Friday, July 24, 2015

My Happy Place

I'm a big believer that happiness comes from within - that external factors - surroundings, circumstance, money - should only have so much bearing.  But I have to say, there's something about just being in Cape Cod that lifts my spirits to new heights.

I mean, how can you not be joyful when you're surrounded by this:


Cahoon Hollow Beach

Cahoon Hollow Beach


Wellfleet Town Harbor

Gull Pond

I've been here to Wellfleet, a small town on the Outer Cape, every year of my whole life.  That would make this trip my 37th.  And yet, every time I come - even more so the older I get - I am awestruck by the beauty.

I've been extremely fortunate to have travelled to many absolutely beautiful places.  I've snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, I've taken a cruise through the Norwegian Fjords and the Nile in Egypt, I've seen fluorescent blue water in the Blue Grotto in Capri, I've paraglided in the Swiss Alps, I've hiked mountains in Scotland, I've jumped off cliffs in Wales, I've toured historic walled cities in France, I've seen ancient temples in Cambodia,  I've trekked through caves in Vietnam, I've stared at the Taj Mahal, I've biked past fields of tulips in the Netherlands, and I've relaxed on the sand of amazing beaches in Thailand, Malaysia, Hawaii, Greece, and throughout the Caribbean.

(God, my life used to be way more exciting).

But nothing holds a candle to the tiny town of Wellfleet in Cape Cod.  This is my happy place.

I've been here for five days so far and I'm completely settled in.  I've gone to almost all of my favorite restaurants, I discovered a cute little fitness studio where I've been doing pilates, I've finished one book (One Summer: America, 1927, by Bill Bryson which I highly recommend), I've tried out stand up paddle boarding, and I've managed to keep all three children alive.  (We have had one ER visit, but no stitches required.).  I haven't used a hair dryer once, and I've taken every shower outdoors (despite it being unenclosed - I am once again risking flashing neighbors and passerby's).

I really don't care much what the weather is like when I'm here, but so far each day has been phenomenal.  Barely a cloud in the sky and hovering right around 80 degrees.  Needless to say, we've been having fun.








Here's wishing you a happy summer from the Cape!





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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My Living Proof

Whenever I look back at the pictures taken immediately upon all of my childrens' birth, I am in disbelief that it actually happened.  Was that really me?  Was that baby really in my stomach, and I actually got it out?  And is that teeny little baby really my son - the one that talks and walks and climbs in my bed every morning?  For each of my three children, someone (my husband?  a nurse? who knows?) captured that initial meeting - the look on my face when I looked at them for the first time.  My expression is authentic and true - pure joy and amazement.  Each of those three moments are the most incredible of my life, and I'm so thankful to have the photos to look at.  Because in my memory, it's hard to believe that it was actually real.

Braden - 2008

Casey - 2010

Colin - 2013
In this day and age, people don't really print out pictures anymore, but I do.  I print out a hard copy of every single photo taken on my iPhone and camera, and then I put them in an old school photo album.  Our living room built-ins contain these albums, all arranged in date order.  I don't look at them very often, but I feel incredible peace at having them.  And I treasure them.  I always tell my husband that in case of a fire, that's what we have to go for, and I'm serious.  On the rare occasion that I have lost photos (usually on an I-phone or through some computer glitch), a depression hits. All those hard copy memories - gone, and lost.

But of course, photographs can't capture everything.  And I've learned that I shouldn't waste the moment taking photos.  There's a fine line between living in the now and restoring it for posterity. I've backed off a bit as the years have gone by, so of course, as expected, child number 3 has the fewest photos of anyone.  But I still am vigilant about picture taking (made all the easier with the advent of the I-phone), and picture printing.  To be sure, I'm no photographer, but it doesn't matter.  What matters is who is in the pictures - not the lighting or the positioning or the depth of field.  Me, my kids, my husband, my family.  Now.

I've wondered lately why I am so obsessed with taking and keeping photos, and who exactly I am keeping them for.  Are these my memories?  Or my children's?  Or both?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Flicks on Netflix

I don't know about you, but right now our family is really in summer.  It's all swim practice and camp pick ups and sunscreen and mosquitoes and dirty soles of feet.  So for my Netflix post this month, it only seemed appropriate to focus on summer.

Netflix has countless summery-type movies (and you can google various lists), but the following are my five favorites, all available to live stream.  I plan on watching them during our upcoming trip to Cape Cod (ahhhhhhh).  I love summer.

