18 Years After “I Do”

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18 years ago today, two kids got married.

We had been together three and a half years and had been living together for a year an a half. The Hubs had been in the Secret Service for almost two years and I had had two different jobs in the past 20 months that we were living in DC. We had already changed apartments, figured out what the hell 401Ks were and thought we were bonafide adults.

When we got married, we were the first in our crew to do so. We had a gorgeous Catholic mass complete with all the trappings: escorts down the aisle, a veil, and family and friends blowing bubbles as we left the church. I was completely calm and collected on my wedding day- there was no doubt in my mind I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing with my life.

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Our reception had over 200 people in attendance, great food and an open bar. The party was epic and included a school bus, grandfathers dressed up as the Village People and hours and hours of dancing. The party officially ended at 11, but the after party was still going on at 3 am when my father finally ordered Pete and I to go to bed because we had to be up for the post-wedding brunch the next day. 😉

We were two kids with the world at our fingers tips, promising each other forever in front of God, family and friends.

It’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

~*~*~*~
Over the past 18 years, those kids grew up. We moved a handful of times, adding two kids, three cats and a dog to our crew. We battled infertility, dealt with job loss and said goodbye to friends and family that left us too soon.

There were a few times over these past 18 years that I wondered if marrying the Hubs was the biggest mistake of my life. Times where I looked at real estate listings, wondering what house I could afford on my own for the kids and myself. Times I laid in bed next to this man I promised my love to, wondering what in the world I was thinking when I said “I do” all those years ago.

It seems cliche to say that marriage is hard work…as well as slightly dishonest. I don’t consider my marriage hard work, but our marriage is something we have to work at. We need to remember to prioritize each other, to talk to each other about the things that matter, and to love each other through the rough spots. Sometimes my marriage is a feeling of completely contentment and sometimes it’s a decision I make daily to forge ahead with, and make things work.

Thankfully those hard times are completely overwhelmed by all the times I can’t stop grinning, so very glad this messy, loud, chaotic life is mine. Times when I am so very grateful at all the happiness around me and this life we built together.

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So, if I could tell those sweet kids getting ready to start the biggest chapter of their lives anything, here is what I would tell them:

  • Happily ever afters don’t just happen – they are attainable, but you better be ready to work for them!
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a date night.
  • Therapy is a God-send, don’t be afraid of it.
  • Change is good – just because it’s scary doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a leap.
  • Money comes and money goes – stay on budget, keep talking and have faith.
  • Friends – individual and couple friends- are essentials as is time to develop your own passions.
  • Find things that bring you together – a love of movies, history, travel, whatever- just make it yours.
  • It’s OK to go to bed angry, sometimes you need time to cool off. But don’t let things fester even if the conversation is hard and uncomfortable.
  • Figure out your damn love languages – it’ll help a lot!

Here’s to many more years of a happy, happy life!

 

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The Bean Finds Her Voice

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The Bean has been playing lacrosse for over 3 years. The first few years, she loved it – the physicality of it, the speed, the great kids she played along side. Then last year, she started to make noises about not wanting to play anymore.

The thing about the Bean is she *never* wants to play anything. She is happiest in our house, Facetiming friends or playing on her phone – but, 9 times out 10, when she gets out of the house to do whatever activity she’s been dragged to, she’s happy to be there. So, when she started saying she didn’t want to play lacrosse, I pretty much ignored her and I signed her up for the season anyhow, figuring once she got in the swing of it, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

<Hi, my name is Heather. Evidently I’m new to this parenting thing.>

When lacrosse season started, Bean had to miss the first few weeks of practice due to conflicts. She kept telling us she didn’t want to play but we kept assuring her she’d love it and not to worry. I figured she’d fall into the same routine of complaining and then being fine once she was actually there.

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Hahahahahahaha….in theory, yes. In reality? Not so much.

 

Finally the first practice she could attend arrives and I knew I was in for a battle, but I figured within 5 minutes or so she’s be resigned and we’d be on our way.

Or…..not.

Me: Hey, you have practice tonight. Eat your dinner and we’ll head out in a bit.

Bean: I’m not going.

Me: Yes, you are – we’ve talked about this. You love lacrosse! Eat up and we’ll go!

Bean: I don’t like lacrosse and I’m not going- I told you I’m not playing this year.

Me: Yes, you are- you’ve made a commitment.

<This is normally where she cries. Once that doesn’t work,  she folds, grumpily gets ready and away we go to have a good night.>

Bean: (completely calm) No, I did not. YOU made the commitment. I told you I didn’t want to play, you signed me up anyhow. So the commitment is on you.

<Huh. Welllllll, this isn’t going to plan. She has a point, but I’ll be damned if I tell her that.>

Me: Either way, you’re on the team. They are expecting you – go get changed, we have to leave in a few.

Bean: No.

Me: (clearing losing here and more than a little flummoxed) Well, if you don’t get changed, I’ll take you in your school uniform. I don’t care.

Bean: Neither do I.  You can take me in my dress clothes – when I get there, I’m just going to tell the coach I don’t want to be there and sit on the bench. You can make me go, but you can’t make me play.

