off the ground. Override your instincts on this one, would you, and just enjoy it for a moment instead of fretting about what people think. It doesn’t last long, so treasure the time with him. It will be a sustaining memory-of-time as you grow older.

Enjoy this time in your body. It will get harder to look like this:

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Me and my Dad...can't find the junior year photo album, so sophomore year is going to have to do!

 

I know how you wonder about your future, how you plan for it, how you want to know NOW what your NOW-15-YEARS-LATER holds. I’ll give you this: You own a home, a car, have a pretty stellar job, and a sweet, sweet baby girl. None of the names you have picked out for your children are what you and her Dad end up naming her. So, spend less time choosing your children’s names and more time on your golf game – or anything else for that matter. Don’t let your parents get you down on your studies – you are always above average in spite of their worries.

More than anything, be nice to more people and less mean to the ‘dorks’ the ‘geeks’…it will bother you in a big way as an adult.

In short, know that you will love and lose BIG. You will make great memories everywhere you go.

Keep doing what you’re doing — you’re going to like where you end up — but if I could make one request: please, take more pictures would you?

Love,

You

 

 

The 50 mm 1.8 Lens

I bought myself a new lens for my Nikon D5000 kit camera.

My parents got me the camera last year for Christmas and I LOVE it. I’ve always fancied myself a photographer. And I met Amie Akers when she took infant photos of Elle in early November. Between that visit and our new friendship on Facebook (why not?!) she recommended I get this new lens.

It’s aNikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor Lens for Nikon digital SLR cameras and I got it from amazon.com.

 

Well, my before and after photos should speak for themselves. I’m still trying to figure out quite how to use it to its best use…but I LOVE some of the photos I captured already with it, that were featured on this year’s Christmas card!!

For your viewing pleasure, here are the ones I used:

…and here were some runners up that still make me smile!!

As I’ve started to look around for great sources for learning how to take great photos of Elle and the folks I love, here are some sites worth sharing:

MomTog

Digital Photography School

Clickin Moms

 

 

Just Pencil Her In…

I’ve brought this on myself, I realize.

And I”m ok with that…

But tonight, I contemplated penciling in time with Elle tomorrow before the checklist of things to accomplish for hosting Jon’s Dad’s side of the family at our house at 2 p.m.

Yes, penciling in time with my daughter.

I felt like that was too Manhattan-ish for me, so I didn’t actually write it “Cuddle Elle” but I thought about it, which made me mad. But then I wondered, am I actually on to something that I’ll have to do in the future??

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One of my oldest (longest…she’s not my oldest friend by number of years…) friends, Katie, is back in town from London with her husband Paul and their six-month-old son, Carter. Seeing Carter today at Elle’s second-try with Santa was TOO CUTE (Katie’s parents and my parents are members at the same golf course, and the course hosted a Breakfast with Santa this morning). It’s so awful some times when your best girls live far away, and these HUGE life things happen and you can’t share some of the day-to-day frustrations and triumphs of it all. But, anyway, it was so great to hug my old friend today and to meet her baby. Carter and Elle seemed to enjoy one another, too.

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Santa came to the golf course breakfast this morning and Elle was awake (only because we practically pinched her) to meet him. She didn’t feel one way or another about Santa, which I didn’t figure she would. She’s not at a point where strangers freak her out.

However, Santa did come bearing gifts and Elle received a Detroit Red Wings Pavel Datsyuk jersey! Datsyuk scored a few goals for the Wings tonight, so I feel like it’s a good sign.

Weird, she now matches her Grandma and her Grandma’s Datsyuk jersey.

Hmmm.

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This post is a little random, so bear with me. I’m trying to get out all the things I’ve thought I should get into my diary-as-blog.

My Mom was given up for adoption (as a sidenote, I just struggled to classify adoption as being ‘given up’ as, in some cases, that is not an adequate description). Anyway, my Mom was adopted when she was three months old. Between the time she was born and the time she went to live with her Mother & Dad, there was maybe three months (give or take…I’m not exact on the numbers off the top of my head).

Elle is nine weeks old.

It occurred to me last night, as I was cuddling her and we were laying in bed before she went to sleep, that my Mom was in a foster care home at that point in her life.There was no “mumma” to love on her, no one who had seen her idiosyncracies since day one, no one that necessarily understood what which cry meant, who knew how to soothe her in the ways she liked to be soothed. I have a line that I’ve said to Elle over and over again since she was born; I sing her the same song at night when we’re in the rocking chair (for point of reference, it’s “Corey’s Coming” by Harry Chapin which, I know, is TOTALLY not a lullaby or anything close to it, but I like the story of it and the line that goes, “…that’s when he smiled and said ‘reality is only just a word’. I digress.).

Anyway, my Mom didn’t have that from day one. And not to say that she didn’t get it when she got to my Grandma and Grandpa who adopted her…but those early days, well, were different.

I’ve found myself, a time or two, contemplating what it had to have been like for my Mom’s birthmother (Judy, who my Mom found later in life and got to have a great relationship with) at 17 to have had a baby and then given her up for adoption.

I realized I don’t know the particulars. I don’t know if my Grandma got to hold her at all, for a day, for three days, before she had to go back to her life in an era when it was absolutely NOT ok to have a baby out of wedlock. How hard it must have been, to take that huge chunk of your heart and send it out into the world without your protection. I know that 17 is young, but you have to imagine that it would rip parts of you to shreds regardless of your age.

So, I held my nine week old girl and felt in most ways closer to my Grandma, who died in 2006, than I have before and in some ways I felt more removed. Because I appreciate even more now how hard it would be to have a child and let her go – whatever the circumstances. And because it’s hard, I feel like it would be impossible for me, so I don’t know how she did it. I felt sorry for my Grandma, that the era she was born into didn’t really allow for her to keep her baby – my mother. And yet, if she had, her life – and the lives of countless others – would have been indelibly different.

Actually, you think about all the people whose lives have been positively affected by my Mom being in them…my grandparents who adopted my Mom and all their relatives and family and friends; my Grandma Judy and the family that she built for herself and then welcomed my Mom and our family back into 26 years after giving birth to my Mom; my Dad’s family who know all of the sides of my Mom’s family and story; friends, friends of friends, my friends…I come with a lot of familial baggage to be certain, but I think it’s all positive and most people are better for having come in to contact with me and the craziness that is my family.

And to think, it centers around my Mom because of a decision her mother was forced to make in 1954.

I also found myself wondering if this is something that my Mom’s sisters (Judy’s four daughters with her husband, my Grandpa Jerry) had these feelings after they had their children. And how that felt, when it’s your Mom – not your Grandma – who you’re trying to relate to and understand through this new lens of motherhood.

A decision I can’t fathom being forced to make and that I wish I would’ve had the chance to discuss more with my Grandma, about what it was like, the emotions…because I feel like the empathy I have now for what that must have been like…

Anyway, I’ve just been thinking about this a lot lately…definitely helps to shape my view of how lucky I am to have my girl.

Ok…

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That’s all tonight. More soon.