Saturday, December 18, 2010


It’s 3:14am, I have a cold, and should be sound asleep. This sinus headache seems to want us to be partying, so here I am, surrounded by Kleenex, blogging away.

Being sick when you have two small children and a husband to take care of is no fun at all. The other night, I thought I was coming down with the full-blown flu, but luckily, it has turned into a nasty cold. Lesser of two evils, right?

Honestly, though. When you’re a mom, and you’re sick, there are no sick days. Life must go on, and little people can’t take care of themselves. Well, if they’re five going on twenty-five, they THINK they can take care of themselves, but they can’t. Anyway, I’m just really thankful for Trader Joe’s, who made it possible for me to fake a home cooked meal in a total of 6 minutes. Teriyaki chicken, fried rice, and green beans. Thanks, TJ’s!

Moving on.

Yesterday, I had the rare privilege of time alone with just Ava. She got out of school on Wednesday, but Davis had his last day yesterday. Now that she’s in school five days a week, I just don’t get that much one-on-one time with her except when Davis is napping. I had forgotten how EASY she really is. Sure, we have lots of drama, but I can take her places, or go out to lunch with her, and we both really cherish the time together. We started our morning with a trip through the Krispy Kreme drive-thru, then proceeded to the mall for some more Christmas shopping. We only had one dramatic moment: I had promised that we could go to the Disney Store and Build-a-Bear, and we worked those stops into the middle of the rest of the shopping. She loved it, and I was impressed that she didn’t even ask for one single item. Once her stores were done, though, her feet suddenly hurt SO bad, and she felt that she could hardly walk another step. I called her out on being fine until her stores were done, and she said, “I knew you would say that!”

We made it through the drama, though, and ended up having a great time.

I’m finally starting to feel a little sleepy again, so I’ll sign off here, and leave you with our Christmas card photo:


Thursday, December 9, 2010


Like the rest of the country, we are in the midst of an arctic blast here in NC. Here’s photographic evidence:


I had to make a run to Old Navy the other day to get winter accessories for the kids. Ava, as you can see, loves her new hat, scarf, and gloves. Now, I bought gloves rather than mittens thinking that it would be easier for playing. Her class actually goes outside in these frigid temps. What I didn’t realize is that 5-year-olds struggle a bit when it comes to getting their fingers correctly placed into gloves. And by “a little”, I mean a LOT. Our already-hurried mornings are now delayed a couple of minutes more by this winter gear, and particularly the gloves. Next time, we’re back to mittens.

The little guy has mittens, of course, but he won’t wear them. In fact, I can’t even get them on his hands. Luckily, we spend most of the time indoors or in the car, so it’s fine. He is excellent about keeping the hood of his coat on, so I take comfort in knowing that his little noggin is warm.

The other apparel problem I’ve encountered (besides the fact that I have nothing to wear) is that I don’t seem to have a very warm coat. However, those nice folks at Lands End decided to put just about all of their outerwear on sale AND offer an additional 25% off, so I ordered myself a down coat. I’m sure I will look something like a marshmallow in this:


It looks warm, though, and for now, that works. I mean, if it’s 30 degrees and it’s not even officially winter, I’m going to need something, right? And seriously, after all discounts were applied, I think it was like $38. Bargain.

My other issue with the chill is that it has completely zapped my motivation for all physical activity. Running outside? Nope. Too cold, and I don’t have appropriate winter running clothes. Gym at 5:30am? No, thanks. Don’t want to drive there in 16 degrees. So you see? I will apparently become morbidly obese should this weather continue. Obviously, I MUST find my workout mojo again before this happens.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Despite the fact that I am 100% NOT pregnant, I’m in a nesting mood. Yesterday I spent the afternoon rearranging my den. I think I moved my sofa four times before settling on a new location that works. I had it in my mind that after so much moving of furniture, NOTHING would end up back in its original spot. I like the new arrangement, and if I get around to getting my camera out, I might show you some pictures. The problem is that I still need to have a chair reupholstered, have new pillows made for the sofa, and window treatments, too. I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and consult a professional, because I don’t want to get it wrong. I just don’t trust my own taste enough. So, we’ll see what happens there. Merry Christmas to me, right?

Continuing in my domestic fury, I have spent the better part of today cooking. I managed to make Ina Garten’s (you know, The Barefoot Contessa) tomato basil soup, as well as a white bean and chicken chili. (Please note that if you decide to make this soup, make sure you use the proper amount of crushed red pepper, and don’t just dump like, a tablespoon of it in accidentally. I’m just going to mention that it will make your soup very spicy. Even if you try really hard to take out the excess pepper flakes.)

The soup is for my lunches the rest of the week,and the chili is for dinner tonight. For all of us, not just the grown ups. I have declared this a No Kid Food house, as of this week. I am just so over cooking dinner for the kids at 5:30 and then cooking for us at 8pm. So, now the kids are offered the same things we’re having. If they like it, great. If not, too bad. It seems like a tough approach, but honestly, I never got a separate dinner, and I'm happy to report that I’m a pretty adventurous eater. The best part of this new plan is that I’m forced to get our dinners prepared in the afternoons, when Davis is napping, so that hungry, tired kids can eat when they need to, and the adults can eat later. It’s a good system, freeing up some time for me in the evenings, which I like.

Okay, so. Soup and chili are made, kitchen is (mostly) clean. Now I just need to start decorating for Christmas. Last year, something really big and extraordinary happened. I did the unthinkable and bought a pre-lit Christmas tree. Oh, it was such a glorious day. I had fought the urge for years and years, and then finally, I just got fed up with strapping the tree to the top of the car, stringing up all the lights (well, okay, the Husband did these things, but still). We got an amazing deal on a 9’ faux Frazier Fir, and I love, love, love it. It is so nice to know that this year, all we have to do is haul Frazier down from the attic, assemble his 3 pieces, and add ornaments. It really is a huge relief.

One more thing. I somehow got suckered in to hosting appetizers for a neighboorhood progressive dinner this Friday night. I have a babysitter coming to the house to watch the kids while we entertain and then progress to the other houses. Now I just need to come up with a few good h’ours d’ourves, and maybe a festive holiday cocktail.  (Pomegranate Martinis?) For some reason, h’ours ‘dourves are my weak point in cooking, and I just don’t know what do have. There will be a main dish and a dessert and the later houses, so I don’t want to totally fill everyone up. I’m really thinking I’ll just go to Costco and see what already-prepared deliciousness I can pass off as my own. Any ideas from you guys?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Remembering what it’s all about

I posted something a few minutes ago, but it turned out to be the wrong video. So, if you subscribe to me via email, you may get back-to-back emails. sorry.


I usually try to keep it light over here at the Mean Mom Chronicles, but I saw this video last night, and I had to share it.

It’s from a group called Advent Conspiracy, and they want us to get back to the real meaning of Christmas.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Despite the fact that it’s still warm enough for me to run in shorts, and my kids rarely wear jackets or coats, it seems that Christmas is just around the corner. That means, if you want any hot toys for your kids, you better do your shopping yesterday.

I’m making a  concerted effort this year to cut back on the volume of gifts, and focus instead on quality. This morning I put away the horrible plastic toy vanity that Ava got when she was 3, and I cursed the makers of cheap, brightly colored plastic toys.(Little Tykes, I’m talking to you). I really don’t want any more junk coming into my house, and quite frankly, my kids don’t need anything. I am keenly aware of this point, and yet, I know that Christmas will turn into a bit more of an extravaganza than I am planning. Especially when the grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. all start their gifting.

We really don’t buy a lot for our kids during the year. Sure, they get a few things here and there, but they aren’t TOTALLY spoiled with toys. (I know my mother would disagree here, but she should see what other kids have. Mine are downright deprived in comparison.)

So, now that you’re on the edge of your seat, here’s a sampling of what the kids are getting this year:

Ava wants an American Girl doll. In particular, Emily:


Apparently, she also wants some outfits for Emily, and has requested that she and Emily get matching outfits. It’s a shame I can’t sew. American Girl likes to charge a pretty penny for those outfits. She really hasn’t asked for anything else, though, so I think it will be an American Girl Christmas.

She also wants books, and is currently in love with Junie B. Jones. I am not in love with Junie B. She uses words that are banned in my house (like the very risque “stupid”) and speaks with so many grammatical errors it makes my head spin. I am never one to discourage a good reading habit, though, so Junie B. it is. I also picked up the latest Fancy Nancy book at Costco:

fancy nancy

I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more small items for Ava. It’s hard to really know what she’s into these days. She likes games, crafts, books, but actual toys aren’t so popular. Oh, I almost forgot. I think she’s getting a new scooter. In pink, of course:


On to Davis. We already picked up a train table for him at Costco. It was a good deal, and it will probably be just as popular with Ava as it will Davis. It’s this one, or at least a simlar one:


I am also getting him somthing called Stinky the Garbage Truck. Again, this may be more popular with Ava. It does some kind of crude things, like eat matchbox cars and expel them out his back end, but for some reason, I find him kind of endearing.


