{April 7, 2013}   A Bucket Book for Dad

My dad turned 80 last month and I struggled to think of an appropriate gift for the occasion. (If you regularly read my blog, you might know I like to come up with unique gift ideas like a salvage yard find for my husband’s 50th birthday.)

Needing inspiration, I Googled “ideas for 80th birthday gift for man” but wasn’t thrilled with the suggestions. There were the “Kiss Me, I’m 80” T-shirts and the “I’m 18 with 62 years experience” coffee mugs. Nah. What about a “Yoga for the Elderly” DVD, “Car Caddy” to help him get out of his vehicle or Superman bath robe? I don’t think so. (OK, I kinda liked the robe.)

When I started my 47 and fearless project, I compiled a list of lifetime experiences—things I’ve already crossed off my bucket list. It was fun to be reminded of things I’ve done, especially at a time when I felt it had been a long while since I had moved outside my comfort zone to do anything adventurous.

My dad is active and in good health, but I thought maybe he’d like to be reminded of the cool things he has done in his 80 years. So I decided to make a “bucket book” for him—a scrapbook of things he has already crossed off his bucket list (a list he didn’t know he had.)

With help from my mom and siblings, I came up with a list of milestones in his life, places he has traveled, outdoor activities he has enjoyed, etc. I printed out the list and placed one item to a page, adding family photos when possible and supplementing with generic pictures as needed to create the scrapbook.

Before his birthday celebration, I bought several black buckets at the dollar store. I put the scrapbook and a DVD of “The Bucket List” movie into one bucket for him to unwrap. I used the remaining buckets to hold other gifts—items that would help him complete other items on a typical bucket list. For example, one bucket included two tattoo sleeves and temporary tattoos so he could cross off “get a tattoo” from his list. Another was “celebrate 80th birthday” and included the Dr. Seuss book “You’re Only Old Once! A Book for Obsolete Children” and silly gifts like an Over the Hill Decision Spinner (spin it to decide whether to take a nap or drive really slow. Ahh, choices, choices…) A third bucket held six cans of silly string that he could use with his grandkids to “have a silly string fight.”

Dad enjoyed paging through the scrapbook and got into the spirit of the gifts, wearing the tattoo sleeves to pose for a photo at my request. I hope the silly string fight will occur the next time he gets together with the grandkids. Who knows what other items we can add to the book in the years to come? But don’t suggest skydiving. He’s already declined my invitation.


{February 20, 2013}   *#%! The Water’s Cold!

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you hear? I hear crazy people swearing near me.

Author Bill Martin Jr. and illustrator Eric Carle might not appreciate my take on their children’s book, but that’s how I’d describe the scene at the Polar Plunge in Muskego, Wisconsin on Feb. 10.

With temps in the mid-30s and a cold rain falling, nearly 200 people hopped, leaped, flipped, cannon-balled or jumped through a hole cut in the ice of the pond at Muskego Park to brave the icy waters below. They were “Freezin’ for a Reason.” The plunge raised about $90,000 for Special Olympics and is one of many similar events held throughout the state.

Since these folks were crazy enough to plunge into the frigid pond voluntarily, it wasn’t a surprise to see them dressed in wild costumes, including Elvis, chickens, nerds, aliens, caped super-heroes and other outlandish characters. Many teams wore matching T-shirts or swim trunks and several individuals sported teeny bikinis or skimpy Speedos.

I joined a team sponsored by Alpine Lanes  (a fun place to bowl and fabulous pizza!) We wore T-shirts emblazoned with our team name, the “Ice Holes,” then personalized our individual outfits with accessories like sparkly tutus, kiddie inner tubes, lei, crazy hats, fur headbands and a Darth Vader helmet.

After registering, our team waited for our assigned plunge time in a huge heated tent that included concessions and a band to get us warmed up. As the time neared, we headed to smaller tents closer to the pond to stow our towels and dry clothes.

All the laughing, dancing and shared goofiness of the previous few hours could no longer distract me from what we were about to do. If you read about our family outing to the Cool Fool Kite Festival on New Year’s Day, you know I don’t like the cold. So jumping into ice water is way outside my comfort zone. In fact, I dreaded it. (Worse yet, I couldn’t whine about it, since I’d convinced two lovely friends to do this with me.)

