nostalgia

My side of the family has vacationed in the same spot for over 2 decades. Same milepost, same beach club, same condo. All of it the same.

Here’s a picture of my Nana with my brother and I before my sister and cousin were even born:

IMG_0022

And here’s my mom, on that same beach I’m looking at instead of the camera, with all of her grandbabies this year:

bubbie and babes

My best friend and I have pictures of us on that beach as little girls, hosing the sand off each other, in bathing suits that are too cute for words. There are also pictures of us as annoying tweens and wanna-be rebellious teenagers. We’ve yet to make it back there as adults together, but that time will come.

There’s a family we see there every year who have known me longer than 99% of my friends. We met when I was 8 and bonded over intense games of hide and seek and endless hours of boogie boarding and body surfing. As we grew up, the hide and seek games got bigger (as did the waves, at times…) and we threw in endless nights of playing rummy around the circular kitchen table and walks on the beach where we caught up on every single detail of the past year of our lives.

Meeting that family introduced me to my first “I’m 14 but I swear I’m going to marry him” crush. They showed me that all families fight and love hard and have drama. They introduced me to disgusting bologna loaf and made me feel better knowing that I wasn’t the only girl who could house half a container of ice cream in one sitting.

We wrote letters to each other with pen and paper and an actual stamp when we were younger. At one point, in my early 20s, I sent letters (admittedly typed…) to one of them while they served in the Peace Corps. Now, we still send text messages throughout the year.

I can’t help but feel this immense feeling of nostalgia whenever I return home from my time spent in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

My brother and I take our families to the same places we used to go to as kids. We watch them run down the same boardwalk. Play in the same ocean. Swim in the same pools. Take baths in the same giant tub. Sleep in the same beds.

Nana made this all happen for us. She started this timeshare tradition of bringing the family to Nags Head every year. Our weeks look a lot different nowadays without the hustle required to make it to a 4pm dinner for the early bird special, and our beds are never, ever made, but the same love and feeling of togetherness still permeates every inch of that condo.

Now, when I think of our beach week, I think about watching my kids play with their cousins. I think about gabbing too loud after too many glasses of homemade Italian wine to my sisters.

I think about how much it irks me when the bathroom gets too dirty and it never being a second thought when I was younger. I think about Carter and Levi sneaking onto the back deck and how I am simultaneously freaked out about them being out there alone and also in awe of them getting into trouble together. For the short time they are with each other, they love and fight and play and yell like they are brothers. They may never have actual brothers of their own, so I hope this is a relationship that continues as they get older.

I think about sitting by the edge of the water with my mom and watching her freak out every time one of my fearless kids inches too close to where the waves break. I think about our huge shrimp dinners, baked potatoes and corn dip. I think about ice cream and sun burns and coffee-filled mornings.

They continue to be some of the most cherished days of the year for me…those ones I get to spend in the Outer Banks with my family. They remind me that moments can be full of stress and yet absolutely amazing all at the same time.

Pretty much like my entire life these days.

photo (4) photo (6)

 

what doesn’t kill you, only makes you blonder

I am potentially in the middle of a crisis.

I say potentially because I could be off-base and wrong. I could be just being my overly dramatic self and although what I’m experiencing isn’t exactly normal, it’s not a crisis either.  It could all be ok. I could look back at the last week a year from now and smile the all-knowing smile of a mother who’s been there, done that. Period bleeding for 5 straight days while pregnant? I handled it.

But I’m pretty sure I’m actively miscarrying my baby.

I’ll spare you the gory details, because they are, in fact, incredibly gory. Women have miscarriages all. the. time. Some have more than one before they even get pregnant with their first, and here I am with 2 beautiful, healthy children from 2 easy, uncomplicated pregnancies and I’m (potentially) experiencing my first and it’s a crisis.

I am freaking the fuck out.

I am torn between that “motherly intuition” thing that I sporadically have that punches me in the gut with the feeling that things are not going to be ok and my yoga-ish trying to get closer to God self that wants to be positive and trust that there’s a larger plan in all of this, regardless of the outcome.

