A Whole Lot of Nothing + Water Damage

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I have so many thoughts in my head, yet none of them have formed into a cohesive post. See, that’s how I write this blog. Something- a phrase, an action, an incident- will happen and it’ll just spark in my brain. I’ll think about it all day, writing and re-writing my post in my head. So when I do sit down to write, it pours out of me and I’m done in 10 minutes.

Not today. Really, not since school started. I have about 5 half-started posts in my head, but none of them are interesting enough or fleshed out enough in my head to put on metaphorical paper. Something will strike soon, but until then here is what’s floating around in my head.

> We’re almost to the end of the 3rd week of school and outside of not getting to school on time even once, things are humming along. We have no after-school activities until next month, so that’s been a huge blessing as the kid are adjusting to the work load.

> The weather has been the most perfect weather ever- cold nights and mornings and gorgeous hot days. Can it stay like this forever, please? (I beg that knowing full well we’ll most likely get our first snow in the next month).

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> We’ve decided on our vacation in March and next July and Aug, so at least when the snow starts to fly, we’ve got something to look forward to.

> We went to see Edwin McCain in concert earlier this month. He sang our wedding song, “I Could Not Ask For More,” so the Hubs got us tickets to see him for our anniversary. He joked in the week leading up to the concert that it would be a very quick one as McCain only had two songs.  You guys, we were BLOWN AWAY.  We didn’t know any of his other songs, but it didn’t matter because it was the perfect blending of amazing talent + intimate venue that added up to one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time. Live music is always good, but really, really great live music is good for your soul. We left and my cheeks hurt from smiling for 1.5 hours.

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> We had a minor leak in the back of our refrigerator that went on for lord knows how long that has caused over $5000 worth of damage to my floors and ceiling below. So we’ve had water mitigation people, appliance repair people and contractors in and out of our house pretty much non-stop since last week. Really, it’s nothing more than an inconvenience- everything can be fixed and home owner’s insurance is  a blessing- but I’m calling uncle. I don’t want to adult anymore.

So, that’s the state of our household. 95% boring, 5% chaos.

Slow Down

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When I was in 3rd grade, I changed school districts. I don’t remember much about that time other than I didn’t want to go to the new school and my first friend was Marlana (Hi, Lana!). In 4th grade, my family moved to a new house in my new school district. I remember loving how big the pine trees in the backyard were and how they seemed to be custom made for climbing.

But 5th grade? 5th grade and on- I remember. I remember who I sat with at lunch (Hi Hillory, Karen & Lana!), how our desks were arranged in a square, laughing so hard at lunch that milk came out my nose and the bracelets I got that Christmas from a boy in my class that my parents made me give back. I remember hanging upside down on the monkey bars, the way the gym smelled and how exciting it was that we were the oldest in the school.

5th grade was old– almost grown up. I remember trying to convince my father that I was old enough to curse that year- old enough to be the boss of what I could and could not say. He flatly told me no. But I remember that feeling of independence and growth- it was intoxicating. From 5th grade on, my memories- or at least the important ones- are crystallized in my head.

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This past week, the Bean started 3rd grade and Scorch stated 5th grade.

When I started this blog 6 years ago (!!!) the Bean wasn’t in school – she was 2 and home full time with me and our nanny, Mary. Scorch was going to preschool part time and my babies were challenging and crazy-making. But they were babies. Even when they were 3 and 5 and both in school full time- her in preschool, he in kindergarten- they were still babies. I mean…look at those little feet and clean shoes!

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Now my son has feet as big as mine and my daughter has a very strong fashion sense – my opinions are no longer welcome.

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This year is going to be an astounding one for them, of that I have no doubt. They have wonderful teachers, the best friends and the Hubs and I cheering them on. I’m excited to watch them learn and explore and grow this year, I am! But…does summer really have to be over? Do my kids have to get another year older?

I don’t regret not having more babies- I think our family is pretty much perfect the way it is. I just want my babies to stop growing up. Stop getting so big. Stop inching their way to adulthood. I want time to slow down.

But, time stops for no (wo)man. So instead, I’m going to hold on for the ride. I’m going to practice my father’s quick, emphatic “NO” that brokered no arguments. I’m going to listen to my kids share their days — days that will soon fill their memory banks — and I’m going to try not to react too badly as I learn that my kids know more words than I’d like them to. I’m going to advocate for them, discipline them and love them like mad and hope that when their kids are this age the good memories way outweigh the bad.

