Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Night Leftovers

  • All my anxiety about the one dinner thing was not needed. I prepped both kids that we were all having the same dinner because I thought they were big enough to eat what we ate now. Maggie was all for it. Cam, not so much. But, I served sweet Italian sausage, biscuits and corn on the cob. And they ate it.
  • It is HOT here. We have friends who can't play with a sprinkler in their backyard because their dog loses a nut when they do it. He loves the water so much he runs around like a crazy dog and won't let the kids play. So invited them over for a sprinkler party tonight, but they already were planning on a play date with another family on the street - and asked if they could join in. Of course they could, but they got us up to 9 kids with just our three families. Might as well make it a party right? So invited all the neighborhood kids.
  • And one said we should use her inflatable water slide! It's going to blow the kids minds to get home to that!
  • I'm hoping that this starts a weekly Friday night cookout with our buddies on the street.
  • It's also hopefully the first weekend we get to go to the town lake and beach. We love going there.
  • Tomorrow, we are probably going to hang close to home, so I'm trying the idea that I've seen on pinterest of freezing little plastic toys in a block for them to chip away at in the heat. People claim that it occupies their children for over an hour. We shall see.
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

And so it begins

I have a long history with food. Not all of it great. Lots of dieting, thinking different foods are BAD, obsessing about it, counting calories and then stressing about passing that onto my own kids. One of my big parenting goals was to NOT pass this disorder thinking about food onto my kids. I try very hard to live by the advice "I give the kids the good food, and it's their job to eat it". We try to sit down and eat as a family as much as possible. On the weekends, when they are too excited to sit and eat breakfast, we explain that you can get up without eating, but no snacks. Next food chance is lunch. Food is a relatively low stress parenting area for me, honestly.

I try to get them to try new things, but in general, they eat pasta, mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza, and grilled cheese sandwiches. All fruits, a few veggies, and usually both kids eat what I would classify as a good dinner. Sometimes we will have ice pops or cookies or brownies, but I try to not make that a nightly thing. And I also try to not tie the treats to finishing their dinner. On the other hand, I don't let them only have cookies for dinner, either. (I will admit to ice cream for dinner every once in a while, though).

I don't know if I over think the food thing because of my history, or if this is totally normal for all parents, but I am grateful that in general, my kids eat decently and have age appropriate table manners.

As with all things parenting, I've finally gotten to my breaking point with dinner. Every night we cook what I would classify as 1.5 dinners. We cook for Aaron and I, and then we are sure to cook something we know the kids will eat. It isn't like it HUGE time consuming thing, but it's another pot to clean, appliance to turn on, blah blah blah. And since I haven't been working from home, I can't prep dinners in advance like I used to. I just want things to be a little easier, and I feel like the kids are old enough that we can all just eat the same thing. I know, Jen. You are smart and have been doing this since day 1. But I feel like now, the longer I put it off, the harder it may be! So, tonight, we begin the hardcore 'this is what we are serving for dinner'. I know in my heart that they won't let themselves starve, and I also know that even when I give them exactly what they want for dinner, they sometimes don't eat it. My kids usually eat really well at two meals.

But I also don't relish losing my relatively safe and drama free dinner time, either. Hold me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


When I sat down last night after tucking the kids to bed, I was thinking how lucky we were when we bought our house. We were searching for our house in 2005, right at the peak of the crazy house buying. Everything was super expensive, and when something went on the market, it would sell that weekend, and sometimes for more than it was listed. Aaron and I looked a loads of houses, had a few fall through, and it was February when we found this house. I will admit, we didn't do huge amount of research. We have family in our town, but mostly we were looking for HOUSE we wanted. We were more worried about the number of bedrooms, and if it had a fireplace or not. I cared about the school system and the crime rate, but I hadn't thought much about the actual neighborhood.

We moved in and didn't really meet anyone until the spring. But when we finally did? I saw that we moved into a real neighborhood. I found that people in our town wait for houses on our street to go up for sale because of how great the neighborhood is. The kids run in and out of different houses, playing tag and hide and seek and catch until the sun goes down, and the women in the neighborhood plan holiday parties and I quickly made a bunch of friends. We get together to knit, I've started a book club, and this year will be the third year of our block party. I love where we live.

This weekend was so enjoyable, and it's in huge part due to the people in my neighborhood. We had toyed with different ideas for the weekend, maybe going to Nantucket or my mom's cabin - and then realized that Cam had tee-ball and we couldn't go anywhere until Saturday afternoon late, so opted to stay home.