Our team had too many members to jump at the same moment, so we broke into groups. Jen, Lisa, Leah and I made up the first group, held hands and jumped on the count of 3. Lisa and Leah kept their heads above water while Jen and I went all the way under. Yikes!

Maybe it was just the people on our team, but the first words to be spoken after hitting the water were, I’m sorry to say, profanity-laced exclamations. “Oh, &#%!” “*@$%! That’s cold!” “Holy #*$&!”

Before my body had time to register the cold, I was ushered to a ladder and out of the water to make way for the next group. I don’t think we were in for 30 seconds. Dripping and shivering, we hurried to nearby hot tubs to soak off the chill, then headed back to the tents to dry and change.

Truthfully, plunging wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was cold, but quick. And the dip in the hot tub warmed me back up in no time.

Best of all, our team raised about $1,500 for Special Olympics and we had a lot of fun doing it. Would I do it again? Maybe. But I’ll insist that you join me.

{January 9, 2013}   Cool Kite Flight

I don’t like being cold, so I’m not a big fan of many winter activities in Wisconsin. That puts any of the many polar plunge events in the state way outside my comfort zone.

With below-freezing temperatures on New Year’s Day, I couldn’t bring myself to strip down to a swimsuit at Bradford Beach and plunge into Lake Michigan like hundreds of people who participated in the Polar Bear Plunge this year. (I’m putting off that kind of bone-chilling adventure until February or March when I plan to do one of these chilly dips.)

Instead, my husband and I bundled up the boys and headed to Veterans Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront for the Cool Fool Kite Festival. Gift of Wings, a store aimed at kite and aviation enthusiasts, has organized this winter kite fest for 26 years, but it was our family’s first time participating.

The day was bright and sunny, but with the temperature that morning hovering around 20°, we dressed in long underwear, boots, coats, scarves, hats and gloves, then I tucked a couple hand warmers in my pockets just in case. (Did I mention I’m not a fan of cold weather?)

When we arrived around noon, we discovered our oldest had been more interested in remembering his hand-held video game than his gloves. So I handed over mine and immediately opened the hand warmers. Crisis averted.

There were quite a few kites of varying colors and sizes already in the air, dipping, diving and spinning circles. The wind speed was fluctuating between 5 and 15 mph, which was just enough to get the boys’ dragon and doggy kites off the ground. I’d forgotten how enjoyable it is to see kites take flight and tug on their lines to keep them aloft. The boys had fun while the breeze lasted, but it soon died down and with it, the boys’ enthusiasm.

That was our cue to warm up with free hot chocolate, coffee and snacks from the friendly folks at Caribou Coffee. (A big thank you to them…I don’t think I’d have lasted much longer without the piping-hot coffee!)

It’s amazing how hot chocolate and cookies gave a second wind to our boys. Because soon they were eager to watch a family of ice artists engineer an igloo and penguins from huge chunks of ice. While the kids moved on to chipping away at a sample ice block, I kept my hands wrapped around my coffee cup and asked the carvers about their craft, the crystal-clear ice that was their canvas, and the tools they used. (A household iron? Who’d have guessed? It helps shape the ice and give it a smooth, clear finish.) It’s a skill that takes talent…and a predilection for the cold.

By the time my coffee had cooled, my feet were beginning to feel like blocks of ice, too. So we started for home, colder but wiser. (Next time, double-check that everyone has gloves!)

Want to know more about my 47 and fearless project? Check out my first post here.

It’s exactly three months until my birthday and the deadline for my 47 and fearless project. (What? It’s not marked on your calendar? You’re not counting down the days? Inconceivable!)

If you’ve noticed my lack of blog posts in the past two months, you’d guess I’m way behind schedule.

Though I am, it’s not as bad as it looks. I’ve been trying new things; I just haven’t been making the time to write about them. I hope to do that soon or at least post some photos.

My plan is to blog about my most recent experiences first and then catch up on the older ones when I can.