But I want to know. Right now. I don’t want to wait till tomorrow to get blood work done and then wait 48 more hours to do it again and then wait ANOTHER 48 hours to get results back. Because once you see that heartbeat on an ultrasound screen, once you know that you have started down this journey of creating a living being inside your beautifully flawed, stubborn, strong body, it becomes your job to ensure that you do everything in your power to protect that.

The thing is, I have no power to protect anything right now. If my body is rejecting this pregnancy, nothing I can do or not do, say or not say, think or not think is going to stop any wheels from turning.

I am completely powerless.

This lady hates powerless.

I don’t need to be powerful, but I do prefer having some degree of influence over the outcome of my situations. Don’t we all?

The days keep trucking along and I keep over-analyzing every cramp, every clot, every bathroom trip. I dread my husband asking me how I’m doing because how does anyone feel anything when there is this much uncertainty? I am mad at myself for sharing our pregnancy news to so many people. I always thought I’d want more arms to fall into should anything bad happen, but now that I’m facing that road, I just want to hide. I don’t want to look at people, talk to people, explain to people anything.

I want to be brave and strong. But I only want to hide.

******************************************************************************************

I wrote the first part of this post on July 2nd. On July 6th, after an entire night of intense back pain and a high fever, it was confirmed that what I was experiencing was, in fact, a miscarriage.

31 hours later I got a phone call from my mom that my Nana had passed away. I was riding shotgun in the car on the way to Virginia, desperately hoping to make it back to talk to her one last time…to show her a few more pictures of my kids and some pictures from the trips we took together. I didn’t make it back in time to say goodbye.

One heartbreaking blow after another. The numbness I had felt from the news of the miscarriage gave way to a waterfall of tears.

I spent the next couple days surrounded by family. Hugging my sister. Holding my moms hand.

There’s nothing quite as comforting like seeing my brother walk into my mom’s house. Not that we ever lived in that particular house together, but since he’s so often the missing link in our family gatherings given the nature of his job, seeing him at my mom’s always makes it feel more like home. Like our home. Like the non-existent home that my Schofield family all shared – including our kids and husbands/wives. I know that makes NO sense when I write it down, but in my head, it does, and really, isn’t that what counts? At 6 foot something super tall, his hugs are awesome. And he was there.

We all were. United by tragedy and loss but cloaked in love and support.

My best friends that have stood beside me through all of my highs and lows arranged childcare and drove from other cities to be there for the visitation, the funeral and the much needed margarita-infused Mexican dinner that followed.

I can’t quite find the words to explain my Nana and the influence she’s had over my life. She’s something else.

Ashlyn’s middle name is Lora, after my Nana, and I swear even at 2 years old she gets her sass from her namesake. There was nothing and no one Nana couldn’t overcome. She was fierce, feisty and loved hard. That was perhaps the most important thing I took away from her…that you don’t have to apologize for being who you are; for loving hard, for standing up for what you believe and for doing what you think is right. She certainly never made any apologies for those things, and the crowd of people that stood through her funeral service through an intense summer thunderstorm proved that she had a community of people who loved and respected her.

I think about her all the time since she’s passed.

I think about how I wish I could do a lot of things differently with her, as I suspect is common when you lose people you love. But mostly I think about all the positive things about my time with her.

I think about our shopping trips and our vacations. How much she loved going out to eat and sassing my mother. How she insisted we have new shoes before school started each year. How she would sit in the sun for hours and her skin would turn a warm, caramel tan color. I think about her big sun hats and her big jewelry box and how I loved to put on her bracelets. I think about the vintage Italian leather clutch I have in my closet and imagine how beautiful she must have looked when she carried it to some fancy dinner party.

I think about how she could talk to anyone about anything and had a fondness for politics and the New York Yankees. I recall sitting in the sun for hours as she purchased her first Honda and how she used to always talk about how important it was to keep your car clean. She’d die all over again if she saw the inside of my van right now…

I think about how much she loved babies and small children and imagine her cradling my lost baby in her arms and making sure he or she is protected and happy. Perhaps that’s why she had to go when she did.

It was a rough month.

It was rough navigating “real life” after dealing with both of those circumstances. It was rough being ok with feeling so numb. I was hard on myself a lot, thinking, “you aren’t the only one who’s miscarried a baby or lost a grandmother. These things happen. Let’s move on.”

