Category Archives: Uncategorized

Thankfulness: Princesses & Proximity

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Up until a month ago, I was the proud, lucky aunt to 6 nephews and 1 niece. 5 of my  nephews live in the mid-west, 14 hours away and my niece and other nephew live 7 hours south of here.  We try to see our mid-western family at least once a year and the southern family every 2-3 months, but I’ve never had a niece or nephew that lived by.

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Now I’m the proud, lucky aunt to 6 nephews and 2 nieces since my sister-in-law gave birth to the most perfect baby girl in October. She, my brother and the new baby live 45 minutes away which is like heaven and makes last minute get together’s a breeze.

I’m extraordinarily thankful for all my nieces and nephews and the technology that allows us to be a part of each other’s lives even when we’re hours and hours away. But after a fantastic dinner with my favorite 3 week old, I’m extra thankful for the blessing of having one of those nieces live near by so I can watch her grow up in person. Is it too soon to ask my brother and his wife when they are going to have baby #2?!

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Thankfulness: Handy People

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The Hub’s Grandfather was an incredibly handy man. He could fix just about anything – if we had issue with anything around the house, he was our go-to man. Despite him diligently trying to teach the Hubs his skills, it never took. I have great memories of Grandpa driving up to our house to tune up our mower or install the molding in Scorch’s nursery.  My Father-in-Law is also a really handy man to have around- he’s installed flooring and doors in my house. He knew enough to try to teach the Hubs or myself- it just wasn’t going to take.

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So, neither of us are handy people. And that’s fine- we have other skill sets. But what we have been lucky enough to do is to create great relationships with people who know what the hell they are doing. And these are the people who I’m so very thankful for today.

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Yesterday while I was working from home, I kept hearing banging outside. It’s windy, so I assumed our garbage cans tipped over or one of the kid’s throwbacks was being tossed around. What I did not expect when I went outside to investigate was to see part of my roof flapping in the wind.

My. Roof. Flapping. (sometimes I loathe being an adult).

I called the first handy person I could think of – a licensed contractor who has saved our butts more times than I could think of. The best time was a few years back when we were leaving for Fl. We had to leave at a certain time to make our train in VA and as we were literally walking through our house one more time before leaving, the light fixture in our hallway caught on fire. We put it out super quick, took off the fixture, looked around and saw that nothing was smoldering. Then we called our contractor because I was convinced our house was going to burn down while we were gone. He came over immediately, shoo’d us out the door so we didn’t miss our train, and allowed us to enjoy vacation not fearing the worst.

Yesterday, this saint of a man and his coworker were at my house within the hour and determined it was a very quick, easy fix as it was just a rain vent (guard? something?) that was loose. Which was the BIGGEST relief of the day because I was trying to figure out how in the hell a new roof was going to fit in our budget.

So, Jon & Bob- this is dedicated to you. Thank you for always coming when I call since the Hubs and I have no idea what we’re doing 99.9% of the time.

 

Thankfulness: Halloween Soup

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November is the time I take every year to write about what I’m thankful for. Somethings are serious, some funny and some completely irrelevant, but they all are things that make my life better.

Do you guys have a food that’s special because it’s something you only get once in a while? For example, when I’m in the office, one of my coworkers hands out one chocolate covered coffee bean to each person around 3 pm. I *love* that bean- I live for that bean some afternoons. Sure, I could easily get my own beans, but then they aren’t as special, they don’t mean as much.

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Not to brag or anything, but we have the best Halloween traditions. One of our favorite friends live in the city and they let all us country folks to come their house, have dinner, ransack their neighborhood for candy and then come back for more fun at their house. It’s truly one of my favorite nights of the year thanks to this incredible group of people, our parents and our kids, all 13 of them.

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The pumpkin soup we have on Halloween is like that for me. Sure, I could make it- but if I did, then I wouldn’t look forward to it as much as I do every year.  I don’t even like pumpkin, but this soup? This soup is to die for. And on a cold, windy Halloween there is nothing else I’m as thankful for. Without further ado…

Pumpkin Rosemary Soup

For the Soup                                                                         For the Croutons

  • olive oil (2 tablespoons)                                                ·    sourdough bread (4 cups cubed)
  • bacon (12 slices)                                                            ·    olive oil (1/4 cup)
  • fresh rosemary (4 sprigs)                                               ·    parmesan (1/2 cup grated)
  • butter (2 tablespoons)                                                    ·    ground black pepper
  • minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • white onion (1 medium)
  • salt & pepper
  • pumpkin puree (29 oz can)
  • chicken broth (5 cups)
  • heavy cream (1 cup)

