LIFE UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

Our millennial daughter has been gone from the home since graduating high school. Amy’s return trips to the homestead often made me feel like I was a science experiment, being assessed by metrics on the AGING SCALE! Dad’s assessment was done on car rides and walks, pressuring me to fess up “issues” that were on a need to know basis, and since she wasn’t living with us, she didn’t need to know! But MOM, well, the boxing gloves came off each visit and the aging assessment was brutal, honest and ALWAYS from a place of love.

And so it came to pass that the summer of she and her husband living with us began. We had just downsized and some luxuries went by the wayside. I confess, I LOVE my designer water, having tasted the iron in well water for too long during my 20’s. We always had a sparkling water machine which dispensed cool, clear water at a flick of a lever, truly an indulgence. But, in our new abode, it was either my sparkling water machine or a laundry sink and the sink won as practicality overrode luxury. Hubby assured me that single serve bottles would satisfy my thirsty passion. Amy and Jon arrived with their car filled to the brim for their summer in the country. Hugs and kisses were shared and we welcomed them into our new home. WITHIN 5 MINUTES Amy started in:

Amy: Where’s the sparkling water machine?

Mom: We had no space but look, I have single serve bottles, (which I proudly displayed);

Amy: That’s bad for the environment, you need to get a filter on your faucet. It fits on all faucets and you can always return it, just try it, (at least she wasn’t asking me to try Botox on my face);

Mom: I like my water, (and my face I silently think) and we recycle the bottles so I AM helping the environment;

Amy: The plastic is bad for the environment;

Mom: At my age, I’m entitled to be indulgent! (playing the age card does wonders in a family disagreement).

As Amy’s tone became more agitated and our bodies squared off during this verbal battle, Jon looked on in horror, having not seen this side of our loving, respectful relationship. Suddenly, all parties stopped yapping and I opened my arms and gave Amy a huge hug and told her I loved her for her passion. A few minutes later, I overheard Jon say to her, “I thought you were going to wait a few days before having that conversation.” So, this is what I get for sending her to a progressive, environmentally conscious college where those pesky foam packing “peanuts” were outlawed!

A few years ago I got a new car. Amy was home for vacation and we did our traditional outing: off to the mall for shopping, eating and shopping. I was so eager to begin our afternoon nirvana that I didn’t pay attention to where I had parked, forgetting to look at my familiar landmarks of aisle markers or store names. Several hours later, many dollars gone, stomachs full of yummy delights, we began to LOOK FOR THE CAR. Wandering the parking aisles with arms loaded with shopping bags, Amy remarked in a rather snarky tone, “so Mom, where’s the car? I’d really like to get home in this century.” I sheepishly replied, “I sort of forgot where we parked and it is a new car and I’m not use to looking for it.” WOW, did I leave myself open for the, “I’m really concerned about your memory” lecture. Yes, we found the car in this century, and yes, my brilliant daughter gave me many useful suggestions as to how to improve my memory and other mental functions. My thought bubble said, ” just you wait Missy until you reach your 60’s and see what it’s like watching the world spin past you”, and like all of my thought bubbles, this one stayed inside my seemingly aging brain! The pearls of wisdom she dispensed were to read a variety of genres which began my love affair with iBooks. Since I had also been struggling with my eye hand coordination, she put this coloring app on my phone. OH MY, what beautiful pictures I now make with these marvelous adult coloring book/apps, (I have since branched out to 2 more coloring apps). The only downside is that hubby makes fun of me, but since I have a thick skin, I just keep happily coloring away. BTW: it’s a great way to pass the time while at the beauty shop waiting to get your hair washed!

On yet another visit home, SHE ATTACKED my eating habits as she was now living in Los Angeles, the city of designer yogurt and kale. It appeared that my breakfast of shredded wheat mixed with chocolate kiddie cereal doused with whole milk lacked the nutritional components which were acceptable for my age group, (OUCH-my fragile ego can only take so much of this healthy aging stuff and I do love my kiddie foods). To keep peace with my loving millennial, I switched to bran flakes with raisins, doused with almond milk and a satisfied quiet graced my home!

