Wednesday, November 19, 2008

North Carolina's family beach

Beach2 (1)

I know a beach is the right sort when I walk along the sand and feel that particular sense of peace flooding through my heart. At the same time, the right sort of beach is stimulating to the senses; it sharpens your ears and your eyes and your taste buds. You may feel small next to the sea, a speck on a great shoreline, but you also feel more alive.

I grew up spending half my summers on the Oregon coast with my grandparents, which means that I have my own set of standards when it comes to beach vacations. Since moving to the east coast, I�ve visited beaches in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. I�ve liked some. I�ve hated some. I�ve felt at home on only one so far.

And Triangle-dwellers, it�s only a few hours away.

Holden Beach is a small island off the North Carolina coast, a short way past Wilmington. It calls itself �the family beach.� I�ve never been there in the hot and humid height of tourist season, but it�s been relatively quiet and charming during the times I have gone, spring and fall. My husband�s aunt and uncle and their relatives have a small, delightfully kitschy beach house on the island, and we�ve used the place a number of times, thanks to their generosity. There are numerous other houses there to rent or buy, right on the beach or within a few minutes� walk.

The small coastal town bustle is somewhat removed from the beach, separated from the oceanside neighborhoods by a bridge that looks, when you drive up it, as though it might just disappear or drop into the sea (it doesn�t). Once you cross the bridge, you�re in what feels like a quaint little village, a peaceful communion of houses and sand and water and your friendly fellow vacationers, with a few tiny local establishments peppered across the island for convenience.

It�s not a fancy place. There�s no boardwalk with blaring music and a ferris wheel and trash cans every five feet. But if you are something of a beach minimalist - dare I say purist - like I am, then it�s got everything you need. A pretty, peaceful shore runs the full length of Holden Beach, facing the sparkling Atlantic. It�s just you and your family and the ocean, the way it�s supposed to be.


An original Triangle Mamas post. Nikki is a beachwalker and blogger who also writes at A Small Song.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What Do You Want to Change Next?

Christopher and I have been sick. Since early last week, we have been battling stomach viruses and flu viruses. Of course, if I hadn't taken him into the doctor for the stomach virus, we would likely not be battling a flu virus, but that's another story.

Saturday morning, Kevin, Christopher and I stopped by Target on the way home from the pediatrician. We bought some generic Motrin for babies. Little one had a fever that wasn't budging, and we fully intended on medicating our baby according to the doctor's suggestion. I bought the generic. I usually do.

Later that day, when I checked into Twitter, there was a new #thing. Not that I really understand the whole # in front of words, but I think it has to do with groups. Anyhow, the new one was #motrinmoms.

If this story is new to you, I suggest you go to Advertising Age and read this synopsis. They sum it all up nicely with the appropriate links. That will give you the basics.

There are also the opinions of bloggers who think people have over reacted, and of course the blogger who just has a great sense of humor about it. I'm finding the difference of opinions fascinating.

And because I'm sure you were wondering, the ad annoyed me. I found it completely miss the mark. I didn't feel the need to rant over it, but then again, I'm already not a fan of Motrin's parent company.

My point, however, is that did you know they have removed the ad? Did you know that they apologized?

Did you know that someone is listening to mothers online? I mean someone beside the crazy stalkers?

Our voices have always mattered. We are telling the stories of our lives, our families, our children, and everything else we hold dear. Our voices are important and deserve to be heard. There just seems to be more and more proof that the world is starting to listen.

I think this year has been a year of discovering how we can be part of the change in the world.

What do we want to change next?

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mama Ran a Marathon

How fast a mile can you run? When I was in high school, I think I ran
on average a seven minute mile. Using that time, do you think you can
keep it up for 25.2 more? Averaging 7 minutes a mile is good enough to
finish 21st in the OBX Marathon.

order to take 1st place, you would have to run 26.2 miles at an average
pace of 5:46 per mile. Personally, I couldn't even run that fast for
one mile, let alone 26.2. I didn't let that stop me from participating
in this year's OBX Marathon.  My goal was definitely not to win, it wasn't even to reach a set time, it was just to finish... and finish I did.

Here's a quick summary of things overheard, thought, and laughed at during our marathoning adventure:

Mile 1- If I have to run the whole marathon next to this guy with jingle bells on his shoes, I WILL KILL someone.

Mile 2- Mr. Jingle Bells is officially dubbed "Mr. Tinkle Winky" as he has already stopped to pee TWICE.

Mile 4- There's my sweet baby's face.  Geez, he seems to have recruited a small following.

