Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day

Just a quick post in honor of my wonderful husband’s biggest passion in life (besides his family, of course.  I think.) on MLB’s opening day.

 Yes, that is Frances jumping in the background shouting "Go Braves!  Go Braves!  Go Braves!"  We have officially saturated the household.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I am feeling a little down today – am I allowed to blame this on the gray, rainy weather?
I absolutely love Frances and George with every cell in my body, but there are some days when I really could use an afternoon (or an evening – the 5 o’clock witching hour) off.  George has been unusually fussy (again!?), Frances has been crying at the drop of a hat and they’ve both been at each other’s throats more than normal.  Even Marshall and Max seem extra needy today.
Will has been working exceedingly long hours for the last several weeks and I think we are all feeling his absence.  Historically, Will and I have shared the children’s bedtime routine.  When I was still working, I would pick up the children from school around 5:45pm, bring them home to play while I fix dinner, and start winding them down for the day.  Will would then get home around 6:15ish to walk Marshall and Max and would be in charge of Frances’s bedtime (something they both cherish and I think is what she is missing most).  Since my time at home, on a good day, Will can still get home about that time and Frances, George and I are all three jumping up and down when we see him – Daddy’s home!!  Unfortunately, this has only been possible the last two Friday evenings.  Otherwise, Will is at the office until 11pm or later, which is hard on everyone, especially Will.
I really shouldn’t complain.  This is after all exactly why I stopped working.  I cannot imagine how difficult these last several weeks would have been if I were still carrying on my fulltime law practice (of course, single parents do it every day and I bow down to all of you – I have no idea how you do it!).
But when I get tired and grumpy, my patience fuse gets shorter by the minute, I feel guilty for snapping at the children for things that I should handle in a more constructive “Parenting Magazine” style, and then I eat more Easter chocolate to numb the guilty feelings.  Note to self:  stop buying Easter candy in the vein attempt to store it until Easter Sunday – you are only kidding yourself.
In order to make-up for my inept parenting today, I have already decided that we are having a movie afternoon (perfectly appropriate for a gloomy day, yes?).  Popcorn, PJ’s and Curious George.  Maybe, just maybe, the three of us will survive until dinner.  I’ll keep you posted.
And just because I can’t post an update without a picture (or two)…

…here are two from the calmest period we had today.  Thank goodness for crayons!   

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My lunch date

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I have the cutest lunch date in town.

George and I have a standing midday mealtime together while his big sister is in preschool those two half-days.  After a busy morning of breakfast, groceries, Target, reading, laundry, more reading, playing outside, cleaning and a much-too-quick phone call with Nana, we are both starving by 11:45am.  So, lunch it is!
During these early beautiful spring days, we’ve been eating in the sunroom together – listening to the birds chirp outside, watching the garbage trucks and school buses go by (a BIG deal in this house), and paying close attention to hear the 12 o’clock freight train whistle in the distance.
George is a surprisingly stimulating lunch date.  His vocabulary is limited (“truck!” “bus!” “ball!” “clock!” – yes, the exclamation points are essential) and he’s just starting to speak in two-word sentences, but I absolutely love our time together.  He lets me talk about anything I would like (or not talk at all – SILENCE, glorious silence!  Not something that is often heard in a house with a three-year-old).  When I do speak, he appears to hang on my every sentence as though he’s genuinely interested in what I am saying.  He’ll do his trademark head nod (“yes” with his entire upper torso, as though he’s  warming up with “Darrin’s Dance Grooves”) to just about any question I ask and always offers me a taste of whatever he’s eating (such a gentleman).  Of course, I am expected to reciprocate in offering him a bite of my lunch, but this usually yields the same results – tasting, spitting out, sour face, head shaking “no,” and back to his own lunch.  Can you blame him? 

These relaxing lunches are over far too quickly for my taste before it is back to the real world of big sisters and big fun.  But George and I both know that come Thursday, we have a date at the same time/same place.

