Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Big Move

Change is never easy.  It doesn't matter if it's something you've been working towards for a year or something you've avoided for a lifetime.  Change is hard.  And goodbyes are even harder.

Two weeks ago we emptied our townhouse in Fairfax and made the move 2 hours south to Richmond.  It is something I've wanted ever since we moved to Fairfax 6 years ago.  But my kids?  Well, they weren't looking to make any changes.

They had been through multiple goodbyes.  They had their last day at school, they had their final playdates and sleepovers with close friends, they had their last games and performances, and they spent their last day on Wedgeway place mostly at my neighbor's house.  My awesome, super-woman, neighbor who can do it all.  She kept my dogs all day while the movers loaded the truck.  She brought us lunch.  And she entertained my kids while all of their belongings were packed away.

We put the last few items in our cars and I walked over to her house to get the kids and the dogs.  I knew this would be the hardest part.  And as I watched her daughter throw her arms around Ainsley and cry, I couldn't really hold back the tears either.  I watched as two almost 10 year-olds said goodbye to their oldest friend, and it crushed me.

Ainsley didn't cry when she said goodbye to any of her other friends or at the last day of school or when we said goodbye to the townhouse.  But as we walked out the door it all came out and she climbed in the car trying hard to catch her breath.

Then, with fresh tears, I walked Freddie the opposite direction to say goodbye to his neighbor friend.  He mumbled goodbye and gave him a hug and I struggled desperately to keep it together.  As the door shut, Freddie's face crumbled and I added him to the car sobbing.

And not to be left out, Cohen picked this time to lament the loss of his daycare friends and teachers.  It was rough and in that moment I wanted to reverse it all.  Say never mind.  Unload the truck and stay in that little townhouse forever.

But you can't do that.  You can't stay in the same spot forever because change is scary and painful.  You can't avoid blooming because you're afraid to grow.

I stood in the driver's side window watching hearts break and tears fall and I wanted to take all of that pain away, but somehow in that exact same moment I knew this was exactly what we had to do.  Life does not remain static.  Life is ever evolving.  That is an agonizing, terrifying, and wonderful thing to learn.

I could keep my kids in the same spot forever, but life would still change.  Cohen would eventually leave his beloved babysitter for kindergarten.  Every year my kids get new teachers and new classmates.  A favorite neighbor or best friend could move away.  Then there is always the inevitability of a child leaving home.  Life is never going to look the same year to year,  or even day to day.  And even though that's a hard thing to move through, it's also exciting and amazing.  To know that you can move forward in life and have new experiences and unexpected adventures, but still have those people and places to return to if you want or need to.

In the two weeks since we've left the friends and school and neighbors that we know and love, we've made new friends.  We love our new house.  We've had new adventures.  It doesn't change how much we love and miss our previous life, but it doesn't mean we can't enjoy this new one.  We can do both.

Down the road, when my kids are settled and not missing Fairfax so much, I hope they remember the awesome adventure.  I hope the pain of the heartbreak fades.  And I hope they learn that good or bad, this too shall pass - so enjoy the good and don't dwell on the bad.  Life can change in a moment and it could all look different in the morning.

Friday, May 19, 2017


You would think after 9 years of writing this blog, I would run out of things to write.  Especially about Ainsley, because I've been talking about her the longest.  But my lack of posts has nothing to do with lack of material.  Really, it's all about time.  My day starts around 6:30.  I read emails while toasting bagels.  I take calls while tying shoes.  I place orders while reminding kids to pack up their bags.  Life is all about multitasking from 7-8:45 each morning.  Then work keeps me so busy...from the moment I drop off at the bus, to the moment I sprint out the door to pick them up again...that it's tough to take a moment to write anything.  And don't even get me started on the evenings.  Between homework and t-ball and baths and trying to have small quality moments with each kid before tucking them in...well, blogging is just not possible.

But, things sit on my mind and my heart.  Things that are like 4 year olds.  Sitting patiently for a small time, until they can't take the wiggly feeling anymore.  Then these things tap and poke until they are all out climbing through my soul.

Writing is so much to me.  It is my passion, my validation, my therapy.

So today I have to write.  No matter what else is going on, I have to take the time to let it out, because this thing that has been fidgeting on my heart has to come out.

I need to tell you about this girl.  I need to put it all down so I can remember.  I need to record it so she knows.  I need to freeze this moment, for any hard ones to come.

When they handed me this sweet little girl almost 10 years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I had no idea how much joy she would bring me, how I would cry for her, how my whole body would ache over her, how I could spend hours and days worrying over the tiniest thing, how looking at her sleeping face could bring tears and smiles at once, how the thought of her could warm my chest.

