The next time I call myself a crappy mom, please shove these photos in my face to remind me that I, at two very last minute requests, hand decorated two store bought cookie cakes with Rainbow Dash and Hello Kitty.
I’m not gonna lie. I admired those cakes all morning before the party.
Normally, even given ample warning time, I’d be all Sorry, kids the cake store was all out of Rainbow Dash and Hello Kitty cakes. I mean, I had every intention of writing their name or something lame like that. Maybe putting a big “5” on there somewhere. But actually drawing something left room for failure that writing their names didn’t, and I get stage fright when asked to create something that will be seen by actual people.
Then I was all, Seriously Leigh Ann. RD and HK are like the easiest of the easy characters to draw. At least they didn’t ask for something from Skylander or some shit like that, right?
I could do this.
So I set off whipping up some butter cream frosting. That’s right, I go hard core homemade. Like so hardcore that I stop everything and run to the store when I find I’m half a cup short on powdered sugar instead of asking any of my neighbors. Silver lining, I now have a shitton of powdered sugar for the next time I decide to hand draw cartoon characters out of sugar and butter.
Then there was coloring the frosting. Nothing like a little artificial dye, amirite?
All in all, big success. If you’re curious, My resources I used were printed images that I cut out and traced and a severely underused art degree.
Also, I have to tell you, if you have a YMCA in your area that does birthday parties, jump on that bandwagon. This was definitely one of the best parties we’ve ever been to, and definitely the best one we’ve thrown. I’m pretty birthday party deficient. I hate planning them, and here I didn’t have to do anything but bring the cakes. NOTHING. Well, I had to book the party, and that even almost didn’t get done, but after it was booked? NOTHING BUT CAKES, Y’ALL.High five, YMCA.
We opted for the gymnastics party, which was a total win. The party hosts were amazing and made sure that we could relax and enjoy our kids’ party. Plus they cut the cakes around my super amazing decorations.
I’ll be patting myself on the back for months for this one. Until next year comes and I have to think of something else. Oh, the pressure!
Sorry for the blurry pics. These kids was in motion!
I didn’t get to go for a run Tuesday in memory of the Boston Marathon tragedy. My husband graciously let me sleep in, knowing I had stayed up too late (as had he) working on upcoming deadlines…and reading post after post about the event.
We donned some of our race shirts to show our support and to honor those whose day was turned from joyous to tragic. If you’re not familiar with the Boston Marathon, it’s a pretty huge deal. Runners train their asses off to qualify, or raise thousands of dollars to run as a charity runner. Spectators line the race course to cheer on anyone and everyone — just to be in the presence of others’ accomplishments and root for them along the way. Friends and family members jump in to accompany their loved ones through tough parts of the course. Just reading about it all made me want to sign up for a marathon on the spot.
I don’t have much to say about the tragedy. So much has already been said, and I don’t process my thoughts that quickly. I don’t have anything profound or poignant to divulge but this one:
Everyone was shocked at Monday’s tragic events, but the runners…we all ached together in a separate way. We know how hard those athletes had trained, how proud they were to be on that course, and how devastating it was not to be able to finish. We knew how ecstatic the spectators were to see their husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, and even strangers running their way to what could possibly be their greatest accomplishment.
I have never been as proud to be a part of the running community as I am now. I’m a considerably new member, but seeing everyone come together personally and virtually has warmed my heart and given me so much hope this week.
I donned my Tough Mudder shirt for a run this morning and let my mind wander. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go for a run again without thinking of those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing. And to tell you the truth, I hope it stays that way. They deserve to be remembered.
I read some fantastic posts this week in light of the event. I’d love to share them with you. I know there are more that I didn’t save, so I’ll add them as I come across them. Please feel free to share others in the comments.
The People Who Watch Marathons — Running spectators are amazing people. “If anyone thought this attack would discourage the runners or the watchers, they’ve clearly never been to a marathon.”
Forward — Tracy from Sellabit Mum experienced a day of great kindness before finding out about the bombings. Her post reveals that there is still so much good, even without tragedy. “‘This is one of those very good days, isn’t it?’ I said to her…completely oblivious to the news unfolding a half a country away.”