Monday, March 28, 2011

March Madness

Don’t worry; this isn’t a post about the basketball tournament (although I do have to give a big “WAY TO GO!” to Richmond’s own VCU for their playing thus far – incredible).

Rather, I think March has missed the memo this year on “going out like a lamb.”  We’re on our fifth or so day in a row of below-normal temperatures (30s in the morning; 40s in the afternoon; gray and gloomy all day) and it’s starting to take its toll on my spring mood.  All of the beautiful daffodils Frances, George and I picked have faded and even those beautiful flowers Will sent to me have had to be tossed.

Thankfully, we have a fantastic indoor playground right down the road that we have been using pretty much every day for a week.  The playground is in one wing of the local mall (Chesterfield Town Centre), which means it’s free to use (perfect for my frugal self!).  Frances, George and I usually make our way there around 9 am (sound early?  Not in this house…) and this has turned out to be the ideal time.  The mall opens its doors early so that community members can use it for walking before the stores are officially opened.  They play classical music and big band tunes (I suppose to cater to the typical early-morning walker age group?) and the playground is nearly empty.  Frances and George have the run of the place, I get to hear relaxing music in the background and we all expend some pent-up energy.

George and the frog

The tree at the center of the playground.  Unusually challenging to get up and down the slides; it does a good job of tiring them out.

As huge as George is (HUGE), he is surprisingly athletic and figured out how to climb the tree in record time.

My pretty girl

George enjoys pointing out the stuffed bears in the shop window behind me.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Frances is saying, "No Mommy!  Don't take the picture yet!  George is escaping!"

She is very proud of her splits these days.

Of course, as I am typing this, the sun is shining brightly outside my window and our outdoor thermometer reads 60.  It looks like the perfect after-nap afternoon outside.  Maybe March is slowly catching on after all!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Charlottesville Ten Miler

This Saturday morning I ran my first Charlottesville Ten Miler.  Even though they held the race each of my three years of law school, the timing never worked out for me to enter.  And by bad timing, I mean that the race always coincided with The Libel Show weekend, which as anyone who knows anything at all about the UVA Libel Show understands that running and “libeling” do not mix.

I was nervous about the race because I remembered how hilly Charlottesville is from my law school runs.  I really didn’t want to have to run another Lynchburg Ten Miler-like course (ugh.  If anyone is looking for a hard course, come to Lynchburg in late September and I’ll take you on a lovely tour.  Bring your Advil.)  I also didn’t know the race course (very unnerving) and had no seasoned runner friends to bounce questions off of – “What is the hardest part of the course?”  “Is the finish up or downhill?”  “Do they have timers at every mile?”

Thankfully, the race went as well as I could have asked.  The weather was freezing (upper 30s), but once I get past the numb hands and wind-chapped legs, I much prefer to run in the cold than the heat.  The hills were no match for Lynchburg either – there were as many down hills as up hills and the finish was downhill after all (wooohooo!).  It wasn’t my speediest ten-miler, but it was my fastest post-children (which I’m not sure should make much difference, but I’ll take any excuse I can at this point).

I haven’t actually trained for a race since Frances was born, so I am always pleasantly surprised when I can eke out another run.  Of course, once the race is completed, I sometimes find my mind drifting to thoughts of, “if I had really trained hard for that, maybe I could have done a ____ minute mile or run a sub-____.”  But honestly, that is what I enjoy most about my running these days – no pressure.  Once I start “serious” training for goal times, I find myself becoming a tad bit obsessive compulsive (who ME?) with the end result.

I started running almost 15 years ago (scary – I actually had to double check my math on that one).  I had just “retired” from ballet at the ripe old age of 20 and was feeling very lost and uninspired.  I had also put on a few rebellious pounds in my new found “I can eat anything I want to now!” freedom and was uncomfortable in my skin.  One afternoon, I was flipping through the TV channels (remember those days of just sitting for an hour or more in front of the TV???) and stopped on ESPN airing the New York City Marathon.  I sat there and watched as these teeny-tiny muscular runners ran lightening speeds for 26 miles in a row – and I was hooked.  Obviously I knew I could never be a professional runner, but what I did know is that I wanted that effortless but athletic feeling that seemed to pulsate from their bodies.  I wanted that sense of accomplishment on their faces.  And after weeks of inactivity, I wanted to sweat again.