1) Adventureland


Ahhh, the days of the crappy summer job.  I for one spent my first crappy summer job working at Johnny Rocket's, where I had to perform a choreographed dance with my fellow servers every time Aretha Franklin's "Respect" came on the jukebox.  But I digress.  The main character in this movie is a high school student who is forced to work at a podunk amusement park for the summer.  The love interest is none other than Kristen Stewart, before she became an adulterer.  The movie is funny, endearing, and worth watching again.  It's a reminder of simpler times.  Sigh.

2) Dirty Dancing  


I still get sad when I think about the passing of Patrick Swayze.  And in this movie, he is in his prime.    It's one of those timeless movies that everyone has seen several times, and if you haven't seen it, well then I don't know if we can be friends.  The theme song still gives me goosebumps, and is there any better line in a movie then "Nobody puts Baby in the corner"?  And if the movie leaves you so inspired that you want to visit the actual hotel that inspired it, you're in luck - it's about to become a "billionaire's yoga hub."

3) Sharknado



This movie brings new meaning to the phrase "so bad it's good."  I mean, it is so, so, so bad.  But they are trying to make it bad.  Kind of like that recent Lifetime original movie starring Will Farrell and Kristen Wiig.  In any event, this movie is about menacing sharks attacking people on land during a hurricane.  The premise is ridiculous and the movie is constantly making fun of itself.  You'll want to stop watching, but you won't be able to.   You may even find yourself watching the sequel...

4) Stand by Me



It's an 80's all star cast!  River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and a pudgy, nearly unrecognizable, Jerry O'Connell.  Another classic, this one is a coming of age story of friendship and an adventure through the woods looking for a dead body.  It's based on a novel by Stephen King, but it's not cryptic or supernatural - it's actually poignant and deep and was even nominated for an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.  Time to dust this classic off.

5) Y Tu Mama TambiĆ©n


When this movie came out back in 2001, it was the first foreign language film (with subtitles) I had ever seen, and it was so amazing that it completely opened me up to the genre.  The movie takes place in Mexico, where two teenage boy best friends embark on a road trip with a woman in her late 20's.  The movie explores their sexual escapades, their sexuality, and the fragility of life.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll want to watch it again.

Happy summer, and happy Netflixing!

#StreamTeam

Friday, June 26, 2015

Six Things I've Learned from Six Months at the Gym

This past January, I decided I would do something all original and join the gym.

I hadn't worked out regularly since the year 2005, and even at that, the only time I worked out regularly was the 9 month period before my wedding.  I'd never been what you'd call, "athletic."  Or "muscular."  Or "coordinated."  Or "well rounded."   Or "interested in bettering myself."  The gym, and all that health stuff, just hadn't been "my thing."


But that all had to change, because after baby #3, it was now or never.  No more excuses.  If the flab was going to go, it was going to now.  

And so I embarked on my gym journey.  

It's been 6 months, and much to my surprise, I have completely embraced it.  I don't go everyday, but I would if I could - I generally make it there five days a week.  The gym has become my place of respite - one of the only "no kid" zones that I get to enjoy in my life, and without the guilt.  I really love to work out.  Which is really, really weird. 

In my six months at the gym, I have gained tone, muscle, and confidence, but I've also been enlightened as to the gym culture.  It's a mini cult society in and of itself.  There are unspoken rules, unexpected truths, and a stringent dress code.  Oh and judgment.  Judgment abound.  

I was so naive when I walked through those gym doors in January.  So, so naive.  

I feel the need to pass my wisdom on to other gym novices.  To other stay at home moms like myself, who feel its their duty to get into shape, because really, we all have so much time on our hands. 

Sigh. 

In any event, if you are considering jumping on the gym bandwagon, please consider the following tips.  After all, knowledge is power.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Perpetual Baby Phase

For the past six and a half years, I have had a diaper in my purse.

Casey, my second child, was born before my first was potty trained.  Back then I had two different sized diapers in my purse.  

Colin, my third child, was born just as Casey was graduating to the potty, but I always had to be prepared.  So around that time I had two sized diapers in my purse too.  

Now my third is 19 months, Casey is 4, Braden (my first) is 6, and I have one size diaper that I carry around.

As the diaper quantity and sizes have shifted around in my purse over time, the majority of my friends have graduated from this stage.  They no longer carry around diapers in their purse.  They also don't cut up food in small pieces or carry around sippy cups.  They don't have to be home by noon for nap time, and scream bloody murder in the car to keep their toddler from falling asleep on the way home.  They don't have to worry about explosive diapers or sleep training or choking hazards, and all of their outlet covers have been removed from their home.  They, and their kids, have graduated to a different stage.  And I kind of want to join them.

