Friday, December 19, 2014

Unplugged is the new plugged in

It was one of those nights.  I went out, pretended I was 22, and tore down.  Ended the night at a Waffle House, and the next morning, I woke up in bed with someone.  Don't worry- it was my college roommate who yes, believe it or not still hangs out with me and loves me even after my college craziness.:)  She was there at three in the morning when I was lying on the floor needing help getting my cowboy boots off and didn't bat an eyelash when she woke up next to me topless because I had gotten hot in the middle of the night.  We had a five hour trip home and I was barely functioning.

It was also one of those days where you say, "I'm never drinking again."  You can't wait with every ounce of your being to get back to your hubby (eventhough he was on my last nerve) and babies.  You realize that your day in and day out life of running carpool, rotating your outfits from Kohl's and Target, and pulling your hair out at bedtime are actually quite fabulous and everything you ever dreamed of even if sometimes you feel like you are in the biggest rut and you might scream if you have to pick up one more pair of shoes that have been left in the middle of the floor.  And that you might as well stick with your current role of asswipe, I mean housewife,  because it's way too late for you to become a nun.

This particular girl's trip was also a time of reflection.  Riding down the road on a five hour car ride to Garth Brooks, your cheeks hurting and eyes watering from laughing so hard, you suddenly stop documenting your trip because you are enjoying this face to face time with long lost friends- Friends that you have kept up with because of Facebook. Your one friend is a snapchat addict and you realize that you have gotten to the point where everything you do is real timed on facebook.  A few conversations later, after viewing, and the two of you decide to unplug from our vices until the new year. 

Dear Lord.  Are we going to survive?  I think I'm getting the shakes.  Is that a hive?  Dude, someone could be posting at this very moment that they are pregnant and I don't know.  I'm okay.  I can do this.  I deactivate my account.

The next day, texts come in one by one.  Are you okay?  Did you defriend me?  And it dawns on me, just like I do, stepping away causes two things.  Some to check on you and genuinely have concern, and for some to gossip about you and make up their own story- Like I ran away on a girl's weekend, am getting a divorce, and checked into a facility.  Or something like that- I mean, I've done this with my BFF when someone suddenly vanishes from our lives on Facebook.  We most certainly let our minds and imagination run wild- we're women- that's what we do. It's never just that they need to unplug and get away.

But, I did it.  And how did it go?

Let me tell you the ways. 

My thumb suddenly felt like it went to physical therapy. It no longer swiped 1,000 times a day to refresh things.  I no longer missed out on the little things my children were saying to me because I was checking on what people I hadn't seen or physically talked to in fifteen years were doing.  I was present. 

Instead of having my face in my phone, I was on the ground playing Uno with my daughter.  I was answering what oh toodle Minnie needed instead of reading morning statuses like people used to read the newspaper. I was actually starting to workout instead of looking for the next fast fix, protein powder, workout video, or oil that would help me shed my pounds from friends that direct sell on my feed. And don't get me started with how much money I probably saved myself by stepping away from the "deals" on Facebook yard sale groups that I just couldn't pass up even if I really didn't need it. 

I was still snapping photos of my babies nonstop.  I just wasn't making them have 100 takes to get that "perfect" shot and my kids are more than thankful. 

Don't get me wrong.  My kids also drove me crazy- and I didn't have an outlet to tell people how I was going insane and somehow that outlet make me feel better.  But I also realized how wonderful they are and my complaints of how they drive me insane are really nothing at all.  I dodged seeing a million posts about a local boy and former neighbor passing away from childhood cancer.  Sure, I heard the news, and mourned, but I didn't read the tributes nonstop and it wasn't in my face.  Instead, I channeled his loss by hugging my kids that were driving me crazy- and considered every dirty look, rolling of the eyes, and minutes that they weren't listening to me the biggest blessing I could ever have.  Ya see, I'm the lucky one, I can still snap  at my babies.

For an entire month, no one heard about my period, my sagging boobs, or my aging that is driving me batty. For a month, I missed out on things, but the things that mattered most were right by me. I didn't piss my mother-in-law off by mentioning my hubby's penis, and she'd be happy to hear we've had way more sex because I went to bed with him instead of staying up on my computer.

So many things have been different- I didn't spend an entire week freaking out about the next snowstorm that Jay's Wintry Mix was predicting, and I didn't care about the euro models.  I didn't waste time watching random crap about the Kardashian's or clicking you tube links about dancing boobs or flies dug out of a man's ear.  Yes, I'm usually guilty of that. Sucker.

I'm sure I missed a ton.  Those perfect Thanksgiving table settings, beautiful Christmas tree pictures, trips to Walt Disney World that would leave me jealous that I wasn't going instead of happy for you. Don't you worry- We have a gorgeous three foot tree (that damn Craigslist ad said 4 feet people) that we happily decorated- Yes, there were way more candy canes but the one year old is obsessed with them, and well, they entertain her for at least ten minutes... and don't mind that Nicky Toothy  (that elf on the shelf that has a slightly different face than our normal one causing my ten year old to stare at him way longer than normal but never say anything because our usual one is packed in storage and yes, it made me gag when I had to shell out another thirty bucks for a new one)

And yes, our stocking are hung (No they aren't our normal ones that are also in storage but 98 cent ones from Walmart happily strung from softball trophies- who knew they make great stocking holders?)
And our fireplace is oh so beautiful- I mean blocked by light fixtures and faucets for the new house- Be jealous people, be jealous, we have some beautiful decorations going on here.:) Don't mind the toilet... I thought the baby was ready to potty train... but  now it's just a toy...

So much goodness.... And yet, here I am, back online.

I know it's not January 1st and I'm failing miserably- but I did make it an entire month away from here... and my friend who was detoxing from snapchat lasted three days, so I'm calling it a success.  Ya see, I missed friendships and in the strangest way people that I feel really close to. Y'all don't know it, but with a traveling hubby, you guys sometimes are my village.  And tonight, I'm holed up in my house with two sick kids and my wild night is going to consist of kid's Redbox rentals and trying to be spirited and a Suzy Homemaker mom by making sugar cookies with the girls- which I'm pretty sure will turn into a disaster... So what better way to cap this crazy night off then catching up on what all I've missed. Come on, there's no hiding it, I'm a nosy son of a gun. :)

Ya see, what I've learned with my absence is that  it's kind of like that night of drinking.  And like that comfort food I sometimes  use as medicine to cheer me up.  I've learned, everything is okay... in moderation.  And I'm sure I'll return to filling your feeds with nonsense.  But if you suddenly see me vanish again- I was just getting myself in check.  You don't need to make up a story in your head about me... and if you do, make me proud and make it a really, really damn good one- Ya know, like I'm off checking into a convent becoming a nun. :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Building A (Semi) Custom Home in Loudoun County

Here's the deal.  My husband and I have always kind of played real-life Monopoly.  We buy and sell homes like some do cars.  It started out as moving for jobs- Nine moves in our 14 years of marriage not including stints at my parent's house and friend's guest rooms...  We've done it all- bought our first home- a little cape cod for $127,000 (Oh dear me, how I wish we had that mortgage again!), bought in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia because housing was so crazy expensive in Loudoun, bought two foreclosures, rented to watch the market... and now we're building a house on land.

I've decided to blog about our experience building our home because a) some people have shown interest in the process, b) I'm an open book and don't mind sharing, c) It will be nice to get people's comments/suggestions with design, d) I'm bored as crap in our apartment.

So here goes nothing... a series of blogs following our building process.  This all started when we decided to sell our home that we loved because we saw the opportunity to make a profit and build our forever home, and honestly our house was huge, had high bills, our kids are doing more and more activities, and quite frankly, we felt like we were in the poor house.  After househunting in Winchester, we found a custom home builder that we fell in love with.  I would love to say we're getting a custom home- and in many ways I feel like we are- but nowadays everyone calls their home custom.  And really, this house plan wasn't designed especially for us- our builder just built it for another family last year- but we loved it so much that we decided to use the basic plan to save on architecture fees and tweak it to be perfect for our  family. Also, when I think of a custom home, I think of  something over the top amazing.  While this is  my dream house, I'll be the first to say- It's my dreamhome on a budget.  When I went to meet our kitchen designer, yes I got to design my kitchen from absolute scratch, but at the same time I had to pass on the cabinets that I loved because they were out of my price range.  While I was able to go to different granite shops and hand pick my slab of granite, I'm not able to get the $60/sq foot sea glass backsplash that I pinned on Pinterest and dream of because, well, Mama's on a budget.  But, I will say, every square inch of this house is my vision, my dream, and as I often joke is either going to be a hit or a miss--- and I'm hoping it's a hit- but I just won't know until we move in.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment- I know that I was always searching the internet for homebuilders, etc. when we began this- but most don't give you the time of day and very little information is out there.

