Sew Interesting

If you follow me on Pinterest, you’ll see I have a board entitled, “Sew Interesting”. It’s little pins with helpful hints and tips, along with patterns for the beginning to intermediate to advanced sewer or seamstress. Last Christmas, at the age of 38, I got my very first sewing machine. You would think I’d have won the lottery. It was my greatest gift. Here’s the problem…while I’ve practiced on it some, I have yet to really use it until last night.

First off, let me preface this by saying that I purposely NEVER took Home Economics in high school. I didn’t want to learn how to cook or sew or be a good parent. When I saw my future, it was corporate America with business suits and high heels, board meetings and Starbucks lunches, last minute flights overseas and big deals being closed. I was to be nothing more than a career woman, and I hung true to that until my mid thirties when something happened and that dreaded maternal clock started ticking.

I became a first time parent at 36, as many of you know, and that completely changed my outlook and priorities in life. No longer was it important to be that more likable version of Hillary Clinton (better dressed as well), but it was important for me to be a mother, to raise the next generation of brilliant people. With all of that also came a desire to learn so many domesticated things that I had run screaming from for practically my entire life.

My mother made my clothes growing up. She made curtains and pillows, cushions and blankets. I’d love going with her to pick out a new pattern for a dress and shopping for the fabric from which it would be made. That was some of the greatest times of my life. And the things I once saw as great accomplishments…being the number one sales rep, having three degrees, and making tons of money, are no longer as cool as being able to sew.

Last night, I decided to sit down with my sewing machine after the boys went to bed. I took an old t-shirt of my husband’s, an XXL, and decided to do some alterations to make it into a shirt I could wear. I actually have a stack of old long sleeve and short sleeve t-shirts from my husband, along with dress shirts, he no longer wears, items originally to be donated. Why shouldn’t I just repurpose them into something I can wear?

It took me no time at all. I took a t-shirt of mine, did the measurements, cut the sides of my husband’s old shirt, measured and pinned it and then did a few quick stitches all the way up to the arm. I was shocked at how surprisingly easy this was. Here’s the finished product:

My new t-shirt for game days.
My new t-shirt for game days.

And like with most new things, this has become an addiction. I’ve even found ways to alter jeans to fit my “mommy” curves that I can’t seem to get rid of.


Run, Mama, Run

I completed my second ever half marathon this past Saturday. My first was 8 years ago in San Francisco. I did it with Team in Training from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. My time was pretty abysmal…2 hours and 56 minutes which equates to a 13:46 pace. A less than stellar performance. Of course, at that point in my life I had just started running. Now, with 8 years under my belt I decided to tackle another one of these half marathons before turning 40. Here are a few things I’ve discovered:

My race bib
My race bib

1. I completed this half marathon in 2 hours and 36 minutes, a 12:00 pace. I am better conditioned than I was 8 years ago; however, my clothes from 8 years ago still don’t fit me. It’s those darn kids! Having them will do it to ya!
2. Running without an iPod is way more enjoyable especially when you’re surrounded by chatty cathy women. I heard conversations ranging from, “do you know if shingles are contagious?” to “I’m very gassy this morning. I hope that doesn’t affect my time.” Yes, folks, that is correct, and this conversation was between two ladies.
3. I will NEVER be able to run a 5 minute pace for a half marathon and I’m completely ASTOUNDED that the winner of the race did that! Heck, I can’t even do a 5 minute pace for a 5k.
4. Starting at the back of the pack is the best thing.
5. It really is exhilarating to have mere strangers cheering you on at various mile markers. This one group of ladies seemed to be following me! Maybe it was the pack of women I was running with, but they called out my name and rang their cowbells.
6. Mile 10 is when I really start getting hungry.

The only downside to this race, was that I didn’t have anyone to greet me at the finish line. Davey didn’t get to cross it with me. He was at his last soccer game, a rescheduled game for one that was cancelled due to bad weather at the start of the season. That saddened me especially as I hobbled back to my car and climbed in to drive home. I’ve always had someone, even if it was only my husband, who greeted me at the finish line. It’s always been nice to finish with a high five and a hug from the person you love.

