Sporting Event? Yes, Please!

Sporting event? Yes, please!

A friend texted me last night, “Crazy invite–but I’m asking!” After that, she proceeded to invite me to join her when she goes to an upcoming high school basketball game.

I don’t know why she thought it was a crazy invitation. I guess for lots of people it would be, but anyone who knows me knows I love being a spectator at most sporting events. Give me a basketball game, soccer game, lacrosse game, baseball game, football game, hockey game, volleyball game, rodeo, tennis match, polo…any kind of sporting event, and I’m game! Pun intended. I love the spirit of competition. I love seeing people do things I can’t do. I simply love sports.

Of course, I was quick to respond, “I will go!” So tonight, we are going to a high school basketball game. Apparently, she has intended to see a friend’s son play for years, but has never made it to a game, and he will soon be graduating. He will soon be playing his last high school basketball game. We are going, and I’m excited about it!

Our daughter graduated from high school last year, so I haven’t had much reason or opportunity to attend high school sporting events since she left for college in August. As much as I love going, I have only been to one football game, a girls volleyball game, and a few soccer games. I’m excited.

All this is my long way of reminding my friends that I’m always up for sporting events…at any level of almost any sport. If any of my friends need someone to go with them, I’m their girl! Just call or text, and I’m there!

My parents were sports fanatics. I remember being in the car with them as a child or young teenager, and they would see a baseball game or track meet happening at the very moment we were driving past. They didn’t want to skip it. We had to go. And that was OK, because it was almost always fun. We attended or participated in almost every sporting event for my high school teams, and in college, I went to lots of things too: football games, basketball games, and baseball games. After college, I was known to attend various baseball games, football games, and track and field competitions all over the country…just for fun.

Some people love concerts. I like concerts, but I’m picky about which artists I’m willing to drop a dollar on. I need to know almost every song someone sings to be willing to spend money seeing them, so I don’t go to a lot of concerts. Whereas, I have friends who will go to just about any concert in town. It’s just personality differences, I suppose. Some of those same friends don’t know the difference between a quarterback and cornerback. They don’t know where right field is or where left field is. They don’t know the difference between a layup and a jump shot. They certainly don’t know what an alley-oop is. Ask them about the Holy Roller Play and the Immaculate Reception, and you’re likely to get a blank stare. Corner kick? They have no idea. That’s OK. It’s not their thing. Ask me to sing along all the words to a Coldplay song, and you’ll get the same blank stare, even though I once waited for my car at the valet stand outside a restaurant with Chris Martin…but that’s a story for another day.

We are fortunate in Charlotte to have lots of sports teams and lots of different sporting events to support. Call me if you need a sidekick.

Sports teams to support in Charlotte

UNCC Athletics: https://charlotte49ers.com/

Charlotte Football Club (Soccer): https://www.charlottefootballclub.com/

Charlotte Checkers Hockey: https://charlottecheckers.com/

Carolina Panthers Football: https://www.panthers.com/

Charlotte Knights Baseball: https://www.milb.com/charlotte-knights

Queens University Athletics: https://queensathletics.com/index.aspx

Charlotte Bootleggers Box Lacrosse: https://pbla.com/teams/charlotte-bootleggers/

Since Charlotte is the home of NASCAR, there are all kinds of auto racing venues nearby. Click here to see a list of racetracks and events.

There are lots more. It would be impossible for me to remember all of them, but off the top of my head, there are lots of high school sports events to attend. Check athletics calendars for different schools in the area.

She’s Returning to College

She’s returning to college.

Our daughter is returning to college for the second semester of her freshman year. In just 36 hours, our blissful month of having her under our roof will end. She and my husband will load up her car and start the 450 mile drive back to her university. She will drop him off at the airport before she goes to her dorm. He will fly home…without her.

And our house will be eerily quiet…again. It will be as quiet as it has been for the past few months, since we dropped her off in August. That dorm move-in is a distant memory now. Remember all the planning? Remember all the boxes of dorm supplies and decor stacked up in my foyer? I can hardly remember it now.

She survived first semester. With medical emergencies, the flu, late nights, lots of fun, lots of new friends…she survived. Not only did she survive, she thrived. Our girl was made for the big college atmosphere. It’s her happy place, for the most part. Don’t get me wrong; there were occasional tears. If you have a child leaving for college next fall, just know there will be tears. Sometimes they just have to get through the tears to get to the good stuff. I have told our daughter that in many late night phone conversations. If we didn’t have the bad, we wouldn’t appreciate the good. It’s absolutely true. The good seems so much better after you experience the bad. If your child calls you crying from college, remind them and yourself of that.