We found a lot in Round Hill that we LOVED.  Our builder actually bought it for us, we gave a down payment, and he is taking care of the construction loan, etc... and that process has been easy breezy thus far.  What hasn't been as easy is getting the project off the ground.  Our builder is building in Loudoun County for the first time and getting permits has been slow.  We originally hoped to be in our home by October, but it just began framing the last week of November.  We didn't factor in a delay with getting the HOA to approve our home plans, a delay with engineering work to approve a regular drainfield over an alternative system, permitting delays, etc.... But it's finally moving... fingers crossed!

Would we do it again?  That's the big question.  Since we thought we'd be in our new home in 4-5 months, we had the bright idea of moving all of our belongings from a house with almost 7,000 sq. feet of room to a 1300 sq. foot apartment... Brilliant, right?  I mean, save on storage fees, save money for a few months, it's all good... Well seven months later, with three kids in a two bedroom apartment with every nook and cranny crammed with crap and we certainly have moments where we question our decision to move.  We miss our old neighborhood terribly.  We are driving our kids two and from school 25 minutes away and our one year old only gets a nap in her carseat because of the schedule.  Our kids miss their friends.  Just last night, my husband was upset we still have so long to go before we are in our house and he said, "I just feel so bad for the kids."  We got to talking and we really only have them for 18 years and a year has been wasted... no sleepovers, no playdates where they are running through the house, very few friends have been made, etc.... Don't get me wrong, apartment living has taught us many things- We could totally be apartment dwellers or a townhouse family- The ease of it is amazing and where we are living is really nice... It's just that we aren't unpacked, we haven't hung a picture on the wall- there is no room with all of the stuff we have here, and we haven't even attempted to make this home... so it doesn't feel like one.  On the bright side, we do see an end in sight, and when we walk into our new home the view out back takes my breath away... I see my daughter's getting married in our back yard, and I can't believe that this OCD Mommy is counting down the days to when my kids can have friends over for a sleepover and tear my house apart... Through this process, I've learned that a house is a home and one should live in it and enjoy it...

Ask me in two months... and I'll let ya know if we'd still do it all over again... this has certainly been a roller coaster... come along for the ride!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dear Gold's Gym...

So here's the deal.  At one time in my life I believed every mom should stay at home with their children.  I thought my babies would never wind up in my bed.  I visioned birthday parties that were Pinterest worthy.  I thought every mother should breastfeed, and the list goes on and on. 

And then, I became a mom.

And things changed.

Although I choose to stay at home with my kids, I sometimes take a look around at other stay at home moms at library time looking rattled and like they would rather be anywhere but where they are (and some days that's me) and I think, Dude, these people need to get a job.  I've met working moms that are so much more present in their children's lives than half the stay at home mom's I know.  And last night, when I was at my wit's end with my nineteen month old who suddenly has decided not to sleep at night, well, she was hogging my pillow.  And for sure I had the most fabulous first birthday for my first two kids, but by the time the third rolled around, well, we ordered some Papa John's pizza, sang Happy Birthday and called it a day.  Not gonna lie, I might have decorated her high chair and had a cute outfit on her just to front like it was way more put together than it really was. :)  And when it comes to breastfeeding, I've done it all...  tried and failed, had two babies that never once had a bottle in their life, and one that weaned herself two weeks before I reached the one year mark when my only goal was to nurse for a year.

I'm a huge breastfeeding advocate- but it's like everything with parenting- I've learned that every woman has a choice and it's their decision.  And I'm not gonna hold it against them if they choose the formula route- just like I hope some women don't hold it against me if I stick a processed chicken nugget in my kids' mouth.  Ya know, it's really whatever floats your boat.  There are days when I am an overachieving A+, on point parent.  There are also days where I'm failing and just trying to get through the day. But at the end of the day if we all put our best foot forward and get a A for effort, we're doing alright.

With my firstborn, I was a nursing mom.  That is until things got complicated and I can see why there are mom's so gung-ho about breastfeeding rights and laws.  I honestly feel like society failed me and I had to throw in the towel because of it.  It started with a 36 hour trip to Hawaii to be a bridesmaid in one of my Bestie's weddings.  After a short flight to Atlanta where I had to pump in a staff office because I couldn't find a bathroom with plugs, flying to Cali, rushing to board a plane for the second flight, and being en route and having a vodka tonic for the first time in eleven months,  I realized my boobs were hard as rocks, hot, and in pain.  I made my way with my handy dandy pump to the airplane bathroom to find out that the electrical socket wasn't powered enough to operate my breast pump.  What happened next wasn't one of my finest moments... ya know, where I hand expressed my knockers to take a little relief off of them all over the lavatory mirror saying, "Take that United Airlines."  Don't worry, I cleaned it up. After my trip to Hawaii, my milk supply forever remained a problem. Fast forward a month or so later, and I returned to work for a couple weeks so we could qualify for a house we were purchasing, and after working twelve hour shifts at a group home where I couldn't exactly pump in front of my bebe kids, nor leave them alone to go AWOL, I lost my milk.  After a few weeks of reeking like maple syrup from Fenugreek and overdosing on Mother's Milk tea, I threw in the towel and started mixing formula to feed my baby (and he's just fine).

So I get it.  I get why women are empowered to lobby and fight for women's rights when it comes to being able to feed our children.  We have a long way to go.  But this week, all hell broke loose at a local Gold's Gym in my hometown where a woman was nursing her two children in the lobby and was asked to move to a sofa in another area because her doing so was making some people uncomfortable.  She then went on a social media kick bashing Gold's and it resulted in a huge nurse-in and protest earlier today. 

Here's the deal.  I was once that woman.  With my second baby, I nursed her for over eighteen months.  I was so proud.  I would whip out a boob anywhere and feed her without a cover (discreetly). My brothers would tell me to "put that thing away" or to "cover up" and I'd reply, "Would you eat with a blanket over your head?" And then I had my third baby- Yes, babies kept coming. :)

I remember nursing her here, there, and everywhere.  I would watch my son's baseball games feeling so content in my chair as my newborn was nursing under a blanket.  And then something happened.  During the next baseball season, my daughter had grown, and would look around when nursing, be distracted, and my boob would sometimes be exposed.  And during one game it hit me.  I looked at my precious son warming up with his team without a care in the world, and as much as I loved the bonding nursing brings, I loved him more.  I got up out of my chair and went to my car to feed my baby.  The very thought of him looking over, becoming mortified at his mom's boob in clear view was enough for me to stop feeding in public since I could no longer do it by keeping my privates private.

Ya see, I get it.  God made boobs to feed your child.  Its natural.  God also made penises for sex and to impregnate women, but my husband doesn't go popping out his boner for the world to see when he gets one.  God made butts for sitting on and for pooping, but you don't go around dropping a deuce in public- and if you do, you might get the nickname of Shit Bush like I did... Calm down people, it only happened once and I was extremely inebriated. My point is, privates are called privates for a reason.  There are times when they need to stay that way.

Look, I love boobs.  I spend hours looking at Dr. Chang's and other plastic surgeons websites because one day, mine will be perky again.  Boobs are a beautiful thing, I'm not a prude and I'm all for women having rights.  I'm all for nursing in public- have at it.  But I'm also a mom that stands for respect.  Respect for myself and respect for others.  So if someone were to come up to me and ask me to please cover up or move to a different area while nursing, I'd gladly do it.  What if your boobs hanging out are upsetting a breast cancer survivor mourning the loss of hers, or what if someone had young kids that personally didn't want them to see your jewels? And what if, by chance, it was just a company trying to take up for their customers and offering you another place to nurse?  There are bigger fish to fry people and other problems in the world.

Gold's Gym of Ashburn, as a pro breastfeeding mama, I'm sorry.  I'm sorry that this whole debacle happened... I feel for ya.  As one of the few establishments that has chosen to offer on-site daycare for women like me that use it simply so I can get a shower without a baby hanging onto my leg, and as a company that promotes women, children, and families all getting healthy inside and out, I am sure you are not against breastfeeding.  And I don't know what trashing your company and a bunch of women showing up to nurse babies- some of which don't even want to feed at that point- does to further women's rights except proving that we all lack things in life, respect being one of them. 