So Long to Summer

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I adore Fall- I love the leaves, football, the crisp weather and all the fun that comes with this gorgeous season in NY. But I hate the end of summer. The kiddos go back to school next week and I’m not ready to say goodbye yet. I’m not ready to let go of the hot days,  days at the pool and lake, dusk at 9 pm and the sense of freedom. It goes by too damn fast and today, I’m in a funk over it.

We had a great summer. We camped and spent a magical week at the Lake.

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We coached, cheered and played- a lot.

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We visited family in St. Louis and saw the sights…

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…And visited one of the coolest, scariest places we’ve ever been- the City Museum. Yup, those are my kids climbing a wire contraption 5 stories up.

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Basically we enjoyed the hell of our summer – and I’m so sorry to see it go.

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15 Years & Counting

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I read a book recently where the main character, Emma, met her true love, Jesse, in high school. They fell in love, left their small town on the east coast and created a new life full of globe trotting travels for themselves in CA. On their first anniversary, Jesse dies in a helicopter crash. Over the next 4 years, Emma moves back to her small home town and slowly, painstakingly builds a new life for herself- one that gradually included a new true love, Sam. A few months before Sam and Emma’s wedding, Jesse was found alive (think Castaway). Now a 30-something with a career she loves and life she adores, Emma has to figure out who her true love is.

I know, it’s sounds melodramatic- and it was. But it also posed great questions about who Emma wanted to be. Can she be the same person she was in her 20’s when she was married to Jesse- did she even want to be that person anymore? Could she and Jesse learn to love each other as they are now- not who they were 4 years and a life time ago?

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The Hubs and I got married 15 years ago this month. We were just kids- I was a month past my 23rd birthday and he was 25.  We had moved down to Washington, DC when I was 21, a few weeks after I graduated college so he could start his career with the Secret Service and I could figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

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I think part of the reason that I found One True Loves such a compelling read is that I don’t have a set delineation between young Heather and grown up Heather when it comes to my love life. I was in it when I was young and I’m still all in today at 38. The Hubs and I didn’t get to figure out who we were as grown ups separately because we, in so many ways, grew up together.

There were growing pains- so many growing pains. I remember after one particularly argument, the Hubs yelling at me that I wasn’t the woman he married anymore. And he was 100% correct- I am not. Where I had once been career/studies driven, now my career is a vehicle that allows me to live the life that I want with my focus on my family. My energies are no longer on moving up the ladder, but on juggling 55+ hours work weeks, Little League and lacrosse schedules, tutors and dinner times. Family comes first and the rest is just noise.

But there is so much joy in growing into adults together. We both had fantastic parents- but there are still so much we had to figure out. How do you cook? Who cleans? How do you keep pets alive? Raise kids? Own a home? Find friends that you both like to hang out with? How to discipline kids? How to react to disappointment and loss? How to keep your sanity when things are nuts? How to stay connected with each other when life is so overwhelmingly busy? How to grow as a person while still being the person your spouse needs you to be?

We’re not pros and I have no idea what the future holds. We’re still learning and growing and finding our footing. Some days we are totally in sync and have all our priorities in line. Others it feels like there is an ocean between us.  There are days I look at the Hubs and I’m just struck dumb by the love I have for him, tenderness literally washing over me. Days I get butterflies and can’t wait to dress up for a date night just to see the expression on his face. But there are just as many days where I grit my teeth when I see him- days when just the tone of his voice is enough to set me off. Days when sweatpants and a clean t-shirt seem perfectly acceptable, romance be damned. But most days? Most days are fun.

And there in lies that joy. Life shouldn’t be a flat line where you can see everything that’s coming long before it gets to you. The joy is in the ups and downs- in the times when we fit perfectly together and in the times we claw our way back to each other when walking away sounds a hell of lot easier.
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So- to my husband. Thank you for growing beside me these past 15 years. Thank you for still being able to make me laugh with just a look. Thank you for challenging me and making me be a better person. Thank you for being an amazing father to our kids. Thank you for putting up with me when the going gets tough and letting me hold you hand when we both know you hate to be touched. Here’s to many, many more years of marriage. I love you.

The Pen is Mightier

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16 years ago, the Hubs (then the Boyfriend) and I were on vacation with my extended family at one of my favorite places on earth. He and I had been living together for 8 months and even though we were young (I had just turned 22), we knew we were going to get married. We had looked at rings a month or so before because he didn’t want to pick one out that I hated. We narrowed it down to 3 choices and I told him that was all I wanted to know- I didn’t want to know which one he picked, I didn’t want to know when he was going to propose -the rest should be a surprise.