Here are a few things you can expect to learn about:

–Flying kites in frigid weather at the Cool Fool Kite Festival on Milwaukee’s Lakefront

–Making five pairs of awesome earrings at a beading class with my mom

–Being hypnotized to break a bad habit

–Designing a Cub Scout float for a local Christmas parade

That said, I still need to kick into high gear if I’m going to complete this project on time. On tap are two winter activities that will be firsts for me (if I go through with them) and take me way outside my comfort zone: a polar plunge and downhill skiing.

If you have ideas for other new things I can try in the first three months of 2013, please share them.

In the meantime:

new year

Happy New Year!

{October 31, 2012}   Thrilling Treetop Tour

I have yet to schedule a hot air balloon ride or skydiving trip. (Skydiving remains a tiny bit out of my comfort zone right now.) But one of my latest adventures—a zip line canopy tour—had me soaring through the air, at times 75 feet above the forest floor, so I’m working my way up to it!

I had invited my husband, several girlfriends, parents from my son’s Cub Scout Pack and pretty much anyone I encountered to join me zip lining, but just two daring people could squeeze it into their schedules—my dear friend Ellen’s niece, Wendy, and Wendy’s husband, Mike.

We met at Lake Geneva Canopy Tours and were thrilled that the weather had cooperated; it was a beautiful, sunny fall day.

According to LGCT’s website, a canopy tour differs from a typical zip line tour because it’s a “living tour built in the trees of a forest. Riders traverse steel cables connecting a series of platforms built in the trees, walk wire rope sky bridges (and) tree-based staircases. … (It’s) an ecologically oriented sightseeing adventure with a bird’s eye view of the canopy of the forest. (It) usually includes information about the ecology, geology, biology and history of the area in addition to the thrill of zip lining.”

It also promised memories to last a lifetime, and I’m happy to say, it made good on its promise.

After weighing in and signing a release form, Mike, Wendy and I headed to base camp where we met our SkyGuides, Tim and Alex, and the rest of our group—a father, his two teenage sons and two German exchange students the family was hosting. Tim and Alex fitted each of us with waist and chest harnesses, a trolley, two lanyards with carabiners, gloves and a safety helmet. We had to choose nicknames for each other and write them on our helmets.

Then we were driven a short distance to “ground school”, where our guides demonstrated the proper hand grip on the trolley (the metal part with grooved wheels that clips on the cable), leg position (crossed at ankles), hand signals for braking, hand placement on the cable for braking (tostada, taco, no burrito) and how to self-rescue (pull ourselves hand-over-hand) if we stopped midway on a cable. Then we practiced those skills individually before we had a group photo taken and it was “Time to Fly.”

We headed to the first of eight zip lines built into the forest canopy—the Butterfly. It’s so named, we were told, because its goal is to rid first-time riders of butterflies in the stomach and make them comfortable with the zip-lining process. In general, it works like this: One guide stays with the group while the second guide takes the zip line to the next platform. The first guide clips a rider on to the cable and sends him off. The second guide signals the rider when to brake and helps him land on the platform. The guide unclips the rider from the cable and secures him safely to the platform before he signals the first guide to send the next rider. Safety is paramount in every move. We were secured to a cable, support or staircase the entire time we were in the forest.

I didn’t have to wait long before it was my turn on the Butterfly. One second I’m standing on a stump on the platform, the next I’m flying through the air. A few seconds later, I’m at the next platform. What fun! If anyone in our group was fearful, he or she didn’t let it show. We all crossed the first zip line easily, looking like naturals.

It helped that Tim and Alex were great guides: informative, instructive and inspiring. They answered questions, offered encouragement and corrected us when we made a mistake. (In one instance, I put my hand in front of the trolley instead of behind it when I braked. Alex immediately corrected me, explaining that my fingers would become “hamburger” if the trolley ran them over.)

Along the way, they described how the course was built , provided details about the zip lines, staircases and bridges and talked about the wildlife and species of trees in the 100-acre park. They shared past experiences, including an awesome story about an 87-year-old man who completed the canopy tour the week before our visit. Plus, they both had a good sense of humor, making jokes and teasing us about our nicknames or the comments we made.

