Monday, March 31, 2014

Trying to find a gown at 40, during prom season

Can we all just take a deep cleansing breath? One that doesn't stink like a perfume counter?

I love living on an island. I have adapted to having limited options for last minute purchases, and I have learned that even "overnight shipping" takes a week. I know what things I can order online, and which things I need to see in person to decide on.

I have also had several disastrous lessons in online clothes shopping. So I just don't do it.

This decision has saved us a lot of time and money, and it really hasn't been a problem...... until now.

I need a dress.
By Saturday.

This is the vision I had......

I did some pinning on Pinterest, but was too nervous to buy without trying on first..... so last week I went to the mall, and found a corner of the department store that had a few sparse racks holding cheap, fugly dresses that alternated between Matron and Hooker. There was nothing in-between. The selection was totally picked over, sizes were limited, and there were as many sequins on the floor as there were on the clothes. And the ball I'm going to is "The Black and White Ball": there were exactly 2 black dresses - neither of which was my size - and no white dresses at all.

The bridal store in the mall had gone out of business, and Forever 21 had nothing. I stood outside of Sears for a few minutes trying to work up the courage to go and look to see if they had any prom gowns left, but I just.... I couldn't. I couldn't do it.

So I got in the car, bound and determined to find something to wear. I went over to one of the fancy outdoor shopping centers and found some gorgeous gowns at BCBG but I just couldn't pull the trigger and buy one. And because I am too old and classy (shut up) to tuck the tags in, wear the dress and then return it the day after the event (never mind that the employees are friends and readers - Hi guys!) I had to put them back on the rack...... but not before Joyce snapped a few photos:

I really, really liked this black one. 
I totally thought about things I could sell to pay for it.

This is INCREDIBLY comfortable and surprisingly flattering.
Definitely a dress that looks so much better ON 
then it does hanging on a hanger.

This dress was about 3 sizes too small, but I loved it.
Great Gatsby, yes?

We went to 3 or 4 other stores that night, but nothing grabbed me. I left empty-handed.
C'est la vie.

I'm not giving up yet - I still have a few tricks up my sleeve......but I also have my original plan:

Catching cute mice and putting them to work.

Friday, March 28, 2014

I had gray hair. Then I dyed it and people take that sort of thing very personally.


As I have mentioned, I am beginning, the long, slow and sometimes painful process of getting my act together so that I am fit to be seen in public, in advance of the Fantasia Ball I am attending next weekend.

At first, I thought I might just shave my armpits and call it a day. But then, you know, I started thinking about all of the maintenance I do not participate in on a regular basis. Like buying makeup, or coloring my hair, or wearing a fancy dress. Even my elevens have gotten the best of me, I'm sorry to say.

The first order of business was the hair. I have been gray - really and truly, salt and pepper gray all over - for about 5 years. I dyed my hair red a few years ago for St. Patrick's Day, which was hilarious, but then I promptly had it cut about 1/2 an inch long all over my head.

Which in turn led me to dying it back to it's dark brown and letting the gray come in. It was a losing battle, trying to cover the gray. My hair grows fast and thick, and I had an almost constant strip of gray at my root line - which is SUUUUPER attractive and youthful.

I wasn't fooling anyone, is what I am trying to say. Also, denial.

"You can't be too much older than I am," said a woman who was definitely older than me, during a casual conversation one day a few months ago. She looked good, don't get me wrong. I just happened to know she was older than I was. Outwardly, I thought we looked around the same age. The only difference was, she was blonde. And I was not.

"Huh." I thought. "Why would she think I was older than I am?"

So for the last few years I have been gray, and fine with it. Really and truly fine. I got a few blonde highlights every once in a while to keep 'em guessing, but mostly I just let it be. Until I got a wild hair and decided that I wanted to go full-tilt Audrey Hepburn breakfasting at Tiffany's on this ball thing, started searching for a long e-cigarette online, and sent a text to my hairstylist Adiel:
"Let's go dark."

I could almost hear the squeal coming from 15 miles away. "Yes." she said (the "finally" was left unsaid, but certainly implied.) When I arrived at the salon, everyone in the place knew I was there to dye my hair. The receptionist, the other stylists, even the chick in the first chair knew what was about to go down. I have spent a lot of years having hairstylists ask if they could color my gray hair, so I thought it was just unique to the profession, to have such strong opinions about going gray. Boy, was I wrong.

