Thursday, September 29, 2011


I have not been a very good blogger lately.  I have not been posting as much as I'd like, I can't remember the last time I put a new picture up and I haven't even been keeping up with reading other blogs.  Sometimes life gets in the way of my internet addiction.

So today, I'm just going to run through an update.  This weekend we are heading to Connecticut for Clif's cousin's wedding.  I'm sure there will be lots of picture taking, so you will get your fill next week.

What's Ainsley up to?
Ainsley is such an amazing little girl.  I just can't believe I ever lived without her in my life.  But you all know how great she is. 

At Ainsley's 4 year check up a few weeks ago she weighed 34lbs and was 42 inches tall.  She took her first eye exam, which she passed.  She demonstrated her amazing imagination with a tale of Flynn, Rapunzel, Tassa, Baby Ainsley, my Honey and herself as Mommy for the doctor.  He was very impressed.

Ainsley also went to the dentist about a week ago.  This is her second visit to the dentist.  The first was last September.  She did a great job.  The first time they could get no x-rays, this time they managed to get one maybe at her next appointment it will work out.  She did great while they were cleaning her teeth and did awesome while they cleaned my teeth.

Ainsley is still in question mode.  She needs an explanation for "Why do we have chins?" or "Why did God give me blond hair?" or "Why does Freddie cry when I squeeze his cheek?" and a million more.  Some days I am so mentally exhausted from answering questions that I just can't come up with answers anymore.  Because some questions are not so "What do germs look like?" or "Where does God live?  But where is Heaven?" or "Where was I before I was in your belly?" or "What does it feel like to die?"

I know?!?!?!  Pretty deep coming from a 4 year old.

She still loves Tangled but she's not quite as obsessed.  Right now she is deciding between being a ballerina or a cheerleader for Halloween.  She loves to play dress up, play doh, tea party and find shapes in the clouds.

She says cute things like "Lasterday" for yesterday.  I am in love with the way she says chubby, beautiful and cute.  Actually, something she says often right now is "Mommy, I love tchubby (chubby) babies, they are so tute (cute)" or something similar.  Beautiful comes out more like beootiful, and she always closes her eyes when she says it.

Just the other day, I was further convinced that she needs to be on the big screen.  She can cry on cue!  She asked if we could do something and I told her no.  She immediately pouted her lip and filled her eyes with tears.  I laughed and said "Are you kidding me little girl?"  At which point she giggled and the tears stop.  What the hell am I in for?!?!?!

Ainsley has also started doing chores.  We give her 1 dollar every day that she does them...except I've kind of been slack lately.  Luckily, she doesn't seem to notice.  She has to get herself dressed, feed the dogs and help pick up her toys.  Clif and I weren't sure if money was the right way to go...and honestly, I'm still not positive, but I know that I want to teach her the value of a dollar.  I want her to know what it feels like to earn something.  My kids?  They are spoiled.  It's great that they're spoiled.  They are the only grandkids on Clif's side and only have one cousin on my side.  So they have grandparents and aunts and uncles who just adore them and shower them with clothes and toys and Uggs (thank you Uncle Cameron :).  I know how much these people love to buy things for my kids and I truely appreciate it.  Hey, I rarely have to buy clothes.  But, I don't want them to feel entitled.  I don't want them to think they can have anything they want at any time.  So we give her a dollar each day and she works towards something she wants.  Currently that's a Build-A-Bear pink bunny.  As she gets older, I will incorporate the aspects of saving and giving.  Right now I think that's a little over her head.  I just really want her to understand that things cost money and sometimes things aren't available because of what they cost.  I think she's starting to get it.

And what's up with Freddie?
Oh Freddie!  This kid brings me so much joy.  I can't believe I ever said I didn't want a boy.

Freddie will be going to his 18 month appointment next week, but at his last doctor's visit he weighed 26.5 lbs.  I do not remember his height, but I do have it written down somewhere at home.  He is a little tank.  I'm going to get video of him running, because you will laugh.  It cracks me up.

He's talking all the time...most of it, is unintelligible babble.  But he does know some words...

