Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

2011 will forever live in my memory as the year we left Richmond, moved back to Northern Virginia, and lived with Clif's parents. Back in January I was sure this year would be the end of me. I spent the first few months of the year feeling down and sorry for myself. Not my best moments.

Though I'm not sad to see this year go, looking back I realize how much we've accomplished in the last 12 months.

We've gotten 2 houses rented (yes that means the Fredericksburg house is rented, they moved in yesterday actually).

We've learned to live in limited space and with most of our belongings in storage. Maybe we never needed all those things anyway.

We've revamped our finances and learned to survive on a tighter budget. This has made bill paying and spending money way less stressful.

We've started paying down debt and for the first time in 3 years we have a savings account...with money in it!

This may have been the hardest year of marriage for me and Clif thus far, and really it wasn't that bad and we're stronger for it.

My kids have been able to spend the last year really getting to know their grandparents. What a blessing.

All in all this year hasn't been the disaster I was sure it would be. But I am looking forward to 2012 and everything it has in store for us.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 16, 2011

According to Ainsley - Conversations with God

Ainsley: Mommy, when you have a baby in your belly can you get two baby durl twins in your belly?
Me: Well...maybe...but I don't get to decide that.  We've talked about it, mommies and daddies don't get to decide if they are having a boy or a girl in their belly and they don't get to decide if they have twins or not.
Ainsley: Why?
Me: Well God decides that for us.  He decided that first I needed a baby girl and then I needed a baby boy.  That's why he gave me you and Freddie.
Ainsley: But I really want two baby durl twins so I can have two baby durl sisters.
Me: Well, you'll  have to talk to God about that.

Ainsley (hands folded and looking up at the sky): Dod...hi, it's Ainsley.  Please but a baby in my mommy's belly.  But please put two baby durl twins in my mommy's belly.  I want to have two baby durl sisters because I already have a baby boy brover.  Otay Dod?

Ainsley: Mommy!!!!
Me: Yes?
Ainsley: I just asked God to give me two baby durl sisters in your belly and he said yes!
Me: Well, that's exciting.
Ainsley: High five Mommy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Little Comfort Goes A Long Way

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This past year has not been our most comfortable or the easiest to get through.  After 18 months of unemployment, then 7 months of living separately due to job locations, Clif and I moved our family into his parents' house.  That was 11 months ago.

It has been 11 months of living out of boxes.  Eleven months of missing items that are probably in the back of our storage room.  Eleven months of sleeping on someone else's bed, eating with someone else's silverware, showering in someone else's bathroom.

It's not been easy for us or his parents.  It's hard to call it home, because it's not really.  We know it's temporary, but just not sure how temporary.  It's this weird little space of limbo.  Limbo is hard and awkward and stressful...for me at least.

So as the holidays approached, I wondered how we'd keep our own family traditions in place.  Would we be able to eat chili for Christmas Eve dinner?  Could we put up our own tree with our own ornaments?  Would we find our stockings among our unpacked boxes?  Would we go on our own tacky light tour in our Christmas jammies?

I knew that some of it would have to change.  We're living with someone else and spending the holidays with them.  Some of our traditions would have to be put aside for theirs.

But a couple of weeks ago, we did put up our own tree.  And even though it's in the basement of a house that's not mine, that's filled with furniture and framed pictures that aren't mine, we continued one of our own traditions.

We told stories about each ornament.

We munched on beer bread with homemade jam and sipped our special hot chocolate.

We stood back as Ainsley saturated only a few branches with as many ornaments as they could bear.

We watched Freddie awe at the lights.

And for the afternoon, surrounded by my husband and kids, doing what we do every Christmas, it was comfortable and cozy and our basement really did feel like home.  Now, if only I could find our stockings...


