Thursday, August 30, 2012

The last week

More than usual, I've tried my best to slow down, enjoy the journey, and soak up as much as I can of my soon-to-be-Kindergartner during her final week of summer.  She's ready to leave the safety net we've created at home, I know she is.  But I will miss her so much it makes my throat tighten to think about it.  Little things have more meaning than they ever have.  Things like Frances’s after-nap hot chocolate routine.  Even during these hotter than average dog days of summer, my girl likes a soothing cup of cocoa to wake her up and transition her into the afternoon.  Once Kindergarten gets here, along with its allure of no more nap time, that routine ends.  One more chapter closing, many more to come and go—the heartbreaking reality that is parenting.

I’ve found myself touching Frances more this week.  Reaching out to kiss her sweet, always slightly sweaty head, caress her arm, or just hold her hand.  I know that this time next week, she won’t be around for me to do that whenever I get the urge.  Her physical closeness these last 18 months has spoiled me rotten.  Just like most people who know her, I need my Frances “fix” often and being away from her for eight hours a day all at once and all of a sudden will undoubtedly be a tough detox.

The separation will be particularly difficult on George, who shadows Frances’s every move (sometimes to her dismay).  They are as close as I have ever seen two siblings—high energy play, high energy fights, and high energy love.  But George is ready for next week, too.  He needs some one-on-one time with me.  He’s an extraordinarily independent boy who loves to play by himself while I piddle around the house.  He flocks to other children on the playground, forgetting to be shy when Frances isn’t there to remind him.  I’m excited to see him blossom in his new preschool; to discover other ways he is both similar to and different than his sister.

So, until next Tuesday morning, you can find the three of us (and Daddy, this weekend!) enjoying as much as we can of each other and the outdoors.  Next week will be good for all of us—yes, even this blubbering writer—but just like most “good for us” tonics, the first few swallows will be tough to get down.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Putting the "ommmm" in my mileage

My knee.  My running knee.  The must-have appendage to get me to my daily happy place of physical exhaustion, sweaty clothes, and the habit-forming runner’s high.  You may remember that several weeks ago, the right one looked like this:

I was not a happy camper.

One MRI (showing no torn ligaments or floating cartilage) and one blood test (indicating I did not have Rheumatoid Arthritis – whew!) later, my doctor told me the following:

  • I am not 20-years-old anymore.
  • I must cut down my mileage or I won’t be running in 5 years.
  • I am no longer a young woman.
  • I need to try some yoga.
  • I am essentially over-the-hill.
  • My knees joints are looser than the average person’s and therefore have created scar tissue and irritation under the kneecaps.
  • I am old.

Okay, so he only said I was old once, but it sunk in.  Yes, 35-years-old isn’t ancient by most standards, but when it came to running I was treating my body the same way I had since college and expecting faster races, longer distances, and quicker recovery times.  Oops.

Yoga, he said, would help me slow down, strengthen the muscles around my kneecap (and ultimately help me run stronger), and enjoy a great workout with no impact.

And here is where I confess that a small part of me breathed a sigh of relief.  I knew I was pushing my body too hard; but no one had ever given me permission (yep, the dancer in me still looks for permission from my superiors!) to slow down.  I assumed I needed to keep up my tough workouts because they were good for me, good for my running, and, let’s face it, felt great.  But if I am really being honest with myself, I loved the thought of changing things up; slowing down; trying something that I always said I would do when I ‘got older’ (which, as it turns out is in my thirty-fifth year).

Of course the hard-core workout girl in me can’t change overnight, so I’ve signed myself up for ten classes of Bikram Yoga (the notoriously difficult hot yoga) and after completing two classes, I will tell you the following:

  • The room temperature when you start the class is a humid 105°.
  • The class is 90 minutes long, which means when you and the 100 people taking the class with you are finally done, the temperature in the room is approximately equal to the surface of the sun.  Except that it is more humid.
  • I have never sweated so much in my entire life.
  • It is, by far, one of the most challenging things (mentally and physically) I have ever done.
  • I absolutely love it!

