Archive for May, 2012

Making up is hard to do

Monday, May 28th, 2012

At least when I spend $200 at Costco, I leave the store pushing an overflowing shopping cart – even if it is filled with boring necessities like toilet paper and Diet Coke. However, when I spend $200 at Sephora, I walk out of the store with a tiny, glossy black shopping bag that is so light that I have to pull out the tissue paper that they stuff in the top and make sure that the products I bought actually got put in the bag.

Ahh, the price of beauty.

If you’re not familiar with Sephora, it’s a chain of makeup stores where eyeliner and mascara cost six times more than at CVS.  It is staffed by scary women in black who apply their makeup like their faces are blank canvases and every day is a new opportunity for self expression. Wow, I didn’t know they made electric blue glitter eye shadow.

Usually, I am very happy to buy my makeup at Target. The price of experimentation is low so I figure if that even if the eye shadow that looks so good on Halle Berry ends up making me look like a zombie, I’ve only invested $8.

However, after I’ve got a collection of about eight different shades of lipstick rolling around in the bottom of my purse and even when I try layering the pink-ish one on top of the orange-ish one and top it all off with tinted gloss and the color still looks hideous, it’s time to go to Sephora where the lipstick will cost me $25 but I can try on the colors so I don’t end up looking like I just ate a cherry popsicle.

And Jennifer Lynn has been asking to go to Sephora to get a new tube of the brand of concealer that she bought there a year ago. She believes that product has the ability to transform girls from ugly ducklings to beautiful swans. The stuff is that good.

The items on my Sephora shopping list were: foundation, eyebrow pencil, concealer and lipstick. Those were all things I had bought there before so I imagined myself being able to breeze in, grab the makeup I knew I wanted and be on our way. The problem is that because we only make a trip to Sephora every six months, only two of the four items on my list were still being stocked. Oh no, I was going to have to try to make sense of the dozens of brands, colors, applicators and pricing to find something to cover the black circles under my eyes and bring my lips back from the dead.

I finally got some help from the Sephora employee who looked the least like she was auditioning for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and with her advice, located some concealer and lipstick that actually made me look rested and refreshed. Feeling like I was on a roll, I mentioned that I could use some new blush, and while I’m at it, I’ve always hated that muddy brown eyes shadow that I keep wearing year after year because it never seems to get used up, so I tossed some lovely, peachy, translucent blush and mocha-colored shadow into my little shopping basket.

Jennifer Lynn found her concealer and some lip balm and we headed to check out. I was watching the total as the cashier rang it up – and it was heading over $300. It’s easy to get well into the hundreds when you’re buying blush that costs $38 and concealer that costs $33.

OMG, I panicked. I can’t spend that much. The gal at the register was extremely nice when I started setting aside items that I had changed my mind about getting. Even though this Sephora is in Marin County, I probably wasn’t the first customer she had rung up who had sticker shock.

I continued whittling down the items I had picked out – I’m sure a Q-tip will work just as well applying my concealer as a $28 brush – until the total was in the realm of what my MasterCard could handle.

You know that saying, “You look like a million bucks.” I may not look that good but it didn’t cost me that much either.

Art Non-Starter

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

For the last couple of years, Jennifer Lynn has been at that awkward age when it comes to summer. She is 15, and like most 13 to 15 year-olds, she is too old for summer camps but too young to get a job.

Even though summer meant that she wouldn’t have any Trig homework or a stack of current events to summarize for World History, ever since we moved from Petaluma this year, the thought of being stuck in a condo in Cotati was making summer look pretty bleak to her. Sure, she could walk from our place to downtown Cotati but unless she wanted to get a tattoo along the way, the shopping and socializing prospects are slim compared to downtown Petaluma.

So she applied to the ArtStart program with the hope that it would be her ticket out of Cotati for the summer. It sounded great to her; she wants to pursue art in college so here was an opportunity to do real commissioned art on the streets of Santa Rosa.

“Wouldn’t this look great on a college resume! And I get paid! And think how cool it will sound when I tell all my friends how I spent my summer vacation!” She didn’t exactly say those words, but when she rushed to the mailbox every day for two weeks to see if an acceptance letter was waiting, it was obvious that that was what she was thinking.

She hadn’t spent her paycheck yet but she definitely had taken ownership of the bragging rights.

On Saturday, the thin letter came and as anyone who has had a child apply to college knows, if the envelope only requires 45 cents in postage, it’s not good news. She took the rejection pretty hard.

Like any subjective decision, it’s impossible to know how the kids’ portfolios were evaluated. One thing I do know for sure, is that she only found out about ArtStart a little more than a week before the application was due so she didn’t have much time to get a portfolio together and she was probably competing against some very talented 18 year-olds with awesome portfolios that they had created in their AP art class.