Before I became a mom, I never thought I'd be against women taking a stance for breastfeeding.

But then I became a mom.

And I took a step back and now realize that being a mom has taught me so many things I never saw coming.  Sometimes, our visions of what a perfect world is,  just isn't so, and that being compassionate and rolling with the punches is how ya make the most of your experiences.

Sometimes it's just best to say in your head it, "Suck it" about management and bystanders in general, take one for the team, and let your baby go suck it elsewhere so you can enjoy that special time- We're mom's, we know how to adapt and really, at the end of that day, that's what matters. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I'm from Nova...

I'm from Loudoun.  Born and raised.  And so were my parents, my grandparents, and generations before.  My grandma was born and married on the land where my mom and I both graduated high school where Broad Run stands today... But if you ask my Mama, she says to say our family had the Solomon Farm (since they are family and all) where Redskins Park is because that was so clean, and well, our family farm wasn't always that way.:) I ride through Sterling Park and still see the beauty of it.  I smile as I walk down Juniper at Christmas remembering our house on Oak Tree, and I grin when I ride by this little old rambler that is now a scuba shop... Because that was the house my grandfather hand built and raised my mom in- and don't ya know, that was the cream of the crop back then and on the home tour because it had a fireplace, wood floors, and was one of the first homes with olive green appliances- Fancy, schmancy. 

My parents chose to leave Sterling and raise us in a little town called Arcola.  We had to stop for the cows to cross the road (where Brambleton Towncenter is now) and the local celebrity was Les Pangle.  We had a pet cow named Big Red that made me turn vegetarian one year when he became our meals.  And another time, I gave birth to a cow.  Well, not really, but the poor baby calf got stuck and a bunch of neighbors tied a rope to its hoof and we all had to line up and pull.  Errbody knew errrbody in Arcola.  In 3rd grade, Ashburn Farms and the Village started building, and those "subdivision kids" started coming to our schools.... "Don't Fairfax Loudoun" stickers started popping up on cars, and a little over a decade later, I was off to Virginia Tech and when people asked where I was from, I'd respond just like the rest of the school, "I'm from NOVA."  Yep, my little piece of country was now like the rest of the area... rows of houses and Ashburn had turned Ca$hburn.

Growing up, I never thought I'd live here.  But then you get married, move away, and realize, that that place you wanted to leave to conquer the world was actually your world.  It was in your blood and where you wanted to raise your own children- just like you had been- with those crazy people you call family that you couldn't bear to be away from. 

Good 'ole Loudoun County- land full of beauty and history.  And houses and taxes so expensive you want to croak. We, like many, have those fleeting thoughts of "let's pick up and leave and move to a small town or North Carolina or somewhere we aren't house poor."  When we most recently sold our home, our grand plan was to move to Winchester- to cut our property taxes in half, buy a small house, and feel like we're ahead of the game instead of working to live. Well, that didn't happen because as much as we bitch, moan, and groan, we realize that right here is where we want to be.  While we dream of "getting away from it all- the crazy youth sports, the nights where we sit around and say to ourselves "what the hell are we doing wrong?" and "what are all of these people doing around here that we aren't" because we can't keep up, and all of this "keeping up with the joneses" mentality to live life more simpler, this place is made up of all the things we love.  Friends, family, great schools, and beautiful surroundings.

So yep, we're moving to Western Loudoun and hoping it's at least a little slower.  I mean, there is no Target there afterall.  And when I was growing up, those people were a different breed- I mean the one time when I was seventeen I went out with my "Valley" friends, I ended up in a tattoo parlor in Berryville.:)  But if it's not any different there, we're okay with that.

Ya see, after selling our home, moving to an apartment where we are so squeezed in with all of our belongings instead of coughing up money for a storage unit that we feel like we can't breath- it's that very short of breathness that has breathed new life in us. 

Living here, and taking a step back from it all has made us realize more than ever how wonderful Loudoun is.  Sure, it's filled with high falootin' rich folk that we'll never be... but it's also filled with amazing people.  People that don't care where you live or what you have.  People that have proved to us that they will still call, be there for you, and that the friendships you've made are real and not superficial.  Friends may no longer be at our fire pit, but instead they are showing up at our son's baseball game to spend time with us.  Friends invite us to trick or treat, invite us over for a Saturday night because they know we are stir crazy, and call just when ya need it.  And ya never know- some of those "high falootin'" peeps are actually the most down to earth, best people you've ever met when you stop being so judgmental and take the time to meet them.:)

I've realized that so much of the "we'll never be able to keep up" is just in our heads- because at the end of the day, who the hell cares.  The people in our lives love us for us, not what we have and they could care less about any of that.  Surround yourself with those you love and the next time you have to say where you are from, smile, and despite the traffic and headaches, and everything that goes along with it, say that you are from "Nova".  I know I will. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

We are that family

I've read them all and I get it.  In fact, I agree.  Ya know, the recent blogs about how we are robbing our children of a childhood in the high stress, overscheduled environment where travel sports and activities are on steroids.  Authors are quick to write how parents are putting stress on children, making them specialize in one sport with the hopes of raising the next Olympic star.  I read how youth sports are hijacking our lives and how too much competition too soon is bad for your kids and your family.

When I read these things, I take them to heart, because we are that family.  We are that family that is overscheduled, run from one practice to another, eat more dinners from a snack bar on a bleacher than we do at our own dinner table, break our bank with hotels for tournaments, and sport obnoxious magnets on the back of our car about our activities.  We are that family, and we are happy.

Yes, as a mom, I bitch and complain sometimes when I want to have a night off with nothing- but when we do, we miss it.  And so do my kids.  This weekend, I had one of those moments where it all came to a head.  Games were cancelled and it happened to be the weekend where my in-laws were visiting.  Our son was scheduled for a 5:30pm game and the field was perfectly fine midday.  We scrambled to get teams together, find umpires and ended up playing- and while all this commotion was going on, I thought to myself- this is CRAZY.  Let's just go enjoy this beautiful day. 

The hubby and I both grew up playing sports.  My weekends were filled with traveling all over the tri-state area for soccer and my hubby was an All-American swimmer and stud baseball player.  I traded sports in to party my college away and my husband played D-1 ball.  And ya know what, we both wouldn't change it for the world.  While society might say sports got us nowhere, we beg to differ.  We are who we are because of them.  And when our parents make suggestions to us about how we are doing a little too much with our children, need to make more time for the holy spirit in our lives and what is really important, I want to just look at them and say thank you.  Thank you for the suggestions, we appreciate them... and thank you for raising us the way you did and instilling the hard work ethic, the love for a game, and more importantly for giving us a childhood that was so wonderful that we are trying to replicate it with our own children.  You should be proud of that. During the day yesterday, I was about to lose it on my hubby because he was so hell bent on playing a ball game, but when  I saw him with his baseball team that only had seven players on the field in the freezing cold last night playing a game that probably should have just been cancelled, I understood. I understood completely.  He simply wanted to show his parents a glimpse into our life- the one that we enjoy and love- the one that we don't feel is robbing our family of anything, but that brings us together as a family.

So yes, I'll continue to read those blogs, and I'll continue to agree.  I'll get that some of our friends don't "get" why we run from activity to activity instead of just sending our kids outside to have just as much fun playing on their own.  I'll still have those thoughts of why the hell am I picking up babysitting jobs to be able to pay for private pitching lessons for our son when my hubby was a pitcher.  I'll agree that being at the pool at 5:30am on summer mornings is ridiculous, but I'll smile when I see the pride my son gets from it. I'll be reminded every day when I walk into my gym and see a star Virginia Tech football player is now a trainer just like any old normal person and didn't make it to the pros.  And when I brag on Facebook that my daughter did great at a gymnastics meet, I'll know that if she was going to be an Olympian, she'd be at training facility out west by now, and when I broadcast that my son hit a homer, trust me, I know he's playing the lowest level of travel ball possible and there's so much more talent out there.  We know that our kids aren't the next Jennie Finch or Bryce Harper, but that they are our children that we are so proud of and love. Trust me, we get it all. 