While those things are true, I’m certainly not the only one to experience a miscarriage OR a death in the family, it’s still not a light switch. It was, however, a painful reminder of how much I missed writing. I feel like I’ve grown so much as a woman, a wife and a mother since I last regularly posted and I’ve felt this yearning to get back into the swing of things here.

I unexpectedly experienced tragedy and it led me back to the comfort of words on a screen. Of thoughts fleshed out and experiences remembered. Unexpectedness has been the core driver of this blog to date, right? Why shouldn’t I leverage this motivation to get back into a hobby I so dearly enjoy?

I need to get back to doing more things I am passionate about. I have found myself getting sucked into webs of negativity and getting caught up in things that at the end of the day, just don’t matter.

I need more of this. More sharing. More funny kid stories. More laughter.

I need my kids to be able to look back on my posts and see a mom who allowed herself to be vulnerable for the sake of her writing, for the sake of something she loved. I want them to read the stories of their childhood and have a place  to share with their kids and their grand kids. So when I pass there’s a collection of stories they can sit around the big farmhouse table Jason just built for our new kitchen and laugh about how insane their mom was.

And hopefully, God willing, as feisty and passionate and one that loved just as hard as her beloved Nana.

In the midst of this, I also made my hair blonder. Hence the title of my post. To date, no one’s noticed.

aug1

It’s good to be back!

 

a letter to my son

Carter,

I am confident that at your 21-months of age you do not quite have the ability to understand just how much things are about to change around here. Trust me when I say that in my 28-years of age, I can’t begin to comprehend it either.

When mommy talks to you about your baby sister and you give her belly hugs and big raspberry kisses, it melts my heart, while simultaneously breaking it knowing that my one-on-one time with you is going to be drastically reduced in the coming weeks.

I know that you’ll never remember your life as an only child. Uncle Nate is closer in age to mommy than your sister will be to you, and I have zero recollection of my life without him. As an adult reflecting on my relationship with my brother, I think that’s awesome. As a mother reflecting on my relationship with her son, I find this a little devestating.

When we spend time building tunnels and playing with trucks and jumping on the bed even though I’m supposed to tell you not to do that, I like to think that we are making memories you will cherish forever, when in fact, we’re making memories that only I will cherish forever because you’re still too young to remember these things.

You’re too young to remember us playing with crayons for the first time, to remember using mommy’s giant belly as a race car track, our “airplane” rides, hide and go seek games, and to recall our mornings spent couch cuddling while watching the Today show or an episode of Team Umizoomi.

You’re too young to remember singing the ABC’s in the car on our way to play gym class and you’ll never be able to recall how many times mommy kisses your face in any given day.

What I will remember most about our time before the birth of your sister is being in complete awe that we were slowly but surely figuring out this whole growing up thing together. I hope that as you get older you won’t look back and realize that your dad and I were totally winging it from day 1, but it’s been amazing that we’ve been able to navigate through infancy and early toddlerhood together without any major body or emotional harm.

I can’t promise that the coming months won’t be without feelings of neglect, and I take comfort in the fact that you won’t remember those feelings, no matter how crummy I think it is that you won’t remember the positive feelings, too. What I can promise you is that mommy will be trying her hardest to figure out life with 2 precious children – and that the birth of your sister will introduce so many great things into your life.

Having a sibling is one of the best things that I can even possibly describe. Even my negative memories of growing up with your aunt and uncle pale in comparison to all the positive ones – and the relationships we’ve established as adults is something I hold so dear to my heart. Even when we disagree, it comes from a place of love, and I don’t have any doubts that we’ll find a place of resolution in all of our arguments and go back to the light-hearted and loving friendships that have formed over the years.

When you’re little, your sister will try to play with your toys, mess up your towers and try tirelessly to keep up with you and your friends. All of these things will drive you crazy. That’s ok.

As she grows up, I hope you will help teach her to stand up for herself and not be afraid to get her hands dirty. Help her be strong and not take any shit from anyone – even when you’re the one trying to dish it.

