#ALSSucks

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If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, it’s full of people taking the Ice Bucket Challenge. So is Instagram. And even CNN.

And it’s awesome.

I don’t care if you’re tired of it clogging up your feed.  I don’t care if you think it’s pointless. Frankly, I don’t care about your opinion about this challenge at all. Because it’s working.

According to ALSA.org:
“As of Tuesday, August 19, The ALS Association has received $22.9 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 19). These donations have come from existing donors and 453,210 new donors to The Association.”

That amount of money alone is staggering, but what interests me is the fact that 453,210 people who have never donated to ALSA.org before now have. Over 400,000 now know about ALS and have given money to help work for a cure. And that makes my heart happy.

You see, my extended family was hit hard by ALS when my brother-in-law’s father was diagnosed. His decline was quick and it was brutal and Steve, sadly, passed away 2 years after being diagnosed. ALS sucks. It robbed a family of their father and the world of a good, good man who deserved better.

My niece, supporting her grandfather.

My niece, supporting her grandfather.

If you don’t know about ALS, here are a few resources for you to check out:

> ALSA.org (you can donate here too. If you can, please do so!)
> A quick video by at 26 year old recently diagnosed with ALS. (Have tissues on hand.)
> Often Awesome webseries: this is a documentary series that follows Tim LaFollette’s battle with ALS. Each episode is 20-40 minutes long and takes you through Tim and his wife, Kaylan’s battle and life with this horrible disease. It’s moving and sad and heartbreaking and it is one of the best things I’ve seen online. Watch it to understand what ALS does to a person and their family.

My family hasn’t taped our challenge yet- we were nominated when we were on vacation and by the time I realized it, our 24 hours had passed. So we donated, as we do twice a year since 2010.  We’ll tape our video soon- the kids can’t wait!- but until then, educate yourself. Learn what you can. And please, please donate.

Lucky 13

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Today the Hubs and I are celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary. If the Gods are smiling on us, we won’t be spending it eating dinner at Friendly’s. But since we’re going out with the kids, we probably will. That Mac n’ Frank meal is a staple of the Bean’s diet.

This year for our anniversary I resurrected the “10 Things I Love About You” list. It was something the Hubs and I used to do for each other on Valentine’s Day instead of getting each other gifts. But then it fell the wayside. Life got busy and it just wasn’t a priority- it was easier to get a card and some flowers and call it good. But this year, I told Hubs it was all I wanted for our anniversary.

When we got married people always told us to make sure we took time for ourselves as a couple; to tend to our marriage. And we nodded and smiled and thought these people were crazy- of course we were going to take time as a couple. Of course we were always going to put each other first. We were madly in love and only had eyes for each other so that advice seemed a bit redundant.

Wedding Kiss

13 years later, it makes perfect sense. Kids happened. Life happened. Jobs, friends, volunteering, coaching. All these priorities started competing for our attention and it was easy to take each other for granted. The calendar filled up with a million things taking us both in opposite directions. The kisses goodnight became routine and not passionate and the conversation stopped being deep or funny and ambitious and just started being about what we were doing the next day.

Nothing drastic happened, but we both realized this year that we forgot to put the attention on us. Which is where it should be. Because without us, everything else falls apart. So it was time to pull back the “10 Things I Love About Your” list. These lists are hard – at first it’s hard to think about 10 distinct things. Then it’s hard to narrow it down. And then it’s hard to write it all down and explain it. The lists take time and effort and a lot of thought- which is the most I can ask of any gift.

I love this man like mad and saying “I do” was one of the best decisions of my life. So here’s to 13 more crazy years filled with love, laughter, tears and all the rest of the good things life has to offer!

 

And Just Like That…

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…Summer is almost over. How did that happen?

Well, I know how it happened. It was a very fun combo of baseball + vacations + work + never, ever sitting still. Ever. We have never had such a busy summer and the craziest thing is I know that this is just the start. We only had one kid with a 3x a week commitment- soon it’ll be both kids and bigger commitments.

We just got back from a wonderfully relaxing vacation to NJ. We started going to the Jersey shore 12 years ago or so- it was a place the Hub’s family went to yearly when he was a kid. I admit- I was a snob about it, all I knew about NJ was what I saw on TV, which was not favorable. But here’s a little secret I found out- NJ is gorgeous.