And even thought I said that- and I meant it – I was really, really hoping he would propose on this vacation. We lived in DC at the time, but we were on vacation with my family and were going to see his family on our way back home, so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The Hubs knew this, so the very first day of vacation he pulled me aside and told me that it wasn’t happening. He couldn’t secure financing or a loan (remember, we were babies fresh out of college) and he wanted to let me know that upfront so I didn’t spend all vacation waiting for him to get down on bent knee.

So we went on to have a great vacation and I didn’t give it any thought. On our very last night, the whole extended gang of us on vacation went out to dinner. While there, unbeknownst to me, the Hubs asked for my Father’s permission while grabbing a drink at the bar and then asked me to go out on the docks to watch the sunset. While out there, he did get down on one knee and he asked me to marry him with the most perfect ring.

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Where we got engaged, 16 years later.

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That night, after we celebrated by passing a single bottle of champagne around the campfire for 15+ people to share, we talked about the life we were going to build. That life included our own home (check), kids (check), animals (check) and jobs we love (check 85% of the time).

What it did not include was the nitty gritty details. Like what happens when your kids find both the boy and girl version of “The Care and Keeping of You” books on puberty and then proceed to swap books and read them out loud to each other while crying with laughter. When the poor Bean read “penis” as “pen is”* I truly thought Scorch was going to hurt himself he was laughing so hard. And when we got to erections and periods? Forget it. Game over.

The crazy thing is the exactly the life we pictured and I’m so damn happy to be living it.

*I looked EVERYWHERE for the SNL “The Pen is Mightier” Jeopardy skit with Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery and I could not find it. Let me know if you do!

 

Real Life Monsters

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Anyone who knows me- even if it’s only through this blog- knows I like to read. A lot. I’ve read 79 books in the past 7 months, so a real lot. My taste skews towards fantasy- fairies, vampires, demons- I’m usually all in for anything in that genre. I don’t usually read crime stories or mysteries- heck, I don’t even watch the news. I much prefer the make-believe monsters, because usually they are a lot less scarier then the real life monsters.

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Many, many moons ago when I got engaged, I joined a wedding planning website and hung out on a message board full of brides getting married the same month I was. One of those brides was Shonna who married her husband, Travis, the same day the Hubs and I got married. 16 years later, we’ve stayed friends. She’s seen me at my lowest, knows crazy details about my family and has cheered me during my successes.

I’ve had the privilege of watching Shonna’s career flourish when she published her first book in 2011 and have seen how well Travis’s career as a signer/song writer has taken off. This is one seriously talented couple with huge hearts, a wicked sense of humor and unparalleled compassion.

Shonna’s latest book, Dirt Roads and Diner Pies, was released this summer and, frankly, it’s not a book I’d typically pick up because it deals with the real life monsters that I’d like to pretend didn’t exist. But, I love Shonna so I happily started to read it out of of loyalty to her.

What I didn’t expect was to love this book. I didn’t expect to be sucked in and I didn’t expected to be moved to tears and laughter.

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When Travis was a child, he had the opportunity to attend the American Boychoir School in NJ. If you’re a child of the 80’s, you’ll know this school and its talented students from the Kodak commercial featuring the choir signing Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors. While at the school, Travis was repeatedly sexual abused by those in charge. He and his fellow classmates were forced to both endure and witness the abuse for years.

In her book, Shonna details how her marriage started to unravel under the stress as Travis started to remember and deal with the details of his time at the school. Travis is a successful musician, a reiki master and an animal whisperer- but he still sleeps with a body pillow between him and his wife with a machete by his head. He doesn’t like to be touched and rarely sleeps through the night. Travis has been diagnosed with a host of mental illnesses and battles through his demons on a daily basis.

And sometimes? Sometimes- hell, a lot of the time- that is really hard on a marriage and a spouse. Dirt Roads and Diner Pies details Travis and Shonna’s road trip one winter as they try to reclaim their marriage and find their solid ground. It’s unflinchingly honest- both in its humor and the scariest aspects of Travis’s abuse and aftermath. I inhaled this book in under a day even though I already know most of the story from our years of friendship.

In a perfect world, monsters don’t really exist and all children are cherished and adored. But this isn’t a perfect world. Shonna’s books shows us not only that the monsters are real- but that the monsters can be defeated. It’s not easy and it takes guts, grace and strength – but the monsters don’t have to win. Travis is a shining example of that, as is the life he and Shonna are making together.

