Author Archives: Jill Reed

About Jill Reed

Nerdy PhD passionate about education, fitness and the environment. Currently living pura vida in Costa Rica with kids and dogs. Reinventing for the umpteenth time and writing content for all the land.

iPad Thrills with Granny

Perfect photographic demonstration of Apple’s main demographic for iPad sales. Toddlers & grannies.



Monday Morning Fiasco – Mommy Tragedies

I’ll preface this post with two caveats – 1. I will share way too much information; 2. Said information might be pertain to barfing and lady business.

Monday wasn’t any more rushed than usual: wake up to small child yelling, “Mommy. Mommy. Mommy;” go get kid, take him downstairs, make coffee as quickly as possible while simultaneously emptying the dishwasher, packing his snack bag and fending off four hungry golden retrievers and a Snoot dog.

This is a Snoot dog (and kid #2)

This is a Snoot dog (and kid #2)

Wife comes downstairs with kid #2, start making scrambled eggs for kid #2 and set up high chair while wife feeds starving animals. After we get through the business of breakfast and coffee, my wife walks dogs, feeds chickens, and checks horses, while I change poopy diapers (bathing if necessary), get small children dressed, get myself dressed, and make sure my gym bag is packed with bra, panties, clothing, brush, etc. You will recall from my Bra-less at the Gym post that I often forget such things.

So, now I’ve remembered the kid’s backpack, we’re in the car, we’re on time and we’re headed out of the farm gates. Courtland is really into going fast now that he has discovered the four wheeler (and yes, please, go ahead and judge me for letting him ride on it already – he’s a kid who lives on a farm. He will likely also drive a vehicle by the time he’s 10. Whatever.). So, I move a little quick around a few turns to give the illusion of going fast, but we’re stuck behind a worky looking van (ladder on top) so we’re not moving very quickly. Our morning drive to school takes anywhere from 25 minutes on a really, really awesome no traffic day to 45 minutes on a really really suck ass traffic day. We only live 17 miles from town but our roads are loopy, one-laned and often filled with tractors and other slow moving farm accoutrement.

Finally we arrive at the highway and we are making great time. We go past two construction sites that he LOVES because they’re filled with “diggers!” and “dump trucks!” and “ment mixers!” We are still talking about the diggers and dump trucks and ment mixers as we head into the really loopy part of this road which is, by the way, not more than 3 miles from school. As we round the last bend, halfway through saying, “Mommy,” he just lets the puke rip, right over the pacifier and onto the car seat, the middle seat, and the Tiger Woobie. Faaaaaaaaantastic.

Of course, he is completely distraught and I immediately pull over into a gravel lot just before you come to the main stoplight before you turn towards the high school. You can imagine that this little stop is a busy one. So I get out, get him out of his carseat, place him on the ground next to it and begin the search for paper towels, tissues, dog towels, whatever I can find to start cleaning him up. I find a skiphop bag from when he was probably 6 months old and thankfully it has an old pack of wipes in it. How did I manage to remove every single towel and his change of clothes from my car? How? Oh right, I was cleaning it out and those were deemed non-essentials. Right.

The ‘older then Jesus’ wipes actually have some moisture left in them and I proceed to clean the kid up all the while reassuring him that it’s ok – “we’ll change your clothes at school, we have an extra carseat, Tiger Woobie is all clean”, etc. Luckily we did have an extra carseat (facing the opposite way, but that’s not important) and he could easily be deposited there after cleaning him up while I cleaned the rest of the car and his stuff. Here’s the f*****g awesome part though. As I lean over the extra carseat while unlatching it to turn it to face forward, I realize that I forgot to put in a tampon before I left home. F*****G GREAT. 

Well, here I am with just a few wipes left (please, please, please say I have had the foresight to put a tampon in my gym bag. Please.). I quickly relatch the seat and get him in it, buckled, and ready to go. He’s finally stopped crying – miraculously I have remained calm and just continued to reassure him so apparently those mushy parenting books are sort of right. Who knew?

“It’s OK, honey, Mommy’s just going to use a few wipes to clean herself up and then we’re going to get moving again. Hang in there.” I move to the front of the car after closing the other back door and get in. I score a tampon from my gym bag

High five.

HOOF*****GRAY! It’s probably from 5 periods ago, but who gives a rat’s ass? And, YES, I do what I have to do and ignore the traffic and the open blinds in the townhouses next to me. I DO NOT CARE.

Though we are making a left turn out of the lot into the busy street, we somehow manage to get out super fast and we’re on our way to school again, having lost only about 10 minutes. Wow, Mommy. Not bad. Considering.

Change of clothes at school and I’m off to the gym. Yay, Monday.

