Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You're How Old?!?!?

I write letters to the kids on their birthdays, so...

Dear Clif,

Today you are 35.  Oh, whoops, was I not supposed to tell anyone that?  That is a really big number.  We won't talk about how old I'll be in a couple of weeks.

Anyway, I was thinking today about the last 10 birthdays we've spent together.

 For the first one, you were turning 25 (that is such a nicer number than 35, right?) and we had only been dating for a couple of months.  I took you to dinner at Olive Garden, gave you the Top Gun DVD and the American Pie soundtrack.  That year you gave me a diamond necklace.  You always were a showoff!

A couple of years later, when you were turning 27, I surprised you with a trip to Las Vegas.  Remember the little guessing game I had you play while opening your gift?  I filled a bag with poker chips and fake money and...well, I don't even remember it all now...but I'm pretty sure you didn't guess it.  I think I had to tell you.  For most of my birthdays, you took me to expensive amazing dinners at Ruth's Chris or Morton's.

Then for your 30th birthday we had a huge party with all your friends, a frozen drink machine and skip-and-go-nakeds.  It was a blast...and the last adult party we'd have, since we found out we were pregnant 2 months later.

Birthdays are a little less spectacular these days.  It's been awhile since we were in a position financially to plan such elaborate celebrations.  But even if we had the money, Morton's and Las Vegas are not really the best spots for our young children.

 This year, I tried to get us Dave Matthews tickets - they sold out, so we couldn't go.  Ainsley overheard me talking to your mom about it.  She looked up with tears in her eyes "Mommy, why can't I come to Daddy's birthday party."  So seriously?  Could we ever not include them in our birthday festivities?

Now, birthdays usually consist of dinner out at a kid friendly restaurant, homemade desserts afterwards, and crazed sugar-high children crashing way past bed time. Singing "Happy Birthday" by only candle light is a must and the brighter the gift bags the better.  Our diamond bracelets and spontaneous trips have been replaced with hand made cards and chocolate frosting kisses.

One day, we'll take those trips again.  We'll eat those incredible steaks again.  We'll shower each other with expensive jewelry and trinkets again.  But for now, I'll take the loud dinner at a hibachi grill, a concert by naked children, and cupcakes plastered to soft baby curls.

Happy birthday babe.  I love you.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm Calling A Do-Over

I know...I haven't posted in over a week.  And I missed my According to Ainsley post.  And I have many stories to tell and updates to relay...but...

This week was a tough one.  You know, some weeks blow by and are easy breezy.  Things go according to plan, my kids sleep, there are no natural disasters and I can focus a couple of hours a week on my blogging duties.  This was not one of those weeks.  I haven't posted.  I've barely even read any of the blogs I follow.

We went out of town last week, and things just went down hill from there.  Sunday, on the way home, Freddie spiked a fever.  Then Ainsley had one.  Then Freddie's went away...and came back.  Then Ainsley's went away...and came back.  I was only at work a day and a half last week.

Oh and then there was an earthquake...on the east coast?  Yeah, that's normal.

And now I sit watching Hurricane Irene crawl up the coast.  My mom and sister and brother and dad - All residing in NC - are safe and sound.  At this point they seem to be out of the woods.  Now I'm watching it batter the Norfolk/VA Beach/Eastern Shore area where a lot of my friends live.  And we wait for it to hit us and lose power and move on to New York and New England where my brothers and sisters in laws live.  It seems everyone important in our lives will be in the path of this beast.

So, it's been a stressful and somehow busy week.  Things always get crazy when the schedule goes out the window.

Basically, I just decided that this week was a loss.  A loss for the blog, a loss for my exercise plan, a loss for my job...everything.

I'm calling a do-over on Monday.  We'll talk then.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

According to Ainsley #16 - Boobs!

The following reflects multiple conversations that I have had with Ainsley over the past few weeks about boobs.  I may be mixing up some of the stories...apparently we discuss boobs quite often.