I have salt and pepper hair which gives my baby face and small frame a mature topping, even though I recently got carded at the grocery store while buying a 6 pack of beer, (what an ego boost!). As Amy’s wedding day approached, hubby asked her if she thought I should dye my hair to hide the gray. Amy reproached him: “Mom would be horrified if you asked her that”, so hubby tucked his thoughts into a deep, loving place in his heart, silently longing for the good old days of our youth, (turning gray early is one of those genetic traits I carry). When looking at her wedding pictures I was HORRIFIED to see that my hair photographed white in the sun and more pepper than salt under the tent. My advice to all you who have salt and pepper “toppers”…if your millennial child has an outdoor wedding, a lovely hat will help to lessen the feeling of aging that will overcome you when your child stands at the alter and pledges love forever to someone who is not YOU. Tears flow and faces glow but your hair color will always be your reminder that mother nature is knocking on the back door of your aging body!

A few perks I have found as I have embraced being a baby boomer who is over 65:

-reduced public transit fares, (at least in the Midwest);

-reduced admission to many museums and movies;

-reduced airfare on some airlines;

-senior discount day at Walgreens;

EMBRACE AGING: don’t be embarrassed to use those neat gadgets to open bottles that are just too tight for arthritic fingers. We have earned our wisdom, lived long, seen many things and have opinions that need to be heard, even if our millennial children think they have all the answers. Live in the moment and love every day because surprises often come when we least expect them.

HURRY UP AND WAIT

As baby boomers, we are looking at the real possibility that one day we will be playing the waiting game. We all have played this game when we travel by air: hurry to get to the airport, wait in the security lines, wait at the gate, sit and wait on the plane, wait for our luggage, hurry to the hotel to begin our vacation.

But, there is a different place to HURRY and WAIT: the dreaded hospital. And so it came to pass that the decision was made for our son to have the biopsy we had been discussing with his doctors for 6 months. Planning for the big day began. First. I needed to GENTLY deal with hubby, he of the temperament who needs to be in control, would not do well waiting while our son was under general anesthesia having a procedure involving medical risks. Hubby wanders and wanders, never being able to settle down with a book or movie, which was not something I wanted to manage. I ever so delicately SUGGESTED, (hugs, kisses, favorite foods as bribes/rewards), that PERHAPS he stay home and tend to the doggie while I do the waiting. I then prepared my “waiting survival kit”: 1) food – no crumbs, no crunch, no sticky mess, so I decided on chocolate covered raisins, (healthy with a touch of decadence); 2) reading material – I had just downloaded a John Grisham book and couldn’t wait to delve in; 3) entertainment – I chose “Orange Is The New Black” as my visual/audio escape; 4) my trusty bottle of water; 5) charging cords for my electronics…I decided this mini – trip into never land of hospital sanitation did not require my passport!

The procedure was to begin at 11:00 but we were told to arrive 15 minutes early “to do paperwork”. Never mind that I did the requisite paperwork online, a good patient ALWAYS follows the email instructions. The day before, our doctor told us he needed even more blood from our poor son, so I had the brilliant idea, or so it seemed at the time, to do the lab work right before the biopsy, giving us an all – in – one day at the hospital. We leave at 9:30, find the lab in this labyrinth of a hospital, and began to WAIT. I pull out my phone and headphones and Jack is a happy camper while I sit and watch the clock…TIC TOC…time is fast approaching for our surgery to begin. As I became more agitated at all this WAITING, I finally told the lab lady we were due in surgery soon. My facial expression must have spoken volumes because all of a sudden the WAITING turned into HURRYING! Magically, Jack was whisked into the lab and just as quickly we were on our way. All that WAITING made me forget where the surgery suite was, so as Jack and I wandered these hallowed halls of white cleanliness, a nice hospital greeter helped us find our destination and we arrived right on time. My millennial daughter would have had a picnic with my “I don’t know where I’m going” mental state as she is convinced my memory is fading due to aging!