My medal
My medal

I did receive a medal for completing this race, something I’ve never received before. Nothing flashy or gawdy, just a medal. I put it around my neck and grabbed my complimentary breakfast of banana and yogurt. When I got home, all three of my boys greeted me. Davey said, “good job, mama, good job.” And as I showered, my husband finished up my true medal. It’s made from a seashell he and Davey found at the beach this summer. The shell is in the shape of a heart and on the shell, he put finger prints of the boys in orange and purple (Clemson colors). It’s way better than the medal given to me at the completion of the race.

My way cooler medal
My way cooler medal

So, will I do another one of these? Probably not. I think I’ll stick to my 5k and 10k races. They’re much less brutal on my legs.

There’s Something in These Hills…Welcome Home

Thomas Green Clemson said it best when he said, “there’s something in these hills.” “These hills” being at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Northwestern South Carolina, where lakes meet rivers and hills meet mountains. It’s an absolutely gorgeous place to be anytime of the year, but it doesn’t get much better than being in Clemson, SC for Homecoming weekend.

Tillman Hall tower
Tillman Hall tower

Friday I took the boys back to my old stomping grounds, my second home, and one of my most favorite places on this earth. My blood runneth orange. Always has and always will. I have a huge sense of pride in my alma mater, the place that not only allowed me to attain an education, but also a place dug deep with memories. I had some of the best years of my life at Clemson University and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to spend a day in Clemson with my boys.

Davey at the reflecting pond.
Davey at the reflecting pond.

A lot of the pomp and circumstance is lost in the eyes of my boys. They don’t understand how when I hear the bells of Tillman Hall ring the hour, my heart skips a beat and my mind takes me back to my days of sitting on Bowman Field in the sun, increasing my tan while increasing my knowledge. They don’t know what it means to see Daniel Hall, Brackett Hall, Hardin Hall, and Strode Tower. The only thing these boys appreciate is the abundance of floats, the beautiful gardens, the reflecting pond and the tiger statue at Death Valley.

The tiger statue at Death Valley.
The tiger statue at Death Valley.

As we walked the campus, stopping periodically to allow Henry to vacate the stroller and stretch his legs, I told stories of my life on God’s Country. I spoke of the nights of staying up late in Cooper Library, studying hard, while tucked away on the first floor, in a far back corner that gave me privacy, but also had the wonderful aroma of old books, books from decades past, brimming with stories. I explained that I had to get a few Frisbees out of the reflecting pond on nights of playing Frisbee golf. Davey looked into the pond, with it’s splashing fountains, and tossed a few acorns in while also looking for my Frisbee from nearly 15 years ago.

Henry playing in the Carillion Gardens, with the Cooper Library in the background.
Henry playing in the Carillion Gardens, with the Cooper Library in the background.

I talked about the walks to class, the rushing to class in my pajamas, and the excitement of Friday night before home games and the luster of the Saturday games. I didn’t miss a game, not one, even if I had to work, I still made it to a game. As we looked through the gates of Frank Howard field, I thought about the one and only snowfall I experienced while at Clemson and how we had come to the stadium to slide down the “hill”.

Davey amidst one of the floats.
Davey amidst one of the floats.

I watched as the new crop of coeds shuffled back and forth to class, many of them smiling at me and my boys, some even taking the time to talk to Davey as he introduced himself to the “old people”, a phrase for anyone over the age of 10. My boys spent a good portion of their day running along the same Bowman Field that I walked across to get to class. They studied the floats, touched all the tigers, and Davey even broke into the Clemson Cadence, shouting at the top of his lungs, “1,2,3,4. 1,2,3,4. C-L-E-M-S-O-N T-I-G-E-R-S. Fight tigers, fight tigers, fight fight fight.” And before we left he even told me that one day he’s going to run down that hill in Death Valley as a football player. I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.

Standing in front of the many floats with my boys.
Standing in front of the many floats with my boys.

Yes, indeed, there is something in these hills.

Another Chapter

Let’s be honest here…I knew there would be sadness, but I didn’t know to this level. Does this sadness change my mind about my decision? Absolutely not. I’m just shocked.

The past few weeks I’ve begun the cleaning up and cleaning out process of baby toys and clothing. Since my husband and I made the decision to have a tubal ligation, I see no need in keeping my house cluttered with baby paraphernalia. I’ve separated out the stained from the pristine, the broken from the fully functional, the slightly used to the completely demolished. I’ve offloaded some of said product at consignment stores, sales, craigslist, and even the Salvation Army.

