Am I What My Parents Expected?

We spent the afternoon celebrating my Dad’s birthday yesterday and while my husband and I grilled dinner and we all enjoyed a few beers, I thought to myself; Is that what my Dad pictured when they brought their little girl home from the hospital?

The Philadelphia Flyers advanced to their second series in the playoffs and as we yelled and threw ourselves out of our chairs with rants aimed at the TV, I couldn’t help but think about his expectations. Did he intend to have a sports-loving daughter, who can yell passionately (and at times like a sailor) at hockey players that will never be listening? Did he think about having weekly hangouts with her at the local brewery, where they’d hang out like pals and try the new nitro on tap?

Probably not.

But I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl and this was bound to happen. Having profound love and respect for my parents, as well as my heritage, I think I’ve adapted so many things from my Mom and my Dad. I just think no one expected the outcome to be such a 50/50 split. I go to tea rooms with my Mom and eat finger sandwiches but ended up marrying a man that I’ve taught the fundamentals of sports to. I know it’s trendy and annoying to hear a girl say they are a “guy’s girl” or “one of the boys”. I used to say that. I don’t know what I am now, except that I’m Shannon. I love sports, beer and rock as much as (some times more than) any guys I know. I also love cheesy romance books or movies.

Sometimes being a mix of what society considers being boyish and girlish can be frustrating though. I’ll never look like the girls who look like they stepped out of a salon or a Mac store because I’ll always be a little rough around the edges. 
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What Did You Want to Be When You Were Five?

The beginning of my short ballet career.

Being five was great.  Everything in the world was possible and no one laughed at your dreams, well, maybe a little but hopefully more of a giggle than a snide snicker.  I wanted to be a hairdresser and also a ballerina.  I also wanted six kids, three boys and three girls and have a house like the Brady Bunch.  Oddly enough, we eventually moved into a neighborhood with Brady Bunch style ranch houses that I giggle at whenever I see them.

My poor Mom used to let me play with her hair relentlessly and I did so in a tutu.  My Gram got me a pink tutu for Christmas when I was three and I crammed my skinny but tall figure into that thing for years until the seams finally prevented me from donning the garb.  It might have been life’s way of saying, “give up kid, you’re clearly too clumsy to be a ballerina, time to pack this thing away”.  I was probably ten.  The netting was so incredibly scratchy and nothing about this outfit was soft or comfortable like the ones I see little girls wear today.  I’m not bitter, I’m just saying I might have succeeded in a more comfortable tutu.  No?  Did I stretch the excuse too far?

I did take ballet when I was about seven.  It lasted for a few months or however long a standard class session is.  It was really hard for me because I’m uncoordinated and I had my Dad’s rhythm.  I felt like it would be so easy, after all, I’d already mastered all the dance moves from Dirty Dancing in my living room.  How hard could a few little ballerina moves be?  Apparently hard; for me anyway.  The class was tied in with tap dancing and that seemed like a plausible career too because I’d seen Gregory Hines do it on Sesame Street and it looked easy.  The only place that wasn’t carpeted in our house was our tiny 10×10 kitchen and since you can’t wear your tap shoes on concrete (or so I was told) so I didn’t get much practice time outside either.

I’m not too sure why I never pursued hairstyling except that maybe doing my own hair didn’t turn out too well and that phase just died out.  I did dye my own hair and sometimes chop at it during my teenage years, but that was because I couldn’t afford to get it done anywhere but my bathroom.  My Mom never stopped me from playing with her hair though because she said it felt nice and I still dance in front of the TV to be goofy.  I do more of a high kick strut with a fake cane and top hat as I pass through the living room now.  My husband will usually give me a pity snicker and wait for me to move but my parents really get a kick out of it when I visit.  It seems the living room will always be my grand stage because I’m embarrassed to dance anywhere else; except at weddings after a few Jameson and cranberries.  And no, I don’t want to see the video of it afterwards, even if I look like I have full confidence; that is temporary.

What did you want to be?