I will be having to remind myself of that over the next few weeks, as we adjust to a quiet house again.

Our house has felt like our house again for the past month, while our girl has been home. We had her friends in and out of the house at all hours. Many times, I was up at 2am, making grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for a gaggle of friends. I’m not complaining; I loved every minute of it. Some nights, I was picking her up from a friend’s house or a party in the wee hours of the morning. After the murders at the University of Idaho, I wasn’t real keen on her taking an Uber. That horrible crime was a reminder that a background check is just a check of what someone hasn’t been caught doing or hasn’t done yet. It’s scary to think young girls all over the country hop into the car with strangers all the time, right? So while our daughter was in Charlotte, I was her personal Uber driver if she needed me. *Say a prayer for the families of those University of Idaho students.*

Did my husband love the late nights? No. It drives him crazy to have to stay up past midnight. He leads a very structured life, and if the timing gets messed up, he’s not happy. I’m a total vampire who flies by the seat of my pants, so in my world, I love the chaos. I love spontaneity. I love getting in the car at 1:30am to pick up our daughter and friends to bring them back to our house. I love standing in the kitchen, in my pajamas and robe, preparing food for them after they get here. And I’m going to miss it.

Will we get to bed at a reasonable hour every night? Yes. Will the amount of laundry I have to do decrease exponentially? Yes. But honestly, I will miss the extra laundry. I will miss watching the clock as we wait for her to come home. I will miss the late night talks in her room. I will miss watching football games with her.

I will miss her.

Thank God we have some vacations coming up soon, so we won’t be in this quiet house. Before we know it, she will come home for a visit. If she doesn’t, chances are I will hop on a plane and go see her one weekend soon…just because I miss her. She’ll need a Mama hug, and I’ll need to see her face to make sure she’s OK.

I keep reminding myself that in just four short months, she will be home for summer. We will take mother/daughter trips again. She will likely want to visit friends in different cities, and that’s OK too. We will just be happy to have her here when we can. Just having that to look forward to will keep us going. Well, that and some fun trips.

Meet us in the Bahamas, but bring your own snorkel gear!

McDonald’s is My Kind of Place

McDonald’s is my kind of place.

I was born in the late 1960s, so most of my childhood was in the 1970s. If yours was too, you likely loved McDonald’s. From the time I was a year old until I was seven, I lived in a little town in Alabama that didn’t have McDonald’s. We had a local hamburger drive-in that was really good, but it wasn’t McDonald’s. We even had a Dairy Queen…not McDonald’s. Eventually, we got a Jack’s, a hamburger place based in Birmingham, Alabama, but we still didn’t have McDonald’s when I moved away. We often went to Pensacola or Mobile for doctor appointments or to shop, so we had McDonald’s then, and it was a treat! I’m not kidding…a treat we could hardly wait to get! Those hamburgers! Those fries! Those chocolate shakes!

When I was seven, I moved with my family to the Mobile area, and we got McDonald’s all the time, because McDonald’s was plentiful in Mobile…I mostly remember the two on Government Street, and the one near the University of South Alabama on Old Shell Road. As kids, we even went to birthday parties at McDonald’s, and those were the best birthday parties! When I was eight years old, they even opened a McDonald’s in Bel Air Mall…a big, huge deal, because that whole wing of the mall started smelling like McDonald’s. To kids back then, McDonald’s was a little slice of Heaven.

One night last week, I craved McDonald’s. It happens occasionally. McDonald’s crosses my mind, and I simply have to have it. That night, I hopped in the car and drove to the nearest McDonald’s, got in the drive-thru line, and placed my order: hamburger, large fries, and a large Diet Coke. The service was quick, and I didn’t even make it out of the parking lot before I started gobbling up the feast from the paper bag. That first bite smelled and tasted like childhood happiness. I can’t explain it, but as soon as I unwrapped that burger, I felt like I was a kid again. And the fries? Well, it doesn’t get better than hot McDonald’s fries. I have known that my whole life.

If you’re anywhere near my age, chances are you have some McDonald’s memories. Maybe you went to birthday parties there. Maybe you ate there after every high school home football game (like I did). Maybe you remember the aroma of those hamburgers and French fries. Maybe you remember the McDonaldland characters and can identify all of them! Maybe you went there with high school friends or stopped there for breakfast on the way to school in the morning.