The Texas Chronicles – “Howdy Neighbor” & “Pigs Gone Wild”

morning run

My morning run, pre-smoke and dead things.

Howdy Neighbor

Oh hey there, new Texan neighbor. Welcome to the hood boonies. Thanks for making the ultra-cool decision to burn massive debris piles of newly felled trees (from all your lovely meadow making) on this super dry and windy morning. As I looped back toward home and turned into the breeze, it made my morning run extra special. Even more so than the already ridiculous hotness and carcass-littered backroad already had.

Signed, Your coughing gagging snotty-nosed slow-running sissy pants neighbor.


Pigs Gone Wild

So the other day as Christie and I were en route to a luncheon at a friend’s house we passed by a field where some new owners had decided to create a pig wallow. They’ve ingeniously re-used old shipping containers (turned upside down with large openings cut through) as covered homes for the little piggies. I thought they were all adorable. Christie notices entirely different things than I do. Her reaction: “What a complete mess those pigs have made of that beautiful field. Note to self.” OK, so I guess a couple weeks ago when we asked Courtland if he wanted pigs and he was all “Yes, please,” and big grins – we can scratch that. Hopefully the two-year-old won’t remember whether we said pigs or chickens. We already have chickens, so we’re covered.

At any rate, this whole pig observation triggered my recall of an article I’d read a few weeks back in our recent issue of the Oxford American. So, this is my recap of the piece on wild boar hunting in Texas. And I want you to know that I’m doing this without even so much as glancing at the article before I write this because I didn’t have that luxury in the car during my recap for Christie and I want to see how ridiculous my memory truly is.

So, this guy, a hunter who has learned to hunt with Native American attitude (thank the Great Spirit, only kill when necessary, use everything), is invited to go to Texas and “hunt wild boar,” but basically the invitation is more like “Come on down, grab an automatic weapon and kill you some wild hogs, son.”  At first it sounds really off-putting, right? But he gets down there and the local yokel is talking about the crazy Russian Boars who were introduced to the area years ago and how they’ve intermingled with the local pig population to create some super-charged neo-hybrid freaky-deaky pigs. These said interbred pigs are apparently running amok, tearing up crops and fields, eating livestock and stealing small children in the night (OK, I made that bit up). Basically, they’re wreaking all sorts of havoc in this large rural area. All in a day’s boaring – hee hee.

So, after hearing all this and seeing some damage these psycho pigs are doing, this writer guy is all, “Lemme at ‘em!” So he takes this automatic assault gun thingy (though I do read Garden & Gun, I know very little about actual guns, but I’m quite certain that this one was big, scary, and should probably be used only by trained military) and hauls off with this local yokel in his truck into the woods. They do some hunting, but mainly they are shooting and killing – even taking out sows and piglets. I know we’re not supposed to feel sad about it because of all the aforementioned havoc, but here I am a month later still thinking about this little piglet running and squealing with delight one moment and then riddled with AK-47 bullets the next. Doesn’t seem fair.

Christie asks me what the point of my story is and I have to admit, other than it really sticking with me, I don’t have a clue where I was headed in vomiting my interpretation of the piece.

But I’ll share it with you. Here’s the link to the story because I am 100% sure that my recap is completely riddled with musings based on incorrect facts that my crap memory generated. And, the bottom line is, it was a good piece because I’m still thinking about it.


Training Swim Becomes Exploratory Dive: An Exercise in Identifying Weird Crap Floating in the Pool

So this morning as I swam laps at the gym I had so many things floating around in my head. For example: Why does the pool heater break on my morning to swim? If you don’t have wifi where does one go for Skype interviews? Why do my dogs always always always shake in the downstairs hallway that is filled with white wainscoting? Why can’t I fool my nine month old with pretend remotes? And then as I focused a little more through my anti-fog goggles, I realized that I actually had many things floating around my head. Well, maybe closer to the bottom, but still, I mean a lap pool is only four feet deep, right? So there I am, staring at the bottom as I swim along, investigating the depths for unidentifiable flotsam and jetsam (Jackie Cousteau, look out). I began with the discovery of an ace bandage clip. How does an ace bandage clip get into the gym swimming pool? Who the hell wears an ace bandage in the pool – THE LAP POOL, not the old lady water aerobics pool or the little person pee pee pool, or even the hot tub (which is allegedly the cool tub today). No. No. This little gem of a treasure was just lying there on the bottom, tossed to the side of the lane marker, lonely, probably wishing it was still attached to the complete moron who wore the ace bandage in the lap pool. I will say this – at least it was a component of an ace bandage and not a fluttering plastic band-aid with someone’s DNA imprinted into the gauze bit.

