So Not Ready

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Dear September,

Well, you’re finally here. I wish I could tell you that I am happy to see you, but really- I’m not. It’s not you, I swear. In my neck of the woods you’re absolutely gorgeous, full of warm days, cool nights, slowly changing leaves and misty mornings.

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It’s more that when you arrive, summer is over. And we have had an *amazing* summer.  We went to NC for a week and we did some camping. I didn’t even write about our trip to New Jersey, but that was another picture perfect vacation filled with family, the beach, the boardwalk and lots and lots of ice cream. We rode the waves and the rides. We went to bed late and slept in and just relaxed. It was lovely!

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When we were home, the summer was full of baseball and swimming pools and friends. The kids went to camp almost every day and came home coated in sunscreen, sweat and, more often than not, glitter from various projects.  We threw schedules out the window and played family baseball games in the yard long past bed time. The Bean had her very first sleepover and Scorch got to spend time with his very best friends. We even got to hang out with a baby tortoise.

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And if that wasn’t enough, we decided to take a last minute trip up to Niagara Falls this past weekend. 9 and 7 are just about the perfect travel ages and this trip was amazing from start to finish. No one cried, not one fought, we all slept well in the hotel AND we got to see extended family. And the Falls? They were Mother Nature in all her glory.

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So you see, September, I’m just not ready to let all this go yet. I’m not ready for the stress of a new school year, for colder weather or for schedules and early mornings. I love that my kids smell like sunshine and chlorine and that they have all the time in the world to hunt for racoon prints in the dry creek bed. I know 4th and 2nd grade are going to be amazing and that soon enough we’ll be in a good routine but for right now, I’m going to sit here and be so thankful that we had a summer amazing enough to mourn.

 

 

 

14 Years Later

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When I was in my mid-teens I discovered romance novels. Not the bodice-rippers, but the sweet novels where the heroine is a goodhearted mess and the hero is hunky and sensitive and loves to talk about his feelings. My favorite was A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux about a woman that literally prays for a knight to come save her and one does from 200 years in the past. A knight, folks. A real, chivalrous knight who wanted to wipe away tears, hold his woman all night long and cook for her.

Is it any wonder I was so picky about the men I dated?

~*~*~*

The Hubs and I got married a month after I turned 23. He was 25 and we thought we knew it all. We had lived together for two years outside of Washington, DC and were successful in managing stressful jobs, a crazy high rent payment and our relationship. Marriage was the logical next step and we both knew we wanted to be with each other so there was no point in waiting.

14 years later, I have zero regrets about marrying the Hubs. Not a one. Saying “I do” was the best decision I have ever made.

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The funny thing is the Hubs has never once cooked me a meal and we both hate to cuddle. It’s hot and uncomfortable and I think those couples that are always curled up like puppies together are too polite to tell each other that they can no longer feel half their body. As for talking about his feelings, no. Just no. He is, however, chivalrous and kind and funny and smart and dedicated to our family.

I find it hard to write about our anniversary or our marriage without feeling like I’m blowing sunshine (we are *so* in love and everything is perfect!!) or knocking what we have (this is hard work and we work at it every day damn, some more successfully than others!) when both things are true at the same time.

I do love the Hubs madly and I hope I always will. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t day that I don’t think about smothering him with a pillow. We deal with budgets and small town politics and work stress. We fight about decisions that need to be made and if we actually told the other person things we thought we did. There are days we just stay in separate corners of the house because just looking at each other sets our teeth on edge.

But we still hold hands, go on dates and go to bed early while falling asleep late. We send each other little messages during the day to let the other person know we’re thinking about them. The Hubs is still the first person I can’t wait to share news with. He’s the guy I know inside and out and one that always makes me laugh, even if I am avoiding him. He’s the man who knows my whole history for the past 17 years and who I pledged to love and honor in front of God, family and friends 14 years ago today.  He’s not anything close to a romance novel hero, but he’s the man I’m so glad to be writing my life story with.

Here’s to many, many more anniversaries!

Nailed It!

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Scorch has nails like a pregnant woman- they grow long very quickly.  Which means I cut them often (side note: at what age do kids start to cut their own nails?).  While I was cutting them, Scorch was joking that he wanted to keep all the clippings and save them so he could pass them along to his son.

I told him that if he saved all his clipping I could promise him that he would never, ever get married and sire that son.

He thought about that for a minute and then yelled for the Bean. “If you weren’t related to me and we were dating and you found out that I had all my nail clippings from the time I was 9, would you immediately dump me?”

She paused for a second and shot back, “Nope, I’d find you interesting as long as you don’t mind that I kept all the hair that fell out of my head since I was 7.”

