Monthly Archives: July 2012

Let the cake fly.

In which I shove a cake into my brother-in-law’s face, allow my child to try a margarita and narrowly escape a religious debate at the in-laws.

It has been a whirlwind the past few weeks.

We had the kids back for one weekend in July. Tomorrow, they’ll all be back as we settle into our school year routine again. This is a very good thing because Seth just isn’t himself when they aren’t around. He’s there, but not all there. Every single parent knows the feeling…

The kids were also excited to be back together. They hit the jungle gym, each in their own way, each with their favorite trick.

They posed for this picture proudly. Waiting for me to get just the right shot. All three happy to be together again.

They were back for grandma’s birthday.

I took her on a zip line tour, thanks to ZipZone–Columbus’ first zip line canopy tour. With a zip lining trip in Vancouver in my very recent memory, I thought zipping through an Ohio forest would be a cinch. I was completely and entirely taken by surprise. 

See those stairs there? They lead to a sky bridge (think Indiana Jones) and then a platform in the trees (with no guard rail). You’re completely safe the entire time but the sky bridges and the tiny platforms got me.

One of our zip lining comrades took this picture. As you can see I’m half crying and laughing. Dale Ann is just loving every minute, no fear in that woman at all.

After our zip lining adventure, everyone came back to the house. Uncle Ben, Seth’s brother Ben, and I got in our first fight. It involved me stuffing a giant piece of birthday cake into his general face area. We both made up shortly after knowing that we’re stuck with each other until death do us part. But I’m pretty sure he’ll never cuss in front of my kids again.

Did I mention that I’m a bit feisty? There are a few personality traits of mine that I have never been able to shake, even as I age. The first is never being able to keep my mouth shut when I should, I always speak my mind. The second is that I am always completely honest about my feelings. This is a direct result of the fact that I can’t lie worth a shit. As a result, my friendships with many are brief but those that make the cut are made to last.

After the caking Uncle Ben and I apologized to each other. He to stop cursing in front of the children and others (it’s not that I don’t, I’m a pirate myself it’s just the context and the frequency and the audience that gets me) and I promised to never take out my aggressive physically (clearly not a good example for the kids either). I love him like he’s my own brother so I act like it and in my family we just let the cake fly.

Seth and Ben took off for South Dakota the next morning. And then it was just my Benjamin and I. I must say – it was easier. For sure. The stress of blending a family with the kids, the ex-politics and the dynamics between the kids and Seth and I – it’s a lot. With that said, just because something is easier doesn’t make it right and I wouldn’t trade my new blended family for anything in the world. But the peace and quiet was overdue and I enjoyed every minute.

Instead of the full 10 days, Seth an Uncle Ben went seven.  On Friday my best friend Monica and I headed to Chicago to meet him with little Ben in tow.

 We stayed at my friend Elizabeth’s house.

A modern day freedom fighter, she’s always fired up about issues most of us ignore. Poverty, the living wage, worker’s rights, the corruption in Washington.  She actually makes a stand against politically motived injustices on a daily basis. It’s her job. Really. And she absolutely loves every minute.

I think she’s pretty awesome.

We miss her living in Columbus but I’m glad she finally made it to Chicago. It’s what she wanted from the minute I met her an in spite of the ex stuff and being a single mother to two boys, she made it happen. All on her very own.

We hit up a fantastic restaurant called Antique Taco, one of many Hipster havens in Wicker Park. The waitress plopped a margarita in front of Benjamin. Not sure why but it all happened very quickly and while he went for the margarita I (as any self-respecting mother would do) went for the camera. The results were to be  expected. Nothing exciting really. Just your typical six year old trying a margarita. You know, happens every day.

In this order, the picture captions are as follows:

1. Hmmm… what is this delicious looking drink?
2. Ugh.
3. Full reaction to the sour limes and permanent scarring of cocktails.

That should keep him away from it all until he’s at least sixteen. Poor kid.

Sometime between the margaritas and the tacos he lept up onto Seth’s lap proclaiming how much he missed him. The two of them are becoming closer and closer. Read about an amazing moment they had recently here.

The next morning, in Elizabeth’s living room Seth and I had a few minutes with our coffees and each other. I am so incredibly in love with the man. Butterflies and sledge hammers, ladies. Every morning, every afternoon, every night. All of the time.