So the WAITING began again..out came the phone and headphones and Jack was plugged in. I surveyed the waiting room to find the lone outlet as I was convinced my phone would need to be charged because of all this WAITING. Finally, ACTION…we were taken into a sterile pre-op area and I never saw so many people move so quickly and efficiently: Jack was undressed and redressed, needles inserted in his arm, monitors placed on his chest and the ever present beep, beep of his vital signs were on brilliant display. Doctor, nurse, doctor…everyone had something to say to me as Jack was gently put to sleep, and taken away. Now my WAITING began but first I had to perform my pre-waiting ritual of walking. The waiting room was too small and crowded so I looked to the hall. It was short but it would have to suffice as my walking track…around, around and around I walked until I completed 8 trips, (yep, I counted), and was ready to settle down for PROPER WAITING. Hubby texts me to ask ETA, (he of short text messages could not ask, “how’s it going?”). All I could respond was that they just took Jack and he should feed the dog because it was going to take awhile. I settle into the chair by the outlet, charge my phone, open my water bottle and cue up “Orange Is The New Black” and I’m transported into the world of a woman’s prison, ( I’m sure there is deep symbolism in my choice of entertainment but my mind is on more pressing matters than to delve into my emotional underpinnings). After consuming 3/4 of my bag of snacks and 3 episodes of prison life, I power down my electronic miracle of entertainment and feel the need to walk again. By this time the waiting room had emptied  so I walk the perimeter several times. Ping, a text from hubby. He being the more spiritual one, sends me a picture of a frog, his subliminal way of telling me that we are taking a leap of faith having the biopsy performed. Now I’m finished walking but know I shouldn’t plug in as they may call for Jack’s family soon, so I escape into the world of John Grisham’s legal thriller. The surgeon emerges, telling me what he found and then I am called to claim my son. I gather my survival kit and race to see him in recovery. Quick as a rabbit jumps a fence, they had Jack unplugged, dressed, post-op directions given, staff bids us goodbye and we were are on our way home. If only the rest of the hospital worked as smoothly as these sterile people in this bright quiet area, the hospital would be a more efficient place. More action and less waiting should be their motto.

As baby boomers we will be waiting for news, some hard to digest, usually that which accompanies medical procedures, and other news which will be greeted with glee, like a marriage announcement or the birth of a grandchild. Whether good or bad, we must accept family news with grace and dignity since we will be viewed as “the wise ones”, mainly because we have lived so long, (ouch). Trust me, this is an honor that comes with emotional heft. The sad news weighs on us like a wet blanket and the good news fills our hearts with never ending joy. All news is part of life and I feel blessed every morning when I awake to greet the new day.

THE LADY WHO LIVES IN MY PHONE

I admit WE WERE the last ones on earth to get a computer, get smartphones and iPads. But, now that we have these magical gadgets, I can’t imagine life without them, and yet, I’ll never understand how the words I type in text messages float through the atmosphere all the way to China where my millennial daughter and her husband lived. Skype, a miracle to be sure! To see my daughter on this little screen I hold in my hand when we were 13 hours apart, ( yep, that was a tough one) was a WOW experience.

When I first got my smartphone I was confronted with a dilemma…our highway into town had express lanes. Hubby always told me, “never take them because if there is an accident, you’ll get trapped for hours.” I always took his advice until…I got my smartphone equipped with a lady who talks to me. This was amazing and was a great source of comfort as I knew I would never get lost again. One morning I found myself heading into the city during rush hour. The lady and I were doing quite well together until she told me that there was heavy traffic ahead and the express lanes would save me 5 minutes. And then my inner dialogue began: Hubby: “don’t take the express lanes”; Lady in my phone: “you’ll save 5 minutes”; Back and forth this conversation went until I had to make a decision…sorry hubby but the LADY WINS. Onto the express lanes I went, saving those precious 5 minutes but also feeling like I had just cheated on my hubby!

The concept of smartphones, iPads, iPods is a marvel. For the life of  me I cannot figure out how I can have over 50 books on my thin, sleek phone when those same books take up at least 2 shelves in my bookcase. Nor can I understand how my tiny iPod can hold over 100 songs when those songs came from no less than 20 CD’s. Funny, because way back when we switched from 8-tracks to cassettes I could SEE the difference, now I just depend on faith!