I may also get him Chuck the Truck:



He’ll get some books, too. And maybe some toy tools. Because he’s a boy. I’ve spent the last 5 years buying princesses, and I’m actually kind of excited to get some boy gear up in here. Don’t worry, though. I’m sure Santa will bring Ava something from Disney’s newest princess, Tangled.

I always struggle with what to buy The Husband. He hardly ever buys stuff for himself, and I just want to get him something fun, that he wouldn’t buy for himself. I’m debating a Wii (because we live in the dark ages and don’t have one), because  I think Ava is old enough for it, too, and I think the 2 of them would enjoy playing it together. Since he doesn’t read my blog, I trust you all to keep this potential purchase a secret. Shhhhhh….

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Battleship Half Marathon, part II

Sorry to leave you on the edge of your seat before. It was time to pick up Ava from school.

Where were we? Oh, yes. Scared to death. I carbed up Saturday night, because that is apparently what you are supposed to do when you are going to run a long race. I had pasta and bread. And lots of water. I spent the evening making a new playlist, then getting everything ready for the next morning. We were lucky to be getting an extra hour of sleep since it was time to fall back, but I was too anxious to get great sleep. I think I did manage about 7 hours, though, so that was good.

I got up and had a light breakfast of toast with peanut butter and banana, along with a small cup of coffee. (You’ll forgive me if I don’t elaborate on why I didn’t want to have my usual 2 cups of coffee.) We headed out at 7am, got parked, took some pictures, and headed for the trolley line. The race started and finished at the North Carolina Battleship Memorial, and parking there is limited. So, they had water taxis and trolleys. Due to the sub-40-degree temps, we opted for the trolley.

Here we are waiting – that’s me on the left, Katie, and her friend (and now mine) Pam – in the Hilton lobby:


So, we get over to the Battleship, and there isn’t much time to kill before we start, which I think is a good thing. There were about 1500 runners, along with some walkers who had started an hour earlier than us.

We line up, and bam, it’s time to run. Immediately, my nerves dissipated, and I felt ready to run. We started out very slowly, because in a group of nearly 1500, it takes a little while for the crowd to disperse and spread out.

Immediately upon exiting the Battleship area, we turned onto the highway (421 maybe?) and headed up a long and hilly bridge. It was the first of 3. I took it slow and still felt strong. My playlist started out with “Like a G6”, which is just a great race day song. The good tunes kept coming. Like I said, the playlist was new, and it was great not to know which songs were coming up. I had 3 hours of music at the ready, and I was feeling good.

Before I knew it, I looked down and we had been running 25 minutes. I was nearly 3 miles in. At this point, we were running on cobblestone, which was a bit uncomfortable, but it didn’t last long. I was wearing long sleeves, with a tank top underneath, and by mile 4, I was hot. I somehow managed to unpin my race number, re-pin it to my tank top, remove my iPod arm band, take off my long sleeved shirt, tie it around my waist, and re-secure my iPod, all while still running. Sadly, while doing this, I somehow paused the timer on my Garmin (GPS running watch), and I didn’t notice it for about 1/2 mile. So, from 5 mile point on, my watch was about 1/2 mile and 5 minutes behind. Better behind than ahead, though.

We trekked on, and I just kept feeling so good. So strong. I couldn’t believe I was running a half marathon. There were several points in the race where I almost started crying, not because I was sad, or because it was hard, but because it was just that emotional. Or cathartic, maybe. Whatever it was, the whole thing was a pretty big deal to me.

Between miles 5 and 7, my feet were hurting. Especially my right foot. It had given me a few problems during my 10- mile run, and I learned on that run that stopping makes it worse. So, I powered through. After a little while, my foot either went totally numb, or the pain just went away. Thank goodness.

Before long, I passed the sign indicating that we had finished 7 miles. The second I saw that sign, “99 Problems” by Jay-Z came on my iPod, and I just took off. I could see from my time that I was on track not only to make my goal time of 2 hours, 15 minutes, but maybe even to beat it.

Miles 9-11 were the hardest, physically and mentally. My legs were tired, and I kept seeing people around me walking. And then, around mile 12, we had two big hills. BIG. But the end was in sight, and I was not about to slow down. “Empire State of Mind” was playing, and I was thinking about all those NYC Marathoners, the Chilean miner who was running, and I knew I couldn’t stop until I crossed the finish line. So, after 2:07:54, I finished. I was shocked that I had beat my goal time. And I beat it by almost 8 minutes! Aside from the 2 children I birthed, I don’t know that I have ever felt prouder of myself than I did after that race. It was truly exhilerating. And I loved it.

Here are a few post-race shots. Please note that in addition to our nice medals, we were also awarded beer.



While I can promise you that I will not do a full marathon, I will definitely do another half-marathon sometime. Which means that I’ll keep running. But I still don’t think of myself as a runner. Isn’t that silly?

Battleship Half Marathon, part 1

So sorry for my absence of late. Lots and lots going on around here, I guess. Of course, none of it is all that exciting. None, that is, except for this little 13.1 mile run I did on Sunday.

Now, for some of you more athletic types, this may not seem like such a big deal. But for me, it was quite a feat. I have never been a runner. I have always capital-letters LOATHED running. I could never understand why running just seemed to come so easily for some, but was such a challenge for me. I could always go and work hard in some gym class for an hour, but run a mile? No, thanks.

But after Davis was born, I wasn't able to get to the gym a whole lot. I knew I needed to get the baby weight off, and my dear friend Katie had recently taken up running. She and I had always shared a mutual hatred of the sport, and I think we have similar fitness levels, so I started feeling kind of motivated to give it a try. Plus, despite how much I hated it, I really wanted to find out if I could learn to like running a little. Or at least not feel as though I was going to die 2 minutes in.

I guess it was last fall that I really started running regularly. I didn’t have a plan. I just ran, then walked when I needed to. Next thing I knew, I was regularly running 3 miles. Then 4. And even 5. I think it was back in May that I did 6 for the first time, and that was huge for me. It never really got easy. Just easiER.

At the end of the summer, Katie told me she wanted to do the Battleship Half Marathon in Wilmington. I knew I wanted to try that distance, so I decided I’d sign up and train. Katie already had one half marathon under her belt, and she was a huge motivator for me.

So, twelve weeks of training later, the big day arrived. We decided a while back to make a girls’ weekend of it, and it was so nice to get away. We shopped, we dined out, we just did what we wanted. But by Saturday afternoon when we went to pick up our race packets, I was so nervous. I didn’t think I would make it. The weather was cold, my last long run had not really gone well, and I just didn’t think I was prepared.

Here we are after picking up our packets and getting our numbers. Note nervous smile. And wind. Lots of wind.


To be continued…..

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Modern Weather, apparently

Yesterday was a long, long day. I was at home with two sick kids, and by the time evening rolled around, I just wanted to settle down, relax, and watch “Modern  Family.” But nooooo. My local ABC affiliate had other ideas. A tornado had been spotted about 4 counties away, so they deemed it necessary to show 28 minutes of coverage. Would the crawl at the bottom of the screen not suffice?

While I’m on the subject, I think that the local networks just like to show off all their nerd weather technology. Like, “oooohhh…..look, viewers! We can get you all the way to a street-level view on our weather map!” And, I also think there’s a conspiracy among meteorologists to have big viewership numbers, so if they preempt ABC’s most popular comedy, they draw many viewers. Angry viewers, but viewers nonetheless.

Also, we recently switched cable providers and have brand-spankin’-new DVR that is EMPTY. As in, no 3-week backlog of shows! But, that also means that until we fall behind, we’re kind of stuck watching live tv. The horror! And with the tornado knocking out my favorite Wednesday show, The Husband switched it to the most dreaded sport of all. That’s right: baseball. Call me un-American, but I. Hate. Baseball. It is so boring! I can enjoy it if I’m there (concession stand!), but at home? No thank you.

Okay. Back to my LONG day. I’ve got 2 sick kids, and made a second trip to the doctor in as many days. First trip was on Tuesday, for Davis. Seems he has an ear infection and bronchitis. I’m a little miffed about the ear infection, because we dropped about two grand last winter to have tubes put in his sweet little ears. Apparently, tubes are now tube. Singular. As in, only in one ear. So, he’s all drugged up and on the mend.

Ava started complaining that evening that her eye was hurting. It was red and puffy, and when she woke up yesterday morning, it was crusted shut. Classic pinkeye. So, back to the doctor, where my kids behaved like jungle animals, and we were given eye drops.

