Monday, October 2, 2017

Your Hundred Year Guide to Skin Care

Enough! Just saw a drugstore ad that "thoughtfully" listed women's beauty products by age - 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's.

Like no one over 60 need bother? Is that the message? Ladies, we are just getting to the good part at 60! Phooey on those teenage copywriters!!

Our three daughters and yours truly nearly drove Mr. Wonderful completely bonkers with the line item "Health & Beauty Aids."  You name it - we tried it. Thus, a vast storehouse of knowledge. And we will share.

20's:  Only one rule: STAY OUT OF THE SUN.  I know - nearly impossible since you still look good in a swimsuit, so use plenty of sunblock, then repeat. (Blondes should start to apply moisturizer in mid-20's so they will know how by the time they are 30.)

30's: You need to moisturize now. A light product is plenty. More importantly, clean your face every single night. This gets harder when kids come along, but that strained carrot mask will not do your complexion any favors - trust me.

40's:  Get serious, girlfriend. Try a couple of brands. That includes freebie samples that come your way. The creepy we-know-all-about-you marketers (think of them as "personal shoppers") will supply you with appropriate products. Got my first Regenerist in the Sunday paper! Score! Try them all. Use what works.

50's. Okay, someone will tell you soon, "You look great FOR YOUR AGE." Breathe. The options are (1) pretend the remark was directed at someone else, (2) volunteer an eye doctor recommendation, and/or (3) channel those raging hormones for once and flatten the idiot. Whew - did I just type that? In any case, continue to try new products. An eye cream? Probably. And SPF 2000 in your moisturizers. Okay, my dermatologist, age twelve, says SPF 30 will do. But if they start to make SPF 2000 by the time you are 50, try it, sweetie!

60's: Good news, girlfriend - you might still be alive. Even attractive. Now bring out the big guns. Are you at risk of having a VW get lost in your pores? A little Preparation H. All the beauty queens use it. Also, a really great night cream. Get creative. Consider Vaseline. And remember high school Biology? Don't you wish we could get our hands on some formaldehyde? It is, however, a carcinogen, and Amazon doesn't carry it. Bummer.

70's - 90's:  Okay, this is hypothetical territory. Never fear - my research has begun.

With the money to be made on Boomers, we can safely assume that skincare will continue to advance. Ditto the surgical options. So here is the plan: Try every new cream, lotion, potion and compound. If it works for you (and you can remember to use it - heh-heh), go for it.

BUT no surgery (raise your right hand, girls!). Have you ever repainted a bathroom, only to realize the vanity and floor look dated? Same risk with a little nip and tuck! Let the celebrities who have gone this route serve as a lesson to you.

Frankly, my time in Southern California probably scarred me (no pun intended). Costco lines replete with ladies with perky "girls" or eyes that no longer shut. Depends or Efferdent in their carts! Need I say more?

Exception: if you are completely certain that you can limit surgery to a single procedure (as in, "it's elective surgery and it will take a reverse mortgage for anything more"), then I sincerely hope you are thrilled with your new look. But you might put title to your primary residence out of your reach, just in case.

As for me, in lieu of foundation (or under it), my money is on spackle! No more wrinkles! I have heard that Home Depot will match your skin tone if you find a clerk with a name like Doris or Cleta.

100 and beyond. Just think - if you can fog a mirror, everyone will tell you how great you look!! And you will! Enjoy every minute!

A final word:  If we are blessed enough to live to a ripe old age, our skin will age. Nobody is singled out for it. Our friends who left this world too soon would be delighted to age with us.

So let's enjoy the face we have today and every tomorrow. (If God gives us ten more years, we will wish for today's face anyway.)

And I pray for an absolute bonfire of birthday candles - for all of us.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Food for Thought

When I was working, like most moms, I always tried to do one-too-many errands during lunch. Typically, the last thing on my list was food, so I could eat quickly if needed. 

Most days I inhaled lunch as an afterthought. That often left me in a drive-thru. 

Southern California has at least its share of homeless men, women and kids.  Over time, I noticed the same man sitting outside the golden arches.  Sometimes he held a sign asking for food, sometimes not.  

