Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weapons of Self-Destruction

1. Kids

2. Wine

3. Worry

4. Heat

5. Heels

6. Over-exercise

7. Lack of Sleep

8. TV

9. Poor reading light

10. Did I already list kids?


Fell asleep with the TV on again and an open book on my chest. I don’t even remember what I was watching or reading when I got between the sheets. Anyway, something woke me up (a movie argument or a machine gun?) and a moment later, I saw a commercial for Robin Williams’ upcoming Special, “Weapons of Self Destruction.” Even though I forgot to take note of when the special aired, I immediately made a list.

See above.

Now, before I spend too much time in this hot flash worrying about my kids, lamenting that last glass of wine and all those miles I walked in Vegas wearing three-inch heels, I better go turn down the heat. It may be possible for me to get three more hours of sleep before I start the Monday mommy cycle all over again.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Flat Tire

“Good God! What the F--- was that?”

I was in the car alone—on my way to pick up the soccer carpool—when I hit a pothole the size of Montana. I only had two girls tonight, so I drove the sedan rather than the SUV-soccer-mobile. It was along my regular route to the high school, which I’ve driven a hundred times in the past few months.

I swear, that pothole came out of nowhere.

Was there an earthquake last night I didn’t feel? Did some construction vehicle drop a load in the middle of the road? What the hell causes a crater that large to appear so suddenly?

I want to make it very clear that I wasn’t the least bit distracted when driving. I wasn’t talking on the phone, texting or changing the radio station. In fact, I was in a pleasant mood, freshly showered after a double workout and an attitude readjustment after a day filled with angst. For once, no one had changed “my” radio station from NPR to the local Top 40 or the satellite Howard Stern show (gross-me-out!). I looked forward to seeing my daughter, hearing about her day, and talking about our Thanksgiving plans.

And then, just over a mile from home: Ka BLAM!

My front left tire hit this meteorite impact area, and it sounded like a TNT explosion. My car sounded off too. The dashboard lit up. Its first red alert indicated a “tire pressure” warning, which I momentarily read to mean: “Hey woman, you hit a pot hole that knocked the snot out of your tire.”

But I already knew that.

Ten seconds later, the alarm went off a second time. The bright red letters read: “Tire DAMAGE.” I pulled over immediately. I didn’t want to be the idiot who continued driving on a flat tire only to cause rim damage or whatever.

Instead, I became the idiot who didn’t know how to change her tire.

Heaven help me, I haven’t changed a tire since I was in college and driving a ’63 Dodge Dart, which was when I developed a revolving door supply of fifteen-dollar retreads. I suppose it’s fair to say I’ve been spoiled with a series of luxury, well-maintained cars. Okay, okay. Shut up! So I’ve driven my share of BMWs, Lexus and Mercedes. That’s not the point. The point is, I opened my trunk to find that jacks have changed!

Being the excellent student I’ve been my entire life, I resorted to the manual and learned how to do everything from locating the trap door in my new car to the spare tire to the tool kit, which impressively included protective canvas gloves. I unloaded everything, continued reading, and then uttered a helpless, “huh?”

Luckily, it was at this moment when a good Samaritan, a clean-cut, red-haired man named “Keith,” came along in a Lexus without a hood. He stopped and asked me the five most desired words to a sedan-driving damsel in distress: “Do you need a hand?”

Keith had never before seen a new-fangled jack like the one I presented, but with one look at my manual and an explanation as to why he was wearing greased-stained overalls with flowers embroidered upon them (he’d just finished installing a new motor on his Lexus and the overalls belonged to his wife); that man had my car jacked up and the spare tire in place in record time.

Long story short: the soccer girls were picked up shortly after practice and had no clue what it took to get them. Meanwhile, my husband, who was miles away in our other vehicle, stopped what he was doing to get to my side. Unfortunately for him, he arrived just as Keith finished the job. He was exhausted from dropping all his afternoon plans (and bless him for that), but I rationalized for both of us because of God sending Keith, who saved him from reading the manual and dealing with this foreign car jack. Keith, by the way, didn’t even bother to wear the kit-provided gloves to protect his hands from grease. I gave him a handshake anyway. Who wouldn’t?

I’m certain no one will rescue us from the expense of replacing that wide Michelin tire, which upon inspection, was definitely damaged by pothole impact. Insurance? Forget about it. Pima County? Huh! Doubt it.

Moral of the story: Tanque Verde Drivers Beware! Northbound Solider Trail Road in Tucson. North of Limberlost, south of Synder. Pot-hole. Butt-hole.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Parenting is THE Most Difficult Job

Take this job and shove it. I’m failing miserably in my role as a mother. Why? It’s not because I don’t have great kids. I do. They’re both healthy and beautiful and SHOULD be a parent’s dream.

So, why the whine?

It’s because I can’t take any credit for it. And because of this, I feel like a failure. And unfortunately, I’ve never considered failure an option.

