Drawing above - GIRL's self-portrait.
As always, I am conscious of the quick passage of time, yet this summer has flown by on new wings of flight. Our days rolling one upon the other to arrive at the end, before I had a chance to savor the middle.
Last night, after a day at the beach, I made blueberry-banana pancakes for dinner. It took forever, having one non-stick pan with a 6 inch circumference, which meant one pancake at a time. It was an opportunity to be frustrated, or....to make something special for my husband and each of my children, individually.
My son was the first up at the pancake bar, GIRL sitting in the living room, mesmerized by an episode of The Brady Bunch. As I stood in front of the stove, BOY would race into the kitchen, throw his arms around me, and tell me I was the best mom in the world. MOM, YOU ARE THE GREATEST MOM IN THE WORLD! He was angling for pancakes, but he also thought I was the best mom in the world because I was making pancakes for dinner. With real maple syrup and yes to whipped cream, Mom...
My GIRL, stuffed with anecdotes of Marcia Brady, sauntered into the kitchen keeping me company while I watched her pancake turn golden. The freckles dancing across her nose remind me of her father -if I imagine him at this age. She is my best companion in the kitchen, bar none. She likes her pancakes stuffed with blueberries, and with lots...of maple syrup.
My husband arrived home between flips of pancakes sizzling in the pan. Covered with the batter of his day, smelling of wood chips and fresh air. It seems his destiny to come home during the witching hour, when anything that can go wrong...will, with a 6 year old girl and a 7 year old boy in their end-of-the-day full throttle battle mode. If love could be willed into a pancake, it would have his name on it in blueberry letters. He likes his pancakes with maple syrup, and always comes back for more.
Then it was my turn. Light on bananas, plenty of fresh blueberries and lots of whipped cream. My belly replete with love for the family that I thought I would never have.
Today is the last day of camp for my children. It has been a summer filled with swimming, tie-dying, archery, the making of fairy wands, and Epic battles between counselors with tin foil armor and kids wielding swords. Every Tuesday and Thursday, they have come home covered in dirt and paint, hair in disarray, their skin pink from the heat. An outdoor summer camp, the old-fashioned way.
In a world in which we are assaulted with bad news on a daily basis, when we face the loss of loved ones, somehow it seems safe to grieve the loss of summer and the fullness of homemade, blueberry-banana pancakes in the belly...
Men are contributing more than ever before to family work. Yet, why do women feel like they are doing everything? Perhaps there is truth in both viewpoints, and a middle ground somewhere in between. How do you split up the family work in your home? I'm blogging about that over on the Huffington Post today. Come read. And, share your thoughts.
There are those experiences of which you cannot compare, and BlogHer11 was one of those. Over 3,000 women bloggers and writers arrived in San Diego to learn, network, share of themselves and take in their own experience. Elisa Camahort Page, Jory Des Jardins and Lisa Stone, have created an organization that is truly unique. Better yet, they've created a community that supports women as only women can.
This was my 2nd conference, and the growth of attendees from 2,0000 at BlogHer08 in San Francisco to close to 3,600 this year was pretty mind boggling. Yes, it can be overwhelming - and it is. But, it is also an amazing opportunity to set eyes on your friends. Whether it is a blogger whom you've followed for years, or someone you've recently come across, making that connection in person is powerful.
I immersed myself in sessions from Essential Writing & Editing Skills to Success on Our Own Terms: A Discussion with Huffington Post Women, to Owning your Beauty: If We Change the Conversation, Can We Change the Culture?
I sat in awe through the Voices of the Year- a handful of bloggers picked for their amazing writing in the last year. Women who stood on the stage, making us laugh or slaying us with their words.
And, of course there are the parties... After all those sessions, you have to party. You have to...or, you go crash in your room. We partied at the People's Party, nearly tripped on Drag Queens swooping into the hallway during Queerosphere, we Sparkle Corned, we watched lithe men gyrate at the Social Fiesta, we Aimed Low and we ended with CheeseburgHer.