One morning when I commuted to the city by train, a sea of black puffer coats greeted me. Everyone walked 3 abreast, (as described in the commuter manual that came with my train ticket), LOOKING DOWN at something in their hands. White cords connected their ears to these hand-held gadgets. This proved to be good news and bad news: good news is what a great way to catch up on business or personal text messages or emails before heading to the office; bad news is that no one was looking where they were going and being “plugged in” they couldn’t hear me say, “excuse me” as they brushed past me like low hanging fruit.

My millennial daughter has a personal mission to assess my progress on the aging scale when she comes to visit. A recent visit concentrated on my physical activity, so my “exercise guru” suggested the STEPZ app, ( who knew there was an app for step counting?). We agreed she could download this on my phone after I told her that yoga did nothing for my cardio, ( a buzz word I have picked up while reading about exercise for boomers). Next thing I know there was a new green box on my phone screen with a picture of a guy running, (why not a girl my silent voice asks?). And so I became addicted to checking my steps, miles and kcals, walking daily while listening to music on my tiny iPod, ( what a techie lover I have become!). One day I had a brilliant idea that hubby should monitor his physical activity as well. Being a whopping 2 years older, I thought I was doing him a good deed. I downloaded the STEPZ app on his phone and unleashed a competition between the two of us, (talk about unintended consequences) and a new nightly ritual was born. Out come the phones and the dreaded, ( for me), comparison of steps, miles and kcals. Hubby doesn’t actively exercise but rather wanders around and around our abode, while I daily pound the pavement regardless of weather. Hubby is blessed with the “thin gene” and fast metabolism whereas I lack both of these attributes, hence the crazy lady who walks the neighborhood in the winter bundled up so only my eyes can be seen! He ALWAYS beats me by at least 1 mile, 500 steps and 100 or more kcals-my fragile ego can only take so much of this so I walk and walk and do laps inside our house hoping to beat him just once. There is really no justice in the world of step counting!

The last addition to our lives in this new world was a flat screen T.V. We loved our tube T.V. with its nice wood cabinet, clear picture and acceptable audio. Think of those old comfy blue jeans from 15 years ago…lounging around, binge eating ice cream and watching Star Wars over and over again. That’s how we felt about our tube T.V. But, in the move to our downsized house, mysteriously our old friend decided to stop working. Hubby was none too pleased to say goodbye but we indulged in the purchase of a new age flat screen T.V. Once operational, we settled in to watch this new gadget in our new house with high ceilings and poor acoustics. First we had trouble adjusting to the screen images – everyone looked weird and lopsided. Then we couldn’t hear the dialogue even with the volume full throttle, but we struggled to adjust. If our millennial daughter had been home she would have said, ” ah, ha, proof that your hearing is going!” One day, I saw an ad for a speaker system that was based on hearing aid technology. We bought it, installed it and like magic we could hear all the dialogue coming from this new T.V. This does give me pause, as I think I may have to begin to own my aging!

As the old saying goes, these are the best of times, these are the worst of times. The convenience of having music, books, telephone, camera, electronic communication all in a small gadget I can put in my pocket reflects the best of times. Walking while looking down at your phone and not stopping for a face to face conversation reflects the worst of times. LOOK UP, take a breath and smell the roses. The information on your phone can wait 5 minutes!

 