Sadly, the latest generations don’t seem to appreciate McDonald’s like we did. However, our daughter might be one of the exceptions. She loved McDonald’s Happy Meals as a kid. I took her to McDonald’s because I liked it, so she learned to like it too. Sometimes, we met friends there, so the kids could play in the indoor play area. Sometimes, we went to the two-story McDonald’s in South Park in Charlotte. My daughter, when she was a little girl, called it the “upstairs McDonald’s.” But I think a lot of kids didn’t have the joyful McDonald’s experience because society became health conscious and frowned upon it. Too bad, because kids missed out on that little indulgence. McDonald’s is supposed to be fun, and frankly, I think it’s OK in moderation. Do I want my daughter eating there all the time? No, and she doesn’t. But if she wants some fries from there once or twice a month…enjoy!

Fortunately, my daughter has a friend who told me about the McDonald’s App. If you have any appreciation for McDonald’s and don’t have the app, you’re leaving money on the table! Through the app, you can earn points to use toward future purchases, but you have immediate access to special deals like Free Fry Fridays, BOGO offers, and more! Seriously, if all you like about McDonald’s is their perfectly fizzy sodas, get the app now!

Right now, they have a BOGO order on breakfast sandwiches. They also have percentage off offers on different sandwiches, meals, and beverages. Seriously, if you like their coffee (it’s good) you can use the app for deals on that!

So if you’d like to experience a little childhood happiness, go download the app. You’ll be glad you did, because McDonald’s is your kind of place!

Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper.

Every year, as Christmas approaches, I meet a friend at Paper Skycraper in Charlotte to find stocking stuffers and wrapping paper. It’s a tradition. We pick a day, and we know we will enjoy a leisurely lunch at Thai Taste before walking next door to Paper Skyscraper to shop ’til we drop. Seriously, I always walk out with way more than I planned to purchase.

For those who don’t know, Paper Skyscraper is on East Boulevard in the Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte. According to their website, they have been open for more than 30 years. I have been shopping there for more than 20. I moved to Charlotte in 2000, and I remember going there with a friend soon after moving here. They have lots of fun gifts and lots of quirky gifts. If you decide to go, know in advance that this is not your grandmother’s gift shop. It’s full of sexual innuendos and f-bombs…even on some of the wrapping paper! One thing is for sure, you will laugh a lot while you’re there. If you can’t get into the store, you can shop some of their items online here.

Our designated day to shop together this year was last Friday afternoon. We met at Thai Taste first. I had the Pad Thai with chicken and medium spice, and she had the green curry dish. (I seriously considered ordering the curry dish to take home for dinner. It looked that good.) We had just ordered when another friend called us, and we immediately asked her to join us. She was only about five minutes away, so it worked out perfectly, and our duo became a trio! We enjoyed a lunch and lots of laughs before strolling over to Paper Skyscraper. You can see more about Thai Taste here.

As soon as we walked into Paper Skyscraper, I saw one of the light-up ceramic Christmas trees we all had in the 1970s. I wanted it, but I resisted the urge to purchase it. I didn’t even check the price, because I knew if I gave it too much attention, I would have to have it.

My friends made their way to the area full of fun gifts in the side room, while I made my way first to the wrapping paper. I am obsessed with their wrapping paper, and like a child, I didn’t want someone to walk away with some paper I might want. I found lots of lovely paper. I’m not a wrapping paper snob, but I do like quality paper. I always know I can find it at Paper Skyscraper. They have lovely rolls of Christmas paper and some funny ones too. Plus, they have sheets of beautiful wrapping paper made from recycled materials. When I say it’s beautiful, I mean it’s beautiful. I picked up a few rolls of paper and put them in my hand basket. I picked eight or ten sheets of recycled wrap and put that in my hand basket, and I made my way to the other side of the store to meet my friends. What I hadn’t considered was that, with all those rolls of paper sticking out of my basket, I was likely to knock things off every rack along the way…and I did. Fortunately, I didn’t break anything. After rearranging the basket, so I didn’t knock down anything else, I was able to continue shopping with my friends, who had been smarter than I was and waited till the end to get their wrapping paper. After an hour or so of shopping, we all left with lots of stocking stuffers, gifts for friends and neighbors, and wrapping paper.

