Friday, September 24, 2010

Girl vs. Girl

Dear Mini-Van Mommy-

Hi. I'm the Blue Explorer you just cut off. I realize you were distracted and busy. Talking on your Blackberry and replacing the cap on your child's cup while driving. I realize I was probably in the way as you were racing to get to a playdate or the grocery store or a Starbucks. But it was fairly tough to not run into you as you skidded to a halt next to me at the stop sign. In the parking lane, not an actual lane. And turned, just as I was starting to turn right.

I see so many mommies and mini-vans just like yours these days. The ones going way too fast, running through stop signs, cutting in front of other people on 495. All I can see as you leave me in the dust is those family stick figures and a soccer bumper sticker seared to my eyeballs. I run into you and your friends everywhere I go. You all cluster together like little cute suburban lemmings. Identical college or breast cancer ballcaps with a Mommy-cut ponytail, some kind of Gap shirt and khaki capri pants with perfectly white running shoes on. Top of the line stroller and other baby accessories. Your kiddos of various ages are dressed like they're on the way to a magazine shoot. I bet you shop in the Petite department.

You see me coming and I can just feel the narrowed eyes. T-shirt, jean shorts, sandals. My hair not highlighted, down to my waist, tattoos showing, no makeup on. I'm not petite in height or hip-size. My kid, who is twice the size of yours and not as impeccably dressed, squeals, "Awww! A baby! Mommy, see the cute baby?" (He loves babies - he tells me he wants a brother). He tries to go up to your baby and you immediately shift, looking at me like I can't control my child. Because he thinks your baby is cute. I'm such a horrible mom.

You know the problems girls have with other girls? It never goes away. I don't know exactly when it starts. For some, it's high school. You've been friends with Joe Next Door forever. But once you get to high school, the two of you can't be friends anymore. Because Hot Cheerleader Girl likes him - but she doesn't like you. Or Type A Girl decides to make you miserable because both of you want to be the editor of the yearbook. For other girls (like myself), it starts as early as kindergarten. I can remember playing dolls with Amy Down the Street on a regular basis. But about a week after kindergarten began, she wouldn't come over. I asked her why. Amy told me dolls were for babies. She wanted to practice putting on makeup. I can remember distinctly thinking, "But we're 5."

Just when you think it could be over - (after graduating high school or maybe even college) - just when you think, Ok, maybe we can all grow up and stop hating other girls now (because goodness knows, dealing with guys at that age can be enough. Sorry boys) you have an encounter again. It's either Kristin Ice Queen at work who thinks she deserves a promotion over you or Random Sorority Chick at the bar who thinks she can steal your boyfriend away from you. Maybe a friend even, Anna Who Loves Scrapbooking, who gets mad when you give her an honest opinion about her latest project. Then it just keeps going - your fiance's cousin Sally who liked his old girlfriend better than you. Your former boss Mary, who sent your co-worker Elizabeth to the amazing business conference because they were best friends, not because she was better qualified. Gwen, the girl at your husband's workplace who goes to him for dating advice and thinks he's "so great". On and on, until you're an old lady, arguing with Maude up the street about who looked better back in 1999, Ricky Martin or Will Smith.

But what's with all of the girl hate? You'd think that we could at least have some kind of mutual respect for each other, as women. Maybe it's not even just a woman thing - maybe it evolves into a class or race or working mom vs. stay at home mom thing. Whatever the deal is, it sucks. I'm just as guilty as anyone else out there, but it's still lame. I wonder if other women are internally criticizing my body when I randomly get dressed up. I think bad thoughts about the mommy in the fast food line who lets her kid drink Coke with her fries and cheeseburger. I get irritated with the mommy struggling with her kid having a tantrum at Target when you know for sure, I've gone through the exact same thing with both of my kids. Who am I to criticize anyone else for what they go through?

The worst part? No one can come out and call anyone on it and move forward. I can't ask the mommies at the mall, "What is it that freaks you out? My son likes babies and he thinks yours is cute. I'm a mom, just like you. Just because I don't look like you, doesn't mean I don't love my kid or don't make him wash his hands." I can't follow you, Mommy in the Mini-Van to your next destination and say, "Hey, I know you're busy, but you cut me off and I almost ran into you because you were talking to your friend about a post on Facebook and helping your child with a snack. While you were driving.

I think guys have it easier. Yes, seriously. Most guys I know, they can get along with everyone. If they have a problem with someone, they either call them on it, punch them and have a beer later. Or they avoid the guy. Maybe girls make things too personal - we think everyone could be our best friend. But we can't exactly go around bitch-slapping everyone, either. (My husband says that Jello wrestling would be a better idea. Yes, I punched him in the shoulder).