So I sat back, and let them have at it. I did not give any instructions, I did not look at swatches or discuss warm vs. ash tones, or anything. I just sat down and said "Okay, go."

It took a while. Joyce showed up to document the big reveal, but I wasn't ready yet.

So we had a drink.

Just one, mind you. Heavy on the OJ.

Ella took a little nap while we waited.

Then I needed a haircut.

An hour later, my chair was rotated back towards the mirror. "What the hell have I done?" was the first thing I said. My stylist was more concerned about my bangs than the color.

And then, naturally, I posted a photo on Facebook. The reaction, it was swift.
The first thing I noticed is that everyone thinks I look better - and younger - without gray hair. Apparently, while I was walking around feeling empowered, I was also walking around looking 20 years older than necessary.


And then, some of my friends and family who have gone gray started to get a little protective. Okay, defensive. Tomato tomahto.
My mom got involved.
People realized my mom was reading, and toned down their responses.
"I like your hair either way." a few said diplomatically.
But the vast majority were markedly relieved that I had finally ditched the gray. And that's okay. I'm glad it looks good, because I really do want to look nice for the event, and I definitely don't want to look 20 years older. So yay for hair color.

But it's only temporary.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Daffodil goes to a ball: If I wear a long gown, do I have to shave my legs

I got invited to a ball in a few weeks time.

I have never been to a ball before, but I have watched Cinderella a million times, so I am going to the pet store for some nice mice and birds who could help a girl out. It seems like the easiest way to deal with what is otherwise a kind of overwhelming process.

Here are some reasons why I might need some help:

-I shaved the back of my head a few months ago. This grow-out period is a bitch.
-95% of my makeup is on the floor of my linen closet, and came free with purchase of a moisturizer.
-I have one "formal" dress - which is more than most people, I know, but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of choosing a dress. I own a dress. I am wearing it.
-I am wearing the aforementioned dress with a pair of sandals I just found in a bag under my bed. This post is really helping to keep me on track.
-I have a 6 week old. If you have kids that you have raised since birth, you may understand what I am saying when I tell you I am barely coherent some days, rarely showered, and usually in sweatpants. I haven't brushed my hair since February.

I could go on, but you get the picture. I am the last person on the planet that should be going to a ball, and it will take every ounce of strength I have to stay awake past 9pm. Since the after party starts at 10, I will begin drinking caffeine-laden beverages at noon.

There is a really good reason for all of this:
The ball benefits Imua Family Services.

Imua has been a part of our lives for years - they have worked with several of our foster children and the results of their comprehensive approach to therapy - mostly through play and exploration - is a wonder to behold. Dude, in particular, benefitted from their services and for that I am forever grateful. When we brought Dude home from the hospital he had a lot of odds stacked against him, from low birth weight to drug exposure in utero. He made incredible progress working with Imua, and Imua worked long and hard on his behalf, partnering with his mother and father to be sure he was making the progress he needed to make before entering preschool.

this is Dude in an infant carseat, which was clearly too big for a Dude-sized infant

But Imua provides more than just services for our foster children - they provide peace of mind. So many people ask me how I can bear to give these foster children back, and the honest truth is that it would be impossible if I didn't know that the team - the doctors and nurses and therapists and social workers and lawyers that I have gotten to know and trust over the years from case to case - would be following the baby for months or even years to come. Because I know that they will be getting to know the family, and supporting them through the child's early years, sometimes even doing the visits in the family home, I am able to have some peace of mind when I hand these babies over for the last time and say goodbye.

They do good work at Imua Family Services, and I was proud to be asked to support their fundraiser this year. But then I realized it would mean actually pulling myself together for a fancy evening event.

This will be interesting.

To hold myself accountable, and also to make sure I get some feedback, I will be undergoing my makeover in public. Right here. Hair will be dyed, skin will be waxed, wrinkles will be blasted, dresses will be tried on to see if I can find one I like better then the one I have, and then of course, the grand finale:

The updo.