I just hope people get people like "us."  Our children still play xbox, frolic in the fields with their cousins, put schoolwork and academics first, and pray at night. We live, laugh, and love hard.  We are just chasing our dreams of happiness... and at night we kiss each other goodnight- it just might be followed by a high five and a love pat on the ass. :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


So here were are, summer is coming to an end, the kids are anxiously awaiting teacher letters (which is kind of strange since we don't have a clue about any teacher at our new school), and we're about to embark on the hustle and bustle of fall sports- Yep, two practices starting at 6pm on Thursdays- one in Leesburg, one in Ashburn with a traveling hubby= fun times.  And dare I say it- living in this apartment, crammed to the gill, way too close for comfort- and yet, it's been the best summer ever.  I'm not ready to ship my children off- instead, we've enjoyed being adventurous, not having housework, a yard to take care of, and kind of being gypsies bouncing from one park to another.  Maybe the saying is true- We may not have it all together, but together, we have it all.

After hearing about how there are many of you that have considered building or think that may be an option in the future, I've decided to blog about our experience...  Well, and let's face it, when the kids go to bed, the hubster is out of town, and I'm stuck in a family room because I can't go to my room because the baby is sleeping there and if I want my kids to fall asleep I can't watch t.v. because they are in the loft opening to the family room, my options to kill time are limited... and I would bet that my hubby would appreciate me blogging over online shopping.:)

This blog will just be a hodge podge... everything from design choices, choosing our builder, financing a new construction, the process, interior decorating, blah, blah, blah...  and I won't be sharing every post on Facebook to drive people crazy (come one, ya'll know I post enough as it is) so make sure you bookmark this page if you might be interested. :)

Let's just say we are still learning and anxiously awaiting the start of our home. We've come to realize there are two words you will hate hearing when building... overbudget and two weeks- ooops, I guess that's three. 

Going into this process we knew that getting a building permit would take forever... but we thought forever would be 30 days... We closed on the lot on May 30th, we thought we'd be breaking ground at the end of June, and things would be on their way.  Yesterday we spoke to our builder and he hopes to be breaking ground in a week or so... We'll believe it when we see it.  Come to find out there are so many other permits you need other than the actual building permit- Although our lot had a well, we had to have engineering work done for our drainfield- The county wanted us to install an alternative drainfield and our builders went to battle for a conventional one since it had previously been approved for that... They got it and that was a win for us... but also a lengthy delay.  We now have the health permit, the building permit, and are waiting on the grading permit so they can start... While extremely frustrated, we've just decided to sit back and try to remain calm because it is what it is... And we know there will be things in the future we're sure are worth complaining about so there's no use getting our panties ruffled this early. 

So here she is... our field of dreams.  Ya'll know it was so hard for our entire family to leave our last house.  It was home, the neighborhood was perfect, and we were so happy and content... and it simply came down to financial reasons and what was best for our family.  It was extremely hard and we still miss it so much... But we're moving on... and yep, she may be just a field as of yet, but when I look at her, I see a field where my daughters can get married, where Brendan and I can throw down with our friends sitting on hay bales around a bonfire and completely scare off our new neighbors, and most of all, I see our forever home. 

For now, meet our lot...

Lot 1D- the only remaining lot on our court- that was never built on because the housing market crashed and the builder stopped building...

This is looking out from our court and might be my saving grace... A new KHOV neighborhood is going in- and while many move to the country to be in the country- that part scares me...I need people... so I totally see me and the kids walking over there for our nightly walk and maybe just pretending our court is a part of the neighborhood and joining in on their happenings.:)

Our backyard view is beautiful and looks out to Stoneleigh

The neighbor on the left- Stunning farmhouse

 Driving up our court- I can't wait to see these huge trees in the fall.

Driving up the court again... My favorite part... Paved, not a state maintained road though... Yikes!

Neighbor to our right

Farmhouse to the left

Hoop installed in the actual court... just waiting for my kids to come take it over...  Let's just hope that's sooner rather than later!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Old School

I grew up playing sports my entire life.  I grew up learning to respect my coaches, to get along with my teammates, to suck it up when things didn't go my way, and to enjoy the game whether you win or lose... and sometimes that was easier said than done.  I grew up counting down to practice, nights running those fields at Arcola Community Center, and stopping at Pangle's store after the night was done to grab some candy cigarettes and a bottle full of sugar to drink.  And I'm okay- As Kenny Chesney would say, "We're a little messed up, but we're all alright."

And by alright, I mean I look back on those days with the fondest memories one could have.  I ride by Arcola Community Center and see a once thriving place dead as a ghost town.  I ride by Pangle's and it's covered with signs in Spanish.  And if I dare broke out a box of candy cigarettes for my children to share, I might have CPS called on me.  Times have changed.

We live in a world where as a parent I worry every second that I'm going to scar my children for life.  Now granted, with me as a mother they will probably need years of therapy, but I try my best. We never try to put pressure on our children, but there are certain things I will chew them out for- Ya know, like not running on and off the field, not listening to their coach, not being nice to their peers... and well I guess a whole list of things. So yeah, I guess I'm a hardass. 

I look at the things I get on my kids about,- not saying please and thank you, yes sir, no sir, and I realize these are things that when we grew up were expected.  But Times have changed.

I left a camp today where you could sense that many of the parents there thought that their kids were the bomb dot com.  Gone are the days of a fun summer camp, kids playing a game they love, and things all for the love of the game.  Here are the days of the sense of entitlement and my kid is gonna be better than your kid, and our shit don't stink.  Here are the days of buttering up to coaches and politics... And it sickens me.

We live in a world where coaches that are second father figures to our sons and daughters get talked about if they care too much.  They need to watch their p's and q's and have a fear in the back of their minds that if they hug, give a high five, or form a bond that coaches should have with their players that accusations will be made.  Yet, we live in a world wear twelve year olds are hitting home runs- and I don't mean on the field. 

We live in a world where everyone is a winner.  We have to give everyone a trophy to protect their feelings no matter how hard they do or do not try.  Yet, we live in a world that is made up of winners and losers.  It's life folks, just take a look around.

We live in a world where people talk during the National Anthem, kids think they rule the world because their Daddy says so, and they don't know how good they have it because things are just given to them.  Respect is a rarity, and to me, that's sad.

We live in a world where it's not okay to "pressure" your kids, but yet travel teams start before kids know how to wipe their butts correctly and it's cutthroat from the word go.  We live in a world where soon there will be no three sport athletes because children are forced to choose what sport they want to "focus" on before they have the opportunity to hit puberty and really know what their favorite is destined to be.

We live in a world where at the end of the day, none of it really matters because if I'm a betting woman, none of us are raising the next LeBron James or Bryce Harper.  But I get it- we're just parents out to try and give our kids the best opportunities to succeed, make memories, and have fun. I'm a hypocrite if I say I'm not going to continue on the crazy train of private lessons, this camp and that clinic... but for now, I'm going to sit back, eat a bon bon, let my kid's brain rot as he spends a straight hour playing Xbox, and long for the days of orange cones, crappy fields, and pure hometown joy.

And I'm gonna know that it's okay if my kids wind up just being okay.  I'll love them if they are messed up, and I'll know that they'll be alright- even if I do chew them out in the car, use a four letter word, and demand a thank you.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

We ARE the have's...

My daughter just ran down the sidewalk to find apartment #106 to have a friend over for a playdate.  She did the same thing yesterday and had a great time... playing sidewalk chalk on the 3 foot by 3 foot walkway in front of our new digs.  The girls ran around our mess of an apartment, played with American girl dolls that are sandwiched into a corner in the loft that she shares with her brother for her makeshift bedroom that still has an unpacked box of Mommy's clothes in the middle because there is simply no room for it to go.  We walked to the park, and Addie knew no different than her life in a 5,000 square foot house in the burbs.  And that makes me smile.

This morning she asked if she could have her friend over again and I suggested that they could play play-doh while Mommy got a shower...  Ya know- the same play-doh that God forbid she played with and messed up my granite counters in my old house.  Addie then looked at me and sweet as can be said, "Or we could play in the basement."  Ha- I asked back, "Ummm, where is our basement?(since we are clearly in a two level townhome apartment)", and she said right here, it's the bottom level.  She knows no difference.  And that makes me smile.

Chris was dropped off from baseball camp and proudly invited his friends in "to see his new room."  He doesn't care that it's not painted, doesn't have a comforter and he's sleeping with his Virginia Tech fleece blanket in the summer with navy blue sheets and that his sister's Dora blanket hung down from the top bunk.  In our old house, Mommy didn't allow anything with "characters" except on your jammies and underpanties....  and yet Chris couldn't have been happier to show off his pad... And that makes me smile,.