Simple Things That Make Me Happy

I feel like my posts tend to alternate between longing (teetering on whiney) and dorky ideas.  I don’t do this on purpose, but maybe writing down things that bother me are effective enough that the following day I can look past them, at least temporarily, to see the beauty and pleasure in other things.

I sat here smiling as my pug and my husband snore next to me; (I mean, no honey, you don’t snore). I thought about how lucky I am to find joy in simple things. In no particular order, these are things that make me happy.  I welcome what simple things make you happy; there is always room to add to the list.

  • Tea, in a teacup with saucer and perfectly sweetened.  On a regular day, I drink tea unsweetened at work, just throwing a tea bag into the cleanest mug I have within reach.  (It just feels that way, don’t worry, I wash them.)  I’ve tried to perfect a perfect pot of tea; I can’t seem to do it like my Mom does, and so I make mine by the cup.  I go in phases with what type I’m in the mood for and lately rooibos wins.  Still, I wish I gave myself a moment to sit down and absorb just a moment of sunlight and a few minutes to drink tea each morning.  At the very least, I take a moment to think about the little sayings on my tea bags.  I started to save them at my desk because they are generally uplifting and every corporate cubicle can use random positivity.  Geez, now I sound like a hoarding Pollyanna.
  • Hot buttered toast and dipping it in hot chocolate.  Mmm.  I think I’m hungry.  Maybe I’m missing my Mom.  She’d make this for me when I was little, because her Mom did the same.  It came up in conversation before she passed that my Great-Grandmom used to get this when she was a kid from her Mom too.  I suppose it’s a traditional treat then.  The hot chocolate must be hot and so must the bread, and it should be white bread.  If you’re going to do this, you might as well go all out and use the soft white bread.  One day without wheat bread won’t kill you, but it might be the real butter that I suggest you use.  I know I’ve missed the boat to suggest this part, but it is particularly good on a colder morning. We still have some of these left.

Early morning. Though I have my favorites, Oscar prefers oatmeal.

  • Hanging clothes on the line.  Laundry chores are annoying but necessary.  I think this makes me happy because it has to be a beautiful day for this chore to be feasible, and that itself is a reason to smile. There is just something calming about pinning sheets up in a gentle breeze on a warm and sunny day.  Just don’t step in dog poo while you trek through the yard, it certainly takes away from the calming experience. Continue reading

Irish Sheep

I always just liked my photography the way it was. Not the fact that it was simple and mostly luck, but I might have felt it was cheating to alter it in any way. That being said, I had a Groupon for a large canvas that I needed to order and I need a nice piece for my new home office. I played around with an image I found that just felt so calming to me. It is of sheep.

This picture was captured while my husband drove us from the tip of Northern Ireland to Dublin, at the very end of our last trip there. We were desperately trying to beat the huge snow storm we had dodged our entire trip and this was taken just before we lost our luck at outrunning it. There is something calming about sheep; except the sheep that have the red blotches; this just seems morbid to me. I can deal with splotches of green or blue on their coats for farmer identification, but the first few times I saw splotches of red on a sheep my first reaction was
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

I realize the sun is supposed to set on Galway Bay in Ireland, but I can guarantee that these are early morning shots as we awoke in Salthill, Galway and headed north toward Connemara. Though I thought these might be terrible at the time, capturing the sun this way, I’ve grown to love these because I can almost feel how bright and crisp that morning felt as I revisit these.  The road was icy and the glare was strong, but it was tough to complain after a full Irish breakfast and a long ride to Westport ahead of us.

I love a reason to post about Ireland.

 

Notes to My Future Self about Yard Work

Today was a day of accomplishment.  With gorgeous spring weather, brought the desire to get up early and make this spring, the spring that we have a well put together backyard.  Now that I’m showered and subtle frustration has calmed, I can solidly put together some of the thoughts and tips I developed as the day progressed.  That sounds all hunky dory, doesn’t it?  But really this is the stuff that I am warning myself for the future yard work adventures.  It sounds better to put it that way than blatantly complaining.

