This summer has been amazing – hands down, one of the best we’ve had. We have traveled to new places, visited with family, caught sharks, hung out with friends, welcomed a new nephew / cousin into the crew and watched more than a few ball games.
We’ve had quiet nights at home where we’ve all retreated to our own corners and nights we’ve danced in the streets. My house has been, more often than not these past few weeks, filled with at least 2 kids who aren’t mine- usually more. My backyard is littered with wiffleballs and makeshift bases and Gatorade bottles. We’ve heard coyotes chattering in the hills across the street and adopted a new kitten.
We’ve celebrated birthdays – mine and the Bean’s – as well as our anniversary. We’ve floated in pools in the hot sun and had to bundle up to stay warm on boats. We’ve roasted marshmallows and ate more ice cream than I could measure.
We’ve worked out 3x a week at 7 am and the Hub’s has rehabbed his knee from ACL surgery. I quit two jobs that I had and loved for over 5 years and started a new one, requiring a trip to CA to meet my new coworkers. We’ve dealt with some stress (ask me how our home addition is going- I dare you) that comes with adulting, but it hasn’t overshadowed the fun.
All in all, we’ve simply enjoyed the hell out of each other. School starts in a week – the shoes have been purchased, the supplies sorted out and the schedules posted. We’re ready for routine again and all the fun that comes with fall- football, Halloween, the gorgeous leaves and the upcoming holidays. But I can’t lie, I’m going to be more than a little sad to say goodbye to this perfect season.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
One of my favorite rituals is changing over our monthly white board calendar. I wipe last month’s craziness away, carefully pick the colored markers I want to use for the month’s name and days, the colors for each kid’s activities, the color we use for special events and I slowly fill it all in. I try to be neat and clean- I replace my markers often to keep the tips somewhat pointed. But no matter what I do, it’s a batshit crazy mess when I’m done. And it only gets worse as the month goes on when all the dates that didn’t have anything on it get filled in with rescheduled practices, PTA meetings, sleepovers and birthdays.
As I was thinking earlier today about all the things I was thankful for this month- all the things I hadn’t had the time to write about yet- I realized that THIS, this is what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for that monthly calendar and all the batshit crazy things that fill it. The minutia of every day life in this family the Hubs and I created.
I’m thankful for the two healthy, happy, oh-so-active kids that keep us running to basketball, flag football, lacrosse and concerts. I’m thankful that I married a man who cares enough to be on the school board. I’m thankful for holiday parties at jobs that we both value and enjoy 90% of the time. I’m thankful for the family commitments near and far that keep us connected with those we love the most.
I’m thankful for this wickedly crazy awesome life- because it’s AMAZING.
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…
…spent 1 day at Hollywood studios and saw the Star Wars fireworks display…
…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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
The view from Fort De Soto.
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!
This week the kids have off from school. The game plan was for them to hang out with me all week which is fine- if not particularly exciting for any of us. So when my mother-in-law, who lives some hours away, offered to take the kids for a few days we all jumped at it. The Hubs and I get to work guilt free and the kids get to do something other than play video games and watch movies while I shush them during the hours I’m trying to be a professional.
We handed the kids off yesterday and I miss them like mad. I constantly feel like I’m forgetting something- this is both the longest they’ve been away from me and the furthest they’ve been without the Hubs and I. My poor mother-in-law has fielded more texts from me in the past 36 hours then she has all year.
But I’m also giddy. Do you know what I did today? I worked and was 1) early to work and 2) didn’t have rush right out to pick up my kids. No one fought in my car today and I didn’t have to threaten to pull over at all. I went to work out AFTER work (which was odd) instead of at 5:30 am. I came home and made a dinner I wanted. I didn’t have to fight with anyone over electronics at the table (the answer is always no- why do they keep asking?!) or what was on the menu. And now at 7:30 pm, I’m freshly showered, in my PJs, getting ready to watch The Walking Dead from last night on TV because there are no children around to be scarred for life about what’s on. I won’t remind my kids 10 times (with increasing volume) to brush their teeth or stay in bed. When I go to bed tonight I don’t have to worry about anyone waking me up due to nightmares or puke.
Yes, I miss my kids like a limb and I cannot wait for them to get home. I miss tucking them in at night and hearing about their days. I miss the hugs and the kisses and incessant chatter. But that’s not going to stop me from loving the short-term silence.
A friend participates in a weekly Five Minute Friday writing exercise- where you’re given one word and you have five minutes to write about it. No editing, no second glances- just write. And this friend- her words are powerful and raw. She’s so much more poetic then I am and I love reading her thoughts.