Why can't we just be honest with each other? Why can't we respect each other? We are all different, we are all different kinds of women - career-driven, creative, readers, talkers, fashionistas, mothers, pet-lovers, independent, etc, etc. We're not all going to be like Meredith and Cristina or the Sex and the City girls or Mary and Rhoda, even - but enough with the hate.

So, on that note, I'm going to try to change. Enough with the Girl Hate.

Sorry for the long tangent, Mini-Van Mom. I hope you at least heard me screaming out the window as you cut me off. Aside from making the rest of us Moms look bad - you're f*cking dangerous. So get off the phone, get your kid's snack ready before you get in gear and PAY ATTENTION.

(What? Just because I said I was going to change, didn't mean I wasn't going to be honest).


*Disclaimer: I know more than a few women who drive better than the average taxi driver. I have nothing against mini-vans or women personally - more often than not, the combo results in crazy.*

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Hi, gang -

I'm working on a handful of posts right now, inbetween school dropoffs, soccer practices, Girl Scout meetings, finding a new job and spending a third of my day at the kitchen sink cleaning. Blah. In other words, I'm busy like everyone else. :(

But I'm hoping one post in particular will be done for posting tonight, so yay!

In other news, I'm changing the address of the blog. I've never been good at the titles of things and I'm not liking this one too much. So I'm going to change it and I hope that you'll find me still here. If anyone needs help, send me an email:


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Afternoons at the Movies

I love to watch movies with my kids. We like going to the theater as much as staying home and watching something on the couch (though these days, the couch option is much more affordable). My kids are still learning the trick of asking questions after the movie vs. during the movie, but otherwise it's always a great time. Popcorn, usually the younger child ends up in someone's lap and a warm feeling of having gone on a trip when it's over. One thing about this ritual that I love much more now, with my own kids, than I did when I was a kid and I went to movies with my parents, is the content.

I remember going to see movies like Benji and Fantasia with my parents. For both films, my dad was asleep 20 minutes in. There was no conversation before or after or even during the movie. Just a basic, "Did you like it? Good, let's go home." The films themselves, while good kid-aged fare, were nothing that broke the mold. Yes, everyone knows the sequence in Fantasia with Micky Mouse called The Sorcerer's Apprentice. I liked it then, I like it now, but I'm ok with not seeing it again anytime soon. Live action kid movies from my childhood, while they appear dated (it was the 80's, come on), hold up fairly well: The Goonies, ET, Never Ending Story etc. Cartoon movies, not so much. I can think of only 2 that stand out - The Land Before Time (1st one, not the many, many direct-to-video releases) and An American Tail. But animated movies were not in the same quantity that they are in today.

We live in the Pixar age. I seriously believe that the guys over at Pixar could take any half-finished computer-generated cartoon movie and turn it into a work of art. My husband disagrees with me on this one, but I have enjoyed every release they've put out. Yes, even A Bug's Life. Yes, even The Incredibles. Every one of them. My kids even have favorites that I wouldn't have expected. My son is currently in love with Ratatouille. A movie about a rat that can cook is the favorite of a 4-year-old boy obsessed with trains and tackling people for fun. How cool is that?

One of my more favorite scenes from the Pixar movies is the ending of Ratatouille. I watched the movie with my kids expecting a funny movie about a rat in Paris who can cook - ironic circumstances leading to laughs. It was deeper than I expected and the ending hit me right in the chest. I watched one of the obstacle characters, a renowned food critic known for his scathing reviews named Anton Ego, become transformed by one bite of the main dish served to him - ratatouille, a "peasant dish" as another character calls it.

Aside from breaking my heart as I remembered my own comfort food from childhood, my brain was screaming, "Awesome!" It was like the food was just talking to Ego. "Hey, so you're a badass food critic? Check this out - we're serving you a peasant dish. A gourmet peasant dish. The same one served to you by your mother to feel better after your bike kicked your ass. Remember that? See how badass we are?"

At the end of the day, who is anyone to say what is art and what isn't? It all comes back to a feeling, a connection that the artist had with the resultant work which is carried over to the person experiencing the art. The food was so good, he had a flashback to childhood. The food was so good, he believed that a rat had cooked it. The food was so good, it made him question everything about who he was and what he was doing in his career as a food critic. I adore the review he writes for the restaurant - "But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new." The choice of Peter O'Toole to bring Ego to life was exemplary casting. I also love that the movie had another small twist ending - that despite the excellent review, the restaurant was still shut down because there were rats in the kitchen.