We’ll see where my new interest leads.  Right now I have visions of continuing to attend classes, getting better, getting stronger and eventually ruling the world (Don’t laugh.  Believe me, you feel like you can do anything after one of these classes).  But in reality I am still learning to slow things down, including my expectations, so I will try to just sit back, relax, breath in and out (through your nose, darn it!), and enjoy each 90-minute ride as they come.


Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

We celebrated Will’s mother’s birthday last night with a dinner at Charlie and Becca’s house.

Frances thought her Flamenco dress was the most appropriate attire to fully celebrate such a special occasion.

George was thrilled to pieces just to be there.

There was ice cream

Baby Justin

And, of course, cake

George wanted to give Grandma his own birthday wishes

And then, the big boys

Grandpa and Justin catching up on their respective internet shopping/daycare adventures

The reigning champion of gift-giving, my husband, created a book for his mother’s birthday present this year.  The original version of Medicine for Margery, one of Barbara’s favorite childhood books, had exactly one illustration to accompany its long story.  So, after years of watching Barbara read it to Frances and George while all three stared at that same picture, Will realized he knew a couple of character actors that could fill in the storyline with some serious pizzazz.

[Scroll down in the book for the rest of the story]

Medicine for Margery

Isn’t that adorable?  And I love the story; charmingly antiquated, but with the same universal message that all parents struggle with—look kid, if you don't eat your vegetables, I'm going to have to bring in the doctor.  And you're really not going to like that.

Happy Sunday, everyone and a special happy birthday to Grandma!

Friday, August 24, 2012

And now a word from our sponsors

This blog is brought to you in large part by the products at Disney:

Frances may never take this off.

And George, not to be outdone, showing off his Mickey and Goofy figurines.

I’ve read the suggestions of parenting experts to encourage un-themed toys—wooden blocks, basic baby dolls, traditional cars and trucks, and simple playthings—and to shy away from commercialized images that can limit your child’s imagination and ability to expand on an idea.  But after a full year of watching Frances and George play with their Disney Princess outfits and Lightening McQueen toy cars, I have to disagree with this theory.  There certainly is no shortage of imaginative games taking place in this house—just the comfort of using a toy that has a familiar face that they absolutely adore.

The folks at Disney know what they’re doing, don’t they?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Our Florida trip

Jupiter Island, Florida, playground to the rich and famous, ... 

Tiger Woods, Celine Dion, and Alan Jackson to name a few

... will never be the same after this crew:

Don't let their relative calmness fool you.  This was a rare moment of stillness for the four of them.
(Byron, Frances, Harlan, and George)

And that's only half of the number of kids (8 total, ranging in ages from 1 to 9) plus 7 adults.  To say it was chaotic is an understatement, but it was worth every coffee spill, temper tantrum, and scraped knee so that Brooke, Julie, Sarah and I could finally have our kids under one roof.

So much cuteness in one bathtub I can hardly stand it.

Unfortunately, I didn't take nearly enough pictures (and not ONE of the beach--how ridiculous is that?) because I was too busy having way too much fun and just maybe putting George in a few timeouts.  Thankfully, Frances received endless compliments on her good behavior (whew!), so I only had to worry about the littlest Homiller most of the time.

George and Byron playing airplane

Steve (Julie's husband) and their son, Byron

Aunt Julie holding class in her bedroom.

Seriously, these kids need an iPad

Harlan (Brooke's adorable little boy who looks JUST LIKE BROOKE.  I kid you not when I say I thought I was talking to her when I would look at his little face)

George, Frances and Byron dashing through a humid evening

The youngest two--Brooke's Harlan (2) and Sarah's Zepplin (1)

For the most part, we just hung out at the house for the five days--swimming in the warm pool, splashing around the even warmer ocean, soaking up the Florida sun, and enjoying some insanely great homemade margaritas.  Yep, we were roughing it.

Our view

Frances's last swim of the trip (*sniff!*)

On our last full day together, Brooke sponsored a pirate ship adventure for the kids:

As many of our group as I could capture

It was HOT for those of us not in pirate garb, but the kids loved it (Frances names it as her favorite part of the trip, which says a lot):

Sarah's Lola, Dutch and baby Z

Frances, Byron (mid-argh!), and George

The head pirate - he was fantastic (and looked the part)

The enemy pirate

Firing cannons at the enemy

Comparing their respective loot

My favorite part of the trip?  Catching up with these lovely ladies:

Some of the many outtakes (note to self: do not hire Ricky Hahn as your photographer)

My girls!