He makes it easy. To love him. He’s easy to love. I mean, the fact that he was single when I found him is a total fluke I chalk up to the universe and karma and mysterious things beyond my control.

But here he is and there we were. So, we spent the day in Chicago.

First, at the Wicker Park Festival.

Then the beach. We took the bus because that’s what people do in Chicago. So much sense, efficiency and conservation. Go figure. Columbus is far from an adequate public transportation system and it’s a shame. I would trade my car for this any day.

Fifteen minutes after we left the house–we were here.

Crowded but so cool, because it’s right there. In the city. The boys were in Heaven.

Monica enjoyed herself, as always. She’s the most laid back girl you’ll ever meet. By the time our trip was over she had declared Benjamin as the first kid she understood. I take that as a compliment of the highest order.

The bag also made it to the beach.

I honestly haven’t put it down since I posted to contest to give it away. Congratulations to Sarah!

You win the cutest straw bag ever! I’ve emailed you so just send me your address. My apologies if there is some sand in it. And to answer your question I thrift shop at the Volunteers of America.

After the beach we went home, passed out early and woke up the next day for the long trip home. That night, back in Columbus, we met up with Uncle Ben for dinner at Dale Ann’s. Her father, who is extremely religious, was there. I had been warned ahead of time by Seth and his brothers to avoid divulging too much about my agnosticism to Grandpa Dale. Unless, of course, I wanted an earful.

I successfully dodged the bullet but little Benjamin did not. Being six and being completely immune to the world of organized religion, I figured it would be good for him to hear another person’s perspective about the origins of the Universe. When Grandpa Dale dove into God and the beginning of mankind, Benjamin proclaimed, “My Mom doesn’t believe in God.”

I sunk as deep into the couch as I could go. It’s not that I’m ashamed but the last thing I want to do is get in another fight with another one of Seth’s family members, let alone the creator of them all. I owe Grandpa Dale my undying appreciation for creating such a fine genetic line.

Instead of telling Benjamin his mother was going to burn in Hell, which I appreciated, Grandpa Dale headed to his car to find a copy of the Bible. He came up short and instead brought out a map of his condo community. Whether it was a map, a Bible or a Koran, Benjamin loved every minute.

There’s a family here. A family, with aunts and uncles and love and warmth. It’s something Benjamin has seen in pieces and parts because my family is so scattered. And this family, Seth’s family, has accepted us into their own.

Flying cakes and agnosticism and all. And as explained to Benjamin on the way home, we all believe in different things. But just about all of us believe in love.

And motorcycles. We definitely believe in those.



Beautiful straw. Be mine, or yours?

I started this back on Ms. Single Mama recently and it will continue here. My weekly thrift find giveaway. I absolutely love, love this bag. It has a cute pink, polka dot liner that actually comes up over its contents. Absolutely adorable. Just leave a comment to enter!

And, if you don’t mind (winner, whoever you are) I am going to keep using it until I have to mail it off.

Deadline to enter is Sunday the 29th at Midnight (EST).


Westward Ho, Day 1

(It’s Alaina. I’m publishing this for Seth, he is too busy riding and in and out of service.)

The thing about having kids, is you never really can sleep in anymore. All of that awake time gives you more time. For things like packing up


and going to Ben’s (brother), to help him get geared up,


Our younger brother, Nathanael, rode up to send us off. So, another picture.


And then riding


for 6 hours. With a lot of this to look at Read More…

Solo for a spell.

Seth left this morning (Saturday) on his trip out West and Lily and Cohen are with their mother.

So here we are.

Just Benjamin and I. It’s bitter sweet. Bitter because of the missing. The family of five, down to two suddenly. But sweet because I can focus on Benjamin solely. Familiar territory for me and him and just like riding a bike.

Today we headed down into the hills and Athens, Ohio (my hometown)

20120721-204853.jpgto help spread the word about this story telling and grant competition. Athens is hard to describe, hence the contest.

In Athens, you never know just who you will meet or what you will see

In fact, people have been known to come to Athens and then never leave. Spontaneous Athenians, or Townies. Happens all of the time. Some say it’s the energy of the place, currents running underneath. Others say it’s the spirits (Athens is known as one of the most haunted planes on Earth).

For me, it’s the bubble I feel as soon as I’m there.The rest of the world seems to fall away Read More…

Bringing home the bacon

Beauty: “Rachel Ray lost 47 pounds? How?!”