I should mention that Ava has had pinkeye before, so is familiar with the whole eye drop process. It’s been a couple of years, though, so maybe her memory is not clear. There was a bit of, um, apprehension about the drops. In fact, I pretty much chased her around the house for half an hour trying to get her to let me put them in. Then I tried reasoning with her, explaining that if she wants to go back to school, go to her Halloween party, etc, she needs the drops. I may have threatened loss of eye, but I can’t remember. Finally (and I promise I am not exaggerating), I had to straddle my poor daughter, pinning her arms under my legs, and administer the drops (one in each eye) that way. It felt downright abusive. When we were finished, she said, “I feel like I want to hit you right now.” If I hadn’t been so exasperated, I might have laughed at that.

Luckily, round 2 of drops went much better last night. I’m dreading the fact that we have to give them for 7 days. Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Daughter = Friend

For the second weekend in a row, I have played the role of the single mom. The Husband has had golf trips the last TWO weekends. Now, I don’t know this wife of his, but, man, she is the nicest woman EVER. The back-to-back weekends may have been the cause of some of my bitterness the last few days. And, it didn’t really help that The Husband left on Friday and took my keys with him. As in, the keys to my car. And my house. And my life. And no, for the record, I do not have a spare set. (But that is on the list of to-do’s). I’ll spare you the long story, but I did get my keys back. I had some not-so-nice words, though. I mean, really not nice.

So, now we’re coming to the end of weekend #2 of single parenting. And it’s been fine, thanks to my parents who came down to watch the kids so that I could run 10 miles. But, as luck would have it, Davis has come down with a nasty cold, and was literally up every 30 minutes last night from 10 until 2:30am. And this morning, he and Ava are driving me up a wall a little  bit.

I had my kids 3.5 years apart for a reason: I didn’t really want 2 toddlers at the same time. Oddly, the thing that has happened is that Ava likes to imitate her baby brother. This means when he does something like, oh, drip milk from his sippy cup onto the table, she does the same thing. Or, if he starts beating a drumstick (from the toy music kit, not an actual chicken leg) on the kitchen table, she does, too. Now, the interesting thing is that she NEVER did things like that when she was a toddler herself. Besides her Oscar-worthy tendencies toward the dramatic (tantrums, anyone?), she has always been extremely well-behaved and mindful. I guess the good thing is that she and Davis play really well together, and they play all the time. I think they actually love each other. Crazy, right? I just hope it lasts.

Now, when Ava isn’t trying to relive her glory days, it turns out she makes a pretty good companion to me. When The Husband is away, I find myself putting her to bed later, and just kind of enjoying having her around. She’s pretty easy when she’s being easy. And all of a sudden, she seems SO grown up to me. I know it’s too early to think about next school year, but it sometimes shocks me to think I have a potential first-grader on my hands. That can’t be right. I actually REMEMBER first grade. Like it was only a few years ago. Geez.

So, even though I don’t really like having to single-mom it all weekend, it’s never as bad as I think it’s going to be. Besides, The Husband felt pretty bad about having 2 golf weekends in a row AND taking my keys. In fact, he felt so bad, that he bought me the bag I’ve been craving. Small price to pay for TWO guys’ weekends in a row. Small price to pay.

Oh, one more thing. I have this little half marathon thing I’m running in 2 weeks. And as I’ve mentioned before, I’m tired of all my music. So I run to NPR podcasts. But I don’t think those will pump me up during the race. I’d love to hear anyone’s suggestions for a good playlist. Don’t be ashamed about your selections. I have actually seen Britney Spears in concert, so I don’t discriminate.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mean Wife Chronicles?

It came to my attention today that yesterday’s post was perhaps a little mean. I would like to state here, in a very official manner, that I harbor no ill will toward The Husband. I have nothing but love for him. That just doesn’t mean I don’t get to gripe a little. Or a lot. Whatever.

I think I’ll spare you all the details on the latest drama, or perhaps save it for a later date. It’s a doozy, though.

We’ve had a big week around here, though, and I think most of the work is done. Today, however, there were probably 15 workers here at one time. Did I mention that I live in about 1900 square feet? Less that that if you don’t count the bonus room, which we never really even use. Today we stared out with drama (see above…I’m building up the suspense, aren’t I?). Then came the general contractor, painters, a carpenter, some men putting a vapor barrier under the house, the cable guy, and a gaggle of landscapers. I mean, that is a LOT of people. In the midst of all of it, I did manage to organize my laundry room (for the zillionth time. It is truly the get-this-out-of-sight-for-now-and-clean-it-up-later catch-all room these days). The house generally feels dirty and dusty from all the work this week. It’s almost all done, I think. Someone is coming back Monday morning to replace a rotten door. And maybe start on the backsplash. But that’s still not a definite. Waiting on the price.

Speaking of price, when it comes to house stuff, I have no clue what things SHOULD cost. It came to my attention today that we need to replace the afore-mentioned rotten door, so I did the obligatory, “well, how much will that be?”, and quite frankly, I knew I would give him the green light if it just SEEMED reasonable, because I have no clue what a door should cost, and no time to research it.

Enough house stuff.

We  went to the State Fair last night. What a people-watching event that was. Wow. I don’t really know where all these people hole up the rest of the year, but when the Fair comes to town, they come out in droves. I don’t even know what the highlight was. Maybe the mullet-sporting 9-year-old? I mean, mullets really do trump just about anything else you see, don’t they?

Oh, but one thing I would be remiss not to mention. Ava had to go to the bathroom at the Fair. And what could be worse than a public restroom at the Fair? Well, I’ll tell you what’s worse: the bathroom had an attendant on duty. And there was a sign in the bathroom letting us know about that. Except it said “Attendant on doodie.” Seriously. SERIOUSLY.

Despite (or due to) the freakshow, we had a good time. For the first time, Ava rode lots of rides, and even did so by herself. If you know my daughter, you know that this is quite an accomplishment. Davis just wanted to run around, so he wasn’t all that happy to be in the stroller. He did eat his first ever pink hot dog, though. Gross. But necessary, I suppose. It was the Fair, after all. Still, my stomach turns a little just thinking about it.

Speaking of Davis, I will leave you with this: he has started talking. A lot. Except he talks kind of funny. Like, you would NEVER know what he’s saying. Ava and I can understand him, though, and we frequently quiz him on his vocab skills. So here are his words:

  • Ava          pronounced “Ah-dah”
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Sister       pronounced “sis-EEE”
  • Up (along with “up we go”)
  • Down  (and “down we go” or “down go”)   
  • Truck (“buck”)
  • Thank you
  • Eat
  • What’s that
  • Who’s that

There are more, but I won’t bore you with them all. He pretty much runs his little mouth all the time, and I have no idea what he’s talking about. We just go with it, though. Oh, and he likes to bark every time he sees a dog. Of course.

He’s also sporting a bit of a surfer-dude hairstyle these days, which is getting chopped on Tuesday. I’m trying hard not to be sad, but I will likely shed some tears if those sweet curls disappear.

Almost bedtime. And I still need to watch a couple of DVRd episodes of The Office and 30 Rock. (Did you all see the live episode of 30 Rock a couple of weeks ago? SO good! And Jon Hamm was on! Love!!!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getaway….then a reality check

Last weekend, The Husband and I had a chance to get out of dodge for the weekend and enjoy  some much-needed couple time. Yesterday was our 8th anniversary, so we celebrated early at Bald Head Island.


If you haven’t been there, you need to add it to your list of places to visit. You have to take a ferry to get there (that’s us on the ferry above), and there are no cars allowed on the island. Everyone drives golf carts, and there really isn’t much in the way of things to do. There’s a little market, a few shops, the beach, a golf course, and beautiful maritime forest (please note that “maritime” is a pretty new addition to my vocabulary).

For us, the weekend involved getting our golf cart stuck on a 2x4 (within 30 minutes of arriving), and then being rescued by a random couple. Random couple turned out to be not so random, and in fact The Husband’s old Boy Scout leader. Seriously. Well, not the whole couple. But the man. So, the rescue and subsequent recognition of one another resulted in an invitation to come over to their house for drinks. They had a merry bunch with them, about half of whom we actually knew, so we had fun.

Now, these folks were all about 15-30 years older than us, and intrigued with technology. While they were so nice and fun to be with, I was amused when one of them just randomly brought out their iPad and started gazing at the stars with it, using some stargazing app. The funny thing was that on an island with no cars and regulations preventing you from using any porch lights, you get a pretty darn good view of the stars. Like, really, really good. So I just couldn’t really see why we would want to look at an iPad screen rather than the real thing. But I’m strange like that.

The iPad owner also felt it necessary to show me a few YouTube clips, including such classics as “Charlie Bit My Finger” and the roller skating Evian babies. And then there was some video involving a cat. Of course.

Luckily, the wine was flowing, so You Tube was tolerable.

The rest of the weekend involved a couple of bike rides, lunch on the water, some time on the beach, an 8.5 mile run (for me, not The Husband), reading on the screened porch, eating Sweet Sixteen powdered donuts (it was vacation, after all), and perfecting my golf cart driving skills. It was so nice to get away.