I might even wear a corsage.

Good lord, it's like 1993 Senior Prom all over again. But this time I won't be driving a turquoise Cadillac with a white leather interior (sadly, because that car was amazing) and I'm pretty sure I won't have a perm, either.

I'm not ruling it out, though. The thrill of the reveal, coming soon!

Monday, March 10, 2014

What is the opposite of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. I'm that mom.

I told him not to. I told him not to ride that damn Razor scooter down the hill without shoes or a helmet on. I told him not to, I told him it would end in disaster.

So when I heard the screams three minutes later, I knew exactly what had happened, And considering that the screams were coming from everyone BUT Max, I knew that he knew that I knew. Or maybe he was unconscious. Which was what I had said would happen if he went down that hill without a helmet on.

Becky looked out the window. "Uh oh," she muttered under her breath. "That doesn't look good."

"I am not going down there," I announced, my hands covered in that night's meat entree. "I told him not to do it."

To her credit, Becky did not give it a second thought. She put down her glass of wine, dusted off her hands and opened the door. "I'll do it," she said bravely.

"Good. You do that." Since her kids were the ones clearly traumatized by Max's injury based on the yelling coming from the street, it was probably best that she go down there. I had dinner to cook.

"It's Father's Day," Sam shouted from the back deck. "I'M NOT INVOLVED."

I stuck my head out the window. "Um, pretty sure being a father means dealing with this kind of thing."
"Not today, it doesn't."

While his parents were steadfastly refusing to come to his aid, Max was gimping his way back to the house. He had left a good 30% of his face in the cul de sac, plus half of the skin on his knees and elbows. And judging by that limp, he had probably taken one to the groin. But he gave me a sheepish grin, and all of his teeth appeared to be in place. I threw him a roll of paper towels and went back to cooking.

This was a few years ago. Since then Max has doubled in size, but that just means he does dumb stuff on a bigger scale. I think almost every mother of a 13 year old will agree with that statement. And you know what, live and learn. I can't protect them from everything, least of all themselves. As my dear pants-less friend Matthew McConaughey says, "Just Keep Living". He may not use it in terms of parenting, but it fits nicely doesn't it?

Some people are all fired up about RIE parenting but my parenting style sits squarely in the Darwinism category. Do something stupid after being advised of the possible outcome, and you will suffer the consequences. If you just crushed your chances at reproducing, I'll consider that your contribution to thinning the herd, and thank you very much for saving everyone else the trouble.

So here we are years later, and Max, despite being warned of the consequences, continues to tempt the fates. This week he is recovering from an unspeakably gross surgical procedure to open his nasal paasages. I will spare you the details. The recovery time was remarkably brief and straightforward.

"You will feel stuffy," his doctor advised, 'but do not blow your nose. That is just the swelling from the surgery."

It was great fun to watch Max under the effects of anesthesia. He spent the entire time in pre-op grinning like a loon. Just before they rolled him away, the anesthesiologist added something to his IV as she crooned in her sweet Filipino lilt "Are you feeeeeling druuuunk, Maxie?" To which Max replied "I don't know. Am I?" He spent several minutes twirling his fingers in the air and giggling to himself. As they rolled him away, he wiggled his fingers weakly overhead one last time. "Bye bye, mommy."

"You have fun with that." I advised the entire surgical team, and went out to find a cup of coffee.

When we got home from the surgical center, Max was still a little woozy.

I went out to run some errands, and when I got back, Max had a large dark stain of blood on the gauze under his nose. "What the hell happened?" I asked, looking at both Sam and Max for an answer.

Apparently, Sam went to change the gauze from under his nose as he had been instructed to do, and Max said he needed a tissue. "Now, don't blow your nose," Sam reminded him. "It only feels stuffy."

"Uh huh." Max said agreeably. Then he grabbed a tissue and blew like hell.

"JESUS H." Sam screamed. Max stood, stunned, holding a tissue full of blood and possibly part of his brain matter. (By all accounts, it was hard to tell.)

"Huh" Max said.

"It's your own fault," I told both of them later when they recounted the story. "It is NOT my fault." Sam said flatly. "It's all my fault," Max agreed.

Accountability. That is what I call success in parenting.