I now have a lovely assortment of wrapping paper and have been wrapping gifts for the last couple of days. I love wrapping gifts. It’s very relaxing. Aside from the Paper Skyscraper wrapping paper, I also have some I ordered from Zazzle. Our daughter will be quite surprised when she sees it, and I’m sure she will think I’m totally crazy. It’s personalized wrapping paper with family photos on it. You can order it from Zazzle here. It can add a little fun to your gifts! I have wrapped lots of gifts, and they are piling up in the keeping room off my kitchen.

If we would only get our Christmas tree up, I would have somewhere to put them!

***Also, see great wrapping paper at the following retail stores in Charlotte:

The Buttercup, 1035 Providence Rd

Swoozie’s, 4722 Sharon Rd Ste G

Paper Twist, 2902 Selwyn Ave, Ste A

Thanksgiving 2022

Thanksgiving 2022

It’s our first Thanksgiving as empty nesters! We made it to Thanksgiving! Actually, we have thoroughly enjoyed our empty nester status, but you know we were thrilled our baby girl could come home for a whole week! We are counting down to her Christmas break (starts December 9), when she will be out of school for a whole month! I don’t dare say we will see her for a whole month, because I’m sure she will want to visit with friends…and we are cool with that!

But here we are, having survived most of the first semester. After Thanksgiving, she just goes back to school for “dead week” and finals week before returning for the next break. Here’s where I should tell you, contrary to what some some moms say on the Facebook college parent pages, “dead week” does not mean they walk around looking like “the walking dead” or “zombies.” Well, at her university that’s not what it means; I can’t speak for others. Some parents have said on the parents page, “They study so hard that they look like zombies.” For 95% of the students, I’m saying that is not true. What it actually means…and share this with your friends…is that professors cannot issue new assignments during the “dead week” before finals, and they cannot have tests during that week either. Some professors might opt to have class, and some might not. Some have review sessions, and some do not. Some give extra credit for attending that week, and others do not. The week is meant to be a study week.

I can assure you that when I was at the same university as my daughter in the 1980s, I did not walk around looking like a zombie during dead week. No way. Did I use my time wisely and study all week? I’d like to say I did. Oh, who am I kidding?!?! No way! I had lots of fun during dead week and started studying for finals at the end of the week. I was even known to go out during finals week. [Gasp!] If I looked like the walking dead during dead week, it had nothing to do with studying too hard. If I looked like a zombie that week, it was because I had too much fun the night before. Not gonna lie. Don’t get me wrong. I studied. I just studied efficiently. I kept up in my classes. I met with professors when I didn’t understand a concept. I was a good student. OK, I was a pretty good student. But I got the job done, and I had a great work/life balance. I didn’t work all the time, and I didn’t play all the time. Fortunately, I had parents who understood the importance of enjoying college life, and as long as I “took care of business,” I could play all I wanted. And I did.

Now our daughter is trying to have a work/life balance her freshman year of college, and at Thanksgiving 2022, we are thankful she seems to be thriving. It’s hard to believe just six months ago, she was feeling a little unsure about her decision. She was thinking of another school she had considered. She was thinking she had made a mistake in choosing her university. She had just graduated and was entering the summer before college. It was a painful time in our household…lots of tears. I took her to orientation in June, and she was a mess. We got through it when I promised her she could transfer at any time if she didn’t like the university. However, I had no doubt in my mind that she would like it. I think she just needed to know she had options. Soon after school started, I received numerous texts saying, “I love it here!” Transferring is never discussed. We survived the summer of ambivalence, and here we are now…almost through the first semester!

And that, my friends, is what I’m celebrating this Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for my daughter’s happiness at her college home. We relax a little knowing she is happy. Is every day perfect? No. Does she have some stress with studies? Some. But is she making memories that will last as lifetime, just like I did? You bet! This year, we will have or own little Thanksgiving celebration at home. We had considered going out but decided to stay in and enjoy the food that is stacked in our refrigerator. I’m hoping friends and neighbors will stop by later in the day, when we are enjoying cocktails on the patio by the fire!

Happy Thanksgiving! And if, like me, you’d like to relive the WKRP in Cincinnati Turkey Drop, click here. It’s an all-time favorite that I must watch at least once every Thanksgiving season. “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”

Back Home Ballers

Back Home Ballers

When I was growing up, there were young people in and out of our house all the time. Likewise, when our daughter was growing up, we had young people in and out of our house all the time. And then, this past August, she went to college, and our house became a lot quieter. She came home once in September and once a few weeks ago, and we got to see one or two of her friends, but now that Thanksgiving is upon us, they’re all home from college, and there is so much activity! It has been like a revolving door of friends since she got home, and we couldn’t be happier! If you have seen the SNL video titled Back Home Ballers, you know where I stole my title. If you’re not familiar with it, you can see it here. And if you’re a parent of a college student, you get it. Your husband is probably the “valet,” carrying bags up and down the stairs. At our house, I’m the mom who just went to Costco (or Publix, in my case) in anticipation of the college student’s arrival…and hopefully, there are lots of friends dropping in too! And the students themselves? Well, they are just enjoying every minute of the attention and preferential treatment.

