Putting the trash out (a.k.a: Keeping it real)

Travelin' Oma wrote a very thought-provoking post yesterday. She talked about assessing whether the posts we write are real reflections of our true selves or if they are merely the best of us put on display. (She really says it much more eloquently than that. Click over and read her post. You won't be sorry).

But it got me thinking about my own blog and the part of my life that I choose to reveal here.

Do I often intentionally put my best foot forward, ignoring my many faults and failings?

You bet I do.

I don't want to look back years from now at this silly record of our everyday lives and wonder if all I did was complain about how annoying my kids are.

But I also don't want to look back and know that the sugary sweetness I posted about was not how I really felt every second of every day.

It's a tricky balance - sorting between the reality of our lives and the way we'd like them to be.

In hopes of striking a more symmetrical record, I am going to treat you to a little bit of my trash today. It is with much trepidation that I give you a taste of the real Stie, in all her grainy, un-photoshoppped, un-made up, bags-under-the-eyes glory:


This is the sight the Husband gets has to see first thing every morning. Poor guy.

And for your judging pleasure, here are a few real things about me that you may or may not have known:

I am a clean freak, but that does not mean there are not scary closets and drawers in my house. I have a storage room in my basement, as we speak, that would cause anyone great physical injury if they tried to walk through it, so mountainous are the massive piles of stuff.

I am very vain. I spend a lot of time worrying about what I look like. I will not go to the store without my hair done and my face fully made up. I absolutely think sweats should never be seen in public. And, yes, I judge those who do.

I am also highly self-critical. You would think with all that time spent primping that I would be more happy with what I see in the mirror. I'm not. I constantly second guess every single thing I do and say. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be good enough for myself.

I am not good with confrontation. If I have an issue to work out with someone, I am of the, "let's bury it deep and never speak of it again" variety. Passive aggressive, much? I wrote the book on it.

Lastly, I sometimes dread the hours between three and five p.m. every day. While I am excited to see my kids come home, I really dislike helping them with homework. They're all tired, cranky, talking a mile a minute, and seem to need something from me at the exact same minute. I've also usually procrastinated and am trying to get dinner ready during that time, as well. I feel pulled in so many different directions that some days I think my head will explode. It's my least favorite time of the day.

So there you have it. A little bit of reality - for better or for worse.

What I'd really like to see now is YOUR reality. Post a picture of yourself sans make-up, and put a little bit of the trash out for the rest of us to see. That way, years from now when we think we were nothing but perfect, we'll know the real truth.

And we'll like each other all the more for it.


Today, I am thirty-six.

Lots of people asked me today how I felt about turning over yet another year. And do you know what I said?

I feel so damn good.

For sure, my thirties are a lot more fun than my twenties. In my thirties, I no longer have to change diapers. Most nights I get a full eight hours of sleep. I feel more confident - like I am finally at home in my own skin. My wrinkles are not yet prominent enough to be requiring the botox. And I am slightly less concerned with how large my rear end is than I was in my twenties.

Only slightly.

But still. That's something, right?

Plus, I am actually getting paid to do something I love to do, on my own terms. I spend approximately seven hours every day all by myself. I have three beautiful kids who I can't wait to see at the end of those seven hours. I have a husband who, though out of town today, made sure to send two of my favorite birthday things: Cash and flowers.

I have friends who went above and beyond to make me feel loved and adored today. Friends that are like family. I have actual family who called and texted the birthday love. I have the Book of Face (which happily announces your birthday for you), thereby leading many old and new friends to wish me a happy day.

So as I sit here tonight, proofing pictures from a fabulously rich weekend in Philly, my new favorite soundtrack (Glee) is playing softly in the background, and I can't help but notice it --

I am just so blessed.

Can't wait to see what thirty-six has in store for me.

The Laws of Stie

Our universe has laws which are absolutely indisputable.

Laws that cannot be stopped. Rules that cannot be broken. Our world cannot exist without these laws, such as gravity or motion.