So, the next day, I put on my worn tennis shoes and went for my first run.  Those early runs were a struggle.  My asthma flared up constantly, my knees ached, the shin splints kicked in and I was more sore than I had been in a long time.  But for whatever reason, I kept trekking.  I also read every running book I could get my hands on and subscribed to Runner’s World (back before you could just read all of the articles on the internet…shhhhh!).  I adjusted my stride, bought better shoes, cross-trained and experimented with new routes.  I also experienced injuries (hello, stress fractures!), overheating and complete race failures.

But fourteen years later, I can honestly say that running (every-other day now) has helped me stay sane.  I love that you can do it anywhere you go with very little equipment or preparation.  I love that running has been my companion through some very difficult times (terrible work days) and the absolute best of times (my wedding day morning!).  I especially love zoning out during my runs and letting my mind wander to wherever it wants – usually my only “me” time of the day.

I am hoping to run until I am old and gray.  Maybe by then I will prefer to run in those fun groups of older women I see strutting through our neighborhood talking about the children and grandchildren.  Or maybe I will still enjoy running alone.  Either way, I hope the old knees (and the rest of my body) hold up!

Virginia Ten Miler 2008 (Lynchburg)
(Sorry for the old picture, but it is one of the only action shots I have)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Babies, babies everywhere!

Our family has had a couple of exciting (and adorable) new additions recently!

Will’s brother, Charlie, and his wife, Becca, had the adorable Justin Douglas Homiller in late January.  He was three weeks early and had to stay in the hospital a few days longer than normal, but he hasn’t let that slow him down.  Big brother, Trey, seems to be adjusting to his new role with ease and Frances and George are thrilled to have another cousin in town to play with.
Justin and Uncle Will

Proud big brother, Trey

George liked Justin's feet the best

Frances was a natural

My brother, Henry, and his wife, Kerrin, had their first baby - a beautiful little girl Margaret (“Maggie”) Cathleen Heil born March 7th at 11:15pm, 45 minutes before Henry’s birthday.  She was born about a week early and is just a perfect little lump of love.  Will, Frances and George haven’t met her yet, but Aunt Lucy couldn’t stay away from her newest niece so I rushed over during the last few days of work to sneak in a visit.  I am very excited to have another baby girl in the family!
Maggie and Aunt Lucy

Her onesie says "I'm a McCutie" - yes she is!

All of this infant holding and smooching has given me some serious baby fever, but that is something I tend to catch very easily and happily.  Within the first few moments of holding Frances, I knew I wanted to have more children and I have often been quoted as saying that if money (and sanity) were no object, I would want ten rugrats.  I feel very blessed to have my two jewels and would be perfectly happy to keep our family of four.  But I secretly (or not so secretly) would LOVE to have more. 

I suppose we should see how my time at home goes with two before adding to the craziness.  Right?!?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Decorating for Easter

Frances and I have done some early Easter decorating around the house – she’s a great little helper.
This was very serious decorating

You have to love the post-nap flushed cheeks and extra curly hair

All of that hard work called for a well-deserved cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows

A word to the wise (in case you don’t remember from last year – I sure didn’t) that a little Easter grass goes a very long way.  I bought two bags from Michaels only to come home and find that I still had one bag left over from last year.  As of today, I have 2 ½ bags of Easter grass in the house, which as history shows should last me the next five years.

These rabbit figurines were a wedding gift to Will and me from one of my mother's friends.  Frances asked where the Baby George was, obviously assuming the little bunny in the mother's arms was her.  That's my girl!

Frances also helped me bake some Easter cookies. 
These were perfect for my three-year-old’s short attention span – pre-made sugar cookies with Easter M&Ms “gently” pushed in while they were still soft from the oven.