I remember my friend, Angela, visiting me at my mother’s house when I was in my forties. I had gone down to Alabama to visit with Mother for a few days, and lucky for me, Angela lived nearby. One particular trip, Angela came over, and we were playing “Heads Up” with our smartphones, laughing and poking fun at each other. We talked and laughed and talked and laughed some more. I remember Mother saying, “Having y’all together here makes me happy. Y’all bring fun energy into my house.” I heard her, but I didn’t fully understand what she was saying.

Now I get it.

Now I understand what mother was feeling. I feel energized with all these friends of our daughter in and out of the house. I’ve been to the grocery store four times in anticipation of their visits. Normally, I do not enjoy the grocery store, but this week, I have enjoyed every minute of it…practically skipping and dancing down the aisles! I have tried to purchase all their favorite comfort foods, because I want them to feel comfortable and a little nostalgic. We have a few more days before they all head back to college, so I hope to prepare a few more meals, snacks, and desserts before they leave. My refrigerator is still bursting at the seams, so they need to come over as often as possible to eat all that food! The benefit for me? While they hang out in my kitchen, laughing and talking, I absorb their fun, positive energy, and I get to laugh a lot! Good times.

Last night, in fact, a few friends were here, and we stayed up well into the night laughing and talking…even crying some too, but it was good crying. I have watched these young people grow up! Obviously, I have known my daughter her whole life, but I’ve known most of her friends since they were five or even before that! We go way back…lots of history there. Now they have new lives at their universities spread across the country, so there was lots to cover there too.

I have even been able to drive my daughter and some of her friends to the homes of other friends…and even pick them up late at night! Many of these college students are home without their cars, because they have to fly back and forth to their universities. Our daughter doesn’t have her car here, so I almost feel like I used to feel before she was old enough to drive! Yes, it was aggravating sometimes then, but now I’m the mom driving late at night with a big smile on my face! I’m just so happy! That is my life right now! It’s real, y’all.

And you know what? I’m loving every minute and trying to lock things into my long term memory!

*Feature photo from NBC’s SNL* I wish I had thought to get our daughter and a group of her friends to pose like this!

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This,Too, Shall Pass

This, too, shall pass.

It is a reminder that we are likely to move beyond problems or things that bother us…that the only constant is change. It was a phrase my mother lived by. Since her passing, one of her dear friends (who is also my friend) has offered up this gentle reminder to me on a regular basis, always adding my mother’s initials behind it or saying “a wise person once told me…”

It is meaningful throughout life, but I find it is especially meaningful in dealing with my college-age daughter and her friends. Sometimes, things that happen in their lives seem like a big deal to them, but we, as older, more experienced adults, know things will get better, and the current situation will be long forgotten.

Those four words, “This, too, shall pass,” can be applied in lots of different instances…especially short-term annoyances…most illnesses, most disagreements, homesickness, heartbreak, or an unexpected difficult setback…and many more.

I went online to do a little research on the saying and found that Abraham Lincoln used a longer version of it in a speech at the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee before he was elected President of the United States. According to abrahamlincolnonline.org, he recounted a tale of an Eastern monarch:

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

I especially love Lincoln’s observation…”How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction.”

Somewhere along the way, it became, “This, too, shall pass.” Words to live by, I suppose. Throughout my own life, because I heard it from my mother, and because I have the good fortune of still hearing it from her friend, I have found comfort in those four words. Or sometimes, I have been reminded to check myself! When my daughter was an infant and would not nap, I was exhausted all the time. Many times, I had to remind myself, “This, too, shall pass.” But even in good times, when she was snuggled up to me as an infant, I also had to remind myself that she wouldn’t want to do that forever. It helped me live in the moment.

Even as we enjoyed the glow of our home after our daughter arrived home for the Thanksgiving break yesterday, I had to remind myself that the moment would pass. She was excited to be home. She was excited to eat her favorite foods. She was excited to talk with us. We are still enjoying every moment, but tomorrow, she is going to visit a friend at another university for a couple of days before coming home for a few days and then, returning to her own university. This great joy we are experiencing is short-lived. It is a reminder to live in the moment!