I love the unique messages that Pixar movies have - it's not always Good vs. Evil, not always Do Your Best and Be Rewarded. The endings feel true, feel like struggles that we average people deal with. An ant who leads his colony to a better life they didn't know existed, a rat who proves that art can come from anywhere, a toy who just wants to be appreciated but knows his purpose is to make a child happy. These are the New Fairy Tales. In a Pixar movie, you can aspire to and be anything, even if it's not what you originally planned. The little guy can be great and the big guy can step aside and let someone else shine. There are other computer animated movies that we love, but no company has been as consistent for us as Pixar has, parents and kids.

So while I look back at my childhood movie experiences and grimace a bit, I really hope that the excitement and entertainment that my kids have with my husband and I (and occasionally, Grandma) stays just as exciting when they're older with children. Hopefully, they'll live in a Pixar world, too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Our eyes meet and in that second, I know -

if I give in now, it's going to be this tough for the rest of our lives.

I have to stand my ground.

I narrow my eyes and prepare myself.

His mouth curls up a bit in the corner, a dead giveaway. This isn't his battle - he's having fun.

Little butthead.

"Sebastian," I start, until -

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I don't WANT to!" explodes from that curled lip.

"Ok." And I dive right in, ready to wrestle him for the batteries to the remote that he has successfully removed.

The Battle for Things Baz Should Not Have continues.

And he's getting stronger.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer of 2010

The summer is officially winding down here in the Thomas corner of the world. How do I know?

Today's weather - high of 70. It's cloudy, we went shopping for school supplies yesterday and we start our vacation this coming weekend in the Outer Banks.

We always take our vacation at the end of the summer for two reasons. #1, it's something to look forward to. I feel like if we took our vacation in July, August would be a bit of a letdown and the rest of the summer would zip by. #2, it's less expensive and most of the other vacationers have already gone home. So it's like having the place to ourselves.

This summer has been a bit of a pleasant surprise and I'm very thankful for that. We anticipated that this would be another summer at home with the kids for me - I am still in job-searching mode - and I figured we would take a few day trips to places in the area, visit friends and hang out at our townhouse community's pool. Easy-breezy.

Well, after Anabelle's first year at our public elementary school, we made quite a few family friends. Those friends told us all about the neighborhood pool, how nice it is, how great the swimming programs are and all of the activities they hold all summer long. We don't know many people in our townhouse community and most of the neighbors don't have children of the same age as ours. Joining the neighborhood pool seemed like a no-brainer, especially for Tom. He grew up belonging to his neighborhood pool and had nothing but fond memories and stories of his experiences. So it was a go.

That spun the end of June and the entire month of July into a whirlwind. We decided that Anabelle would benefit most from joining the junior swim team and WOW did she. She began the summer as she does every year - a bit timid around the water, not interested in swimming underwater at all and not going near the deep end, not to mention the diving board or water slide. She would wear a vest to do those things. Now? She's part fish. The vest is taking up space in her closet and she is trying her very best to swim to the bottom of the deep end to retrieve toys. The deep end is 9 feet deep in the corner and she's working her way to the 10 feet side. She can also swim one lap, across the length of the competitive size pool and back, with no help and no stopping. She goes up and down the water slide and would spend all afternoon on the diving board if she could. Her confidence at the pool has soared and we are so proud of her. She even won her first ribbon in a swim meet.

Aside from swim practices and meets, there have been weekend barbecues, Family Dinner Nights, a Family Campout with an outdoor showing of the original Star Wars that Tom set up, Sebastian's birthday party and we have met many more families. Our decision to join the pool was a rousing success.

Outside of the pool, we've had a lot going on as well. We've had playdates with school friends, our family friends the Rodriguez's and the Brown's, Tom and I attended the Rigo's benefit for their son in heaven, Brody Bash, and the Rigo's had their 4th child, Brayden. We also had visitors from Michigan - a friend from high school, Shawn and his lovely family. We took a trip with them to DC to see the zoo and then, after a desperate quest for ice cream on that hot day, it was fun to see Belle and Baz play in the fountain by the Metro stop. Tom's officially started his last year of his 30's with a rousing gathering to see our friends and favorite celebratory band, JunkFood, with a great group of people last weekend. Anabelle went to her first concert at the invitation of a friend (The Jonas Brothers - my ears and preteen screams will never be friends) and loved it. She is very excited to be starting first grade when we return from vacation. Baz will be starting preschool and I'm excited for him to make more friends his age. Hopefully they will also be his size.