Saturday, we kept to ourselves. Got little things done around the house, I went swimming and we went to see Epic (good kids movie! Totally recommend). Sunday I invited our friends over for breakfast, and they stayed until mid-afternoon. Then other friends came over on their bikes and we all played outside until dinner. Monday, I decided to take the kids to Drumlin Farm (a place I would have never gone to but for several friends giving a recommendation) while Aaron did some work around the house, and then we rode our bikes to the town parade. The whole town was out at the parade, which my kids thought was AWESOME (total classic small town parade. The veterans walked at the beginning, the high school marching band, the Girl and Boy Scouts, and finally the Stow Minutemen. Then everyone follows behind to the town cemetery. Cam and Maggie were THRILLED to be in the parade and walking on the main road). Afterwards, Cam rode in the car with his good friend to the ice cream stand, while I rode with Maggie (Aaron was helping his Aunt, we picked him up on our way). Then we pedaled home, played in the backyard, hung out at our next door neighbor’s pool, and ended the night having gin and tonics with another neighbor while their 'big kids' (11 and 9) played with Cam and Maggie.

To me, we live in such a special place. Within easy walking distance (like 1/3 of a mile), there are 6 families that we enjoy spending time with and that our kids love playing with. We have impromptu cookouts and play dates all the time. I'm so excited that my kids get to grow up in a place like this. To me, it's almost magical. I love it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

9 Years

Today marks nine years of marriage. In the past year, we've seen a few marriages around us end in divorce. It's sad, and every time it makes me think about what makes our marriage work so well. We have a foundation of a lot of love, and love that has grown as we've been through both great things and some awful things. We make each other laugh. Our basic morals and life outlook is very similar. We enjoy a lot of the same things, but we also have diverse interests that we pursue on our own. We support each other.

But lots of couples have that. I think the secret to long term success is about communication and compromise. When we first met (12 years ago!) we had both come out of horrible relationships (I for one, had actually planned to be alone for the rest of my life). In the honeymoon stage of our relationship, we had our first 'misunderstanding' (I wouldn't call it a fight). But he said something that pissed me off. We were riding our motorcycles (so not like I could say anything then), and we just rode home. When we got home, he asked me what was wrong, and I said it was 'nothing'. He said he was pretty sure it was SOMETHING, and we talked about it. He hadn't realized what he said, I didn't realize until he asked how much it pissed me off, and right then, we made a pact. If something was bothering us - we would talk about it right away. Not let it fester, not brush it off. Because no matter what, things like that build up and fester. Even when it's difficult, we talk about things right as they happen. We don't wait days or weeks and bring it up as ammunition, we address it right away. It's a habit. Before we do anything - we talk about how we will do it. Even little things - like what is going on during the week. I usually start Monday with a list of everything we have planned, and we work through it together how we will attack the week. But also big things, like when I was pregnant and nearing time for maternity leave, we set expectations of what he could expect from me when dealing with a little baby, and I knew what kind of help to expect from him. It's amazing to me when people don't have those talks and think that their partner will just somehow magically will know what they need.

Also we have our ability to compromise. I care passionately about some things and Aaron cares about others. It is actually freeing to me to not have to worry about certain things, because those things are his domain. Same with me - I have the things that I deal with in our life that Aaron doesn't have to think about. Sometimes we'll rein each other in, other times we'll push the other towards something they may be reluctant to do. But our happiness as a couple is the fact that we always work together with an open line to each other.

Do I want to kill him sometimes? Oh yes. Like when it's 11 PM and I can't fall asleep because he is snoring like a freight train!? Or when he piles up all the dishes right above the clean dishwasher?! But to me, it's surprising that we have lived together for almost 12 years and I have so few things that bug me about him. We are a true team and I love us. Happy Anniversary, Hot Stuff.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekend leftovers