"Nack" = Snack...but he sounds like a quacking duck when he says it.
"Mamma" = He used to call me this all the time, but now it's reserved for crying.
"Mommee" = He just started saying this, and though I like Mamma, I really like the sound of this from him.  He draws out the "eeee."
"Puppa" = Puppy...or Poppa
"Daddee" = Although, he pretty much calls everyone Mommee or Mamma right now.
"Nannee" = He seems to draw out his "y" on everything.
"Boom" = Broom...the kid loves cleaning products.
"Dair" = There, over there, here
"A dat" = What's that? That
"HI!" = Obviously this is hi, but he says it with such gusto!  Oh and a really funny thing he does, if I roll down his window in the car, he says it to every car that we pass.  He also screams it at neighbors.
"Booh" = Book
"Boo" = Boot - kid loves all shoes that are not his.  Including my rain boots that come to my knees...yeah picture that, Nanny's clogs and Ainsley's mary jane Crocs.

He also knows what sound an elephant makes and he does it every time he hears the word.  He's learning a horse, pig, and cow.  He sometimes says "boooooom" when we read his truck book.  

He still babbles a lot.  He won't talk as early as Ainsley, she was already saying more at this point, but sometimes I think "Soon he'll be talking." I try to picture him at Ainsley's age and it's so hard because he's still such a baby to me.

He loves to jump on the trampoline, it's hilarious to watch because he can't actually jump yet.  I should get video of that as well.  He likes push toys and cars and yelling and running and plowing through all in his path.  He's a boy to his core.  But...he's got this very sensitive side.  The other day we were picking up toys and he found a baby doll bottle.  He brought it to me, so I picked up a baby doll and started feeding her.  He took it from me and hugged the baby close then gave her the bottle.  It was so freaking cute.  I'm told he's super gentle (What?  Freddie?  Gentle?) with the babies at daycare.  He strokes their hair and kisses their cheeks.

He loves music and singing.  He adores his books...which took some time.  The first time I read to him he was like "What the heck are you doing mom, pull out the boob and let's go.  What is this book thing?"  But now he runs to his room and climbs in his chair waiting to read.

Goodness, I could go on for days.  These kids are ever changing and I haven't been documenting that here as much as I'd like.  So sorry if it's a bore...this one's for me.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Help! My Children are Out to Destroy Me!

Can you die from lack of sleep?  Or complete mental and physical exhaustion? 

If so, then my kids are definitely trying to kill me.  They look all sweet and innocent, but they have a deadly scheme up those little sleeves.

I feel the way you feel in those first few weeks with a new baby.  Like you could fall asleep in the shower, tired.  Shower?  No, shower, that would mean less sleep.  So it's more like the "you could fall asleep in the elevator, riding 7 floors to your office" variety.  But it's not is.  So yes, I'm dirty, and tired...oh, and I smell of baby pee.

So yes, it is exactly like those first few weeks with a new baby, only...I DON'T HAVE A NEW BABY!!!!!  I really should be sleeping and I really should be showering and I really should not go to work in an outfit that my son possibly peed on.  (In all fairness, I did not notice the pee situation until I was falling asleep at my desk this morning.)  I have a 4 year old and an 18 month old, so what the hell is my issue, you ask? 

MY KIDS HATE SLEEPING!!!!  I thought that Freddie was going to be my good sleeper.  I thought that after the battles I had with Ainsley, that the universe had sent me a sweet little dreamer.  WRONG!!!!!

Freddie goes to sleep...fairly easy.  Of course, I am still nursing.  We'll see how that goes in a couple of weeks when I stop.  But lately, he won't stay asleep.  So most nights, somewhere between the hours of 12AM and 4AM, I can be found rocking him back to sleep, or standing over his crib shushing him, or pacing the floors.  And he does go back to sleep, but not on his own.  He used to...I was determined to not put him in my bed like I had with Ainsley.  I was determined to have a child that could go to sleep on his own.  He used to cry in the middle of the night and go right back to sleep...but something has shifted in the last week.  I'm hoping it's just a phase, maybe a belly ache or a growth spurt...but man, I am freaking tired this week!!!

