Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Sitting in Dark Corners of Planet Hollywood While Not Really Wearing Clothes and Other Shameful Stories of Youth I Don't Want You to Know

Dear Blog,

I have started and restarted this post more times and for longer than I care to admit. Now most of the content is totally irrelevant because time has gone by, and it no longer makes sense to talk about SNOW skiing. But I'll finish this post in a less wordy manor than originally intended, and will move on to more current things soon! 
(Why won't this paragraph left align!?)

Dear blog, 

This week, my mind has been elsewhere - with Hector the cat and his health. It was just an eye infection that progressed into other things. I'm worried about him. We've had two vet visits, eye drops, eye ointment, antibiotics, kitty Benadryl and a pain reliever. I've been doing warm compresses. Cat's don't like warm compresses. This morning was the first time he's opened his eye in a week. I am hoping, hoping, hoping that this means the medications are starting to work and that he's heading in the right direction.  It's been a long week of worry and cat wrangling. Did I mention how much cats also dislike eye ointment? If you remember, please keep sweet Hecky in your thoughts and prayers. When I described him in the last post as a "puddle of love", I wasn't joking. He's the squishiest, most zen, most happy-go-lucky, GENTLE living being that I have ever met.  I love him. 

(UPDATE! I am THRILLED to report that Hecky is doing better! His eye has finally started to open and knock on wood, I think he is on his way to being better. Hector has been happy and purring for the past couple of days, and I can't tell you how relieved I feel to have the guy back.   \( ^ - ^) / YEEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!!!!

This past week was similar to the week before,  in that Noah had a day off school, plus he was sent home one day. This time, when he fell on ice at recess and cut his hand. It wasn't such a bad cut, but he said it hurt too much to write, so he was sent home.

Here's the second thing that went through my mind when I got the call, (the first being, is he ok?),  I was like: "Please God, please don't let this be a cut from the STINKY ICE."  Any ice but that stinky ice!" 

Wait, you don't know what stinky ice is? You know, that ice that smells like a block of  cheddar cheese  sitting on   the sidewalk outside a bar on St. Patrick's Day? Oh, ok. I will tell you what stinky ice is. On Tuesday I went to pick Noah up from school, and for some reason, the entire hallway smelled like very old and very massive cheese. Everyone had been desperately searching through their lockers to find the offending source. A long forgotten school snack? A thermos of rancid  milk? Not even a pile of old gym socks could produce such an "expressive" odor.  

They found nothing. At least not while I was there. And then the next day we received an email from our teacher entitled: "Stinky Ice." This is my favorite email. Ever. period.

It apologized to inform us that all coats and snow pants were being sent home for washing because the kids have been playing on a pile of "stinky ice."  It was very cryptic with no definition or cause of stinky ice was noted. Later I learned that nobody at school actually KNOWS why the ice piles reeks. It's such a great mystery! Although today at dinner, Noah told us that the stinky ice and snow pile has now melted to reveal an even more pungent muddle puddle. GROSS!!!
I will not stop until I find an answer, but I did read about this - "Pouring Cheese on Icy Roads..."

Oh, and for the record, Noah cut his hand on regular, non-stinky ice. Noah is very particular. He stays away from all stinks. And, his hand in fine now.

Jon has been traveling more than usual. He had taken business trips three weeks in a row recently and last night, he brought up the possibility of a trip to China. I hate when Jon travels. I miss him, it's lonely, but mostly it's just tiring. I think this must be a combo of doing everything on my own, and not sleeping well. It's not SO hard doing things myself, just a bit trickier in the morning and the night. Noah isn't the easiest to get to sleep these days too. When Jon's not home especially, he tends to call me from his room many times. I try to get my sleep in myself, but every creak of the house or scurry of the cat wakes me up when Jon's not home.

Anyway! So when Jon travels we're just fine. I mentioned the other day that Noah and I usually order pizza and eat a bit too much ice cream and stay up a little later. (Often unintentionally).
It's ok, and we find fun ways to keep us entertained.

One day a couple of weeks ago, after coming down with a case of acute cabin fever, Noah and I decided to take an evening car ride. Although it was freezing out, the sun was shining, a rare  occurrence these days. The only problem was, we had gotten into our pajamas before dinner that night. I was simply exhausted, and Noah, I told him if he got ready for bed early, he could stay up 15 minutes later than usual.  Which by the way actually shaves time OFF the bed time ritual. Sometimes if you ask a tired kid to get his pajamas on or to brush his teeth, they move like slugs. During desperate times, it's better to at least start with the pajamas at 4:00 when they still have the energy!