Directions for Bacon/Rosemary

  1. Add olive oil to large skillet or griddle
  2. Add bacon and cook for 5-6 minutes on first side
  3. Turn bacon and add rosemary sprigs; cook for 4-5 minutes more until crispy
  4. Set bacon and rosemary aside on paper towel until cooled
  5. Remove rosemary leaves from stem; chop leaves and bacon

 

 

Directions for Soup

  1. Add two tablespoons of the bacon grease to a large pot
  2. Add butter, garlic, and onion; sweat until translucent
  3. Season lightly with salt and pepper
  4. Add pumpkin puree and chicken broth
  5. Stir well and bring to a simmer; cook for 15 minutes over low heat
  6. Puree in a blender until smooth
  7. Add heavy cream and stir to combine

Directions for Croutons

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Spread cubes of sourdough bread out on a cookie sheet
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese
  4. Season with ground black pepper
  5. Bake for 5-6 minutes until golden brown

 

* Serve soup topped with parmesan croutons, crumbled bacon and rosemary

 

Locker Room Talk, Boys Will be Boys & Other Crappy Excuses

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I started this blog 6 years and 2 months ago. When I started it, my kids were little, my topics were light and the posts basically wrote themselves thanks to the chaos of having a 4 and 2 year old. I started the blog to give my kids something to look back on when they got older- a written scrapbook that captured their antics and activities.

Now I have a 10 year old and an 8 year old who are learning more of the world and paying close attention. To me. To the Hubs. To the news. To their teachers. To their friends. They are always absorbing what they hear and, as they get older, more and more of what they hear is outside of my control. So it’s more important than ever that I tell my kids explicitly, clearly and with great thoughtfulness my opinions on world and national events. They are encouraged to think critically, but it’s the Hubs and my job to talk about the tough stuff as we try to raise them into caring, compassionate, intelligent adults.

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This post isn’t about politics, really. The players are political figures, but I frankly couldn’t care less what your political leanings are or what their political leanings are. To be clear, I’m not happy with either political candidate this year.

What this post is about is Donald Trump being caught in a video bragging about being able to assault women and get away with it due to his power and wealth and people making excuses for him. To quote Trump:

And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says….“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

Let me break that down for you. The man running for President of the United States explicitly says that because he’s a big wig, he can just grab a woman by her genitalia without her consent and get away with it.

That, my friends, is assault. Don’t believe me? Here’s the legal definition of the word:

the essential elements of assault consist of an act intended to cause an apprehension of harmful or offensive contact that causes apprehension of such contact in the victim.

If a man saw your wife/daughter/mother walking down the street, found her attractive and felt it was within his right to approach her and grope her, you would be furious, wouldn’t you? You’d be screaming for the police, wouldn’t you? You’d be doubly furious that that man’s connections and money allowed him to get away with doing that, wouldn’t you?

Please tell me you would be.

And yet, I see people excusing this behavior. Because it’s Donald Trump, because he’s running for President, because he IS as rich and powerful as he thinks he is, people are defending this bragging. Because people hate Hilary Clinton and anyone is better than her. Never mind that the man has 3 rape or attempted rape accusations leveled against him- one from his ex-wife and one from a 13 year old.

Now, this is where people bring up Bill Clinton’s history (or really any number of other shady, criminal politicians- they sadly all run together after awhile). I’m not dismissing them or making any excuses for them either. But let me bring up a really simple concept my kids learned in Kindergarten: two wrongs do not make a right.

I’ve seen people write that this is simple “locker room talk” and that “boys will be boys.”

If you or the men you know in your life are advocating sexual assault, hurting or objectifying woman in the same way Donald Trump was, they weren’t raised right. Period. If it truly is wide-spread locker room talk, than we have failed the men of this world. Excusing talk like that and not speaking up when we hear it helps feed monsters like Brock Turner and the judge who let creeps like him off with crazy light sentences.

And to the people who are getting all worked up about people being mad about the use of the word “pussy,” let me make this perfectly clear to you: While I (and most women I know) don’t like our vaginas referred to in such vulgar ways, what we’re really angry about isn’t the word. It is the act Donald Trump is bragging about.

Let me state that again: dirty words are upsetting, but what is infuriating and ILLEGAL is the talk of committing sexual assault and getting away with it. DO NOT try to deflect, undermine or gaslight those upset about the content of the video in question by focusing on the word “pussy.”

Which brings me to the next way I’ve seen people excuse Donald Trump: by sharing pictures of scantily clad celebrities or pictures of female comedians who use vulgar language in their movies or routines and screaming HYPOCRITES at the women getting upset about one and not the other.

Again, I ask. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Donald Trump = advocating assault, taking away a woman’s right to consent to being touched. Celebrities = adults fully consenting to their dress or speech. Do I like everything they wear or say? Do I want my kids seeing it? Nope. But these women have the right to wear it/say it because it’s their body and they aren’t advocating violence against others. And let’s not even get into the whole subtext that women who dress/speak provocatively are asking for it. Because if you feel that way, leave. Leave this blog now.