I started ordering a meal for him.  The two cheeseburger meal seemed pretty filling – it included fries and a soft drink.  Pretty soon he knew to expect lunch when I came through.

One day, he flagged me down as I inched through the drive-thru line.   He didn’t say anything – just handed me a note. It was printed, on paper torn from a notebook, by a hand unaccustomed to writing. And in the years since, I have kept it. This is verbatim, except for his name:

“I am really gratefull for your kindness. I'm slow at confersation or Ide of done told you, I don't drink suger or carbs, as a general rule. I feel gilty for not expressing that sooner, and chicken nuggetts or chicken saled, or fish sandwich is more healthy, if you need a yard or handyman, the knames Charles, or Charles Tyler, this is humiliating for me to give out my name in such circumstances, but I owe you that. thank you, and be not obligated to do good, but let your heart regause in well doing."
A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. Ashamed to say, they included: "wait, it's a free lunch!" and "millions of homeless in the world, and I had to find the one who is cutting carbs?"" and "drat! I think the salad will cost more!" 

I read the note again. And I welled up. 

What it must have cost Charles! How painful it must have been to write such a note. And how would he get medical care if I clogged his arteries with cheeseburgers and fries day after day? 

I bought him a salad and powerade. 

As I drove back to the office, the profound lesson was suddenly mingled with the recognition of God's sense of humor, and I could not stop laughing.  

Charles was EXACTLY the blessing I needed in my life. God surely picked him out just for me! How much I needed his presence! How much I had to learn!

I thought I had tried to see Jesus in Charles, but my failure was EPIC. I had seen only his homelessness - but not his humanity. Why didn't I talk with him - ask what he wanted? Why didn't I get out of my car and eat with him? And find out what else he needed? Instead, I sat in my comfort zone and gave on my own terms!

Humbled, I parked the car and went back to the trenches.  

“. . . whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40.

And said a quick prayer, "Thank you, Father, for blessing my life with Charles. 'My heart rejoices in well doing!' 

And sorry, Lord,, for not asking what your will was. And did not mean to load You up with carbs. Amen."

Friday, May 5, 2017

Miracle on Marsh Drive

It was a loooonnnng weekend. Grammy watched Little Cutie for four days. By myself. At his house. The house he shares with two dogs, a house cat, three barn kitties (in the basement?), and one very large rabbit.

Little Cutie was feeling his oats. I know - pick your battles. Okay to put his shoes on the wrong feet and insist on the pj's that used to fit. But when my "do not climb the rock" was followed by him scrambling up a boulder and grinning, I sternly lifted him down. Also scared him by stepping in an unseen hole so we both did face plants.

That little guy who cheerfully went to the potty in February? Gone. "Noooooo potttyyyyyy!!!!" And this has to be the first time I have ever washed blueberries off the FEET of a little guy after blueberry pancakes.

Like this look? He turned his cap backward the minute we entered Walmart. Um, does it say, "I'm almost 3 - don't mess with me!"?
So after keeping all the ark's occupants alive for 3 1/2 days (thanks to a spreadsheet of who-eats-what-when-and-how-much), I realized that Sunday Mass would mean Little Cutie in tow.

Holy Mother of God. And I mean it in the most reverent way possible.  Fact is, I had been praying for weeks about this formidable prospect. Asking God and my holy friends for guidance.

We would try 11 a.m. Mass. Maybe Little Cutie would have less energy then. Navy blue polo - check. Khakis - check. Purse loaded with all items per holy-friends-whose-kids-are-always-good-in-church - check.

As we approached the Marsh Drive church, the massive chimes began to peal. Little Cutie's eyes were like saucers. At the door, ushers greeted him with high fives. "Pray for us," I whispered.

I picked the perfect seat. On an aisle. We could see the altar. And make a quick exit.

Little Cutie promptly grabbed a massive hymnal. He did not, however, drop it on the floor. He sat back in the pew and placidly turned the pages. WHAT? Yep. God is good. Read on and believe.

Fear: Holy Water splashing anyone in range.