Although the rest of our group was on the quiet side, Wendy, Mike and I made up for it. We cheered each other on, posed for silly photos and laughed throughout the tour. I’m so glad they agreed to join me. They were great companions—adventurous, smart, funny and always ready with a clever quip.

All the zip lines were fun, but one gave me pause—the Beast. It’s 840 feet long with no end in sight from the starting platform. That seemed a little scary to me, but zipping that distance gave me a few more moments to appreciate the gorgeous fall colors in the forest before I focused on braking. I loved it! (Watch the video Mike took.)

Waiting on the ending platform after my turn, I was amazed that I could hear the “whirring” noise of the next rider zipping toward us before I could even make him out as a speck moving in the distance.

In addition to the zip lines, we crossed five rope bridges, including one of the longest in the lower 48 states, and climbed three spiral stairways as well as a one-of-a-kind “floating” double-helix stairway that wraps around a tree. All very cool.

The finale of the tour is 1,200-ft. dual racing zip line. After managing eight previous zip lines, this wouldn’t seem much different. But it is for a few reasons. First, you don’t control braking; it’s done by a staff member at the ending platform. Second, you have little, if any, control of the direction your body faces as you race; frontward, backward or spinning in circles. Third, and most nerve-wracking for me, you don’t hold onto the trolley—or anything—for support as you run (yes, run!) off the platform.

Listening to the choppy videotape I made during this part of the tour, you can hear my nervous sigh before asking Alex, “So, we’re just running off this platform? Is that what you’re telling me?” I sound a little panicked as I turn to Wendy, who was getting ready to race alongside me, and ask, “Are you holding on to something?” Like I had somehow missed that important part of the guides’ instructions.

Fortunately for me, Alex and Tim didn’t give me much time to dwell on it. Before I knew it, I heard, “In 3…2…1…Go!” That’s all I needed to take the leap! Soon, I was soaring, squealing and spinning as Wendy and I raced to the final platform.  We were told riders on the racing zip can reach speeds of 45 mph. I doubt we did, but it didn’t matter. It was a blast! (Watch the video of the race from my point of view.)

Before our tour, we had opted for the digital photo package, which included group pictures Alex took during the tour. I also carried my own digital camera and FlipCam video camera, which were strapped to my harness. While it’s nice to have the additional photos, I found it awkward to keep tucking the cameras into the webbing of my harness before zipping and then taking them out to use. The gloves made it clumsy to control the zoom and press the shutter button; yet removing them to shoot photos was inconvenient and slowed the steady pace our guides set. Maybe next time, I’ll invest in camera that attaches to my helmet!

And there likely will be a next time. I’ve recommended the tour to anyone who asks about it and offer to join them if they decide to go. It’s that much fun!

Want to learn more about my 47 and fearless project? Read my first post.

{August 31, 2012}   I Like It Dirty!

The truth is out—I like it dirty. And that’s a revelation even to me.

One of the first things I did when I embarked on my 47 and fearless project in April was to sign up for the Dirty Girl Mud Run in August. It combined two things way outside my comfort zone: running a 5K (I’m not a fan of exercise and have not run any distance since high school) and abandoning my girlie ways to get muddy and messy.

The Dirty Girl Mud Run is a 5K obstacle course just for women. Lucky for me, entrants don’t need to be athletes to participate. All obstacles are optional and the race is not timed or competitive. As it says on the organization’s web site, the event is all about “camaraderie, fun and shared challenges.”

If the names of the obstacles don’t have you laughing—H2OMG water pit, Utopian Tubes tunnel crawl, PMS (Pretty Muddy Stuff) mud crawl—the names of some of the teams will.

Dirty was the name of the game for many, such as Mudders and Daughters, 50 Shades of Dirty, Mudlicious, Dirty MILFs (Moms Inspiring Lifetime Fitness) and Flirty, Dirty and a Little Nerdy,

A portion of each entrant’s registration fee is donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, so many teams were clearly thinking pink when they chose names and uniforms. Teams included Bosom Buddies, Save Second Base, Tutus for Tatas, Breast Friends, Muddy Melons, Hotties for Hooters and Boobs and Boas.