This girl is so special, and it is apparent to anyone who meets her.  She has a light that just bursts out of her.  If I could pick one word to describe her it would be happiness.  She is rarely sad.  She is always flexible.  She loves to laugh and sing and smile.  I look at her and am amazed by her beauty, but I am in awe of her heart.

Nothing gets this girl down.  I met with her teacher last week, because school doesn't come easy for her.  She is easily distracted and would prefer to spend her time in her own imagination than doing long division.  And I am worried for her.  I worry that it will just get harder, that middle school is just around the corner and she'll never keep up.  I worry that moving to a new school will make it worse.  But then...

Her teacher went on and on about what a wonderful girl she is, how she brings a cheeriness and fun to the classroom that a lot of kids need.  That she's the first to include anyone who's feeling left out.  How she always encourages others when they are down.  She assured me that it's not just teachers that feel this way about her...even her classmates recognize her for what she is.  And as I sat there listening to this I had to keep myself from bursting into tears, because she's right.  I fight with this girl over homework and I force her to focus on things she's not interested in, and all along, she is a light that we need in this world.

She may fall behind in school.  She may struggle with math.  But this girl is so much more than I was at 10 years old.  She is going to bring so much to this world that you can't teach, that you can't learn.  I know however she chooses to live her life, whatever she chooses to do to share with the world, she is going to bring so much sunshine to those that need it.  She already does.  It's just going to grow and blaze and shine brighter the older she gets.  I have seen her arrive in this world has a happy, easy baby.  I have seen her grow into a bright and compassionate little girl.  I am so lucky that I get to witness her transformation into a passionate woman.  That I get to watch that big heart get even bigger and stronger.

I am most grateful, above all else, that I get to bask in her light.  I always thought, and still think most of the time, that mothers teach their children.  But Ainsley has a knowledge that I don't have, and I am fortunate to have such a wonderful teacher.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Change of Plans

Twelve years ago, Clif and I moved to the Richmond area and we both thought we'd live there forever.  But, the universe doesn't always cooperate with the plans you lay out for yourselves.  Six years ago, we moved to Northern Virginia.  First in with Clif's parents, and then into a little townhouse on the western edge of Fairfax County.

Ainsley started school, Cohen was born, Freddie started school, we got involved, we moved forward, we created a whole life for ourselves here.  But...

There was always a thought to move back to Richmond.  Northern Virginia is not an easy life.  Commuting is hard. hard.  We weren't sure how we'd ever get out of the townhouse we were renting and buy our own place while still keeping our kids in the same school.  It didn't seem possible.

Eventually, we accepted that Richmond wasn't going to happen and then BOOM...that pesky universe just laughs in your face and says "You have plans, well those are not my plans!"

So this post is to tell you that the Whites are headed back to Richmond!

We are thrilled and sad all at the same time.  If you had placed this in front of me a few years ago, I would have ran there, never looking back.  But as we prepare to pack up our lives and head south, the whole thing is very bittersweet.

This is really the only home my kids have known, and they love their school, and they have friends, and I've made friends.  We will miss all of those people that we see every day at the bus stop, and every month in Girl Scout meetings, and every season at T-Ball games.  We will miss the acquaintances that have become real friends.  We will miss our school and our teachers that are top notch.

But we are excited.  Everything has fallen into place so easily so far...I mean as easy as can be expected when you are selling houses and buying houses and starting new jobs and finding new day care and registering at new schools and looking for new activities.

So I feel like the universe is leading us in the right direction.  We finally sold the house we'd been renting down there...God willing, we close on May 10th.  We bought a house.  Clif starts a new job on May 1st - meaning he will be living in Richmond full time and we will be living in Fairfax until school is out.

Lots of changes that are exciting but also very scary.  Change is so hard - good or bad.  It would be so easy to just live in our little comfortable lives forever, right?  But I guess that would also be pretty boring.

I was feeling particularly stressed recently and my mom was asking me questions over text message and I said "My life would be a lot less complicated if I just lived in this tiny townhouse forever." Yes, much less complicated.  Because buying a house is annoying and complicated, but I complain about this tiny townhouse every day.  And it would have been really easy just to sign that non-compete document at PVA.  It would have been boring and easy to stay in that job forever because I had signed my rights away.  But I would have complained about it and hated it and I would have never remembered what I liked about my old job.