  • Warn your husband not to laugh at you when you trip or twist your ankle when you are tired, dirty and cranky, and carrying more than a normal armload of tree branches; unless you think they’d like expletives to be thrown their way.  Also, when said expletives are cast upon your spouse, don’t be surprised that you instantly develop a crude character assessment and reputation from the elderly and nosy neighbors.
  • The way to get color on your pasty skin is not to apply heavy duty sunblock (first of all) and then not wait long enough for it to dry.  When the wind kicks up and blows fine dirt your way, it only makes you look dirty.  It just makes you look homeless and feel gritty.  Also, start standing upwind of the dirty to avoid breathing it in and being appalled later when you blow your nose and have nearly black boogies.  You’ll remember this note when your allergies kick in and after excessive nose blowing, you see your reflections and your nose is the only area of skin on your body that shows your real skin color.
  • Don’t rush.  When ripping out weeds, be sure not to grab hold of a rose branch accidentally and sliding more than a couple thorns through your delicate hands, which rips your skin apart.  Yes, I should have been wearing my gloves, but I thought I was done and then noticed a weed-ridden area.  I’ve already paid for this mistake with stinging rubbing alcohol.  Still, do not make this mistake again.

  • Along the same lines, don’t be so offended when you accidentally grab your dog’s crap while again, picking weeds in the yard.  After all, didn’t you just spend an hour spreading manure in the garden beds?  Is it really that different?  Continue reading

The Easter Bunny is Making Me Chubby

I’m also going to blame Santa, St. Patrick, Revolutionary War veterans, ok all veterans, the Pagans that started Halloween and the Pilgrims.

I realize a furry bunny did not force a chocolate one down my throat; or peeps or jelly beans.  So maybe I should blame my metabolism for failing me when it should clearly know that I like to celebrate every holiday with food; it’s the American way.  Continue reading

Can You Change the World and Have A Family?

We visited Henry Chapman Mercer’s house in Doylestown, Pennsylvania yesterday.  It is likely the most fascinating and eclectic home I’ve ever seen and it would probably take a full month of exploration to take in a majority of the details.  Henry was many things, but by trade he owned a tile factory.  It was custom work and very detailed, not a subway tile type factory.  He was also fascinated by castles and built his own house out of concrete, many pieces of furniture and windows were made of this medium as well.   It was a mix of Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine style, and paid tribute to the five languages he spoke as well as phrases Henry found worthy.  He filled in each crevice with designed tile work, art and tapestry which are representative of world history and personal tributes.  Unfortunately, we were unable to photograph the interior of the home.

Henry was single and never had any children, so his “baby” in a way was his art and his yearning for knowledge and creativity.  He was generous, innovative and “green” before that became trendy.  Some may have said he was cheap, but I say he was resourceful.  After years of travelling the world post-college, he finally achieved his aspiration to live in a castle of his own.  He started the project at 51 years old and alongside ten workers, the castle was finished in four years.

My husband and I started to contemplate a few things as we stumbled out of the place, overwhelmed and inspired.  We wondered if Mercer would have attempted and/or completed such a masterpiece had he had a wife and children.  Continue reading

A Pug’s Life

Oscar has never wanted to food or attention.  He hasn’t had a restless night, but has instead taken up a section of our queen size bed, or our couch or the backseat of our car for years.  He’s only slept on the floor by choice, in the glow of the afternoon sun for a nap.  There aren’t kids around to pull at his ears or his curly tail (although I am guilty of playing with his “arms” in a human-type way).  He has toys in each room of the house and has a huge yard to play in.  He is incredibly loved.

He also mopes around on occasion like he is owed something.  He begs for food at every occasion, relentlessly.  His comfort means that his hair is stuck on everything we own, despite the season.  He still hasn’t learned to pick up his own “business” either.  He barks at kids and neighborhood folk as if he owns the town and I’m convinced that he tries to kill us by dropping toys in dangerous places, like the middle of the stairs or near a door, out of the tub or pretty much any location where it blends in and does not appear obvious.  We call him the town terror.  He’s too smart for us and tricked me into feeding him a second helping of dinner last night.  I should have known his “feed me” dance was a little cautious, like he was testing me to see if I’d fall for it.  I did.  My husband fed him less than five minutes before.  He knew our routine and took advantage.