THE ONE TOUCH METHOD

In management school they taught us to touch a piece of paper only once: circular filing cabinet, (aka garbage can), in box or file cabinet. As hubby and I found ourselves in the not-so-enviable position of cleaning out his parent’s home, we became believers of the saying, “one man’s treasure is another man’s junk.” Like all parents of us baby boomers, his came of age during the Great Depression. The life lessons they learned were not clear as we culled through their private lives. Grandpa was a pipe smoker and had his pipes neatly resting in a 30 pipe holder, UNTIL…we found a shoe box of 50 more pipes, ( yes, I counted them ), all of different shaped bowls, grains of wood and broken stems. I guess the broken stems were a sign that he intended to fix the pipes in the distant future. Grandma loved her coffee all day long and I’m guessing this justified the 20 creamers we found, all of different shapes, made of ceramic, crystal, silver, pewter and a mysterious material I could never figure out. Many had chips, but, as a good hoarder, she kept them, perhaps to keep Grandpa’s broken pipes company in the land of, “keep forever and let the kids deal with it when we are gone.” You can imagine the silent conversations I was having in my head as this decluttering job went on for days: “Did you REALLY have to keep all this stuff once it broke? There are people who could use that chipped creamer since you have so many, and, by the way, WHY did you buy so many to begin with?”

So, this was the world we found ourselves in. I taught hubby the one touch method: keep, donate, throw away. Each room was FILLED with their treasures so we donned our rubber gloves and began…command centers in several rooms were stocked with garbage bags, boxes and pads of paper. In we went and oh, what we found: neckties with price tags still attached, purses in the same style but of different colors only to color match all the shoes of the same style, (do we see a pattern here?), and, loose stones from broken jewelry stored in boxes, (lucky me, hubby made me lovely earrings).

My in-laws were the type of people who bought houses with any contents that were for sale. Hence, they had books and books and books, many never seeing the light of day but made for well stocked book shelves. Many came from a home whose previous owners lived during the early – mid 1900’s and were avid historians. They received several 1st edition books on The Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson. The giver of these treasures inscribed his name in each book, never realizing that doing so made those 1st edition volumes worthless as collector items. My in-laws favored books on art and architecture and life in the old west. Don’t even ask why a hoarder would buy books of a genre that they did not read! Doing my due diligence, I culled through these tomes looking for treasures and the ones I found I brought to a rare book dealer. He proclaimed, “no one reads books anymore,” (ah, the curse of the e-reader) and “no one is interested in history,” (no surprise in the here and now of the political landscape of the 2000’s). But, the Goodwill folks surely enjoyed these volumes of history.

Our millennial daughter must have inherited the “hoarder/collector” gene as she kept every movie ticket, playbill, train ticket, book mark that ever graced her hands. When she and her husband  spent the summer with us, her genetic tendency for “treasure hunting” was on full display: they would take off on mysterious trips, hours later coming home clutching their beloved finds. It wasn’t until the end of the summer that they confessed to us their love of estate/house sales and showed us their goodies. My thought bubble said, “why, oh why, did you NOT shop Grandpa’s house?”

A word from one baby boomer to another: DO NOT SAVE everything your children made since preschool, only save things from your past which have REAL meaning to you, things that evoke an “ah” moment, (I still have my Girl Scout Handbook from the 1960’s with the rose hubby gave me on our first date pressed in its pages). If you want your millennial children to love you when you are gone, do them a favor and exercise the KEEP, TOSS cleaning method at least every 5 years!

 

DO OPPOSITES ATTRACT? The Art of Compromise

If you have millennial children they most likely have perfected the art of compromise. As baby boomers, we generally “played it safe” when choosing a spouse. Hubby and I went to the same city private school, were raised by families of the same religion and chose professional fields that were medically related. In the 1970’s, the term “partner” referred to an associate in a law firm, not the soul mate you were living with. Because we came of age during the 1970’s, the “hippie commune” lifestyle was the closest concept to group living. Today, our millennial children share rooms in other people’s houses with their partners.

As a college student, Amy had developed “The 12 Essential Characteristics” her ideal husband would have to possess. When I met Jon 1 week before their wedding, it was clear to me she had a shadow list of characteristics because Jon did not fit the official list, and for that I loved him instantly!!

Our millennial daughter and her husband are definitely opposites, and yet that is exactly what draws them passionately to each other. When they plan trips, Amy always makes sure Jon’s passion for hiking and her love of museums are satisfied and their shared passion for all things vintage is never left out.