Know that my love for you as my first born child is unparalleled, and that no matter how hard I fall in love with your sister and how many mother-daughter memories we may have that will be foreign to you, my love for you as my son will be steadfast and forever a safe place for you to land.

I can’t wait to see you as a big brother.

Love,

Mama

 

a cheap DIY-ish gift idea

I called this DIY-ish because it requires only a minimal amount of crafting and a little online ordering savvy. I stumbled upon this fabulous little blog and, more specifically, her tutorial for a Fathers Day Magnet Board.

I completed my own version of the magnet board for under $25.

I skipped the adorable sticker she provided, and instead chose to just decoupage some paper I found at Michael’s on the smaller sized mighty magnetic board found at The Container Store for a whopping $4.99.

I ordered one sleeve (9 magnets) of my Instagram pictures from StickyGrams for $14.99 to decorate the magnet board and the intention is to hang it in his office. The magnetic board holds about 5 pictures, so he’ll be able to interchange them if he ever gets the urge. That or I’ll steal the rest to decorate our fridge.

I’m pretty new on the Instagram bandwagon, but my username is the same as my Twitter handle, becs1017, so if you’re that amped about seeing more pics of my family, go follow me there. Fortunately, almost all of the pictures I’ve taken with the app are of Jason and Carter, or just of Carter, which fits the Fathers Day theme quite nicely.

You could obviously give this to any sort of family member that likes to look at pictures of you and your family.

Hope all the daddy’s out there have a fantastic Fathers Day!

Jason, I promise your day will be filled with lots of monster daddy hugs, your choice of breakfast as long as it’s pancakes or french toast and minimal complaining about being tired. We love everything you do for us and think you are one amazing (-ly hot…) father.

 

that time my son peed in a restaurant

To set the tone of this story, I need to let you know how much I hate taking Carter to restaurants these days. As much as I love going out to eat, taking him with me is just not worth the delicious food. Especially since I’m pregnant and can’t even indulge in a glass of wine (or a shot of Jack…which sounds much more appealing these days…).

It’s not that I don’t love taking him places. I just need those places to be the types of locations that don’t frown upon running, yelling, screaming, throwing and/or climbing. I love taking him to playgrounds and parks – generally any large outdoor place. He’s as boy as they come and even story time at the library is considered a success if he only beelines away from me a handful of times.

I consider myself lucky every day I get through that he doesn’t run into the street or jeopardize his life in one way or another.

So after a bright and early 6am wake-up and an hour of play outside in ridiculous Virginia humidity, we made our way to my favorite breakfast spot in my hometown. As much as I bitched about what a bad idea this whole taking C out to eat thing was,  I was admittedly pretty stoked to get my fill of blueberry pancakes.

Anything blueberry has really hit the spot with me this pregnancy, and did during my pregnancy with C, too.

In an attempt to look moderately stylish, I’ve put my huge, black leather diaper bag away for the summer and have opted for a more casual, brightly colored crossbody style bag that I paid a whopping $25 for at Target. The only problem with this bag is it doesn’t have the million and one pockets of my diaper bag and therefore can’t store all of my out of the house must haves for emergency situations.

Emergency situations like having to take Carter out to eat.

I managed to find one book and one toy car shoved to the bottom of my bag. They entertained him for about 2 seconds before he was reaching for any and everything he could get his grubby little paws on.

As luck would have it, we had horrible service and everything was taking a super long time. I had distracted C with creamers, jelly packets (which his buddy Noah had somehow figured out how to bust open…), pieces of biscuit, some milk and some oddly sounding nursery rhymes when I looked down and panicked.

“Omg who’s water did he spill everywhere?!” I asked frantically, as “water” seemed to gush down his highchair.

My mom, who was on the other side of him, looked at me, and then at her full glass of water, and then at MY full glass of water, and then back at me before it hit me.

That wasn’t water gushing down his highchair.

Carter was peeing down the highchair. At a restaurant where people eat food.

In public.

As is the norm for me in awkward and uncomfortable situations, I burst out laughing.

I waited for him to finish, as I certainly wasn’t going to parade him through the restaurant to the car while he was in the middle of making more of a mess, on both of us, calling attention to the increasingly wetter kid and mom bouncing out and leaving people wondering what kind of mother laughs at her son peeing in a restaurant. (Answer: this kind of mom).

