Category Archives: Children

My Summer of Loss

What a summer. Talk about having the wind knocked out of you. About a month after I gave birth to the twins at 36 weeks, my very special handsome boy Henry (my oldest golden retriever) decided to pass on his supper one night and there began my nightmare. All my subsequent doctors’ visits and surgical procedures, and adventures in injecting pain killers are well documented at our George and Henry website. 20140902-212318.jpg

I got Henry when I started grad school in 2004, seems like a million years ago. Just feels like he’s always been there. Grabbing balls out of the chuck it, dropping boulders on my toes, doing jujitsu on my legs while trying to steal a soccer ball, gently babysitting my two year old, torturing anyone who would throw something for him to fetch or catch, cavorting in the river, running in the woods – plume of a tail high in the air. Always, always there. Sweet, loving, gentle, athletic, heartful, and so very, very handsome. I knew from the beginning, after we managed to pull through the red mange he had as a puppy (genetic disease), that he was an angel, honest to God, an angel. I’d only get him for a little while and I’d have to give him back. I knew it. I just didn’t think it’d be this soon. There’s a heavy, deep hole in my heart. The raw and sharp pain of loss lessens a little each day, but the ache of missing him feels like it will never go away. He’s everywhere. Here on the farm, in my car, around town, in the eyes of my other dogs, and two weeks from now, I’ll see him everywhere I go on Nantucket. Aside from River Rock, that was his most favorite place on earth.

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At any rate, I felt like writing about him and I wanted to share this little story about him: This is a photo of our chimney. The stonemasons we hired to work on our house are two highly skilled brothers. This story involves them, but first, let me set it up a bit.

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We built our home over the course of a year, basically the first year of our first son’s life. So Henry was going through a big change – he was learning to share me a little (with the baby), and he was doing so well. Mainly because he’s such a likeable easy going guy. There was a team of three guys who built our home, but we had lots of subs in and out during this time also. Well, once Henry figured out he could sucker almost anybody on our building team to toss him a ball or a stick or even a rock, he was over at the jobsite almost every single day, rain or shine. He’d follow Christie over every morning after the walk and he’d stay long after she left.
Here’s where the stonemasons come in. Both fellas grew particularly fond of Henry and would entertain him for hours, throwing sticks, rocks, balls, whatever, and sharing their lunches with him. They had him running quite alot. A good portion of Henry’s arthritis might be attributed to this relationship. At any rate, the stone masons were really impressed with the size and sheer number of rocks Henry would bring up from the River. They joked that he was adding to their pile (all the rocks they used were quarried from our river bed). One day they were so chuffed they decided to use this one rock in their work on the chimney. In fact, they made sure that when they placed it, it would be low enough that it would always be at Henry’s eye-level. He could trot by and see his contribution to the chimney anytime. It’s a beautiful pinkish hued River Rock in the shape of a heart. And that’s my Henry. Not only did he get me, but he got to me, and he got to everyone else, too. He was a very special dog – this is his rock, it hides behind the hydrangea now.

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I found this poem last night that hits close. I don’t know who Holly Gray is but I feel her grief. It’s awful quiet around here.

To our Golden Retriever, Shockoe

I sit and try to write the words, I want your heart to hear.
Hoping to find some comfort, in the fact that your not here.
I look out into the open field, that you once occupied,
Knowing now that field is empty, because my love, you’ve died.
I do believe with all my heart, that your soul has gone to be,
With all the other angel dogs, that you were meant to see.
We will have to stay behind, until God calls us too,
So do not be afraid, that he’s only called for you.
The water is still, in the pond that you played,
And your bed is so empty, where your pretty head laid.
Our bed is to empty, where you once laid between,
the two people who LOVED you and now only dream,
That one day our eyes will shut one last time,
and you will come greet us, angel of mine.
Until then, I’ll keep trying to see through my tears,
with memories you left us, to reflect through the years.
We’ll never forget one minute we spent,
of loving and laughing, of places we went.
And I dread the day that your scent disappears,
for it’s “proof” to me, Shockie, that you were just here!
But one day will come, when we’ll start to see through,
the pain of the moment, and remember just “you”.
Now you go and play, and look down when you can,
remembering we love you, and this isn’t the end.