Ainsley won't go to sleep.  In fact, we put her to bed at 8:30 last night and she was still awake at 11:15.  I am completely at a loss on how to get her to sleep.  She's still in daycare, they still nap.  I don't know if that's the issue, but I'm definitely talking to daycare about it today.  But then even if she goes to sleep easily, she won't stay asleep.  She ends up in our bed every single night.  Most nights, I don't even remember waking up to her crawling over me. 

And, before any of you say it...please do not tell me to be consistent...BECAUSE I AM FREAKING CONSISTENT!  Ainsley is the anti-schedule child.  We do the same thing every night and never get consistent results.

Sorry for yelling, just a little cranky today.

So currently, I am roughly going on 5 years (counting Ainsley's pregnancy - because I do not sleep when I'm pregnant) of sleep deprivation.  I guess I can make it another 16.5 years until Freddie goes to college...that is if I don't have any more...Or maybe the next one will sleep?  Maybe?  God, are you listening...please...

Friday, September 23, 2011

A New Outlook

I'm not going to lie...I love junk food.

I mean that I could probably eat some sort of sugar passing for breakfast every morning, gorge myself on a McDonald's value meal for lunch and finish it all off with a steak dinner out.  Oh and don't forget dessert.  Preferably of the ice cream variety.

I love food, and I've never been picky about it...except for mushrooms, keep them far from me.  I've always been more concerned with the cost of food.  So if it was cheap it was fine for me.

Then something happened.  I'm not exactly sure when this change exactly took place.  But over the past couple of years I've definitely gone from "Who cares if it's processed" to "Chemicals?  In my food?!?!?!"

On top of that, I was tired of feeling so blah all. the. time.  I had gained weight since having the kids and dieting wasn't happening.

I made the decision to start feeding us better.  Not because I want to fit back into my 7 for all Mankind jeans (although that would be awesome).  Not because I wanted to eat cardboard.  Not because I wanted to make my family hate me.

Because I wanted us to be healthy.  I took a really good, hard look at what our meals were consisting of and I just decided that it wasn't worth it.  We were eating food from boxes most nights.  Other than an occasional grape or banana, fruits were not being utilized for healthy snacks.  A side of veggies was a steam fresh bag from the freezer.  But just one, because those things are expensive and even if it only says 2 servings, the kids can share with us.

Suddenly I couldn't believe the garbage I was feeding myself and my family.  So I made a change.  A pretty big change.  I changed grocery stores, started following vegetarian blogs and my sister even bought me a *gasp* VEGAN cookbook.

My husband, may be divorcing me soon.

Let me be clear, we are not giving up the meat...but we have cut way back.  I've been finding other things like sweet potatoes and quinoa and beans to replace the chicken and ground beef.  So, where our menu used to look like this...

Monday: Chicken
Tuesday: Ground Beef
Wednesday: Chicken
Thursday: Chicken
Friday: Ground Beef
Saturday: Eat Out
Sunday: Pork

It now looks like this...

Monday: Fish
Tuesday: Veggie
Wednesday: Chicken
Thursday: Veggie
Friday: Ground Beef
Saturday: Grill
Sunday: Crock Pot

I'm not going to say we always stick to it, because with our crazy lives it's just not possible.  Sometimes I forget to defrost the fish so that means grilled cheese and tomato soup (and it was heavenly).  Sometimes we are travelling and a drive through burger is the best we can do.

But I want my kids to have healthy options.  I want them to grow up knowing how to feed their body well.  I don't want them to have every McDonald's toy and know the Chick-Fil-A Cow by name.  I felt like we were getting dangerously close to that line.

And guess what?  I haven't lost a pound.  But I feel better.  I think my skin looks better.  My body fits in my clothes a little better. When I do indulge in something (like pizza for lunch yesterday), I enjoy it so much more.  And if I over indulge?  I feel it.  I feel horrible and sluggish and cranky.  And every time I feel that way, I'm more motivated to stay the course.