The return, however, was not the homecoming I envisioned. A friend of mine mentioned to me recently that anytime you leave town without your kids, you pay a big price when you get back. That was certainly true in this case. Ava hardly greeted us, and  Davis just didn’t know what to think. And when the grandmothers left, it was bedlam. Ava cried for a good 90 minutes. Davis was fine, but exhausted. Both kids were asleep by 7:15pm. Frankly, I wasn’t far behind them. Today was the first day that Ava was back to her version of normal, and I no longer felt that I was being punished for leaving her. That might have something to do with my threat to keep her home from school the next time she acts up.

For now, I will leave you with a good little Ava-ism: we stopped at J.Crew tonight to get her a headband (photo below). As we were leaving, I said, “Ava, I really like that headband. It’s very cute on you.” Her response? “Thanks, Mommy. That’s kind of the point of headbands.”


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ch-ch-ch changes….

We’re getting ready to do a little work on our house. Nothing too exciting, but stuff that just needs to be done. We’re getting all of our interior trim painted (Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White, which is VERY white, and will hopefully really pop). We’re also having our bonus/guest room painted, and I’m completely torn on colors, but I’m trying not to stress about it. I’m also hoping to have a tile backsplash installed in my kitchen. We’re waiting on the estimate for that to see if it fits in the budget. My guess it that it fits in my budget, but not the husband’s. He keeps mumbling stuff like “might as well line the whole house in gold bricks at this point.” Hmph. Men. He also doesn’t understand my need for $225 shoes, so how can I truly expect him to understand house stuff?

Anyway, I want a backsplash in white subway tiles. Like this:


subway tiles1 or this: subway-tile-kitchen-backsplash

Sadly, I’d also like to go ahead and get rid of our white appliances and upgrade to stainless, but that is most definitely NOT in the budget. So, hopefully the backsplash is.

Anyway, the husband sings his own praises when it comes to painting. And I wanted to have our entrance hall painted, too. Since it’s a small space, he decided he’d do it himself. And he did. He did a great job. I’ll say, however, that it was my addition of a second coat yesterday that was really the icing on the cake. So here’s the before and after:

Before: (boring, boring, boring)


And after (Benjamin Moore Algonquin Trail in eggshell):


Much better. Although we still need to figure out what’s going back on the wall.

Now. Change #2. I used to have a dining room. Well, I guess technically I still have a dining room. It just doesn’t serve the purpose for which it’s named anymore. Unless perhaps you cook a meal in a small, pink kitchen: (WARNING: I made no attempt to make this look nice before photographing it. This is real life. Don’t say I didn’t warn you).


We have a bonus room. It’s upstairs, and the rest of the house is downstairs. As in, bonus room is the ONLY upstairs room. And while it’s okay for a 5 year old to play up there alone, I can not trust my 18-month-old to be unsupervised there. Like, even for a second. Because he would likely catapult himself from the sofa or something equally life-threatening. The child has no regard for his own safety.

So, we had this dining room, filled with my grandparents old furniture. And it looked pretty nice. But we NEVER used it. Never. I can count on one hand the number of meals we’ve eaten in the dining room in the last 8 years. So, we made the decision to bring most of the bonus room toys downstairs. And you know what? The kids love it. They act like they have never seen these toys in their life.

And yes, my poor son plays in a pink kitchen. (What? You think I would buy a new one just to help with his manliness? The child also rides in a pink floral carseat. PINK. I think it’s character-building).

Here’s something else that toddler boys who have big sisters do:

First, get out your sister’s Belle doll (good thing she’s at school, because this is a completely prohibited activity otherwise):


Then, go in for a closer look:


Niiiiccceee. No, I don’t think the pink kitchen is interfering with his manliness one bit.


Monday, September 27, 2010

A girl after my own heart….

On Saturday, I went out with just Ava for a little trip to Target and Barnes & Noble. Being my daughter, Ava spent about 30 minutes in Target trying on shoes. I didn’t coerce her into this activity. It’s just one of her favorite things to do. Remember, this is the girl who will wear every piece of jewelry she owns. At one time. So, the try-on-athon ended, and we were good girls, only purchasing one pair of shoes. They’re red and sparkly, and perfect to wear with her Minnie Mouse costume for Halloween.

target shoes (image not coming across too well, sorry).

Of course, Ava wants them to be more than just Halloween shoes. She wore them the rest of Saturday, and then wanted to wear them to church yesterday. I told her no three times. So she asked her dad. He said to ask me. Again, I said no. Here’s the thing: I’m pretty flexible about what she wears, now that she has opinions on the matter. Usually she makes pretty good choices. Sadly, she recently announced that she would no longer be wearing bows in her hair, only headbands. Her one concession was that she would wear bows to church. She knows that’s the one time I get to make the final call on wardrobe. And red sparkly shoes? Not church attire. So, upon my 3rd or 4th “no”, drama ensued. Big drama. The kind that involved kicking, screaming, refusing to put on the correct shoes. The grand finale was Ava hugging the red shoes to her chest yelling, “MINE! MINE!” It wasn’t pretty, folks. Not at all. So, despite wanting to scream, I calmly walked over to her, took the shoes, and said, “Not yours anymore.” The shoes then went into what we call “toy jail.” She must have asked for them back about 17,691 times. I said no each time. She did get them back this morning, and I think she understands why they were taken away. Let’s hope so.

The funny thing is, I couldn’t help but think of what would happen if I reacted like that over say, not getting to BUY the shoes I wanted. I was in a shoe store this morning (a nice one, with LOTS of shoes that I wanted), and I could sort of relate to Ava’s feelings of total despair over not being able to wear what she really wanted to wear. I mean, I think I saw no fewer than 6 pairs of shoes I wanted (because if Tory Burch is going to keep giving us new versions of the Reva flat, I’m going to have to keep buying them), along with a bag that I am dying over:

toryburch image courtesy of

I’m not kidding when I say this bag is perfect. PERFECT. You know how some bags look good but just don’t feel good? This bag is not one of those. It hits just right. It’s lightweight. And the leather. Oh. My. Gosh. So soft. So supple.

I digress. Bags and shoes make me do that. Anyway, I’ve been spending a little too much money lately (thanks to J.Crew and an upcoming anniversary trip for the husband and me), so I was only allowed to make purchases in my imagination today. And my imagination was quite active. Boots, wedges, flats. I wanted them all. And I wanted them NOW. So for a moment, I could relate to Ava’s dramatic insistence that she wear the red sparkly flats. Instead, I helped a friend choose new Revas, then headed on my merry way.

But I kind of had a little tantrum about it. In my mind.

Now, if I could just narrow down which shoes I’m going to need for fall…..

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Southern Attire

Not a week goes by that my baby boy does not get mistaken for a girl. Okay. So, he has curly hair. Big blue eyes. And maybe doesn’t wear the most masculine clothes, but for goodness sake, he’s 17 months old. So I get to dress him like that a little longer. Besides, would you really think this hunka hunka burnin’ love is a GIRL?


No. I didn’t think so. But maybe you would if you saw him wearing this:


I mean, I still think he looks pretty manly. But the bubble might be a little um, well, not so manly. Plus, it’s a little too big, which makes it have a dress-like appearance. Don’t judge. This picture was taken during a playdate. The hostess’ mother-in-law was there, and she looked at Davis and said, “Now, I think I’ve seen her before. “ HER. Right. And it’s kind of awkward when you have to correct people and say, “Actually, he’s a boy. HE.”

But here’s something: this particular woman is from Connecticut. Or somewhere around there. She’s not Southern. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Well, not much wrong, anyway. Here in the South, and especially in Raleigh, we DRESS our kids. At Ava and Davis’ preschool, it is not unusual to see all the kids in their smocked and appliqued best for just a regular day at school. That’s just what we do in these parts. I like to think that since I no longer dress as well as I’d like, I can at least keep the kids looking good, since they are a direct  reflection of my own fashion sense.

Here are mine, all dressed up after church recently. Look how nicely their outfits match Ava’s room! (That was actually not planned, but it worked out nicely. Too bad I couldn’t get them to pose better for this picture. At least it shows a sweet moment, where Ava is reading a book to Davis).


Now that Ava is 5, she’s kind of outgrowing some of the cutesty, smocked stuff. Last week I had the pleasure of attending a crewcuts trunk show (you know, J.Crew’s line for kids? In the words of Rachel Zoe, I die.) I ordered her clothes that I am actually envious of. Here are a few of the pieces I got:

atlantic stripe top

chartruese skirt

denim skirt

I also got a cute little henley dress and an adorable embellished navy and white striped shirt, but they were preorder items, and not yet on the website. Now, if I could just get Tory Burch to make some flats in kid sizes…..