She is short with dark hair and olive colored skin and he is tall with red hair and fair skin. Amy was raised in the city with museums as her playground. Jon was from a small town where nature was his companion. She attended a public school with 1000 in her graduating class. He attended a small boarding school with 25 in his class. Yet, they both attended small colleges: Jon on the West Coast and Amy on the East Coast. She delved into the wonders of art history, music and writing and he satisfied his curiosity for science.

As many of us moms did, I tried to help Amy find her “thing.” First I tried sports: t-ball, swimming, ice skating, horseback riding; next I tried ballet, tap dancing, singing and acting. Nothing seemed to catch her attention UNTIL…making of all things creative came into her life. First it was clay, then painting and finally musical instruments, ( by 6th grade she was playing flute, trombone, French horn and the piano ). I admit it was overkill and we quickly realized that our 5 foot tall daughter could not bring all these instruments ( sans piano ) to school. But, our Amy found her “thing” which has served her well through her 20’s and 30’s. Jon was raised with a hammer in his hands and can build anything from the ground up. He is a true sportsman who swims, skis, hikes, camps and plays soccer.

When they met as young adults living and working on the West Coast they found a shared love for travel and adventure. Both had traveled to India and throughout Europe. They shared a spiritual outlook on life and were big readers. For Jon, those old fashioned tomes you hold in your hands, ( gotta love his sense of antiquity ), and Amy devours literature on her e-reader devices, ( modern woman hear me roar ).

Over the years they have been together, Jon has taught Amy all the sports I tried but failed at. I always felt she would learn to swim and overcome her fear of flying balls if she trusted the person teaching her. Within their personality traits, I have watched trust and faith grow as their love for each other grows. While living and teaching in China, Jon wanted to take her to Kathmandu to experience the Nepal Trek. They chose February when the trails were icy and snow covered. Amy, not being the outdoor type but definitely adventurous, was all in. As they climbed the highest peak, Jon strode ahead of her and waited, and waited…finally Amy joined him, out of breath and sweating from the workout. As she tried to catch her breath in the thin air, Jon dropped to one knee and proposed to her. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she screamed “YES” and then quickly asked, “can we go home now?”

Their ability to compromise was on full display as they planned their wedding. Amy was the pre-teen who had her wedding cake designed in her head: 6 tiers of frosted cake with flowers flowing from all tiers. Jon wanted a simple party with no food and store bought invitations. The cake turned into a cupcake tree and future posts will describe how in 5 months a beautiful tribute to this amazing couple was created.

This millennial generation breaks all the molds, takes all the chances in part because they were the ones caught in the middle of the Great Recession. In my heart, I believe they will be the ones to give our country back its soul and spirit.

 

 

BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE: A Toast to Global Warming

Downsizing is a give and take: I took the smaller carbon footprint, the abundant wild life, the beauty of nature, the “bigness of the sky” and the numerous stars visible only when away from the city.

I gave up a fenced in yard/dog run for my little doggie, multiple doors to the outside and a HEATED GARAGE! Being a baby boomer means we came of age during the hippie generation and learned “to roll” with those cold, hard, vinyl seats when our car spent the night outdoors. As we became homeowners over the past 30 years, we always had heated garages and never thought about having to warm our cars up for 10 minutes before driving.

As the polar vortex, a concept which was not even in our lexicon a decade ago, descended upon us the week before Christmas, I realized that we needed to find our winter gear: gloves, boots, hats, puffer coats and little doggie’s winter coat. I then looked in the refrigerator and freezer and was shocked at how empty they were. Being on “home vacation” I usually make a habit of stocking up on food before those last frantic days before Christmas, but this year I lost track of time, ( fear not, Post It Notes will become your BFF too ). So, hubby and I donned our winter gear, locked the house and attempted to open the garage door…NADA, ZIP, NO MOVEMENT! Back inside, while hubby called the garage door repair man, I made mental calculations of food prep for the next few days of predicated below zero weather, and remembered that we had just had the garage door serviced in the Fall. Our trusty repair man said, “my garage door didn’t open either, wait until later in the week when it’s supposed to be 5 degrees.” A virtual heat wave it wasn’t but warm enough that our garage door open. Then came the process of warming up the car: hubby did not want the car warming up inside the garage with the door open, ( not sure why but I went with his rather sophisticated plan ), so we moved the car to the driveway, locked it, closed the garage door and waited. I innocently asked him, “why go through all the locking and closing?”, and his reply was, “so no one would take the car or get into the garage.” My thought bubble said, “we live in the middle of nowhere and 1/2 the people on our tiny street are out of town”, (yes, my thought bubble stayed as a thought!).