My family is not always digging this change.  There are nights that I'm the only one eating a vegan meal because no one else likes it.  But I've gotta give Clif props...he always tries it and always tries to finish it.  He always says "You make it, I eat it." 

So even though there are nights that I am frustrated and at my wits end about no one liking dinner, I know that I'm doing the right thing and I know in the long run it will pay off.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Just Like Me

Those big blue eyes watch my every move.

In just 4 years I've had to explain mascara, shaving and tampons, because those eyes miss nothing.

She's so eager to grow up...

Mommy, can I wear makeup?
Mommy, can I have high heels?
Mommy, fix my hair like yours.
Mommy, I want to wear a dress like you. eager to be just like me.

It's flattering and scary having so much power over this little mind.  She repeats my words, she mimics my walk, she mirrors my expressions.

Whether we like it or not, so much of who we are comes from our parents.  She looks nothing like me, but there will be days when she's speaking to her children and she'll hear my voice.  There will be moments when she passes a mirror and sees a glimmer of me.

Mommy, when I grow up I'm going to have babies like you.
Mommy, when I grown up I'm going to go to work like you.
Mommy, am I pretty like you?
Mommy, am I smart like you?

She wants to be just like me, and I hope she's so much more.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

According to Ainsley - Star Light Star Bright

"Star Light, Star Bright
I wish, I wish, I wish a might
I wish, I wish, I wish a might
have a wish tonight..."

This is Ainsley's version of "Star Light, Star Bright."  Cracks me up every time.  She says it every night before she goes to sleep.  What's funnier, is what she wishes for...

Always folding her hands in prayer, she recites the poem.  Then she pauses and shuts her eyes so tight and whispers her wish.

"I wish that I could see a real fairy."
"I wish that I could see mommy in a dress and tell her she is beeootaful." (I wish that I could acurately explain the way this child says is awesome)
"I wish that I could be Freddie's mommy."
"I wish that Mommy had a baby sister in her belly."
"I wish that I could sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed."
"I wish that we could have our own house in Carolina."

All such simple little requests. 

"Star Light, Star Bright First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,  have this wish I wish tonight..."

I wish that I could make all Ainsley's wishes come true.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I was 12 years old.

I was in seventh grade and I had just started Jr. High.  It was not an easy transition for me.  I had become very shy and awkward.  My elementary school friends were moving on to boys and parties and make up.  I wasn't ready for any of those things.  I was still playing Barbies and house with my little sister.  I was still climbing trees and playing G.I. Joe in the woods with my brother.

I was crying that day.  I don't really remember why.  Could have been a number of things. 

Could have been because I always had trouble opening my locker and was often late to a class, or ended up just going without my books.

Could have been because most of my friends from the previous year were cheerleaders or volleyball players and popular now, and I was just still me.

Could have been because the boys sometimes called me 2x4.  It took me forever to figure out it was because I was still flat chested and was no where near puberty.

Whatever the reason, I remember walking into my afternoon math class, red-eyed and trying to hide from the world and hearing the teacher call my name.

"Jaime," she said as I made my way to the back of the room.

I walked over as she lifted the thin vase holding a single red rose from her desk and handed it to me.

"This is for you."

I smiled and took it to my desk.  I opened the small card and read...

"Happy Birthday Jaime.  I hope you have a wonderful day.  Love, Aunt Debby."

The rest of the day, everyone asked about the flower and I received more birthday wishes than ever before.  I don't remember what made that day so awful, but I remember what made it so great.

Today, I am 34 years old. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years

Dear Ainsley and Freddie,

Today is an important anniversary.  I don't think I can really explain it to you yet, you're still so young.  There's no way you could possibly understand the significance of this day.

Ten years ago, I was sitting in my office in Washington DC when I got an email from a coworker saying "A plane hit the World Trade Center" accompanied by an article.

I joined a bunch of my colleagues in the common room to see what was going on and I witnessed the second plane crashing into the second building.  At that point, everyone in the room got silent and we knew this was no accident.  I was driving home when the plane hit the Pentagon and I started to cry.