Monday, September 13, 2010

Things That Make Me Feel Old

I am a pop culture junkie. I don’t even try to hid the fact that I subscribe to US Weekly. In fact, just last week, I mentioned to the husband that when my subscription expires, I was considering switching to People, because it’s “more high-brow.” Clearly, I’m kidding myself. The husband thought so, too. I think he said that neither of them have much redeeming value, so it doesn’t really matter which one we get. For the record, we also get Newsweek, but sadly, it often sits unread.

(Just so I don’t come across as a total idiot, I do catch up on real news via CNN and NPR on XM Radio. And I’m even dorky enough that I get podcasts of NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and listen to them when I’m running.)

As I was saying, I do like pop culture and celebrity gossip. It’s fun, it’s loose, and it can make you forget about bigger stuff for a few minutes. So, I will not be ashamed of my addiction little hobby. I will say, though, that over the last year or so, my interest in a lot of the “celebrities” that appear in the weekly tabloids has been almost non-existent. And that’s making me feel a little old, but I’m just calling it maturity.

So, in no particular order, here are some things that make me feel old:

First, Jersey Shore. Sorry, I just don’t get it. At all. When it got all popular last year, I tried to watch it. I only lasted five minutes, if that. And, people, I’m not THAT discriminating in what I watch. I die over Rachel Zoe. Gossip Girl is among my list of most-watched shows. So, you see. It’s not as if I’m locked on PBS over here. But those Jersey Shore kids just make me cringe, and I can’t stand to watch even a minute of that show. In fact, I think the Today Show hit a new low last week, when they ran a story about Snooki during what was once the hard news hour. Man, they’re really pandering over at Today, aren’t they?

Second. The slight boredom I feel when watching the VMAs on MTV. We DVR’d them last night, and are catching up tonight. Chelsea Handler is hysterical. I heart her and have for a long time. I  watch Chelsea Lately when I’m up late enough. I’m a little jealous of her awesome job, and I might like to have my own little talk show one day. Anyway, back to the VMAs. When it came to the Best Rock Video category, I had heard of only 2 of 5 artists. This means one of two things. Either I am way out of it when it comes to rock music (because I am forced to listen to Radio Disney in the car and therefore can sing to you the entire Camp Rock 2 soundtrack), or MTV picked obscure rock artists for the category. Not sure what the real answer is. All I know is that there were some good rock bands that had albums out in the last year who went completely unmentioned on the VMAs. I mean, MTV, have you not heard of the Black Keys? Vampire Weekend? Maybe they don’t make videos. But MTV doesn’t play videos, so what’s the difference.

Third, and similar to above. Justin Bieber. Or Beiber. Whatever. I try to put myself in the shoes of a tween and wonder if I would like him if I was say, 12. I mean, he’s a little bit talented, I guess. I can’t really tell, though. His VMA performance was clearly lip-synched. And his hair is too perfect. And too much in his eyes. Also, Ava recently saw a picture of him and said, “oh. I thought Justin Bieber was a girl. He sounds like a girl when he sings.” Kids say the darndest things, don’t they? Darndest, but truest. Anyway, he seems like a good boy, and I wish him well, but please don’t make me listen to him.

I fear that I may be outgrowing the MTV generation. That’s a hard thing to admit. I mean, for most of my life, I have BEEN the MTV generation. I remember my sister trying to watch MTV on my parents on console set before we actually had cable. She would turn it to channel 27, and you could make out just a little bit of a video every few seconds, but it was all we needed. Luckily, we got real cable soon thereafter.

So, while I’m sad that I’m finally growing up (don’t worry Gossip Girl, you’re still on my DVR. And Stephanie Meyer? Keep writing vampire books. Because I will continue to read them.), I’m kind of becoming okay with it. Thankfully, I have discovered the replacement for MTV in the form of Bravo. I think  Rachel Zoe and the Real Housewives will keep me feeling young for a few more years.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Balance of Power

Back in my Senior year of high school, I took AP European History.That was when I was still kinda smart, and they let me take AP classes. (My, how I had them all fooled!). I recall learning about the Balance of Power, which we referred to as simply, BOP. If I recall correctly, in the context of AP European, the BOP basically referred to parity (big word, eh?) or stability between competing European nations.

Now, in my current life state, I am reminded of the BOP. No, no, I’m not trying to balance the power between my kids and me. Really, it’s between my husband and myself. And I’m not really sure that “power” is the right term. I think it’s more like, responsibility.

As a stay-at-home mom, I’d estimate that 99.9% of the daily responsibilities of the household fall on me. I’d probably actually say 100%, but the husband might read this and get offended, so let’s keep it at 99.9%. This balance is fair, right? I mean, he’s at work, making it possible for me to stay at home, and I’m just living the life of Riley, eating bon-bons and watching Oprah. At least that’s what I sometimes think the husband imagines I do all day. But, as any of us moms know, the day is full of cooking, shuttling, shopping (not the fun kind), cleaning, laundry, discipline, mediation, more cleaning, and then a little more laundry. Oh yeah, and I work from home, remember? So we have to fit that in. And wine. But that’s later.

It’s not that I don’t actually think the husband appreciates all that I do. He has said, “I don’t know how you put up with those kids all day.” (I think, however, that such statements are sometimes said with the hope of being rewarded, and not altogether sincere). The problem is that I find myself resentful of the fact that, despite the long hours he puts in at the office, I feel like I still work harder. And I don’t get paid, unless you count hugs (which is not all bad, but really, I do like cash). The thing is, though, when he does chip in more, I get annoyed.

For instance, last Sunday, we were heading to church. I mentioned on the way there that I wanted to clean our disgusting bathrooms at some point that day. His reply was, “I’ll do it.” Well, quite honestly, I wasn’t trying to get him to clean any bathrooms. What I wanted was for him to keep the kids out of my way so I could get it done in peace, and not have a 17-month-old throwing things in the toilet behind me. So, I said that was very sweet, but that I would get it done. And I meant that.

But then we got home from church, and he changed clothes and immediately started cleaning the bathroom. Very nice, no? Get this, though: he cleaned more thoroughly than I do. He got behind the toilet and scrubbed . He was on his hands and knees cleaning. And then he said something like, “This bathroom is just gross. It’s so dirty!.” Really? REALLY? I know that. But when do I have time to get on my hand and knees and clean? Huh? When? It’s easy to do a thorough job when the kids aren’t following you, ingesting bathroom cleaner. I don’t know. It just got under my skin. On the one hand, I totally appreciated that he wanted to help, but on the other hand, I kind of felt like he was saying he could do my job better than I can. And I felt defensive. I also felt like telling him we are hiring a maid, but I decided to wait on that one.

My point is that the poor guy was full of good intentions, and even though I act like it’s what I want, maybe I don’t really want him to help. At least not like that. What I want is for him to just pick up after himself, so that I don’t have to add that to my list of household chores. I want him to recognize that even though I’m not going to an office every day, that I work just as hard as he does, and my job take a break at the end of the day. Instead of cleaning the bathroom, I want him to see that after I’ve made dinner #2, tnd it’s 9pm, I don’t want to clean up the kitchen. I want him to do it. Maybe not every night. But once a week would be nice.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade my husband for anyone else. I adore him with all my heart. And he works really hard.I just want the balance of household responsibility to be a little more, well, balanced. And frankly, it’s hard to figure out how to make that happen without seeming like a nagging bitch. So, in all liklihood, things will continue as they are, and that will be fine. Eventually, our kids will eat dinner with us every night, and I’ll only be cooking one dinner. In the meantime, I think I’m going to find a wife for me. Or at least a maid.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Kids these days….


Pictures are making a return here on the MMC. (Sorry Mom). They just spruce things up a bit.

We got over our week of hand, foot, and mouth disease only to be greeted by colds. That’s okay, though. Finishing off summer with two weeks’ of sickness is great. Really.

If you know me, you know that I only masquerade as a stay-at-home-mom. In reality, I have a bit of a paying job. It’s not usually worth talking about, because I only work one day a week, and maybe a weekend day. And it’s not rocket science, so I just usually don’t mention it. However, over the last 2 weeks, I have pretty much tripled my work hours, along with my level of insanity. (And I bet you didn’t think that last part was even possible).

In my mind, working a few extra hours was not going to  be a problem. Most of my work takes place in the afternoons, while the little one is napping. And of course, I envisioned 3 hour naps. Riiiigghht. Pipedream. And then there’s the 5-year-old. A child that age has no problem entertaining herself, correct? Especially when that child has just been showered with new toys, crafts, and books for her birthday. Wrong. On all counts. Just wrong. Davis might have had one 3-hour-nap day. The other days weren’t bad, but still. Not conducive to a job where one has to spend a good deal of time on the phone. And Ava. Oh boy. Yeah, not so good at entertaining herself. It seems all she really wanted to do was play on the computer. My computer. The one I use for work. She basically just moped around my office (which doubles as my kitchen) waiting for her turn. Nevermind that she has a Leapster, along with 2 other computer-like toys. Oh no, my friends. It’s Mommy’s PC that she wants. (I’ll take that a step further, and tell you that what she truly desires is a Mac. Just ask her. A Mac. Guess what, sweetie? Mommy wants a Mac, too, but we’re still PC around here).