The first batch was a set of newborn to 3 month old clothing. Truly, this didn’t sadden me as I saw how quickly people were snatching the items up at the consignment sale and my check was growing larger. It was nice to see some money coming from the items, especially since we operate off of one income. The next thing to go was the Mamaroo, which was by far one of our greatest purchases if not for Davey then definitely for Henry. It’s like the Bentley of swings and retails for $200. Davey didn’t use it quite so much, but for the first month of Henry’s life, this was literally the only thing he would sleep in. It became my saving grace, my little piece of sanity in an otherwise crazy world.

I posted the item on craigslist and sold it promptly. As I drove downtown to meet the mother who was to purchase the swing, I had an intense level of excitement. We were getting $100 for this bad boy, something that didn’t cost us a single penny thanks to baby showers and gift cards. We were literally profiting off of this and I was excited to have the cumbersome thing out of my house, but something happened when I put it into the back of the mother’s van. I stroked the seat and walked her through the mechanics of the swing. I touched the spot I had dutifully cleaned where Henry’s diaper had leaked out and I thought back to those days of him whimpering while he slept, the little stretches and yawns, while the swing rocked him off to dreamland. I thought about the nights I was wide awake with him, sitting downstairs in the recliner with the television on, while he rocked away sleepily in the swing. I thought about how he slept through Christmas in that swing…his first Christmas, just 12 days old. And for a brief moment, as the van drove away, I had a lump in my throat. That one little swing had so many memories.

Today, I hauled off a few other items to the Salvation Army. More clothing, accessories, and even Davey and Henry’s tummy time mat. I watched as the gentleman working the garage haphazardly took the contraption from my hands and tossed it into a bin. My mind starting thinking about those poor toys from the movie Toy Story and then it drifted off to what memories were stored up in that little mat. Davey had his roll over on that mat. I was still working at that point. My house was a disaster, I was a disaster, but nothing else mattered except for life around Davey and watching him as he rocked himself a few times before finally flipping from his back to his tummy. What a proud moment that was. And then there’s Henry and his first roll over at just about the same age as his big brother. Now the mat is off to hopefully create new memories with other families.

All of these thoughts have begun to swirl through my head lately and it saddens me. My boys are growing. Chapters have been written, memories made, and new chapters are in progress. I can always unfold those previous chapters in my brain, to read through them at any point, but they are done. There are no more like those, which has its up and downs. It saddens me that I won’t have this opportunity with another child. Does it sadden me to the point of regretting my decision? Absolutely not. I’m blessed and fortunate with the two healthy, happy, smart little boys I have. I’m sure I could handle a third, but at almost the age of 40, I don’t think I really want to.

There are still items left in the house…baby toys, the jumparoo, and even ride on cars for which Davey is much too big, but Henry is just getting to the age to enjoy. There are more memories to be made and I look forward to each waking morning when I get the opportunity to make those memories. Still, I never really knew how much purging my house of never to be used again baby items would affect me.

Corporate America Welcoming Me Back

I rose much later this morning than I originally intended. My plan was to rise at 5, go to the Y, come home, shower, get dressed, feed my boys (including my husband), and then make my way back into the corporate world. There are always flaws in the best laid plans. I actually rose at 6:30, sleepily stumbled into the shower, cranked it to hot and rubbed the last little remnants of my restless night from my eyes. Why is it that television makes this look so easy? Oh! That’s right, they live in a bubble with Gwyneth Paltrow as their Queen.

Henry’s fighting a nasty cold, one that has him crying any time he coughs. He’s been running an off and on fever for the past 24 hours and really only wants to sleep cuddled in my arms. While I would love that, I desperately need some sleep as well in order to function. Last night he woke me at 1:30 and I ended up attempting to catch some sleep on his floor with his hand gripped tightly to my finger through the bars of his bed. When I finally made it back to my bed around 3, I had already scratched the early rising to get to the Y off of my list. I just needed sleep so I could make it through my day.

After two cups of coffee, I dusted off the old black business suit. I held it up in front of me and took in a deep breath. Time to see if all of this exercising was going to pay off. It’s been three years since I last wore this suit. Would it fit again? Thankfully, there was no sucking in or holding of the breath. I didn’t need to lie down on the bed with a set of pliers hooked to the zipper as I tried to compress all of that baby fat from the past three years. It fit me just like the good ole days.