The rest of what I came across was mostly commonplace in club pools, but that doesn’t really make the experience any more the pleasant. There was the dark lint ball, likely an amalgamation of many different items that had been swirling around in there for some time. Also, this morning was a white lint ball, not so much a lint ball I guess, more of a tumbleweed/sea anemone looking thing. It sat at the end of the pool, on the bottom of course, and just swished gently each time I kick-turned to head back to the other end. After about 500 meters it seemed to float away toward the other lane. I wrote this down in my imaginary dive log.

I have saved my most favorite gym item found floating in a pool for last. Perhaps the most commonly found object, but definitely the one most likely to make me vomit, is the lone hair. Typically dark in color (easier to see), it lobs along, this way and that, moving like a snake without purpose, without intent. Though I am certain that its intent is to get as close as possible to me. I’m the person you see swimming laps who all of a sudden stops in mid-stride and makes a commotion to try to move quickly away from a certain spot in the lane. I am battling the lone hair. I’ll do anything to make sure it doesn’t graze me. If I may digress for just a moment…the only thing worse than the lone hair is a cluster or group of hairs, either in the pool or out of the pool. You can usually find a cluster right where you have to walk, either after you’ve taken your deck shoes off or just before you are able to put them on. Although, I suppose the worst place for me to find the cluster is in the shower area. GAG. GAG. GAG. You have no idea how hard I have to work to keep from vomiting. If only people would grab an extra crappy gym towel and take it into the shower and clean up their hair after they finish, my life would be SO much cleaner and less vomity.

But I digress.

I finished out my 1800 meters, shook the icky off as I climbed out of the pool, grabbed my gear, went to put on my deck shoes (no hair here, thankfully) and walked toward the locker room where I glided quickly over the tile and drain on my way to the shower area. There were a few stray hairs here and there, but more importantly, only one or two in the actual shower. I gagged my way through, cleaned up after myself and thanked heaven that I had another whole week between me and the lap pool again.

Professional What? by: Mommy Dearest, Ph.D.

Virginia_620x275Today I dropped out of my comfort zone for a minute. I left the gym and knew I wanted to run a few errands that would include the organic butcher and I was trying really hard to find a way to get to the butcher without having to drive through the University. I told myself that it was because of the masses of students, assorted academic-y nerds, and medical facility people that crowd crosswalks and the corner, but then as I started to pull up University Avenue, I realized it was more than that. I felt completely inadequate, like I had entered a foreign world, like I was on the other side of the planet. I drove by the President’s office remembering several meetings I had been to there with the Dean and the Provost. For a brief moment I flashbacked to watch myself walk across the crosswalk to Bodo’s to pick up lunch, stopping by the Orientation office to say hi to colleagues. I wore a suit and heels, carried a high end bag full of miscellaneous self-important crap. I remembered that once upon a time, I had big plans and I pretended that I had some tiny bit of power.


Doctoral degree – check. Baby on the way – check.

I looked down at my hands, my shorts, my shoes, over at my gym bag, in the rearview mirror at the two baby seats in the back of my car. I took a breath and my mind wandered and I didn’t even realize how tense I had become. I let it go and moved forward through the crosswalk. The biggest decision of my day doesn’t affect 5000 undergrads anymore, just two little people. What am I doing? Where am I going? Will I ever get back to some semblance of that life or have I moved beyond it to someplace new and different that might allow me to be more than I ever imagined I could be? I KNOW I’m not the only one that feels like this – it’s just that today was the first day in a long time I’ve been confronted with my own fears of inadequacy. It’s funny. I’ve never felt afraid to be a mother, to face my children everyday, to make decisions for them. But one simple drive through my alma mater, a place where I earned two degrees, including a doctorate, and I shake in my trail running shoes. You know I used to bash those women who earned the degree and then fell into a stay-at-home trap and disappeared from the village of “Making a Difference.” What the hell did those women do I wondered. How did they let themselves become invisible? Now maybe I understand where some of them are coming from, because I doubt a single person on Grounds even so much as glanced over to notice me shaking in my shoes. It feels really tough to get back in the game and perhaps that’s why some of us decide to change the course and remake the rules by which we used to define ourselves.

Memory Recall

I lifted this quote from a piece in the Oxford American:

The tending of fields, like the rendering of memories, is as much a rendering of fields as a tending of memories.” Casey Clabough

It made me think about my dad.

