Author Archives: Heather

About Heather

I adore my family, writing, books, cats, lazy mornings in bed, and chocolate. I'll never say no to breakfast for dinner, long talks with friends and lazy summer days at the pool with family. I've somehow morphed into a crazy sports mom, a skier and someone who lifts weights. My life is often crazy, always awesome and one I'm so happy to be living!

Keeping it Real

Standard

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!

 

Advertisements

Nope, Not the Cool Mom

Standard

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!

Standard

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.

wintertree

~*~*~*~

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.

~*~*~*~*~

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

Standard

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.

BirthdayCake

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

Standard

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?

90210Pose

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.

 

10.

Standard

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.

Bean_3monthsOld

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.

~*~*~

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.

Bean_FL2018

~*~*~*~

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.

Bean_TheBarn

~*~*~

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.

Bean_Hair

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

12.

Standard

Dear Scorch-

You turned 12 a few weeks back. You- my first born, my baby, one of my greatest loves – turned 12. As you like to remind me a lot this puts you firmly closer to a teenager than not.

I feel like I should be sad about this. I should be gnashing my teeth and wailing that you’re not a baby any more. Facebook tells me I should feel this way, as do all the sappy blog posts telling me to cherish everything. And I do cherish them when they are happening- I love that you still love to snuggle (even though we all know I don’t). I love that you still chat with me about anything and everything and that your stories still never end. I do miss your toddler cheeks and your squeaky voice – the way your little body used to melt into mine (now you come up past my chin, so if you melted, I’d fall over). But that doesn’t mean I want to go backwards.

Scorch_Balloons_Oct2010

 

I’m too excited about who you are becoming to wallow in it. Because life, my sweet boy, is about to take off for you.

11 was a tremendous year for you- full of school and friends and sports. You broke your first bone and handled it like a champ 99% of the time. You pushed yourself academically and athletically and started new things like boxing and academic games. You read the Hunger Games series, went to a camp where you knew no one and took first place in a state competition with your classmates. You learned how to argue fairly with friends, perfected the art of rolling your eyes and had more then a few meltdowns of epic proportions as your hormones monster started to grow (don’t worry, we’ll let you watch Big Mouth when you get much older- you’ll get that reference). You learned to care how you looked (still doesn’t mean you match, but you try) and spent more time combing your hair than anyone else in this family.

Wave_OBX2015.jpg

So, now here you are at age 12. You gradate from elementary school this month and start Middle School in the Fall. You go from a class of 14 to a class of 200 and you.cannot.wait. While I’m just as excited as you are, I hope you savor every minute of these next few weeks because come Fall, nothing will be the same again. Hold on to these friends because there is great power in friendships that start when you were 3 and carry on throughout your whole life. You’re going to look back on these years and realize how truly amazing they were.

So, as we’re on the precipice of so many changes, I wanted to share my hopes for you.

1) I hope you stay in contact with your elementary classmates and you use them as your touchstones when you move into the big school next year.

2) I hope that Middle School is kind to you and that you handle the changes about to be thrust on you with grace.

3) I hope you fall in love. Hopefully not with a girl yet- but with a class, a sport, a friend. I hope you take all the opportunities given to you and try something new and you love it with every fiber of your being.

4) I hope you stay kind. You, child, are a leader. Kids like you and they gravitate towards you. I hope you keep that charisma and never, ever turn mean. It’ll be tempting. You’ll see kids picking on others and sometimes it’ll be just so easy to make a joke at someone else’s expense. While I hope you’ll be perfect and never slip- you will. That’s part of growing up- but I hope you realize it when you’ve done it and you’re big enough to apologize and try better the next time.

5) I hope you keep caring- about your friends, your grades and your loves. I hope you keep striving to do better and reach higher. Apathy is a terrible look.

6) I hope as you navigate school you find your core – your ride and die group that has your back no matter what. I remember how the sands shifted in middle school, but at the end of the day, those who really loved you were there when the ground settled.

7) I hope you remember that words have power. The power to build up – and tear down. Try to use yours for good. Compliment instead of complain. Offer solutions instead of whining. Use your voice for good, for the betterment of yourself and others. Use your voice to stick up for others, to advocate for yourself and to call out the wrongdoings you see. You’ll be shocked at how loud you can roar, child.

8) I hope you never put too much stock in “cool.” Cool is overrated, over appreciated and ever changing. Staying comfortable in your own skin is the ultimate cool. Don’t be afraid to shake your butt to the music, show your enthusiasm and laugh until you cry.

9) I hope you know that we will always, always, always love you. Forever. No matter what. We are going to fight and we are going to argue and we are going to want to pretend that we don’t know each other some days. There will be slammed doors, eye rolls and crying – from all of us. But we’re still going to love each other fiercely, have each other’s back and always build each other back up.

Child, I cannot wait to see where things go from here. I cannot wait to see you stretch and grow.  Stay true to yourself, stay bold, roar loudly and always, always aim high. I can’t wait to watch you soar.

Adding On – Advice Welcome!

Standard

Back in 2002 when we moved back to NY, one of the things we were most excited about was being able to afford a house. Prices were (are) obscene outside of DC, but we knew we could afford something when we moved back back…we just weren’t sure what. We were approved for a stupidly high amount of money, but we knew we didn’t want to be “house poor” (where we had a great big house, but no left over money) so we dialed down the amount we wanted to spend, rented for a few months and then found our house.

To be honest, our house was not the house for me. We found the house, but it was more than we wanted to spend so we settled on the house we bought which has a layout I hate(d)- but it had 2 acres of gorgeous land and a perfect location. We figured it was just a starter home- we’d be here 7 years tops and then we’d move on to the house we really wanted.

frontporchview

View from the front porch

Almost 16 years later, we’re still here. This still isn’t my favorite house- the layout is all wrong, the bedrooms are small and we only have 1 full bath. But it’s home. And it’s still cheap- allowing us do a lot of amazing things we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. And frankly, those are things I’d rather do then have a bigger house.