It's hard to explain the fear and confusion that settled into every one's bones that day.  It was like nothing I've ever experienced before or since.  For weeks and months, even years, following people were afraid of the everyday things they had done before the September 11th attacks.  Flying and airport procedure changed forever.  Going to work was different.  Saying goodbye to someone you loved meant more.

I'm not sure when I'll be able to tell you the story of that day and everything surrounding it.  How do I possibly explain the hate and evil that resides in this world?  Someday I'll have to find a way.  But for now, I'd rather you see the beauty that grew out of that day.  The community that gathered, the patriotism that sprouted, and the appreciation showed.

So today, as we remember September 11, 2001, we go shopping and watch football and eat wings and bake cookies and play and laugh and hug and sing.

That's how we honor this day...we push aside any fear and keep living.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Step In the Right Direction

People...guess what...

We have renters for our Richmond house.  I thought when this happened I'd be jumping for joy, doing back flips down the street, screaming from rooftops.  But I'm not.  I actually have a bit of an unsettled feeling.  I'm worried.  I know, shocking that I would worry!

You see we already have a rental property, and, let's can I put can I accurately describe this investment...

Oh, I know...

Oh and my favorite...

Is anyone out there a professional arsonist?  Call me ;)  Kidding...maybe.

So, to have another rental property?  Not really ideal.  But we couldn't sell and we couldn't take less than what the house was on the market for, we couldn't drop the price without paying out at closing.  Not only would that have made me supremely's impossible.  We simply don't have the money to do that.

However, I'm trying to look on the bright side.  Even though the rent does not cover our mortgage, at least it's extra money to help with it.  So, I am choosing to focus on that tidbit.

This past weekend, we emptied the house.  Actually, my mom and Charles emptied the house.  I am forever grateful for their help.  And, after emptying the truck Sunday and Monday - I am even more grateful and not sure how I could possibly repay them.  I'm pretty sure the mediocre dinner I bought them Saturday night does not cover it.

So yes, we spent most of our Labor Day weekend emptying a moving truck and trying to cram every item we own into the basement of my in-law's house.  Let me show you how it went...

After leaving the truck, each item had to

avoid the leaning poorly placed pole of doom...

To the left are stairs leading into the house.  Space to the right is limited and obscured by some concrete block.  It was like a zig zag dance with heavy furniture.

traverse the crooked uneven stairs of death...

This is not really what you want to see under your feet while balancing one end of a 100lb dresser.

Oh but they are pretty...

or really freaking scary!

and perch precariously on top of unstable towers...

This may be a fire hazard.

Why yes, some things are touching the ceiling.  Hope I don't need any of that stuff.

This is how I kept the kids occupied -


But at least the rain made it easier.

And, what makes it all worth while?  Once we get our other hellish rental property taken care of and un-empty,  we get to move out and do it all over again.

Please note intense sarcasm!

But seriously now, it is nice to have this done.  Nice that maybe we're starting to test the waters and step one foot out of limbo land.  Maybe, this muddied, overgrown path we've been lost on for almost 3 years is starting to clear up and we'll finally be able to see the light through the trees.  I hope so.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Good Morning Folks!

Good morning,

Good morning,

I love to see your face.

Good morning,

Good morning,

It's such a pretty face.

Good morning,

Good morning,

It's time to raise your head.

Good morning,

Good morning,

Get up and out of bed!

**Lyrics courtesy of my ever talented husband.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Freddie is drifting to sleep as I sit in the dark living room looking out over the front of my grandfather's property.  As a child, I spent so much time here.  Now, I'm lucky to get back once a year.  This has been my first trip back since my cousin Beverly's wedding 3 years ago.  In that time she's bought a house, had a baby and has another on the way.  Things change and move forward even when you're not present.

The big picture window in the living room looks out over the porch to the front yard and gravel drive.  Long ago, between the two giant evergreens, there was a hammock.  We would wrap ourselves in it and spin until we were sick.

There was a pool where a shed stands now.  My grandmother taught me to dive in that pool.  My uncle tossed us through the air in that pool.  My cousins and I would make whirlpools and play Marco Polo and float and splash and fight and giggle.