You guys, if my kids end up as childless unmarried hoarders, we’ll be able to trace it back to this conversation.

Gone Campin’

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We spent this past weekend at my favorite place taking a very abbreviated camping vacation. Being an adult sucks when you have limited vacation days, but we made the most of it. For the first time in years the weather was absolutely amazing which meant lots and lots of beach time.

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In my 37 years, we’ve gone camping at this campground with this group of people (plus or minus a family or four) for roughly 32 of them. Each and every year was wonderful. We had friends we only saw a few times a year that would come camping with us and we’d run tame all over the camp ground with our bikes. It was everything a vacation should be with no electronics or distractions. Just card games, games of Spoons, bikes, hikes and eating. So. much. good. food.

We took Scorch camping for the first time when he was 2 months old and we’ve gone every year since – although we did only go for 1 day the summer Bean was born since she was only 2 weeks old and I’m not completely crazy. Camping with kids is a lot of work but there are so many people helping so the fun outweighs the work 9 times out of 10.

Except for when it was time to shower.

At the camp ground, there are communal bathrooms and 2 showers in the woman’s room, 2 in the men’s and two family showers. You have to stand there in your flip flops (DO NOT go barefoot- ever) and constantly press the water on as it doesn’t stay on by itself. The water comes out in a sharp spray and is either cold or hot- there really isn’t a middle ground. When the kids were itty bitty we’d find other ways to bathe them, but once they were mobile toddlers, covered in sunscreen, bug spray, dirt and sand it was shower time.

You guys, showering kids in this shower was like wrestling a greased pig. The kids were pissed, crying and slippery as hell. It was, at minimum, a 2 person job although 3 adults worked best (two to wash them and one to dry them and calm them down). You’d often end up sweating and wet when you were done, hoping that the whole camp ground didn’t think you were torturing your kids.

The passage of time hit me like a ton of bricks this past weekend after I showered my kids (9 and 7) and my niece Lala (4) with no fuss. I didn’t have to fight anyone, I didn’t have to wrestle them and no one cried. They took their showers, dried themselves off, got dressed and hopped right back on their bikes.

Where did our babies go??

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Our nightly camp fire.

The Hubs and I came back on Monday night (again: being an adult stinks) but the kids had the privilege of staying with all the extended family for a few more day.  This makes me happy for so many reasons. I firmly believe the gift of friends and family is the best gift we could give our kids- and time with them without us even more so they can form their own connections. While we’re camping, the kids also get their first real taste of freedom when the answer is always yes. Yes, you can ride your bike. Yes, you can walk to the park. Yes, you can play at the ball field. Yes, you can make new friends. Yes, you can have s’mores every night. Yes, you can be independent and not always within eye sight because there is pack of 7 of you and cars can’t drive faster then 5 mph.

The kiddos will come home tomorrow covered in bug bites with hair streaked blond from spending 12+ hours per day in the sun. Our kids are lucky because we travel a lot with them and they’ve seen some amazing places, but it make my heart so happy that that their favorite place on earth too.

 

37!

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Thirty-seven? How is that even possible? Am I the only one who gets taken by surprise every time they look in the mirror, expecting to see their 17 year old self to be looking back? 17 year old me didn’t have these under-eye circles and the random gray hairs though…

36 was a wonderful year. I made a vow that I would do things that scare me last year and I did. I did it in small ways by using my voice more and speaking up even when it would have been easier to go with the flow. I did it a large way by taking a part time job that took me out of my comfort zone and put some constraints on mine and the Hubs schedule, but has ended up being amazing. The Hubs and I did it while making some decisions for our family on some big topics like having more kids (no) and moving (one day).

I also held some reptiles, including Boo.

It's an anaconda, nbd.

It’s an anaconda, nbd.

So, I’m now 37. Outside of being slightly boggled by this fact, I plan on enjoying the hell out of this year. My goal this year is to find my balance. This past year, while awesome, veered more towards the crazy than I would have liked. Things like date nights and work outs took a back seat to kid’s practices and work which is not good for a million different reason and I’m old enough to know better. So here’s to saying a no a bit more and being mindful of what’s really important. Here’s to family and friends and more love than any one person can handle.

Here’s to 37.

Seven.

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Oh my Bean, how can you be 7? When I look at you, 95% of the time I still see my baby. The other 5%? That’s when I see the hints of the girl you’re turning into. You’re coltish with these legs that don’t end and these long, spindly arms. You have this weird physical presence that makes you seem big when you’re really a wisp of a thing. If you weigh 45 pounds, I’ll be shocked.

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You, my darling, a contradiction and a mystery to me. At home, you are loud and brash and opinionated. You rule with an iron fist and are quick, witty and so freaking fun. But away from home, you embarrass easy and are as quiet as a mouse. People tell me how sweet and shy and reserved you are and I laugh and laugh and laugh. If only they knew, baby girl.