Backyardbaseball

Just a part of our gorgeous yard

But…that one full bathroom thing (especially when that bathroom is roughly 8×9) and the lack of closet space is getting to be a bit much. We’ve looked at houses for years now and have never found one that made us decide to move (the $10-13K in annual taxes on more expensive homes with comparable land has something to do with that too), so after a lot of consideration, we decided the best option is to put an addition on our house.

*gulp*

We have a (rough) plan, a kick-ass contractor and an amazing architect and we’re slowly turning our ideas into a reality. We’re 90% sure we’re doing this and things are getting real. We’ll be adding a 25×35 foot 2 story addition that will include a master suite (my own bathroom AND a window seat to read at!), a spare bedroom, storage, a game room and a laundry room where the pipes don’t freeze in the winter. We’re waiting on the first draft back from the architect and I’m giddy! The best news? We can complete 90% of the addition without touching anything but the exterior of our existing home – so while we’ll be dealing with noise and people, we won’t be dealing with a mess inside my house until the very end.

#winning

Outside of re-doing our kitchen, we have never dealt with anything like this- so talk to me. What should we be considering? What did you wish you had done / known / thought about if you went through something like this? What should we be prepared for? Hit me with your thoughts- I’d appreciate them all!

 

Road Trippin’

Standard

The calendar tells me it’s Spring. The kid’s sports calendar tells me it’s Spring. Mother Nature didn’t seem to get that memo though- it’s cold and grey and sleeting outside my window. It snowed on Easter Sunday. This seemed like a particularly bitter pill given that we had arrived home from Fl the day before.

We had a fantastic trip – hitting the West Coast…

HoneymoonIsland

Disney…

MK_Fireworks

and the East Coast…

StAugustine

There were feet in the sand, Mickey Ice Cream Bars consumed daily, trips to numerous pools and tanned faces. There was also one trip the ER (the Hubs, sinus infection), one puking kid (the Bean, low blood sugar) , two teeth lost (Scorch, they were loose) and minimal tears. We drove 1115 miles* on the way home and no one lost their minds until about 45 minutes from home, so I consider that a win. There was lots of family time with some of our favorites, a date night that turned into sharing a table with two drunk fishermen with lots of funny stories, and lots of movies watched over and over and over to make the drive down and back bearable.

All in all it was perfect and the Hubs is on his annual campaign to convince us all to move south. Maybe one day…

~*~*~

Full confession- I wanted to fly to FL this year. So did the kids. But a combination of a last minute date change and the Hubs iron will meant we drove. And while it’s a pain in the butt (2 days in the car both ways), I’m so thankful for these times.  When we travel, we usually travel with people or to see people – but those days on the road are just the 4 of us at dinner and crammed into a hotel room. We only have 7 more of these end-of-winter get aways with both kids (!!!!!) so I’m feeling the need to savor them.

The kids are also amazing travelers. I’m sure it’s a combo of their personalities and the fact that they have no choice- but they really are. Road trips with them are a joy 90% of the time (the other 10% involves vomit and/or sibling death matches).  Because they are so very awesome, we’re driving cross country with them in 2019 for a few weeks…

…and I have no idea how to plan this trip. I mean, I know how to plan the route and where to stop, but I don’t know how to plan how we’re doing this. Taking our car and staying hotels or cabins? Renting an RV? If so, do we tow our car?? That part baffles me. So hit me up, peeps, with any thoughts you have on that topic!

 

The Years are Short

Standard

One of my friends on Facebook has a one year old- the most darling, beautiful little boy.  She posts about how she can’t believe how fast he’s growing, how quickly the time goes by and how much she’ll miss his wrist folds, chubby cheeks and open mouth kisses. She posted a beautiful video the other day about the last time…not knowing when it will be the last time your rock your baby to sleep, the last time you pick them up, the last time they ask you to read to them because the next day, they’ll be too old to need that again. It was gorgeous and I admit to getting choked up for a minute…

…and then I thought how much I don’t miss that.

I look back on the kid’s younger years with so much joy and love in my heart. I loved the squishy newborn years and the sweet/crazy making toddler years. I loved the excitement of preschool and the earnestness of the start of elementary school – but I don’t miss it. I wouldn’t go back there.

So then, of course, I start wondering if I’m a horrible person. Am I wishing my kid’s childhoods away? Am I not present enough? Am I rushing them to grow up? Am I heartless that I don’t wail over every new milestone? Do my kids know how much I adore them at every age? Am I wrong to much prefer my kids old enough to tell me when they are sick, read books with me and laugh at inappropriate humor? Because while I have adored every age with these kids these are the best years.

~*~*

After all that-  I know I’m not completely heartless because occasionally I’ll come across an old picture that makes me gasp. These were taken 8 years ago today.

Baseballlove_2010

That’s 3 year old Scorch a month before he started his first year of t-ball. This year, he’s in his last year of Little League. He still love to catch and the Hubs is still his biggest fan and constant coach. There will be rose ceremony on Opening Day marking this crazy baseball milestone and *poof* next year he’ll start 7th grade and modified sports. I don’t know how that’s possible.

Climbing Bean 2010.jpg

While the boys played, this 20 month old wanted to climb. She wanted to climb and escape and do the opposite of what you wanted her to do. She never wanted to ride quietly in her stroller, didn’t want to be confined and she spit nails if you tried to make her. This year she’s in 4th grade…and she hasn’t changed. Her cheeks are less chubby and she’s got a hell of a lot more hair- but that fire still burns.

I may not miss those itty bitty kids, but I do marvel at how fast they grew.