This brings me to the meat of my post today. Kids these days and technology. I know, I know. I sound so old. But really. It’s pretty crazy to think about the fact that today’s kids have always known iPods, iPhones, Wii,computers, the internet, and all the stuff that comes along with that. I have a picture of Ava as a baby with my earphones on, holding my iPod. She knows how to work my iPod Touch better than I do, and has no trouble navigating the internet. So, it should have come as no surprise to me last week, when I walked in the kitchen and found her watching Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” video on You Tube.

Let me take a moment to mention that I’m not one of those moms who drives around listening to nursery rhymes or Baby Einstein CDs. We listen mostly to what I want to hear. Embarassingly, that tends to involve a decent amount of Top 40-ish tunes. As a result, my kids love pop music, and we like to have dance parties in our car. Sadly, this also means that my 5-year-old adores Katy Perry and Lady GaGa. That same 5-year-old can also read and write, and has also figured out that Google can take her places on the internet. So I really shouldn’t have been so surprised to find her gazing at a basically nude Katy Perry along with Snoop Dogg, but still. It was disconcerting, to say the least. The hardest part is having to explain to her why I don’t want her to watch such things. But really, the bottom line is that I’m not ready for her to go from this: (first day of soccer practice, by the way)


to this:

katy perry (image from

So now, I’m having to limit her internet access to the basic, kid-friendly sites. We approve of,,, and I’ve had to tell her  not to go on Google, or any other site I haven’t approved. Last week, she even updated my Facebook status. Next thing you know, she’ll be asking for her own Twitter account.

I’m not ready for my baby girl to be grown up. I’m not ready to have to tell her about the evils of the world, internet predators, and why half-nude pop stars aren’t the best thing for her to see. I like the world she inhabits. The one where Snow White is real (we saw her at Disney….of course she is real), and where seeing the Chickfila cow in person might be the highlight of the week. Ava and I have our moments….the child can get under my skin like no other. But at the end of the day, I love my innocent, sweet little girl, and I just want to keep her safe. It’s a hard job, but it’s worth it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Longest. Week. Ever.

Finally, and not a moment too soon, it's Friday. I think this is the week that has totally done me in. When it was Wednesday, I was CERTAIN it was Friday. Here's a re-cap of the week.

Monday was good, mostly. Pool time with Ava and Davis. Trying to use the pool as much as possible since it will close for the "winter" in a few weeks. Post-pool, I noticed that Davis was warm and took his temperature. He nearly dozed off on the changing table, which should have been my first sign that something was wrong. Anyway, he had a temperature of 99.7, which I wrote off to teething. Oh, and I should mention here that he woke up with a terrible-looking diaper rash that morning.

Honestly, I don't remember the rest of that day. Maybe there was a trip to Target? There often is, you know. And I'm sure there was wine for me. Oh, now I remember. There was a meeting that night for me. So, a night off.

Tuesday. Davis was not himself. At all. I kept thinking, "This is one difficult teething baby! Wow." But when he cried for 2 hours, I figured something was wrong. I peeked in his mouth to get a glance at the molars that he's cutting, and in addition to the molars, I saw sores. All over his lips. On his tongue. And on the roof of his mouth. Then I checked out his hands and feet. Spots. Sores. Gross. Went to the doctor that afternoon to confirm a diagnosis of hand, foot, and mouth disease. Yuck.

The rest of the week was pretty much spent under quarantine. Playdate scheduled for Wednesday? Cancelled. More trips to the pool? Cancelled. Mother's Morning Out? Cancelled. But boy, did I have one cranky baby all week. And naps? Terrible. Just terrible.

And here are just a few other highlights of things that happened involving my youngest child:

1) Bath on Tuesday. Davis and Ava are both in the tub. Davis appears very serious for a moment. Poops in tub. I quickly evacuate both children from tub. Davis gets loose and pees on the carpet.

2) Wednesday. Davis dumps a gallon-bag of Cheerios onto the kitchen floor.

3) Wednesday again. Davis submerges one of our cordless phones into the dog's water bowl. And then dumps the dog's water out everywhere.

4) Davis learns to climb on all of the beds in the house.

On top of that, my oldest child has been sassier than ever. But instead of focusing on the negative, here are a couple of funny Ava-isms from the last week or so:

Last week, we were at the grocery store, purchasing ingredients for her birthday party cupcakes. (Please note that she wanted a Disney Princess Castle cake from Harris Teeter, but Mommy doesn't spend $50 on a cake for a 5 year old). I was looking at the little paper cups for the cupcakes. There were plain white ones, and ones decorated with balloons. I instinctively picked up the ones with the balloons, at which point Ava spoke up and said, "Mommy? I would rather have the white ones. They're just a little more classic." CLASSIC. I seriously don't know where she comes up with this stuff.

A few days later, she was reading Goldilicious. (If you don't have girls, you probably are not familiar with this book, which is a companion book to Pinkalicious and Purplicious. If you're still lost, just bear with me for a second). She said, "How did they color these pages so well?" Before I could answer, she said, "Oh! I know. they went to www-dot-pinkalicious-coloring-dot-com and just clicked on the colors they wanted to use. Then they just printed it out." Riiiggghht. Good theory.

So, long week. Happy hour might have been starting at lunchtime most days. And we didn't call  it "happy hour". More like, "mommy's little helper" hour.

Now, I'll sign off with this. On top of it all, I started training for a half marathon this week. Who the hell am I???

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ava

Five years ago today, my world was turned upside down, in the best possible way. On August 14, 2005, my sweet Ava made her entrance into the world, and nothing has been the same since. I can't believe she's five. I don't think there is anything like having kids to make you see how quickly life goes by. I get sad sometimes, because I can't quite remember exactly how it felt to hold her newborn body in my arms, can't accurately remember the sleepless nights, or the colicky evenings. You can record milestones in a baby book, but nothing is ever as clear as the memories in your mind. And it turns out it's not really the milestones that make the best memories, anyway. It's the little moments. The hugs, the smiles, the giggles, and even the tears. Those little moments that really define your child. And I get a little sad, because every year, I feel like the memories of Ava's very early childhood aren't as sharp to me as they used to be. There is so much going on in all of our lives, that some of the best moments just blend into the minutae. That said, my goal for the next five years (and beyond) is to cherish the little moments, and revel in the things that make Ava who she is.

I thought about this post a lot, and what kind of words I'd like to say to honor my daughter on her 5th birthday. But the thing is, I can't reduce Ava to a mere list of traits on a blog post. She is so much more than that. She's funny, fiesty, shy, spirited, brilliant, precocious, and a bit of an old soul.  She's all of those things, but she's so much more. Most of all, though, she is loved. And she is love, for she has shown me the true meaning of love for the last five years, and I will never be the same for it.

Happy birthday, my sweet girl. I love you.

Monday, August 9, 2010

"I had a bad dream...."

Shortly after Ava turned 4 last year, Davis started sleeping through the night. He was six months old. "Yay! I get to sleep through the night again, too!" was probably my first thought. Unfortunately for me, Ava developed a fear of the night around the same time her brother began to embrace it. I really thought it was a phase. She started waking up a few times a night, saying, "I had a bad dream." Rarely could she tell us the nature of the dream, but that's the way dreams often go, right? I quickly figured out that if I laid in her bed with her, she'd get back to sleep and be fine. Problem is, she has a big bed (double), so I can get pretty comfy in there, and next thing I know, I'm waking up and it's morning.

Now, I'm not so cold-hearted that I think children who wake up scared should not be comforted. Quite the contrary. I remember the night being a little scary around that age, and a little hug from my mommy always made me feel better, too. I also remember getting into my parents' bed on stormy nights and getting to sleep there. But it was never a nightly thing.

Back to Ava. All of this started about a year ago. Up until then, she had been the BEST sleeper. She'd go down without a fight, read books in her bed until she fell asleep, sleep until way past was great. Now this has become our night:

-Use every possible excuse not to go to bed
-Read two books. Argue about who gets to read them (her or me)
-Say prayers.
-Oops! Gotta use the bathroom. Again.
-Family hug.
-Sing a lullaby.
-"Hold me for a minute."
-Sit in a chair next to her bed for 5 minutes.
-Tell her goodnight, then wait for the tears to come.
-comfort her.
-She reads about 10 books, then calls for me to come take them out of her bed.
-She realizes she is scared, and asks for books back. We say, no, it's time to sleep. Then it's in and out of bed until she falls asleep. With the light on.

On the flip side, here is Davis' nighttime routine:
-Read two books.
-Turn on lullaby CD.
-Baby in crib. Night-night!