The fall is already jam-packed with activities and commitments - I'm keeping my fingers (desperately) crossed that I will find employment soon. Aside from school, the kiddos will be playing soccer for the first time and Anabelle has joined a Girl Scouts troop, as well as keeping up with her swimming in the winter swim program. I will also be volunteering more with the PTA, as will Tom, and we have our 7th year of fantasy football to get through. Tom won the league last year and I did the year before - we need to keep this trophy in the house again. :)

I will post again after we return from the OBX. Peace and love.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Ok, so I'm a crappy blogger. I'll just go ahead and skip the explanations about where I've been and how busy life is, etc. etc. I'll just lay it all out there - I'm not a very good blogger whatsoever. You should see my journal, if you think this is bad. But, hey - here I am now. Onward and upward, yes? Here we go.

We are currently nearing the finish line in renovating our kitchen and I could not be more excited. We have taken what was supposed to be a small project, just to spruce up the house until we can get it on the market, and turned it into this huge renovation. Ripped out the floor and the ceiling - knocked down a wall - rearranged cupboards and counters and appliances and installed a new fridge. We have (mostly) repainted and put in a new floor - the last parts are to install a new laminate counter and tile the wall behind it.

This used to be the worst room in the house - small, dark, cramped - and yet, the room most used in the house. Now it is a complete 180 - large(r), more airy, brighter and, bonus, easier to clean! (A welcome addition, when you have a son who likes to randomly do laps around the house in the middle of meals - we're looking into seat belts for his chair at the table). The work has been going so well, I've already got plans for the rest of the house, minor ones, but still plans. It's exciting. I will post some pics soon.

Aside from that large project, we are starting to plan for the summer. Belle will be out of school soon and we have lots of things we've wanted to do all year. We will make several trips to a friend's house on the Shenandoah river this summer, to play as well as work - his house flooded in the spring and, since he has helped us so much with our renovation, we will be helping him with repairs and repainting at the river house. Another family we are close with are expecting their 4th child, almost 2 years after losing their 3rd child to illness - we are anticipating lots of trips to visit and help where necessary. There will also be several trips to downtown DC to check out new sights and the obligatory time put in at the pool, ours, friends' and public. To wrap it all up, our yearly vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for a week of beach relaxation (hopefully).

I'm still unemployed and it still sucks. I have been on many interviews and was hired for a couple of jobs, but had to decline the offers because of day care costs. However, we are very lucky that Tom has a great position at a great company with insurance and I'm thankful for that every day.

Aside from that, I've had a big issue come up recently that I need to vent about, but I'm running out of time and really need a good chunk of uninterrupted space to really get it out. So that will have to be a post for another time.

If I can find my way back here, that is... :)


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day

We've been waiting for snow all week. The news and weather channels have been calling for 2 inches here or 4 inches there, but everyday we wake up to no snow. The kids are anxious - is winter over? We didn't get to make a snowman! The last of the snow is gone - when is there going to be more? Baz runs to the hall closet every time we get ready to go somewhere and instead of shoes, emerges with snow boots. Belle asks if she needs both layers of her coat and gloves and a scarf to take to school. Several days at the beginning of the week, she has emerged from her school with her coat in her backpack, the weather looking more like April than snowy January. It's nice to see them and their friends excited for snow - someone has to be.

Around here, inclimate weather is much more than an inconvenience - it's a red alert, stay in and shut the doors until the all clear kind of emergency. People stock up on bread, milk, water, canned goods, shovels, and sidewalk salt like it's the coming of the Four Horsemen. For any kind of snow - even a dusting. You'd think living in a metropolitan area such as Northern Virginia would have prepared the people better for such occurrences. They have a Metro, people protest outside the Capital in all kinds of weather, fans go to Redskins' game without their shirts in December. But snow? Enough to turn even the most hard-core, oblivious to the fans sports owner into a little boy who got shoved into a snow pile while walking home. Snow is a bully, we're just the victims.

At least for those of us who drive a luxury car and have a stubborn streak a mile wide. For the rest of us, who either have the sense to know when to drive and when not to or 4-wheel drive, snow is no problem and we don't see what all the fuss is about.

But for now, we're curled up on the couch, having some quiet time. The kids are watching Shrek for the millionth time underneath blankets after lunch - resting up to venture out in the snow in the afternoon. Tom and I are doing various weekend chores inbetween helping Baz build a track for his Lego trains or setting Belle up with paper and crayons for her latest masterpiece. But after posting this, I'll probably turn the computer off and open up a new book I'm reading to get lost for a little while.

Snow days are great. If only we could have a few without snow sometimes.