Category Archives: Life in General

Thankfulness: This Crazy Life

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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.

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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.

 

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.

SeaWorld

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!)

Cousins

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!

 

Quiet, Part 2

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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.

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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.

 

Quiet

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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.

Making Room

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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.

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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:

Christmas2015 Aftermath

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!

 

 

 

A Day of Firsts

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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.

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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!

Wicked

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.

PeterPan

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!

 

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.

Still Hibernating

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I’ve had this silly window open trying to come up with a new blog post for a good hour now. And you know what I’ve got?

Nothing coherent or really noteworthy. But if I don’t post, this will haunt me so here you go.

Things here are good. We survived our crazy February and cling the to delusion that Spring has to arrive sometime. The kids went 4 weeks in a row without having a full 5-day school week thanks to the snow/cold. We combated the cold by spending weekends playing some sport or another in the gym or by eating our weight in carbs. Sometimes both! The exercise outweighs the carbs, right? Right.

Basketball

Scorch did ski club this year and was hell bent on snow boarding. We warned him that it was much harder and that none of his friends were doing it but he was not changing his mind. So we let him. And he stunk at it. Scorch is a very social creature with an easy athleticism so this was so hard for him. He was on his own (minus his instructors) and it was really, really difficult to learn. Every week he was a basketcase about going to ski club but every week he went and the very last week he finally passed his test and was released out of lessons!

I’m sure there is some lesson in there about perseverance but truthfully I’m just thrilled the season is over because it tipped his anxiety over the top. Every Wednesday was a battle of nerves for him so we both ended up taking deep breaths by the time he was dropped off at the resort (him due to nerves, mine due to frustration). I’m really proud of him for pushing through but Wednesdays were long, long days.

I realize that of all the things we could be dealing, anxiety is way down the list of things that suck but this winter has been hard on Scorch. His biggest fear is getting sick – which he never did this winter. Not once. Which would be great except he’s been waiting for illness to strike him down since December. Over half his class got struck down with the flu and strep in the same week and he was as healthy as a horse. Well, as healthy as a horse who was convinced illness was stalking him just waiting to pounce. At his request I’ve spent more time feelings his cheeks for a fever this winter then I did in his first 3 years combined. I walk the line between being very sympathetic and wanting to shake the kid and tell him that he has not spike a fever in the past 30 seconds since the last time I felt his cheeks (no exaggeration). Spring cannot get here soon enough.

Winter

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The Bean, on the other hand, is completely unfazed about most things in life. As long as you’re doing what she wants, when she wants. And as long as you don’t laugh at her if she does / says something silly when she didn’t mean do. Or if you don’t laugh when she wants you to, at what she said even if it wasn’t funny. She’s a complicated creature is what I’m saying.

After a little bit of a rough start to 1st grade, the Bean is currently kicking butt and taking names. She taught me something in Math last week that I never realized and hasn’t let me forget it yet. Beaner is playing Little League this year and I cannot wait to see how this rolls out. In football, she was amazing AND managed to get two wedding proposals. Who know what’ll happen in baseball!

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And that’s our boring, ordinary, quiet life. Which I’m totally OK with. Hopefully we’ll come out of hibernation soon and be back to our normal chaos.

A Month of Thankfulness

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Yes, as cheesy as it sounds I’m going to try to talk about all the things I’m thankful for in Nov. Prepare yourself now. In reading over my last month or so of posts, it’s been a lot of complaining and whining which isn’t at all who I want it to be. So it’s time to shake off this funk and concentrate on the good stuff. I’m keeping things simple today – here are 5 things I’m thankful for this very minute:

1) My warm house. It’s really starting to get cold and I’m so thankful for a warm house full of comfortable furniture, thick blankets and cats to snuggle up with.

2) A good book. I started reading a new series that I’m really digging and got another great recommendation yesterday. I pity anyone that doesn’t fall into reading like I do- what a boring life they must lead.

3) The kid’s school community. I had a PTA meeting tonight and while being a PTA officer can be really frustrating, it’s also a great chance to see every month how amazing and giving people can be with their time, energy and talents.

4) Friends that speak their truth. Whether it be a dear friend’s moving, heartbreak essay in Salon about the long term ramifications of his sexual abuse at the American Boychoir School or another friend’s mission to education all women on the lesser known facts about breast cancer during the month of October, I applaud all who speak their mind.

5) Skinny Cow’s Dreamy Dark Chocolate Clusters. These make any night better. God bless chocolate.

 

This Is Why I Love the Internet

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Earlier today, one of my friends on Facebook shared an article entitled The Default Parent. I made the mistake of reading it at work and I almost hurt myself trying to stifle my laughter because that? THAT is my life.  And honestly, I thought I was the only one.

I’ve always been the default parent. The Hubs is an amazing, wonderful father- but he didn’t have the boobs, so I was the go-to person when our newborns cried. Up until Scorch was 5 and the Bean was 3, the Hubs had a high-stress job with erratic hours and a ton of travel. On top of that, we owned a business 45 minutes away that took up a fat ton of the Hubs times so I was the one around the vast majority of the time. It wasn’t because the Hubs didn’t want to be there, that was just how life was.

My kids have literally walked right past the Hubs sitting in the kitchen and banged on the closed, locked bathroom door to ask me to get them a drink. Are you kidding me?!

As funny as the article is, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Is this nature? Is Mom always the default? Is it because I was around more when they were little? Is it because I have SUCKER written on my forehead?

Regardless, I don’t mind being the default parent 95% of the time. I like being my kids go-to person and I like knowing all the crazy silly details of their lives – it makes the control freak in me happy. As the kids get older, this default role seems to be evening out a bit – the kids know a lot of their own info and Hubs is around a ton more which is wonderful! It gives me hope that the next time I go away for a 5 day business trip, I won’t have to leave a 3 page detailed note about schedules, menu and carpooling.