So there you have it.  Keep us in your good thought's going to be a crazy ride for the next couple of months.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Last Harvest

He wakes to early morning darkness, slipping from the warmth of the bed and pulling on jeans and boots.  The dog shakes and stretches, slithering off the couch to follow at his heels.  The screen door clatters and shatters the quiet stillness, announcing that the day has begun.
The sun is not yet peeking over the world’s edge.  Mist hangs in the air, dew clings to the blades of grass.  There is a deep chill as the last wisps of summer are chased away by an early autumn.  It doesn’t matter what the calendar says, every fiber of him knows that the comfort of the warm mornings is gone.
The wind whispers around him and his companion as his boots crunch the gravel beneath.  His hands, his arms, his legs…they are strong, but used.  Worn thin, like a leather belt or the souls of your favorite shoes.  This will be the last harvest of the season and it has been a hard year.  He is no longer a young man, and maybe it is time to move on.  Leave the hard, difficult days of working the land and tending the herds to a younger body.
Though his bones creak, and his skin shrivels with each gust, he walks on, making his way to the barn.  The cows anticipate his arrival with an internal clock he’s come to know as well as his own.  Each stall unlatched after the barn gate is open and they make their way into the field, heading first for the stream before munching on the lush green buffet before them.
As the sun’s fingertips grasp the earth’s horizon, and the sky takes on that orange-purple glow, he cranks the blue tractor to life and heads toward the golden tendrils waiting for him.  The dog sits at the edge of the dirt, watching him zig-zag up and down the field.  Occasionally a rodent or cat will catch her eye, and she’ll pounce and roll only to end up back in the same spot she’s sat for years.
The sun is high and has burned the mist and dew away by the time he finishes.  The old machine is not running as well as it should be.  He smiles, thinking the same could be said for him.  
He walks the fields, checking the animals.  His rough hands grasp a handkerchief and wipe the moisture from his brow.  They are callused from turning rusty bolts with wrenches.  They are weathered from laying seeds in the thick dirt.  They are wrinkled and spotted from a full life.  But they are soft for coercing milk from a cow.  They are nimble for removing wool from a sheep.  They are gentle for pulling a colt into the world.  And it is this gentleness, this softness that makes him the farmer.  Strength is important, but it is love and tenderness that push him out the door each morning.
The warmth of the day quickly scurries off as the sun falls back to the horizon.  As the colors of the sky darken, he surveys his work.  So much left to be done.  Tomorrow maybe?  He’s running out of light.  Running out of warmth.  Running out of strength.  He sighs and thinks, never enough time.
The dog sits at his feet.  He smiles at her and says in that gruff, ragged voice that comes from a life worked outdoors, “Well Sis, I reckon that’s about all.”  And with that he makes his way back home, towards the sun, towards his rest.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Political Posts Are Just Annoying

I had trouble sleeping last night.  I kept thinking about a book I read when I was about 19 years old. It was basically about the human form of Satan being born and growing up and then rising to a status of power and eventually becoming President of the United States.  Obviously fiction.  But interesting.

I know what you're thinking...super dramatic Jaime, get over it.

Don't worry, I don't think Donald Trump is Satan!  But it's funny how that book would not leave my brain last night and I haven't thought of it in years and I can't even remember who wrote it or what it was called.  Funny how our minds work.

I don't talk politics.  If you comment on this post, I most likely will not respond.  Especially if you try and argue with me or call me an idiot.  I don't respond to crap like that. I am definitely never getting into a Facebook fight...if that ever happens, please someone slap me and delete my account forever!

It's not that I waver on what I believe or don't have strong convictions, it's just - what is the point?  There is no evidence I could provide to a homophobic person that would convince him or her that two men should be allowed to marry.  There is no story I could recite to convince a pro-life supporter of a woman's right to choose.  There is no statistic I could give to convince a gun lover to give up any of those rights.

And there is nothing, I mean nothing that I could say about Donald Trump that a Trump supporter would not argue with me about.  I care about my family and friends and I'm not interested in letting someone the likes of Donald Trump come between us.  He is not worth that.

But I won't lie, today feels...scary, sad, unsettling, defining - not necessarily in a good way.   It feels...surreal.  Like how is this possible?

I'm worried.  And I get it.  I know there are those of you that absolutely believe Obama is the Antichrist and Hillary was his lackey.  That she would have ruined us...just like I believe we are witnessing something horrible today.  I am not one of those people who believes that you are a replica of Donald Trump because you voted for him.

I just don't happen to agree with you because I don't believe those things about Obama or Clinton. I love the Obamas.  I voted for him twice...and not because I'm racist or stupid as I recently read on a bumper sticker (and seriously as a side note - WHY in the world do you say those kinds of things, it's just so ridiculous and just deepens the chasm in this country)...but because I believe in his policies and I really like him and I like that he's a role model for my children.  And now?  Well, unless he does a serious 180, I can't point to Trump and ask my kids to look up to him.  To model themselves after him.  I would have gladly pointed to Hillary Clinton and told Ainsley that she could be like her one day.