Bottom line- read the book. Give the victims a voice and educate yourself on the startling statistics around sexual abuse. The monsters can only live in the dark- and this book shines the light right on them, their devastating affects and the resilient human spirit that refuses to stay down and let the monsters win.

 

 

 

Eight.

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Dear Bean-

You turned 8. Your brother turned 10 in May and you turned 8 and my head is whirling from all that. But I’m really not that sad because 8 is actually one of my favorite ages. I love just about everything about 8 and I’m so excited to go through this age with you. But first, 7.

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7 was SUCH a great year for you. You blossomed at school this year. First grade was rough, but second grade?? You simply shined. Probably more than you should have given the amount of times we heard you were a bit too chatty in class, but I’d so much rather that Bean show up in school every day than the nervous, shy, anxious child we saw in first grade. While confidence at home has never been your problem, we all loved seeing you let that same confidence shine through at school and socially.  And this summer? Forget it- you’re killing it. You’ve gone to two camps already this summer without Scorch- something that would have been unheard of last year.

You, my funny girl, are 85% delight, 15% she-devil and 100% perfect. You can be sweet, loving, funny and a cuddle bug when you want to (which, thankfully is most of the time). You are the perfect mother’s helper and it’s a blast watching little kids flock to you. You adore playing school and your trusty white board is your all time favorite toy/tool/companion. Shopping for gifts for you is crazy hard simply because you want so little. You’re into experiences and going places and really don’t care much for things. You believe in quality over quantity when it comes to your friends and definitely inherited your father’s introverted side. Our house is one of your favorite places on earth- preferable with the cat on your lap and Netflix blazing.

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You have always known what you want, when you want it and have the biggest sense of self of anyone I know. While you’re definitely more courageous and brave this year, you simply won’t be pushed past your limits- big or small. Out of all your personality traits, this is the one I hope you fiercely hold on to. It’s maddening (MADDENING) to fight with you 10 minutes before we have to go to Church when you want to wear your leopard leggings with a tye-dye t-shirt but child, this ability to know what you want and have a single-mindedness about it will allow you to move mountains as you get older.

Here are my birthday wishes for you:
1) I wish you self-confidence. I hope as you continue to grow, you see how amazing you are and hold on to that feeling no matter what is raging on around you.
2) I wish you the joy of good friends. You are surrounded by some of the kindest, sweetest kids. I know that “girl drama” is supposed to come in to play soon- but resist it. Be a friend to those that deserve it, be kind to all- but don’t get sucked into drama and fights. You and your friends are better than that.
3) I wish you continued love of learning. Keep rocking that white board. Keep teaching your baby dolls what you learned at school. (But please Lord- read a whole chapter book. Your jumping from book to book is making me crazy.)
4) I wish you a sense of discovery. You haven’t found anything you’re really passionate about and that’s fine- you’re only 8 for goodness sake. But keep trying things. Sports, clubs, instruments- I don’t care what it is, but expand your horizons.
5) I wish the knowledge that you’re loved. Hormones are going to start sooner or later, which means things may go a little haywire with your emotions. Know that we will always be your safe place to land.
6) I wish you courage. Baby girl, this world is a nutty place and you’ll hear about a lot of bad things as you get older. Have the courage to know that the good way outweighs the bad. Have the courage to speak up when you see something you don’t like. Have the courage to be true to yourself.

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My fierce, funny, feisty, perfect child- I wish you nothing by good things during this year. And when bad things do happen- because they will- we’ll be here to get through it together.

All my love,
Mom

Lazy Daze of Summer

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So hey there! It’s almost been a month and THAT’S embarrassing. But life got crazy and then it got lazy and now we’re finding our new summer normal (which is, tbh, my favorite kind of normal).

Back on a random Wednesday in June I drove 2 hours away with my siblings to see Mumford & Sons play (my two-second review: if you love their albums, you’ll adore them live). We had a blast- we ate great food, danced to an amazing band and had a fun, fun night. I got home Thursday around noon and basically didn’t sit down again for another week until school got out. Field trips! Award ceremonies! Baseball playoffs! Lacrosse tournaments! Birthday parties! You name it, we did it all within a week time span.

And then I collapsed.