The sadness we will experience after she leaves? Well, that will pass too, as soon as she calls us to share a funny story from school. We will still miss her, of course, but we will rejoice in her happiness, just as we suffer in her pain…like all good parents. Our daughter is a piece of our hearts living outside our bodies…we tend to feel what she feels. Its true empathy. I truly believe my own empathy grew after having my daughter…not just for her, but for others. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Now, I find myself sharing those words of wisdom with my daughter on a regular basis. Spending extra time studying for a difficult class? This, too, shall pass. Homesickness? This, too, shall pass. Freshman joy? This, too, shall pass. (Live in the moment.) Heartbreak? This, too, shall pass. Extreme sadness or happiness? This, too, shall pass. Even confusion about her own emotions…this, too, shall pass.

The only constant is change.

Personally, I tell myself “this, too, shall pass” on a regular basis. Even after each of my parents died, I knew the grief would never go away, but the immediate feelings of hopelessness would pass. The loneliness would pass. Eventually, good memories would take over. And I was right.

As the holidays approach, I find it especially meaningful. There are lots of emotions that accompany this time of year, not just for me, but for lots of people. I feel a sense of loss, because my parents are no longer here, and I lost my mother during the holidays. I also feel a sense of joy, knowing we will have our daughter under our roof for a while. Enjoy the good times as much as possible, because the high is temporary. Weather the bad ones…hang in there long enough, they will pass too.

Both emotions are temporary…

Even though she has been gone for five years, my mother’s four words still resonate in my mind, “This, too, shall pass.” They even helped me when I was deep in grief after she passed. Thankful for a sweet mom who shared her wisdom with me.

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I’m Happy to Be 55

I’m happy to be 55.

I have been 55 since May, so no, I’m not celebrating a birthday. Well, maybe I am…I try to celebrate every day, to some extent. I’m having a glass of bubbly as I type…in the middle of the day, with lunch…that counts as a celebration, right?

And as I sit in a restaurant in Charlotte, awaiting the arrival of my friend, I eavesdrop and type. Yes, I will admit I’m eavesdropping. It was totally accidental at first, but then I realized I am likely hearing what I sounded like 16 or 17 years ago.

At the next table are three lovely women, all of whom clearly have young children at home. I know this, because they are talking about breastfeeding, playgroups, diapers, and toddlers. Seriously, listening to them, I’m thinking of what I would have sounded like at lunch or playgroup with my friends, Wendy, Jenn, Lauren, Neill, Suzanne, Kris, Myndi, and Jennifer back in the day. Same stuff, different moms. Time marches on.

And as I listen to them, I remember what fun times we had as moms of young children. Sure, we were exhausted most of the time. We dealt with various kids’ illnesses…stomach bugs, colds, flu, other viruses and bacterial infections, like strep throat on my daughter’s 4th birthday. But we, the moms, helped each other. We had great fun at each other’s homes, swimming pools, parties, playgrounds. We had lots of fun every time we gathered.

These days, our group of moms is older and fewer in number. Wendy passed away 4 1/2 years ago, breaking all our hearts. Lauren, Suzanne. Myndi, and Jennifer moved away but still stay in touch. The rest of us…me, Jenn, Kris, and Neill…well, we get together for dinner sans kids now! We always gather on Wendy’s birthday and the anniversary of her passing…we want to keep her memory alive. Sometimes, we plan a dinner for ourselves for no reason. And earlier this year, when Wendy’s kids were in town, we even managed to get a bunch of the kids together. But usually, it’s just the four moms gathering for dinner…and drinks! Because we can drink now without worrying that it will affect breast milk! We don’t have to worry that we will have to pick up kids somewhere, because most of them have gone off to college!

When we had little kids, we loved life. As I mentioned, we were exhausted. Oh, we were tired. But we were happy. We made great memories for our kids and ourselves, and we made some fantastic, lifelong friends. It was a great time of life.

But as I listen to the sweet moms at the table next to me, I am especially thankful that I am 55. I am thankful that my daughter and the children of my friends are adults…well, they’re adults living on our dime, but they can vote! I am thankful for all those years of fun with them at playgrounds, amusement parks, Wiggles shows, and more. I am thankful for the times my daughter thought I was the smartest, most beautiful mom on the planet.

Unfortunately, she no longer thinks I am the smartest, most beautiful mom on the planet. But she does think I’m reasonable. She knows I’m seasoned. She knows I give good advice. And she knows, most of all, that I love her dearly.