  • Saw the new Star Trek movie - Awesome. I'm not 'Trekie' by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love sci-fi, and this movie was epic. Everyone should see it.
  •  The kids were awesome for me this weekend. We did a cookout with neighbors, Springfest, time with friends so I could swim with my swim team, late dinner with family, breakfast at a fancy restaurant, playground, ice cream stand, baby shower, members only night at the Museum of Science and a super late airport pick up - not. one. issue.
  •  But. I'm hoping that the next time Aaron goes away from a much deserved weekend with his friends, it is a more laid back weekend!
  • At Springfest I saw one of my swimming buddies from last summer's team, and she came and swam with me on Saturday afternoon! I was so happy to see her! Even I got a 'play date' this weekend, lol.
  • One of my big worries for the weekend was the baby shower - I really thought the kids were going to melt down when we went there. They were great, and at the end, Maggie didn't want to leave because she thought we were there to wait for the baby to come out of my friends belly. Imagine?
  • Although, when asked about his least favorite part of the weekend, Cam did mention that the baby shower was boring.
  • I'm very happy to have Aaron home, but will miss having the freedom to read my book in bed with all the lights on until midnight!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I wanna do something SPECIAL

Both Aaron and I work all day. Most nights we come home and hang out at the house, but every once in a while we'll go to McDonald's play space or hang out with a friend. We call that 'something special'. And I've kind of shot myself in the foot with this, but now that the weather is nice, more often than not we are doing 'something special' every night. Be it riding our bikes home, having a picnic at the park, tee-ball or going swimming - I have been really enjoying doing something fun outside every night.

Lately, if I pick up the kids from school and all we are doing is going home, Cam whines and says 'But I wanna do something special!" and does this very cartoon-like body lanuguage (head and shoulders down, arms crossed). What the heck do I do with that!? I explain that we can't do something special every day, because then it wouldn't be special anymore - and the way he says it makes me NEVER want to do something after school again! On the flip side, I very much enjoy doing 'something special' after work - it's my time to enjoy with the kids.

This weekend, Aaron is going away for a long weekend. He needs the break, and I know the kids and I will be fine (if it makes any sense, the kids are often easier with just one parent around). Then I started looking at our schedule - and it's overbooked with 'special somethings'. We have the town Spring fest, tee-ball, a farm visit, dinner with their cousins, a baby shower and then member's only night at the Museum of Science. Usually I would be excited for all the fun, but Cam's new bad attitude makes me nervous. He is really starting to talk back and not listen - and seeing his friends at daycare I know he is not the only one doing this, but MAN is it rough. I often hear him saying 'I know that, Mama' (in an exasperated tone, because OF COURSE he knows it) and he will just ignore me when I'm trying to get his attention. Drives. Me. Nuts. We are working on telling him that in our house we listen and in our house we are kind and respectful to our family members (and of course loop it back to our 'treat everyone like you would want to me treated' mantra) but oh my lord. Many nights, bedtime can't come soon enough.
And also makes me realize that Cam is almost officially a Kid. Definitely not a baby or a toddler - and sometimes he doesn't even act like a pre-schooler! It is insane to me how fast they change. People aren't joking when they say how fast your kids will grow up. And how hard it hits when you realize it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day

I asked a good friend of mine what he was doing for his wife for Mother's Day - and he said - it's all based on what she wants to do for her mom, isn't it?

And yep. This is my 4th Mother's Day as a mom, but it's always been about my Mom first. And, Aaron let's us do our thing, so it's a day WITH my mom, which is wonderful in itself. Three years ago he had the great idea of getting us tickets to the Red Sox (my mom is a HUGE fan) and it's now a tradition. We always have a wonderful time.

I'm going to say that this picutre sums it up:

Mom is awful about putting on sunscreen. So I was nagging at her to put some on - and she made a big deal and was joking around, and probably tried to put a full handful on her face. We were laughing so hard we were crying!

At the end of the game they annouced that all Mother's could come and run the bases with their child after the game. Mom looks at me and says - let's go! We waited through the final two innings and were basically first in line. It was awesome. All the women running around those bases had such a HUGE smile on their faces (including us!). It was a great day.

I got home just in time to read a couple stories and tuck the kids in. I feel very blessed to have such a great relationship with my mother and know Cam and Maggie do too.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Things that were repeated to me

I find myself saying the same things to my kids over and over. Mostly things like, 'I know you can put that shoe on all by yourself", or "please throw that in the garbage" - but also little words of encouragement.

And as I do that, I remember the few things that my parents said all the time that really stuck with me.

I wasn't the 'cool' kid in school, but I was successful - both in sports and academics. And sometimes, I'd get teased for it. (I wouldn't say bullied, nothing awful). No matter the situation, my mom would answer with 'It's because they are jealous" and then would reinforce what it was they were jealous of (I was smarter, faster, had better hair, lol). Looking back, who knows if she was right, but it made me feel so much better to think that way and gave me great self-confidence.