Because you’re such a contradiction, I worry I’ll break you. You and I lock horns and neither one of us lets go and that scares me so much. I don’t want to break you – you are a glorious creature. I just don’t want to be broken by you either. It’s a fine line we’re going to walk and I hope I manage it with grace and with my sanity intact when it’s over. Because as astounding and amazing as you are now, you’re going to be 100x more so as you grow. It’s my privilege to get to witness that.

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So as you blow out your candles for this, your seventh birthday, this is what I wish for you this year:
> I wish you to keep your amazing sense of self. You know your mind, child, and you have since the moment of your birth. That’s a rare gift- don’t lose it.
> I wish that you learn how to bend a little. I don’t want what makes you, you to be broken, but learning to bend a bit will serve you in the long run.
> I wish that everyone can see what an amazing, funny, sweet, quick witted, whip smart kid you are. I hope you learn to be your true self around more people because those people will be so lucky when you do.
> I wish you the gift of friendship. Watching little girls navigate friendship is a very cool thing and I hope I’ve given you the role models you need to find your tribe as you grow.
> I wish you the knowledge that you’re secure in our love. Always. Forever. There is nothing you can do that would make us not love you. We may be mean and we may get mad- but we still love you through it all.
> I wish that you can see how amazing you are. I hope you always know that your awesome even when you’re in 7th grade (which is, IMO, the worst time in any person’s life) and you hate your hair and your parents and your clothes and life is just a mess- I hope you still hold that kernel of truth that tells you that you don’t have to change who you are for anyone. Because you’re the best.

Happiest of birthdays, my sweet girl. You are my sunshine and I’m so very lucky to be your mom.

All my love,
Mom

 

Start of Summer

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So…hey, been a while. Life got nuts. Like more nuts then usual. We had the end of school- both kids passed and I got all teary on the last day of school. I’ll let you decide if they were tears of joy or terror for the summer ahead. I cannot believe I have a 4th grader and a 2nd grader now!  The day after school ended, Little League ended with a bang when Scorch’s team won the championship game. There wasn’t even time to celebrate because we left the next day for the Outer Banks in NC.

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Scorch, Bean and Lala

And that is when summer really started.

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It was the perfect vacation. The hardest decisions were deciding whether we went to the beach first or then then pool or vice versa, and what we wanted to drink each night around the pool (don’t judge- deciding between margaritas and Cape Codders isn’t for sissies).  The weather was gorgeous 85% of the time and when it did storm it was a night and the lightening was spectacular.  My biggest complaint about this vacation is that it is over.

The waves were so big, the kids couldn't go in far even if they wanted.

The waves were so big, the kids couldn’t go in far even if they wanted.

I read 6 books, spent time with my extended family and vegged on the beach for hours a day. That’s my definition of heaven.

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And now we’re back to reality. Camps, more baseball, work and all the craziness that comes with real life. But at least it’s summer time- that makes it all OK.

3rd year in a row we've found a heart shaped shell on the last day of vacation.

3rd year in a row we’ve found a heart shaped shell on the last day of vacation.

Happy Summer!

Happy Father’s Day

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They say that all women marry their fathers. Literally doing that would be creepy as hell, but marrying a man like my father was one of the best decisions I ever made. Growing up, my father did his damnedest to balance his work as a cop with his family. This meant working odd shifts to make sure he could attend our events, picking up sports just because we played them and making sure he was always around for us. My Dad continues to be one of our biggest supporters, strongest allies and clearest voices of reasons (whether you want to hear him or not).  We are all so lucky to have him in our lives.

The Hubs, bless him, is just as an amazing father (thanks to his father!). I married a cop with a life just as crazy as my father’s and the Hub’s is doing the same amazing balancing act that I grew up with. He coaches our kids, takes them to school every day he can and tries his hardest to be around every night to tuck them into bed. He picks up where I fail, talks me off the edge and makes me laugh every day. My kids are lucky to have him and so am I.

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This is a terrible picture, I’ll own that. It’s was taken from my window looking down at the Hubs, Scorch and my father grilling this past Mother’s Day. But it makes my heart happy knowing that my little boy will one day grow up to be an amazing father thanks to the incredible men in his life.

Grace

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Dear Beaners-

Last night was a NIGHT. You had a fantastic day at school and then it was off to the dentist. You are so scared of the dentist, but you were a rock star. I could tell how nervous you were, but there were no tears and you got through it. It was so proud of you and, as a reward, we decided to stop for ice cream. And that is where the wheels fell off.