So we eat dinner and put on socks and shoes and Noah a coat and hat, and get into my car. Noah was the DJ, as he always is. (I have created a superb playlist and feel as though he can't go wrong). And as luck would have it, immediately after pulling out of my driveway in the most dorky floor length, flannel nightgown covered in cardinals that you could ever find, I run right into my neighborhood cute guy in his not dorky, not night gown. Instead it was he with his sleek, black clothing and luxury auto. I know I must have looked crazy with my mouth agape and turning bright red. Driving my car in a ...nightgown...... covered in birds.
That was embarrassing. 

It reminded me though, of another pajama story that I have! Actually, my friend Kristin reminded me after seeing the above photo of my nightgown. This will have the potential to be a long tangent, so I will reign myself in and  spare you. Once upon a time skiing and snowboarding were my life. My LIFE! I would ski and snowboard in the winter, and dream of skiing and snowboarding during the rest of the year. I learned to ski when I was a kid and to snowboard as a teen.  During middle school, my parents began taking us up north most winter weekends to ski. (That was really nice of them.) We had a small vacation house in northern Michigan, about 4.5 hours from home. It was close to two ski resorts, and a dream come true! They'd drop my brother and I off at the ski hill when they opened at 9:00am, and come back to get us around close at 5:00. You'd get just enough pocket money for lunch in the big cafeteria (Mac N' Cheese & hot chocolate), with some leftover for more hot chocolate later on. And of course, at least a bag of candy for the boring chairlift rides. It was the best! 

Here are the nerdiest and worst pictures of me ever, but I just had to share with you how ridiculous the late 80's/early 90's were with their "bright" ski colors. Wow. Thank you Mom, for never using these for blackmail.

This is my absolutely beloved Burton Twin Tip 139. I've had her since I was in high school.  At least here in Michigan, there were not many girls out on the slopes snowboarding in the early - mid 90's. I got into snowboarding the year after my brother began. It was my favorite thing in the world. I miss snowboarding so much. I'd love to start again. Life just got in the way. I've had my board waxed and the edges sharpened in the past few years, so she's ready to go as soon as I am. Maybe next year....

I couldn't find any snowboarding pictures except this one. I was with my friend. We were in college. All I can remember is being crabby that day and actually CRYING in the lodge because my feet were freezing and numb. Ugh. Sorry friend. We all have off days sometimes. What I wouldn't give now to be 21, carefree, snowboarding with a friend for the day, cold feet and all.

Where was I.....? Oh yeah! Pajamas and skiing. So Kristin reminded me of the time that we went skiing in Aspen for mid-winter break! My life used to be MUCH more exciting. I promise, nothing so luxurious and exciting anymore. My family had planned a trip out west to ski with my aunt and uncle, but my brother broke his leg, so my family stayed home. I went with my aunt and uncle and was able to bring my friend Kristin along for company. It was FANTASTIC! We both speak highly of that week, TWENTY YEARS later!

One thing that I vividly remember is FREAKING OUT at the Denver airport as we waited for our puddle jumper into Aspen. There was a big snowstorm coming and they couldn't decide if our flight was going to go or not. Then they gave us the green light and said we were going to be the last flight they were letting out. (Not great news for an already nervous flyer.) So we're on a small but nibble jet flying THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS, trying to OUT RUN A STORM and I'm squeezing my friend's hand for dear life and for some reason, I was listening to very loud PINK FLOYD in my headphones. (THANK YOU KRISTIN! I hope I didn't break your hand!) 
All I can remember is thinking: "Just focus on the Floyd. Focus on the Floyd!"

And then...... when  Any Color You Like came on........................ (hit play for the effect!)

Then.............All of the sudden I opened my eyes and looked out the window, and we were soaring over mountain ranges! Not soaring like you do on your way west over the Rockies. Better, it was one of the most beautiful and absolutely awe inspiring things I have ever experience IN MY LIFE! It was incredible, and then I stopped feeling scared. When you're full of awe, there is no room for fear.

(Btw - once when I was sixteen, my friend and I went to a Pink Floyd concert for some reason. We were standing in a crowded hallway when she took a step backward and backed right up into a ZZ Top looking man's giant beer belly, and that made him let out a GIANT, beer-fueled BELCH into her hair!!! It was the most shocking and disgusting thing ever and we ran away. Ha!)

So we get to Aspen and then it starts snowing like mad. Blah...blah...blah...best trip ever. A few key memories:

#1. There was a 4' metal statue of the Native American deity Kokopelli the flute player in the condo that we rented. Kristin and I became obsessed with him. 

I remember picking up the statue and having a "dance party" with him as we blasted my music. Don't tell anyone, but it was probably  Dee-Lite's "Groove is in the Heart. Omg..... (What do you expect? I was in Middle School.)
Now you all know my deepest secret.

