My daughter is at the age where certain people—teachers, Word Girl, people who work at the American Girl Doll store—wow her to no apparent end. She is impressed, awed even, because these are people that she aspires to become herself one day. I absolutely love that about seven year olds. The world is still their oyster.
Then you reach 40. Instead of oysters, it’s more like Atlantic surf clams that have washed up on shore. Or something like that. You’re at an age when aspirations have more or less panned out by this point. As I sat on the beach this summer, totally admiring the life guards working the rough surf one particular day—no, not because of their hunky good looks, shame on you!—I realize I am less wowed by the people that I used to think I’d be one day, and more impressed by the people I know I’ll NEVER be. Everyday people who can do things that are totally beyond my ability or comfort zone.
To the following people, I give a major hat tip just for being awesome and making me smile:
Police officers and firefighters
A capella groups
Plumbers, masons, and electricians (basically all of the skilled trades)
Emergency room nurses
High rise window washers
Court appointed defense counsel
So, who impresses YOU? Who’s that someone that makes you think, “I could never do that as well as them!”
Copyright (c) 2014 Kristen M. Ploetz
How can it already be the last day of September? It was a whirlwind month. Though, aren’t they all?
September was . . .
– reading three really good books: Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman, and The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection, by Michael Harris (NB: I finished A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, immediately before September and it was a really touching read—as in ugly cry—so I’m including it here too)
– my daughter starting first grade and turning seven in the same week
– me now starting to ask my daughter for her permission before posting photos of her (and having a stricter set of guidelines of what I think is fair game now that she’s seven)
– the start of cold season around our house (boy, that was quick!)
– starting a new habit of commemorating a few lines of gratitude each week
– biting my tongue many, many times . . . and realizing that I am having an increasingly harder time convincing myself that “preserving the peace” is a noble endeavor, especially if it means my daughter hearing or seeing things that I no longer want her to
– realizing the value of taking a bona fide break from Facebook (and to a lesser degree, other social media) and making usage tweaks going forward
– submitting essays to four new places (one of which has already been accepted for publication…stay tuned!)
– waffling on which direction to go with a particular writing topic (that I’ve not covered anywhere publicly) and realizing I need an “idea-bouncer-offer” (any takers??)
– no rain but many, many great sunsets
– for the first time in seven birthday parties, a not so agreeable forecast of thunderstorms and 90 degree weather on the day of M’s outdoor party, leading to a partial cancellation/rain date…and yet it was still wonderful all the same
– capturing “September light” on Instagram (@littlelodestar)—I may do it again this month…something about this slanted light that moves me
– hearing the words, “she has a cavity” for the first time…oof!
– discovering I can no longer easily pick up my now 50+ pound daughter
– starting the Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker (I’m reading it to M)
– speaking of ginger . . . this month’s go to cocktail: Moscow Mule
– having a few much needed and long overdue telephone conversations, some harder than others
– the realization that I did not grow a single tomato (on purpose) for the first time since I started gardening . . . and that it was a HUGE mistake
– ordering garlic for the November planting and July 2015 picking (another way gardening keeps me tied to an awareness of time)
– flower girl dress shopping
– really hoping time slows down before prom dress shopping!
– becoming quick fans of some sites that I now frequent more regularly (or follow on Twitter)…here are just three of them:
www.bloom-site.com (featuring authors who published their first book when they were 40 or older)
www.featureshoot.com (featuring moving and visually stunning photography projects/photographers)
www.amandamagee.com (man, does she get you thinking, fist pumping, and/or teary eyed, both on her blog and Twitter)
– signing up for the October session of Writing Naturally series hosted by Corinne Noel Cunningham (can’t wait!)
– tweaking my usual “Things That Make Me Smile” type of post into this one, because it seemed more coherent (and because cavities don’t make me smile!); seeing Rudri’s post solidified my gut feeling on this format
– that this girl is now at what might possibly be my favorite age (so far!)
How was your September? Now let’s get excited about October, my second favorite month of the year!
Copyright (c) 2014 Kristen M. Ploetz
I am just back from our annual family/friend vacation in New Hampshire. As in just back three hours ago. There are two posts brewing in my mind from that trip, but they need a little space and less laundry giving me the stink eye before I can get those thoughts to gel more cogently. Suffice it to say, pool and lakeside people watching lends itself to some very good material for writing. More to come on that front soon.
Instead, I wanted to share some of the things that are making me smile on this summer vacation which, so far, is only nine days old. But still. I can tell they will be summer staples, and so I thought I’d share.