Actual: Little Cutie dipped fingers into Holy Water and let Grammy guide him making the Sign of the Cross.

Fear: The opening hymn (SIX verses?) interrupted by loud shouts of "I wanna go hooooommmmmmmme!!!"

Actual: Little Cutie stood on the kneeler, held the hymnal, and flirted briefly with the grandfatherly fellow behind us.

Fear: Readings would include tap-dance-down-the-pew, drop-the-kneeler, and you-can't-get-me in the aisle.

Actual: Sat quietly during the readings, and when they ended, said, "Amen."

Fear:  At the collection, Little Cutie would (a) drop the coins on the floor, (b) stick them in someone's ear, or (c) refuse to let them go, "Nooooo, it's myyyyyyy money!"

Actual: Little Cutie placed his donation in the basket and smiled at the usher who ruffled his hair.

Fear: The walk to Communion might include (a) wiggling, shouting, and/or running, (b) grabbing the consecrated host from the Eucharistic Minister, and/or (c) loud objections to being blessed by same.

Actual: Little Cutie happily let me carry him, watched with big eyes as I received, and smiled angelically as the Eucharistic Minister signed the cross on his little forehead.

You may think I have totally lost it. I do not have photos (much as I wanted to pull out my cell phone and capture the moment, it was CHURCH, after all).

But somewhere in Pennsylvania is a witness. A woman who approached us after Mass, saying "I have never seen a little guy be so very good in church!" (To my shame, I replied, "Thank you. You have just witnessed a miracle.")

This is what a boy who was perfect in church looks like when he is headed home:

Mommy and Daddy had already arrived. When D3 realized we were just getting home from church, she said (in a voice that hinted at not really wanting to know), "How was he?"

"Perfect." I replied. "No child has ever behaved better in church than Little Cutie this morning."

"You're kidding, right? Just a little sarcasm, right?"


Maybe, as my oldest suggested, the law of averages finally fluked in my favor. After a lifetime of wigglers, screamers, moon shots, it was simply my turn for a perfect child.

But I choose to believe it was an answer to prayers. A once-in-a-lifetime joy.

In short, it was a miracle.

No photos needed. It is written on this Grammy's heart forever.

God bless you, Little Cutie! He has already blessed Grammy.

Oh - and I know - it was just this once!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

An Offer We Can't Refuse

"You can't get me!"

A chase ensues. In the lead is an adorable two-and-a-half-year-old running at full tilt. In not-so-hot pursuit, this out-of-shape Grammy. Why is my mind on Marlon Brando in "The Godfather?"

You know, the scene where is Don Corleone, played by Brando, is chasing a grandson through the garden. It is adorable and heartbreaking and ironic. The bond between grandparent and grandchild is warm and dear. Just when you think there might be one truly happy moment in the film, BAM!, Don Corleone drops dead! Right there in the tomato plants.

Okay, a bit dramatic, but remembering a few parenting skills is not the same as being twenty-something again. And Little Cutie was here for a week. Did I mention he is two-and-a-half? Read on.

Little Cutie is FAST. Put a Fit-Bit on him fast! Chase the dog fast. Face-plant fast!

Little Cutie is mechanically inclined. Two-seconds-to-learn-flashlight-functions-I-didn't-know-existed. Every button, switch, lever, doorknob, faucet, cord, and remote calls to him. So do we - "Nooooooooooo!!!!!"

Little Cutie is a climber. To the top of the playground. Out of the highchair. Able to leap from the carseat to the front seat to the backseat to the trunk in a single bound!

Little Cutie is Busy. Every. Single. Second. Parachute play busy. Hide and seek busy.  Pick up sticks in the yard busy. Flop on the dog busy.

Little Cutie is Potty Training. Going well (ha-ha), except when he aims at his socks or his jeans. We raised three girls. 😟 Grammy's new trick is called "redirect-the-stream."

Little Cutie Loves Noise.  Towers of wooden blocks collapse.  Pump up the volume and dance to "Hot Dog! Hot Dog! Hot Diggity Dog!" Cries of "Oh, Toodles" (and that was Mr. Wonderful!)