#2.  It was the most naturally beautiful place I have ever been, and one tends to face-plant often when they first learn to ski REAL fresh powder. There was a chalet-like restaurant/beer garden mid-mountain called Ulerhoff, where we spent a lot of time drinking hot chocolate. It was heaven. 
Ironically, my new and short-lived boyfriend was also in Aspen skiing with his family. We met up at Ulerhoff. I remember him asking to see the back of my hand, pushing down on it and exclaiming: "You are dehydrated!" I though that that was swoon-worthy. He was very good at the moguls. Double swoon. My Aunt bought my Uncle, a 6'3" grown man, a snowsuit. It. was. hilarious. 

#3. So finally here is the stupid, not worth the build-up story:
Being that we were just young teens, we couldn't go out at night and were stuck in the condo after dinner really. One night my Aunt and Uncle went out and we were just home alone. We remembered that a cute boy had driven us in the courtesy shuttle the day before, on the five minute drive from the ski resort to our condo. We called him "Van MAN" and were instantly in love. So we had the BRILLIANT (in our heads) idea to call up and request the shuttle to take us to........( because we wanted to look sophisticated and COOL).....PLANET HOLLYWOOD.  Yes, Planet. Hollywood.  And if that is not cringe-worthy enough, we thought it would be  I thought it would be hilarious if I wore some kind of idiotic printed flannel pajamas on the shuttle, because I thought that is how you got boys to like you. 

We ended up at Planet Hollywood Aspen, in a dark and empty back room on what must have been a Tuesday night, lights down low, music blaring....two underage chicks sipping Cherry Coke in their pajamas. So awesome. Van MAN never loved me back. The end.

Surprisingly not,  I blocked that one out of my mind until just the other week!


Onward! Willow, she is cool.

In Michigan, once it gets above 35 degrees, you go insane and make your whole family rollerblade and scooter outside. Even if there is two feet of snow still on the ground. Because come on, it's THIRTY-FIVE people!

Then after dinner, you're like OH.MY.GOD. it is thirty five AND day light's savings. Time to start walking outside again! (WHOOPS! Immediately slipped on ice!) It's ok, I'll keep going because come on people, THIRTY -FIVE!

Seriously, this is what my neighborhood looked like that evening on my power walk and I was STILL convinced it was spring.

Introduced Noah to my old-time favorite, "Pee Wee's Playhouse." He was wigged out. But you know, it's Conky, so come on.

In one week I had heard two separate people talking about the Everyday Shea line of products from Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care. Basically, these are fair trade, unrefined shea butter products that are produced from shea grown in West Africa, and was started by a Togolese man as a way to raise money for community enhancement projects.

"EveryDay Shea is an extension of Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care. Alaffia was founded by Olowo-n’djo Tchala, a Togolese native, as a way to generate funds to conduct community enhancement projects in his home country and other West African nations in order to reduce poverty and gender inequality. Olowo-n’djo believes that Africans can mobilize their natural resources in a sustainable manner to empower their own communities, and that this is a more sustainable avenue towards reducing poverty than waiting for outside aid or for corrupt governments to fall. Alaffia and the Alaffia Shea Butter Cooperative were founded in order to trade the indigenous resource – Shea Butter – in the West to raise proceeds which are then returned to Togo in the form of community projects."

I love that these products are paraben free, synthetics free, not tested on animals and help give back to the community! They're easy to find too. I purchased my shampoo, conditioner and body lotion at Whole Foods. I also saw body wash and a number of other items. Another bonus, I CAN'T believe it, but these HUGE 32oz. bottles sold for just $9 each! That's a great value I believe. They'll last for a long time! The reason that I like to use shampoo and conditioner with shea butter is because it is very very moisturizing. Jon seems to like these Alaffia products too. I suggest that you check the whole line out, good product, good works!

Oh! That little black bottle is a new kind of natural deodorant that I picked up from Whole Foods at the same time as the Alaffia products. In all honesty, I really haven't really worn deodorant for years. I just don't sweat that much and I felt like the chemicals in traditional deodorants weren't worth it. I tried some Tom's of Maine for a while, but was allergic to the hops in their formula. Now that I am exercising a lot more, I thought it was time to at least look into deodorant. This one was recommended to me by a couple of the women working at Whole Foods. I decided to give it a shot. I'll let you know how it goes! (I can't believe that I am talking about armpits on here.)