The World as I Knew It — As uplifting and inspiring as the “love always wins” posts are, Kristin from What She Said poignantly describes the reality of raising children in a world where national tragedies are occurring more and more often.
My Running Thoughts Just for You — This post from Ann’s Rants was written last week before the tragedy, but it’s a great indicator of why so many people get hooked on running, even if it’s just for fun. “You can’t outrun veiny legs. That’s hereditary. But you can outrun a bad mood—every single time.”
Whoever Thought Cheering for a Marathon Would Feel Like an Act of Defiance — From Late Enough, Alex talks about how important it is for her and her family to cheer on the participants of the Richmond Marathon each year. “There is a sense of camaraderie when the spectators cheers and the runners footfalls meet, and I cannot believe that moment was targeted.”
Christian was a little later than usual getting home from work yesterday — never mind that later than usual is the new usual, and I’m starting to have suspicions that he’s trying to minimize his time here. Which is upsetting, considering how much love, affection, and general kumbayah-ness goes on during the hours of 5 and 7 pm in this house. It’s an all out love fest disguised by copious yelling, screaming, and pouting. The kids take part too.
So sometime during the dinner time festivities, I saw a text from my beloved with my two favorite words: “Almost home.” Hooray! I would soon be relieved from my duties and free to do important things like check my Instagram feed.
So I waited. And I slung applesauce at the children. And waited. Tossed some goldfish their way. And waited.
I love the guy. But he does this sometimes. He’ll text “On the road!” which generally means he just left. “On my way!” means he’s packing up his things. So “Almost home” means that he’s right around the corner…from someone’s house, I’m sure.
I picked up my phone and started to peck out a curt “Almost home? Almost HOME?” Where the hell are you mother——, I’m dying over here!” [Insert angry emoji here]
And then I stopped.
What if something was really wrong?
What if there was an accident? What if he was hurt? What if he was lying in a ditch on the side of the road, unable to reach his device and tell me one more time just how much he loved and adored me? [I know. Here’s a tissue.]
Would I really want that to be the last message I ever send him?
Because when the first officers appear on the accident scene, search the surrounding areas of broken glass and strewn bumbers, and locate his device to scroll through his contacts for the all important ICE listing, the last thing I need is for them to read his message and go, “Whoa. This dude’s wife is a total bitch.”
1. How did your husband pop the big question?
Oh geez. This is a story, and not a very romantic one. It was December 2001. I had just graduated from UT Austin, we were apartment living, and both working retail. We had absolutely no money, and I was stressed about Christmas shopping, work, and life in general. We had plans to go see the Trail of Lights one evening, and I had some strong suspicions. But here’s how it really went down.
We went to see the Lord of the Rings (nerd alert! I love those movies), where my now brother in law told us about how he had proposed to Christian’s sister just a few days before. “That ring was burning a hole in my pocket,” he said.
“I know what you mean, man,” Christian said as he leaned across me to look pointedly at Scott. “Hey…I know what you mean.”
My husband…he is not a subtle one.
After the movie, we were at our apartment, I was still stressing, and right smack dab in the middle of our tiny, ghetto living room, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
I said yes. Duh.
2. What are the three most surprising things about married life?
- It’s not a fairy tale.
- It’s work.
- I never imagined I could be so incredibly close to a man that I wouldn’t think twice about pooing in front of him. (see the first point about it not being a fairy tale)
3. How did you find out you were pregnant for the first time?
I was crazy hormonal and unhappy and searching and tired. I cried all the time, for no reason. I broke down one morning on the way to work when I realized I had left my water bottle at home. So I took a test and then cried at the sheer terror of becoming a parent (yes, we were trying, but still…SCARY.).
I thought I was unhappy in my job, but turns out I was only growing 2 tiny humans. While being unhappy at my job.
My second time was not all that different, only totally different.
4. How did you choose your first baby’s name?
Oh I love talking baby names. Claire is named after my grandfather, James Clare. I adore the man, and I adore that name.
Rachel is named after my husband’s sister, who passed away from leukemia at the age of 17. I so wish I had met her.