Ainsley: Mommy?  When will my boobs be bigger?
Mommy: Probably when you are a teenager.
Ainsley: What's a teenager?
Mommy: Someone who is 14 or 15 or 16 or 17
Ainsley: But Mommy, I want bigger boobs right now.
Mommy: Believe me Ainsley, you don't want bigger boobs right now, they just get in the way.  And, there's really nothing I can do about it.  You just have to wait.

Ainsley: Mommy?  Why are your boobs so big?
Mommy: Because that's the way God made me.
Ainsley: But why did he make you with big boobs?
Mommy: I guess he wanted me to be able to feed my babies with them.
Ainsley: But WHY?
Mommy: Well, God makes us all different.  Some people have big boobs, some have big bellies, some have big ears, some have big legs.  God makes everyone different so we won't all be the same.

Ainsley: Mommy, what do babies eat from your boobies?
Mommy: Milk
Ainsley: Like chocolate milk?
Mommy: No, I don't think it's ever chocolate milk.

Ainsley: Mommy, can I feed Freddie with my boobs?
Mommy: You don't have any milk in your boobs, so you can't feed Freddie.
Ainsley: Can we put some milk in my boobs and then I feed Freddie?
Mommy: It doesn't work like that Ainsley.
Ainsley: Please Mommy, can't we just try and then check it out?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Juice in the City

I always assumed I'd be a stay at home mom.  I'm not going to say that I dreamed and yearned for it, but it's just what I figured would come of my life.

My mom stayed home with us.  She was there when we got home from school.  She was there when we needed anything.  I wanted the same for my kids.  When I told my mom these things long ago, before I became a mother, she told me I should work.  That staying home with kids is hard and she felt like her brain went to mush in those years.

That's why she went back to school when I was about 10.  She needed more.  And I don't blame her.

Right now, the idea of me being a stay at home mom is so far beyond my grasp that it's really not something I ever see happening.  Life has not dealt us those cards. 

And now, I wonder, if given the option tomorrow...would I?  Would I stop working and stay at home full time?  I'm not sure.  It's a tough call to make.  Even though I've never really found my passion in the work force, even though I hate getting up at 5AM to fight traffic, even though most days I want to put my head down and fall asleep on my desk...it's still something that gets me out of the house and using my brain and talking to real live adults.

If I were a stay at home mom, I may not have that.  I have friends that are stay at home moms, and they struggle with these things.  The same things my mom struggled with.  And on top of that, most of them struggle financially.

So there's this company...It's called Juice in the City.  They love moms.  Their whole purpose is to help moms out.  In fact their mission statement is: We are here for moms, by moms and want to help the local businesses.  Not only do they bring fun, local, mom approved deals to you daily, they also employ stay at home moms...or working moms :)  Like I said, they love moms...no matter what kind of mom you are.

They have not come to my area yet (Washington, DC), but they're on their way.  The link will be in my sidebar if you want to check them out.  You should go over there to the right and click.  Sign up.  Maybe they're already in your area, maybe they're coming soon.  Occasionally, I'll also be posting about specific deals for you to enjoy.

Just another way for all of us moms to help each other out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

According to Ainsley #15 - Growing Up

"Mommy look!"

I turn to see that she has connected the top buckle of her car seat.

"Ainsley, that's awesome.  You're such a big girl," I say as I connect the bottom harness, "Can you slow down?  I don't want you to be grown up yet."

Ainsley smiles as I close the van door and walk around to the driver's seat.

She is quiet as I pull around the neighborhood and out onto the road.

"Mommy?" Ainsley asks.


"Why don't you want me to grow up?" She is a bit sad when she says this.  Almost like I just told her Santa didn't come.

"Because I want you to stay my little girl forever," I respond.

"But Mommy, I can't stay your little girl forever.  I have to grow up.  I am already so big."

I look into the rear view mirror at my not so little girl...her once bald head, full of blond curls...her once tiny body, long enough to touch the passenger seat...her once incomprehensible vocabulary, extensive enough to express feelings and thoughts and ideas.