But, my favorite part, as always, was spending time in conversation. Whether it was sitting in the bar into the wee hours, or having a discussion around the table, BlogHer would not be BlogHer without the amazing conversations. And, the hugs.
I am still sorting through the weekend. Moved to tears often, the echoes of laughter are still in my belly, and, yes.... my feet are still sore. It was important for me to go. To feel the energy of so many women, and to know that we have a voice. Which brings me to my favorite quote of the weekend, said to me, of why another woman decided to come:
I've been feeling this movement, an energy, that women are gaining a voice. And I wanted to see it. And, it's real. It's actually real.
JCK is not what you would call a fashion maven. Maven, yes. Fashion Maven...hardly. In the last 7 1/2 years since JCK has had children, things have grown terribly sad in the apparel department. You see, JCK shops at stores like Target and Rite Aid for her clothes. Rite Aid, you ask? Rite Aid, indeed. JCK loves deals, and JCK loves comfort. JCK loves finding gorgeous flip-flops. She figures if her toe nails are polished, and her flip flops are pretty, she's looking pretty good.
Two days ago, JCK had to lean out of her CCZ - Couture Comfort Zone. JCK will be attending the BlogHer11 conference this weekend, and JCK's wardrobe needs to kick it up a notch. Without the garlic. Thank you, though, Emeril. So, JCK spent Tuesday morning going through her wardrobe. She had to empty out a drawer of t-shirts to get to the good stuff. It was still there, just a little rumpled. Kind of like JCK. She dove deep into the back of her closet, discovering all kinds of fun things. Some of which actually could be worn.
Over 3,000 bloggers are expected this weekend in San Diego at the BlogHer11 conference. Women, and a few men, will be descending from all over the country, and beyond. Women who share their love for writing and blogging, and for shoes.... JCK thinks that women love shoes like they love cupcakes. Finding a pair of fun shoes is akin to a perfect chocolate cupcake with sprinkles, and you get to hog it all to yourself. JCK hates shopping for shoes. Because she always develops these infatuations, and has to be torn away from making a scene. So, JCK is planning her clothes around shoes she already has. Even if those shoes are a bit scuffed and dusty.
While JCK rediscovered her closet, she found that she was lacking two important items. A little black skirt and new fishnets. So, JCK took a deep breath and put on a little sassy skirt and sleeveless top, and headed out to find her two essentials. As everyone knows, in order to find fun, funky clothes, you have to dress seriously. Not practical clothes that you put on to pick up your kids from camp. Those most darling children who will be lathered in mud and sunblock. So, with her serious mission, JCK slipped on some of her prettiest Rite Aid flip-flops, the shiny turquoise ones, and headed out.
JCK had a particular store in mind, so she drove there. She had to take a big loop around the block, as it had been so many years since she had visited this store that she had forgotten where the parking entrance was. JCK is a little spatially challenged, anyway. Well, JCK can tell you that it was a good thing she took that extra wide loop around the block, because as she pulled up to the store front...the store was Poof! Gone! Poof! Kind of like the economy and JCK's waistline. Sadly, this threw JCK into a brief tailspin. Quel horreur! Where in the world would she find a little black skirt and fishnets?
JCK debated calling her husband. JCK's husband is what you would call a man of fashion, him of REI ruggedness and Sports Chalet men's briefs. Best of all, other than that JCK gets to see him in those briefs, is that he has a discerning eye for women's fashion. However, JCK restrained herself. She did NOT need help, by GOD, she was a woman! Hear her ROAR. The daughter of a woman who will shop until she drops, she, JCK, had to stand strong. It is to be noted that the shop until you drop gene seems to have bypassed JCK.
Like a bolt of lightening, JCK was struck with a new place to go. Eureka!..said the person in the car behind JCK. There was a hand gesture that JCK could not understand, and JCK moved on. As this story should. JCK was so pleased with herself that she almost missed the turn a few blocks away, but just in time she cut in front of another car and pulled into the parking lot.