Athleta Sweet Sport Skort (and Printed Sweet Sport Skort) I’m not sure if it was turning 40, but something about this year has made me want to wear fewer shorts and more skirts and dresses during the summer. Except they are not always practical when I need to be a bit more active and “show a little leg” in the process. Getting on rides at Storyland—and getting wet on said rides—is a very recent example. I feel self-conscious in shorts (and also my perimenopausal body), and more so in skirts which might blow up and reveal the granny underwear that often lurks beneath. Well, thank you, Athleta, for these skorts! They have changed my life. Athleta has many styles and lengths of skorts, and I’ve only tried the Sweet Sport version so far (they make a Sweet Sport Skort Active version which is about 2.5 inches shorter than the one I am wearing, which is just Sweet Sport Skort). I bought one in black and one in granite grey stripe and I have been wearing them virtually nonstop. They are beyond comfortable and forgiving, and you can look sporty or fairly polished depending on shirt/shoes that you choose. It has a pocket on the bottom of the right hem where my iPhone conveniently fits, which is insanely helpful. I also sweat fairly easily and thankfully they are really good at wicking away moisture and drying quickly (i.e. after the log flume ride or hot mountain hikes). Highly recommend. I also noticed they are on sale for less than what I paid, so that’s a plus too.
Other than ice water, hands down favorite thirst quencher this summer is VitaCoco Coconut Water Lemonade.
Want something pretty and fizzy to serve at your BBQ? Fentimans Rose Lemonade is so lovely and great on ice. I might try to liven it up for a party with a splash of vodka, but it’s really wonderful all on its own. Unusual but yummy taste, with a kick of ginger and rose oil. Would make a special little hostess gift too, I think.
My go-to summer cocktail has been simply this: shot of vodka (loving Reyka from Iceland right now), hearty pour of tonic water, and quarter of a lime.
I have been living in my Teva Olowahu flip flops this summer. It’s my first pair of flip flops that have more than one strap, and I admit was skeptical at first, but once I put them on my feet? Pure comfort. I happened to buy mine via Zappos.com where I purchased a two-pack: one in black on black, and the other in Hideaway purple. Honestly I have only worn the purple ones pretty much nonstop.
I’ve set aside a few books specifically for summer reading. I’ve already finished After the Sour Lemon Moon, by Denise Parsons. I really enjoyed this novel and intend to write a separate blog post about it in the coming weeks. But suffice it to say that I was enchanted with the central character’s story from the beginning. It’s a first person perspective, something I don’t recall having read much of over the past few years (other than memoirs and one novel). I liked how this story unfolded, and the prose and imagery was really quite lovely. It’s also the first time I’ve ever purchased a print-on-demand book. I must say, the whole process was easy/efficient (it arrived very quickly) and was printed in a heft of paper that I was delighted to see (read: not chintzy!). And just a side note here: this is the second book that I purchased because of getting to “know” the person/author via social media BEFORE knowing about the book (the first occasion was with Jessica Vealiztek’s The Rooms are Filled). I have followed Denise Parsons on Instagram (@chezdanisse) for a while now and she follows me there too; she is so lovely and thoughtful in her photos, as well as her blog, that I thought I couldn’t miss with her first novel either. I was spot on in my assumption. Anyway, I mention this to give a hat tip to how social media really can open up the door for authors and writers in ways that one might not expect.
Lastly, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, my migraine situation means no more nuts, chocolate, or peanut butter (among other things) for me. This basically means that I cannot eat ANY of my favorite flavors of ice cream anymore, which is hugely depressing. Except that I have found at least one really good stand in at the grocery store: Stone Ridge Creamery ice cream in Salted Caramel. On the premium ice cream spectrum I wouldn’t say it’s at the top in terms of creaminess, but taste? Yes. The caramel is quite good, at least insofar as it’s standing in for peanut butter, and there’s plenty of it. I’m still on the hunt for other flavors this summer, but this one is keeping my attention right now. And, OK, if you want to be “healthy” once in a while, you can’t go wrong with Haagen-Dazs Zesty Lemon Sorbet, which I ate pretty much daily by the GALLON when I was pregnant with M . . . gulp . . . seven summers ago.
What’s got you smiling this summer?
Copyright (c) 2014 Kristen M. Ploetz
I’m not much of a shopper, but there’s always been something about the pharmacy that beckons me to wander its dusty aisles. In fact, my first post-baby outing by myself was just to walk around the pharmacy down the street. In my epic breastfeed-a-thon, sleepless daze I was lulled by the potential of a new nail polish or magazine. I may or may not have also taken a quick nap in the parking lot.
But, as someone who tries very hard to only use certain kinds of products that are not harmful to me or the planet, there is often not much I am actually comfortable buying there anymore. On the other hand, I am a woman and thus often lured in by beauty products and things that make me feel good about myself.