It's hard to believe we've known each other for 21 years this fall--our first semester of high school.  As cliché as it sounds, when the four of us get together, we pick up right where we left off--laughing until we cry, crying until we laugh, and always supporting each other’s hopes, dreams and goals more than anyone else.  They are amazing bunch.  Our get-togethers have become slightly more mature through the years (less Zima (cough!) and Pearl Jam, more fresh fish and white wine), but they are no less fun (and might just be 100% legal now that we are all 21 years old : ))

So, how was the airplane traveling with Frances, George and me, the lone adult?

Hugging Daddy goodbye at the airport

To set the stage, the three of us traveled with two checked bags, two car seats, and three backpacks as our carry-ons.  In addition, we are a relatively low tech family--no iPad, no portable DVD player, no iPod touch, not even an iPhone--which I like, up until the very moment when one would come in incredibly handy and I think to myself, "why didn't we just get the stinkin' iPad when we had the chance?!"  But considering those odds, the kids did remarkably well.

It didn't hurt that we had only one two-hour flight to get through and we flew JetBlue, which is equipped with satellite TV (read: Disney Channel) both ways.  I also had the help of a fantastic blog, Trips with Tykes, (written by one of my law school friends) complete with endless tips on what to bring on a flight, how to ease through security, and maneuvering through those unexpected issues that arise (because there is ALWAYS something, right?).

Coloring and snacks--two must haves

Hands down, the best travel tip I received was from my mother who told me to look as pitiful as possible and someone was bound to help us out.  I assure you, with a wobbly airport cart holding two large car seats, one huge pink suitcase, one smallish, stained brown bag, three worn backpacks, and an array of half eaten snacks falling on the floor around you, it doesn't take much to look pathetic.  We must have looked extra needy on our return trip because instead of forcing us to take the shuttle bus back to the airport terminal, the nice man at the rental car agency (thank you, Avis!) drove us right to our check-in gate.  I was so thankful I could have kissed him (and in my sleep-deprived state, I think I may have hugged him).

So excited to fly (or at least to watch cartoons for the next two hours)

All in all, it was one of the best vacations I have ever had--not relaxing, not romantic (how could it have been without Will!), but incredibly fun and remarkable that we were all able to pull it off.  I am still amazed that my high school friends (who I met when I was still a child) now intimately know my own children.  I am a lucky, lucky girl!

Before I sign off, I must thank Brooke and her husband, Ron (whose mother owns the house we destroyed stayed in). I could never repay their overwhelming generosity, but I hope they know how much it meant to me and my children that they selflessly opened their doors to our crazy bunch.

Brooke, Ron and Harlan

Next time, I think an RVA visit is in store!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, August 20, 2012

We made it!

And this mischievous grin pretty much sums it up perfectly.

On the plane!

Frances, George and I are back from our Florida adventure to visit Brooke, Julie, Sarah and their respective adorable families.  Part of me is happy to be back to a normal routine and the other part of me misses these girls more than ever before.

Brooke, Julie, me and Sarah - 21 years after we first met.

More later, I promise!  Until then, have a great Monday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eight years and counting

Eight years ago today, I was swept off my feet

And he still gives me those stomach-churning butterflies

No one can make me laugh as hard as Will

And I like to think I add a little humor to our lives, too

If you know Will or have read my blog posts about him, you'll know it doesn't get much better than my husband--kind, thoughtful, selfless, hardworking, sweet and generous to a fault.  As a founding member of the "I married someone better than me" club, I can say with great confidence that I married up those eight years ago.  And as if to prove my point, Frances, George and I are abandoning Will today for six days of R&R in Florida with my three best friends from high school.  If I recall correctly, I think we've also left Will two years in a row on his birthday, so I hope he's not starting to take offense.

Happy Anniversary, Will!  Thank you for our life (blessed), our children (blessings), for letting me be who I am (complex), and for loving me anyway (completely).

See everyone after our Florida adventure.  It's our first bambino plane ride, first time with my friends' children (8 total, I think), and my first long vacation with kids and without Will--if nothing else, I'll return with lots to share!

Can't wait to see you girls!!