"I know Ainsley, everyone has to grow up," I say quietly.

"Yep Mommy, everyone has to grow up and I'm going to too," she smiles and looks out the window.

Yes, Ainsley, you are and will.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Beware the Bubbles

It's so sweet and innocent looking.

It floats lazily, charting it's own course.

Too delicate to touch.

Too fleeting to capture.

It brings joy and amazement to children.


do not be fooled.

There's a dark side to the bubble.

Ainsley dove into the corner of the deck table while chasing the bubbles.  It was a bit scary and I thought an ER visit might be in our very near future, but it looked worse than it was.  She's doing fine...just a nasty gash.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Gap Closed

"Hold up Ainsley.  Watch where you're going," I place my arm on her chest to keep her from wandering into the path of the oncoming grocery cart.

She is often in her own world.  Imagining princes and horses and magic.  Dreaming of her next big adventure.

The woman pushing the cart nods and grins at me.  She looks to Ainsley, who is now squinting into the bright sun, and her grin widens and she says "Excuse me sweetie."

Behind her a very elderly woman shuffles on.  She stops at Ainsley, blocking the sun from her view.  I can tell immediately that this is the first woman's mother.  The resemblance is striking.

"Barb, did you look at this girl?" she asks still staring at my daughter.

Her weathered fingers brush Ainsley's unruly curls away from her eyes.

"Barb, did you see her eyes?" she asks.

Her shaking hands gently stroke Ainsley's soft cheek.

"Barb, just look at her.  Look at that sparkle."

A second wrinkled hand comes up to lift Ainsley's chin.

"You are a beautiful little girl," she whispers to Ainsley.

Ainsley wraps her small fingers around the woman's frail wrist.  "Thank you," Ainsley responds and tears well up behind my sunglasses.

The woman pauses for a moment, smiles at Ainsley and then moves on.

I take Ainsley's hand and we walk to the car.

"Yes Ainsley?"
"That lady was so nice.  She is like NonNon."
"Yep, she is probably NonNon's age."
"I love NonNon."

I buckle Ainsley into her carseat and I am struck by the beauty of the moment.  Age and youth joined for a split second.  For an instance, the difference between them didn't matter, that large gap was closed and my young daughter recognized that...just like she does with her NonNon.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Learned Passion


The sticky heat from the day before has been replaced with a slight drizzle.  It falls soft but steady and cools the steamy sweat beads trickling down my cheeks and along my jawbone.  The sky is a grayish blue as the sun tries to break through the dense cloud cover.

It's too early for commuters and the drizzle has kept the dog walkers at bay.  Days like this, I leave my iPod at home, preferring to absorb the sounds of my solitude.  Rather than listen to The Black Eyed Peas, I hear only the steady cadence of breath and the quick pound of a sneaker on asphalt.

These are my favorite mornings.  The best way to start my day.  If I can begin it running my mind will clear and my body will relax.

It wasn't always a passion.  I remember the uphill battle to arrive at this pleasure.  Sore joints, twisted ankles, chafed thighs.  I couldn't imagine what people were saying when they spoke of a runner's high, but then suddenly, one day I got it.  I no longer had to force myself to roll out of bed and perform this torture.  It became a joy and a necessity.

And then...I lost it.

I remember the last time I ran.  I was about 4 months pregnant with Ainsley.  I was already showing and the pressure on my pelvis was just too painful.  So I stopped, promising to pick up again once the baby was born.  I registered for a jogging stroller and bought larger sports bras to accommodate my new girth.

I never imagined that pregnancy would wreck havoc on my knees.  So Ainsley came, and I tried.  Multiple times I tried.  But my knees just didn't seem up to the task.  I saw doctors, did exercises, wore braces.  Nothing helped. 

And then I was pregnant again, and then I had two kids, and then we moved, and I started a new job, and, and, and...

Time slips away.  But I remember those summer mornings in the rain.  I remember speeding up as my favorite songs pumped through my headphones.  I remember how I felt after running my first 10K.  I want that high again.