I wanted to use both names so badly, so we toyed with the name Claire Rachel, or Rachel Claire. So thank goodness we had twins. Both names were meant to have their own limelight, you know? Gah, I’m such a sap.
5. Describe where you see yourself 10 years from now…
10 years? I don’t even know what I’m doing 10 minutes from now. (Side note: 10 minutes from now, I’m still working on this post. I came back from the future to tell you that.)
In 10 years I will have TWO fifteen year olds and a thirteen year old. So I will likely be in the nut house.
6. Describe how you find bliss either by using words or images.
I find bliss when I hit my bed in the evenings. When my husband and I settle in to watch a much anticipated movie after the kids have gone to bed. In those rare moments when we’re out and about with our children and we suddenly realize we’re acting like a family instead of a pair of zookeepers corralling a pack of wild animals.
But nothing — NOTHING — compares to the bliss of my husband getting up in the morning, going out to shush the OMG SO ENERGETIC kids, and shutting the door behind him. Sometimes Mama needs her sleep, amirite?
Oh, and also this.
Yes, this is another post about puke. Don’t hate me. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. I promise this won’t go on forever. Will it?
“Everyone’s feeling better!”
…And she was suddenly struck down by her own stupidity and failure to realize that there is no such thing as a stomach bug that only strikes two out of five family members…
I had another man down yesterday. After school Rachel was a little, uh, not herself, and actually put herself to bed while they were all watching the teevees. If there’s one thing Rachel never misses, it’s her programs. Just like your grandma.
I knew it was going to happen (vomit radar, remember?), but it was a question of when. She insisted her stomach didn’t hurt, but please. I know a potential puker when I see one. She finally headed to the bathroom to conduct some regular business, and this good mom sat on the edge of the bathtub and watched her look miserable for a solid 10 minutes or so. This girl, she’s a sitter, and that’s not a typo from the other type of activity that was taking place in there. Which she was also doing.
Other awesome yet possibly detrimental things happening at this time were a torrential rainstorm, a husband stuck at work because of said rainstorm, and a 4% battery level on my phone. I was getting pretty terrified that the power would go out, so I headed to plug in my phone and check on the other kids who were pretty much entertaining themselves by emptying the contents of every toy bin in the entire house.
You know when you’re preoccupied, and you hear something, but you don’t really HEAR it? And you kind of dismiss it, then your brain kicks into high gear and all of the sudden you realize that background noise amongst all the other noises in your house is the sound of your daughter puking her guts out all over the bathroom floor? And you’re not sure if you’re mad at yourself for not being there or relieved that your feet didn’t serve as the vomit bucket again?
And then you ask yourself Why for the love of God did I give her cottage cheese for snack???
The smell. The chunks. The horror. You’re totally going to unsubscribe from this blog now, aren’t you? Please don’t leave me in my hour of need.
I thought I was being all smart by sticking to the BRATT diet for dinner (bananas, rice, applesauce, tea, toast), but let me tell you — you haven’t really lived until you’ve sopped up regurgitated applesauce from the carpet when your kid throws up yet again after going to bed.
Seriously, please don’t leave. I promise tomorrow’s post won’t be about puke.
I didn’t have a very good parenting day today. Too much yelling. This happens when I get really tired, and well, I’m really tired. It seems like it will never end with the night waking and games of musical beds we play around here.
Zoe from her bed to my bed.
Me from my bed to Claire’s bed, then to Rachel’s bed, then hopefully back to my bed at some point.
Christian from our bed to….wait he never leaves.
(He does get woken up and usually deals with our asshole cats, but the musical beds mostly falls on me.)
So blah blah blah, I’m tired. Let’s think of happy things now.
My big girls turned 5 last week. FIVE. Now, all of the sudden they’re big kids? Having conversations and such? Starting kindergarten in the fall? GAH.
We went to the Zilker Botanical Gardens to view the Faerie House Trail last week. Now I don’t readily take all 3 of them very many places, but I was feeling brave, plus I had talked it up quite a bit, and they were excited. Excitement to do something usually equals behavior. This fit right in with a recent fairy obsession for Claire and Zoe, and an inexplicable bat costume obsession for Rachel. This girl. She makes me smile.