There was a porch swing out there, over to the right.  I remember sitting there with my mom as she explained to me that my dog had been put to sleep after being hit by a car.  I think that was the first time I understood the finality of death...that Smokey wouldn't be back.

On the left side of the porch is some lattice.  It's still there.  What's missing is the honeysuckle.  The smell wafted across the porch and into the yard.  That smell still takes me right to that green wooden porch, my spindly legs dangling off the side.  We'd pluck the flowers from the vine and inhale the sweet aroma as the velvety white petals tickled our noses.  Once the scent filled us to our toes, we'd pull the stem from the bottom and drip the sticky nectar on to our tongues.  Just a small, fleeting drop, but the sugar filled our cheeks and warmed our bellies. 

I can hear the distant echos of laughter as we run through corn fields, feed chickens and race horses.  I can feel the vibrations of a tractor through my feet and the sting of scratches on my bare skin from the hay.  I can smell the honeysuckle and stare up at millions of stars, unpolluted by city lights.

And in a moment, I am a dark living room, the only sound -  the steady breathing of my sleeping boy, who sometimes smells just like honeysuckle.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

According to Ainsley - Standing Up

As a mom, I struggle with many worries...

Are they eating enough fruits and veggies?
Did I brush their teeth well enough?
Are they getting enough sleep?
Is that runny nose leading to a cold?
Are they watching too much TV?
I forgot the vitamins again!

All of those, I feel like I can control a bit.  I can make rules about snacks, I can brush teeth again, I can set an alarm for vitamins.

But, there are some things I worry about, that I'm afraid I won't be able to control...and it's those that keep me up at night.  One thing in particular, especially with Ainsley - probably because she's a girl...

Will she be able to stand up for herself?  Will she go along, even if she knows it's wrong? 

I'm not very good at standing up for myself.  Actually, saying I'm not very good at it is a grave understatement.  I'm terrible at it.  I don't.  I am quiet, and shy, and always worried about people liking me or hating me.  If I don't talk to a friend for awhile, I'm sure I've done something to upset them.  If people are whispering, I'm sure they're talking about me.  If all attention is suddenly directed my way, I find my escape as soon as possible.

I don't want that for Ainsley.  I want her to feel confident and sure.  I want her to stand up for herself.  But how do I teach that, when I can't do it myself?

This past weekend, we spent the afternoon with some old friends.  They have a little boy just a bit younger than Ainsley.  He and Ainsley are kind of hot and cold.  I think it's a difference in personality mostly.  They were on the deck, and I'm not even sure what they were playing.  I didn't hear what was said leading up to this, but as I heard Ainsley's voice rise, I turned to see this...

Ainsley on her tip toes, towering above the boy, finger waving, yelling "NO!  I am not a horse!  I am a kid and don't you DARE speak to me that way!" With that, she spun on her toe and walked away.

I asked her later what it was all about and she said that the boy wasn't sharing so she didn't want to play with him.  Then, after explaining she said, "Oh no!  I forgot to tell him I'm sorry for yelling at him!  I will tell him next time."

So, maybe that's one less thing I need to worry about.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

According to Ainsley - Are you seriously wearing that?

Ainsley: Mommy, are we going to Daddy's birthday party?
Me: Well, it's not really a party, it's just dinner.  But yes, once we get to the house, we'll get ready and go.
Ainsley: Are you going to wear a dress?

I look down at my black skirt, black tank, and cardigan.

Me: No, I think I'll wear this.  It's kind of like a dress.  It's a skirt.
Ainsley: No Mommy, you need to wear a dress like me.  I want you to wear a dress so you can look like me.
Me: Well, I don't have that many dresses (And I think to myself I really need to do laundry).  Don't you think I look okay in this outfit?

She looks me over...uh oh.

Ainsley: Well, that is a pretty dress, but what is on your shoulders?
Me: What do you mean? My cardigan.
Ainsley: Ummm...yeah, the tardidan.
Me: Do you like it?

Ainsley scrunches up her little face and then...
Ainsley: No Mommy, no I don't.

Great! Fashion advice from a 4 year old...although I probably need it.

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
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