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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fall Fun

Most people assume that I hate the Fall.  I don't hate the Fall.  Most people assume this because I hate the Winter.  I REALLY dislike Winter.  Winter is cold and dead and bleak and dreary and it snows and you have to wear a coat, I despise coats...but actually, I love the Fall.  I love the colors and the smells and the weather and everyone being out and about.  I love the Fall holidays and the start of a new school year.  I love light sweaters and jeans and boots.  I love everything about Fall, except that it happens right before Winter.

But that's not what this post is about.  Since I've been a slack blogger lately, I'm going to go ahead and dump all of our fall activities into this post.  One big ball of Fall, if you will.  Enjoy...

We went to fall festivals and pumpkin patches.

We got our faces painted

and painted

and really painted!

We painted pumpkins.

We caught up with old friends,

and made new ones.

We cheered on the matter how bad they played.

We enjoyed the awesome weather.

We ran races.

We spent Thanksgiving with family.

It was a great Fall.  A busy Fall.  We loved every minute of it.

Now, through the long, barren winter we go...but Spring is just on the other side.  And I love Spring.

Friday, November 18, 2011

According to Ainsley - Playtime

Ainsley (bossy): Mommy, you be the teacher and I will be all the babies.
Me: Okay Ainsley, but we can only play for a bit before I have to go make dinner.
Ainsley (whiney): But Mooooommmmmmy!  I want to play dollies.
Me: Well, you can play while I make dinner.
Ainsley (again, whiney): Nooooooooooo, I want you to play with me.
Me: Ainsley, we'll play for 10 minutes, but I have to make dinner.  You are able to play on your own sometimes.
Ainsley (sad): I can't play by myself.
Me: How about we just play?

So we play with the barbie dolls and dozens of little princess figurines that are the babies.  All the babies get dropped off at daycare and the teachers begin the day.  I get a little glimpse into what life is like for Ainsley at daycare.  She orders me around to match her daycare day.

Ainsley (again, bossy): Okay, now it's time for the babies to go down for a morning nappy.  But the big girl, who is 4, she gets to play and watch Dora.
Me: Is that what happens at your school?  All the babies go to sleep and then you play and watch Dora?
Ainsley: Yes.
Me: What do your teachers do then?
Ainsley: They are rocking the babies and feeding the babies bottles and then they clean up from breakfast.
Me: Do they play with you?
Ainsley: No, I play by myself.
Me: Okay, well now it's time for me to make dinner, so you can play by yourself.
Ainsley (crying): NOOOOOOOO!
Me: Ainsley, if you play by yourself at school, why can't you play by yourself here?
Ainsley (cross between duh mom and sweet as pie): Because you're here Mommy.
Me (putty in hands): Oh...okay...well...I guess I can wait to make dinner.

I think we had grilled cheese that night instead of the dinner I had planned.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Left My Heart In Richmond

We left Richmond 10 months ago.  Life has been dramatically different since last January.  This weekend I got to go back and pretend like everything was the same.  It was the first time that I returned and didn't stay in my house.  It was the first time that I returned without my family.  It was the first time that I wasn't there on official "unload the house" business.

I went to visit my sweet friend Nicole.  I haven't seen her since February.  And since then it seems that we've also had trouble connecting through email or the phone or whatever.  You know, life just gets busy.  So we started weeks ago trying to plan a visit.

I landed on her doorstep Saturday afternoon with just one bag and my pillow.  No diapers or baby dolls or sippy cups.  She answered and the last 9 months just melted away.  I immediately felt like I hadn't moved away, like I was just stopping by on a Saturday for a glass of wine and some girl talk.

It was amazing spending the time with her and seeing some other friends along the way.  I woke up yesterday missing my family but wishing that I could prolong the visit a bit longer, wishing that I didn't have to jump in the car and return to my new life.  That I could instead just bring my family back and stay where I've always felt at home.

After breakfast, I said my good-byes and headed back up 95.  The short trip was exactly what I needed to reconnect with some old friends, but it left me feeling a bit sad.  It left me missing weekly lunches with Tara, and fire pits on the deck with Brian and Nicole, and Ledo's on the weekend's with Jeff and Amy.  It left me wanting 12 minute commutes to work, fenced in back yards for my dogs, my own house with a purple room for Ainsley and monkey's on the wall for Freddie.  It wasn't always an easier life, but it was a bit simpler. 