I thought the fairy houses, although small, would be relatively easy to see from the main entrance to the gardens, but we walked practically the entire park before I decided to head back to the gift shop and ask for directions. Despite starting off gung ho about fairy house hunting, by that time everyone was feeling defeated and pouty. It didn’t help that the gift shop attendant drew us to the complete wrong location on the map, but a lady in a golf cart happened by and used her powers of elimination and fairy costume knowledge to see we were lost and pointed us in the right direction as my girls desperately tried to take over her vehicle like some sort of alien preschooler invasion. Long story short, we found the fairy houses mere seconds before everyone, myself included, started to lose their shit. Then all was merry and bright until I realized I had lost my purse. True story. Luckily fairies are very trustworthy. Little old ladies in the gift shop, not so much.
Fun at the Renaissance Festival: How many kids CAN you fit on a BOB stroller?
What have you been up to?
Today was one of those magical days with just my Zoe, and I really do adore these days with my girl. I never had the experience of just one child before the big girls started Mother’s Day Out last year, but I relish in every single Tuesday and Thursday. We do serious businessy stuff, like running errands I never got to run when I had twin babies, then later 2 year old twins and a newborn. Or we do silly stuff like browsing World Market or heading into Old Navy so she can poop (that store is like a laxative for her. Something about being able to hide in the clothes maybe? Let’s not think too hard on it.).
Today was a grocery store day and don’t click away because I swear this post isn’t about me grocery shopping. A man stopped at my cart to admire little Z. He was probably in his 60s and had that sweet, grandfatherly look about him, or at least a grandfatherly look to younger kids, which is really just a fatherly look to me. Zoe and I were acting out an exaggerated argument over the grocery list where she insisted that it said we needed cookies. It didn’t, but we got the cookies anyway, because, well, COOKIES.
So as Zoe yammered on about her fake list, he came up next to us and said to me, “Record that. Record that voice. Because it’s too cute, and you’ll forget it someday.”
He went on to tell me that his grandkids, now in their teens, once had that same squeaky kid voice that is often the reason for parents pleading with their toddlers or preschoolers to repeat things like “blowies,” “ceekies,” or ladypops.” Because we just want to bottle them up so we can listen to them any time we want. And so he smiled as he reminisced opening his own bottles in video tape form from time to time and getting a good dose of youth from those same squeaky voices.
And I know he’s right. It’s like I blinked, and all of the sudden my baby is a three year old. When she was two, I could still call her a baby. She had that porcelain face, those soft baby curls, and I swore we’d be calling her Baby Zoe until she graduated high school. But now she’s tall and talkative and sassy, and retorts “I NOT a BEEBEE!” if you dare say so.
Sitting here next to my computer I have real live Mother’s Day Out registration papers for this girl that I can’t bear to fill out for next year — next year when the big girls go to kindergarten, and I have to opportunity to have as many as THREE MORNINGS to myself because sending one kid for three mornings is cheaper than what we’re paying to send two kids two mornings, who knew? I’ll say it again THREE MORNINGS!
And still I hesitate. And I wonder if I need to send her for three mornings (THREE! DID I SAY THREE YET?), or if I should send her for two, because she’s still little, and well… I’ll miss her. On the one hand, this — this chance to be alone for a few hours — is what I’ve been waiting for for the past 5 years. On the other hand, I can’t stand the thought of sending my baby to school, because wasn’t it just yesterday that she was a tiny baby curled up in a bassinet and giving out the sweetest little cry? Oh, the cry of one baby was music to my ears compared to the two that I was used to.
But that little baby has grown into a big girl with emotions and opinions and a sassy little hands on her hips stance that makes it hard to be stern when I’m trying to hide all the giggles. She’s just so serious when she pulls that stunt, only I can’t take her seriously when she thinks her armpits are her “hips.”
Moving forward with these kids is HARRRRRRD. We rush, then try to hold on, then rush, then try to hold on, then wonder how in the world is it already time to send them off to college? Or kindergarten, or WHATEVER. So I recorded her. In the middle of the grocery store. She busted out some sweet dance moves for you guys, so you’re welcome.