So I don't talk politics but here I am doing it...why?  And I hate reading politcal posts, I hate whey FB fills up with them.  So why would I do this?!?!?! Why have I joined the ranks of the annoying.  Because I haven't been able to write anything.  I just deleted 12 posts from my drafts box.  TWELVE!  Do you know how many people have begged me to write a new post?  I've lost count.  No matter how hard I tried to write about anything else I always came back to this.  It's just weighing on me so heavy.  So I'm hoping just dumping it and rambling about it for a few moments, I can move on.

I don't want him to fail, but I have very little faith.  I really hope he proves me wrong. I hope that in 4 years, I say, "Wow he's done so much good, I have to vote for him."

I will support him and pray for him and hope beyond my doubt that he is a good leader.  But I will fight if I have to.  I will fight every single thing he does that I think is detrimental to our country and it's people.  I'm calling my representatives today about Betsy DeVos, because I don't want my kids mixed up in anything she has to offer.  I will fight a wall.  Good grief I will go to Texas and chain myself to a bulldozer.  A wall!!!  I will stand with Muslims and homosexuals and transgenders and women and Jews and anyone who feels threatened.  I believe that this country should be a safe haven.  I believe in what it says on the Statue of Liberty.  I believe that people come here because they are looking for a better life.  And I believe that should be celebrated, not diminished.

There you have it, the one and only political post that I will most likely ever write.  You won't hear me discussing this - well maybe if I've had a few drinks and you ask the right questions.  I won't be shouting it from the roof tops.  I won't be soiling my children's minds with Donald Trump slurs.  But I will fight for my family.  I will fight for this country.  I will fight for what I believe in.

So bring it Mr. President...bring it.  I didn't vote for you, I thought you were an absolute joke, but you are my President now and I expect great things from you. So much more than anything you've done or said in the past.  We're all counting on it.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Perfect Cake

On Friday, I baked a cake.  If you know me well, you probably know that baking is not really my thing.  I make cookies with my kids and let them help me bake boxed cupcakes, because that's what moms are supposed to do.  I don't really enjoy it that much.  And baking from

It's too precise.  I don't have the patience.  Rarely do I have an hour or more to dedicate to the creation of sweet, baked goods.

But, last week was also my birthday.  And this summer, my aunt gave me my grandmother's birthday cake recipe.  In her handwriting.  Framed.  The most weep-worthy gift I can remember receiving in a long time.

And this's my whole childhood.  It's part of every birthday, every celebration, every family get together.  It recalls memories of gentle hand slaps as I tried to swipe the icing with my fingertip, smiles from my grandmother as she shooed me away, and laughter as we sat around enjoying the treat.

I had decided weeks before that I'd make it for my birthday.  But just so happens that my birthday always falls at a bad time.  Back to school.  And this particular year...Back to School Night.  So it had to wait a few days.

Friday morning, after dropping the kids off, I went to the store to buy real sugar, white flour, and Crisco.  Things I haven't bought in a long time.  And that afternoon I set out following directions to a tee.  Sifting flour and cocoa together three times.  Adding only one egg at a time until it was fully immersed in the batter.  Adding baking soda to freshly brewed coffee and watching it foam up the sides of the measuring cup.  Whisking continuously until the flour thickened the milk.  Waiting 5 minute for the vinegar to sour the milk.

So many times I wanted to cheat.  Is it really necessary to add eggs individually?  Sifting?  Really, is it needed?  Sour milk?  Wouldn't regular milk do?

But I didn't.  I took every step as my grandmother had laid it out.  Waited each time she asked. Alternated ingredients each time she instructed.

It took me an hour.  An hour before baking.  I'm not sure I've ever spent an hour baking one thing.  Especially not a cake for myself.  But as I was sifting and whisking and alternating I thought a lot of my grandmother.  She was so patient and seemed to take her time with everything.  At a time when conveniences and time savers were at a minimum, she seemed to enjoy the long tasks of shucking corn and canning vegetables.  She could be found weeding her garden most spring days.  If she wasn't home, she might be picking berries to make jam later that day.

I rarely have that kind of patience.  I won't make a recipe that has more than 5 ingredients or takes longer than 30 minutes.  My house is only kind of clean most of the time because I don't scrub grout with toothbrushes or dust picture frames.  And it is a rare, RARE occasion that I move furniture to vacuum.