Product recommendation: Trader Joe's Organic Greek Style Nonfat Yogurt. 0% Milkfat Plain. I buy this now, mainly because #1. it's organic and #2. one cup has 23 grams of protein! I use this in the Mango Lassi Smoothies that I blogged about before, and also I will eat this yogurt with a scoop of Trader Joe's Strawberry Preserves on top. It's delicious! 

My Dad came into town and took Noah and I out to eat. Noah ordered a piece of cake as big as his head! It was called "The Great Wall of Chocolate." Understandably.

I really liked this picture of Noah and my father in the skywalk that connects both sides of our local mall. I kind of hate the mall a little bit, but this was a lot of fun. My Dad actually just FaceTimed me a couple of minutes ago, from his phone from Hong Kong Airport. It was clear as day with no delay. I think technology is amazing. What a small world we have now!

Something sad happened. I tried to clean and shine my floors one day, but failed three times in a row. First my Shark steam mop that I love, just stopped working. Then I made a watery mess on my floor with the Hoover Floormate that my friend gave me. I don't have the instructions and I was guessing at how to use it again. I did something funky this time. Then, I used this traditional mop with some "squirt and shine" cleanser and in the end, it made my floors all foggy. Ugh. That is all. I honestly think getting down on hands and knees is the best way to wash the floor. Regretfully. 

I have a new favorite quick soup!!!! It's Nigella Lawson's Pea and Pesto Soup, and it couldn't be quicker and easier with just a few ingredients. Please see the funny video below. I love how Nigella loves to eat.  Atta' girl! I don't like when she purees the peas and kills them, but other than that, it's a good video.

And that is the scoop! Until next time, wear clothing when you leave the house and make pea soup!



Heather Renee said...

Hi Lauren!! :) I loved your post today; it made me laugh! The highlights were when your friend bumped into that guy with a beer belly and he belched and then the pea and pesto soup (that video was hilarious and loved your comment about how you didn't like it when she killed the peas..I felt the same way!! WHY did she feel the need to blend it?? Does it even taste good that way? Hmmm).

That Greek yogurt looks good; I might have to try some! And I appreciate reviews on beauty products. Right now, I'm using a shampoo from Trader Joe's called Tea Tree Tingle and I love it! It's really refreshing (it has tea tree and peppermint oils in it) and it cleans good, without any chemicals in it. I want to buy the matching conditioner, but I need to use up the Burt's Bee's conditioner I'm using, which is all natural, as well. Like you, I try to use things without any chemicals. I used to be a hair dye junkie and would switch my hair color like once a month or more; it was ridiculous and I was never truly happy. It also fried my hair!! So, that's when I decided to try out henna and I've been happy with the results. I love how there are natural things out there that work! I just don't particularly like the maintenance and I don't like how my silver and blonde roots show up so bright against the red! So, that is why I think I'm gonna try the cassia (another plant dye that has a yellow color to it) mixed with a teaspoon or two of henna. I've seen it give others a golden blonde color, which would be perfect for growing the henna out!

Anyway, I'm enjoying your blog and enjoying getting to know you! :)


Lauren said...

Hi Heather!!! Thanks for your comment and encouragement. I really appreciate it! :)

Hey, I LOVE Trader Joe's too! Actually, we use their Tea Tree face wash! I'm crazy about that place. Yeah, the yogurt is SO good with some of their Strawberry Preserves mixed in.

I'm with you on the less chemicals = better. Sometimes you just have to try a few things before you find the product that works for you. Please let me know how the cassia goes! I think that's very very interesting and cool! I bet it'll be perfect!

Oh my gosh, I felt so sad for those little blended peas. I love Nigella, but it was just the way she said it. The good news is, YES, the soup is delicious, blended and all!

Thanks again Heather. I better get a move on. I hope you have a great day today!
Lauren :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren, your blog is very endearing - thank you for being so sweet and vulnerable - you are an inspiration. H. :-)

Lauren said...

Dear H,

Thank you so very much for your encouragement. That is just what I needed. Some days, especially on posts like this, I get nervous after hitting "publish" and think : "WHAT am I writing!?" I worry that I'm just going on and on with silly stories about ME! But, if I wrote stories about other people, then that would just be gossip! ;)

Thank you again. Truly.

Lauren :-)

Valerie said...

Dear Lauren,
I loved reading this post. It made me smile. =) You are so genuine! Hector sounds like such a sweet kitty. Glad he is doing better. Thanks for the sunshine and smiles from your corner of the world. =)
I love reading your blog.
Your friend,

Lauren said...

Dear Valerie,

Thank you for your nice comment. You always make me feel appreciated and less self-conscious about what I'm writing. Thank you for sending YOUR sunshine, my way! Thank you for making me smile. :)

I hope you have a lovely rest of the week Valerie!
Your friend,
Lauren :) <3