You were already pissy that we were going to get our haircut instead of going home. Then the ice cream you wanted had hot fudge on it. That hot fudge caused your ice cream to melt faster then you could eat it, so your bowl overflowed. I was already on edge from a stressful weekend and you and your brother squabbling in the car and I didn’t react to the huge mess of ice cream on your lap and the car seat as well as I should have. I snapped at you and you, my sweets, snapped right back.

And that was that. I was standing in the parking lot yelling at you, my 6 year old over, melted ice cream and you were screaming right back, rejecting all my attempts to help. We were a literal and metaphorical mess.

MotherDaughterBean- I hate nights like that. Even though the night ended on a good note, I still am sitting here feeling like a jerk. I’m the adult, I’m the parent- I’m supposed to know how to act appropriately.

Except, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes you push every single button I have at the same time and my head explodes.  And sometimes I push your buttons and your head explodes. And this scares me to no end because you’re six. We are lucky enough to still have at least 12 more years under the same roof and I can’t wait to watch you grow. Truly. You are an amazing kid, and you’re going to be an equally amazing teenager and adult. You have the brains and ability to rule the world and I love watching you.

But, girlfriend, you and I both need to learn grace with each other. I am the adult so I’ll take on the lion’s share of the work for now, but you’re not off the hook. We both need to learn to take a deep breath and walk away sometimes. We both need to learn how to talk to each other with clearer, kinder words. Your father and I are doing our best to give you these tools and words and skills so you can tell us what you really mean when you tell us your shoes is too loose, then too tight, then too loose again and then end with an ugh I hate my life! and a slammed door.

I adore you more than chocolate milk. You are my favorite six year old in the world and I can’t imagine how boring life would be without you in it. Know that when I’m angry or when you’re angry or when we’re both angry, that I love you. Nothing will change that no matter how many stupid fights we have. You will always be my favorite daughter.

But sometimes, bedtime is my favorite part of the day.

Love,
Mom

My Lady Loves

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Did you know today is National Best Friend’s Day? Neither did I. But it is and I’m always looking for an excuse to love on the incredible women in my life so here we are.

The Hubs makes fun of me because I have more then one best friend. He says that’s impossible and I say it’s not. Some of us, like the Hubs, are destined to have a very few, special select friends in their lives. And that’s wonderful. Some of us, however, are destined to have more from all stages of life. My friendship cup runs over and that’s freaking awesome.

I have my sister because everyone’s sister should be their best friend. We weren’t as kids and even today there is no one that can get under my skin faster then her, but she is the one I talk to almost every day and she is the one who loves my kids like her own. She’s the one who laughs when I talk/whisper right in her ear and ask her how she’s doing in a certain tone of voice because she’s the one who gets that inside joke. She’s the one who will tell me when something doesn’t look right and she’s the one who taught me how to pack a diaper bag less like a suitcase 9 year ago. She talks me off the edge at least once a week and I can’t imagine a world without her in it. I love her deeply.

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I have my friends from growing up. These are the incredible ladies who remember my bad perms, awful fashion choices and even more awful taste in boys. They rocked to NKOTB with me, learned how to remove paint from car bumpers when we accidentally hit something when we took our first solo trip to the mall and spent long lazy summers at the pools with me. We grew up going in and out of each others houses and knew that we couldn’t get away with anything because our parents would always check in and up on us. That didn’t mean we didn’t try though, so these are the women I made memories with sneaking out of each others homes, trying booze together and growing up together. We cried at our high school graduation and promised to always keep in touch. And we did. We are a year shy of our 20th high school reunion and even though we may not talk as often as we like, when we do, it’s like no time at all has passed. They keep me grounded and I love them fiercely.

DSC_1005And then there are my local friends now. My sisters in parenting and marriage and life. The women I see weekly if not daily depending on the sports season. These are the women that keep me sane, the ones who co-parent with me on the nights I need it. The friends that will help out in a pinch and who know my children almost as well I do. They are the ones who see me at my worst and my best and love me regardless. They know by the tone of my voice if it’s been one of those nights and will listen with compassion and humor when I need to lose my shit at someone just so I don’t lose it at my husband or kids. They give selflessly and help make my life 1000% times more smoother thanks to carpool and play dates and communal dinners. They are the ones I can’t wait to share the next 11+ years with as our kids hit their milestones at the same time- elementary school, middle school, dances, sports, proms, dating, graduation, college and all the little pieces that make up life in between. They are the ones I’ll be calling and checking in with as our kids try to sneak out of our homes and get into trouble together. They’ll know the reason behind every gray hair on my head and wrinkle on my face. They’ll parent my children when I’m not up for it and I’ll do the same. My love for them is boundless.

Ladies_Halloween_2013I’m a very, very blessed woman. #friendsrock