My dad had two favorites - the first was - Tomorrow will be different. When I was sad about something, and in the midst of teenage angst, he would always tell me that "Tomorrow will be different. I can't guarantee you different better, but I can guarantee you that things will change". And he was right. When I got dumped by my first boyfriend, I was devastated. But he reminded me that things would be different the next day, and they were.

And the second was - always give success a chance to happen. Awesome advice, and I find myself saying that at least once a week. I would mention I wanted to try something, and then tell dad I didn't think it would work out. He would turn to me and say "You'll never know if you don't give success a chance to happen.".

What stuff do you find yourself repeating to your kids? Or what do you remember from your childhood?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Night Leftovers

  • Maggie started tee-ball last night. I honestly thought she was too young for it - but my girlfriend found a program for 3 and up, and since Maggie is best buds with her girls, we went for it. Aaron was the one who took her, and she had a BLAST. Loved it. Aaron said she had the best arm out there (of course, right?).
  • While Aaron and Maggie were at tee-ball, I rode to pick up Cam on my bike with the trail-a-bike. I had this crazy idea to ride from school to the local ice cream place. I did the math, though, and it was a 7.2 mile ride over some big hills. So I packed a little picnic, figuring if he got too tired, we would stop, have a little snack, and wait for Aaron to pick us up. But no! We road the whole way, and he had a blast. And I did too. Nothing like hearing a little voice yell 'This is awesome!' to make me smile.
  • Tonight we are going to dinner with some friends. They have 3 kids - so we are getting two babysitters, letting the kids play and watch a movie together while we go out. I'm excited to see if this is a success, because if so, we may make it a monthly thing.
  • Tomorrow is Cam's first tee-ball game - and he is SO excited. I hope he loves it as much as he thinks he is going to love it.
  • I've been tracking my miles swimming on a US Masters team tool called a FLOG (Fitness log). It's a really easy to use tool and my favorite part was that it told me if I was on track to meet my 200 mile goal. Anyway, it had some (what I thought) were arbitrary milestones - 50 miles, 150 miles and 250 miles. Turns out, that there is a rewards program, and when you hit a milestone, you get a prize! I received a new swim cap in the mail yesterday because I hit 50 miles at the beginning of the month. It's a silly $2 cap, but I'm ridiculously proud of it.
  • Tomorrow is also our friend's annual Kentucky Derby party. I'm only allowing myself 3 Mint Juleps. I went a bit overboard last year.
  • And Sunday, we are having Maggie's preschool teacher watch the kids in the afternoon while we go to see Ironman 3. It is going to blow their minds to have her in our house.
Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Zip A Dee Do Dah

Yesterday, I was coming off the stress of Maggie being sick. This happens whenever one of the kids get sick, but more so with Maggie - because when she gets a fever, it really spikes (she has had fever's over 104 twice so far, and was hospitalized once for it). I stayed home with her Monday. She slept all night, but woke up at 4 AM crying and asking for water. Aaron gave her a little water, got her tucked back into bed and about 30 minutes later, she woke up and threw up everywhere.

Thankfully that was her last episode, but I spent the day watching and worrying about her. She kept asking for peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and all I could envision was it coming up all over the living room. So I let her have tiny bits (and sat her on an old shower curtain with a bucket. Another note, having kids that understand they should throw up in the bucket is life changing). When it became apparent she was done throwing up, she basically ate her way through the day. But Jesus. The stress of a sick kid kills me. I watch her every move. is she drinking enough? Is she OK? Is the fever gone? Should she have another nap?

Does everyone feel this way when their kid is sick? Or do I need to get over myself!?

But anyway, when everyone woke up yesterday in good spirits, I was even more happy about it that normal. Maggie was giggling and playing and Cam was so excited to have his partner in crime back. They were running around playing and having fun while I got dressed. They were off to school (Cam in shorts! He couldn't believe his luck!), and I got to work. The weather was perfect, the trees are in full bloom, and I was thinking to myself that it was a pretty great day.

Then, I get in and find out I won a raffle and got the Cindy bag I couldn't justify buying at my 31 Gifts show a few weeks ago. AND I find out that my cousin scored me some of the awesome Super Goop (yet expensive, but TOTALLY worth it) sunscreen I use on my kids for cost.

Healthy kids, raffle winning, perfect weather, deals... made me want to sing that damn Disney song 'Zip a dee do dah, zip a dee ay, my oh my what a wonderful day, plenty of sunshine, headed my way....."