~*~*~*~

I always knew the Bean had a bigger back bone than most people. She’s been stubborn from day one and I know this trait will help her move mountains when she’s older. But now? Now, when she’s 11, I really just want her to do what I tell her to do. It would make *my* life a thousand times easier.

But did I really want to teach her that she has no voice now? Did I want to stifle her autonomy and force her to do something she really didn’t want to do – something I knew she didn’t want to do, but I signed her up for anyhow, ignoring her wishes? Do I want her to be a person that gives into what other people tell her to do just to make the other person happy?

Hell no!

I grew up with the philosophy that once you committed to something, you saw it through and have tried to raise my kids with the same mindset. But, in this case, she didn’t commit to something- she was 100% correct that the Hubs and I made that decision for her.

Sometimes, as a parent, it’s easy to make a proclamation and decide that the most important thing is to force your kids to do what you say.  You dig in your heels and decide that that decision is a hill you’re willing to die on. And sometimes, as a parent, you’re 100% correct and your kids just have to deal.

And other times you wise up and realize that raising a kick-ass kid with a mind of her own and the strength of her convictions is a thousand times more important….no matter how much you miss watching her play.

 

 

11.

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Dear Bean –

Happy birthday, kiddo – you’re 11! And, frankly, you weren’t happy about it. You told me, very seriously, that 10 was a great year and you’re a little worried that 11 won’t live up to your expectations.

Girl, I hear you.

Getting older is HARD and I know you’re starting to realize that things are changing. You only have one more year left in your beloved school and the kids you’ve known since you were 3 will scatter. We’re still in the process of figuring out this home addition. And this summer is an odd one with lots of trips – one without your dad and I. While you do many, many things well, you do NOT do change.

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But here is where I tell you, it’ll all be fine. I swear it.

~*~*~*~

You weren’t wrong though- 10 was a stellar year for you! You slayed 5th grade with great study habits, a wonderful teacher and solid friendships. You continued to ride horses, you gave up lacrosse (in a moment that oddly made me stupidly proud of you), you made more Tik Tok videos than should be legal and girl – you found basketball.

You’ve never been much for team sports, and that’s Ok. You don’t thrive off of the sense of community that comes from playing on a team, you don’t really care about meeting new people, nor were you particularly sold on sports, but something clicked this year. So, with the urging of some friends, you decided to try out for a travel basketball team.

You made that team and you FOUND YOUR TRIBE! A group of girls that you instantly bonded with- I have never seen anything like that with you before. Even your teacher commented that being part of this team gave you more confidence across the board. So, high-five to that!

Bean shooting baskets in an empty arena.

~*~*~*~

And now, you’re 11.

Here is what I hope for you this year:

  • I hope you realize that you can always, always keep talking to us. I don’t care if it’s about inane Tik Tok videos or your deepest fears – I will always listen.
  • I hope know that I trust you to make good decisions.
  • I hope you know that when you don’t make good decisions (because you’re human), we’ll talk them through. Yes, you may be punished. Yes, you may have to live with consequences you don’t like. Yes, you may disappoint me, your dad and yourself. But you’ll grow from what you learn and do better the next time.
  • I hope you know that your emotions are going to be BIG this year – and for roughly the next 7-8 years. And you’re not going to know what to do with them sometimes and that’s OK.  You can laugh, you can cry, you can yell and you can talk them all out. All are totally good by me, but…
  • I hope you know that big emotions aren’t an excuse to be mean. Don’t be a jerk for the sake of being a jerk. Mean girls and the drama surrounding them won’t ever be tolerated in this house.
  • I hope you you realize the very real difference between being a jerk and standing up for yourself. Because, my girl, standing up for yourself is something every.freaking.person needs to know how to do – and sometimes, when you stand up for yourself, you run the risk of not being liked.
  • I hope you know it’s OK not to be liked. I hope don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your self-worth is dependent on what people think of you – because it is 100% not. Say that with me one more time: What other people think of me doesn’t determine my self worth. And keep saying it to yourself every damn day until you feel it in your bones.
  • I hope you know that regardless of the changes your body starts to go through, you’re beautiful. I hope when you look into the mirror you see the strength and humor and brains that I see and know you’re gorgeous in the very best ways.
  • I hope you always respect your body. You won’t always like your body – it’ll be doing some weird things soon enough – but I hope you realize what a gift your body is. Strong legs that run you where you want to go, arms that lift you up, a spine to help you hold your head high. You’re a freaking miracle and I hope that even when you hate your body, you still respect the hell out of it and treat it properly.
  • I hope you know that you’re always, always loved fiercely.

So, here’s to 11 being even better than 10! I can’t wait to see where your adventures take you.

The Bean at the barn.

I love you,
Mom

 

13.

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Dear Scorch-

You turned 13 this month.

You are now a teenager.

I don’t know how that happened either, but it did. I swear it was last Mother’s Day that you came roaring into our lives…but it wasn’t, was it?