These laws are woven into our very existence and keep life, as we know it, going.

My universe also has a few laws. Rules I am unable to break, even if I wanted to. Thought I'd share them with you:
  1. There is always room for dessert.
  2. Diet coke is to be consumed daily.
  3. Pedicures are best left to the professionals.
  4. When buying something on sale (that you expected to pay full price for), the money saved is a profit and should be spent immediately.
  5. Never go into Walmart without make-up or in sweatpants. (Just because you shop at that store occasionally, does not mean you have to look like it.)
  6. No diet is worth doing unless it allows you to eat chocolate.
  7. Exercise must happen every day. See numbers one and six for questions on this.
  8. Cooking when the Husband is out of town will always consist of pancakes or frozen waffles.
  9. A clean house equals a happy heart and a clear mind.
  10. Bad pictures should be taken every day to ensure at least one good picture now and then.
  11. Spontaneously breaking into song and dance daily will lengthen your lifespan (and embarrass your children, thus doubling its benefit).
  12. At any given time, there should be no less than five good books on your nightstand waiting to be read.
  13. Muddy shoes should NEVER enter the house.
  14. Playing the same music over and over is not at all annoying.
  15. Children should never go to sleep without a kiss on the cheek.
What are the laws of your universe?

I wanna talk about me: the finale

Today, at 8:29 a.m., I turned 35.

I know, did you feel the universe celebrating?

I have had a fabulous day, felt loved and adored, and am pleased to be another year older (though there is no evidence to say I am actually a year wiser. Just ask McKay's teacher).

In honor of this, here are a few things I have learned this past year. May it help you, as it has me:
  • Biggest lesson of the year: Never run up the front stairs without clothes on. Getting caught by the UPS man will be horrifying (though, probably more so for him).
  • A little cookie dough will cure what ails you (unless what ails you is chubby thighs. Then it's the worst thing possible and should be avoided at all costs).
  • When wanting a haircut, it is wise to listen to your husband when he tells you NOT to cut your hair. He will turn out to be right.
  • Road trips are a great way to spend a vacation, and are most fun when children are not dying of the plague and old ladies wear depends, as god intended them to.
  • My husband is a good man who loves me in spite of myself. And I'm kind of partial to him, too.
  • It is still 900 degrees and humid here in the summertime. Apparently, that doesn't change just because I wished for it last year.
  • Money spent on broadway musicals is always money well spent. Shows I've seen this year include: A Chorus Line, The Drowsy Chaperone, Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Sweeney Todd. All were excellent. Go see one today.
  • Taking pictures makes me happy, even if I'm no good at it.
  • Living life surrounded by family who loves you and friends who you love is the key to happiness.

So, happy birthday to me. I promise to stop talking about myself now.

At least, for a day or so.

I wanna talk about me: High School Prom Edition

And so we come, dear readers, to the extremely awkward, slightly embarrassing phase of my life: high school.

I have a lot of really fun memories from my high school days.

Sadly, my junior prom was not one of them.

The boy who asked me was a casual friend, and not necessarily someone I was looking to begin a romance with. He seemed nice, and, honestly, I was just plain happy to be going to prom with anyone.

About a week before prom, he invited me to go limo shopping. Score, thought my inexperienced 16-year-old self. A limo! I could hardly wait.

The night of prom arrived. I happily scrunched, moussed, and curled my permy hair. I slipped into my peach Jessica McClintock and pulled on my white tights (with sparkly gems going up the back leg - remember those?). Oh, I was hot stuff. And this Cinderella was ready for the ball.

When the doorbell rang, my heart sank slightly when I looked out and saw that my carriage to the ball looked like this:

My date explained away the absence of a limo with a very implausible, very lengthy story involving lawsuits and limo drivers, none of which made any sense to me. Still, I was hoping to have a good time, and was determined not to let it get me down.

This optimistic feeling lasted all of 6.4 seconds. I watched in horror as he pulled my corsage out of the box and slipped it onto my wrist. It was plastic.