We walked out, changed both his diaper and his shorts and returned back to breakfast at which, upon getting back to the table, I hear my mom telling the waiter how clumsy she is and how the spilled water just went everywhere.

Water everywhere, ma?

The rest of the breakfast was only the moderate clusterfuck I’ve come to expect from these kinds of outings and the pancakes were delicious.

Worth the trip? The laugh certainly was.

Has this ever happened to you? What kind of embarrassing things have your kids accidentally done in public?

 

things like THIS

Perhaps what I was trying to describe here was much better described with this.

Anyone else have tears in their eyes or am I just an overly emotional pregnant woman?!

The “Thank you, Mom” campaign by P&G is a great concept as moms certainly don’t get the appreciation they deserve on a daily basis.

*Thank you to MY mom! You didn’t mother an Olympic athlete or have to send me off on buses or anything, but you did a pretty awesome job dealing with the many, many ups and downs in my swimming career and my many, many mood swings, mind changes and poor decisions…especially in my early 20′s.

I pray every day that my daughter doesn’t pay me back in kind.

Have you thanked your mom today?

what’s in that massive bag, anyways?

I read a post my friend Chelsea wrote about what’s in her diaper bag. Chelsea’s daughter is only a few months old, and as I read through her post I realized how much my diaper bag contents have changed over the last 18 months.

So what’s in my massive bag, anyways?

Short answer: everything.

Longer answer, with crappy cell phone pictures, goes a little like this…

For starters, I’m obsessed with my diaper bag. Obsessed. It was a “mother’s day” gift from my husband before I was even technically a mother and before C arrived I used it to tote my laptop to and from work.

Except that’s a lie, because I didn’t actually have a laptop at work at that time, so I used it as a big purse. Because let’s be honest, it’s THAT chic, and I couldn’t wait to use it.

It’s the Timi & Leslie Charlie Tote, owned by one Jessica Alba (although she’s probably moved on to something newer and cooler by now…) and one Rebecca Reed, and that’s really all that’s important.

Here is the classy looking website picture, complete with the accessories it comes with:

And the beauty shot of the inside…

And then there’s mine……

diaper bagdiaper bag2

Almost two years later and it’s holding up pretty well! I have the shoulder strap on there, and use both carrying methods interchangeably.

So about what’s inside.

I dumped the contents of my bag from today’s trip to Harris Teeter onto my dining room table and this is what I found:

everything in my bag

First thing to note…I realize none of my little bags match. I don’t care. They are all individually adorable and are never all out on display at one time (with the exception of this picture…), so I frequently get compliments on each one as they are pulled out for their very different reasons.

My SIL’s mother made each and every one of them for me (the 3 cloth ones at least) and I am so thankful for her! They give me such an easy way to organize all my crap…because even with all those pockets you see in the inside shot above, it’s very easy to lose things in such a huge bag.

Those bags are my diaper bag sanity savers. There are tons of cute shops that sell similar bags on Etsy if you aren’t lucky enough to have Momo in your life.

So what’s in all those bags, you ask?

Let’s start with my diaper changing essentials:

changing essentials

1. Honest Diapers - these are the diapers I now prefer to put on Carter as often as possible. They are all-natural and chemical free. There is, however, a Pampers Cruisers diaper underneath there as I still use them for naps and bedtime because C is a superman in the peeing department while sleeping.

I generally always have 3 diapers in that bag at all times.

2. Wipes – These wipes are the Pampers Sensitive Convenience Pack that I picked up at Target last time I went grocery shopping. I like these because they are cheap, soft and are easy to access with a wiggling toddler on a changing table. They are good for on-the-go, the flip top keeps them from drying out.

3. Baby Powder – It’s Johnson and Johnson and I’ve been weaning myself from using this on C daily because of the bad stuff in it. I have a huge guilty conscious when it comes to natural products with my son and am trying to move towards using all products that are as natural as possible. While I think baby powder is helpful in the summer when it’s hot and he’s stuck with his boy parts cramped up in a diaper, for daily use, I am cutting back.