Before I became a Mom, all I really knew were babies and toddlers. Those were the ages of the kids I babysat for, the ones I liked the most. When I envisioned being a mom, I pictured chubby cheeked infants (which you were), sturdy-legged toddlers (also you) and that was about it. I didn’t give much thought to parenting a child, let alone a teen. I realize it seems silly when I write it out, but that’s the God’s honest truth.

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~*~*~

This year, you started 7th grade. You moved out of your small, protected Catholic school with 14 kids in your entire grade to the public middle school with 200 kids in your grade. You know your father and I battled about this – he wanted to send you to a Catholic school 45 minutes away to keep you safe and swaddled. And I did too- but the logistics just didn’t work so instead, I became the cheerleader for our local public school hoping hoping hoping you would thrive there, all the while so freaking nervous about it, I couldn’t sleep some nights.

When I think back to my middle school years, I just remember how precarious things were. Friendships were constantly shifting, bodies were morphing, voices were changing – nothing was static and, for someone like me, who loves to know what’s going on all the time, it was scary as all get out. But middle school in 1991 is very different than middle school in 2019 so I held out hope that your experience would be better than mine.

I warned you that things would change this year. Friendships may not be the same, dating was going to become a thing and expectations were going to be a lot higher. We established some ground rules, let you (little, slight, small YOU) join the modified football team and prayed things were going to be OK.

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And you know what? They weren’t OK.

They were amazing.

You, my funny, goofy, amazing kid, thrived in 7th grade. Yup, friendships were challenged, dating was a thing (not for you though – sorry, your parents are mean) and expectations were a lot higher – but you met them all. Except for that 43 in Orchestra- but you fixed that fast enough and took allllllllll the teasing that went along with it (because, really, who gets a 43 in Orchestra?!) with good humor and determination to do better. You learned how to schedule your time, take responsibility and make things happen.

You made new friends, learned a whole hell of a lot of new words, saw a lot of fights, decided both your father and I were cringy at various times during the year, learned that just because your friends “shipped” you with a girl doesn’t mean you have to date them, saw that the world is made up of a lot of different colors and sexualities and took advantage of a lot of the opportunities offered to you.

You have always been one of my favorite kids in the world, but, to my absolutely delight, you’re growing into one of my favorite people in the world.

~*~*~*~

So now, 7th grade is almost done and you’re 13. We’re seeing glimpses of the part of teenagedom we were warned about- the hormones, the dramatics, allllll the feelings. I know it won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, but I’m hoping we’ll keep talking to each other, sharing our experiences and working forward.  I’ve promised you this a million times – your family will always be the first to support you when you try new things, the first to correct you when you’re being a jerk and your safe place to land no matter what.

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Here’s what I hope for you in your 13th year:

  • Keep being kind. You’ve seen the kids that don’t have kindness in their lives this year – how they act, what they do. Don’t be that kid. Be the kid that makes sure people are OK and lend a helping hand. It costs you nothing, but it could mean the world to someone else.
  • Use your position to lift others up. Don’t ever punch down to make yourself feel better, you’re better than that.
  • Keep making new friends. The friends you’ve had forever- keep them close and cherish them. But don’t be afraid to meet new people too. Befriend the band kid, the art kid, the computer kid – they all have amazing stories to tell.
  • Hold on tight to your self-confidence. Know that you are worthy of good things and make smart decisions even if they aren’t popular decisions. Being a leader is freaking hard work – do it anyhow.
  • Take advantage of the opportunities school provides you. You’re going to a big public school with sports, groups and organizations. Explore them all to find your passion.

~*~*~*~

While I couldn’t have imagined raising a teen 16 years ago when we we started trying to expand our family, now I can’t stop being amazed over how very lucky I am to be doing so. I’m so excited for you, Scorch. It’s a privilege to watch you grow, knowing how many fun things are coming for you – new friends, first loves, learning to drive, going to dances, heart breaks, discovering what makes you happy, finding your true tribe, going to college.

So, here’s to 13. May it be your best year yet, my boy – and if it’s not, know that we’ll love you no matter what.

All my love,

Mom

 

 

 

Keeping it Real

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A friend on Facebook posted this yesterday and it resonated with me…

Quote: The reason we struggle with insecurity is beacuse we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel. - Steve Furtick

….especially because we just returned from a trip from Florida and I had posted a quick recap in pictures. OF COURSE I picked the best pictures – the ones where the kids were smiling, you couldn’t see my double chin and the sun was shining.  Essentially, all I showed were the highlights, so in the interest of full disclosure let me tell you a bit more about what a 2400+ mile road trip looks like with my family.

First, we drove from our home in NY to Virginia to St. Augustine to Orlando to Tampa and then home again. We are not a family who can drive overnight – we *need* to be in a hotel by 9:30 because no one can sleep in a car and we all start to get a little bitchy if we don’t get our sleep. So, the Hubs had it all planned out- we’d leave our house by 1, run a few errands, get the kids from school by 1:40 and be where he wanted to be in VA by 8 pm to spend the night. He insisted I make reservations at his hotel of choice because he KNEW we’d make it there without any issues. And I refused because this isn’t my first rodeo and I KNOW how a family road trip goes.