The other day at our community pool I saw a mom I recognized from when my oldest was a baby. She was on a lounge chair, reading a book, while her son went off the diving board.  As I chased after Colin heading straight for the pool, and removed a rock from his mouth, I nearly cried.

I'm sick of the diapers.  I'm sick of the baby phase.  And I'm really, really tired.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Documentary About... Motherhood

I'm a huge documentary film fan.  So when my friend Valerie told me that she knew of someone who was making a documentary film about motherhood, and who was looking for mothers to interview, I jumped at the opportunity.

Truth be told, I didn't know much about the documentary when they showed up at my door with the camera crew a few weeks back, but I did know what it was called:  Mom is a Dirty Word.  I also had watched a fundraising trailer, which was intriguing in and of itself.



The tag line for the short stated:  "Mom is a Dirty Word" feature-documentary explores how damaging public policy and media depictions impact Mothers and their families.  

Sure, I can talk about that!

I used a hair dryer and put on make up and cleaned like crazy and got rid of the kids and the dog so that we could have a calm, peaceful ambiance for the interview.  I think I was so busy getting prepared for the interview that I actually never thought about what I was actually going to say in the interview.

I kind of choked.

Not completely.  I mean, the conversation was casual and covered a wide range of issues, many of which I've written about in this blog - the sad state of maternity leave in this countrythe reasons why mothers are leaving professional careers in drovesthe difficulties women face when trying to reenter the workforcethe adjustment to being a stay at home momthe regrets we face, the things we gain, and learning to let it all go, among other things.


It was nice and informal and the conversation flowed naturally.

But at the end, the interviewer asked me if I had one thing to say about motherhood, what would it be?  And could I please look in the camera and say it?

Um.... my mind raced.  Surely, I needed to come up with something really deep, really poignant, really meaningful here.  But the pressure, my God, the pressure!  How to narrow it down?  How to word it?  What was it, anyway?

I rambled a few things, and I honestly can't remember what exactly is I said.  But I do know I said the following:

Being a mother is the best job in the world.  

REALLY?  THAT'S THE BEST I COULD COME UP WITH?  THE MOST RIDICULOUS CLICHE EVER THAT EVERYONE SAYS AND EVERYONE'S HEARD BEFORE AND REALLY CONVEYS NOTHING DEEP OR EMOTIONAL OR REAL ABOUT MOTHERHOOD?

Yup, I choked.  (And this isn't the first time this has happened to me on television - see my interview on the British version of candid camera where I absolutely BOMBED by clicking here).

Hence, there is a very real chance I won't appear in the documentary, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't support the documentary!  Because it is timely and poignant and generally needed.  There's simply not enough out there by mothers, about mothers, for mothers.

There is currently a fundraising effort underway - please support the documentary by donating here.

There's also a new trailer (featuring my dear friend and mentor, Valerie Young - there are no words to describe how awesome she is).




You can like the documentary on Facebook by clicking here.

You can follow the documentary on Twitter by clicking here.

You can find more information on the documentary's website here.

And you can tell all your friends about it.  (There's no click for that).

The director hopes to get the film finished by election season.  I for one can't wait to see it (whether I am in it or not!).

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

On Vacation with no TV? No problem! (Thank you, Netflix!)

For better or worse, we are not one of those families that unplugs during vacation.  In fact, when looking at vacation rentals, a lack of television is a deal breaker, for a couple of reasons.  1) I don't get to watch that much TV in everyday life, so I associate TV watching with luxury, and vacation should be filled with luxuries, but most importantly 2) TV is our babysitter.  It occupies our kids when they need occupying and it provides us with short increments of time to just take a breather. Without 24 minute Disney Jr. episodes, I may well have lost sanity long ago.

We went to Bethany Beach over Memorial Day weekend (after falling in love with it last Memorial Day).  We researched multiple condos/beach rentals, and settled on a large unit in Sea Colony. From the pictures, it looked beautiful - large enough for my and my sister's family, a beautiful ocean view, and four, count them FOUR TVs!  One in each bedroom.  And a huge one in the living room.

When we walked in the unit, it didn't disappoint.  I mean, just look at the view!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah.
But at some point that first afternoon, we went to turn on the TV for the kids.  I was hoping for Disney Jr., but at a minimum, there should be Nickelodeon.  It's then that we realized.

We only had basic cable.

Four TVs, one of which was a 60 inch flat screen, and only 13 channels?