I’m 55, and our daughter is 19. It seems that I’ve always thought that, no matter what age we are, we think we are the perfect ages. So yes, I am smiling as I eavesdrop on the table next to me, but mostly I’m smiling that we have made it this far. I am thankful for every single day and every lesson we have learned along the way. I’m thankful for my “empty nester” status. I’m thankful to have a daughter who is happy in college. I’m happy I don’t have to wait for school holidays to go on vacation. Im thankful for all the knowledge I have acquired along the way. And I’m happy my daughter is coming home in a week for Thanksgiving break! And I hope we, meaning all the ladies like me who are 55, have lots more days, more fun, and more lessons ahead of us.

I’m thankful for those ladies at the next table, for making me realize how grateful I am for this stage of life.

Thank God I’m 55!

Holiday Gift #3 for 2022: Pajamas

Holiday gift #3 for 2022: pajamas.

Stick with me.These are not the pajamas your grandma gave you.

We get excited about pajamas at our house. Why? Because if we’re home and finished with everything we have to do for the day, we are in pajamas. Call me crazy, but when I am home, I like to be as comfortable as possible. If I get home at 4:00pm, and I know I won’t be going out again, I put on my pajamas. So don’t be surprised if you ring my doorbell at 5:30pm and I open the door wearing PJs.

Because I think lots of Americans spend lots of time in pajamas, I’m listing pajamas as my #3 holiday gift for 2022. I am all in with three brands: Bedhead, Roller Rabbit, and Vineyard Vines.

My personal favorite? Bedhead Pajamas.

I have been wearing Bedhead Pajamas for 20 years. Back when I first discovered them through a friend’s shop, I purchased poplin and flannel pajamas, but Bedhead seems to have evolved. They now sell wonderfully supple, soft, jersey-knit pajamas, and I can’t get enough of them. And they have PJs for the whole family! Something else great about them? On their website, they have lots of sale items, and I take full advantage of that. Don’t get me wrong; they are absolutely worth the full price, which ranges from $98 to $120 for men and women’s PJs. If you opt to purchase their latest and greatest styles/prints, you will be happy to pay the full price, because these PJs retain their shape and softness, and they are made to last.

But if you want to give some quality pajama gifts this holiday season without paying full price, check out their sales on the website, where you will find women’s and men’s PJs starting at just $39! My college-age daughter loves shorty pajamas, and several of their shorty sets are priced at $49. I should add they are all super cute too! Personally, I prefer their classic stretch jersey sleepshirts, some of which are offered for $39 on their sale page! I have three of them already, but I will be receiving some more for Christmas this year. In fact, they have already been purchased and wrapped…just for me! After I had my gallbladder removed earlier this year, I lived in my Bedhead PJs for several days. When friends visited after my surgery, I didn’t mind greeting them in my Bedhead PJs, because frankly, they are cuter than lots of my normal clothes!

And for men, the pricing is similar for regularly-priced sets and for sale-priced sets! They even offer PJs for kids, with normal priced items in the $40-$50 range, and sale-priced items starting at just $11!

You can see the Bedhead website here.

But I also recommend Roller Rabbit PJs. They also offer comfortable, well-made pajamas, and I have lots of friends who are big Roller Rabbit fans. My daughter loves their shorty sets too. And just like Bedhead, Roller Rabbit offers PJs for the whole family, priced in the same general range as Bedhead. My only issue with Roller Rabbit over the years has been availability. They are so popular that it can be difficult to find what you want in the sizes you want. It might just be that I don’t check the website often enough, but today, I had difficulty finding any shorty PJs in my daughter’s size. But if you can find the size you want, you can know they will be a hit with the gift recipient! I’d venture to say most of my daughter’s high school and college friends have Roller Rabbit PJs.

You can see the Roller Rabbit website here.

And last, but certainly not least, I recommend Vineyard Vines pajamas and loungewear. We were introduced to the brand’s PJ and loungewear offerings a few years ago by a friend who gave our daughter some of their lounge pants for Christmas. They were cute and comfy, and we were sold immediately! In fact, right after she received those, I had to go out and purchase a couple more pairs, so she could wear them every night! After that, I got some for me and some for my husband, and we still love them! We wear them as PJs but also as loungewear inside the house and outside when we are sitting by the firepit in the evening. Again, just like Bedhead and Roller Rabbit, they are well-made, comfortable, and they are offered in great patterns/prints.

