Friday, October 13, 2017

Bard's Alley Event Tonight!

I'll be signing books and speaking at Bard's Alley bookstore in Vienna, VA at 7 pm tonight. If you are local and can join me, I'd love to meet you!


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tim's Newest Love Interest

My last two Stitch Fix boxes have been huge hits; each time I kept 3 out of the 5 items sent to me.

My latest box garnered me buttery soft navy dress pants, a flowy cranberry cardigan, and a gray wool pullover with cool braided sleeves. Once again, I really felt like my stylist had a handle on what I was looking for. So why am I not showing you pictures of MY latest haul? Well, someone else has taken my spot as the Stitch Fix darling...my husband Tim.

Remember how I got him a fix for Valentine's Day? Since then, he has kept 10 out of 10 pieces sent to him! He even kept SHOES. I mean, leave it to a man to update his entire closet without having to expend an ounce of energy. He informed us that his next Fix is on its way and he is practically giddy.

Margaret and I are just glad we helped him fill out his style profile because we love everything he has gotten. Last time he asked for work clothes, and this time wanted casual staples. Everything is trimmer and more on-trend than what he is used to wearing. Not sure if I should want my husband looking even younger and cooler than he does, but oh well.









If you think you or your significant other would like having your own personal stylist hand select clothes for you, then check out Stitch Fix. There is a $20 styling fee, but when you purchase even one article of clothing, the fee is applied to the cost of it. And if you are like Tim, and keep every single item, there is a 25% discount on everything. 

If you do end up with something you don't like, it's a breeze to pop it in the prepaid mailer (provided) and stick it in your mailbox for pickup. I am still laughing about the fluffy pirate-looking shirt my friend got sent. Not sure how that happened, but at least it was entertaining for us and easy to return for her!





As always, I get a small commission if you sign up though my links. 

Happy Fixing!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Pre-School Progress

As I mentioned before, Andrew started a wonderful Mother's Day Out program at a Very Excellent Preschool this fall.

His adjustment has been super smooth, and he lunges at his backpack (his "bye-bye" bag) every morning in the hopes that it's a preschool day. It would be enough to give me a complex about my mothering if I weren't so darn happy that he's having a blast.

The school is quite the haul all the way across town, but there aren't many local part-time options for the under-2 set. In my previous pre-school experiences, even though I knew this was a Very Excellent Preschool with the best playground around, I never even considered it.

Why? Because it's a co-op.

I'm sure there are those of you out there who just LOVE co-oping in your child's school. It's a wonderful way to get a pulse on what goes on there, to keep tuition costs down, and to show your family's commitment to the school.

Good for you.

I am not one of those people. Sure, I spent a lot of time in Jack and Margaret's elementary school, but that was not out of the goodness of my heart-- it was to meet a yearly requirement. In fact, one day,  after four years of having kids yell out to me to hand deliver ranch dressing for them to pour all over their carrots pizza, I actually bought my way out of my Pizza Lunch duties for the remainder of my tenure. Sure, I was the first to volunteer as a field trip chaperone, or to go on the Girl Scout camping trips, because I really did enjoy being around my kids and their classmates but I guess I'm just stubborn in that I want to volunteer, not co-op. Sure, it's largely semantics, but somewhere inside me is that little pill who would hiss at her parents: "I'm doing it 'cuz I want to, not because you told me to!"

I thought this time would be different.

No, not because with Andrew I've amended my wicked ways and want to work in the classroom, but because my friend, whom we'll call Jane Ann (because that is her name) -- convinced me that the Very Excellent Preschool no longer had a co-op requirement for Andrew's age group.

This is what happens when all of your friends are pushing 45. Preschool Intel gets a little fuzzy, and before you know it you are in the Kangaroo Room wiping noses and doling out snacks on your 48th birthday. Yep. Friday, my birthday, is my first day on the schedule.

If you are reading this and your child is at the Very Excellent Preschool, please know that I'll be on the top of my game, ready to cuddle and encourage, but that "I'm doing it 'cuz I want to, not because you told me to!" Plus, what better way to feel hopeful and optimistic for the year ahead than spending it with little ones?