As we always do, we left late, forgot to run one of our errands, panicked that we didn’t leave the key for our house sitter, realized the Hubs forgot to put his car charger in my car (which was my fault, some how) and finally grabbed the kids at 2:30. Honestly, not so bad as far as our road trips go. We finally did make it to the hotel the Hubs wanted to that night – a blessed Country Inn and Suites so the kids could sleep* while the Hubs and I relaxed in the living room. (*they didn’t sleep, they wrestled, yelled, had a pillow fight, used the beds as trampolines and generally were loud pains in the asses and we didn’t care because we were tired and it was only Day 1. Parenting: killing it since 2006!).

The Bean and Scorch in the car on the way to FL.

The next day was uneventful (well, as uneventful as 12 hours of driving can be: no blood was shed, no one puked and the car didn’t break down) and we made it to St. Augustine for our overnight. We had a 45 minutes wait at our favorite restaurant so we played on the beach across the street. Pure bliss after 12 hours in the car!

The Bean walking on the beach at dusk.

The next day, it was on to Disney!  We are very, very lucky that the Hubs has family that works there and are kind enough to get us in the parks for free, otherwise there is no way this could be an annual destination because Disney is expensive and I’m cheap. We stayed at the beautiful Coronado Resort and managed to find that great mix between busy and relaxed (read: we spent a lot time at the pool).

We’ve learned over the years that while Disney can be the most magical place on earth, it’s crowded, noisy, overstimulating and overwhelming no matter how many times you go there. I never wanted to be that mom that dragged her sobbing kids through the parks (I *may* still have some issues around Disney as I was the sobbing kid <at age 14> being dragged around the park. Not one of my finest moments) but that doesn’t mean meltdowns don’t happen:

  • While in line for Aladdin’s Magic Carpet, the ride broke down. Really, it was like a 4 minute pause- but it was justenough time for the kids to start arguing over who got to control the ride (choosing if we went up or down or side to side). I had to pull my children- my TWELVE and TEN YEAR OLD children – apart because they wouldn’t stop squabbling over this freaking ride. There was name calling, getting in each other’s faces and posturing over who got to PUSH A LEVER. The family with 5 kids aged 3 – 9 were staring. It was awesome.
  • The hotel has one large pool and and a bunch of smaller pools. There was a smaller pool next to our building that the kids preferred because there were no life guards and they could try to drown each other without anyone yelling at them (don’t judge- my book was good and I was keeping an eye on them. They assured me they’d tap out if they went too long without breathing). One of the days, it was only 65 degrees out, but the sun was shining and we’re hardy NY folks, so the kids wanted to swim. Perfect, let’s do it.
    Only the Bean decided she wanted NOTHING to do with Scorch while in the pool and Scorch decided he wanted to be her “personal helper dolphin” who needed to stick next to her like glue.  We finally told Scorch he had to stay 10 feet away from her at all times, figuring that would solve the squabbling.  Clearly, we’re new to this parenting thing.
    The Bean LOST HER SHIT because Scorch kept looking at her. When we pointed out that the only way she knew he was looking at her is if she was looking at him….well, she didn’t care. He was LOOKING AT HER and that must be stopped. IMMEDIATELY. She was so mad at this point she was vibrating, which made Scorch and I immediately start to laugh so hard we cried and the Hubs to yell at all of us for being morons.
  • Don’t even get me started on the night Scorch found a spider on their shared bed. The boys ended up sharing a bed that night while I shared a bed with Bean, trying (at first calmly, and then not so much) to explain why changing rooms at 10 pm was NOT going to happen.  Gooooood times.
The kids swimming in the hotel pool

That’s the “personal helper dolphin” dogging his sister. What is a “personal helper dolphin”? Damned if I know- 12 year olds are weird.

We survived Disney and headed over to my parent’s place on the Gulf side of the state for a few days of pure relaxation before heading back home. Honestly, despite some glitches, the trip had really been fantastic.

But, sadly, all good things must come to an end and Friday we packed the car back up and got on the road to head home.  All was well until we hit South Carolina and, within miles of crossing the boarder, we ran over debris over the road.  The Hubs and I exchanged a look, hoped what we ran over was soft plastic and crossed our fingers. That worked great until the tire pressure light went off about 20 miles later – at 4:15. On a Friday. Did I mention my snow tires were still on my car? Do you think tire shops in South Carolina even stocks snow tires? Yeah, me either.

Blessed be southern hospitality though because, after a panicked phone call, we were able to limp into a tire shop at 4:40 (with an audibly hissing tire) and have our car looked at immediately by Buddy.  Buddy, my new BFF, was able to patch our tire – otherwise we would have been stranded until MONDAY afternoon – and we were back on the road within an hour. Buddy, a man who I will name my next pet after <because I’m NOT having more kids> stayed an hour late to get us rolling, charged us $23 and bid us a safe trip.