Dad & JillI am old enough to remember the sound of my father polishing his shoes, sitting on the green carpeted steps that dropped into his and my mother’s dressing room from their bedroom. His knees, tall and pointy as they gathered up to hold his forearms and elbows alternatively as he held his shoe just slightly out in front of his body – shoes in one hand, brush in the other, can of polish by his foot. Swish, scritch, swish, scritch, back and forth, his long fingers holding the brush like an extension of his hand, moving in quiet practice. There is the smell of the polish, strong, waxy and clean and the smell of my dad – like suits from the dry cleaners, fine old hats, worn out top siders, undershirts, deodorant, lipsyl all rolled into one. I can sit below him at the edge of his closet near the rows of shoes. I can see mine and my brother’s sleeping bags from here folded in the back of his closet, waiting for the next camping trip. But right now my father is polishing his shoes, the shoes he wears with his Navy uniform. Next he will polish the shoes he wears with his suits in court. I pick at the ugly green carpet and watch. I never tire of watching.


River Rock Farm – Tough Testing Ground for Dyson

Staggering amount of hair!

Staggering amount of hair!

We have five dogs, one cat and two sons (we also have six horses and umpteen chickens, but they don’t live in the house, thank goodness). We run a kennel free dog boarding business on a small farm in rural central virginia, which means the very special dogs (read: mostly goldens and labs) who stay with us join our family while they’re here. They live in our house and sleep on our furniture. The amount of hair I deal with on a daily basis is staggering. And here’s the kicker – I am obsessive compulsive about cleanliness and the general upkeep of my home.

Here’s where I start blathering on about how utterly unbelievably AMAZING the freaking Dyson vacuum cleaner is. If you have something against Dyson, stop reading now. If you LOVE Dyson like me, if you wish that your go-go gadget arms extended and morphed into a Dyson machine, then you will appreciate my diatribe. When my partner and I started our small business in 2006 we collectively owned two dyson animals (circa 2006). We purchased an additional animal in 2011 when we moved into our new house.

The Old Timer - full view.

The Old Timer – full view.

This is my unofficial endorsement of Dyson. We have tried other brands, but nothing compares to the power and suction of the Dyson. We have wood, brick and tile floors along with many oriental and other types of rugs on our floors. You may think you are getting your rugs clean with any old vacuum, but I’m here to tell you that the Dyson gets up more. I vacuum every other day due to dog hair and general farm dust and mud. The Dyson works hard on the rugs, pulls easily on the floors and makes using the wand in corners and other hard to reach spots easy enough to do every time I clean. It stores easily in my pantry downstairs and my upstairs hall closet. We have one per floor.

The Newbie - full view.

The Newbie – full view.

Having owned an earlier and a later model of the animal I can attest to the fact that they are different. The older model is heavier, but has a longer cord for covering more territory – it seems more sturdy. The newer model is smaller, lighter and seems a little more prone to injury. Both models are sufficiently duct taped, having survived so many years of beating on our farm. These machines have been through the ringer. I feel confident when I recommend Dyson to friends because there is no other testing ground as tough as mine. Now, if I could only figure out how to make it clean the mud stains out of my new rugs!

Special super bonus cleaning tip from the resident OCD cleaner lady (me): Resolve with OXY will get even the red clay stains out of your lightest rugs. I swear. Spray on, blot with a sponge, let dry and vacuum. Voila!

All By Myself

satc girls

Not really me or my girlfriends, but who didn’t wish they looked this awesome when getting smashed?

At a time when my oldest son is just discovering how to do things “all by myself,” I have been contemplating how much I have learned to appreciate doing things all by myself. I have arrived at that juncture in my life where I can actually do things on my own. It wasn’t too long ago when I required a veritable entourage in order to leave the house. In my previous life I required my girlfriends when I went out drinking mainly to be sure I got home at the end of the evening rather than going home with ‘late night hook up’. Hell, we even liked to go to the bathroom together for a variety of reasons. Today I need my wife to be my other half and make up for my social ineptitude and basic awkwardness at everything from cocktail parties to school fundraisers. But, I am aware that I have somehow developed this ability to be alone, to take long walks with the dogs in the woods, to work at my Panera office, to go see a movie, to go to the gym. I am at an age where I just don’t need the constant influx of conversation and companionship throughout my days and nights. Though I will admit that my days and nights are full of constant conversation and companionship. I mean I have a wife and two very small children, a nanny who is in our home everyday and my mother who comes to visit every other week. DSC_0484It’s hard to ever be completely alone, so when it happens, I almost miss the fact that it’s happening. It’s almost like thrill-seeking. I used to jump off bridges and take belly button shots on tables, but now it’s mega exciting to look up from my popcorn at a showing of the Hunger Games and realize I’m totally by myself, sneaking off to a movie in the middle of the day. Small celebration on the inside!

telluride beauty

How I really look when getting smashed.

