Archive | July, 2012

Olympic Gold

30 Jul

London Mug – a la TJ Maxx

We are crazy over the Olympics around here.  Our usually quiet TV has been kicked up a notch making an exception for the summer games.  I love the back stories of athletes overcoming financial, physical, and mental road blocks to become an elite few in their respective sports.  It’s fun learning about the host city 2-5 minutes at a time.  And the events, oh the events, we cheer, we cringe, we I even cry a little. Shocker!  Ryan and I have a tradition of staying up way too late watching the prime time coverage and this year is no different.  It was a fun, lazy weekend.  We let the athletes do most of the work but we managed to sneak in a few medal worthy moments ourselves.

Double Decker wind up bus — a la London

Hank took US gold in table begging, eye boogers, and drool.  We’re so proud.

We secured a team medal for reading but not before Abigail was questioned about possible foul play over jeans suddenly didn’t need rolling up any more.

Ryan shocked us all with his soft butter catch, landing himself on the podium despite slacking off during training.

Over at Playground Stadium Abigail captured the All Around Toddler Gold for near perfect scores on the see saw, monkey hang, and twisty slide.

Check out that focus before a second attempt at the twisty slide.

And me, well, I was just beyond ecstatic when I did my 3 mile trail run at a sub 10:00 mile pace.  It’s as strong as I’ve been since injuring my IT band last summer.  Sweet, sweet victory!

And did I mention Abigail wants to train for a spot on the 2016 vacuuming team in Rio?  Far be it from me to stand in the way of my kid’s dreams.



25 Jul

Many years ago I went to a math workshop with my friend Heather.  One of the things we created was a three dimensional puzzle by gluing different numbers of wooden cubes together in a very particular way.  When we were finished we had 6 or 7 separate pieces that if assembled just so would create a 3x3x3 cube.

Everyone started at the same time.  Heather, spatial guru, completed hers quickly.  One by one the rest of the class followed, except me, it was sort of embarrassing.  “Moving on,” the instructor announced.  I can’t remember what was covered after that because I wasn’t paying attention.  I was too busy trying to solve the cube puzzle.   As a former student who struggled in math I was deflated but determined to get it right.

I have these moments while at home with Abigail.  Moments were my mama mojo just disappears.  Poof!  All of a sudden I fumble and lose my confidence, just stuck.  I see the pieces.  I know they go together, but how?

I can be the mom on the go but things get hectic at home.  I can keep everything together at home but then I worry that if we miss story time my little clam will never open up in a group.  These expectations that I am setting for myself are too high, so when I don’t meet them I feel like I’ve failed.  The puzzle sits on the table untouched because I can’t figure it out right away.

I don’t want to lower my expectations of who I want to be as a mother, but I need to set more realistic goals.  Right now we are knee deep in potty training and rearranging nap schedules.  With a new nap time that falls at the same time as story time we just can’t make it.  It’s okay.  Instead, we go to the playground or ride bikes or sit on the potty 40 times a day, well, Abigail sits on the potty.  I just sleep with my eyes open.  It’s okay.

When the mama mojo is gone it’s not always helpful to look around and see wonderful and fantastic and great plastered all over Facebook.  It doesn’t help me to log onto Pinterest for just another organizing tip or homemade play-doh recipe that I won’t have time to make.  I do get on though because it’s fun to be connected, to celebrate each other, to dream about what we might do given an extra hour or two every day.  But it’s also okay to just be okay, to be in a process of figuring it out.

I need to be patient with myself.  I need to view our little successes as just as important as our big ones.  I need to remember that Abigail and I have a great time when it’s just the two of us and there will be years upon years of activities to open up her little clam shell.

I don’t think the mama mojo really disappears, it just gets bogged down.  I know it’s time to reprioritize, slow down, and breathe.

I finally figured out that 3x3x3 puzzle, you know.  I stopped caring that I was the only one still working on it.  I did it in my own time and I was damn proud when I finished.  It stayed on my teacher bookshelf for a long time.  I worried that I’d forget how it went together.  A student asked me what it was one day and I took it down and handed it to him.  “Why don’t you see for yourself…” I said handing it to him.  That puzzle got taken apart and put back together a lot that year, little hands finally wearing down the glue that held the blocks together.  But that’s okay.  There are always new puzzles worth taking the time to figure out.