Clearly we didn’t make it as far as  we wanted that night, something that infuriated my type-A husband, but we did manage to book another suite in a hotel so the kids could go to bed while the Hubs and I decompressed.  Only, when we checked in, there weren’t any suites left – something they told me AFTER I paid, despite telling me that was what I was booking over the phone.

Again, no big deal- talk about a first world problem right? We’ll just all turn in and get an early start in the morning.  Only- the other thing we weren’t told was that there was a biker convention in town.  *sigh* I have no issues with bikers, but what I do have issues with is bikers pulling in and out all night in front of our hotel, revving their engines keeping us all awake. To add insult to injury, all the beds were all sagging in the middle, the kids refused to sleep in the same bed and the ice machine was right outside our door.

The only upside was that we got on the road super early the next morning. The drive home went swimmingly until about 2 hours in when the Bean got sick.

Because, of course she did.

Thankfully she was just car sick and not sick-sick and I’ve learned my lesson to never travel without Dramamine and a bucket – so all was well(ish) pretty quickly.  We got home safely after 12 hours on the road and my newly fixed tire didn’t decide to start leaking again until this morning.  And the Bean? Well, she decided to puke an hour after getting to school today.

Scorch on the breakwater in the Gulf

All in all, the trip was amazing – but honestly, if you looked at the pictures, you’d think it was amazing 24/7. But it wasn’t. Life isn’t and to expect it to be is unreasonable. I’m very thankful that I’m blessed with two amazing kids, a husband who drives the whole time so I can read, the means to travel and jobs that give us this flexibility.  We’ve had some amazing trips and some truly terrible trips (I’m looking at you, camping trip of 2018).  We’ve had trips where 3 out of the 4 of us have gotten the stomach bug (Disney, 2017), trips where 3 out of 4 of us have ended up crying on vacation, trips where the Hubs got both the flu AND mono (FL 2016) and trips where just everything sucked and we really didn’t like each other.

That’s just how life goes. But we keep going, keep making memories (good and bad) and use Facebook or Instagram to highlight the very best parts. When we share stories of our trips with friends and family a few years from now – are we going to remember the short wait time in Epcot? The killer dinner in St. Augustine? Most likely not.  But we’re never going to forget the the kindness of Buddy and the absolute fit Scorch threw when Bean started puking!

 

Nope, Not the Cool Mom

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Back in the fall, I took Scorch to one of the varsity football games. He was settling into middle school and feeling like the big man on campus wearing his modified football jersey to hang out with all his friends under the lights. Oh, he thought he was hot stuff and he was feeling it…

…until I made him leave before the game was over because he had a 3 hour long practice starting the next day at 7 am.

He wailed, he pleaded, he tried to bargain – he was pissed at me like never before because I was making him leave early.  He was in SEVENTH GRADE and he was NOT A BABY and why was I SO MEAN?!!?  He ended his fit asking me if I wanted to be a COOL MOM because this was, unequivocally, not cool.

I'm not like a regular mom, I'm a cool mom

NOOOOOPE

~*~*~*

Fast forward 3+ months and Scorch, the Bean and I have had lots of conversation about the fact that I am not the cool mom, the Hubs isn’t the cool dad and we’re all OK with that.  Because right now, to my kids, being the cool mom means letting them do whatever they wants….and nope, not going to happen.

Here’s what kind of mom I am though:

  • I’ll be the mom that shows up. Games, recitals, plays, concerts – if my kids are in it, I’ll do my damnedest to be there. I might complain because it’s freaking freezing, unbearably hot, or boring as hell, but you’ll still see my ass parked in the stands without fail.
  • I’ll be the consistent mom. The kids might not like my rules, but they’ll know them. Their friends will know them. Heck, our neighbors will most likely know then when I yell them at the kids loudly (hint: I’ll never be the quiet mom). The rules won’t change, ensuring the kids will know what’s expected of them, and they’ll be expected to follow them.
  • That said, I won’t be the dictator mom. Rules will flex as the kids age – we’re all going to have to adjust. I’ll always be willing to hear the kids out in a respectful way – it may not change my mind, but they’ll never be discounted or ignored.
  • I’ll be the mom you can blame. Both kids know that I’m always happy to be thrown under the bus. If there is anything they don’t want to do, or feel uncomfortable with, they’ve been told that saying that their mom / dad will kill them is a very welcome excuse to give. I don’t care if my kid’s friends think we’re nuts, as long as my kids are safe and happy, make me out to be the bad guy as much as needed.
  • I’ll be the mom with the open door. I admit, the Hubs and I like a peaceful home and having a ton of tweens over is the exact opposite. It’s loud, chaotic and expensive as those kids can eat. And that’s 100% fine with me. My door will be open anytime the kids wants to have friends over. I want to be the house that my kid’s friends feel comfortable in because I know as they get older, my kids and their friends will need safe spaces. We’re it. Nope, we will never condone drinking or drugs ever, but need a break from your parents? Had a bad break up? Need a warm meal? My door is open.
  • I’ll be the mom you can talk to. My kids know that they can talk to be about anything and I’m there for it. Question about your body? Hit me with it. Friendship quandary? Let’s talk it through. Mad at a teacher/coach/friend? Unpack that drama. Sex, alcohol, drugs? Get it alllllll on the table. There is literally nothing that they can bring up that will embarrass me or shut us down. If they are willing to talk, I’m willing to listen. I may laugh like a loon with them, I may have to work really hard not to throw out advice – but I’m always here.
  • I’ll be the mom who is a vault. Admittedly, this is a new one for me. Before if my kids shared stuff with me and I repeated it, it wasn’t a big deal but now it is. So the kids and I have agreed that if we pinky swear on it, nothing will go past me unless the information involves someone getting hurt/hurting something else/self harming/doing illegal things. Those things are going to be shared with the appropriate adults, but the other stuff lives and dies with me.
  • I’ll be the mom who laughs – a lot. This age is hysterical, the kids are AMAZING and there is nothing wrong with having fun. I’m going to poke fun at kids, allow them to tease me and call out their friends as needed. It’s way too easy to take life too seriously especially as a teen. I’m here to point out the crazy and to laugh at it all with my kids – otherwise, what’s the point?!