I began to have a minor panic attack.   Until my husband pointed out the amazing, obvious fact that "Well, at least we have our I-pads.  Why don't we just let them watch Netflix?"

Yes, yes, Netflix!

We did not turn any of the four TVs for the entire long weekend.  A record for us, indeed.

But when we needed our electronic babysitter, Netflix was there to save us.  In fact, it alleviated the routine battle over who gets to pick what show.  Each kid got their own I-pad and got to pick their own shows.  Everybody wins!

I originally was going to write this post about what shows captured my kids' attention, but I have to make an admission.  I don't even know what they were watching.  At 4 and 6, they both operate the iPads on their own.  And during those precious half hour increments, I would shower, put the baby to bed, or gaze at the ocean from our deck whilst sipping a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

All was right with the world.

Of course, Netflix isn't just for them.  In fact, I began researching what shows I will binge watch over the summer vacation.  And there are some good ones!  Here are a few:

1) Orange is the New Black, Season 3


It's back!  The first season of Orange is the New Black, a Netflix original series based on the true story of a woman in her 30s who goes to prison for a crime she committed a decade earlier, is one of my favorites.  I think I watched all 13 episodes in about four days, most of which occurred early in the morning hours where after each one I would promise myself just one more, and before I knew it it was 3am and I spent the next day exhausted (and waiting until the kids went to bed so I could watch more).  I didn't think the second season was as compelling, but I have faith that it can return to its first season glory.  New episodes are available on Netflix on June 12 (and you can live stream Seasons 1 and 2 right now).

2) Louie



So I've actually never watched this show.  But a few months ago, my husband and I watched a couple of Louie CK stand up specials and we were both dying laughing.  And I feel like that's kind of rare - to be alone in your living room and keeling over in absolute laughter.  He was completely inappropriate and crass, but I couldn't stop watching and it has inspired me to put this on my list for the summer.  The show itself (which ran from 2010-2014 on FX) received vast critical acclaim, and Louie himself received several Emmys, so that has to say something.

3) The Office (the British one!)



Before Steve Carell made the show famous stateside, Ricky Gervais spearheaded the clueless, cocky, jackass boss on UK television.  I happened to be living in the UK at the time, and I fell in love with the show.  I've seen every single episode, but now that I've discovered the first two seasons are on Netflix, I plan on rewatching it this summer.  It's a similar format to the US version, but it's got that British dry humor....  I don't really know how to describe "British dry humor," but if anything exemplifies it, it's this show.  Like this quote, from Season 1:

"Well, there's good news and bad news.  The bad news is that Neil will be taking over both branches, and some of you will lose your jobs.  Those of you who are kept on will have to relocate to Swindon, if you want to stay.  I know, gutting.  On a more positive note, the good news is, I've been promoted.  So every cloud....  You're still thinking about the bad news, aren't you?"

Happy vacationing, and happy Netflixing!

#StreamTeam


Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Suck as a Mom This Week

Huge mom fails this week.  And they both involve my children being in physical pain that was only exacerbated by me.

Mom Fail #1 - Braden

Braden is one of those kids that is in the nurse's office at school every day.  When he gets a minor scratch on his knee, he limps.  When he has a mosquito bite, he wails.

The kid cries wolf.  A lot.

So when the school nurse called me on Tuesday saying that Braden had been to see her saying his eye was hurting, I assumed it was just overplayed allergies.  I had little sympathy, and after all, this was not the first time I had gotten a call from the nurse.  I told her that if she thought he was okay, that he should go back to class.

When I picked him up after school later that afternoon, he was clutching his left eye.  He immediately got into the car and started crying.  His eye was red and puffy, but he does tend to get puffy eyes in allergy season.  I tried to calm him down saying it was okay, it was just allergies, and that I'd give him some allegra and eye drops when we got home.

But he kept crying.  And for some reason, I decided to go ahead and make an appointment with the ophthalmologist for the next day, thinking all the while that I was wasting my time and the doctor's time, because after all, it's just allergies.

But that mommy gut thing was telling me to do it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

If you're going to throw a party, the night before Mother's Day is a good time to do so.

My husband and I had a party at our house this weekend.

This is extremely out of the ordinary.  We're just not party throwing people.  Sure, we've done all the birthday parties and the occasional shower hosting or massive playdate gathering.  But a real party - like those people that throw annual holiday parties or Halloween bonfires or massive cookouts with themes and roasted pigs?  Not us.