Little Cutie Notices Everything. That his grilled cheese has Mickey on it.  A Super Mickey cape. That we try in vain to read Hello, Ninja  just like Mommy does. That he can outrun us.

Epilogue: The Brando moment will have to wait. No casualties.

D3 (a/k/a Mommy) was welcomed back with joyous tears and a happy dance! ( Little Cutie was glad to see her too.) Our little buddy was headed home.

Later, as Mr. Wonderful and I lay our weary heads upon our pillows, he asks, "So do you feel younger having had the little guy here for the week?"

"The truth?" I ask, cautiously.


"I was just lying here thinking that every single part of my whole body hurts. Even my hair."

"Me too."

And we can't wait for next time.

It's an offer we can't refuse.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

It (Really!) Is What It Is

In this New Year, I should be making resolutions. As if, at the stroke of midnight, the world will be blessed with a brand new me. (Maybe a resolution about the frequency of this blog?)

Instead, in 2017 I resolve not to bite off more than I can chew. In fact, I might resolve to have my jaw wired shut. To keep my foot from landing in my mouth, of course. And for a weight loss resolution - which, sadly, is needed after a five year burst of self-control.

But enough of self-improvement. Instead, a Christmas gift from my brother, Eagle Scout, has inspired me to write this post:

(Resolve to brush up on my Latin?) Yep. It Is What It Is. In wearable form. Suitably serious color. And startlingly effective at hiding the Christmas cookies I consumed! Love. It.

Wearing this sweatshirt got me thinking about this phrase. In my lawyer days, people said they knew I would say it in a crunch.

Seriously. When the latest legal quagmire invited despair, Ole Bethsquire would, with an absolutely cool head, say "It is what it is."

As in (by way of example only - see Disclaimers below), "A repo guy picked up our car with a baby asleep in the carseat? It is what it is."

This would, of course, be followed by a brilliant strategy derived from my hard-won "think-like-a-lawyer" skills and (thankfully!) the light of the Holy Spirit and a bit of common sense.

"First, GET THE BABY SAFELY HOME TO MOMMA! Next, pursue all lawful means to make this customer our new best friend. And, find local legal counsel. Oh, and never, EVER use that repo guy again."

Those who know me well are scratching their heads and thinking, "Wow -  I never suspected she had a well-adjusted bone in her body!!"

It surprises even me. Got it from my dad.

St. Raymond was a "cut-to-the-chase" guy. As in (with raised eyebrows - very important) "I don't care who started it!"

Completely pointless to try, "But, but, but, but, daddy!" Due process in the court of St. Raymond was swift and certain. He assessed the crime, and whatever one of us kids had coming was quickly dispensed to all three. No exceptions. (This was long before self esteem was a thing.)

Only once or twice did St. Raymond offer an explanation for his expedited, global justice. It went like this:

"I know you might not be at fault this time. But I refuse to hear a bunch of excuses and finger pointing. Sometimes you may get more or less punishment than you deserve. However, over the course of your childhood, it will even out. You will each receive about the right amount of discipline, and we won't have to talk about it."

It Is What It Is.  Right?  Done!

Afterward, we would dry our tears and move on. St. Raymond had a quick flash point, but was just as quick to forgive and forget.

And he applied the same approach to life. As in the time we came out of the Civic Center after the circus to find our car, um, different, somehow. Hubcaps missing? Oh, no. All four wheels were gone! Yep, our car was sitting on the axles.

Photo by born1945

Wailing and gnashing of teeth? Not from my dad. St. Raymond looked at the car, and said, "Well, we'll have to call the police and the insurance adjuster and find a ride home." Period.

So why mention it?

Because most things that happen in life are nuisances.  We whine (personal experience!) and complain (gifted at this!) and throw up our hands, but It Is What It Is.

My dad knew that. I am guessing that WWII gave him perspective. He knew what serious difficulty and true tragedy were, and did not confuse them with daily nonsense.

Whatever 2017 brings our way, may we all have the grace of perspective.

"O God, grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change, 
the courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference."

Wishing you a year of nuisances that invite you to say, "It Is What It Is" and move on.

Because that will be one Happy New Year!