 

Maybe one day I’ll earn some cool points, but I’m not losing any sleep over it if I don’t.

Peace Out 2018!

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Despite what I keep writing every.damn.time I have to write out the date, it’s 2019 and I have high hopes for this year. There is nothing particular special about this year, but I have a good feeling about it. The date rolls off your tongue and it just sounds right.

2018 had it’s ups and downs, but it ended on a high note. A healthy family, a joyous holiday season, time with loved ones and friends.  Lots of laugh, a tad too much wine at times, a few excuses to get dressed up and hours upon hours spent cheering on both kid’s basketball teams.

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2019 hasn’t started on the best foot.  We lost a dear, wonderful man yesterday.  An old family friend who we spent countless hours with growing up as our families vacationed together. You know those friends who you don’t see for years, but you pick right up on without missing a beat when you see each other again? That is Jim’s family. The soundtrack of my childhood would have been a lot less bright and hell of a lot quieter without Jim’s booming laugh and bellowing yell when one of us was in trouble. My heart is breaking for his family as they navigate this much duller world without him.

And then there is the government shut down. The Hubs, a federal employee who has to work during the shutdown, refuses to allow me to freak out until he’s actually missed a paycheck as he knows my inner Chicken Little is thisclose to coming out. So, I won’t freak out- I’ll just continually update my financial spreadsheets preparing for each of the 1 millions ways things can go.

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All this, though, doesn’t mean the whole year is going to suck Right?! I mean, it can’t. I won’t let it. So…here’s what I’m hoping to do this year to help it suck less for me and my little crew:

  • We’re going to keep encouraging the hell out of our kids. School, sports, music and travel- it’s a big, amazing world and I want my kids to sample as much of it as they can.
  • We’re giving back. We’ve been lucky that have been able to give back financially to the causes near to our hearts, but it’s time to find the time to give that as well. The kids are old enough that they can be a help and find what they are passionate about. Animals? Families in need? I don’t know yet- but we’re going to figure it out.
  • I want to find my passion. We’re in that weird parenting stage right now where the kids need us for a lot of logistical things – rides, etc – but the end of that overwhelming time is inching up on us faster and faster. So, when my kids are grown, when my time is marginally more my own, what do I want do? Besides read in bed – because, let’s be honest, I would do that all the time.
  • Find a couple’s hobby. I know, gag-worthy, right? But after almost 21 years together (HOLY SHIT), the Hubs and I will also soon have time for more than once a month date nights. So what does that look like? Are we volunteering? Dancing (hahahaha – I know, I know, just a thought)? Cooking? Traveling? What are we doing together to keep us strong?
  • Make our health a priority. Dude – the kids schedules right now are unrelenting and it’s wrecking havoc on our gym schedules and waist lines. So, one thing we have started laying out is our weekly “who is working out when / what are we having for dinner” schedule in the hopes of getting healthier.  It’ll work great until baseball season shoots it all to hell, but it’s a start.
  • Let’s be real- there will also be lots of reading. Life is too share not to fill up alllllll the minute nooks and crannies with books you adore. And I adore a lot of books.
  • Write more. I’m a happier, more centered person when I write. I just need to make it a priority again – here and on the local mom blog I write for. It’s been much more challenging as the kids get older. Do I very, very, very much want to write about the afternoon I explained to Scorch what male and female orgasms are? YES. Would he kill me if I did? Also YES. (Kids suck the fun out of everything).

So, that’s what I want out of 2019. Here’s hoping the highs outweigh the lows, the laughs out number the tears and the love continues to grow.

peaceout

 

This is 40

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I’m reading a book right now that takes place the summer between high school and college. Do you remember that summer? For me, it was 1996 and 22 years later it’s still one of the most vivid in my mind. There was that sense of excitement and fear and joy and worry – I can hear the music that played on repeat and smell the clove cigarettes to this day.

There was also a boy.  A beautiful, damaged boy – a boy I wanted to know and be known by.  A boy who I thought I could fall in love with despite all his warnings that he was too broken and not capable of love. A boy I wanted to try with regardless.  A boy who came thisclose to breaking my heart.