Here’s my problem: I can’t find a way to NOT live vicariously through my children. Their grades are my grades. Their performances are my performances. Their pimples, their laughs, their farts, their failures, their successes, their joys AND their sorrows … they ALL affect me in a way I had never anticipated.

I guess I thought that in order to be a good mother—an involved mother—I had to give up my own ambitions and concentrate primarily on the health and wellbeing of my children. And how can anyone blame me? I got pregnant, right? They weren’t accidents. They were planned. I know we were lucky because the traditional methods worked and I got to have the moment of discovery and conveyance to their daddy. Twice. And during my pregnancies, I gave my body—my entire life—over to the growing fetuses within me. I ate well. I ate A LOT. I gave up wine. I did normal exercise until I fell and couldn’t get up. I delivered both children naturally. I even pulled out the second one myself. My doctor asked me, “Do you want to reach down and do this yourself?” Of course, I said “yes!” And every minute since bringing these children into my home, I dedicated myself to their existence.

Giving birth to them, as it turns out, was easy. No one told me how difficult raising them would be. No one talked about all the curve balls life has to offer. They didn’t tell me about bullies or bad grades—the unremarkable, even disappointing performances. They didn’t tell me about diseases or death. They didn’t tell me about the lies or the myriad of bullshit modern day existence would roll down my alley … all the while aiming for my pins of perfection.

And even if they did, hmmmm, did I listen? Wait, did I miss that class?

I want you all to listen and to know, I’m not just talking about me, and MY kids. I have friends who have faced and are facing far worse shit brought on during the course of parenthood than I’m facing. [[This isn’t just a completely self-serving rant.]] Some of the things I’ve learned in recent years—even in recent days—for example, have sent my mind reeling.

Know this: You have a child and you step into a world you simply cannot predict.

I NEVER thought I’d miss the days of diapers and car seats. NEVER. But if any young parents are out there reading this lapse into helpless, self-pitying puke of parenthood—ENJOY YOUR BABIES. When all they can do is fall down and skin their knees, when they are still under your control and you are still paying 100% attention and thinking of yourself as THEIR mom rather than YOURself, mark my words: life is a blessing. You are lucky to have them and you won’t regret it.

As for the rest of us? Get a grip. They’re not perfect and neither are we.

BTW: I realize I’m talking to myself.

Friday, November 20, 2009

When Your Teenager Treats You Like the Chauffeur

The other day we went to our annual neighborhood watch block party. It’s an opportunity to have real conversations with the people with whom you share the roads and to whom you wave everyday as you drive in and out of the hood. Let’s face it. Suburban living—even in our rural desert oasis—is all about driving in and out of the hood.

In addition to talking about safety and the overdue asphalt sealing of the three main roads comprising our subdivision, we asked about one another’s kids. Who is now in junior high? High School? How’s your son handling his first year away at college? The conversations are mostly mundane and predictable. We answer things like: “She’s fine. Still playing soccer.” And “yes, he made the basketball team.” Or “she’s great—just got her acceptance letter from the U.” Occasionally, however, someone decides to be perfectly frank.

“How’s your son handling his first year away at college?”

“Well, he’s enjoying it a little too much.”

“Going off the deep end a bit, is he?”

“Oh yes! We had to have the ‘Come to Jesus Talk’ the other night.”

Come to Jesus? I wasn’t exactly sure what my neighbor meant by that, but his general meaning was quite clear. I have another friend who calls those heart-to-heart-parent-to-child talks, “the blue chair talks.” When her kids are called to the blue chair, it’s serious business.

My husband and I have these talks with our kids, too. We simply refer to the process as “reeling them in.”  We’d like to give them a long leash, allow them privileges and reward them for good behavior, but the ole ‘give-‘em-an-inch-and-they-take-a-mile behavior comes into play ALL THE TIME.  

This morning I had to have one of those Come to Jesus, Blue Chair, Reel ‘em In conversations with my teenager while driving her to school. Without going into all the details, the main subject was about her expectations and assumptions that she could make all the plans in the world about this party and that performance, this practice and that meeting, and leave it up to me to not only gather the times and locations, but also arrange my schedule to get her to and fro.

This kid has NO clue that I have a life beyond chauffeuring her all over town. I’ve seemingly become a non-person to her—something without value except how it can be of service to her.

Lately I’ve found myself counting the days until her sixteenth birthday and wondering what kind of car we’re going to get her so she can do the driving herself. Granted that leash extension may open up a whole new set of Come to Jesus criteria . . . but at least I’ll retain the power to not only take away her cell phone, but her car keys as well.

And yes, I realize, that even though these teenage years are taxing, they go by very quickly. My mother, who I miss dearly, went to Jesus over ten years ago. And I’d give just about anything to have her wake me up, make my breakfast, and drive me to cheerleading practice just one more time.