Even when it’s grey, it’s gorgeous.

GreyBeach

But let’s face it, it’s a heck of a lot more gorgeous when it’s sunny and 85, which it was for 5 days in a row:

SunnyDayScorch and the Hubs were on this trip with us but you don’t see them in these pics because they spent hours every day playing in the water. The waves were huge thanks to an offshore storm and Scorch, oddly enough, loved being pummeled by them. The harder they knocked him down, the more he laughed. He walked away from vacation with skinned knees, elbows and a raging case of swimmers ear (to be fair, he was nursing that before we left- we just thought it was an ear infection).

boarding

We ate wonderful seafood, saw some spectacular sunsets, rode the ferris wheel a million times, rammed each other in bumper cars and spent at least 5 hours a day at the beach.  It was just about perfect.

Sunsetbird

So here’s to 2 more weeks of summer!

Quiet

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Today Scorch did 6 hours of baseball camp and then was supposed to have 2 more hours of baseball practice this evening. Sounded doable in theory…that is, until I picked up Scorch at 4:30 and he lost his ever loving 8 year old mind over something so idiotic that I couldn’t help but notice that perhaps he was a just a wee bit over-tired.

So tonight we put the kabosh on all activities. I put a movie on for the kids, we had breakfast for dinner and they were both in bed, asleep by 8:05.

The poor Hubs had to work wickedly late thanks to some stupid criminal.

All of which means I have the house to myself. So I read a book and watched Teen Wolf (the TV show- don’t judge me). There is no point to this post except to tell you that 1) while this summer rocks, it’s exhausting and I love the rare quiet times and 2) seriously, watch Teen Wolf.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Speak of TV shows, any Outlander fans going to watch the TV show on Starz that starts on the 9th? I’m really, really debating it but I’m so scared that it can’t possibly live up to my expectations that I’ll end up really ticked off.

36!

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A few weeks back, I turned 36. I celebrated in a number of awesome ways but the first (and the most exhilarating) way was jumping 10 feet off a diving board into 61 degree water.

Did I mention it was also beautiful?

Did I mention it was also beautiful?

The water was so cold it knocked the breath right out of you and I literally gasped for air as I made my way back to the ladder.

It was awesome.

Every year I try to come up with some goals around my birthday. Not so much resolutions- but things I want to be mindful of.  My dive off the board inspired me.  36 is the year where I want to do things that scare me. I want to push myself to do things that make me uncomfortable and take me out of my comfort zone. I want to take classes. I want to learn a new skill. I want to try new foods and make new memories. I want to find more diving boards and jump in feet first.

So, here’s to a year of finding new ways to take my breath away.

You know, like posting a picture of yourself in a bathingsuit on the internet for all the world to see.

You know, like posting a picture of yourself in a swimsuit on the internet for all the world to see.

 

6!

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Dear Bean-
How is it that you’re 6 already? 5 still sounds little-ish. But 6? Six is old. You’re old. How is that possible? It’s hard for me to wrap my head around you being older because you’re still pocket size. You weigh 40 lbs soaking wet, so it’s easy to pick you up and fling you around. While you may not always like to do it, you’re still bit-sized enough to cuddle with ease. Here’s hoping you’ll always be.

5 was an astounding year for you. You rocked Kindergarten! You made new friends and you had a blast. I can count on one hand the amount of times you cried at school- usually because you were tired. This is a huge contrast to pre-K when every day was a sobfest at drop off.  You learned how to *read* this year. So now you read anything and everything you can and that’s awesome. You can’t spell for beans, but you come by that naturally so I don’t judge you.

6 months old

6 months old

You have the same best friend from last year, but you two aren’t exclusive any more. It’s fun to see you expand your horizons beyond Scorch and LT (as awesome as she is). You’re still very quiet when you’re not 100% sure of your setting, but you’re getting bolder and more comfortable speaking up and being noticed outside of our family. It makes me laugh when people tell me how quiet you are though because when I think you of, quiet is one of the last words that comes to mind. You don’t talk nearly as much as your brother (who does?!), but when you do speak up you usually have something important (to you) to say. Mind you, that something important could be to tell us how dumb we are, but that’s just you.