Ya see, I live in the land of Nova.  The land of the have's and the have not's and eventhough we are blessed and have more than we'll ever need, we feel like we're somewhere in between.  I have conversations with my girlfriends where we talk about a neighbor that got new furniture and instead of being happy for her, we wonder what the hell we are doing wrong or sometimes just make up a story in our head that's make believe... like "they must have family money" to make ourselves feel better. We live in the land of Nova where you feel like your kid isn't going to go to the World Series if they miss out on a private lesson or might miss out if they don't have a phone by the fifth grade to text with their friends (not my kid... but then again, I've learned you NEVER say never... I can see it coming).  I  live in the land of Nova where Bunco games are catered and I freak out on my hubby if the faucet is out of line when I'm about to host a party.  I live in the land of Nova where I know that we want to get away from it all, but yet we love it at the same time.  It's the land of Nova.

You spend all of your hours trying to raise a caring, loving child.  You want them to care more.  Care more about the little things... You bicker with them to untie their shoes before they put them on, hang up their swimsuits when they get home from practice, to love thy neighbor- to simply care.

But this summer is teaching me something so much more.  People love you for who you are- not for what you have- and that's how it should be.  What matters is the love between your four walls, not how they are decorated.  What matters is that I'm getting to spend my days learning from the very own creatures I care so much about- and they are teaching me that's okay to care a little less. 

Care a little less, and love a little more.  That makes me smile.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


This Saturday night, the hubz and I had a hot date planned to the Tim McGraw concert with our besties.  I had even bought a cute new countrified outfit and was fit to tailgate.  Tuesday morning, we got emails about game schedules this weekend and don't ya know our little softball player has a game at 4:30 and our baseballer has one at 4.  So instead of rockin' the night away thinking I'm an Indian Outlaw, I'll be drinking a little lemonade and not as many beers, raising my little family, and heading to bed wiped out after a day at the ballfields with my hubz because

Love changes.

Back in the day, love was holding my husband's hand so tight and getting  jealous if another girl talked to him.  Now, it's smiling when in the chaos of our life his hand grazes mine or holds it for a hot second before we let go to chase after our one year old.  And when I see another woman talking to him, I laugh, give him a hard time, and tell him not to leave me because I'm damaged goods because

Love changes.

Life is so different from what I pictured.  I'm a reality junkie, and a Bachelor fan, and I now look at the show so different.  Yes, it's amazing to see a date flying over the coast of Bora Bora, wining and dining in a hot tub, and being dressed to the nine's in fancy schmancy dresses, but I'm realizing it's also amazing to have a hubz listen to your dreams while pining over the Costco Bora Bora brochure knowing it's not gonna happen anytime soon, hanging out at the pool and greasing up three miracles (remind me I said this this summer when I complain about it), and chilling in your hubby's old baseball t-shirts because sadly they fit you like a glove- and he even finds it a little sexy...  Bless his heart... because

Love changes.

In the beginning, love is a high, you feel giddy with excitement, and butterflies are like endorphins that take over your body... but there comes a time when there will be lows and flatlines, and you might feel bipolar because one minute you want to kill your hubby and the next you want to jump his bones because he decides to tackle homework with your children so you can wash the dinner dishes and not be on double duty because

Love changes.

There will come a time when love doesn't revolve around getting lucky.  That's not to say it doesn't happen a fair bit... But your hubby might learn that when you say you have a headache that is your code for "don't cop a feel under the sheets because I'm not doing it tonight,"...  and before you turn into a freak in the bed instead of fumbling for protection, you might stop your antics, bicker about who is going to make sure the door is locked so a kid doesn't wander in to see a full moon... and afterwards in your state of bliss, you may look at each other and say, "Damn, that was good- we should do this more often,"  because

Love changes.

There will come a day when you will find love through being proud of your accomplishments, your family, and the road you have travelled... and you'll miss out on a night out totally by choice... and your friends will totally understand that kids come first because

Love changes.

Can't wait to see what happens in our next thirty years... because I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. <3

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Poor Me

We've all seen it happen. That kid that fouls a little too much on the basketball court, that kid that gets up to bat and the bat is bigger than he is, that little girl that gets up for her piano recital and the performance sounds like a screeching cat.  It happens- and looking back, I'm not sure that my reaction was always right.  I might have giggled to my husband, let out an awwww, or made a comment- but never, did I ever,  mean to be hurtful. But the thing is, we all must remember that we all have eyes and ears... and feelings and hearts.

Monday nights have been my girl's night out for some time now.  I play in a women's soccer league and have a Blast... Literally- we're the Vintage Blast.  We started indoor for the very first time last fall and never won a game our first season.  Fast forward to last night, and we showed up to play for the championship.  Okay, let me be real- to play in the championship for the "West" division- because after a few sessions of getting our asses kicked we begged the front desk guy to separate the women's league into two divisions- The great teams making up the East, and the not so great teams making up the West... and we've enjoyed playing so much more ever since.  We've gotten a lot better too- and I'd like to think it's not JUST because of the early twenty-something au-pairs that just happened to join our team (although I'm pretty sure it is).:)

I'm a rough player.  Always have been, always will be.  I grab, elbow, pull, yank, kick...  that's just what I do.  I like to call it aggressive, some others might call it mean.  After three kids and with the addition of fifty pounds to my high school frame, my "roughness" might be kicked up a notch to a whole different level.  I struggle, and I really mean struggle with my weight issue to the point that I could blog forever about it- oh wait, I used to do that...  It's something I battle but I'm not gonna boo-hoo over that right now- This is my summer, and I do plan on starting to bring sexy back- just y'all wait.:) But my point is, I'm never trying to be a dirty, unsportsmanlike player- It's just that I'm an out of shape Mama that can't move like she used to, so sometimes I resort to fouling.  I'm human.  It happens.

What also happened last night is the fans of our opposing team started off as "cheering"... and ended up crushing me.  I heard the opposite team's player back off from the ball and yell up to the fans in the stands, "I'm not going after it, I'm scared of her."  I heard the women from the stands yell back, "She's so big she needs to play football or rugby, she's way too rough to be out there."  "Get her!"  "Look at her, she's huge." And that was just what I remember before I tried my best to block them out and hold back tears.  These were grown women- I believe even some mom's of the younger players on the field.

I was humiliated and hurt.  And it made me really think about what my actions will be in the future and about how we should all behave.  Because last night, when I finally got home, called my mom, and cried, I realized... It happens.  I was someone's little girl out there on the field last night.  And people of all ages can bully and be bullied.  Remember that- I know I will.

Words sting like a knife, they really do.  Luckily, I had girlfriends to pick me up.  One lady even posted our picture on Facebook and said we were champions.  The harsh reality is- we lost- a good ole' ass whoopin' where the other team was classy enough to score and put the nail in the coffin in the last thirty seconds to win by at least seven.  But guess what- We are champions.  Sticks and Stones Bitches, Sticks and Stones.  This brute will see ya on the field in a few weeks. Play on, play on.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Young Love

Today is my anniversary.  Yep, 14 years. Some days it seems like it has been forever. Some days I wonder how we've made it this long without killing each other. And some days- on days like today, I have a whole new appreciation of love.

Ya see, love these days doesn't look the same as it did fourteen years ago.  Back in the day, I remember celebrating every month, knowing exactly how many months we had been together- sometimes to the day. Tonight, the hubz headed his way to softball with one kid, while I headed the opposite way to baseball with another.  We got home, nuked some chicken nuggets and some canned peas because my Mama says ya have to have something green at every meal, and ate on our best plastic plates.  We threw the kids in the tub, finally got them down and felt like we were really on our A game because three sets of teeth all got brushed.  He wrote out lunch money checks on his couch, and I checked Facebook on mine.  He retired to bed, and I'm up blogging to chill out after a long day. He didn't ditch me because he didn't get lucky, and I didn't even attempt it because I had to take an Imodium earlier today and I know that he knows I pooped on a public toilet at the ball field and that would just be gross to him.  And that is our life.  Romance at its best. Love it or leave it... and every day we make that choice to love it. 