So, I'm trying again.  The knees are better...as mysteriously as the ailment struck me, it seems to be subsiding.

Only now...


The air is hot and heavy.  The clouds move slowly over the rising moon as the day's last drops of light fade away.

My breath is shallow and quick, my footsteps are hard and slow.  My legs are moaning, my chest is screaming.  My body is already tired from a day of working and mothering and cooking and cleaning.  The difference between me as a 33 year old runner and 25 year old runner is astounding.  But, this is my time, it's only for me.  No breaking up fights, or wiping little bottoms.  No cleaning sippy cups or planning direct mail campaigns.  No bedtime stories or Dora the Explorer.  Day 2 of my comeback is tough, but not as hard as day one.  Although, I think I'm still going to be sore tomorrow.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What Do You Think?

So, I had a couple of things I wanted to write about tonight, but instead I played with pictures and created a new blog header.

What do you think?

I'll put up a real post tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

According to Ainsley #14 - Little Miss Know-It-All

Ainsley: Mommy, I am almost 5.
Mommy: No Ainsley, you just turned 4.
Ainsley: No Mommy, I already turned 4 and now I am almost 5.
Mommy: Ainsley, you are not even 4 and a half yet.  You have to be 4 and a half before you can be 5.  You have 11 months until you are 5.  When is your birthday?
Ainsley: July.
Mommy: Right, and do you know what month we are in now?
Ainsley: No.
Mommy: We just finished July and now we are in August.  So, let's say the months and count how many until your 5th birthday...August, September, Oct...
Ainsley: Mommy!  Stop!  Why do you always say those things?!?!?  You always tell me things!!!  You do not have to tell me these things, I already know them!

I'm linking up with Rebecca over at Musings of a Manic Mama on Friday.  Go check out her blog...

Musings of a Manic Mama

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Even Steven

Any Seinfeld fans out there?


Well, do you remember the Even Steven episode?  The episode is actually titled "The Opposite," but I had to look that up.  I call it the Even Steven episode, because the Even Steven reference hits a cord with me.

Jerry's gig is cancelled and 5 minutes later he gets a new gig for exactly the same pay.  Kramer calls him Even Steven and Jerry realizes that he is indeed Even Steven.  He never comes out on top or on bottom, just always even - right down the middle.

I am Even Steven.

In life, I never stick out.  I'm not a bad egg or a brilliant star.  I just am.  I'm not a person that someone instantly hates or loves.  I'm not lazy, but I'm not an overachiever.  I tend not to get extremely excited about good things, but I also don't overreact to the bad (my husband may disagree on this one).  I stick to that middle line.  Not really by choice, but it's just who I am.

Financially, this is even more clear.  The last few years have been...rough, in the finance department.  It's been rough for a lot of people.  Companies aren't showering employees with benefits or raises anymore.  Our whole society has a different perspective.  I think most people are just happy to have a job...any job.

But, I've always kind of struggled with money.  My parents were not wealthy, so I paid for my own college and my own wedding and my own cars and my own houses.  My mom has always tried to help when she can, but she's in no position to be handing out college educations or home down payments.

But I am Even Steven.  I am always leveled out...
-We have a rental property.  On more than one occasion, tenants have left in the middle of the night (Yes, people actually do that!).  This always seems to happen right when we get an increase in income.  And we always seem to find a tenant right before a new bill comes into play.  Often times, of almost exactly the same amount.
-I plan, and work to get debt payed off.  The moment I get a bill payed off, it's replaced by another.
-When Clif lost his job we stocked away his last few paychecks.  Cut back on everything and took all that money and put it in savings.  Seventeen months later, we pulled our last few hundred dollars from savings to pay for something.  Clif was hired the following month.

I could go on.

So, I always have this "Even Steven" thing in the back of my head when I'm worried about how we'll make it.  Sometimes it is a relief and sometimes?  Well, sometimes it pisses me off.  Because I know that whatever issue we're facing, will somehow work itself out...but I wonder, if I'm Even Steven, can I ever come out on top?
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