Same goes for walking in the woods…looking down trying not to trip over rocks or be tripped by dogs. Wait, what’s that? I can hear birds, leaves in the wind, trees squeaking as they bend, frogs, and my own feet quietly crunching along…hey, wait a minute, I’m all by myself.  In fact on our recent ski trip with the girls when faced with lunch time decisions, I proudly announced that I didn’t want to stay at the wine bar (What? You might say.). No, I wanted a damn cheeseburger, and so off I shushed down down down the mountain in search of apres ski grease and shooters…by myself. Hooray! I’m sure lots of other moms feel this way. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but for me, someone who has always found ways to surround herself with other people (including not leaving the office until 7:00 and going straight to the bar), this is new. DSC_0122This is another phase in my life, I can savor doing things alone, just like my son who can now successfully undress (seemingly anywhere) ALL BY HIMSELF. Fabulous.

Shopping for Boys’ Shoes

Now that I’m dressing a second boy I’m discovering that it’s not all hand-me-downs and sloppy seconds, especially in the shoe department.

DSC_0550My oldest son who is two has particularly long and narrow feet. After spending his infancy in Robeez and various novelty pairs of shoes, I.e., Frye boots, Jack and Jills, I went to the brand I trusted for his foray into walking – Stride Rite. Stride Rite carries lots of really sweet European looking models and they fit his narrow foot really well. His first pair was a 5.5! I love Stride Rite – great quality, lots of style choices and kid-friendly. I’ve discovered a small online boutique in Midlothian for his dress shoes ( I insist that he has a pair saddle shoes for special occasions, and I’ve found Willet’s fit his foot well, but they run awfully big so I always order down a size and a half. He also has Tevas and Keens (the Newport) for summer. I worried the Keens would be a little wide for his foot but he loves them and never complains, therefore, we have at least three pairs. I tried a pair of Simples but they weren’t very “I’m in a hurry” friendly (read: they have laces). Also, despite their hideousness, the crocs have served us well, plus he can decorate them with silly pop on cartoon thingys. And they’re the first shoe he has been able to put on and remove by himself.

DSC_0297My second son is 27 pounds and 30 inches long at seven months. Holy and moly. I’ve recently started thinking about shoes for his feet as he is becoming more mobile, working on his military crawl. Now before the “barefoot is best” crowd starts burning me at the stake, I invite you to explore my 200 year old unfinished floors on your hands and knees and let me know how many splinters you end up obtaining. First I tried the old Robeez but they were too tight on the ankles, even the fishermans sandal. Then I tried my first son’s starter pair of stride rites, but in addition to being slightly big, they were too hard. I do want him to feel the floor as he’s learning to walk. This brings me to the shopping point. I read review after review on diapers, amazon, zappos, etc. I decided to try a pair of See Kai Run ‘Smaller’, a pair of stride rites and one pair of Nowali sock moccasins. Believe it or not, the best price turned out to be on diapers, plus free shipping. The SKR sandals are perfect for his fat, long foot and the moccasins are also a great fit, however, the stride rites are too slender from top to bottom. Bummer. I have a lot of stride rites with no home now thanks to my skinny firstborn. On the other hand, I love exploring the world of baby stuff and finding new treasures to share with other moms. That’s my 2 cents. I’d love to hear any suggestions for shoes for extremely fat footed babies.

Update: the SKR ‘Smaller’ shoe is actually too tight for his fat foot, also. Looks like sandals for the summer…

Bra-less at the Gym…on SWIM DAY. Seriously?

Full disclosure: I will talk about boobs and babies in this post. If that grosses you out, leave now.

You know what’s helpful after a long swim at the gym and quick shower? A bra. A bra would be a helpful item to include in the gym bag, and also socks, especially when one has already thought to include the tallest boots one owns. First, though, let me address the bra. I have had a child and I breastfed that child. Before I had a baby, I had rather large boobs and after I had the baby and breastfed for eight and half months I now have very large and droopy boobs. My boobs no longer have any meat – they are deflated blobs of flab. I cannot stress enough how strongly I feel about wearing a bra. My girls are NEVER allowed out of the house without a bra. Hell, they aren’t even allowed out of my bedroom most days without a bra to give them some sort of definition and hold them up above my belly button. So this morning when I found myself without a bra and not even lucky enough to have this occur on my regular workout day, I was naturally horrified. It seriously took a full five minutes to come around to the idea that I would have to put my slightly damp (thank, God, for centrifugal dryers) bathing suit back on in order to run errands and work for a few hours at my Panera office. So there you have it – a bra and socks would have been helpful today as I sit in my semi-damp suit rocking my sticky stinky feet.