**A few months ago tons of articles were circulating on social media sites about putting down the iPhone and being a more present parent.  Thanks to this blog for the inspiration for our “iPhone fish.”  We’re trying to fatten him up by feeding him daily and often.

Penchant for Pink

20 Jul

Hank’s dog collar was on the verge of breaking. We had to run out this morning to get milk from the store so we stopped by the pet store first.

“We need to get a collar for Hanky. Should we get blue, orange, or green?” I asked holding out the three choices.


“Well, I don’t know if Hank wants a pink collar. How about red?”

“No pink.”

We perused the collars for the next few minutes, Abigail clutching a pink collar suited for a chihuahua.

“What about this one with blue AND green?”

“No! Pink pink!”

“Skull and crossbones?”


“Here’s a spikey one!”

Abigail begins to do the toddler knee bend cueing up the onset of a tantrum…

“NOOOOOOOO!” And higher pitched, “PIIIIIINK Hank pink one!”

So a whopping $8 later we were headed home with a hot pink collar in tow.

Parenting lesson #6,289: If you care about what kind of collar your dog is going to wear, don’t take a 2 year old with a penchant for pink.

Me? I didn’t really care. Learning to take turns? Sitting at the table for a family meal? Brushing your teeth before bed? Buckling up in the car? Those are battles worth the fight.

“Here Hank! Here’s your college!” she ran in proud as can be to show him.

All that mattered to Hank was that he got a new nylabone. Newfoundland “colleges” don’t really make much of a statement anyway as they are covered up with floofy hair.

“Real men wear pink…or so they tell me.” Hank

It’s Complicated

15 Jul

A toddler is complex, wanting security and independence sometimes simultaneously. It can be exhausting. It can be exasperating. It can be exciting. And just as I find my daughter to fit the “complex” description of a toddler I know that my feelings lately are just as complicated. There are times when I look at her and get wistful because she is not a baby anymore. But there are other times that I see a new relationship growing, and it is so exciting I find myself looking forward to the changes I know are coming.

I’ve mentioned a few times (or an excruciating amount to a select few) how hard it has been to get Abigail to go to sleep at night — even with a calm and predictable bedtime routine and consistent timing and all that jazz. So we lay down with her a lot. “Mama stay. Daddy cuddle.” Some people would say maybe that is our problem. We should just leave her up there to go to sleep on her own, but I just can’t. For Abigail it means adventuring around her room or standing at the top of the stairs bawling her eyes out. So we lay. It’s not a perfect solution, but it makes the happiest home for us.

There are many nights that I lay up there and think, “Please. Just. Go. To. Sleep…” There are other nights that I’m asleep well before she is, and when I wake up an hour has passed and my contacts are dry, blurry, and suctioned to my eyes. Many nights it’s Ryan who stays up there and falls victim to the unintended bedtime. Sometimes we get lucky and she’s asleep in a couple of minutes. At this point it’s a crapshoot.

She’s sick tonight with coughing and congestion. I sang her our special song and when I finished she was so still I wondered if she had drifted off at last. A few minutes went by and she sat up and started talking:

Play trains at E’s house. E’s clock octagon. Lolo’s clock broken. BB’s hat and orange tractor. Watch swimming races. Kids swimming fun! Kids put on black bathing suits and hats. Fun LoLo’s house. Pop’s garden pick cucumber. Bridge. Walk bridge. Pet Molly. Shh! Molly’s sleeping. Nanny and Gramps come, fun. Drive red car. Play outside. LoLo’s red car. Pop’s be right back – pizza party! Fun Emmy. Emmy watch BB tractor. Put sunscreen on. Guy door, play ball again. Walk stroller in rain…Go back E’s tomorrow.  Play trains. Go back LoLo, Pops.

