Category Archives: family

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.

~*~*~*~

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!

 

Happy Mother’s Day

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I’d like to think I’m everything in that saying. Wise, full of strength and dignity, brave and kind. And I am, sometimes. But I’m also full of BS,wearing in yesterday’s clothes, terrified about the future and sometimes not-so-kind to the Hubs, the kids or myself.

And that, right there, is the joy of Motherhood. My kids are the love of my lives and the biggest pains in my butt. They are my every joy and happiness as well as the cause of a lot of my fear and tears. There are days I look around waiting for the real grownup to step in, because clearly, I don’t know what I’m doing.

Motherhood is messy and heartbreaking- but it’s also my biggest joy, triumph and privilege. And I’m beyond thankful to be surrounded by women who feel the same way about their families regardless of if their babies are itty-bitty or if their babies are raising their own kids.

To my Mother, my Mother-in-Law, my sisters and my friends- I’m in awe of each of you and your strength, your determination, you kindness and your grace. I’m also appreciative as heck when you you’re none of those things and keeping it real, raw and honest because I need to see that too.

To my friends and family longing for a family of your own- I feel your pain and hope your dreams are realized, one way or another, soon.

 

 

DC in a Day

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It’s been over a month since we road tripped it down to FL, so (because we’re crazy) we decided to road trip ~7 hours down to Washington, DC this past weekend. Clearly, we cannot get enough of our van. We picked the kids up right after school on Friday, pointed the car south and arrived to my sister’s well past bedtime, fueled on Twizzlers and gas station snacks.

We were coming back home on Sunday, which meant we had 1 day and 1 day only to squeeze in the highlights of Washington. We left my sister’s in the pouring rain at 9 am with Lala in tow and made the 45 minute drive into the city.  I love Washington. It’s my favorite city so when Scorch started fan-girling in the back seat the minute he got his first glimpse of the Washington Monument, I got a little teary. The kid was soooo excited and I was beside myself getting to show the kids the city where the Hubs and I worked for 3 years.

There are a lot of things to see in Washington- enough that you could easily fill 5 days of sight seeing. Since we only had one day and were visiting with a 9, 7 and 5 year old, we decided to hit the highlights. One day, I’d love to go back and do it all, but for this weekend, here’s how we made it work:

  1. National Museum of Natural History: it was pouring in the morning, so starting off inside just made sense. We got to the museum about 5 minutes after it opened, waited in line to go through security and went upstairs first. The main dinosaur exhibit was closed, so we hit up the smaller fossil area, the mummies and the insect zoo. Then we migrated down to the Mammals and Ocean exhibits with what seemed like thousands of our closest friends. I would have loved to have seen the geology section (including the Hope Diamond), but the crowds were bad, so after an hour and a half we moved on.
  2. National Archives: Scorch is a huge history buff like his father, so the guys wanted to see the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the Constitution so we moved over to the National Archives. The girls could not have cared less so after we saw the line to view the documents, I took them to the Family Center area (which was open for play Saturday) to work off some energy while the guys geeked out. Worked out perfectly! As a side note, the Museum Store there was our fav of all of them.
  3. Air and Space Museum: We walked over to the Air and Space to meet up with my parents and sister for lunch. This was ideal because there was a McDonalds and Boston Market in the museum which worked perfectly when dealing with 4 kids 9 and younger who were starving. After eating, we just did a quick walk through- we had been to the Air and Space Museum by Dulles Airport a few years back, so none of us had enough interest to brave the crowds and stick around.
    WWII
  4. The Mall & Monuments: the rain finally stopped, so we moved our party outside to check out all the monuments! Walking from the Museums, we did a roughly 4.5 miles loop that let us hit:
    • The Washington Monument (we didn’t go up it, just played around it)
    • WWII Memorial: there was something going on that day, so there was a few dozen WWII vets there when we were. It was very touching to see them and to get to say thanks.
    • Lincoln Memorial: if this place doesn’t give you goose bumps, you have no soul. (Same goes if you don’t get the urge to yell “JENNNNNNY” and wade through the reflecting pool).
    • Vietnam War Memorial: this one gets me every time- it’s amazing how a place filled with so many people can be so quiet.
    • White House: So much has changed since the Hubs worked there that it’s hard to get a good glimpse of the House any more (the giant tent in the yard didn’t help either), but it was still so cool to show the kids where Daddy used to work and to reminisce!
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  5. Thomas Jefferson Memorial: after walking back to the car, we bribed the kids with ice cream and drove over to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Such a gorgeous place on the river- it’s my personal favorite.

And then we were done. The kids were amazing, the sights were gorgeous and everyone had such a great day. We missed a lot- the Korean War Memorial, the MLK Jr. Memorial, Arlington, and the Zoo just to name a few. But that’s Ok- that just means we have to go back again soon!

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Road Trippin’ in Florida

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We did it! For the 5th year in a row we made the road trip to FL. Two 11+ hours in the car in a row (and then again on the way back!) to go 1200 miles with more movie, snacks and pitstops than I can count. And you know what? I love it. My kids are *amazing* travelers and I actually like road tripping with them. The Hubs is a horrible passenger, so he drives the whole way, so I get to read, sightsee and chitchat with the family. What’s not to love?

This year we started out in Orlando. We stayed at our favorite hotel and got to visit with some of my favorite in-laws for a few days…

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…spent 1 day at Hollywood studios and saw the Star Wars fireworks display…

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…and then spent a day at Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive one-day resort where you get to swim with dolphins, snorkel and float in a lazy river all day long. Breakfast, lunch and all the snacks and drinks you could want are included in the price. Our weather was crummy, but it was still the most incredible day. I really, really wish I could break my rule and show a picture of the kid’s faces while they were hugging a dolphin because it’s everything. Truly, a magical experience for all of us. Here the kiddos are looking into Dolphin Lagoon.

