Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How do you indulge?

Ah, I feel like I shouldn't be taking the few minutes it takes to post a blog as there's so much to be done, but sometimes in the middle of it all, you have to stop and take a breath. I've done a little of that lately. Last week after my husband sold a cool custom towable Jeep grill he'd made, he came up and put $100 in my hand. Although there are always bills to be paid and no shortage of places that our funds could be funnelled, I thought it was so nice of him to just give me some money to spend on myself. I asked him what it was for. "For you," he responded.

As with most moms, it's hard to spend money on myself and not feel guilty. The next morning I went off to get a pedicure. It's been probably 9 months since my last one...and spring is around the corner (although it doesn't feel like it outside), so I wanted my feet to look presentable for when it's warm enough for flip-flops. When they mentioned it was only $10 more for a manicure, I accepted. The pedicure was only $22, so I didn't feel too bad throwing in the extra $10. It felt wonderful to be pampered for an hour and have pretty nails when I was done!!!

The remainder of the cash went to necessities at Walmart - allergy medicine, toiletries, detergent - that kinds of stuff. And a cute $12 summer top. It's amazing how a cheap shirt can make everything better.

I'd already had an appointment for a haircut and highlights. I consider myself a pretty low-maintenance chic. I only get my hair cut maybe once every three months. Once or twice a year I get highlights for one reason only -- to cover the gray. So, I got that done the other day. It always feels great to have someone else shampoo your hair and style it for you.

Today, in the midst of deadlines, I drifted off to Facebook where I noticed a quote on Ryan Seacrest's page - "The time to relax is when you don't have time for it." - Sydney J. Harris. Boy did that fit! I decided to do just that. I grabbed my 7-year-old and we set out for a lunch date. A couple hours later, full from a half of a chicken fajita sandwich and a bowl of broccoli cheese soup, I felt so refreshed. Now I better get back to work.

So, what are some of the little things you do to indulge and relax?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Field trips make for great memories

Field trips. They make up some of my fondest memories of my childhood. Growing up in the south suburbs, there are many wonderful cultural and educational attractions that are visited by school groups each year. One of my favorites was in about second grade when we toured the Jay's Potato Chip factory. I believe we did this trip more than once. I thought it was fascinating and the best part was at the end when they handed out bags of chips and pencils to all the kids.

In fourth grade, we took a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo. It was a memorable one because it was the only field trip that one of my parents ever attended as a chaperone. With a shortage of chaperones, the trip was in jeopardy of being cancelled. Luckily, a couple parents, including my dad, came to the rescue and we were able to go.

In eigthth grade, we spent the day in Chicago on a field trip -- shopping at the Water Tower Place, taking a tour on a Wendella Boat and eating lunch in Chinatown. We traveled in style on a coach bus. There were a couple other stops in between.

For a kid who grew up not far from the city, I didn't spend a whole lot of time there. My older sister worked downtown and in December I would visit her for the weekend and we'd bake a ton of Christmas cookies. On Monday, I'd take the El with her to her job in a downtown high rise and hang out there for the day. I loved spending time in the city.

There were a few times that our family ventured into Chicago for a family field trip. One was when I was around five and we visited the Art Institute. Another was when my dad took my sisters and I to a Cubs game. Another was when we went to the Chicago Historical Museum. I loved history and was amazed at all that I learned about the city. I remember purchasing a book of paper dolls in the gift shop that I played with for years afterwards.

Today I returned to that museum on a field trip with my son who is in third grade. It seemed smaller than I remembered, but just as interesting. I even checked in the gift shop to see that they still sell books of paper dolls.

This trip was much different than my last. This time I was seeing the place through the eyes of an adult. Not a seven year old who was seeing and learning all of the information for the first time. I was chaperoning a group of three boys. They skipped over quite a bit of the material and didn't spend much time reading signs or placards. They did, however, marvel over an exhibit that contained the first portable phone from 1973.

By 10:30 a.m. (their normal snack time) they were all groaning about being hungry. We stopped in the cafe and I bought snacks. Then I went in the gift shop where kids were whipping out way more money that I had and spending it on pop rocks and silly bandz. They were also taking pictures of each other with their iPhones. So, I guess my kids aren't lying when they tell me how deprived they are not to have such devices.

Later in the cafeteria, kids were scarfing down more junk food than I've seen in a long time. I can only hope it was a special treat for field trip day. One kid I saw had a lunchable, two large bags of flaming hot Cheetos, a big bag of cookies, chips, a juice pouch and a 20 ounce Mountain Dew. That's enough sugar, sodium and calories for like what -- a week? Oh, well. That's a topic for another blog.

It was also an entertaining meal as one boy double-dog-dared another to shove 21 flaming hot Cheetos in his mouth. He stopped at 8. His mouth was full and his eyes were watering. Then another kid took on the challenge. I think he cheated a little as I saw him chewing and swallowing a bit, but he managed to get 21 flaming hot Cheetos in his mouth, stuffing them into his cheeks keeping them there long enough to make me cringe. He'd already finished off his beverage and thrown it in the garbage. He played tough guy and said his mouth wasn't burning, but his face was saying otherwise.

On the way home, scattered in seats were kids so excited they couldn't sit still and others who'd had enough and were dozing off. It was another experience filed into their memories and I was glad to go along for the ride.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A weekend of wooing

This weekend I went off to a bed and breakfast with my husband. After leaving town later than anticipated and dropping the kiddos off with their grandparents, it was off on our own. It does't happen very often. I think our last overnight away on our own was probably three years ago. So, it was much anticipated.

As we were driving, I told me husband I wanted to be free of all things kid-related and boy-related and free of crude jokes and crude noises for 24 hours. I detected a burp out of him moments later and let him know that it was a no-no and that I was to be wooed for the weekend.

So for the rest of our time alone, that was the joke. "Am I wooing you correctly?," he'd ask. I must say, he deserves a pat on the back. He opened doors, took me out to a nice steakhouse for dinner, ordered drinks that I like, brought me a chocolate treat for a snack, held my hand as we walked and filled a bubble bath for me.

Our weekend happened to coincide with the anniversary of our first date on April 10, 1987. I thought about how nice it is that we still laugh together, still have fun together, still have passion for each other and once in a while still woo each other.

I've got it good

I sat in a parking lot the other day in my SUV watching someone lug a huge garbage bag into a laundromat. Don't know why, but somehow that moment struck me as profound. Just made me think about how wrapped up I get in my own life and how sometimes my view narrows because I look at things solely from my own perspective. When I watched him struggle, I just felt this jolt of compassion as I realized how easy my life sometimes is.

I've never been what I would considered spoiled or pampered. I'd like to think that I'm somewhat low-maintenance and not extremely concerned with material things. Monetarily, it's never been a piece of cake. There hasn't been an overabundance, but enough. Sometimes I overlook what a gift it is to simply have "enough."

In my life (well from my second year on), I've lived in a house. I've never rented. Never lived in an apartment where I had to deal with other tenants or difficult landlords. From my parent's home, I married and we purchased a home. I've never been on my own where I had to completely support myself. I've always had someone there to back me up. Having that security is a big deal.

I've never had to rely on public transportation. I've owned a car since I was 16. It was a few years before I owned a brand new car, but I always had a reliable set of wheels. I've worked since I was 11 and I married someone who did the same. I've never had to rely on public aid, food stamps or unemployment. I've always had some kind of health insurance.

My parents are both living. My spouse and children are healthy. I'm surrounded by people I love and who love me. And no matter who you are, some days go by without fully appreciating such things. Today I'm looking at it with eyes wide open. I've got it good.