I know I am probably being a bit overzealous with the Easter decorating (yes, not typically a holiday that we have spent decorating – especially a month early), but I am so excited to share these little moments with the children now that I actually have the time.  It’s a nice change of pace to be preplanning how the big Easter bunny reveal will play out this year, rather than rushing to Kroger at the 11th hour to buy the picked over Easter candy and last two plastic orange (the only color left) Easter baskets just to make sure we have something for Frances and George to enjoy.

Up next?  I think some Easter/Spring themed arts and crafts filled with glitter, glue and “washable” markers – most certainly outside projects. 

From their earliest daycare class, Frances and George have both enjoyed (and apparently excelled at?  A 4-month-old excelling at…?) art, so I am attempting to continue to ensure they still have that outlet.  I’ll admit that this is a bit of stretch for me though.  Even though I was an “artist” (dancer) for many years, I’m not a naturally crafty person.  I much prefer the physical playing – playgrounds, hopscotch, jump rope, walks around the block, flashlight tag, and anything involving running.  So, to make everyone happy, our arts and crafts to-date have been outside events – drawing with sidewalk chalk, “painting” the fence and patio with paintbrushes and water and digging in the dirt with shovels and rakes.  Of course, you can’t save or frame these artistic creations, so I should eventually move on to something more tangible.  If anyone has any crafty ideas for the amateur parent, I am all ears!

Happy Friday everyone!  I don't know about you, but I am very excited for this weekend.  Will has been MIA these past few weeks and the three of us have really missed him.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My bookworm

George has had a book in his hand since he was about 10-months-old – he absolutely loves to read.  When Frances was his age, she was much too physically active to sit still long enough for us to read to her.  But George will sit with you for a good forty-five minutes or more and read. 

Sometimes, I will catch him in the “Book Nook” in the kid’s playroom reading to himself.  That is one of my favorite sounds – George babbling away as he’s flipping the pages of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” or his current favorite “Very Big Trucks.”

But my all-time favorite sound these days is to hear Frances read to George.  Now that Frances actually enjoys reading, she’s memorized most of her books and will recite them nearly word-for-word (skipping what I assume are the less interesting parts of the plot) as George faithfully listens in.

Now, if only George would read a book on “How to Take Out Your Aggression Other Than Pulling Your Sister’s Hair” and Frances could find a self-help novella on “Escaping Your Nightmares and Other Foolproof Sleep-through-the-night Tricks,” we’d be home free.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A day late

Happy spring everyone!  Frances, George and I picked flowers from our front yard today in honor of the first day of spring, which was…yesterday.  Oh well.  We’re still catching up around here.

Enjoy this incredible weather!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What I will miss (and not miss)

What I will miss about work...
·        free coffee made by someone else ready RIGHT when I get there
·        access to the internet using two hands to type on the keyboard (as opposed to using one hand to type and one hand to keep small, but spry fingers at bay)
·        legal research and writing briefs (yes, sad to say, I actually love doing this)
·        my work friends
·        my name on the letterhead.  For some reason, I got a little teary-eyed when I heard it had been taken off.
·        In theory, having lunch with legal colleagues filled with stimulating conversation and actual complete sentences (in reality, being too busy to even eat lunch until 3pm only to realize I may as well just wait to eat until dinner so I can keep billing).
·        my incredible mentors Bill Wood and Frank Morrison (well, technically good ol'Frank will still be around).

What I will not miss about work...
·        litigation, court, hearings, trials,  battling over who gets the dog in the divorce, arguing as to why the soon-to-be ex is the worst parent on the entire planet (hey, you married him lady, not me!), unpleasant opposing counsel, bad decisions by judges, and on and on and on.
·         late, late nights and early, early mornings (Wait.  Those actually may still be a part of my life)
·         the 25+ minute commute.  One way.
·        Dropping off the children at the “Get Well Place” when they are sick and kicked out of their regular school.  While this is an incredibly wonderful service for working parents, it broke my heart not being able to be with them when they were feverish/vomiting/having explosive diarrhea or all of the above. 
·       Sleepless nights thinking about the upcoming trial/mediation/settlement conference or the endless rehashing about how said trial/mediation/settlement conference played out and all of the things I could have/should have/did say or do.