-Holly W. Gray, Shockie’s mommy

Norman Reedus, Prince George, Ice Breakers, & Sarah McLachlan or ‘News from My Week.’

I’m an hour late to swim laps this morning so why not take time to drop some completely ridiculous and unnecessary news and updates from my world? So here:
1. My grossly over pregnant self has worked up to 1200M in 30 min. Yay me!
2. At the beginning of this week I had a dream wherein MeNotMe/Beth won a huge walker fight and then made out with Norman Reedus. Despite my aversion to greasy hair, it was actually kind of hot.

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3. I’ve eaten three pieces of grape ice breakers ice cubes this morning. Yum.

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4. Prince George has affirmed my obsession with smocking and English sandals on adorable squishy baby boys.

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5. Guess who gets to see Sarah McLachlan this summer at the Cville Pavilion? This girl. Very very excited. Would’ve flown to freezing ass Canada to see her if I had to.

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Red Rubber Boots, Trader Joe’s & Running Dreams

So there are three things on my mind. Well, right, there are a million things on my mind at all times, but there are three that I feel like jotting down. 1. Every night when I lay down with my big kid to read stories (typically gathered from the library) there’s a little voice in my head that says I should document and share the really good ones. Tonight I’ll share Red Rubber Boot Day. 2. I love Trader Joe’s. I didn’t want to, but I do. I actually found myself saying out loud as I drove past it the other day on our way back into town, “Jeeze, I feel sorry for all those people that don’t have a Trader Joe’s.” 3. I REALLY REALLY MISS RUNNING. WTF. I never in a million years thought I’d miss something I used to dread doing, but I really miss it. So much so, I dreamed about it last night.

So, here’s number one:

Red Rubber Boot DayI apologize for the shiteous photo, but I was trying to squeeze in the author and illustrator. Author: Mary Lyn Ray and Illustrator: Lauren Stringer. My kid loves to jump in muddy puddles and we are so GD sick of snow and icky wintery-ness that we picked this book at the library Saturday to remind us that spring is on the way! Tonight was the first time I read it to him and it’s absolutely beautiful. I started to think that when I hit this page:

Boots and Bare FeetYou can literally feel the “green rain” squishing between your toes and under your arches. You can smell the muddy puddles and feel the cold drops. The drips from the leaves, and I swear it’s only the latter half of the book that takes place outside. The rest of it is just as beautiful but it was at this point that I started to feel it. I recommend this one. It’s very simple, so young kids (2-4 I guess).

Now, Trader Joe’s. The berries, the full fat creamy little tiny yogurts, almond milk, sunflower seed butter, coconut oil, lava cakes, salsa, pasta sauces especially the vodka sauce, olive oils, organic butter, whole chicken in brine, fresh flowers, belgian pancakes, dried fruits. Not the veggies, not the lunch meat. The veggies go bad quickly and my kids don’t like the lunch meat. Also, they have Kind bars at the best price in town. You can’t do all your grocery shopping there, but you can find some treasures. Lots of whole foody type stuff at regular people prices. I love you, Trader Joe’s.

Last night I dreamt that I was running in shorts on a hot day. My legs looked awesome – tan, long, lean. I had no belly. What pregnancy? I remember that my shorts were orange and pink and that I kept looking at my fit bit that was somehow also timing my run. I was absolutely besting any PR I have ever dreamed of for a mile. Like, for real, my time was something ridiculous – maybe 6:24. Only in my dreams. But it felt so damn good, running, taking in the road, the sights, the sounds, the people, the warmth, the sunshine and the day. I miss it. I miss it. I miss it. In fact, I hate running in the pool so much that I actually got out at the 30 minute mark today and swam 500M at speed, in the lap pool. MUHAHAHAHAHAHA. Take that, twin pregnancy! July 9. Get here.

 

 

Morning Lament: from the gym to filling up diesel cans.