Our team represented Gallery of Gourdgeous (“like” us on Facebook!), a breast cancer awareness page I created last October. My husband grows pumpkins as a hobby, so the page uses pumpkins, gourds and other squash in an irreverent way to bring attention to the fight against breast cancer and encourage women to get mammograms. Fittingly, we called our team the Gourdian Angels and wore angel wings, orange diva gloves, silly striped socks, tutus and tank tops (artwork designed by my talented friend Mike) that read “Protect Your Pumpkins!”

When the day of the race dawned, it was easy to calculate how my race prep had been divided: 99 percent uniform creation and acquisition and 1 percent athletic training (meaning, I thought about training…even Googled training for a 5K…but never advanced past the thinking stage.) So, if I was going to fail miserably, at least I was going to look good doing it!

More than 8,000 women turned out that Sunday for the second day of the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Our team included Jen, a sassy soul sister I met when our oldest children were in preschool; Kris, a talented athlete, great friend and post-college roommate; Jane, a beautiful elementary school mate I hadn’t seen in 30+ years; Lisa, my artistic sister-in-law and supportive companion in my 47 and fearless project; and Lisa’s cousin Pam, who I met that day.

Our team, all first-timers at this event, was made up of three runners and three non-runners. Being one of the non-runners, I was nervous that I’d hold our team back.  But it was the perfect balance. The runners motivated the non-runners when we’d have preferred to walk; the non-runners kept the runners from becoming too competitive. Before the race, we vowed to get as dirty as possible and to leave no team member behind. We succeeded at both and had a fabulous time doing it!

There was a freedom in knowing nobody was going to finish the run with clean clothes. We scooped up mud and smeared it under our eyes (to reduce glare, of course.) We jumped in mud puddles, sang and danced to the music blared on the course, cheered on other teams and posed for photographers. We tried every obstacle—climbing a cargo net, high-stepping it through tires, crawling through a mud pit—and succeeded. We revelled in getting dirty, slinging mud at one another, but at the same time helping one another through slippery spots.

It was an hour and 10 minutes of exhilarating, laugh-out-loud fun before we reached the finish line. We held hands as we approached it, our uniforms dripping and our shoes squishing, until one of us slipped and took most of us down. Then we laughed some more.

During the race, I got mud in one of my contacts and couldn’t see for a moment. I got a mouthful of mud near the finish line. My husband and boys wouldn’t get near me for a congratulatory hug after the race. And I was fine with all of that. I felt such a great energy from our group and great sense of accomplishment personally. Like I told Kris, if I’d known exercise could be so much fun, I’d do it more than once every 10 years!

It was the most fun I’ve had in months and is the highlight of my 47 and fearless project so far. I’m not the only who feels that way: three of us have already signed up for next year’s event!

Now I have about six months left—and 28 “firsts” to go—to top this experience. What should I do? Send me your ideas!

{August 16, 2012}   Taking a Chance on Belly Dance

Have you ever clicked with a person when you first met and felt like you had known him or her for years? Or tried a sport or activity that came so naturally that you felt you were born to do it?

My first experience with belly dancing was…nothing like that. In fact, quite the opposite.

Most (all?) types of dance require qualities I don’t possess, such as flexibility, rhythm, balance, coordination…must I go on? In fact, I’ve spent most of my life avoiding activities that call for those skills.

So taking a belly dance class is way outside my comfort zone. Fortunately for me, I had a fun partner in my crime against dance. My friend Tammy Kolbe agreed to take the class with me through a local Park & Rec department. It was just an hour a week for six weeks…how hard could it be?

I knew it was going to be a challenge during the first class when our instructor, Suzy Swearingen of Spirit Filled Dancer, demonstrated the proper posture. Feet together, knees slightly bent, pelvis tucked, shoulders back, head lifted…

Wait up! You lost me at “tucked!”

By the time I was properly positioned, I could barely think about moving. And then Suzy went on to demonstrate pelvic circles, hip slides and snake arms among other movements. What had I gotten myself into?

Suzy cheered on all of her students, who ranged in age from teens to sixties. She kept us going with her positive comments and helpful guidance. It’s a good thing I have the ability to laugh at myself, or I wouldn’t have returned.