This book reminds me, achingly, of that boy and that summer. That summer when anything could have happened and my life could have gone in so many different directions.

~*~*

This past summer was not an easy one in so many different ways, personally and professionally. There were storms that I honestly didn’t know if we’d get through without sinking.  Tears, anger, frustration and hopelessness- they all colored this past summer.

This was also the summer I turned 40. Despite what I *think* I’ll see when I look in the mirror, there is a middle aged woman staring back at me with the start of crows feet, silver at her temples and a squishy middle that is the bane of her (my) existence.  There are bags under my eyes and still some faint marks on one cheek from when I developed chloasma gravidarum when I was pregnant with the Bean.

But my eyes sparkle, my smile is always ready to burst out and those crow’s feet- they’re laugh lines.

If you ever want to know how loved you are, I highly recommend hitting a milestone birthday during a particularly shitty time. We celebrated my 40th five times over four months with friends and family from all over the country.

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I was kidnapped and swept away for a night of bar hopping and dinner, I traveled to Nashville with my best friends from 3rd grade, and I went on a wine tour in the Finger Lakes with some of my favorite people on earth. I turned 40 sitting on the bleachers watching Scorch do what he loves most in the world while the Hubs coached and the Bean and my parents sat next to me. I sang along with Jimmy Buffett when he played in Fenway Park, I danced in the rain on a rooftop bar and laughed and was loved on so damn hard from the people I adore most on this earth.

This summer was the craziest mix of highs and lows – full of fury and fun and heartbreak and overwhelming love.  I dissected my life – my choices, the path that led me to where I was now, the people I surrounded myself with and every little thing in between.  There were a lot of what if’s and daydreams about what could have been.  Could I have been happier? What would my life have looked like if I went right instead of left? Took Option A instead of Option B? Would my life be better? Worse? Different in a whole other way?

But then I realized, it doesn’t matter. This IS the life I picked- and I’d pick it again.

I would pick this life again in a heartbeat.

I’d pick the Hubs to walk by my side. I’d go through the heartbreak of my miscarriages to get the kids I have today. I’d surround myself by the incredible people that lift me up every day. And I surely couldn’t imagine a better family to be born in.

I would pick this life again.

The “what if” game is fun to daydream about – and trust me, even though I’d pick this life, I still daydream and wonder what could have been – but the fact of the matter is this is the life I built.  This is the life I’ve worked for for 40 years and I’m so damn glad it is mine.

So here’s to the next 40 with its ups and downs and heartbreaks and belly laughs. Here’s to family and friends and fighting for the life you want. Here’s to figuring out how to right your own ship, weather the storm and come out stronger for it.  Here’s to laugh lines, tear tracks and choosing to love each and every day no matter what life throws at you. Here’s to my wickedly crazy, awesome life

JimmyBuffett

 

Middle School Joy

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School has been back in session for a few weeks now and, so far, the transition has been a smooth one. Bean is still in her beloved school – only this time – for the first time ever –  without her brother there with her. In her words, it’s amazing. And Scorch transitioned seamlessly from his tiny Catholic school to the much larger public school.

I think it helped that for the first year ever, we’re letting Scorch play tackle football. Trust me, we debated this decision over and over and over – but what finally got me to say yes is the fact that my kid thrives on a team. He soaks up everything about being a teammate-  having kids to hang out with, having a set schedule, being forced to manage his time. Football here meant summer conditioning sessions and practices that started the week before school started so he went into the new school already feeling like he belonged, which is a really good thing.

Last week, Scorch was supposed to have his first game so the Bean, Hubs and I went to the field. There was a tennis match going on below the football field and a cross country meet happening on the far side of the field. The Powder Puff game was going on after Scorch’s game, so the entire athletic area was packed. Warm up music was blaring and kids were hanging out in groups – teasing, laughing and carrying on. It was a loud, chaotic, fun community atmosphere.

It may be 22 year later, but damned if the sounds, sights and smells weren’t exactly the same as when I was in school.

I freaking loved my teen years. Not in a Glory Days way where I want to go back and relive those times again – but those years were a lot of fun. Sure, there was the typical drama that all teens go through – first loves, fights among friends, pushing boundaries and figuring things out – but overall, those years rocked.  And as I looked around at where my kids were going to be living out their teenage years, I became excited for them.

I know that being a teen today is a hell of a lot different than being a teen 20+ year ago, but I’d like to think that the foundational things aren’t that different. Social media adds a whole new levels to things, but at the core, middle school and high school years are about starting to figure out who you are and who your tribe is. It’s about exploring your interests, stretching your wings and taking those first steps to adulthood.

Sure, it can also be about drama and angst – but, thanks to social media and the news, it’s easy to think that’s all it’s about. But it’s not. It’s also about joy, friendship and crazy love. Come on???  Don’t you remember that first exhilarating car ride you took with your friends with no adults in the car? Finding new friends that you clicked with? Discovering a new activity that you loved? Riding the bus home from games, celebrating the big win? Taking class trips? Sneaking out of your house to meet your friends and getting away with it (or not- thanks, Mrs. Wilson!)? Picking out your outfit to your first formal dance?  The thrill of your first kiss?