The rest of you, please raise a glass of iced tea to me on my birthday, and hope these old knees hold out!


P.S. Doesn't he look miserable???? :)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Longer than a Blink, Yet Faster than We Think

Andrew and I wander the yard holding plastic bags. He points out dog poop when he sees it, which is not as often as I do. I scoop it into a bag and carry it until we find more. When a bag is full, I tie it, and Andrew proudly deposits it by the garage door. Our task is made more difficult by the brown oak leaves all over the ground. This is Andrew's first time recognizing the change of seasons, and he says "Uh-oh" every time a leaf falls.

I hope we won't discover any poop the hard way today.

His help is a bit nerve-wracking, but I try to embrace it, realizing that it's good for him, and that someday getting him to help won't be this easy. I think back to when little Margaret thought it was fun to scrub toilets, and Jack made our bed with hospital corners each morning. These days, I slip out of the sheets, damp from night sweats, and leave the bed unmade to air out. Margaret hasn't cleaned a toilet in a decade. I leave the extra bags in the garage and wonder if I've prepared her at all for adulthood. Those preschool days seem like yesterday.

We enter the house,and I expect the aroma from the crock pot to delight me. Instead, the house smells terrible. Another dinner fail? Certainly not worth cutting celery at 7 am, I think.

From the adjoining room I hear "Uh-oh" and enter quickly enough to see Andrew pointing at dog diarrhea sprayed and pooled on our carved wool rug, trailing off onto the cover of Andrew's favorite book. He knows we've been on poop patrol, but this is no job for a baby. I scoop him by the waist to deposit him in his little chair and say, "Stay," as I would to one of the dogs. Just as I'm trying to figure out which dog is afflicted, Shadow starts vomiting. Another "Uh oh" and pointing from Andrew. I tell him I'm not quite sure how to approach this mess, but if he stays in his chair, he can watch Little Einsteins while I figure it out.

What I see is neither a solid nor a liquid. I dive in, and do the best that I can, grateful for rubber gloves.

The fact is not lost on me that in a fit of optimism and/or stupidity I'd ordered a WHITE SHAG rug for my office just the night before. Something about a quiet house at 11pm made me think that the world of HGTV or Pinterest could me mine. Even as I pressed ORDER, I knew it was likely a mistake, but I did it anyway. Did I  hope that making my beloved office cozier and more chic would jump start my writing again? That bare feet on a soft rug would somehow garner me the time and creativity to put words to paper? I hadn't been in that room for weeks, except to set up a laundry drying rack in the corner. Now I realize I'll have to close the door at all times, to keep the dogs, their hair, and their funk out, and I wonder if I'll spend time in there at all, the beautiful room that birthed Rare Bird.

I know Tim will be annoyed when he hears about the diarrhea and vomit. He'll toss the dogs outside, as if they will be able to equate evening exile with early afternoon grossness. With a sweep of his arms, he'll say maybe we shouldn't have rugs in the house at all. That rugs are disgusting. I'll agree, and hope that that exact moment is not when the delivery truck pulls up with my new shag.

I've never been one to get too riled up about messes, or when things break. My mom used to say, "Everything has a life," and I've interpreted that as nothing lasts forever, and that it's okay. It applies to the material as well as the those things we cannot touch. Who knows if the new rug will outlast the our dear dogs, or vice versa? I do know these days of traipsing around the yard with Andrew will not last forever. Stopping to look at ants, pointing at airplanes, waiting for the mail man and school bus to arrive are distinctly toddler occupations. In the not too distant future, I'll have more time to write, to sit in my office, to think. When I look ahead, it may seem far off, but I know that the warp-speed of life I've experienced up until now will not change.

After all, I wouldn't have believed another fall had come so soon, if today I had not felt the leaves crunch under my feet.





Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Whew and Woah

So how did Andrew's first 4 HOUR stint at Mother's Day Out go yesterday?

He cried...when it was time to come home.

Whew!

I had to pry two little trucks out of his hands because he wanted to keep playing.

A happy morning for him was a WIN, made even more awesome by the fact that he fell asleep on our long drive home and TRANSFERRED to his crib for a nap.