At the end of the second class, Tammy and I were sweating from the workout. Tammy is musically inclined and graceful to boot, so she’s a natural at dancing despite having back problems.

By the time the sixth class arrived, we had been taught shimmies, arm undulations, hip lifts, belly pops (don’t ask), and much more. I could follow some of the steps…sort of.

As if trying belly dance was not enough outside my comfort zone, I’m really pushing myself by including this unedited video of a follow-along dance we performed at our last class. A perfectionist at heart, I’m uncomfortable showing it (I just watched it a second time…change that to really embarrassed) because it’s proof that I’m not very good at belly dancing, or apparently, following along.

But I am good at following through, so I’m happy to add this to my Countdown to 47 List. And as a bonus, I have two cool coin scarves to show for my efforts. Maybe I’ll sign up for another belly dance class after all.


{May 30, 2012}   50 Shades of Gray

If one person’s trash is another’s treasure, is one person’s boring to-do list another person’s bucket list? Is a ho-hum part of one woman’s routine a huge leap outside another woman’s comfort zone? The short answer is yes. Everyone is different. What you find scary—say scaling heights or squishing a spider–I might do without batting an eye.

So I understand you might not relate when I tell you what I find downright frightening: coloring my own hair. First, if you’re shocked to learn my hair is not naturally this color, take a moment to process the fact, then read on. Second, if the headline led you to believe I was inspired by the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey to share my first BDSM experience, let me assure you I’m not. Yet anyway…LOL.

I discovered my first gray hair when I was 26. When the grays became more noticeable, I went straight to the professionals. I wouldn’t trust anyone—especially myself—with covering the gray while keeping my color looking natural. In my opinion, salon hair color is worth the price. More than a few times, friends who took the matter into their own hands reinforced this belief.

Fast forward to this week. My professionally colored and highlighted hair has grown out, so my grays are showing and my dark roots need a touch-up. My regular appointment falls on a day next week when I’ll be in New York City.  (It’s my first visit to the Big Apple—yay for me!) My stylist, Kelly at Signature Salon & Spa, is in Hawaii this week getting married (yay for her!) So I’m in bit of a hairy situation. Do I trust my tresses to a different colorist before my big trip? Or do I color my curls with an over-the-counter product to hold me over until I can see Kelly in a few weeks?

I do a little online research about refreshing your roots at-home. Revlon has Root Erase. L’Oréal has Root Rescue. Clairol has Root Touch-Up by Nice ’N Easy. Obviously, women do this all the time. How hard can it be?

Clairol’s version promises easy application! Permanent color that blends seamlessly! Works in 10 minutes! I decide on this product but struggle to select a shade. There are 18 to choose from and they all look similar. My natural color—medium mousy brown—is mostly covered with a lighter brown, plus I have blonde highlights. (The camera’s flash makes my hair look red in the photos. It’s not.)

Will “light ash brown” be too dark? Will “dark blond” be too light? Ugh. I wing it and pick “light golden brown.”

I want to do this before I lose my nerve. I open the box and read the directions. Does anyone read much less heed the warnings that accompany these products? Let me paraphrase a few. (The SHOUTY CAPS are my emphasis.)

· DO NOT USE this product until you have completed an ALLERGY test. Apply the enclosed noxious CHEMICALS to the tender skin at the inside of your elbow and refrain from washing the area for 48 HOURS to determine any ADVERSE EFFECTS.

· Perform a “strand” test before coloring your hair. HACK OFF a chunk of hair from a place it won’t be missed (WHAT? WHERE?) then apply the CHEMICALS to these strands to determine the length of time your color needs to process. DO NOT SKIP this step.

· PERMANENT hair color can STAIN or DAMAGE skin, clothing, towels, bathroom surfaces and small children in the area. DO NOT WEAR clothes you care about and be sure to wear the HUGE plastic gloves (enclosed) that will hamper your ability to hold the PRECISION ANGLED BRUSH as you apply the CHEMICALS.

· NOTE: If your hair is highlighted, immediately STEP AWAY from the product and CALL our experts toll-free at 1-800-GUD-LUCK for advice before continuing.