You can see the Vineyard Vines pajamas and loungewear offerings at their website here.

It’s a safe bet that pajamas and loungewear from any of these brands will make the folks on your Christmas list happy this year! Keep in mind that Christmas is 6 1/2 weeks from the date of publication (Nov 8). Get busy shopping for the best selection!

***Feature photo from BedheadPJs.com***

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Is Your College Student Wearing Dirty Clothes?

Is your college student wearing dirty clothes?

Mine is not. I know this, because she has worked out an arrangement with a friend who does her laundry. “You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.”

Before you get all judgy and start lecturing me on how my daughter should be spending her spare time in a laundry facility, waiting for her clothes to wash and dry, let me remind you that I could have paid a laundry service to do her laundry. Instead, another student is benefitting from the fact that my daughter doesn’t have a personal washer and dryer. And the friend? Well, as part of the bargain, my daughter takes her friend to run errands weekly, since the friend doesn’t have a car. It all works out, and they are both happy.

Remember when we were in college? Lots of us did jobs for extra cash. I typed papers for friends. I had a word processor, and they knew I could type a paper in no time, thanks to my high school typing teacher, Mrs. Ruby Lewis. She taught me well, and I put that skill to work in college. I didn’t get paid in cash, though. I got paid in food, beer, Icees…whatever I needed or wanted at the time. So my friend, Angela, might have brought a paper to me and said, “I need this 10-page paper by tomorrow morning at 8:00. Can you make that happen?” We would discuss the terms, and I would start typing. Angela would likely run to the Corner Store (it was actually called that) and buy me an Icee for me to drink while I worked…plus any snacks or school supplies I requested. When we went out later, she probably bought my dinner and drinks for the night. No cash exchanged hands. She scratched my back, and I scratched hers.

I wish I could have found someone who was willing to do my laundry back then. But I didn’t do my own laundry in college either. I took it to the local Fluff and Fold, which was actually a laundry facility where I paid a nice lady to wash/dry/fold my clothes for me. They charged by the pound, and I didn’t mind paying whatever I had to pay. I needed clean clothes. It worked out nicely for the Fluff and Fold, and it worked out nicely for me.

Recently, on a college parents page, a mom posted, “Can someone recommend a cleaning lady or service to clean my son’s dorm room and bathroom?” You would have thought she was trying to hire a hitman! The judgy moms came out of the woodwork and totally attacked her. I didn’t. I get it. I have even told my daughter it’s fine to pay someone to clean her bathroom if someone needs some extra spending money. I pay someone to clean my house! What’s the difference?!? Isn’t life about finding ways to make things happen? In fact, to the mom on the parents’ page, I said just that. “I think it is absolutely fine to pay someone to clean your college student’s room. I pay someone to clean my house, so why would I hesitate to encourage my daughter to do the same?!?” It’s helping the economy and helping someone else, right? What’s the difference in paying someone to clean your room or type your paper? No one ever had issues with paying someone to type a paper for them! No one has issues with paying someone to walk their dog! No one has issues with paying someone wash a car!

So, lucky me. I know my daughter is wearing clean clothes. She isn’t having to turn her clothes inside out to keep wearing them for multiple days. She isn’t having to search through the dirty clothes in her laundry bag to decide what’s the least dirty so she can wear it to class. She definitely has clean clothes. Don’t get me wrong. She might opt to wear the same sweatshirt two or three days in a row, but that’s a choice, because I know she always has something clean she can wear.

And you know what else? She even has clean sheets! Can you say the same about your college student? If you’re not sure about that, it might be a good idea for your college student to find a friend who can do a bartering system to get his/her laundry done. Or maybe it’s your child who needs to be driven around to do errands? If so, maybe he/she offers to do someone’s laundry in exchange for a drive to do weekly errands…or a ride to the airport…or whatever.

I know my daughter has taken several friends to the airport an hour away. That’s a good opportunity for her to work out a deal! Maybe she needs someone to bake some cookies for her to take to an event? Or maybe she needs a dress hemmed? “I’ll take you to the airport if you will hem my dress for me next week.”

And despite what the judgy moms of the world think, being able to strike a deal that benefits both people is what makes the world go around! I love when I hear college students are getting creative to get things done! I take no issue with the person who wants to pay someone to clean a dorm room. My own parents thought it was hilarious that I typed papers in exchange for Icees, food, and beer back in the 1980s! I was quite the enterprising young college girl!

Let me know if you need me to type anything for you…especially if you are a good cook. Will type for food.

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