Mile 5- There are runners actually taking jello shots and Bloody Mary's from the crowd.  Seriously, there's still 21 miles to go.

Mile 8-
Crap! Crap! Crap! I just dropped my ibuprofen in the porta-potty. Do I
dare pick it up? No, that's just too gross. I'll just suffer.

Mile 12.5- Overheard upon the Stack'em High Pancake hill: "Um, this wasn't mentioned in the brochure.  I knew about the bridge, but this?"

Mile 13- I'm never going to get away from Mr. Jingle Bells.  Never.

Mile 15- I could really use some GU at this aid station, but I guess I'll settle for spreading Vaseline over all my chafes.

Mile 17- There was supposed to be GU, right?

Mile 18- I can see where mile 19 is, so could somebody distract that official while I take this shortcut? Anybody?

Mile 19- Seriously considering the 3/4 of banana left on the side of the road.  I'm THAT hungry.  Maybe I'll locate an unopened GU pack.

Mile 20- Dashing through the snow.  In a one horse open sleigh.  Who wears bells on shoes?  Idiots, that's who.

Mile 21- Ooo... an unopened GU pack.  Score!  Crap, it's empty and I bent over for that.

Mile 22- This bridge doesn't look so bad.  I can handle this.

Mile 22.1- Crap!

Mile 23-  I think we've finally lost Mr. Jingle Bells.

Mile 25- Is
this the home stretch? Look at all these people who are already done. I
better hurry up. Hubby won't hurry up with me so I'll take it easy so
long as no one else passes me.

Mile 25.3- Where's the end already?

Mile 25.6- Are we there yet?

Mile 25.8- Do you suppose those balloons are the end?

Mile 26- Better start running again so I look good in my finisher photo.

Mile 26.2- Why do they always have to play such horrible music at sporting events?  Oh, I'm done.

a final time of 5 hours, 37 minutes, and 7 seconds, I completed my 1st
marathon. Not a great time but it's better than these guys:

Take that Freddy Prinze, Jr!

Next up...

That's right, Al.  I'm coming for you.

Crossposted at My Sweet BabbooWhen she's not running (which is most of the time), Abby can be found blogging her life away at My Sweet Babboo.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

In a hurry to grow up?

I�ve said before that I don�t think of Abigail as a �difficult� or �high need� baby. First of all, it is absolutely not helpful for me to think of her that way; but secondly, it�s also not exactly accurate. She is a sweet, fun girl who sleeps well and eats great and has always been very alert and chubby and healthy and fit. It�s just that, well, sometimes things upset her. And she is extremely particular.

From the very early weeks with her, I noticed how strong her preferences seemed to be - she liked to be held but was rarely an awake-cuddler; very early on she made it clear that she preferred to sleep by herself, in her own bassinet or crib. Even though her strong preference for one-on-one time with me meant that we essentially did attachment parenting her first few months of life, it was attachment parenting without my hands free, because she never wanted to be in the sling unless she was fast asleep. Awake, she wanted to be able to push away to arm�s length and stare up at me, or whip her body around and gaze outward; she never stayed in one position, looking at one thing, for very long.

Yesterday our friend Millie said that Abby seems to be "a baby who doesn�t want to be a baby." Much as it pains me to admit it, I think she�s right. Abigail does seem to be in some unholy hurry to grow up - at least, there does not seem to be much she thinks she cannot do for herself. Earlier today I had been holding her up at my shoulder level so she could look at herself in the mirror, and when I put her on the floor again with her toys she started to cry and pushed herself up as far as she could, staring up at the high mirror that she couldn�t see into anymore. I tried to distract her with toys, books, a song, but she just kept making �ah, ah� sounds and reaching for the mirror. She spent several minutes pushing herself up, losing her strength, and pushing up again, gazing at the mirror several feet above her, even though it was a hopeless cause and she�d never be able to reach it.

Some of my friends who have multiple children say their oldest daughters are a lot like Abigail. Maybe that does have something to do with it; I suspect it�s just the way some kids are. My friends with Abby-like kids empathize with me about having a baby who is not such a cuddler anymore, and predict that she may not ever be clingy physically, but will probably always love and crave one-on-one time with me - to read, sing, and especially talk. I remember that�s what I always wanted from my mother, right up until I left for college - to ask her questions and tell her what I was thinking and just know that she was listening and she cared. It was how I felt close to both my parents.