And tonight, as I sit back and reflect on years past, I feel sorry for my children.  With social media, technology, and Lord knows what else they'll have in the years to come, I wonder if my kids will ever know what it means to long for someone.  Like really long for someone- someone who is away at camp with no cell phone, and you can't talk to them for days- and your heart aches. I wonder if my kids will ever know what it feels like to have real life butterflies in their stomach and to get up enough nerve to "ask" someone out or if they will just shoot a text. I wonder if my kids will ever have to really take the time to get to know someone or if they'll know everything from their prospects address to favorite color by internet stalking them beforehand.  I wonder if they'll ever know the anticipation of waiting for a phone call to come through- and to stress for ten minutes about what number ring you should pick it up on. I wonder if they'll ever truly "get" the feeling of excitement like I did when I logged in and heard the words, "you've got mail." I wonder if my kids will ever be far enough from a laptop and spend hours on end writing and doodling on a piece of paper what their "married" name would be and perfecting that signature.  I wonder if they will ever get the effort it takes to write a note, fold it in the most perfect way, and pass it off to a friend so it gets to that special someone.  I wonder what they will make that shows their love instead of a mix tape that took hours on end to track down the perfect songs and recording just right.  Hell, I wonder if they'll stress about if it's actually going to happen on a date- ya know- getting to second base... or if they'll have been sent pictures of boobies and butts on snapchat like it's nothing. I wonder if they'll ever play MASH to predict their husband, ever have to worry if their parents are listening in on a phone call, or even if they'll have to wait weeks to get their Homecoming pictures printed or if it will be snapped on a phone. 

I wonder.

And then I realize, that I'm pretty sure it's all gonna work out just fine. If you had told my twenty year old engaged self that I would be sitting here dead tired spending my anniversary worrying for my children, looking a hot mess, and not living an all out fairy tale, I would have never believed it.  And yet, through it all, this crazy thing called love is pretty freakin' wonderful.

So maybe the best thing to do is just pray we all never lose our sense of wonder so we live to experience the wonderful.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Not Me Monday... Being beautifully honest and living to tell about it

Welcome to Not Me! Monday . . . a time where we confess our faults MckMama style by denying them outright. If you have no idea what I am talking about visit MckMama’s blog for a laugh that will keep you smiling all week.

Okay... or don't visit MckMama's blog because she doesn't write it anymore.  But she does sell a diet drug which my neighbor met me outside one night while the kids were in bed to give me a few pills.  We made an all out drug deal- I then gave her a bag of Body by Vi shake mix and we were going to crush our diet and lose twenty pounds... That was three weeks ago... and we're starting tomorrow.:) P.S... If you order the diet pill- MckMama- the real MckMama calls you... but don't worry, I still haven't ordered because I'm on too many automatic renewal things and if I add one more, the hubz might kill me!

I didn't spend hours reading these random blogs of people I don't even know last week- Ya know all these sweet southern, Christian women like Kelly Stamps hoping that one day I become like her.  And I can assure you I didn't have conversations with one of my besties where we talk about Kelly like she's our next door neighbor and our children don't think they are Harper and Hollis's b-f-f's... Nope- not me.

I really didn't start composing a letter because of these things on every toilet in America because every one of my kids has been obsessed with them including little termite #3... 
Dear Toilet Bowel Company Makers of the World,
Can you please make these little pieces somehow lock in place?  It's bad enough that I have to pee with a baby at my ankles much less worry about a choking hazard while I'm taking a deuce. 
A mom that simply wants to poop in peace
Nope, not me.
And for those thinking its disgusting that she's right by my side sometimes when I do go- I've outweighed the pros and cons and a few shit particles in the air seem less harmful than what she could get into unsupervised without me.  And I can't time my bathroom visits around naptime. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go... Ain't nobody got time for that.
Riding to my soccer game, I didn't blare my music, roll down my windows, and feel young and beautiful riding down the road.  Something about a little rap with bass bumping, or a country song loud and jamming suddenly makes me feel twenty something. And I might have even gunned it at a stoplight smiling because the guy beside me was checking me out.  Nope, not me.
And after my soccer game, when I walked to my car and realized it's a minivan with carseats and car magnets covering the back of it, I realized he definitely wasn't checking me out and was probably looking at me like I had a problem.  That might have become even crystal clearer when I plopped my sweatshirt on my front cloth seat so my wet pants from a weak bladder didn't leave a stench behind.  I definitely didn't drive home with the same confidence.  Not me.:)
I didn't videotape my children cracking up as they made up a new version of Frozen's Let it Go... Holding their privates singing, "I have to go, I have to go... I can't hold it in anymore..."  Nope, not me.
And I for sure didn't go to a baseball tournament for my son, walk with two other families to a Mexican Restaurant, and then have to take a taxi home. Nope, not me.  We didn't then let our kids play while we sat in the hallway drinking until midnight having a good ole time.  Not me...
I didn't text my hubby on his last day of a business trip and say, "Wanna get lucky tonight?"... To which he may or may not have replied, "The Northrop Grumman IT department must love you."... I then didn't stay downstairs and watch my shows and ignore his texts asking if I was coming up... Not me... Never too old to be a dicktease.... or maybe I should just say, sometimes I'm too old and I "have a headache" and don't need to get it on.  Did I just say that? Not me.
I wasn't walking across a ball field this week and stopped in my tracks because I saw a ton of cellulite on my thigh.  When I took off my sunglasses, it looked a hundred times worse... So I put my sunglasses back on, looked around and noticed that almost everyone there was wearing sunglasses and smiled.  Sometimes ya just have to be happy with the little things in life.  Let's pray for a sunny week and lots of shades wearing. 
And I won't embarrass myself ever again on this blog.., Nope, not me..., It's only Monday.:)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ode to Teachers... or Something Like That

All I've ever wanted to be was a Mommy.  And as the time grew near, I had so many dreams about how it would be- visions of sugarplums danced in my head.  Ya know, my kids would be perfect, I'd have the house with the white picket fence, and a sweet little black lab.  And then life happened- I've learned there is no such thing as a perfect kid, I'm living in an apartment, and my son is allergic to every animal on the face of the earth. 

I also tend to be a wanna-be hippie.  I love me some Birkenstocks, my hubby calls me the voodoo lady because I have a stash of oils that I dab behind my ears, and I longed to be a nursing, baby-wearin', home-schoolin' granola-y mom.  But, I too, fail at that.  The second my kids turn two I'm searching for a preschool, and I realize I can not do it all- It really takes a village.

With the end of the school year upon us, I can tell ya how the next few weeks are going to go.  I'm going to start slacking on checking the kid's backpacks, forget to pack a snack here and there, and wait until the last minute to get teacher's gifts.  My hubby and I are going to then have the conversation we have every.single.year...

He's going to complain that we just spent money on teacher appreciation gifts and he's then going to go into a whole spiel about how he doesn't get presents for doing his job.  I'm then going to try and go out to Home Goods or some store to try to find a teacher's gift that looks way more expensive than what I actually spent.  I'm then going to realize I spent an hour and ten bucks in gas trying to save five dollars and tell the hubz that he just needs to get over it and grab a decent gift card because these teachers that we're trying to skimp out on are some of the most important people in our children's lives.

In fact, five days out of the week they are with our kids during more waking hours than we are.  And eventhough we've only had a babysitter a handful of times, we've never thought twice about sending our kids off to school- because we know they are going to be just fine.

In fact, more than fine.

Summer is almost here and I'm already downing Doritos just thinking about how long my days are going to be. 

My kids have learned so much at school- Yep, reading, and writing and arithmetic- but even more than that.  They've learned the golden rule, patience, how to be a friend, and everything in between. 

I try, I really, really do... but I just don't know how they do it... I mean a good seven hours with no iPads, Xboxes, or phones in hand?  What the heck?  My little first grader went from knowing a few sight words to being an all out reader this year- and let me tell ya- it wasn't because of me. She doesn't know time and I might have fibbed more than I should and told her to go ahead and color in the picture that we read all twenty minutes while my fingers were crossed.  And my son- he officially knows more history than me, knows his multiplication tables like a champ, and is about to write a book report- and let me tell ya- and I can't even get through a weekly ten minute extra credit math sheet with him without losing my patience and going bonkers.

Teachers amaze me, I see them walking kids down the hall in a perfect line, I see my kids sitting at the lunch table waiting to be excused and dismissed, and I see them turning into smart, respectful little people. 

And I owe so much of it to the teachers.  They pick up where I leave off... even when I just give up.  Ya know, like on days where they might have a cold, but Mommy needs them to go to school so she can get things done.  Teachers don't have a choice- they are there picking up the pieces and passing out a Kleenex.  They are there to kiss boo-boo's, discipline, and inspire.

I've tried so many times to be "teachery."  Like when I scour Pinterest for ideas- Like making mason jars with each kids name on it and telling them they can add a poof ball to the jar when they do something good and when it's full they earn a prize.  Day two and that bad boy was a waste of money and time- the kids could care less- and yet this morning my kids had to wear their best running shoes so they could run laps to beat the other classes for extra recess time.  I mean, really? 