So, it’s going to be Plan B for the summer: since she didn’t get into ArtStart, she will spend a couple of weeks with her older sister in Southern California. It definitely won’t add to her resume and there’s no pay involved but at least she can tell her friends that she visited her college age sister over the summer which sounds a lot better than spending it with her AARP parents.

Will it make for an impressive story? No. But at least it will be respectable.

Mother’s Day Straight Up

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

I’m perfectly happy with a very low key celebration of Mother’s Day. I would rather have my family show their appreciation for me by emptying the dishwasher once a week rather than feel obligated to take me out for an expensive brunch once a year.

And while I’m on the topic of what I would like for Mother’s Day, I would love to open the cabinet under the sink and discover that the once full trash can is now empty. Do kids think that mothers possess some kind of magic so that the lid on the big gray garbage can will open only for us? I guess it’s the same kind of magical powers that makes it possible for only moms to put a new roll of toilet paper on the holder.

So those are the kind of surprises that I would love to get regardless of whether or not it’s Mother’s Day. But there is one supposed indulgence that no one ever, ever, has to give me on Mother’s Day or the other 364 days of the year: breakfast in bed.

Eating in bed sounds only slightly less appealing to me than eating in the shower. Both are places that I don’t really look my best – not that I always have to have my makeup on and the frizz flat-ironed out of my hair to be able to enjoy eating – but generally, I prefer to have applied deodorant within the last 18 hours before sharing a meal with someone.

Plus there’s the whole logistics of eating in bed. Who wants crumbs in their sheets? And eating in bed isn’t particularly conducive to conversation. While mom juggles the tray on her lap, everybody else probably has to sit uncomfortably on the bed. Unless you’ve got a Tempur-Pedic mattress, you had better watch that coffee and OJ bouncing sloshing around every time someone sits down or gets up.

You may have seen the TV commercial for Philadelphia Cream Cheese in which the husband wakes up his wife (at least we think that’s who it is; wedding rings aren’t evident) while a faux indie song plays in the background. Of course, she doesn’t wake up with her hair going in 16 different directions and there aren’t any creases in her skin from the sheets. The couple cozies up while slathering an inch of cream cheese on bagels and teasing each other with strawberries dipped in the creamy white stuff.

Doesn’t look like fun to me. In fact, it makes me cringe. Let me take a shower, brush my teeth and put a couple of layers of fabric between me and the outside world.

I’ll take my cream cheese and bagels at the table, thank you.

New year, new school

Monday, May 7th, 2012

The end of the 2012 school year has a special significance for me because it means saying goodbye to the Petaluma school community. Our youngest daughter, Jennifer Lynn has decided to transfer from Petaluma High School to Montgomery High in Santa Rosa for her junior and senior years.

Changing schools – especially midway through high school – was something that I never anticipated doing. All of our three children stayed at the same elementary school  even when the school went through some difficult changes in the administration and many parents were jumping ship left and right. We always felt that if they had good teachers – which they did – that was what really mattered.

But when we moved from Petaluma to Cotati last November, which put us equidistant from both Petaluma and Santa Rosa, Jennifer became interested in checking out some of the specialized programs at Santa Rosa schools that she had heard about from friends. Programs such as ArtQuest at Santa Rosa High and the International Baccalaureate program at Montgomery High.

Jennifer has always been a child who likes to try things out and is more willing to put herself out there much more than her siblings ever would. And thankfully, her experimentation runs in the direction of social and academic outlets rather than risky behavior. She’s tried cheerleading, drama, badminton, public speaking – all just to see if they held any long-term interest for her.

So rather than being intimidated by the prospect of finding her way around a new school and making new friends, she’s excited about it. She feels like it’s a challenge that she would regret passing up.

I also think she wants to get out from under her older sister’s shadow and forge her own path. She’s not like me – I purposefully sought out the same teachers and professors that my older four siblings had had. They were all really good students and I’m sure many of the A’s on my report cards were given to me purely on the basis on my last name. They had set the standard; all I had to do was not screw it up.

But I have to respect Jennifer for not wanting to only be known as “Valerie’s sister” in her remaining time in high school. She wants to achieve something that is unique to her. Is there sibling rivalry in there? Sure, but again, I’m grateful it’s channeled in a positive direction. There are a lot of ways teenagers set themselves apart so if Jennifer is doing it by switching schools so she can take on an academically tough program, I’m ok with that.

As supportive as I am of Jennifer wanting to challenge herself socially and academically, there are many things I will miss about the wonderful Petaluma school community. The PHS Band (thank you, Mr. Eveland), the Herold Mahoney awards, the PEF awards, and Senior Recognition night are just a few of them.

For almost 20 years, one of our kids has been in a Petaluma City School. It’s been a great journey.