Seems there’s been this theme lately of me falling asleep. Put me in a horizontal position, and prepare to watch me drift off, sometimes even with my book or my phone hovering in front of my face.
I fell asleep on Rachel’s bed in the middle of the day when we were all hanging out in the big girls’ room, and by hanging out I mean the three of them were screaming and giggling and possibly trying to harm one another, but I didn’t care because they weren’t jumping on me.
I sometimes doze during my nightly ritual of lounging on the couch and checking in with the social medias on my phone in between bedtime and when I start anything I may actually have to do that evening. Power naps at 8pm are rather refreshing.
And I regularly pass out when the big girls ask me to lay with them or when I’m rocking Zoe to sleep. Yes I still rock Zoe to sleep because she’s my last baby, and I cherish her sleepy form in my arms. Also, she won’t let me put her down otherwise, but whatever, it’s magical.
So sleeping, it’s kind of my thing. I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, probably because I stay up way too late, and at the end of a long day I am just plum exhausted. But remember when you had a newborn (or newbornssssssss???) and you dreaded going to bed because you knew there would be that cycle of getting woken up every few hours? And then in the morning you would cry because another day was starting and you were just so damn tired from the last day and the last night and those snippets that were supposed to qualify as sleep, but it was more like as soon as you shut your eyes there was a baby crying again?
No? Just me?
There was a time when falling asleep so often and so suddenly would send me panic stricken to the aisles of the grocery store in search of a First Response. But these days? I’m just so. damn. tired.
A friend of mine remarked on Facebook that I’ve been really sleepy lately, and was I okay?
Am I okay? Well, I’m not sick, thank God. I’m sleep deprived.
For starters, I stay up way too late. But in a world where my children don’t nap, it’s rare that I get any work done during the day, not to mention reading or writing that I want to do for fun. You know, leisure time. It’s 10:43 right now, and I really need to go to bed, but HELLO… WRITING! (Also Facebook)
About the time I go to bed, shit starts to fall apart. Cats want in. Cats want out. Cats vomit. Cats want food. Cats want to drive you fucking crazy. 4 year old wanders in for water. Take 4 year old back to bed. 4 year old wanders in for potty. Take 4 year old to potty. 4 year old wants you to lay with her. So once I make it back to my own bed, I’m almost an hour past my already too late bedtime.
Zoe, now 3, didn’t really sleep through the night consistently until around 2.5, and then only for a short while. As luck would have it, once she started sleeping through, Claire started waking up.
The fun doesn’t stop after I fall asleep. Oh, no, it’s only begun. More cat dramaz. 4 year old wants to climb in bed with you. Other 4 year old comes in looking for her sister. Take them both back to bed and lay with one until they both fall asleep. Doze. Hear 3 year old cry out from her room. Get up to check, assuring stirring 4 year old that you’ll be back. Cover 3 year old with blankie and wonder why she’s sleep-accusing you of stealing her oranges. She doesn’t even eat oranges. Crawl back in bed with 4 year old. Doze. Decide 4 year old is asleep enough to sneak out. Go back to bed. Fall asleep. Cat scratching at door. Open door for cat. Bastard cat runs off. Get bowl of food to hurl at asshole cat. Crawl back into bed. Fall asleep. 3 year old cries out again, only you don’t hear her because you are dead to the world, so by the time you do wake up, she’s in such hysterics and screams of “Mommy you not COMING!!!!!” that you have no choice but to take her back to bed with you. It’s okay though, because she’s such a good snuggler who settles perfectly into the crook of your arm. Doze while her hair constantly tickles your face. Effing cat scratches again at the door and finally comes in this time. And decides to lay right on your belly. Doze.
Alarm goes off, kindly reminding you that you have a 5 mile run ahead of you and you need to get your ass up.
So newborn parents, I hate to tell you, but it may not ever get better. I used to scoff at people who said that you’ll never sleep well again after you have kids, but at the time I had two one year olds who slept a solid 12 hours a night. I never expected their baby sister to be such a literal dream crusher. Also, don’t forget the asshole cats.
PS and now we all know why our parents were so damn tired! You can’t get anything done with these kids around!
I skipped my run today.