As I merged on to the beltway my heart was heavy and I could feel the tears burning my eyes...but as I pulled up to the house there was a beautiful little girl waiting to greet me and jump into my arms.  So for now, this is where my family is and this is where I belong.  Richmond will have to wait.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Girl After Her Mamma's Heart

Ainsley watches me intently as I streak colors across my eyelids.

"Mommy, can I wear some make up?" She pleads.
"Not today Ainsley.  Only grown ups can wear make up outside."

She is disappointed, but knows her urging "please" will not change my answer.  I let her play on the weekends, when we have no where to go and not much to do.  She loves to tickle her cheeks with the brushes and feel the cool silk of the sponge.

Manicures and pedicures are a weekly routine.  She chooses 2 or 3 or 4 colors to brighten her fingers and toes.  Then there are stickers that we use for even more decoration.

She plays dress up and carries purses and walks around in heels.  She is a girly girl to the core, and I have to say that I love it.  I truly believe that you feel better on the inside if you take the time to put yourself together on the outside.  And vice versa.  If you feel good on the inside, it radiates out. 

That's one reason I love the idea of Cafe Kids Spa.  A full service spa that caters to the needs of girls.  The owner developed the concept to empower the inner beauty of young ladies while promoting self esteem and providing them with outer beauty kid friendly spa enhancements.

Today's Juice in the City deal for the Washington DC area is $24 for a kids mani/pedi spa package.  Click here for details.

Ainsley and I may be making an appointment some day soon.

This is a sponsored post by Juice in the City.  Click the button below or on my sidebar to see deals in your area or subscribe to daily emails.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Um...I Don't Do Grassy Hills

It had been 2.5 tough miles.  I was used to running 2.5 miles, but 2.5 miles of mostly hills?  Um, no.  My legs were on fire and my breathing was quick and raspy.  But finally we were on flat surface and I knew the end was near.  I just had to push through the last half mile or so.

I rounded the corner and saw the racers ahead of me going off the road and down into the woods.

What?!?!  No, no, no!  I did not sign up for an off-roading race.  I have touch and go knees.  I have an ankle that's been sprained 4 or 5 times.  One misstep and I'd be out of commission.  I do not run on grass.

But what could I do?  Just stop.  No way.  I'd been training for months.  It had been years since I ran a race.  I couldn't just stop.

So I did it.  I stepped up on the curb and headed down the grassy hill.  The path wasn't too far, but my first thought as my foot hit the damp, leaf-covered ground was "I'm going to fall.  Oh man, please don't let me fall."

And then it happened.  Almost before I finished the thought, a hidden root jumped right up and pulled me down.  I tried to stop it, but at some point I realized my effort was futile.  So I gave in and let my body crash to the ground.  I was stunned.  I couldn't remember the last time I had fallen so hard.  I was face down in the leaves, my hands and legs covered in mud.  A few runners stopped - checked on me, helped me up, found my iPod.  I don't think I even thanked them.

Suddenly, I was fighting back tears as they asked if I was okay.  I just nodded.  I knew if I spoke I wouldn't be able to stop the flow.

I walked to the path and started running again, slowly.  My legs were like jello.  Every step was shaky and cautious...and then another hill.  I couldn't do it.  I stopped.  I walked.

"No, no!"  I heard a voice come up on my left.

I looked over.  A woman about my age, blond and in a pink shirt.

"You can't stop now.  We're almost done.  I've been trying to catch you the whole race, you have to beat me."

I ran again, we crossed the finish line together.

And that's how I ran my first 5K in 5 years.

Me and a purple cat...I mean, Ainsley.  She ran the Kid's Fun Run after my race.

My dirty, ripped pants.

It looks worse than it is...just a scratch really.
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