Summer is my favorite time of the year, but I dread it because I won't have the threat of "I'm going to email your teacher" when the kids are fighting- that threat is better than Santa Clause.  Every year the summer starts off great- We love life the first two weeks.  Then, the kids start tiring of the pool and by the end of the day this a couple times a year drinker is willing to split a bottle of wine with the hubby. By the time August rolls around, I'm my hubby's dream girl because I'm starting to barter nightly blow jobs in exchange for a week of summer camp enrollment for the kids. 

And then the clouds open up and school begins again.  Some moms put the kids on the bus and start to boo hoo... but I feel a sense of relief and am ready to WOO HOO! 

Teachers.  They are a wonderful thing, and I'm so lucky to be at a school where they support and love on my kids in the most perfect way.  So, this year, I'm skipping Home Goods and telling the hubz to cough it up buttercup. These women deserve so much more than a bonus and a small token of gratitude.  While my parenting hasn't always gone according to plan, public school and the good 'ole Loudoun County School System has come through in the most marvelous of ways... and for that, I am thankful- and am okay with crossing homeschooling off my list. One thing down, a million to go... :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Our Village

Closing time
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

Closing time

Four years ago, my hubby and I sold our house, moved into a rental, and agreed to "watch the housing market" for a year. That lasted all of four months  Nearly every week, I'd drive to my "dream neighborhood" and pray that a house would come on the market. I remember one day, as I was taking the tour of the hood, I met a lady and her daughter... the same age as Chris. They were playing ball in their front yard and when I stopped to ask questions, the ball rolled down the hill and that was the end of the ball.  I immediately clicked with this lady, and I left the hood knowing this was where I was meant to be.

A week later, a foreclosure popped up in this neighborhood.  My hubby and I were there within hours, but couldn't get in  Yep, it was one of those shady deals and I was so bummed... until my soon to be next door neighbor told me to go take a look at the front door of the house one door down.  Yep, it had been served with foreclosure papers.  I peered into the windows and saw a two story fireplace with stone from the floor to the ceiling and almost wet myself. 

Fast forward a week, the house came onto the market and that was all she wrote.  With the help of some amazing realtors who went to bat for us, we landed our dream house. In our dream neighborhood.  And that's why today is a hard day.

The week we moved in, my next door neighbor had a wine night on the front porch.  Brendan and I moseyed on over, stayed until the wee hours of the morning, I broke out the vagina guitar, they still talked to me the next day, and friendships started.

Today is a hard day because the foreclosure house that became our home through blood, sweat, and tears isn't ours anymore.  It was the house with the most beautiful staircase ever that I knew for sure  Addie was going to want to invite people over for prom pictures on.  It was the house we painted, added a deck and patio, hung trim, installed a backsplash... the list goes on and on.  It was the house that I created my dream nursery in and rocked my last baby every night.  It was the house she was conceived in... It was the house that we added a sprinkler system to and I fought tooth and nail because I just needed my Japanese maple tree.  It was the last house of mine that my grandparents came to see.  It was the house that my kids made sweet memories in and where they made best friends.

And while the house was perfect for us, it's not the house that we'll miss. I got to the point where I was just over the big house. I'm learning that a house is just a place to lay your head and does not define you... but it's those precious relationships that matter so much. Courtland became our family.  The CRV was our hood, and full of our people.  It's the neighborhood where everybody knows your name, where people genuinely care about one another, and where you want to raise your children. 

Sure, the hood has problems- ya know- like when you are running late to meet the bus and your kids get off without you and you then look like a fool because you have to go door to door looking for them because they could be at about ten houses... because they would be taken in by anyone and wouldn't mind at all.  Or when someone sets off a firecracker, you better believe you're gonna have a hundred new emails... because there is a gunman for sure trying to take out all 300 houses and the messageboard is on fire.  And occasionally, there might be a loud motorcycle (ha!), a pack of wolves keeping you up at night, or a cornhole game and drinks down at the neighbors that causes you to win parents of the year by face-timing your sleeping children so you can get rowdy with your friends.  We only did the last one once... or twice. :)

So, today is a hard day.  It feels like a part of me is gone.  I shed tears thinking about sitting out with my neighbors, my children having the time of their lives just being at home in the yard with their friends, or how I won't be able to run up to my bestie, Danielle's and just walk on in through the garage and hang out. 

I'll miss looking out and seeing my kids setting up shop to sell loom bracelets, going door to door picking weeds to save for Papa John's... and I might even miss the times where they took bottled waters from our garage and mortified us by walking door to door selling them for $3/each without us even knowing.  Entrepreneurs, I tell ya, and nice neighbors that support our kids.:)  Today is a hard day because I'll miss Chris being able to run up the hill and grab Mason, or down to Stephen and Spencer's to play outside.  I'll miss picking up my friend that now plays soccer with me because I was crazy and posted to the crazy messageboard that we needed players.  I'll miss Ms. Kaye having all the kids over for sleepovers and Addie being so excited.  Ya know, how that was my goal to be the house where everyone goes, but then when your kid gets invited somewhere else, you just resign to the fact that being able to chill and watch HGTV sounds so much easier and letting someone else put up with the chaos.  Hell, I'll even miss the neighborhood bitch (so kidding)... who taught me so much about life... and at times, forgiveness. :)

Today is a hard day because I'll miss how my neighbor would always seem to know when the hubby was out of town or I was having a bad day and send the best homemade quesadillas over so I didn't lose it at dinner.  I'll miss Sarah's chocolate chip cookies. I'll miss hanging out with my girls Kelli and Heather on our redneck decks... Sure we all had beautiful decks (shout out to Builders Fence, heeeeyyyyyy), but there was nothing better than nights where we popped open our $5 chairs on our driveways, caught up, and watched the wonderful "shows" our children put on... or didn't really watch out children at all because we knew they were having a blast and so were we. And I'll even miss the young familes that have moved into the new section.  Yep, over the past couple of years, Brendan and I went from always being the young couple in our neighborhoods, to now being the "older" couple... and I'll admit, it's been a changing of the seasons.. I might, might- just come home from get togethers and cry how I'm a fuddy duddy, old, and need botox.  Issues.... thank God that man puts up with my crap.:)

I will miss days at the pool with the foreign lifeguards, Erik and Natasha always making it a hoot, and crazy nights with Tonia- when we are together- watch out.:)  The list could go on and on with so many families who know who they are... and that's why today is a hard day.

So, yes, today is a hard day.  But we are McCullers, and we can do hard things.  Holding on to faith that we are making the right decision for our family...   and that Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. 

It's just a little hard when you aren't sure you wanted it to end.

Courtland, you will forever be in our hearts.  It's been real.  And I know we have made lifelong friendships, and for that I am so thankful.

P.S.  If anyone posts pictures on Facebook of y'all gathering with the new owners of our house doing s'mores, I might be institutionalized.  :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Close Quarters

Friday morning, the movers came... and right before the bus pulled up, both kids broke down sobbing, in tears, losing their shit.  It broke my and Brendan's heart.  Chris has made comments here and there how he didn't want to move, but never showed emotion.  Addie, my easy, breezy, piece of cake child had been go with the flow up until that moment- and to see her so crushed was awful.  Thank God the bus pulled up, they wiped their tears and hurried off to school.

Children are so resilient.  They amaze me.  Knock on wood, they are handling this move like champs.

After swimming, they came home to their new home... their apartment.  I expected to see more tears, but instead, they both ran in, checked the place out, and exclaimed that they like it!  Hallelujah! Chris looked at me and said, "Mom, this is really nice- I thought you were going to take us to some raggedy place, but I like this." 

We've got this.

Short term sacrifice equals long term rewards... That's how my mathematician husband puts this journey into perspective.  I, on the other hand, tried to relate it to being in college- and my best friend oh so politely said, "Yep, have fun in college with three kids!" Ha!

When we were packing, we filled our garage not once, but twice with things to donate.  I would look at it and realize- Life is full of stuff.  Look around, it's all just things and stuff.  Stuff that I somehow easily get caught up on.  And then you have a yard sale and realize even more that at the end of the day, things that were once precious to you are really just stuff.

Ya know, like Christmas presents you searched high and low for for the kids and they sit in piles in the garage and they don't say one word about them going to the trash.  Or your piles of Vera Bradley that you just had to have every time a new pattern came out... and you give them away.  Stuff, stuff, stuff. 

Living in the apartment, we have what ya need.  Pots, pans, beds, clothing, food.  No frills.  This OCD Mama is letting the kids have stuffed animals on their beds, we have mismatched towels hung all over the bathroom, and we're drinking from our finest plastic cups.  And ya know what, we are a.o.k. 