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The next day we went to Sea World- which, yes, I know I’m supposed to be morally opposed to. But going to Discovery Cove gets you free admission to Sea World and I’m cheap, so off we went! And it was a great day. We rode some rides, saw some shows, petted the string rays and marveled over more dolphins.

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We spent the latter half of the week in the Tampa area visiting my parents, along with my sister, her husband and their 2 kids. For those keeping track at home it was 6 adults and 4 kids in my parents 2 bedroom, 2 bath doublewide. And it worked out beautifully primarily because these 4 kids were amazing. (See the little one on the right in the pink shirt? That’s Lala! She and her little brother were the best company!)

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Mother Nature didn’t cooperate for beach days our first few days, but a cooler evening made for perfect Spring Training weather. We got to see the Yankees and the Mets play at the Yankee’s stadium and it was amazing! The stadium is about as big as a minor league field, so you’re up close and personal. The players and visiting past players often sign autographs before the game- in fact, Scorch got Reggie Jackson’s autograph this year. The games are fun, the crowds are friendly and there is plenty of food to keep those not as interested in the game (*cough*Bean*cough*) happy. I cannot recommend these games enough for baseball lovers.

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This year we tried out a few new beaches. Normally we hit up Clearwater Beach (which is lovely) but this year we went to Anna Maria Island and Fort De Soto. I’m a sucker for any beach, but these beaches were breathtaking.

Another heart shell for the collection.

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The view from Fort De Soto.

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We all came home with some sort of cold/flu- but who cares. Escaping the cold, seeing the beautiful sights, spending time with family and making life-long memories was worth it!

 

Thankful Heart: Days 6 – 10

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Day 6: Old Homes
Friday we went to the Hub’s grandparent’s house for the very last time. The Hub’s grandmother has been a widow for a few years now and she’s moving from the home she and her husband built 60+ years ago in NY to FL to be closer to her son and his family. It’s a great move for a lot of reasons (and a huge relief to those of us who worry about her, especially in the winter), but man- saying goodbye to her and that home was hard. We’ll see Gram again in the Spring, but we won’t see that house again.

I’ve only been a part of the Hub’s family for 17+ years and I have so many memories in that house. Walking the land, family dinners, Scorch’s first Christmas Day dinner, wrapping paper fights, and on and on. I can still see the Hub’s grandfather at the head of the table presiding over the meals with his gigantic hands folded in prayer. As sad as I am, I’m so thankful for those memories all built in that small house on a country road.

Day 7: Small Town Living

The kids are at the age that most Saturdays are devoted to sports- practices, games, clinics. Regardless of the time of year, we’re doing something athletic. This past Saturday involved 2 hours of back to back games (one for Bean and one for Scorch) which are always enjoyable – but they are made even more so by the fact that, thanks to living in a small town, we know so many people there. The Hubs coaches and, frankly, watching athletic competitions between 7 and 9 year olds doesn’t require a lot of brain power so I was super thankful for friends to talk to, making the time pass by much more quickly.

Day 8: Dad

My father’s birthday was earlier this week and I’m thankful for him all the time because he’s awesome.
Dad_Heather_1982Dad- thanks for being loving and supportive and tough. Thank you for expecting the best from us and loving us when we didn’t always measure up. Thanks for learning sports just because we played them and introducing me to new music. Thanks for being the best Papa around and loving the kids madly. We are thankful for you each and every day even if you do sneeze louder than anyone else on earth!

Day 9: Homework I Understand

Last night Scorch had math homework that he needed help on. And I *could* help him. That doesn’t happen very often, so I’m thankful for a module of 4th grade math that doesn’t make me feel like a freaking idiot.

Day 10: Homework I Didn’t Understand

Never mind. Scorch brought home math today that I had no idea how to do. Then I figured out how to do it, but I had no idea how to explain to him. Very thankful my best friend is a Math teacher who is willing to text me the answer and links to sites to help us out.

September

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September continued its trend of not being very kind when I got sick last week. A cold quickly turned into a sinus infection that just as quickly turned into pink eye.  I woke up a week ago with tired eyes, which wasn’t surprising since I worked until 1:30 am the night before. When I went into the bathroom around noon and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror I was slightly horrified at how red and puffy my eye was looking. I prayed that a few allergy eye drops would fix things but by the time I picked the kids up from school at 3, the Bean told me that looking at my eye made her feel like she wanted to throw up.

The rest of the night went downhill from there.

A trip to the walk-in clinic got me the meds I needed later that night and 4 days later I was finally feeling human. Just in time too because my baby cousin got married last weekend and we had a LOT of celebrating to do (which we did spectacularly, I may add).  Seriously guys- the wedding was amazing and I couldn’t be happier for these crazy kids.

Photo by K&T’s wedding planner – gorgeous!

My cousin and her husband have been together for 15 years – since they were in 8th grade. That’s mind boggling to me, especially since the kid I dated in 8th grade is, I believe, in jail. The Hubs helped to arrest him years ago (you can’t make this up, I swear). Anyhow, K&T are just as in love now as they’ve ever been and it was wonderful to be in their company as they finally made what we’ve known for years official.

Here’s hoping this past weekend ushered in some good mojo and September starts being the amazing beast we know she can be.

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Start of Summer

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

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Scorch, Bean and Lala

And that is when summer really started.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Summer!

#ALSSucks

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

And it’s awesome.

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

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

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

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

My niece, supporting her grandfather.

My niece, supporting her grandfather.

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

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

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

Happy Father’s Day

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Happy Father's Day

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

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

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