OK, maybe I exaggerate a little. But do you see how this process is fraught with peril? (I love that phrase.) What if my hair turns orange? What if it’s irreparably damaged or simply falls out? What if it looks like (insert friend’s name here)’s hair when she did her own color? What ever happened to “nice ’n easy?”

I had set aside a half-hour to do this. I am not performing an allergy test and waiting 2 days. I am not lopping off my locks for a strand test. It’s now or never.

I add the activating lotion to the tray and squeeze in the tube of color. I stir them together. Oh, no. The mixture looks orange. I refuse to give into fear. I use the brush to awkwardly apply color to the roots along my part. I divide hair in sections, brushing the mixture on to the root areas without precision. I check the clock—the color should process for at least 10 minutes.

At 6 minutes, I start to panic. I envision stripes at the roots. I start combing the chemicals through my hair, hoping it will help blend the new color into my highlights.

At 8 minutes, I freak. What have I done? I run to the sink to rinse out the color. I rinse my hair again and a third time for good measure. I wrap my hair in an old towel.

It’s time for the moment of truth. Did I pick the wrong shade? Did I leave the color on too long?

I comb out my hair and breathe a sigh of relief—no stripes. In fact, once my hair is dried, the color blends nicely with my highlights, and most of the gray is covered. Had I waited a few more minutes, the gray would be completely gone. Whew.

Has my first experience with home hair color turned me into a DIY beauty maven? Not on your life. My next color appointment is scheduled. I relish the two hours of “me-time” at the salon, relaxing with a glass of wine and catching up with Kelly. But it’s nice to know I can do this in a pinch. (For the record, I use that word much differently than it’s used in that aforementioned best-seller.)

Want to learn more about my 47 and fearless project? Read my first post.

{May 22, 2012}   Braving the Water Slides

I started my 47 and fearless project to push myself outside my comfort zone by trying new activities, such as rollerblading, blowing glass and driving a back hoe.

Knowing my goal is 47 new things by next April, I’m constantly on the lookout for the next “big” thing. But having that in the back of my mind has changed the way I approach everyday life as well. I find myself trying little things I might have said “no” to before.

This past weekend, we took our two boys to Key Lime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort for a night. Our 7-year-old is a bit on the cautious side and either skips the wilder water rides or only goes on them if my husband or I join him. Often, I’d let my husband take him while I stayed in the kiddie area to watch our 4-year-old splash and go down the little slides.

This time, I joined Dylan on a two-person inner tube down one of two giant water slides, Wahoo and Screaming Banshee. (In this photo, the yellow and orange tubes are the inner tube water slides; the blue and red tubes are the body slides mentioned later.) We loved it and screamed all the way down!

Next, we tried the Hurricane Vortex, which the boys describe as a big toilet bowl. (I didn’t take photos; the one featured here I found on the internet.) We had a blast! On our second time down, we went down the “drain” backwards. With the rush of water at the end of the tube, we almost lost our swimsuit bottoms. We came out sputtering, laughing and eager to do it again.

Taking advantage of our good moods, I told Dylan it was time to try the body slides. The park has two of these one-person slides, each an enclosed tube more than 500 feet long. It’s just you—no inner tube—inside a dark, twisting tunnel.

He didn’t want to go. And I have to admit, I didn’t really want to either. But I wanted him to try it, so I promised we’d go down the slides at the same time. Fortunately, the line was short, because Dylan was having second thoughts. We quickly got to the top and took our respective places at the tunnel entrances. I told him to say “go” when he was ready and off we went.

The darkness and unexpected turns made it disconcerting, and sliding down on your back was a little uncomfortable. We both decided that once was enough. (Dylan: “Mom, I am NEVER doing that again!”)

But I’m happy we did it. I also hope the experience will encourage Dylan to try something new in the future, even if it’s a little scary.

Want to know more about my 47 and fearless project? Check out my first post here.

{April 26, 2012}   Discomfort = Growth?

Discomfort = Growth?

Does pushing yourself outside your comfort zone cause you discomfort? That might not be a bad thing. Read on by clicking the link above…

et cetera