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We called this our 90210 pose. Awkward as hell middle school years? You betcha. But I’m going to on vacation with these ladies next month to celebrate our 4oth birthdays!

*sigh* I want my kids to have all that and more. I want them to be 40 years old and look back on that crazy time with a smile on their face remembering amazing friends lost and the amazing friends still in their lives. I want them to laugh over the stupid things they did and realize how those years helped to make them into the amazing adults they will become.

So, instead of freaking out about all the horrible things that the media tells me lurks for my kids as they get older, I’m going to concentrate on all the awesome things that will also happen. My eyes will be open to the bad – I can’t pretend it’s not out there – but that fear won’t take away the joy that I know will be there too.

 

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Dear Bean-

You have been blessing this earth with your sassy attitude, funny personality and charm for a decade now.

Girl, you’re old.

How in the world did that happen? Aren’t babies supposed to stay babies? I think there is a law about that somewhere that you broke with all this growing up you’re doing.

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We were in FL back in March, on the beach in St. Augustine – you were all long, skinny, tanned limbs and my heart stopped just looking at the gorgeousness that is you.  Not just your physical features, but your sparkling eyes and loud laugh  – that was the moment I got a glimpse into you who you’d grow up to be and it was astounding.

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You are still my mystery girl. Your brother and I are very similar- what you see is pretty much what you get. We like people, we like crowds and there are no such things as strangers- just friends we haven’t met.

You, on the other hand, are much more guarded. You keep your circle small, your friends close and list of things you love to do pretty damn small. Getting you to try new things is like pulling teeth and if you’re not sure you’ll be 100% successful or comfortable doing something- you’d really rather not.

Parenting you is sometimes one of the most challenging things I do  – and I’m so thankful for it.  You, my Bean, make my life a 1000x more interesting. You keep me on my toes, you show me a new way to look at things and you’re constantly wowing me with your intelligence and humor.  In short, I adore you.

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This past year was a great one for you. You rocked 4th grade- adoring your teacher, getting good grades and working hard. This year was the start of some serious girl drama as you discovered that have 2 BFFs is hard. But you ladies figured things out and learned a bit more about kindness, compromise and what being a friend is about.

You kept playing an instrument, even though you complained once a week about that. You played lacrosse again and killed it – even though you complained about that too. Your father and I have figured out that you’re going to complain about most things that take you out of the house- but once you’re there, you shine. You’re dedicated and work hard and more or less remember your manners.

The only things you never, ever complained about? Playing flag football and horseback riding. You’ve already stated that in 7th grade you’re playing real football because when you grow up you want to play in the NFL. Then become a marine biologist. You don’t care which you do first- you’re just going to do both of them. And I really don’t doubt you will if that is what you really want.

As for horseback riding- you started taking lessons about a year ago and fell in love. I don’t know if it’ll be a long time love affair- but you have never once tried to get out of riding and you’d pretty much rather be at the barn than anywhere else (except home- you always want to be at home). It’s a joy watching you find what makes you happy – and right now, being on a horse is one of your most happy places.

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You start 5th grade in a month – and it’s the first time in your life you’ll go to a different school then your brother. You two make each other crazy, but you’re also each other’s BFFs and I wonder how this will go for you. I have a feeling you’ll find a sense of independence you’ve never had before and I can’t wait to see how you stretch your wings.

As you start the first year of your second decade, I wish so very much. I wish you:

  • Friendship: keep your BFFs close, but don’t be afraid to make new friends too. Let people surprise you in the best way possible- because people are amazing.
  • Kindness: I hope the girl drama stays to a minimum and you all remember the importance of being kind to others- but to yourself as well.
  • Courage: try something new. Venture out and do something that scares you just a little. You are smart, funny and amazing- hold on to that knowledge and step off that ledge.
  • Determination: some things are going to be hard. You’re going to have to work really hard at some thing, or you’re going to be faced with a situation that will need strength. Stick to your guns, see it through and know that what ever it is, you’ll succeed.
  • Confidence: Know all the way down into your bones that you are worthy of love, kindness, friendship and compassion and settle for nothing less. Be true to who you are. That may mean that you won’t be loved by everyone- and that’s OK. Be confident in yourself enough to know that it’s about the quality of those around you and demand what’s due.
  • Curiosity: don’t be afraid to meander down different (physical and metaphorical) paths if something interests you. Sometimes you’ll find the most delightful surprises at the end.
  • Conviction: as you get older, knowing your own mind and sticking up for what’s right becomes more and more important. Ask question, figure out how you feel about things and stick up for yourself and others when you feel you’re not being respected.  I have all the faith in the world in  your ability to move mountains.

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You, my darling Bean, are one of the best gifts I have ever received. You are my heart – my wild child, my rule breaker and my stubborn mule. Watching you grow is my greatest privilege and I cannot wait to see what the next 10 years bring.

Love,

Mom