Monthly Archives: August 2012

Step-twins

Cohen and Benjamin are two months apart.

For a few weeks this summer, with all three home every day and no summer camps or school to distract, we thought they were going to kill each other in at least a few occasions. But now, for the past few weeks the fights are lessening and being replaced by a very strong bond and friendship.

They have even taken to dressing like twins.

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One of my client’s has step-twins. He being well in his 60’s, I asked how it turned out.

“Are they still friends?”

“Yes, but they aren’t as close as they were.”

“Why not?”

“A girl.”

And now I worry, because that’s what I am really, really good at… and because they’re both so damn cute.

The tides

We learn a lot around here, all of us. We’re blending, damn it, and it’s not easy.

Aside from the very tangible experience of learning how to live with each other and share one bathroom, there’s the larger issue and stark reality of shared parenting and adjusting to life post-divorce. For Cohen and Lily, going from one house to another is not easy. And it’s not for easy for Seth either.

Personally, having never had to truly share Benjamin, that is new territory for me as well. All I can say is that divorce, as awful as this sounds, must be easier when the kids are too little to know what is going on. Benjamin, as some of you may recall, was four months old. And while that had its own set of challenges, parents of older children going through a divorce have it even harder.

My hat’s off to all of you.

As for me, the only thing I can do is wait patiently and do the best I can to encourage open, positive communication between all of us. We’ll get there and all adults are making a concerted effort to do so.

Oh, and then the three kids have their own relationships between each other.

As you can imagine, Seth and I are constantly tuned in on a daily basis–who needs a special outing with just their Dad today? Or who needs to talk or spend one-on-one time with me or Benjamin?

When all else fails, I break out a puppet. Pat the Cat is my go-to.

The gender neutral child’s best friend. I don’t know why Pat is gender neutral, I just thought it would be funny to have the kids guess when they asked and then it sparked an entire conversation that took me back to my days in women’s studies classes at OU.

But seriously, the kids will tell anything to Pat even though she is clearly sitting on my arm. It’s incredible. Try it if you are trying to get them to open up about their feelings.

Aside from all of that serious business we also learned that knock off crocs don’t last. That Lily would like to be She-Ra for Halloween and that 80’s cartoons are just as awesome now as they were then.

That six and seven year olds can feed themselves breakfast, but not without a few spills. That if American Girl emails you to sample a movie kit for the new McKenna Shooting for the Stars DVD and you say “yes” you’ll end up with a box bursting with dozens of samples.

The boys have learned that toys can mysteriously appear at the door. Giant boxes of toys. I explained carefully that American Girl had emailed us and that it was a bit of a fluke. They seemed to understand that and then asked me to tell Lego and G.I. Joe they are more than willing to offer a review. Needless to say Lily gives the American Girl doll crafts a two Lily thumbs up.

We’ve learned that many people assume many things about us and are quick to judge. We’ve learned that ignoring them is definitely the best policy.

We’ve learned that many of you think Uncle Ben is hot. I have to agree, my brother-in-law is as advertised and definitely packs a whole lot of handsome on a daily basis.

However, we are going to keep him and his relationship status a continued mystery as it is a bit “complicated.” In the meantime, you can still keep dreaming…

I have learned that bikers actually clean those things.

I also learned that even though I can remember it like it was yesterday, the day my little sister kicked her boyfriend in the you know whats was actually 23 years ago. 

P.S. That little spit fire of a girl grew up and earned her masters in Creative Writing from University of Virginia. She put her feet to better use later as a soccer and track star in high school and later at the University of Iowa. When Anna wrote that she was just a few years older then Lily.

We also sent the kids off to their first days of school (first grade for the boys, second for Lily). In which we learned that Lily looks even taller in her little one inch wedges and that all three of them play just a hard as they fight.

[P.S. Lily’s Oilily dress is from the thrift store!]

The best anecdote about parenthood I ever read is this–the days are long but the years are fast. I’m hoping this blog (which forces me to spend hours re-hashing and digging up pictures) will be something they can all read later to help preserve all of this. Because, in spite of it all, this has to be one of the best times in our lives.

xoxo-

Alaina

It takes all kinds

Some bikers ride cruisers. Some ride sport bikes. Some ride dual sports.