To celebrate your birthday we went to get pedicures and out to dinner while Dad and Scorch were at lacrosse. We had so much fun. Until you didn’t get your way, and then you sobbed. But again, that’s just you. You like to be in control and rain down the fires of hell when you’re not. You’ve gotten a ton better about this as you’ve gotten older which is really nice. You need to learn to bend, little girl, just not too much. There is *nothing* wrong with knowing what you want to pursue even if no one else is on board. Right now there are so many times I wish you’d just go with the flow, but I try to remind myself daily that I don’t want to break you of this because it’ll be a huge asset as you grow.

We leave to go camping later this summer and I can’t wait. Which is odd because last year’s camping trip was flat out the worst trip we’ve ever taken as a family. Dad was sick, the weather was horrible and your behavior was off-the-charts bad. But the joy of family is knowing that even when you are a monster, we still love you. We may not like each other all the time, but we always love each other. And, girlfriend, do I ever love you. You are *everything* I dreamed about when I thought about having a daughter. You’re funny and sweet and loving and sassy and strong. You’re learning how to be a magnificent friend and discovering how much fun learning is. You’ve got your own sense of self when it comes to what you like and what you don’t and you make no apologies for it.

Isn't she lovely?

Isn’t she lovely?

Raising a girl in this world scares me silly. There is so much pressure and so many worries. I know a lot of these things apply to boys too, but with girls it just seems magnified. So please, please keep loving who are you. Remember that your father and I aren’t idiots (most of the time). Know that you’re adored no matter what. Keep being kind to others and yourself. Know that your two feet and your amazing brain is all you need to get where you want to go. You are worthy of love and kindness and all the good things the world has to offer- so expect those things. And when you don’t get them, figure out what went wrong and do better next time. You aren’t perfect and there is always so much to learn so don’t hesitate to ask for help. Wash your face, brush your teeth and use your manners in every situation.

And always, always, always know you’re loved.

Happy birthday, baby girl!

Love,
Mom

(Almost) Finished

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The kitchen is now 97% done and you guys- it’s gorgeous.

As a refresher, here is the old kitchen:

OldKitchen

And now here is the new kitchen complete with countertops and back splash…

Completed Kitchen Web

If loving tiled back splash is wrong, I don’t ever want to be right. *swoon*

We still need to do the flooring and some slightly finishing work around the island, but for the most part it’s done and I really couldn’t be happier.

If anyone local needs a contractor recommendation, I have one for you!

 

Here & Now

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There are a lot of things I love about my house (have you met my pantry?), but there are a lot of things I’m not particularly fond of.  Our porch is one of them.

This is after we powerwashed it into submission.

This is after we powerwashed it into submission.

It is the highest traffic area in my house and no matter what solid stain we put on it every year, it looks like that by summer. It’s annoying and time consuming and generally a giant pain in the butt.

When the kids were little, staining this (and the back porch- same issue, only three times as large!) was The Project of the spring as we could only do it when the kids were sleeping because they’d want to help. And anyone with half a brain knows that “help,” “paint,” and “3 year old” don’t belong in the same sentence.

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My kids finished school this week. Scorch ended a wildly successful 2nd grade year. The year wasn’t without growing pains as he’s had to learn to take on more personal responsibilities and make good decisions (the age old quandary of after-school recess vs homework club tripped him up a few times), but really, he rocked it. I couldn’t be more prouder.  And the Bean? She discovered her love of reading and writing this year as she went through Kindergarten.  She came out of her shell, made a ton of new friends and grew so much!

I seriously can’t believe I have 3rd and 1st graders.

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Tonight was the dreaded night to start staining the decks. We’re doing it later in the year then we normally do and it just can’t wait any more. The Hubs had to work late, so I got a jump start on it. I got a pizza and a movie for the kids and figured that would buy me a good 90 minutes of kid-free time to get this going.

Only the kids didn’t want to stay inside- they wanted to be outside with me.  Of course they did.