And lastly, the good old “women read Fifty Shade of Grey so how dare we be offended by what Donald Trump said” shtick. Do I need to pick this argument apart? Please don’t make me. Fifty Shades is FICTION read by women by their own choice who seemingly like bad erotica and even worse writing. Donald Trump is advocating assault.

Like I said, this post isn’t about politics- it’s about excusing a man who advocates for assault because of his position and power.

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As I wrote above, I started this blog as a way to share my thoughts with my kids. So, to Scorch and Bean- I have a few promises for you.

Scorch- I promise your father and I will do our damnedest to raise you to be respectful to others, including the women in your life. To ensure you know about consent and to call you on your attitude if you don’t show the proper consideration to the people around you. To love you enough to not excuse any bad behavior by saying “boys will be boys” and letting things slide.

Bean- I promise to do our hardest to raise you know your own worth. To ensure you know that you’re so much more than your body parts and how they can be used to please a man. To know that you should demand respect from the people in your life and to walk away if you don’t get it. To know what assault is and what to do if, God forbid, you’re a victim. To know that no person, regardless of their wealth or position, is better than you.

I love you both.

Slow Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Long to Summer

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

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

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We coached, cheered and played- a lot.

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

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

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

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Lazy Daze of Summer

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

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

And then I collapsed.

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Father’s Day

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

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

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

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

 

 

Love More

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Dear Kiddos-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Because that is how we love you.

-Mom

National Best Friends Day

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Dear Kiddos-

Today is National Best Friends Day- which I didn’t know this was a thing. Did you know that it was a thing? Regardless, I’m a huge believer in the power of friendship and I will use any excuse to celebrate the lovely, amazing, accomplished women in my life. The lovely, amazing, accomplished women in your life because my friendship with these women are a part of who you are and are, I hope, a role model for you to base your friendships on.

I have some memories from my earlier years, but really most of my concrete, linear memories start in 5th grade. I had moved to the school district I was in when I was in 3rd grade and immediately met Marlana. From there, my friend group grew and shrank throughout elementary school, then middle and high school. But the core group- the main 10- pretty much stayed the same.

These are the women I literally grew up with – the ones that ohhh’d over my first bra, the ones who knew about all my crushes and didn’t laugh (too hard) at my bad perms. The friends I learned to swim next to when my front teeth were still to big for my mouth (aham*Scorch*). The friends what were with me when I had my first drink- and held my hair after. The friends that still text me when they go to the museum I got my first period at just to tell me they are in the place I “became a women.” They are the friends that drive for hours to celebrate your big milestones.  The friends that helped me become the person I am today by giving me the support, friendship, love, teasing and validation every child needs growing up.

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Last Day of 8th Grade.

There were fights- big and little ones- and ebbs and flows as we grew up, grew apart and then grew back together. But I could not have wished for a better group of friends to navigate the first part of my life with. I see you with your friends now and try to encourage you both towards the friends that I can think will end up making up your core group. The friends who will know you inside and out and love you still. The friends that you may not see for years but who you know will always be there. I wish passionately for friends like this for both of you.

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The gang, minus 3, this past Christmas.

During college and our years living in Washington, DC I made new friends- some of whom I’m still friends with now- but it wasn’t until I had you kids that I met my new tribe. These are the women who are helping raise you. The woman who have full permission to parent you as they see fit because they know you and love you and want nothing but good things for you. They are your friend’s mamas so you’ve never known anything but this big intertwined pile of love and friends.

These are the mamas that have celebrated your birthdays with you, seen you in almost every Halloween costume you’ve ever worn, watched you play all your sports and joined us for more playdates than I could count. They know all your secrets because the know all my secrets. They know when you’re being horrible because I’ve called at least one of them crying in frustration or fear or just sheer exhaustion.

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They make me laugh so hard I cry and make me feel normal about the crazy that is my life. They are the friends who commiserate with me when marriage gets hard and celebrate all the best things that happen to us because the genuinely love us. They are married to the men that kidnapped your father on his birthday- proving that good people attract the like.

I cannot imagine navigating the landmine that is adulthood without these women, their significant others and their children. The friendship that I have with them is the one you see day in and day out and that I hope you emulate. I pray that you see how we treat each other with respect and kindness – not cattiness and bickering.  I hope you see how friends should build you up, not break you down.

So, my kiddos, squeeze your current bestie because they may hold the title longer than you can imagine. Or they may not- and that’s OK too. You’re going to change and so are your friends. Find those that respect who you are, who you’re becoming and where you’re going. Find friends that make you a better person by sharing your interests and by challenging you to try new things. Don’t dismiss anyone based on their packaging- you’ll miss out.

Love you both,

Mom