He has moods like we do, but it’s hard to take him seriously when his tongue doesn’t fit in his mouth all the time.  When he’s sleepy, his bulgy eyes don’t work together and sometimes he blows snot bubbles out of his nose.  We get happy about that because it means his nose is working that day and not sealed shut.  He is the oddest animal I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and loving.

This is what I will see before I close my eyes tonight.  He is, Oscar the Dog.  And I love him like he was my kid.

Top Annoying Things This Month

In an attempt to be less serious this evening, here is a simple list of things that are so minor they shouldn’t even be mentioned.  They aren’t pet peeves.  They are just moments that make me yell “Dammit!”  I hope maybe you can relate to a few and then I won’t feel so crazy.

  • Sneezing after I apply my mascara.  I did this twice last week, probably because the spring weather approached us early and the dawn of allergies.  I tried to keep it in, but instead of trying to fight it too hard and allowing my eyeballs to pop out from the pressure, I went with it.  I looked like I belonged in the Clockwork Orange.  I should’ve rocked the derby at work that day.

  • (Stares at open dresser drawer with eyes wide)  “What do you mean I’m out of underwear??”  Ok, maybe it’s time to start buying colors that fit into all three of the laundry color piles.  I’m required to wear clothing that my company has us buy and so is my husband.  It’s ALL navy blue.  Just like our jeans.  We primarily rush to get these done and the other colors get a little neglected.  (Just in case you’re wondering, though you likely aren’t, I didn’t go commando.  I found something very small and uncomfortable to wear and put laundry on the top of my “to do” list that day.  What am I, single?  Who wears these things?)
  • Really, did I just make a Lawrence Welk reference to be funny?  What am I, 90?  I’m an old soul, I know.  Thank goodness hubby is.  But every now and then I let something slip around the late 20-somethings (who act their age) and they just stare.  “What?  I don’t get it.”  If only Gram were around, she’d laugh.  I was later reprieved when SNL started doing skits about the Welk show by the way.  Justice!  Next I’ll start sharing the highlights of last night’s Jeopardy.  Oh wait, I did that too.  The good news is, the clip was all over YouTube so it must’ve been worth mentioning.  Lots of self-justification going on here, huh?
  • I’m a good person.  I work hard.  I help others.  I rush to take out the recycling before I get in the car for work…and I step in my dog’s crap.  All I had to do was drag that bin from the backyard, get it to the curb and boom, gone.  No.  Not today.  And we’re wearing your sneakers with all the little grooves in them.  Wonderful.  We’ll just get the keys out of the car that’s warming up and change.  Don’t worry though, if you step in crap early, the day will only get better.  And it will.
  • When sunglasses drop on concrete, is it required that they only scratch right at the eye line; that miniscule space on the big lens that your eye lines up perfectly with?  Thanks.
  • Mythbusters tested it, and I don’t remember if the myth was busted or not, but I can tell you; buttered bread or anything with substance will fall face down.   I don’t need scientific testing to agree.  Also, spaghetti sauce will get on your white shirt.  I would like to get in on that study and just eat pasta all day to see what happens.  They can supply the clothes though.
  • Last but not least, as I sit here with my drooped shoulder, I will address depth perception.  Mine is completely off when I switch from contacts to glasses.  Worse without either.  I will get ready for bed, don my glasses and run into a doorjamb with my shoulder.  Maybe it is because one is set for astigmatism which causes a slight fishbowl effect.  Still,  I do it all the time and I constantly forget to anticipate it.  But, on a lighter note, I feel like I look thinner when I see myself in the mirror through my glasses, so I won’t say it’s a fair trade, but it softens the blow.  Boo.  Bad joke.

Luckily for people in real life, I don’t walk around lamenting about these things, but since they managed to collide recently, I thought it was worth sharing.  As always, if these are the least of my problems, I will take my Clockwork Orange-self and run into a wall a few times to set myself straight.  Life is still pretty good.