So today I’m taking a page from her book and writing on the word “quiet.”
The quiet scares me, it always has. I rush to fill the void, to make the silence loud. When I was younger, quiet people made me nervous. Those people who can sit in a room with people they don’t know very well and not make small talk intimidate me. So I over compensate and talk about the most inane things just so there is something out there.
When the kids were itty bitty the silence made me nervous- were they breathing? In trouble? I’d rush in and put my hand under their nose to feel their sweet breath whoosh quietly in and out. And when they were toddlers? Well, silence meant trouble. Markers on the walls, kids climbing on the counters or eating something they shouldn’t have. Quiet made me start running faster than crashes and screams.
And now? Well, quiet is taking on a new feeling. Quiet means kids reading books for hours in their room. It means a peaceful daughter playing school in her room. It means exhaustion after a hard played game. It means enjoying different things- books, games, electronics- separately but together in a pile on the couch.
Before too awfully long quiet will mean the kids aren’t home any more- they are with friends or at college or on a trip. That quiet worries me too if I think too hard about it. So I don’t. Right now I just relish the quiet of 4 people content in their own space knowing that it won’t belong before someone is yelling, laughing or telling a story breaking that silence with the amazing noise that is family.
And just like that, it’s over…Christmas 2015, you were perfect. This year I was on my game- I shopped early with intention and it paid off. The kids were happy, the Hubs was happy and I was happy. We got to spend 4 days straight with family and friends – holding babies, eating so much good food and catching up.
And now we have a week off at home and that’s just like a little slice of heaven. If, in heaven, you had to clean every room in your house every day to make room for all the new stuff you intentionally bought. This was the living room the day after Christmas:
It basically makes me want to cry. Living in a smaller home has some great advantages, but finding room for stuff is not one of them. So Monday we completely tore Scorch’s room apart- two garbage bags later, there is now room for all his baseball cards. Because baseball cards and books made up a good 75% of that boy’s Christmas haul.
As for the Bean? Her room is up next. I may need some liquor before I tackle that one. Anyone remember a few years ago when we found a can of purple frosting her in room 4 months after it was used for her birthday cake? Mind you, it’s only been 4 months since we last hauled out her room but the possibilities are just endless when I think about what we could find in there. Say a pray we all come out alive.
Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday!
When I was in 7th grade, we went to NYC for the day. I’ll always remember that day for two reasons- first, it was the day I bought my very first CD (C&C Music Factory- don’t judge) and second, it was the first time I saw a play on Broadway.
And we didn’t see just any play, we saw The Secret Garden starring Mandy Patinkin. Mandy freaking Patinkin in one of my favorite stories of all time. Can you imagine a better introduction to live theater? I vividly remember sitting on the edge of my seat, mesmerized by what I was watching. The soundtrack for the play was the second CD I ever bought – I could still sing the vast majority of the songs to you today.
When I was in high school, one of our science teachers also was in charge of the lightening at the local theater that hosted a variety of touring Broadway shows. If we volunteered to serve as ushers, he got us into all the shows for free. Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Guys and Dolls, Chicago- I was lucky enough to see them all.
Unfortunately, like a lot of things do when you have very small kids, going to the theater stopped for a long while. I saw random shows here and there for our girls night- Menopause the Musical and Fifty Shades, A Parody. Fun, fun shows- but nothing that was mind-blowing except Wicked a few years ago. That was amazing!
The Hubs and I have been talking for a while about taking the kids to see a show but I wanted to make sure they were old enough to sit through the whole thing and enjoy it. And, like most little things in life, I way over thought what the perfect show would be. I didn’t want to take them to a Broadway show because if they hated it, that was money down the drain. I didn’t want them to see something they weren’t somewhat familiar with so they could follow along. I hemmed and hawed and finally pulled the trigger on tickets to a local production of Peter Pan. I wasn’t sure what to expect- it was put on in conjunction with the local large University, but the tickets were relatively cheap and we didn’t have to drive too long to get there. Today was the day, so we put on our Sunday best and off we went.
You guys, the kids were mesmerized. It was a fantastic musical with great sets, talented actors, fun musical numbers and a story they kids were familiar enough with that they had no issues keeping up. We were 3 rows from the stage and I worried we were going to be too close, but it was perfect. The actors were right there and the kids couldn’t tear themselves away from the show. I got teary-eyed watching them watch the show- all I could think about was how we nailed this!
Here’s to the next generation of theater fans- and to our next show in March!