Finally the car is warmed up but still concerned about the garage door not working we left through the front door. Off we went doing 1 1/2 weeks of errands in 2 hours – no way I was going out again in this frigid cold. Fast forward to the week of New Year, polar vortex still with us with a whopping 7 degree temperature. I went out to lunch with a friend and left hubby on speed dial if ye ole garage door was not going to defrost. Sure enough, my remote could not get it to open so I tried the front door…my key would not even go 1/2 way into the lock…FROZEN! I called hubby, he opened the garage door and I scurried my car inside. A few days passed and we hit 11 degrees, a real heat wave, and I declared that today was grocery day, ( best to try to beat the New Years Eve craziness ). Hubby was all set to go until I said, “ah, not so fast tiger, what if the garage door won’t open and your attempt at defrosting the front door lock with WD-40 didn’t work, how are we gonna get inside?” After a mild protest, he realized I was anxious about these weather related “issues” and he reluctantly agreed to stay home, once again on speed dial. Yes, I felt badly about “grounding him” but I am not my best when I am anxious. I did, however, bring him gourmet ice cream to make up for being a hard headed senior citizen!  Being a baby boomer gives you carte blanche to eat ice cream in below zero weather!

As always, life throws us curve balls but my motto is, come rain or shine, snow or frost, my groceries will be purchased and my family will be fed!

I’M VINTAGE: What’s old is new again!

One of the more delightful experiences I had with my millennial daughter and her husband during their summer stay with us was going vintage clothes shopping. As we walked among the racks of clothes, he would give her outrageous, ( by today’s fashion standards ), outfits to try on. Answering my quizzical facial expression,  (translation: “that’s not your style” ), Amy proudly explained, “that’s what we do!” While she modeled all kinds of outfits, Jon worked the shirt racks and pulled several he liked. I, meanwhile, keeping my laughter in check, looked over the winter coats and was STUNNED when I saw MY winter coat from my college days in the Midwest: a Dr. Zhivago style, knee length sheepskin coat. Yes, I am a baby boomer but I did not realize that my clothes from my college years were now considered vintage, and yes, it did make me feel a little bit old!

Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2017, our 2 millennials again went vintage shopping. Amy came home with 2 hats which they had named after characters from Downton Abby and Jon came home with a fabulous long sheepskin coat with  wonderful decorative stitching. My sheepskin loving hubby saw the label and was astounded that it came from Montgomery Ward! Who knew Montgomery Ward sold clothes? We had remembered them as a place for household goods.

Recently Amy called to tell me they were going to a wedding and had shopped for outfits. No surprise when she told me Jon bought a 1970’s suit and she bought a flapper dress! Can’t wait to see the wedding pictures of these 2 millennials all decked out in baby boomer era clothes with a little 1920’s fashion flair thrown in for fun!

I had a hint they both liked vintage clothes when their first date 5 years ago was Vintage Day at Santa Anita Racetrack! No surprise then, when talk of wedding dresses started while they were living in China. Amy had always wanted to wear my 1970 wedding dress: lace, knee length hemline, long sleeves. During a 10 day trip for wedding planning she tried the dress on: OH NO, EVERYTHING WAS WRONG-neckline needed to change, sleeves were too long, the fit was a little snug….off to the seamstress who told us, “this dress is so old and the lace is so fragile with food stains on the sleeve, ( geez I don’t remember eating anything at my wedding! ), it would cost a small fortune plus a lot of good karma to fix it !” In the end, a vintage lace dress would not gone with their wedding theme.

Our vintage loving millennials have recently discovered the fun of decorating their first home. Since we were in the middle of downsizing, we offered the once in a lifetime chance to, “shop our basement” which was filled with furniture from Amy’s grandparents. They now have one of the best furnished houses on the block!