Meanwhile, if anyone has a trick to penetrate the teenage mind—something that gets through—please let me know. My gas tank is about empty.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Turquoise

I did a Tuesday show once in Wisconsin where my jewelry was on display. It was one of the rare shows that wasn’t juried, and as a result there wasn’t a lot of high-quality artisans selling their creations. I believe the venue was called Crazy Days, and my beautiful jewelry didn’t fit in.

Crazy Days are like Flea Markets. Shoppers come looking for a bargain. And even though my handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces were and are very reasonably priced, I had to endure watching overweight tourists waddle by while munching on soft pretzels and Minocqua Fudge. Some stopped in, bringing their lit smokes with them. Occasionally one would toss a bracelet back onto my display table and say something like, “Hrumph! I could make this for a dollar.”

I don’t think they could have even made the junk food staining their Green Bay Packer sweatshirts for a dollar. But hey, at least they took a moment to enter my street tent and give the products a look.

That’s more than I can say about one pair of old ladies with beehive hairdos, red lips and rhinestone glasses. Shuffling by with scowls on their faces, one of them spotted my sign advertising TURQUOISE JEWELRY FOR SALE.

“I HATE turquoise,” said one.

“Me too,” agreed the other. And then they waved their hands at me as if to tell me to get lost, and shuffled on, only to criticize the next vendor.

How could anyone hate turquoise?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Swarovski Sunday

Say it with me: SWA-RO’VF-SKI. Try it again. Take a deep breath, imagine you’re at the top of an Alp and let it go: SWA-RO’VF-SKI. I’ve been helping people pronounce this word—this brand name—ever since I started using Swarovski crystals in my jewelry designs.

I used to care about it being pronounced correctly the same way I used to care whether or not someone spelled my name with two Ls instead of one. I don’t care anymore. You can spell my name any way you want—as long as you remember it. And you can pronounce the name of these beautiful Austrian crystals any way you want as long as you take a minute to check out how nicely they go with the fine Hill Tribe Silver I describe in a previous blog.

Dream Life Designs

Swarovski Crystal, also known as Austrian Crystal, is regarded as the finest quality, full-lead crystal available today. It is named for Daniel Swarovski, who was born in Bohemia (at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in 1862. Bohemia was a center for crystal and glass manufacturing and Swarovski’s family owned a crystal-cutting factory. Daniel served an apprenticeship in the factory and then at the age of 21, he developed a new cutting machine, which enabled him to cut crystal “to perfection.” He received a patent on the machine and in 1895, established the Swarovski Crystal company. Daniel's sons and grandsons carried on his work.

Today’s crystals have hundreds of identical facets in several directions (thus achieving the unmatched sparkle for which they’re known). Machines using high-tech computer programs and 3-D imaging cut them. The example at right uses Swarovski crystal wheels and crystal rondelles in a necklace called “Only God Is Perfect.”

My favorite crystals are the Aurora Borealis (another name for the Northern Lights, which I’ve been lucky enough to see in the Northwoods of Wisconsin). Aurora Borealis crystals came about in 1956. According to the Swarovski history, in this innovative process, crystals are coated with an almost imperceptible layer of metal, giving them a rainbow sparkle. Manfred Swarovski, Daniel’s grandson worked with Christian Dior to perfect this process.

Check out all my designs, many of which feature Swarovski Crystals at The Shop at Sandy Point Resort. FREE SHIPPING through the holidays.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hill Tribe Silver

Hill Tribe Silver is made by the Karen Tribe in northern Thailand. This fine silver is 97.5-99% genuine, which is a higher silver content than sterling silver (92.5%). It’s therefore easy to bend and shape into forms. Oxidation, hammer marks, and slight design variances are part of the allure of these distinctive pieces. They can be worn often and will not tarnish as quickly as sterling.

There are six principal tribes in Thailand and they are the best known of the Hill Tribes. While the street life of Bangkok has changed and grown to include expensive cars, department stores and condominiums, life in the more remote hill tribe villages hasn’t changed for centuries.

The geographic area lies between the upper reaches of The Yangtze, Mekong and Salween Rivers. This is known as the Golden Triangle. The hill country reaches to and around the borders of Burma, China, Laos and Thailand. Roads are in poor condition and the main form of travel is by trail. The Karen Tribe arrived from the west, across the lower Salween River in Burma.

Until recently, Thailand was the only country in which it was possible for travelers to visit hill tribe villages, and is still the only country without travel restrictions.

Most Karen Hill Tribe Silver goes through an oxidation process. This causes the silver items to turn black. The silver is then polished leaving the black coloring only in the grooves. This allows tiny details and patterns to stand out. White Karen Hill Tribe Silver is a silver item that has not gone through the oxidation process before final polishing. As silver is the whitest of all metals, the item appears to be pure white.

Dream Life Designs’ Fine Silver Line includes Hill Tribe Silver pendants and toggle clasps, and incorporates, sterling, copper, Swarovski crystals, gemstones and Swarovski crystals. Each piece is one-of-a-kind. Check them out at They are available now with FREE SHIPPING through the holidays.