Some bikers ride every day and put thousands of miles on their machines. Some barely break them in.

Some bikers wear full-face helmets. Some wear none.

Some bikers wear armored, hi-viz gear. Some wear shorts and flip flops.

Some bikers have pipes so loud you can hear them for miles. Some have pipes that are polite. Some have pipes that sound like mopeds.

 

There are all kinds of bikers because there are all kinds of people who ride motorcycles.

 

I happen to be the kind that rides a Harley-Davidson FXDX with what I think is a nice balance of chrome and black.

Seth Gray's Harley FXDX on a country road

 

I happen to be the kind that rides almost every day. In the year or so I’ve had that bike, I’ve ridden 15,000+ miles.

A few of the places I've ridden

 

I happen to be the kind that wears leather chaps or armored Read More…

My thrift shopping secrets.

I thrift, therefore I save. Lots and lots and lots. But, for me, it’s more then just saving piles of cash – it’s about the hunt, the thrill of the chase and satisfying my constant desire to be wearing something new, cute and fashion forward.

Like this top combo…

The tank and the necklace were both from a local thrift store.

Here are my tips on making the most of your thrift shopping experience. And thanks to the Volunteers of America for sponsoring this post. They gave, Jess and I a $50 gift card to shop to our heart’s content. The goal? To find as much as could for under $50.00. Read More…

Is there room for an iPhone in the bedroom?

Seth and I are huge, huge fans of the SXSW Interactive, Film and Music Festival. You’ll remember all of the years past in which I’ve attended, this past year with Seth.

This year, we are throwing our hat in the ring to actually present at SXSW. But to do it, we need your votes. Our topic? Turn it off to turn it on. Is there room for an iPhone in the bedroom? Watch this video to find out who leaves their iPhone on in the bedroom… is it Seth or myself? You can guess or just watch.

Now, go here to vote for us. You’ll have to register but it only takes a second and this is so, so important to us. Would mean the world if you could.

New York, New York + 4,000 women

I was apprehensive, to be sure, about BlogHer 2012.

Spending three days with thousands of women in New York City didn’t sound appealing. Before you take offense, let me explain…

NYC overwhelms me. My long-time readers know this.

It’s just impossible to find a space that isn’t already occupied. There are people everywhere. Don’t get me wrong. I like people. A lot. I do. But being a country girl at heart, my crowd time must be immediately remedied by some peace and quiet time. Or, I at least need to find a spot to just duck out for a minute. In New York City even the sidewalks are crowded. You have understand that here in Columbus, we rarely encounter crowds. We all those festivals or gallery hops or long lines.

The other thing is the air quality. I feel it immediately when I get out of the airport. Thick, merciless, unrelenting and entirely different then the fresh air we take for granted in Ohio. And trees. I need them. Call me an uncultured asshole, but NYC just isn’t my bag of chips. With that said, I think New Yorkers rock and I have profound respect for them.

And as for the thousands of women under one roof, for one purpose–it sounded like a giant slumber party, which I have never enjoyed. I blame that on witnessing too many slumber party hazings in middle school. The first girl to pass out would be immediately adorned with peanut butter between her toes and feathers and chocolate syrup in her hair. I know. Totally f’ed.

But when compared with my reality every day–three kids, a giant dog (who won’t stop licking himself) and a thriving yet always demanding business–NYC and BlogHer sounded downright awesome. And, to my pleasant surprise, they both came through.

Before I left, Seth said, “relax, take it easy and have fun–you deserve it.”

With that kind of zero-guilt blessing from my husband, I set on my vacation auto-responder and hopped on a plane. A few hours later I was in a cab on my way to Greenpoint in Brooklyn to my sister’s apartment.

We started with a manicure and pedicure.

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It was Anna’s first time. The first time her toes had been scrubbed and then painted and polished. And, no surprise here, she loved it.

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How she made it into her 30s is just one of those unexplainable things about Anna. With her toes looking better then they ever had before we grabbed lunch. Read More…

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