Anyway, I feel like I'm being a teeny bit manipulated with this whole bedtime thing, and I know that if I would just buckle down and be a Mean Mom, then maybe we could make some progress. But I feel sorry for her when she's crying that she's "too scared", so then I end up lying down with her until she falls asleep, or sleeping there in the middle of the night. She's only going to be this little for so long, and I doubt she's going to make me come lie down in her dorm room with her at college. My goal for now is to take baby steps to getting her to sleep on her own again, and trying not to get too frustrated with her in the meantime.

Did I mention that the poor girl also seems to be afflicted by night terrors? Now that's some weird stuff, let me tell you. She wakes up maybe an hour or 2 after falling asleep. She's crying, sweating, trembling, but totally unaware of what's going on. We ask her questions, she doesn't respond. After a few minutes, it passes, and she goes back to sleep, and never has any recollection of it the next day. Freaky stuff, especially the first few times it happened.

On a completely different topic, today is my birthday. I got the sweetest cards from my husband and kids this morning, and they really brightened my day. Turning 29 again has been great! I have a two-night celebration planned. Tonight is dinner at Dos Taquitos (margarita para mis cumpleanos, por favor) with the family. And then tomorrow night is dinner with the husband at my favorite restaurant, Poole's Diner. They have the best, best, best food in the world. Seriously. The world. And they have a kick-ass female chef. (Why is it that women are the primary chefs in most homes, but the most renowned chefs are actually men? Weird.)

I had planned to start my birthday with a run this morning. Alarm went off at 6:15, at which point I debated whether or not this run was going to happen. I decided it would be a good birthday present to myself, so I got dressed and ready to go. I walked out of the bathroom only to find Ava sitting on the floor of my bedroom. Seriously??? I said, "Honey, it's too early. You need to go back to bed." (and adding to myself, "since you stayed up until 9:30 last night fighting sleep). She said, as she rubbed her eyes, that she wasn't tired. So, instead of fighting it, I went back to her bed with her, and waited until she fell asleep. Next thing I knew it was 7:20, and the opportunity to run had passed. Maybe I didn't really want to go after all? Hmmm.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kids in the Kitchen

Yesterday, I read an article in the newspaper titled "100 Days of Eating Right." In case you don't have time to read the article, here's the summary: A family of 4 in Charlotte decided to get rid of all the junk in their diets, meaning no processed foods. They are only eating "real" food, those that contain only five ingredients or fewer. Oh, and they have a 3 year-old and a 5 year-old. So, the mom is pretty much making everything from scratch, but using no sugar (or maybe just no refined sugar?), no white flour, and are buying nothing like Goldfish or breakfast bars for the kids to snack on. I'm enthralled.

According to the article, the family wasn't so healthy before. They ate white bread (gasp!) and took the kids to Chick Fil A, the article reports. Now the mom goes so far with this that she even makes cookies (without sugar - too refined) for the kids to take to the birthday parties they're invited to.

Reading the article really got me thinking. I will admit that while I have the best intentions when it comes to my kids' health and nutrition, the reality is that they eat a lot more junk than I'd like. And when I say "junk", I'm not talking about cookies or candy. I just mean easy, convenient, ready-to-go foods.

 I am a bit nutty about what I eat, and eat very little junk. We actually do not eat white bread. I eat meat about 2-3 times a week, at most.The kids eat lots of fruit, and a few veggies (although those are fairly limited, and it's getting worse). But they are picky (Ava more than Davis at this point), and I cater to that pickiness a lot more than I like to admit. Davis snacks on Cheerios, Goldfish, and Trader Joe's breakfast bars. Ava has an affinity for those high-fructose corn syrup-laden "fruit" know, the gummy ones that contain no actual fruit? (I no longer purchase these, but they are begged for EVERY time we go to the store).

Back to this issue of pickiness for a moment, and a couple of points I need to make. First, I am certain none of us recall ever being given a choice about what we ate. At least I don't. By the time I was Ava's age (5ish), I know that I was eating dinner with my parents every night (and I would even wait until 7pm!), and I just ate what was put in front of me. And I don't recall there being much that I didn't like. My mom can probably tell you better, but I'm pretty sure the rule was that I needed to try what was on my plate, even if I didn't think I would like it. Now, my own daughter, as you may know, is a teeny bit dramatic. So, if something as disgusting as say, a tomato were to cross her plate, it would be greeted with extreme and visible repulsion. Lots of "EWWW!!" and even some shudders to really get the point across that the vile tomato is not welcome. It really gets under my skin. I mean, please. I have prepared your dinner. Please do not insult the chef. Just taste the damn thing.

I also feel that I have gone wrong somewhere along the way when Ava announces, "I really don't eat any animals. Only nuggets from Chick Fil A and cheeseburgers from McDonalds." We need to work on changing that to, " I eat only grass-fed beef and free range chicken." But, being 5, that's probably not going to happen just yet.

I want my kids to eat what we eat, but our schedules hardly ever work for us to eat as a family, and Ava & Davis eat early. So, they get kid-friendly fare. I'm not happy about it. Really. Tonight, for instance, they had chicken nuggets. Gross. (And if you have ever watched Jamie Oliver show a group of West Virginia school kids how nuggets are make, you will understand why I flinch at the idea of serving nuggets to my kids. if you haven't watched it, here you go:

So, back to the nuggets at my house tonight. Ava ate 3 of them, and to make it worse, I allowed her to dip them in ranch. This was probably Davis' third or fourth time being offered nuggets, and he refused to eat them. In fact, he tasted one, and immediately spit it out. I offered him a bite from my hand, and he very clearly shook his and and said, "NO." Okay. Maybe I should take this as a not-so-subtle hint. And maybe I should stop and ask myself why I am trying to make this toddler acquire a taste for something he never needs to like. Is it just to make dinnertime easier for me? If so, it's time for some rethinking.

So, while I'm not willing to go as far as the family in the article, I do find myself freshly inspired to do right by my kids, and put into their bodies the healthiest foods I can manage. You definitely won't find me forcing my kids to turn down treats at a birthday party - to me, that's just denying one of the great pleasures of childhood. But maybe we can start passing up the free cookie at Harris Teeter. And maybe, just maybe, I'll start making one dinner for the whole family, finicky eaters be damned.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summertime, and the living is....easy?

Every year, I get so excited about summer. I have visions of relaxing beach vacations, fun days at the pool, cookouts with friends, kids staying up late to run around and catch lightning bugs. (Insert sound of record screeching to a stop here). That vision of summer is just that - a vision. Not my reality. I'm not alone, I know, but here's a breakdown of those fun summer events in my world:

1) Relaxing Beach Vacation: (hang on while I catch my breath from laughing at that notion). We got to the beach pretty frequently, and try to stay for a week at a time. From the get-go, it's anything but laid-back. First, there's the packing. That involves moving the entire contents of our house into our car. Then we load both kids and the dog, and off we go on what should be a 3.5 hour drive. But no. We must take bathroom breaks. Or food breaks. And frankly, I think the husband takes as many of those breaks as anyone else. In the summer, meals have to  be consumed in the car since we have the previously-mentioned dog with us. Feeding a meal to a toddler in the car is not exactly ideal. I don't think they're known for their tidy eating skills. Finally, we arrive at the beach, and we then unpack the contents of the car into the condo. This requires several trips, even using a luggage cart. Ava then immediately wants to go to the pool. And we just want to grab a beer, a couple of chairs, and go sit on the beach and let the kids run around and wear themselves out. Isn't that how it's supposed to go?

So, a typical day at the beach goes something like this for us:
1) Spend one hour getting kids sunscreened & in bathing suits. Hope baby does not pee in his swim diaper, since they lack absorbency.
2) Gather towels, beach toys, snacks, chairs, hats, sunglasses.
3) Head to beach.
4) Realize we forgot the cooler, and kids are thirsty.
5) Go back up to condo, get cooler.
6) Listen to baby melt down because he has a sippy cup and his sister has a juice box.
7) Go back to condo to get juice box for baby.
8) Return to beach, only to find hot, whiny children who want to go to the pool.
9) Go to pool.
10) Eat lunch, rest, and repeat steps 1-9 later in the day.

Please note that the beach tends to have a nice breeze, while the pool is surrounded by a wood fence and gets no breeze. And we live in the South, so 98 degree days are kind of the norm. Plus, we pay good money to have a pool membership at home, so can we not just pretend the pool at the beach does not actually exist?

And speaking of the pool, that's a lot of effort, too. I'm not exactly complaining. I feel so lucky to have a great pool close to home that we belong to, where I can wear my kids out. But, you may know that a 15-month-old boy at a pool requires much work on the part of adult caregivers (me). He would jump straight into the deep end and think it was lots of fun. So, I spend lots of time in the water with him, thus feeling guilty that I am not giving my (almost) 5-year-old the same attention while she is trying to show off her new swimming skills. The good thing about the pool, though, is that when we go late in the afternoon, I pack pajamas, feed the kids dinner, shower them, and dress them in pj's before heading home. They love the pool showers, and Davis the semi-public nudity as an opportunity to run around the locker room holding on to what we around here call his "boy parts."