It was a running monologue of our trip to Virginia in unbelievable detail. For once I didn’t care that it was 8:37 and she wasn’t asleep. I wanted to keep whispering with her about the sweet memories we shared. My heart leapt as I realized how much she remembered, how vivid it still was to her. She said she wanted to go back and we talked about how we would — but not tomorrow or even very soon. And that’s okay, the missing something.

I don’t claim to have all of the parenting answers. I don’t.  Exhibit A:  Our bedtime situation. Every day we face new challenges. We evolve to meet the needs of Abigail and each other and our family. I could tell you what worked for me today and low and behold tomorrow it would be proven ineffective against the resolve of our determined two year old.

But I do know this. If I had not been laying with Abigail tonight I may have never known what was on her mind. So I’m glad I stayed. Maybe one day the staying will mean I get to learn a funny thing that happened at school or something she’s worried about or a problem she’s having. Maybe I’ll get to hear about her wishes or what she wants her future to be like.

I’m happy we’ve turned the corner into toddlerhood — into this world of give and take, big battles, and little conversations. There is a lot left to be celebrated. I am still very much in awe of this unique soul that belongs with us. I feel like I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of all she is becoming and all she is destined to be.

All Who Wander

7 Jul

Adventure will always be there to inspire us and awaken our senses. It’s exciting making a trek to somewhere new wondering what it will be like — the promise of new experiences encouraging us to take that leap and give it a try.

The other piece of adventuring is returning. One day, one week, one year, however long it takes you to get back doesn’t really make that much difference. Somehow it always feels the same: a little sadness that it’s over, perhaps some thought to a future trip, and a sigh of relief when you finally walk through your door and get to curl up in your own bed once again.

Adventure takes many forms. The obvious ones you make over land and sea and the hidden ones that cross the road maps of your heart. A baby being born, setting into a new home, grieving a loss, making a new friend — they are all adventures you know, requiring taking off, finding bearings, and a willingness to adapt; to learn.

Sometimes the lines get blurred making it hard to pick out where the adventure started and where it ended. A hike that seemed insurmountable flattens out, lost luggage is returned, a breathtaking view becomes the norm — somewhere along the way stress and hardship grow into comfort.

And when you find comfort it’s easy to want to hang on to it all. To hold your breath and keep things just the way they are.  But babies grow up, people move on, healing happens, and then somehow you find yourself ready to venture out once more.

Last week I was handed something special. It drifted over like a bubble on a breeze and came to rest in the palm of my hand. Inside it was only a comfortable feeling.  Its happiness characterized by friends around a table and celebrating. I wanted to pocket it, to make it last, but it doesn’t work that way. So I appreciated that beautiful, fragile moment and let it drift on — making room for the next adventures and subsequent returns that wait among the winds of time.

Virginia Summer

1 Jul

Among the many things we do as parents are those that exist for the sole purpose of sharing ourselves.  And like the mighty spring tide, everything seemed to line up perfectly for giving Abigail that glimpse into the inner workings of her mama.   This is where I’m from.   This is who I am.  Welcome to summer in Virginia.

I saw the rush of wonder at things that seemed foreign contrasted against the awakening of things we may be destined to share.

Gardening, Gardens, and Grandparents

Cucumbers were the only things ready in Pops’ Garden.

Our master gardener, fondly known as Dad, at the Butterfly Pavilion.  

Botanical Gardens, Richmond, VA

Swimming and “Swimmin Races”

We spent a lot of time in the world of competitive swimming growing up, a LOT. Will Abigail choose that route?  Ryan is hoping no.  I’m thinking maybe!

Cousins.  All swimmers.

Go Sharks!  

A little private lesson with my sister, former Virginia Tech Swim Team Captain.

Girl Talk

I got to sneak away for a little Lynchburg fun.

Joy and Georgie.  Friends don’t come any sweeter than these.

Douglas and Bruce – not talking or girls, just best friends.

Those one of a kind girlfriends that you feed your soul?  These are mine.

Back home.

My mom and sister.

June Birthday Girls

We had our share of meltdowns (pun intended) and scraped knees.

But mostly?  Mostly it was sandals and sun and love.  So much love.

Um excuse me, I was there too.  

Shawn, Emily’s Furbaby.