It's not that we don't like parties.  Au contraire, I love me a good party.  It's just that I'm not good at throwing parties.  I'm not good at decorating or cooking hor d'oeuvres or coming up with cute little party themes.  The few times we have hosted things, I have been so stressed out about it that I haven't had all that much fun.

But for some reason, I've had this inkling to have a big to-do.  If for no other reason than to get all of my favorite people in the DC area under one roof, for just one evening.  Because how often does that happen?  We all have our favorite people gather at our bachelorette parties, weddings, baby showers, etc.  Then we have kids and they get older and those big gathering stop happening, and before you know it, weeks turn into months turn into years and you feel more and more isolated.

So I really wanted a party.

When we moved into our new house in January, it seemed the perfect opportunity to do a housewarming, but we dragged our feet a bit.  Then a friend of ours suggested having a "Stock the Cellar" party.  What's that, you ask?  It's a party where you invite people to your home and demand that they bring you alcohol.

Because our new house happens to have one of these:



Don't get too excited - it's not a real wine cellar - there's no temperature control or anything fancy.  It's basically just a closet with some wood shelves for wine.  But still - if you got it, you might as well stock it!

So we planned a party.  We invited our closest DC area friends, and around 60 came.  And, we got it catered.  By the best most amazing catering duo who allowed us to have a blast at our own party. They brought and set up the food (which was all awesome).  They also set up a bar with beer and wine and some of the best tequila cocktails I've ever had.  They even cleaned up when it was over. For our part, our only job was to clean ahead of time, figure out a music playlist, get the kids to sleep, and enjoy ourselves.




It was one of the best nights I've had in a very long time.

With a couple of exceptions, all of our close DC friends were there.  And I realized half way through the night that between all of them, all of my life phases were represented.  In attendance were my sister, a friend from high school, a friend from college, a friend from my days in London (who randomly lives a mile from me now), friends from law school, friends from my law firm days, my "mom" friends, and even my blogging friends.

The whole thing left me feeling festive, happy, and loved.  Because when we moved here to DC, a little over 8 years ago, it was essentially on a whim.  We only knew a handful of people, and since then, we really have built our own village.  And I LOVE my village!  So much.  So it was about time that we put forth the expense and effort to get our whole village together, for one night.

I spent Saturday night surrounded by so many awesome people.  

In doing so, I stayed up way too late.  And drank way to much.  I think when I was going to sleep it was in the 1's, which spells pain for the next day.  Oh so much pain.

But no - Sunday was Mother's Day!  Which means it was the one day in the entire year that I am guaranteed the right to sleep in as long as I want!  Could I have planned this any better?

I slept until 9:45 am - the latest I have slept in years.    I felt well rested - I suppose this is why I never experienced hangovers in college - perhaps because there weren't three little people screaming in my face at 6:45 EVERY GODDAMN MORNING.  

I went downstairs only to realize that everyone was gone, out running errands. I marveled at the silence, and the fact that I had the entire house to myself, even for only 15 minutes or so.  And I surveyed the bounty left by the guests...



If you think that's impressive, just look at the massive improvement in our wine closet:



Now that we have all of this wine, I am thinking we should throw another party (maybe on a smaller scale).

Because really, isn't there so much to celebrate?  I think so.

(I just need to tie it to some event/holiday to ensure that I can sleep in again.  That was key.)

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[Writer's note - Yeah, so that whole Everyday in May thing...  That didn't happen.  I'm sorry.  I had good intentions, but when it comes to blogging or sleep, sleep tends to win.]


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Literally, a Crappy Monday

Yesterday I took all three boys outside to play.

Then a bird shat on my arm.



I took a moment to think about the existential nature of this.  What are the chances that I was standing at the exact right point in my yard at the exact right time that this bird decided to take a crap directly above me?  It got me all philosophical thinking things like:

If I hadn't sat next to that random girl on a flight to Amsterdam back in 2000, then she never would have introduced me to my ex boyfriend, and then I never would have stayed an extra year in London, and then I never would have gone to Penn Law, and then I never would have met my husband, and then I never would have had these three kids and lived in this house and been standing outside at this exact moment for this bird to crap on my arm.  

My thoughts were interrupted by a couple of screaming children, and before I knew it I had forgotten about the profoundness of the bird shitting on my arm and how it all went back to this flight I took to Amsterdam in the year 2000.  In fact, I must admit I didn't even wash my arm until about 20 minutes later (but I did wipe it off immediately with a dried leaf).  

I suppose it really wasn't that profound after all.

Sometimes shit just happens.


 
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