I told them they couldn’t help because I was doing the railing (a different coloring then the floor) and I couldn’t afford huge messes. Much to my surprise, they took that news just fine and came outside and played. For 2 hours. Peacefully. They played baseball and kickball and then spent 45 minutes trying to capture moths.

Kiddos_JuneNight2014

There are times I miss having a babies and toddlers around so much that I ache. Then there are nights like tonight where I’m too damn busy being thankful for what we have right here to miss anything.

You’re Out

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This year Scorch had to try out for Little League to see what division he’d play in. If he was deemed ready, he’d get pulled up to the Minors division (roughly ages 8 – 10/11); if not, he’d stay at the Rookies (ages 5 – 8). He didn’t much care either way so he went to tryouts, did his best and called it a day.  We found out a few days later that he made it into the Minors so that is how Scorch became the smallest kid on his team.

The day the Hubs, who was one of the coaches, came home with the uniforms I about died. He pulled out Scorch’s youth small jersey and then he pulled out the adult large jersey. I figured it had to be for one of the coaches- but I figured wrong. That was for one of Scorch’s teammates. *gulp*

Scorch wasn’t the best kid on the team by a long shot. He doesn’t have the bigger kid’s strength, speed or game knowledge. But damned if he didn’t try. He worked hard (most of the time) and just enjoyed the hell out of playing ball.  He, and the rest of his teammates, got better and better as the season went on and it was a blast watching them play.

Back when he was 4 and every game ended in a tie.

Back when he was 4 and every game ended in a tie.

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Tonight we found ourselves in the run for the Championship game. Playoffs are double elimination and we’d already lost a game. We started out losing badly, but managed to come back so we were down by 2 in our last at bats. Bases were loaded, 2 outs and Scorch was up.

I couldn’t watch- my heart was in my throat.

2 balls and 2 strikes.

And then Scorch strikes out.

Just like that, the season is over.

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Scorch came out of the dugout after the game with his head held high. He thanked his coaches for a great season and said goodbye to his teammates. But on the way back to the car, his chin started to quiver and his eyes filled up. I pulled him aside to let the Bean go ahead and we had a long conversation about the season, how well he tried, how much he improved and how it was Ok to be sad that the season was over and it was even fine to be disappointed about how it ended but that it wasn’t Ok to beat himself up. He listened without saying a word and quietly climbed into the car.

~*~*~

This is Scorch’s first experience with real heartbreak and disappointment. I know in my head that all kids go through this and have to deal with losing sooner or later. I also know it’s good for them- it builds character and makes the kids try even harder next time. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy to see. My mama bear instinct is to wrap my baby up in bubblewrap and let him go on thinking he’s the best around because that’s easier. It’s simpler and it’s safer.  He’s 8 for goodness sake- isn’t that just one step removed from an infant?! But I don’t do that because that doesn’t help him in the long run. I hug him, I love him and I tell him how proud I am of him and that I’m here to talk if wants. And then I let him figure out how to sort through this hard knock himself because I know while it may be the first, it’s won’t be the last.

Sometimes growing up is just plain hard.

 

Happy Father’s Day

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Happy Father's Day

This weekend was all about family. My mother-in-law was kind enough to spend the weekend with the kids so the Hubs and I could go to my cousin’s amazing wedding. The wedding was spent with my immediate family, aunts, uncles and cousins. Today my parents came up to Scorch’s baseball game and over for dinner to cap off an amazing Father’s Day.

At the wedding, I danced like a fool (as I always do) with my father, my uncles, the Hubs, my brother-in-law and my cousin’s husbands. All fathers. All amazing men. None of them have cured cancer, invented anything that changed the world or ran for president. But they have changed a million diapers. Rocked babies to sleep. Played catch for hours. Given out countless hugs. Been chauffeurs, therapist and cooks. Made beds and cleaned house. Been a task master and the bad guy. Kissed boo-boos and wiped noses. They have shown up and cheered on their kids at games and recitals and plays. They’ve learned new sports and been the coach. Given piggy-back rides over and over. Been tackled and wrestled with.  Hosted tea parties for dolls and learned to braid hair. They’ve been Dad.

Happy, happy Father’s Day to the amazing men who I’ve known from birth and the amazing man I’m married to. Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone very special to be a Dad. Thanks for being that special!