So, I waited for my aunt to arrive to watch the boys before hopping in my car and checking my hair and make up in the rearview mirror. I stopped at Starbucks along the way and got my old staple of a Venti non fat no whip mocha and I was off. Man, did it feel like the old days of being a working mom or even just a career gal. With my briefcase in hand, I sashayed into Michelin’s headquarters and set up my booth for the employee health fair, all the while unsure if I was going to be able to do this. The only thing crossing my mind was Henry and whether he was alright.

Thankfully I made it through my first day back into the corporate world. These days will be few and far between as the majority of my work can be done comfortably within my home. Truthfully I was torn. I enjoyed having the excuse to not wear yoga pants and t-shirts. I was all giddy about putting on make up and fixing my hair. For the first time in a long while, I actually felt pretty, attractive, and even intelligent. It was nice to converse with adults and not talk about Handy Manny or Dusty Crophopper. It was even better to go use a bathroom and not have incessant knocking on the door, but in the end I really missed my boys.

As I drove home, I was gratefully to have the opportunity to dip my toes back into the corporate waters, but I’m glad I don’t have to do it every day. It’s a lot harder to focus when you feel torn in so many directions. Corporate America can survive without me and I’m ok with that. My boys can’t, and with that I’m not okay. So, I’ve had my fill for now, enough to quench my thirst for a little while longer. See you in another year or so, Corporate America.

Making His Own Way

Trying to catch the bubbles.
Trying to catch the bubbles.
So, I’ve been a little lazy where Henry is concerned. When I became a stay at home mom, Davey was 4 months old. I immediately dove into it, lined up programs at the library, met up with other SAHMs for play dates, and took him on as many “free” adventures as possible. I wanted to make sure that I was giving him as much social interaction as possible. Henry hasn’t exactly had that luxury.

Today, I decided to start up a new routine with Henry. I’m taking him to Bouncing Babies at our local library. My plan is to stick to it at least once a week, but if at all possible, get him there twice a week.

Making friends.
Making friends.

Bouncing Babies is a program geared for newborns to 18 month olds. It consists of stories, songs, nursery rhymes and free play with other children. Davey attended this the very first week I was a stay at home mom. I haven’t taken Henry because Davey’s attention span is no good for Bouncing Babies and he would just disrupt the whole thing. Plus, I’ve wanted Henry to have something that is his own, something away from his brother. And I must say, it’s been quite the enjoyable and eye opening experience for me.

Sharing with the others.
Sharing with the others.

Henry loves to move around and socialize, but he’s also more of a mama’s boy than Davey was. Davey never wanted to be with me, but Henry likes to climb back into my lap and just enjoy the class. He crawls and walks over to other babies and attempts to make friends, but in the end he’s always looking for me. It was so nice to see him be his own little man, to attempt to make his own friends. I don’t think I’ve “seen” Henry in this way before. I’ve always seen him as Davey’s little brother and really it saddens me that I didn’t do this sooner.

Huge fan of the balls.
Huge fan of the balls.

The experience was wonderful. He played. He laughed. He clapped his hands and climbed into the laps of other mothers. He shared his toys (something Davey NEVER did) and he became Henry Doser, adventurous and friendly little toddler. I need to do this more often.

He Has Your Imagination

“This is my bus,” Davey replied as my mother and I sat on the swing with him and Henry.

“Your bus?” I asked.

“Yes, mama, my bus. It’s going to take me to Wal-Mart. I need to buy some apple sauce.”

My mother and I looked at each other exchanging questioning glances. We continued to swing as Davey sat tucked between the two of us on the bench style swing mounted in my parent’s backyard. It was all we had to do at that point since their pool had just been closed. I was unsure of what we would do at their house anymore, but Davey soon gave me no need to worry.

“Stop the bus,” Davey said.

My mother and I stretch out our legs, allowing our feet to touch the ground thus stopping the swing. Davey jumped down and asked me for some money. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the “money”, which was nothing more than air.

“Don’t forget to look both ways before crossing the street,” my mother said as Davey walked off.