Just kidding. I’m a Mom- I can’t collapse. We all made the best of that crazy week and actually had a blast as my kids said goodbye to 4th grade and 2nd grade. This past year was amazing for both kids and I may have cried a bit at the end of year awards ceremony as we said goodbye for the summer.

And now…it’s summer. I adore summer. I love the heat and camps and nights at friend’s pools and days at the local lake.

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The kids were at a camp last week that ran from 10 – 3:30. The hours of this camp could not have been more inconvenient as a working mom. 10 am is smack dab during my morning meetings – but I didn’t care (much). The kids love this camp and really- not having to leave the house until 9:45 (vs our normal school-day 7:45) was heaven. No one was grumpy, I didn’t have to yell and I didn’t have to feel guilty that the kids didn’t have any down time this summer.

This past weekend was the long 4th of the July weekend. We have friends/family kind enough to invite us to their lake homes for what would have been a great weekend. But we said no and opted to stay home. We slept in, watched baseball, had dinner with friends, swam, watched too much TV,  made s’mores and let ourselves had a lazy summer weekend that we always want but usually never get. It was perfect.

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I wish I could say we’ll have lots more lazy days this summer, but we won’t. Camp started at 8:30 this week for Scorch, baseball tournaments start soon, birthday parties will crop up and my *gulp* 20th high school reunion is fast approaching. And those weekend will also be amazing- but I’m so glad we started summer in this lazy daze.

Happy Father’s Day

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The Hubs loves nothing more than being home and doing nothing. Truly, the man is an introvert at heart and our home really is his happy place. And….he really didn’t get to spend much time there this weekend. Yesterday the Bean had her first lacrosse tournament, so we were gone for 5+ hours and got home with enough time to relax for 45 minutes before heading to Scorch’s baseball game. Today, we had church and then an awards presentation during the 3rd inning of a 2 pm baseball game that we had to be at for Scorch. We managed to squeeze in some time at the pool and dinner with friends each night, but this was not a relaxing, laze at home weekend like the Hubs would have loved.

And part of me feels really badly about that since today is Father’s Day. But really- this weekend just encapsulates all the reasons the Hubs is such a good father. He shows up daily. He’s there for his kids as a coach, as a fan, and as a father as often as humanly possible. He may grumble and complain under his breath, but he’s there. The Hubs is the kid’s biggest supporter and they know he would do anything for them.

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My father was the same exactly way when we were growing up (minus the introvert part) and we were all the luckier for it.

So here’s to the dads that show up and support their kids no matter their passion. The dads who kiss booboos, change diapers and walk the floors at all hours of the night. The ones who learn more about what their kids love so they can play/learn/experience together. The ones who cheer the loudest at the wins and wipe away the tears after the losses. To the fathers like the Hubs and I were blessed enough to have growing up and to the amazing father my kids are lucky enough to have. Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

Love More

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Dear Kiddos-

It’s Wednesday and, on a national scale, this week has sucked. We’ve had the largest mass shooting in our nation this past weekend in Orlando as a man killed 49 people at a gay club. A singer was gunned down point blank in Orlando the night before the shooting. And today I woke up to the news that a 2 year old was snatched by an alligator from a Disney World resort.

The news this week has been full of sadness and grief and shock. Gun activists are fighting with those looking to restrict access to firearms and things are getting ugly. Close minded, ugly, small people are saying horrible things about gay people and Muslims. There are ideologies shared on Facebook that make me cringe.

Kidd0s- this exhausts me and scares me. I cry as I watch the mother’s of the victims mourn their babies- because our children are always our babies no matter how old they are. And I’m mad. I’m so damn angry at the hate and ignorance in this world. Which I realize doesn’t solve anything, but there it is.

But while this week has sucked on a national level, we’ve had a good week. You found out your new cousin is a girl! Baseball games have been won! Family dinner have been eaten! You’ve been on field trips and are so excited for the last day of school! Our life- our little, wonderful, miraculous life- is good. It’s more than good- it’s amazing. And I’m so thankful for that.

I’m at a loss on how to help on the larger scale. So I’m concentrating for right now on our lives. I’m not only focusing on raising you with all the love, acceptance and kindness in my heart- but I’m going to continue to focus on raising you to be respectful, kind and accepting in your hearts. I figure if all the mamas out there try to raise their kids with that same focus, the good will continue to win. Love with triumph in all is forms. And maybe, just maybe, this world will be a safer one for you, your loves and your children.

So, kiddos- love fiercely. Love without boundaries. Love with your whole heart.

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Because that is how we love you.

-Mom