The morale of this blog post is: KEEP EVERYTHING, it will be back in style before you know it!!

HOLIDAY FOODS

Turkey or ham for Christmas?

Brisket or roast chicken for Passover?

Holiday foods are the glue that keeps our family together. But, when our millennial daughter and her husband of 4 months joined us last year for Thanksgiving, I quickly realized that traditions change as my family grows. Jon was raised with the wisdom that a cooked vegetable should accompany every meal, so he made baked asparagus. OH MY: what a delight!

As our millennial house guests watched the calendar turn from June to July, they saw their summer in “paradise” begin to slip away and shock set in: Amy needed to make lesson plans for her summer teaching gig and Jon needed to start experimenting with liquid fiberglass to find the perfect product to coat the blades of his wind turbine that had taken up residence in our garage. Thus July 4th was declared a day of work. As morning turned to afternoon, the ever popular topic of food came up. Being July 4th, I ASSUMED burgers would be the obvious choice. “Not so fast” ye of the younger set and lovers of Artesian fare said, “we are making bison burgers on homemade brioche rolls, a traditional July 4th meal!” After my eye-roll, I casually mentioned that I now knew what that odd object was that had been living in my freezer. Then started the discussion of how to quick thaw 2 pounds of frozen ground bison at which point my “light bulb moment” occurred – this generation missed the memo on planning ahead!

Amy’s job was to make the brioche dough which became a 4 hour adventure in timing, checking, kneading and watching the dough as it began it’s assent to the top of the bowl it was growing in. My silent prayer of, “please don’t rise so high that you end up on my counter” had been answered when the dough reached the edge of the bowl and miraculously stopped growing. Once the millennial chefs declared the dough was ready, they formed large dough balls, plopped them onto a cookie sheet and into the oven it went. We watched again as the balls began to rise, ( yes, we did a lot of watching of dough on the watching of fireworks day ). The timer went off, the cookie sheet came out, “oh no”, the dough balls had become a bread blob! Sous chef to the rescue, fancy knife in tow, Jon began carving out 4 bun shaped objects and proudly declared, “this will do.” Add to this the grilled bison burgers and a new July 4th meal had been born!

Our second family Thanksgiving has just finished and our millennial chefs did not disappoint. Jon made a fabulous sweet potato souffle, ( again with the cooked vegetable theme ), and Amy made the most delicious Baklava for desert. As our millennial daughter and her husband spend their vacations with us, our family traditions become enriched by all the love they bring into our lives, unique as they are.

He came with his chopping board-She came with her coffee grinder

And then came the sous chef knife, smoothie blender, 10 shopping bags of hard covered books, ( no e-reader for my son-in-law ), shoes, shirts, jeans and purses. Yes, our millennial daughter and her husband came to spend the summer with us. As they were unpacking their car and multiple bags of “stuff”, Jon said to me,  “Chinese fire”. I assumed this was a cultural gem he picked up from living in China for 2 years. In truth, this is what happens when there is a fire in an apartment. It also explains why these 2 millennials saved every shopping bag they had acquired over the summer-best to be prepared! Realty was, those shopping bags became very helpful when packing up their car after 10 weeks of life in the suburbs and frequenting vintage shops.

We had just made that baby boomer move into a downsized home a month prior to their arrival. Still unpacking boxes and “naming rooms”,  (that dreaded ritual we go through to define living spaces), we welcomed our expanded family into our confused world of, “where is that pot that I always use to make chili?” Thankfully, our new home came with a finished basement so our millennial couple could have a mini-apartment like space to sprawl out in. However, our artist daughter Amy, did not find the art “center” I lovingly set up for her acceptable so she moved into my office. Jon, our physics teacher/engineer son-in-law turned his attention to our garage, as his summer project was to build a model wind turbine for his engineering club when school began in August.

And so we all learned to live as one big happy family, redefining boundaries of parenting Amy, getting to know Jon in an intimate way since we first met him the week of their wedding 2 years ago!