JCK doesn't know why, but she always manages to enter this particular department store at the perfume section. JCK doesn't have a problem with perfume, per se. Except she really does. When she walks through this section it often induces a stabbing pain in her temples from the eau de WHY DO YOU HAVE TO SPRAY THAT STUFF ALL OVER ME? She is often besieged by women who want to either spray her or cover her with make-up. JCK is an easy target.
JCK quickly veered off into the men's section, just to avoid Priscilla the Perfumery Person. Then she spotted the women's department, and headed off Mr. Rick I work in Retail, by gasping and thrusting her chin forward. JCK had arrived... Section after section of women's apparel...from classic lines to funky chic, JCK was overwhelmed. She slowly made her way through...each area opening up into another. JCK ran her fingers over the fabrics, and let the material slide over her arm. She felt an OOOOOooo escape her ruby red lips. JCK was this close to rubbing her face all over one dress. As if in a dream, meeting an old lover, her sense memory remembered this feeling.
May I help you?
Whew...talk about saved by the sales lady. JCK smiled weakly and told her that she was looking for a short black skirt, something fun, that she could wear to a disco party. The sales lady grew excited.
A disco party! How fun! Is it someone's birthday?
JCK paused. No, I'm going to a conference and there will be a disco party. The saleslady paused.
JCK debated over whether to go into more detail, and she refrained. She could have told her that the BlogHer conference is this amazing place where women gather together to share their passion for blogging -writing on all kinds of subjects. And, where they also enjoy parties. Even Disco Parties.
Yes, JCK said. It WILL be FUN.
I think there are some FUN skirts over here, said the sales lady.
The sales lady then took JCK through so many sections that her head began to spin. JCK's, not the sales lady's. They went through Calvin Klein and Jones New York, they saw sights that JCK had only dreamed of. They saw things JCK had never dreamed of. And, then they arrived at BCBG and JCK was victorious. There it was! JCK's little black skirt. And, they even had it in her size. Better yet, it was affordable. Well, if JCK cuts out fruit from her family's diet for this week.
JCK was whisked into the dressing room, and the little black skirt fit! Hurrah! JCK and the sales lady tittered together, as the skirt was rung up on the register. When JCK brandished her temporary driver's license, the sales lady advised her that she, JCK, should follow-up with the DMV, as they are known for taking months to mail your license to you. JCK smiled. She didn't want to brag, but she and the DMV? Why they are practically Bosom Buddies. The DMV would never, ever take longer than the 2-3 weeks that they had promised JCK. Oh, but the saleslady said...you never know.
You will be glad to know that JCK had only one more stop to complete her shopping experience. She headed downstairs to the hosiery department. At first JCK was terribly frightened that they were out of fishnets. She saw all kinds of interesting sights, like denim leggings and footless tights. Then she spotted them! Right in front of her pointy nose. Black fishnets! JCK made it back to camp in time to pick up her sweet children, and all was good with the world.
JCK is now almost...ready for BlogHer11. She has her suitcase packed, her lap top and cell phone at the ready, and plans to spend time with a few of her peeps. Like her wonderful friend Jenn from Juggling Life. JCK is very excited to be able to spend 3 days surrounded by other people who share her passion for blogging and writing. It's going to be great...as long as JCK can stay awake long enough to put on the black skirt and fishnets for the Disco party...
This summer has been BOY & GIRL's first experience with day camp. Two days a week they are full up with swimming, arts & crafts, archery, games, dance, hiking, drama... all in an outdoors space with acreage.
Today GIRL made one of those paper contraptions where you fold down the corners and each corner is a different number or color, and you move your thumbs and index fingers to move the various parts back and forth. She asks you to choose a color and she moves it as many times as the letters in that color. Then you choose a number and she moves it again that many times. She calls it her Fortune Teller.
This evening she had us learn our fortunes over and over again.
GIRL: Don't worry, they are all good!
There was... Number 6: You will have a great day.
There was...Number 7: You will win $100.
Not to be missed was...Number 9: You will not go to jail.
And... Number 10: If you go to jail, you will get out the next day.
My daughter...ever the optimist...