I forgot how much these little things feel like such big things when you are in the thick of it.

Way to go, Miracle Baby!


In other news, we ordered a homecoming dress for Margaret online and it came with only a few days to spare. It is more revealing that she'd anticipated. To give you an idea:


So, I may be learning to sew between now and Saturday.


p.s. I promise I did not buy Margaret a dress like J. Lo's (above)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Redemption

I am often asked what it's like to have another little boy, when my first boy went to heaven. It's different than I expected, and much, much better.

I remember meeting with a lovely bereaved mom while I was pregnant with Andrew. Her two young daughters died tragically. She had a sweet toddler boy at home, and was hoping and praying that she and her husband would someday be able to have another girl as well. I didn't really understand what she meant when she talked about wanting to use the girls' bikes in the garage, and their hair ditties up in the bathroom again. That sounded painful to me.

And wasn't the joy of a new baby, regardless of gender, what was important?

I didn't get it.

In fact, I secretly wondered if the little boy I was carrying, who might, gulp, look a lot like his big brother, would hurt my heart more than a baby girl would. Just accepting that I had an unplanned pregnancy at this age and would be starting the whole parenting journey over again was MIGHTY SCARY-- did we really need to it be more difficult in another way too?

I get what that mama was saying now.

I experience it daily, and the closest word I can come up with is REDEMPTION.

For more than four years, I couldn't walk by the boys' section of Target without aching. It didn't matter if my eyes landed on a toddler outfit, or something for a teen-- my heart seized with pain as I missed Jack at every stage, even the ones he never got to.

Now, I hold up little boy shorts and ponder whether they will fit around Andrew's prodigious belly. I shudder to think of going into the toy aisle again, not because Jack died, but because it's mind-numbingly boring, yet I know I'll go there with Andrew. I see super hero paraphernalia on an end-cap and wonder if I'll need to learn the good guys' and the bad guys' names for the very first time.

Andrew shifts me to today. To next week. To the future.  He doesn't take away or diminish the past, but he somehow redeems much of it. I can think about Jack's love of baseball now, and try to guess whether Andrew will play, or whether soccer will be his game. Each stage Andrew is in takes me back to Jack and Margaret and the happy memories of their childhoods. Instead of tears, there is the remembrance of their own quirky cuteness, the chaos, and their snuggly love. It was a sacred time, even though I didn't know it then.

There is also a joy that comes from experiencing life through a toddler's eyes. Margaret and I've noticed we get excited about the little things-- a butterfly, a turtle, a fire truck, a helicopter-- when  we wouldn't have paid attention to them just a year ago. He has brought wonder back into our lives.

My delight in Andrew is not because he's a boy, or because he looks a bit like Jack, but his being a boy has been somehow healing.

I remember a sad scene in the movie Finding Neverland, with Johnny Depp playing J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. Depp's character says the one time his mother ever truly looked at him with delight, was when he walked into a room dressed in his dead brother's clothes.

Ouch.

Andrew may wear a few of Jack's things that I had saved for grand kids, or play with Jack's toys, but Andrew is Andrew, and we see him, love him and delight in him. Ok, not so much in the middle of the night, but you know what I mean.

Somehow Andrew helps us look at the past and remember it with joy not sadness, and he helps us look ahead at the possibilities that await us in this weird, exhausting, wonderful life. If he has also taken the sting out of Legos, toy cars, boy clothes, and Target, I am grateful for that.

And I know any joy, gratitude and hope that we have makes my first boy happy too.





Friday, September 1, 2017

Ikea Toddler Table Re-Do

I saw this red Ikea table and chair set in someone's trash the other day and nabbed it. There were 4 chairs, but I just took 2.


 The red didn't match my house, so I saw what paint I had on hand: gray chalk paint and  green spray paint.  I tried a much prettier shade of green first, but the can jammed and I switched. It was nap time, and I knew my painting window was not going to last forever.

Not my best painting job ever. I just noticed one of the chairs needs another coat. But that's the nice thing about free-- It FREES you up to do a half-way job and not feel guilty about it.  I think Andrew likes it!