I can only imagine that I will be adding to these lists as my new lifestyle takes wing.  In the meantime, I am still in a state of disbelief that I have actually stopped my practice and switched gears altogether.  In a lot of ways, my identity as a person has been associated with being an attorney.  I suppose I am going through a bit of a mourning period as I close up shop to take on these wonderful new challenges.

Today, I finally cleaned out my office at the firm.  It was surreal to be there on a Sunday morning, the hallways dark and quiet, no phone ringing, no printers grinding.  As I took my diplomas down from the wall, a wave of sadness came over me.  I loved college.  I loved law school.  I loved learning, reading, writing; and wondering how these subjects were going to apply to my life and career – whatever those would be.  I remember feeling nothing but potential when I graduated both college and law school and I now I wonder if I have squandered that potential.  I’d like to think I haven’t (yet). 

I decided to hang up my diplomas in our den. 

This was actually Will’s idea – I can’t take credit for it.  But now that they are hung, I am glad they are where I can see them.  I earned those degrees and what I learned from those fantastic seven years of schooling has yet to be fully tapped, I am certain.  Looking at them every day will remind me that the best is yet to come.

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hello from the other side!

I have officially survived my first two days at home with the greatest of ease.  The children were perfect angels – George didn’t have a single temper tantrum, Frances did everything I asked with a smile, and both children used “please” and “thank you” with each request.  Marshall and Max sat peacefully on their dog-friendly beds and didn’t bark out of turn when a dog, a squirrel or a random leaf moved outside the window.  All four dependents remembered to wipe their feet/paws when coming in from playing on our manicured green lawn.  I was able to wash each dirty dish as it was used, keep the playroom toys off the floor and organized, fold and put away four loads of laundry, and cook a healthy, organic dinner that everyone loved.

And if you now have the urge to smack me, I would not blame you.

In reality, the first two days at home have been a challenge to say the least.  George has been unusually grumpy, which appears to be attributable to allergies and/or teething.  Accompanying this grumpiness is an early bout with the “terrible twos.”  For George, this means not only throwing himself or an inanimate object (see picture below) on the floor in frustration, but pushing, pulling (as in hair) or biting his sweet sister.  Frances, as fervent a two-year-old as she was, never behaved in this way.  So needless to say, Will and I sometimes find ourselves just watching George with a “wow” expression on our faces, lost at how to properly discipline him.  Frances has been the golden child in comparison, but certainly has had her difficult moments.  Things are further complicated with her since she has started her nightmare phase – less sleep for an already early-riser can make anyone irritable.

Day one started with 5 time-outs by 10:00 a.m.

Yes, that is a broken cereal bowl on the floor with George proudly looking on.

Day two ended with the delivery of these beautiful flowers from Will.

In between these two points in time there were skinned knees, brother/sister hugs, fights in the playroom, endless games of tag in the backyard, complaints about lunch food, kisses between the fence posts, muddy footprints on the hardwood and fits of giggles throughout the house.

Will’s flowers came with the following message:

“Congratulations on your new job!  Hope your employees were cooperative.  Thank you for all that you do!  Love, Will”

I think it’s fair to say that I absolutely love my new job.  But I have some pretty demanding employees.

It’s a good thing they are so adorable.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

There was a little girl, who had a little curl

I am soaking up Frances’s beautiful curls as much as I can – I know they won’t last long.

March 2011

Here is Frances only one year ago with her former straight “baby” hair:

March 2010

Of course, with these incredible tresses comes the appropriate fiery personality.  Frances is my little princess and likely the daughter my mother wished upon me at certain “difficult” times in my upbringing.  She is smart as a whip, sweet to her big brother and an angel at school – her teachers have nothing but glowing things to say about her.  But Will and I have been known to take note when we see those devil horns popping up through her angelic halo.

There was a little girl, who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good, she was very, very good
And when she was bad she was horrid.

We love our Frances, curls and all.