We started the swing back up and watched as he walked to the edge of the concrete patio, looked both ways along the fake street before taking a left, walking around the swimming pool and to one of the concrete picnic tables. We continued to look at him as he spoke to some fictitious person at the table, before taking his applesauce and walking back over to us.

We stopped the bus and allowed Davey to climb back aboard. Over the course of the next half hour, this was how our afternoon progressed. Each stop consisted of a different store, with a different purchase, and additional money to come from me. I suppose I should get used to the asking for money part.

On one of his “stops”, my mother started talking to me.

“He has your imagination, you know?” she said as Henry nuzzled into her neck trying to steal a quick little cat nap.

“I had imagination?” I asked her.

“Oh yeah, you could create anything you wanted to when you were a child. The best part was spit cards,” she said with a laugh.

I knew that was to come up again. Apparently, spit cards were my greatest creation. They were nothing more than torn pieces of paper, which I in turn licked and stuck to the walls…spit cards!

“I hope he comes up with something like that,” she said to me as Davey climbed back aboard for another ride.

At least he has something of mine because this child is all his Daddy.

A Letter to My Daughter

As I sit here typing up an email to both of my sons, I started thinking about what I would write in a letter to my daughter, if I had one. I know I would want the same basic things for her as I want for my sons…health, happiness, love, sincerity, respect. I think that it would be more, though just because I am a woman and I’ve experienced things that I could only relate to a daughter. So, I decided that I would write a letter to my daughter, or perhaps to my future daughters-in-law. It would go something like this.

My darling daughter,
While in your father’s office this week, I caught sight of the young lady working in his office. She’s very young, having just graduated from college, but she already has a very grown-up life. She’s an unmarried mother of two daughters. Right now she’s experiencing some problems with the father of her daughters and I’ve watched as she’s allowed him to tear her down. It angered me and it saddened me, not just for her, but also for the girls she’s raising on her own. It got me thinking about you and what I would want for you and what words of wisdom I could impart upon you.
Being a woman is difficult. I would hope that you’re able to stand tall and hold your head high. I want you to be able to look adversity in the face and perhaps slap it silly a few times. I want you to stay true to yourself, to consider how your actions directly and indirectly affect others. I want you to find at least one opportunity every day to find some way to do good for another human being. These are all the same things I hope for your brothers, but for you there’s more.
You’re going to fall in love, maybe only once, but most likely multiple times over the course of your life. Your heart is going to break and you’ll have days when you’ll tell yourself life can’t go on, but it will. You’re going to allow your heart to interfere with your head, perhaps finding a way to push down that part of your brain that tells you “hey, you deserve better.” Don’t let that happen! You’ll second guess yourself. You’ll worry. In the end, I hope you take a step back and breathe, because really and truly it’s not the end of your world.
Your intelligence will be tested and questioned because you’re a female. Stand strong, my sweet girl. Don’t be rude or heartless, but don’t allow yourself to pushed aside. You have a voice and you can be heard.
Don’t ever settle. Trust your instinct, because in most cases it’s right. You deserve happiness, love, and respect, but impart those traits upon others as well. Be empathic. You really don’t know what someone else’s life is like unless you’ve walked in their shoes. Trust me, my dear, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever walk in someone else’s shoes. Be careful to trust others and don’t always take things at face value.
Understand the importance of vanity and by that I mean it can be a person’s true downfall. You’ll hear this time and time again…it’s what’s inside that counts. And since we’re on that road, let’s discuss your Christian values.
God doesn’t care what you look like. He doesn’t care if you wear designer clothing, or have a supermodel body. Society may care, but society will not be there for you they way He will. Confide in our Lord daily. Remember to thank Him for your blessings and ask Him to bless others. Make some time each day to reflect upon His word, to read His word, and even spread His word. The Lord made you who you are. This is not your permanent home. Your permanent home is alongside Him in heaven. Remember that my dear and always lead a Christian life.
There’s so much more I could share with you, so much more that’s completely escaped my brain. Not to worry, my darling, you will be forced to listen to me every day of your life at least for the first 18 years you’re living with me.
One final thing…you are a blessing, not just to us, but to everyone you encounter. Remember that. Maintain a sense of humility, but remember that you can and should make a difference in another person’s life…hopefully a positive one. You are loved very much and regardless of what may happen in your life, you will always be loved.

I love you, my sweet, sweet girl.