Hell, Chris and Addie aren't even in a room.  Yep, we have a 2 bedroom with a loft.  One bedroom is filled top to bottom with storage... and we wanted to be on the same floor as the kids... so here's their new pad- that they share.:)

Welcome to the mudroom... AKA downstairs bath.  AKA outside storage area, AKA Brendan's uniform hub.  Yep, closet space is lacking, and we already received a citation for having something other than "patio furniture or flowers" on our deck... so we're making do.:)

 This is exactly what our kitchen looked like the first year we got married... almost 14 years ago!  Yep, same toaster, same set of knives... missing one or two. For years, these things have hidden in my cabinets because they didn't "look good" sitting out.  I'm letting go people, letting go.  For now, anyways.:)

Our bedroom, and Queen Elle's nursery... If she's upset, I'm only a toe away, I can almost touch her.:)  And she's sleeping like there hasn't been a change in the world. 
Sure, we've had some hiccups.  Yesterday, they tested the fire alarms all morning, we are right by the dumpster and on trash day, there is definitely a stench, and I'm still afraid someone is going to stab and kill me every time I run my bag of trash over there at night.  The washer and dryer are half the size of mine and sound like an airplane taking off... But ya know what, they do the job.
The kids have also have had a few first world problems..,. Like when Chris looked at me and seriously asked, "Really Mom, how am I supposed to get water?"  He was clearly dumbfounded the fridge doesn't have a water dispenser.  I gave him a quick lesson in how to turn on the spicket, and then realized... these kids don't know how good they have it.
So, our situation isn't ideal, but I'll keep it real for ya through this whole process.  At the end of the day, Home is where your heart is.  And I have mine all right here with me. In fact, this place is nice and I'm enjoying it... No yard work, if something breaks it's not my problem, and we won't be spending money on yet another "Shelley project." We just may be in college... so pray that I don't kill my roommates in the next six months.:)

Friday, May 2, 2014

What's the story, morning glory?

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.  Yin and Yang.  Opposites attract.  Well, by golly, my hubby and I are overachievers.  Hot Damn!  I like to sleep in until noon, and he's up and at 'em before the roosters, I like to stay out and close the bar down, and he's ready to go at 10, I love clothes, and he's perfectly content wearing his t-shirts that are twenty years old and his dress-up Polo's still have Warthogs on them from Britches... which has been out of business for a decade, he's an extremely private person, and well, if ya read this blog, I guess you could say I'm not, I like it on top, and I know if I continue with that, that private person is not gonna be happy with me.:) 

As much as that man drives me crazy and gets on his my last nerve, I love him.  Forever. And he's stuck with me...  And I'm sure people are wondering "Why is that family moving when they love their house, their hood, the schools... sounds stupid, right?"  Don't worry, we think so too.

But ya see, my hubby is like Dave Ramsey on crack.  Over the years, I've learned that's a good thing.  No wait, that's a great thing- even if I might use the word tyrant when we're really having it out.:)  Unfortunately for him, that ultra saver and planner is married to a fly by the seat, let's home equity that bad boy and have a party, I'm gonna die if I don't get my plantation shutters kind of girl.  Yin and Yang I tell ya.:)

So, how do I write a blog about money without my best friend dialing me right up and calling me tacky, or my mother getting on my case?  Can I do this tactfully... I hope.:)

Ya see, if it weren't for the hubster, I'd be in debt.  But instead, I go to the grocery store on a "budget"- and yes, I've learned that Target is not a grocery store and everything in that store does not get to be filed under groceries on the hubby's little money tracker.  I am the queen of being in the McD's line pulling up my account on my phone and checking my balance to see if I have enough for my Sweet Tea, and more often than not, the hubby gives me a call because he received a "ding" to let me know I only have 17 cents in my account.  He knows me all too well.

Thankfully though, I have him looking out for us... and tracking every penny.  We have no debt, I'm convinced I'm going to be rich if I live long enough because he saves for retirement like no other, every month our credit cards are paid off, etc.... But things are expensive.   

One night, the hubz called me into the kitchen and said what he usually says... "I had to take money out of savings this month to pay the bills." Dag.  It wasn't like this a few years ago-  but add the cost of propane, kids that are now in activities, another baby, higher insurance, and our budget has gone up so much.  And we look at things and there's nothing we can cut.  Sure, he suggested we cut cable and watch TV on the internet and I might have snapped like he asked me to give up my kidney, but its all good.  And then he said it, "we're living above our means right now."  And I knew, with my hubby, things were going to need to change. Shit.

Sure, we could live here for years and keep dipping into savings a little every month, but the fact of the matter is that we are on the verge of braces, we have another baby that will need a preschool payment, and a car for our first born isn't too far away.  Things are just going to keep going up.

So, we decided to sell our house.  The one that we love.  Ok, maybe it wasn't a decision that we made in a hot second.  Sure, I could go back to work, but I'm lazy as shit.  And we might have a hundred other reasons why that's not an option, but that was out.  We could move into a townhome- and while that crossed our minds because there comes a point when you are just over a big home and you envy those that live in a townhouse and live life doing things, when we looked, we decided prices are high now, we'd be paying market price, and that's almost what we paid for the house we're in.  We considered Winchester and were convinced that was the solution.  We could get away from the rat race of Nova, save a ton on taxes, and call it our home.  But after a few trips out there, that was scratched, because let's face it- Loudoun is my home- and as my brother and mother would quickly tell you "I'd get out there and hate it."   And then we talked about how building on land has always been our dream... let's just move that timeline up, use the equity from our home sale to buy a lot, and do it.  Fingers crossed it works out... 

And the next time on a real housewife of Loudoun County... watch Shelley go bat shit crazy as she tries to deal with a move...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mo Money, Mo Problems

Take everything with a grain of salt... at least when reading this blog.  But for real- Wouldn't life be a hundred times easier if we could live life that way? 

Ya see, I'm just your normal girl trying to raise my family in my hometown- Which is sooooo different than when I grew up.  And I get it- my problems aren't really problems at all.  REAL problems are families struggling with sick children, tornadoes taking out towns, and starving children in Africa.  My hubby is the first to tell ya, what I've got is #richgirlproblems.

The bigger problem though, is I'm not rich.  Yeah, yeah, rich in love, blah, blah, blah- the hubz has tons of lines...  But we're just normal people who make a great living and are raising our children in a very wealthy area. And sometimes it sucks balls.  I guess my problems are more like #keepinupwiththejonesproblems and #locoproblems.  Hashtags are silly... I know, but don't they help make trivial things seem a little bit cooler?

Sometimes its just nice to know that others feel your pain...

Ya know, like during the first week of school when you are shelling out checks left and right, racking up receipts from Tar-Jay for school supplies, sending in money for the PTA, ordering spirit wear, and then stepping back to think, "Man, that yearbook order form isn't due until November 15th... Do I ask the hubby now for that check, or do I wait a month?... Oh, hell... let me just get it over with so I don't forget." 

Or when it's October 15th and your planters still don't have mums in them and you want your pumpkins and fifty gourds decorating your front porch, but ya just know you're going to get a lecture for them.  Whatevs... 

And weekly when you check your e-mail and there's yet another evite for a home party- Ya know, jewelry, make-up, kitchen supplies, dildos... and you really think to yourself... If I don't click on this email do ya think I could get away with saying I never got the invite since technically I didn't open it up?  Fast forward to the day of the party and you go ahead and place an order... and then three nights later when your hubby is going over the online banking statement and you are busted.  Damn... Mottos like "It's better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission" always seem great in the moment.  Ahhh.... but at least I have some purrty earrings since my fat jeans don't button anymore... Always look on the bright side, right?

I could write a book on this... but I've got an hour until I've got to be up at the school to pick my daughter up from her afterschool activity.  Ya know, that thing that we were going to pass on this semester and then our son came home wanting to do the multiplication class and we said how do we deny a kid that wants to work on his math facts so we handed over 40 bucks... which then turned into 80 to make it even Steven for our daughter.... Don't you worry- she's making a beautiful bookmark with a bow today... which I will one day secretly have to trash because she likes to keep every.single.trinket.  So, those 80 bucks could have bought me new fat, fat jeans... but instead, I'll try to fool everyone into thinking I spent my day at the gym working out... since I'm stuck wearing my elastic waist workout pants for yet another week.  But at least I have new earrings.... :)

Like I said.... #locoproblems.