As we approach the end of July, I can't believe that summer is getting away so quickly. I had lots of great things I wanted to do with the kids, and there's so much we haven't done. I feel like I spend lots of time thinking about how great it will be when school starts back up, but I know I'm going to miss our not-so-laid-back summer days. The temperatures here are absurdly high right now. Heat indexes are way above 100, even 110 this week. So, despite the heat that's keeping us indoors, I'm going to try to make the most of these last weeks of summer, even if the days don't quite line up with my picturesque vision of the season. After all, September will be here before we know it, and who knows? I might miss having my little munchkins around all day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Not to Wear

In Motherhood, there are real challenges (sick kids, discipline, time management), and superficial ones. The superficial one that's on my mind today is Mom Fashion. Specifically. Mom Fashion for the stay-at-home-mom. (That's me, if you didn't know).

Once upon a time, I had a full-time job at a Fortune 500 company. While I did not particularly enjoy my work, I did enjoy dressing for work. We weren't too know, business casual and denim on Fridays, so I had a little leeway in my fashion choices. I had a closet full of Banana Republic, J.Crew, and  boots and heels galore. I shopped ALL THE TIME. You might even say I had a little problem. My Am Ex bills at the time would have proven that to be true. Anyway,  while I do realize that BR and J.Crew are not exactly high fashion (come on, I did have a little budget), I think I always managed to look pretty good and put together. And I wore heels every day. This was also before ballet flats came into fashion (thanks, Tory Burch!), so heels were it, if you didn't want to look dowdy.

(Prior to my married days, I shared a house with my friend Katie (you can find her over here, at Run This Life). We were about the same size, and shared a shopping addiction, so we got to double our wardrobes during our cohabitation. Fun times.)

Fast forward about 5 years, and my fashion choices have changed a bit. I stay at home with my kids. I don't really have work clothes, and, besides, I would feel silly strutting around town in a pant suit and heels. Not that I even want to. In the cooler weather, I think I wear jeans every day. Summer brings about a few dresses, skirts, and lots of shorts. I used to never wear shorts. Ever. So, these days, I find myself trying to strike a balance between practicality and style. I try hard to get out of my workout attire before noon. I try to have decent hair (read: not too dirty). And I try to wear makeup every day. I'm better about this during the school year. Our preschool has some pretty well-attired mommies, so I try to keep up. And I've finally lost all my baby weight (though I'd like to lose 5 more lbs), so I feel like I can get back to investing in my wardrobe. My current style goal is to accessorize better. So, working on that. A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a cute dress and some fabulous wedges:

(Image from

Cute, right? I feel good about them.
I also stumbled on Saltwater Dreams, a great fashion blog written by a mom, which has given me inspiration to try to look a little more put together when I'm out. The Look for Less is another good blog. Designer-inspired, but more budget-friendly prices.

One more thing: I'll be 34 in a few weeks (but that's okay, because Mean Dad is getting ready to turn 40!!). I feel like the 30s are an awesome decade. But dressing in your 30s starts to get a little tricky. I still feel young enough that I want to embrace all the trends, but remaining age-appropriate is becoming important, too. I tried on the cutest dress at Urban Outfitters the other day. From the front, it was great. Flattering, good color, good cut. But then I practiced bending over. You know, like I was picking up a toddler. And you know what? Wardrobe malfunction. Of the worst variety. So, dress returned to the rack, unpurchased.
Also, I think I may be losing my mind a little, because rompers are starting to look kind of cute to me. But I have this rule that I don't wear trends that are also offered to my 5 year old. So, no rompers. No matter how cute (I'm talking to YOU, j.crew. Stop making me want this).

So, my friends. If you have any mom fashion advice or stories you'd like to share, please feel free to do so. In the meantime, I'm off to check out what I'll be wearing for school drop off this fall. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

But They're a Little Bit Cool, Right?

Oh boy. I think I'm really losing my mind. I sort of really have minivan envy.

There. I said it. It's out there in the universe, and I can't take it back. The one thing I swore and vowed that I would never want, as long as I live, is a minivan. I feel like I can maintain a slight bit of my coolness with my mid-sized SUV. I mean, as soon as I get a minivan, I have to start rocking mom jeans, mom hair, and a giant soccer ball sticker on the back of the van, right?

(Oh, but those automatic sliding doors, the roominess, the drop-down DVD screens....I covet such luxuries.) I even went so far as to start looking at used previously enjoyed Odysseys and Siennas on Craigslist the other day. Based on my salivating, you would have thought I was looking at a new BMW or something, but no.

So what brought about this latest case of insanity? I think I can safely blame it on The Family Beach Trip. Yes, the four of us loaded up and headed to the beach last week, which was great. Not so great were the 4 hours in the car each way. Too much stuff, too little room, too much whining, and my poor dog was crammed too tightly between the car seats. Then there's the DVD player. It's housed in one of those travel cases that you have to rig up between the 2 front seats. It doesn't fit so well, and one of us constantly has to adjust it. Or change the DVD. Or the volume. All of which requires contorting your body at some strange 131 degree angle and looking upside-down at the 7-inch DVD screen.

My favorite part of the trip was when I had to climb from the front seat to the trunk part of the SUV to retrieve snacks. (I'd like to mention here that Mr. Mean Mom (aka Mean Dad) asked me, "What bags need to be easily accessible?" to which I replied, "Davis' diaper bag. It has the snacks." So where did the snack-filled diaper bag end up? You guessed it. All the way at the back of the trunk.).

I'm not totally delusional. I know that a van would not solve all the issues of the family road trip. Only a partition like they have in limos would take care of that. Besides, my little SUV is one payment away from being all mine, and I like the idea of extra cash in my pocket (especially with fall wardrobe purchases on the horizon). Just don't be surprised if one day, not too long from now, you see me in the most embarrassing of all cars. No, no. Not an El Camino. A minivan. But don't look for any mom stickers on the back - you won't find them.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

To Blog, or Not to Blog

I've been absent for a while now, pondering whether or not I really want to be a blogger. It seems narcissistic, self-indulgent, and egotistical. But it's also therapeutic, and kind of fun. So, I'm back. The thing is, I REALLY want to post pictures, so I need to do a little more research about blog privacy and things like that, just to see what the actual likelihood of the kids or me being stalked via blog truly is.

So, today's topic: Dads. I was out to dinner with some friends last week, all of whom happen to be moms. As it often does, the conversation turned to What Happens When We Leave the Kids With the Husbands. All of the girls had complaints. Big ones. Seems their husbands do nothing, or if they do, it's only with much complaint. Hearing all the griping made me wonder if the men really think watching their spawn for the night is so bad, or if it's all in our heads.

In preparation for a night out, we all seem to do the same thing, which is assume the husbands are incapable of doing anything at all. So, we feed the kids, bathe the kids, dress the kids for bed. All that's left for the men-folk to do is read a story or two and tuck their angelic offspring into bed, crack open a beer, and turn on Sports Center.

Why do we assume our men are so incapable of taking care of our kids? I mean, sure, the day to day activities are better done by the moms. I realize that statement may throw the Women's Movement back about 60 years, but seriously. There are few exceptions to this rule. We are the ones that have the kids because biologically, we are better caretakers. That's not to say that men don't have their own unique gifts to give their children. Dads are awesome. I have nothing but the best memories of my own Dad during my childhood. Talk about being there. From the time that I can remember, Saturday mornings were time with my dad. He took me out to breakfast, he took me to the pool, to the mall, ice skating.....he was completely involved, and I loved it.

My own husband is pretty much a rockstar dad. He has been known to spend multiple hours playing dollhouse with Ava, and he doesn't even complain. I, on the other hand, am not so into playing with my kids, preferring to observe and be amused while they entertain themselves.

But even knowing how good my baby daddy is, I still tend to lecture, or at least give detailed instructions on how to manage our children when I'm not there. And I feel the need to check in. And if I'm out on a daytime excursion, I feel compelled to rush through my activities so that I can return home and relieve him of his duties. Even when he insists that he is fine. Talk about silly.

Back to my friends and their husbands, though. I think we, as women, tend to complain about everything our husbands don't do, but we don't really even give them the chance to step up to the plate. What do we really think will happen if we go for a Girls' Night Out and don't have all the little details taken care of when we leave? Will our kids starve? No. They may not eat the organic, from-scratch meal we would have made, and dinner might even involve dinosaur-shaped chicken, but they will eat. And baths? Maybe they'll get one, maybe they won't. Does it matter? It's one night. What will happen is that they'll enjoy a fun night with Daddy, while we get a night away from having to worry with all the minutiae that we take care of all day and night.

So, ladies, next time you leave your kids with Daddy, skip the directions. Don't lecture. Don't tell him which pajamas they need to wear, or which sippy cup they should drink from. Let him take care of it. It really will be okay. He's their parent, too. And they'll all survive.