So, at the risk of essentially inviting you into my morning bathroom routine, I share some of the things that I have come to love in recent months/years. I have found most of them at my local pharmacy, but I will note those products that I purchased online because they are hard to find locally.
Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser – I have extremely sensitive skin and am allergic to several ingredients that are seemingly ubiquitous in the cosmetics/toiletries industry (hello, linalool!). So when I find something that does not make me itch, break out or get eczema on my eyes, I hang on to it. I love this facial cleanser and have been using it for years. It scores a 3 on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. Obviously the (recyclable) plastic container might be a problem for hardcore eco-champions, and so I also recommend their Face and Body Bar (which scores lower at 2 on the EWG Skin Deep database) which I’ve also used, though to a lesser degree.
St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub – I owe a hat tip to my sister-in-law for leading me to this a few years ago. She has such great skin and so I was happy to hear that her secret is this easy find. I actually just use a dab of it in my facial cleanser to get some grit that helps minimize the gross things our skin does as we age. Now, I know it scores a 6 on the Skin Deep database, and that’s largely because of fragrance (it actually does not have much of a scent; I generally shun scented things because they make me itch and induce headaches). You’ll have to see whether you can live with their ingredient list, but for the small amount I use, I am OK with it. Plus, perhaps what is most important to me is that it does not contain the microbeads that are starting to appear in our waterways.
St. Ives Naturally Soothing Oatmeal & Shea Butter Body Lotion – I found this lotion over this past winter and I am completely in love with it. The light scent is not that bad (and is essentially gone within a few minutes). It is the right amount of creamy without being greasy. And, thankfully, it seems to have resolved the keratosis pilaris that I have lived with on my upper arms for decades. It scores a 5 on the Skin Deep database (again, largely because of the fragrance ingredient which is an 8).
Baking Soda – Do not underestimate the teeth cleaning power of this humble kitchen staple. I sprinkle a bit on my wet toothbrush and brush with it, and then brush with toothpaste for a clean mouth. A box easily lasts a whole year and I notice a difference in less staining from coffee (and red wine when I was still drinking it). You get used to the taste pretty quickly, so give it a try!
Tom’s of Maine Wicked Fresh! Toothpaste – Hands down my favorite toothpaste. And once you use a toothpaste like this, you will realize how awfully sweet and cloying the other mainstream brands taste. Scores a 1 on the Skin Deep database, which is a plus.
Head Organics Hair Serum Shine/Anti-Frizz – [**ordered online**] So here’s what they don’t tell you about going grey: your hair gets much coarser and wiry. And, considering I had a frizz problem before going grey, I need some help in keeping my locks tamed. I am 90% of the time walking out of the house with a wet pony tail in the mornings, but I still need something to keep it smoothed down for when it dries (or if I do a blowout on occasion), especially in humid weather. Enter this product. I’ve tried many anti-frizz products, and this one has been my favorite so far. The Skin Deep database references an “old/2010 formulation” ranking, but honestly the ingredients still look the same to me, and so I’ll link to its score which was a 3.
Elemental Herbs All Good Lips Organic Lip Balm in Original – [**ordered online**] I LOVE this lip balm. That’s all there really is to say about it. Doesn’t get gross at all like so many do, and scores a 1 on the Skin Deep database. I now order online, but I originally found it in my local Whole Foods (where it is slightly more expensive). They have a lip balm with a higher SPF (their website says original is SPF 12) which I plan to try this summer.
Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Red Dahlia – I wear very minimal makeup on a daily basis (eyeliner, mascara, a bit of cheek stain and some BB cream). I am very fair with dark (but increasingly grey) hair and so can look washed out a lot of times or too heavily made up. The balance is hard to strike when I want to punch up my lips. But this color, which is a lovely deep but sheer red/burgundy, is a good go-to lip color for not looking too made up for the produce aisle, yet enough to seem like I tried on a casual date night out. Scores a 5 so not totally terrible (but seriously, cosmetics companies…why do my lips need to have fragrance?!)
Essie Nail Polish – OK, I don’t know about you, but I am pretty excited that most pharmacies now carry Essie nail polish. It’s one of my guilty pleasures and right now I’m favoring Big Spender on my toes, but will soon branch out to some blues for the summer time (I had Avenue Maintain in heavy rotation in 2013). I don’t wear it on my hands during the spring/summer months (gardening really makes it impossible to keep a decent set of nails), but I do paint my toes pretty much all year. This color is not ranked individually on the Skin Deep database, but the colors they do list range from 4-6. I mean, it’s nail polish so obviously not totally guilt-free from an environmental standpoint, but considering the other tradeoffs I make in my daily life, I am able to live with it.
What about you? Any fun finds in the pharmacy?
Copyright (c) 2014 Kristen M. Ploetz
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