Yes, Mr. Classy got me a corsage with fake flowers.

We doubled with another couple who were making out like crazy before we even got to the restaurant. Dinner consisted of the following: A food fight, spilling of drinks, attempted groping, yelling at the waiter, burping contests, and nose picking (no, Daniel, not by me).

Once we arrived at the dance, I found every excuse to meet my girlfriends in the bathroom for commiseration and lamenting. And being the solid pack of teenage girls that we were, they all happily ignored their dates to comfort me in the ladies room for the bulk of our time there.

And to add another touch of class to the ultra-tacky situation, the fake flowers began to fall off my corsage. Everywhere I went, there was a trail of cheap plastic flowers behind me.

Finally, the dance ended and it was time to go home. My date thought he had earned some post-prom smooching and proceeded to drive to a scenic lookout. The other couple with us was completely horizontal in the backseat.

And at this point, I was having none of that.

I mean, hello? In those days, I needed AT LEAST a real corsage to make out with someone I didn't really like.

So, I told him I wanted to go home. Clearly mad and disappointed, he slammed the car into gear, drove 90 miles an hour, and practically threw me onto the curb at my house.

I slammed the front door behind me, threw the remaining corsage into the trash, and started sobbing. What I had hoped to be a promising night full of memories, turned out to be a disaster.

Lucky for me, my love life has vastly improved since then. True, I may have had to kiss a few frogs along the way (or not kiss them, and totally tick them off), but I did find my prince in the end. And the Husband does not promise limos when he can't deliver, bring plastic corsages, or try to grope me on the dance floor.

(He only tries that at home.)

I wanna talk about me, part duh

Olivia Newton John in Xanadu. Ever seen it? For me, that was a defining film of my childhood. Once I saw Miss Olivia bee-bopping around on her skates while singing with her provocative off-the-shoulder dress, I knew I just had to be her.

So, I started skating.

Unfortunately, I'm not the most graceful sort. I have been known to go from standing to falling flat on my face without taking a step. I'm a natural at the ungracefulness, really.

me, all dolled up and ready for yet another surgery, 1988. Nice sun-in hair coloring job, eh?

And so, when I was 10 years old, I fell while practicing my skating moves in front of my parent's house. I knew immediately from the unnatural way my arm was hanging that some serious damage had been done.

Once I convinced my brother Matt and his friend that I wasn't "faking it," [their words] my mother was brought to the scene, and I was rushed to the local emergency room. Surgery was scheduled for the next morning, in spite of my protests and pleadings. Screws and a metal plate were put on the broken bone.

I cried. I hurt. I healed. (Do you like how fast I'm skipping over lots of parts? Don't answer that.)

Anyhoo, Quack number one told my parents they never take the metal plates out of kids' arms.

If only we had known.

Fast forward to me, age 13, ice skating with my best friend Christina's church youth group. My fine skating skills landed me face down on the ice with yet another disturbingly unnatural hang to my arm.

Yes, the same arm.

This time, both bones were broken. Another visit to whatever-doctor-shows-up-at-the-ER, and surgery was scheduled immediately. Unfortunately, as the first doctor had left the previous hardware in, my bone had grown completely around the plate. This doctor had to chip away at the bone in order to remove the plate, before attaching new ones to both broken bones.

Quack number two decided it would be wise to chip out eight inches of bone and insert a four inch plate, causing my arm to actually grow crooked.

I'm not kidding. It was bowed. Like this: (only no arrow sticking out of the flesh. That would have been a little creepy).

It was really gross.

Quack number three was called in a few months later to repair the damage done by quacks one and two. Over the next two years, I had four more surgeries, a bone graft, and months and months of physical therapy. It was traumatic, painful, and should never have happened.

Now, I have three four-inch long scars around my arm, and a one-inch scar on my wrist.

Moral of the story: Get a second opinion. Doctors aren't always what they're 'quacked' up to be.

And, yes, I have accepted that I will never, ever be a skating/singing muse. After all, there really only was one. And she was brilliant.