But it�s too soon, of course, to know whether Abby will end up being more of a snuggler once she�s gotten over the thrill of being mobile and, now, upright. It is strange to me that she can seem so independent at times, and yet never want me to leave the room and her sight. She still likes to know that I am close by; she looks up often to make sure I am there, and watching, especially when she is about to do something impressive.

I am constantly amazed by her these days, particularly when I think that just a few months ago she was just learning to sit up without wobbling. Now she crawls and pulls up and cruises and kneels and sits by herself and (sometimes) catches herself before she falls. Every day there is something new to see. I am so proud of her.

I do wish she would stop unfastening her diaper just because she can, however.

This post originally appeared at Nikki's personal blog, A Small Song, where she chronicles her life as mama to a picky little princess.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Pinpricks and Profanity

Two weeks ago, I made the kids commit to their Halloween costume plans and then went shopping. Apparently, however, two weeks before Halloween is a better time to buy Christmas decorations than anything orange and black. The aisles were bare or picked over with the only costumes remaining being ones made for dogs. My sons had two choices: dress like a slutty pirate girl or like a Golden Retriever dressed as a slutty pirate girl. I should have known back in August when I couldn�t find the back-to-school supplies because they had been cleared out to make room for the Halloween stuff. Next year, I�ll know better. This year, I needed a plan B.

Dean was easy. He was wooed by the chance to accrue accessories of the macabre � a Styrofoam skull and a plastic dagger. Logan, being two, doesn�t really care. A few days later, I stumbled upon a penguin costume in the correct size and on sale for under $10. Done. Jess is adamant that he will be a green dragon. A fire-breathing dragon, by the way. I thought that a dragon would be simple to create and that I was getting off cheap and easy. I would simply buy a green hoodie and some felt � done. Except about a dozen stores later, I still could not find a green hoodie, green felt, or a ready-made dragon costume (not made for a dog). And I did consider the dog costume wondering how dog poundage related to kid size but I felt $30 was a little steep for something made for a dog. So back to the fabric store I went and over $40 worth of materials later, I am sitting at my long-lost sewing machine making the whole damn thing.

Five years ago when I left my paying job for the adventures of staying home with the kids, I initially put a lot of pressure on myself to be the perfect Alpha-mom. My sister was my roll-model and she is a firm believer in the essence of mommy-hood being in the making versus the buying of things - including the sewing of the Halloween costumes. So in my first stint home full-time, I made my sons� costumes. It was an easy choice to make since an Obi-Wan Kanobi costume in size 4T was impossible to find at the time. However, I firmly believe that if you can find something ready-made that is just as good as what you can make, it is more efficient and probably less expensive to just go ahead and buy. Because while it is nice to be able to say, �I made it myself,� it can be a little stressful. We often joked that if we ever hosted our own sewing show, we�d call it �Pinpricks and Profanity.� Sometimes the frustration of trying to make the sewing machine cooperate is just not worth the effort.

So while I don�t think sewing costumes is a �Mommy Must-Do� activity, I admit that I don�t have a problem with actually doing it. Except for the time wasted searching for the easy shortcut, I am quite happy to make a costume for my child. In fact, I have been known to make costumes for other people�s children and if I had just started the �from scratch� approach several weeks ago, we wouldn�t have been in crunch time this week. And my husband thinks I am crazy for making life harder for myself when a Halloween costume should not be a life�s priority right now. He wants to know why I didn�t just tell my son to choose some other costume so we can be done. Well, because two weeks ago, this did seem like the cheaper easier choice.

But here is where I pull the selfish card � yesterday as I gazed upon my kitchen table made-over into a sewing studio, I sighed with contentment. I realized that I like a project. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, I was eager to begin. Halloween is the one time a year that I can haul out the sewing machine and create something from start to finish, without feeling like it�s just my own little hobby. Like making cookies rather than buying the perfectly fine bakery brand, the satisfaction of having made it myself has been worth the trouble. And the mommy and son moments in making the costume together have been simply priceless.

"Pinpricks and Profanity" is cross-posted on Susie's personal blog At Home With Me where she chronicles her sewing escapades and other adventrues of being a mom to three boys.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween from Triangle Mamas!

Abby the beautiful lioness with her mama, Nikki.



Anna and JD, children of our soon to be introduced blogger, Tonya.



Linus as King Kong with his Empire State Daddy, and a shot from a Halloween party.




Just a tease from tomorrow's post from Susan. Here's her mom-made dragon costume.


  And finally, Marty's family of pirates. Arrrrrrgh.


Hope you all had a fabulous Halloween weekend! Stay tuned tomorrow for the saga of a sewing mama.

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