Me: “She probably stopped eating all the nasty shit she cooks on TV”

Then I made a mountain of french toast and bacon.

lily staring at a pile of french toast and bacon

Keep the shiny side up,


Get ready to ride

Next week, I’m riding this

frosty motorcycle

with this guy (my brother) and his bike


To Sturgis, South Dakota, the Black Hills, and Yellowstone. That’s the first 4 days. Not sure where we’ll be on days 5-9. But on day 10, I’ll be home.

With the love of my life

These gremlins

our kids

And this awesome dog

archer the dog

Anybody have places I should eat? World’s largest balls of yarn I should see? Let me know!

Ride Safe


Love on pavement.

I see our shadows on the pavement. Mine behind his. Slowly we become one before disappearing completely as we turn with the curve of the freeway, West. The sun is on us now and we have three more hours left to Louisville. In a car that would be one thing, but on the back of a bike it’s another thing entirely.

He lets his hand down every time we pass another biker. It’s a signal. Wheels down. His arm falls straight, fingers pointing to the ground. Down, not up, like the wheels should be. It’s a universal code they all know. Only bikers to bikers. Not bikers to scooters or bikers to cyclists. And if you break it? If you don’t simultaneously lower your hand with the fingers pointing to the ground… well, I’m not entirely sure what happens. Maybe your karma is jacked and your wheels turn up?

The countryside flies by.

First Cincinnati with its skyscrapers, metal and glass shining against the blue Ohio sky. Reds fans filing in to catch their Saturday game. The Ohio River rushes underneath as we head south into Kentucky. Every hour, at least, he’ll bring his hand to my knee and rest it there for a minute before putting it back on the handle bar. We both have full face helmets on so we can’t talk. We communicate instead with touch only. My hands on his back, his hand on my knee. My breath on his neck.
I don’t look down. I learned that lesson the first time we rode. Out of curiosity I glanced directly down to the concrete beneath us. There was no way to focus I was overcome with the reality of it all. We were on a motorcycle rushing forward at 60 miles an hour and there were cars and pavement, exhaust and semi-trucks– all of them brutally close– surrounding us. After my first long ride I jumped off and could barely stand. My face felt like it had been stuck in a wind tunnel for an hour, my head like it had been in a vice and my body ached.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “It’s awesome, for sure, but it’s kind of boring. I’m just sitting there, trying not fight the wind and keep the hair out of my mouth.”

“Yeah,” he said matter-of-factly, “You’re the kind of woman who needs her own bike.”

“Really?” I was shocked at this statement. I had never, in my wildest dreams, ever imagined driving a motorcycle.

“Yep. Definitely.”

Ever since I have to admit, I’ve been pondering the possibility. But for now, being on the back will have to do. Since that first long ride I have become accustomed to the bike. More so, I even crave rides. I accepted the bike long ago when he asked me not to make him choose, “between you and the bike. I’ll choose you, but don’t ask me.”

One thing we promised to each other when we met was to never ask the other to change, whether intentionally or inadvertently. I immediately dropped the notion of him ever not riding and then forced him to buy and wear a full face helmet as a compromise. I bought myself one as well. Also to ease my anxiety we looked up statistics on motorcycle deaths and they’re actually very rare (.07%) and most involve alcohol, speeding, or driving at night. I can only hope that his wheels are always down because his motorcycle is a part of who he is. And I get it. I do. It is fun, tremendous in fact. Riding a motorcycle is like riding a bike with a jet pack underneath and my inner child loves it.

On the way home from Louisville we took the back roads instead of the highway.

I took these pictures during the trip.

Before we left, trying on my new helmet. A Nolan N90. It’s bad ass and comfortable.

My view from the back of his bike.

The coolest yard art. Ever.


On our way into a blues bar. We had all intentions of going to the Forecastle music festival but bailed after a long day of riding.

Scary. Coal burning power plants along the Ohio River.

The ride was a test to see how I would do for four hours on the bike. The four hour ride turned into eight hours thanks to pop up storms and us taking our sweet time on the back roads. In the end, the bike won and I lost, the back seat is too uncomfortable for long rides. So, I will be staying home next week when Seth leaves for Yellowstone National Park with his brother Ben. He’ll be riding there and back in 10 days.

And I will be home with my little Mr. Benjamin. And maybe, just maybe – if I can find the time and the courage – taking some motorcycle lessons.

 xoxo – Alaina

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