4. Honest Hand Sanitizer - For obvious reasons, I love having hand sanitizer with me. When you’re holding a toddler in a public bathroom, it’s not always feasible to wash your hands without putting him down to run around and touch god knows what. Having this on hand allows you to feel clean after a messy diaper change. I keep the smaller, 2fl oz, bottle in my bag.

5. Honest Healing Balm - I use this if C has any redness in the diaper area. The trial size has been perfect for the diaper bag.

6. Changing Pad – it came with the diaper bag. It’s awesome and has held up during multiple, multiple washes, and is so necessary for public diaper changes.

The snack bag.

the snack bag

Oh so important for my little guy that eats like a full grown man…especially when he gets cranky and we’re in public. I always have NutriGrain bars, applesauce and raisins on hand whenever we leave the house, along with a sippy cup of water.

Yes, I realize I just admitted to giving my kid food to curb public tantrums. I try to stick to healthy snacks, but judge away if you’d like. Sometimes you gotta do whatcha gotta do….amiright?!

The toy bag.

the toy bag

It looks kinda lame today…what 18-month old wild child will really stay entertained by 1 book and 2 cars? But as we were only going to the grocery store and our local HT has the awesome race car carts, I was counting on us vroom vroom-ing and beep beep-ing our way through our shopping trip, making the toys unnecessary today.

If we’re going for a longer outing, or god forbid out to a restaurant (which I try to avoid at all costs right now…), I fill that bag up with play remotes, blocks and more books that make noise or have flaps. Mostly things for him to fiddle with for 45 seconds and then throw across whatever room we’re in, but I give it a good effort anyways.

The emergency bag.

the emergency bag

Nothing in this bag would solve a real emergency, but whatevs. The bag itself is ugly and plastic-y and stays zipped away in the diaper bag, but it still has some items that I always like to have on hand.

1. Children’s Tylenol

2. SPF50 sunscreen

3. Spiderman band-aids (duh…)

4. Nasal aspirator

5. Butt Paste

6. First aid kit

7. Hospital Vaseline

8. a comb (no idea why…as C’s hair is often all over the place no matter how frequently I brush it)

Mom’s emergency bag.

mom's emergency bag

These items, however, really do solve personal emergencies.

1. Mascara - I use Mary Kay’s Ultimate Mascara in black. Mascara and lip gloss are my go-to make-up items after I slather myself in tinted moisturizer before I leave the house to make myself less scary looking.

2. Lip gloss – As a natural follow-up, I have 3 tubes of lip gloss in my bag, all Mary Kay, too. I keep on hand, at all times, Au Naturel and two discontinued shades that closely resemble this and this.

3. Chapstick with SPF

4. Tylenol – it’s off-brand, but this pregnant girl can’t take anything else and it’s a must for the onslaught of a massive headache while out with a toddler.

5. Honest Face and Body Lotion – it’s the trial size, again perfect for the diaper bag.

6. Scented hand lotion – I got it as a gift for participating in a marketing panel discussion. It smells amazing, and sometimes that’s needed.

7. Aveeno Natural Face Sunscreen – SPF50 – you can never have too much sunscreen on hand.

Only thing missing in there is a bottle of wine, right?

The extra pockets.

extra pocets

1. Boogie Wipes – between teething and a cold that has lasted since November, having saline wipes on hand is really crucial for me as C’s nose has been running like a faucet.

2. Wet Ones – antibacterial hand wipes. For obvious reasons, right?

3. Stroller straps – they came with the bag and are clutch for keeping the diaper bag off the ground.

4. Tide To Go Stain Pen - again, a no brainer to have on hand.

5. Brush – who even knows.

6. Bibs

So there you have it! The multiple contents in a massive diaper bag of a mom of one 18-month old. I usually keep an extra shirt and a pair of pants/shorts in there, too, for accidental spills or tumbles while out and about, but in an effort for full disclosure, that back-up outfit is MIA from the bag at this time.

I hope that this was helpful for mothers who may be transitioning from a baby diaper bag to a toddler diaper bag!

For other moms with kids of a similar age to Carter, do you carry anything extra or different than the things I keep on hand? Any must-haves that I’m missing?