I didn’t mean to. I didn’t sleep well the night before, with a three year old kicking me for most of the wee morning hours. The big girls started their day arguing about a lost baby bunny. I usually try to turn on some Sesame Street for them so I can go run, but they demanded breakfast.
I got dressed in my running clothes, ate my peanut butter toast, put on my shoes, then completely broke down when I couldn’t find my armband. I’m talking Claire Danes ugly cry. I may be a wee bit tired. Or PMSing.
I had my last long run on Saturday, and only one word can describe it:
I have a confession: I don’t look forward to long runs. I prepare the best way I know how, by fueling up with some food, hydrating, dressing in my most comfortable gear, and packing my nerdy little belt with Gu and energy chews. But the whole time I’m thinking I. Don’t Wanna!
Sometimes when I’m prepping for a run, I envision myself flying through it effortlessly. This is rarely the case. Actually, this is never the case.
Saturday I ran a trail that’s near my house. I don’t enjoy running on straightaways, because they never seem to end. I prefer neighborhoods where I can take twists and turns to make things interesting, but I needed a change of scenery, and I knew that a lot of Zooma was going to be on straightaways. My friend Lori runs the trail often and gave me a good starting point and turnarounds to squeeze in 11 miles.
My starting leg of 2 miles was downhill-ish, which was awesome because I was zooming and feeling all I believe I can fly! and stuff. But then I had to turn around and head back to, and way past, my starting point. Oh, that longest leg had me cursing Lori every step of the way. It was uphill. Against the wind. It was humid. My clothes were sticking to me. I had to pee because I drank too much before starting. The bathroom had no toilet paper. And I was only 2.5 miles in.
Let me tell you, there is no pain like hitting the 2 mile mark and knowing you have 7, 8, 9, or more to go. It’s mentally the hardest part of my run. Once I get past it I’m usually fine and can tune out the mileage (this is what we call foreshadowing), but that 2 mile mark gets me every time, even when I’m not about to pee myself.
But I kept going.
Just before 5 miles I came to a grueling hill right before the next park. More like a ramp. Or MOUNTAIN. I knew it was there. I’d been on the trail before. But damn, and I mean DAMN. I couldn’t make it. I had to stop my first non-pee related stop. Then I stopped again at the park to get water and desperately chug a Gu because ENERGY! GIVE ME ENERGY!!! (Also the tri-berry flavor is mighty tasty.) I cursed everyone hanging out at the picnic tables on this nice day, eating hot dogs and birthday cake. Jerks.
But I kept going.
Then…I hit the wall. My legs were killing me. I had no energy left. My groin hurt (sorry y’all. Real stuff going on here).
I looked at my phone and saw the distance of only 7.34 miles, and I fell apart. I stopped and walked. I tried to tell myself to suck it up, you’ve done this before. But all I really wanted to do was sit on a nearby bench and cry, and then I’d be that girl on the trail who was crying while everyone warily kept their distance because who cries on a trail?
I started listening to the other voice in my head. Why are you doing this to yourself? What makes you think you can do this? You will never be a real runner. Real runners don’t feel pain like this. A real runner could fly through this shit. You suck. Now let’s blow this off and go steal some birthday cake from that 2 year old.
That other voice is a real asshole.
I was going to get to that 11 miles if it killed me, and by the way things were going, it likely would. So I reluctantly kept going.
I finally got back to my starting point and saw my amazing family cheering me on. But holy mother of God I still had a mile to go. So I passed them, and nothing sucks worse than having to pass your end point and come back. Rachel ran a few feet with me, insisting that we hold hands. Knowing that in passing them I would turn around and come back to them was the only thing that got me through that last mile.
And then…it was done.
My legs ached. My face was covered in dried sweat and dust. I hugged my kids and bitched to my husband about how hard it was.
But you did it, he said.
I’m pretty sure I left a part of my soul on that trail, and I can’t say it really got me pumped for Zooma. But I’ll be at the Hyatt Lost Pines on March 23rd, and I’ll cross that finish line making the ugliest, most torturous run face I have. It’ll take massive race day adrenaline and a good old fashioned miracle to get me through.
Who doesn’t love a good miracle?