In my notes, I called this post the Day of Buttheads, and while I still feel that way, I also felt as though that title wouldn’t convey the general idea quite the way it should. Because, really, who am I kidding? I’m just moaning here. My list this morning was simple: Swim, Go by kid’s school, Pick up library books for kid, Dollar Store for potty training prizes, Diesel for the farm. Home. This is the true story of how it actually went. Looking back, I’m slightly put off that my hunger seemed to really take the driver’s seat for a bit.

My day started off by getting run over in my lane while swimming at the gym. Now, I have been known to lane leap once in a while (generally while back stroking and usually when I get water up my nose), but not when freestyle lap swimming especially in the first 500M of a morning swim. I digress. This morning, some pasty, pudgy, slightly hairy douchebag totally swam right over me. And that was his way of letting me know he was joining my lane. No warning, no standing at the end so I’d see him while turning. Nope. He just got in, started swimming and ran right over me. Jackass. I’m still pissed just thinking about it. You know how much I loathe swim day anyway.

So, I shower and head off to the kid’s school to drop off his paperwork and another check. Activity fee. For a 2 year old. WTH. Whatever. I thought I picked the route with the least amount of construction, instead, the stoplight was out, two lanes were closed and the city’s finest were directing traffic. Yay.

On to the library for said kid’s books. Glance at clock. Nope. No time for library. Text from wife – “pick up bras for me please.” Hey that actually sounds fun! A. I get to shop for small bras – I never get to do that, and B. I get to shop for my wife’s lingerie. Fun.
Well. It was fun until A. I tried on bras, and B. I missed the free bra by one square on my ‘bra and panty club’ card. I’m not making this crap up.

Starving. Must check my calorie counting fitness app to see what I can eat because I’m low on time and getting crotchety and faint with hunger. It looks as though the grilled chx wrap at chikfila (which I don’t like doing because of the gay stuff and it’s still technically fast food) will suffice and it’s next to the dollar store so I can hit that after.

Left turn lane closed. Really? It’s 12:30 and the left turn lane into the Rio Hill Center is closed. Really great planning there. I keep going, do a uey at the next light, head back.

I’m totally distracting myself with my little fitness app, but I still manage to notice how effing slow this fast food line is. I’m not even supposed to be eating this crap. Shh. Check clock. I’m losing precious dollar store minutes. I watch the lady in front of me order for her entire apartment building.

Tick tock. (Or as Ke$Ha might say, “Tik Tok.” Jeeze she makes work outs fun.)

Dollar store window of time is gone.
Why, you may ask, did I need the dollar store. I’m attempting to potty train my oldest. Sort of. Anyway, someone recently told me they wrapped up individual little prizes and kept them by the toilet to help with potty training. Sounds like something the kid would go for – he loves prizes almost as much as his mommy. I thought the dollar store would have some nifty little crap toys to wrap up for such a thing. BUT IT WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR ANOTHER EFFING DAY.

I’ve got to get diesel and get home before the nanny leaves. Woe is me.

Just standing here pumping diesel into my 6 gallon can when older nosy professor type next to me glances over. He watches me place the can in my car. “Does that thing not have a cap on it?” He is incredulous. I respond, “No, it sure doesn’t. Bummer.” What I wanted to say was, “Yessir, that’s how we roll back in the hollar.” Looking back I wish I would’ve said that. He waits a minute, then leans over again, “You should at least get a plastic bag and a rubber band for it. Jeeze.” I say, “Uh huh,” as I pretend to rummage around for something to cover the damn thing with so he’ll shut up. He says, “I’d hate to think what might happen if you have an accident.” I grit my teeth, smile and say, “I know. I got it.” Just shut up already. We’re all tired of you. You’re ruining our good time. Go home. Everybody hates you.
Whoa. That one got away from me. Sorry.
Good thing I didn’t really say that because he followed me all the way to my turn off.
At which point I had to stop and wait for a leader car because one lane was closed. Seriously. I’m not embellishing. I swear.
I’m home. It’s only 1:40.
What a morning.

AYSO? Not in Cville.

We couldn’t just use AYSO for our kids’ soccer play. No, not in Cville. This has bothered me for years.
Cville had to create its own org.

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iPad Thrills with Granny

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

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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.

All By Myself

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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!

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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 (www.tootsiesstriderite.com). 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…