But Friday, I made myself enjoy it.  And I did enjoy it.  I performed each task meticulously and checked each direction thrice.  Friday I had the time.  Friday was my last day of unemployment.  I had spent the last 6 weeks cleaning and organizing and playing with my kids and working out and maybe binging a few Neflix shows.  And Friday was my last day of nothingness.  The kids were all in school.  No chores.  I finished House of Cards on Netflix.  So what else could I do but bake the perfect cake?

Tomorrow I go back to work.  I go back to a previous employer in a town I used to live in.  Tomorrow I go back to the craziness of juggling work and school and activities and me time.  But Friday?  Friday was all about the cake and making it just right and seeing to it that my grandmother gets to touch my kids life in some way.  And after all of the instructions and time it took to create, it was perfect.  Exactly as I remembered.  And I know my grandmother would be happy to see me enjoy every moment it took to get there.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Summer Flies

Is it seriously August?  I always look so forward to summer.  No strict school/homework schedule.  We kind of bail on extra activities to free up our evenings.  But between different camps and visits with relatives and family reunions and beach trips and weddings...the summer just flies by.

I think I last wrote on Cohen's birthday and so much has happened since then.  SO MUCH!!

Let's see.  We went to the beach.  It was not our typical beach trip with extended family, in a big house, in South Nags Head, for a whole week.  Instead it was 5 days, in a hotel, in Kill Devil Hills.  And it was just the 5 of us.  It was nice to have a vacation with just us.  Not that we don't love the big family trips, those are awesome.  But it was low key and relaxing to just do our own thing for a few days.  It was expensive, since we had to pretty much eat out every meal.  The hotel was, ehh.  I guess what you get with a beach hotel.  The beach was crowded.  But we had such a great time.  We had one day where the water was so calm and shallow that the kids played all day and there was no worry about waves or riptides.  We played putt putt and ate crab legs and drove bumper boats and had fun drinks.  I would have loved for it to last a few more days.

Then we celebrated Ainsley's 9th birthday.  I'm not even sure how that is possible.  She is growing up so fast and everyday I'm slapped in the face with the realization that she's that much closer to being a teenager and an adult.

We are skipping parties this year so we took a couple of friends to Chuck E Cheese and then out for ice cream.  Then we had dinner at a hibachi place.

Next we headed to North Carolina for our annual family reunion.  My dad is one of 7 siblings.  The alternate locations every year so the planning falls on each of them once every 7 years.  My dad is not in the best position to throw a family reunion for 50 people, so my sister and I took it on this year.  I got to spend the whole week with my two nephews (one of them just a few weeks old) and my sister.  And we shopped and cooked and cleaned all in preparation for the arrival of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  The reunion was great and I think everyone had a great time.

Then Monday it was back to camps and work and reality.  And back to a big decision that we had to make.  Let me take a step back.

About three weeks ago the organization I work for presented me with a non disclosure/non compete agreement.  Originally they had wanted it signed  by the following Friday.  Due to questions and issues, it got put off a few times.  I spoke to a lawyer and some HR people and some recruiters about the document.  And here is what I gathered from all of that.  It was enforceable and it was very broad.  It would have definitely limited my employment opportunities after I chose to leave my job.  It would have also limited my employability if I was let go from my job.  Usually these types of agreements are given to high level people (which I am not) and are used to deter the sharing of proprietary information (which I don't have).  It is also usually presented upon employment and can be used to negotiate pay and severance packages.  The organization would not even consider a bonus or a pay raise tied to it.

Monday was the deadline for signing and I chose not to sign.  I was then told that I was no longer employed with the organization.

So boom!  I am unemployed.  Yesterday was a tough day, but I think that had more to do with my lack of sleep than not having a job.  Today is better.  But it is a strange feeling, not having work to do.   I've either been working or in school since I was 15.  And to be basically fired?  Wow.  That's new too.  I've never left somewhere like that.  I'm friends with all of my old employers and coworkers.  Seems like that won't be happening this time.  Supervisors are not so happy with me.  The organization apparently couldn't care less about me.  But it is what it is and I don't regret my decision at all.  I'd rather take my changes now without restriction than sign a document that would completely tie my hands.

It's hard to know what to do with myself, but I will work out and clean my house and do some projects I haven't had time for and look for something new.  From the very start of all of this I've felt like it's one of those "a door shuts but a window opens" situations.  I've been looking to leave my job for awhile, but haven't managed to gain the nerve to do it.  So really, though it's hard to be so idle, I'm glad and I'm not worried.  I know I'll figure something out.

And that about catches you up on all the happenings.
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