52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One with the Pirate Ship


Last week on vacation, we took one morning off from our usual beaching to go do something as a four person family unit. When vacationing as a multi-generational family, we find great importance in taking time for our individual family unit. Sometimes we go to the aquarium. We’ve hit the Blackbeard museum a couple of times. We meant to go on a pirate cruise last year, but ran out of time.

So last Wednesday, we loaded the boys in the car and, per our usual, didn’t tell them what we were going—only that it was a surprise. We did, however, tell them they could wear the pirate hats they got at the pirate museum two years ago.

Pirate Hats Are the Best

When we walked up to the dock and they saw a pirate ship situated at the end of it, the excitement level sky rocketed.

We chose the Beaufort Pirate’s Revenge because it was child-centered, not overly long, and omg, pirate ship!


Honestly, the cruise was quite fun. But it also showed the brothers’ personality differences quite well.

BigBrother got into the pirate role very well. He was all pirate, all the time. Intense, arrrg-gahhh-ing. Facial expressions that only he can make. Very dramatic, all the time.

Getting a Goatee

LittleBrother enjoyed himself, but he was more laid back, a little bit unsure. He had a lot of fun, but took a minute to warm up to each thing that they did—from the face painting to the sword fight… though he loved the water cannons. He’s just a little more introverted than Mr. All On All The Time. I like that about both of them; their differences.

Getting a Black Beard -- GET IT?!

I’m glad we took a morning off from the beach to drive to Beaufort and do something new, different, and fun. Watching these two get into the fun of imagination, of “being” a pirate, of laughing and playing and being on a boat on the Intracoastal Waterway. We, the parents, sat and watched them line up and follow orders; we smiled as the water cannons got us wet, cooled us off under the sun’s strong rays. They had a blast, and I hope it’s one morning they remember for all time.



Training for the Columbus Half Marathon: Begin (and a Look Back at June)

Training for the Columbus Half Marathon begins for me today. The race is in 110 days, or three months and 18 days. Or in 16 weeks. Any way you look at it, it’s time to get out and start training.

Training for the Columbus Half Marathon

But apparently not at 5:30 this morning.

When I looked at the weather last night, the AccuWeather app informed me that heavy storms would move through the area in the afternoon today. So I set my alarm for 5:00am as my husband’s 24-hour shift day falls today. I needed to run three miles before he left for work. The alarm went off, I rolled around and tried to go back to sleep, and eventually rolled myself out of bed.

Only to hear thunder.


I opened the app, looked at the radar, and sighed. I walked to the window to watch as Mother Nature treated me to quite the light show in the form of constant, crazy lightning. I got back in bed and waited for it to pass, which didn’t happen until my husband left for work. Figures. I now need to text our teenage babysitter to see if she’ll come “watch” the boys after they go to bed so I can run three miles in the neighborhood in the not-sweltering-midday-heat. I also hate running more than one mile back and forth on our half block like I do sometimes to get my mile in when my husband is at work; three miles of back and forth would be torturous. Hopefully she’s available, or you can watch me run repeats this evening. Yay?

Not exactly how I imagined my training for this half marathon starting out. Whatever the case, I’ll get my run in at some point in time today.

As far as training plans go, I’m using a simple “beginner’s” training plan offered by RunKeeper as I’m training my husband through his first half marathon. Yes, he’s officially registered. Yes, we’re running the whole thing together. Yes, it will be the most awesome thing since sliced (rye!) bread. He started running with me every now and then after the Pittsburgh Marathon, and even ran two days with me during our beach vacation.


While our training plan doesn’t offer anything in the way of speedwork, I know we both have a goal in mind. I’d like to shave a few minutes off of my PR, set at Columbus last October. Then again, I shaved 9 minutes off at Columbus last year, and if I manage to do that this year, well, I’d be shocked and thrilled. I’ll talk more about our time goal after we get through the sweltering summer running season. Running in this heat does slow your pace, so I’m not going to fret too much if I’m not hitting my pace goals on my runs until the temps drop a little… or a lot.

And now let’s talk about running in June a little bit, shall we?

As you know, I’ve been participating in the Runner’s World Summer RunStreak. It’s almost over, ending on the 4th of July. (Of course, my training plan has me running on the 5th and 6th, so I’ll have 42 straight days of running, not just 40!) That means I ran every single day in June.

Every. Single. Day.

Even when my grandmother passed away. Even on vacation. Even when I didn’t want to run.

When I finished up my 2.5 mile run yesterday morning and looked at my mileage in comparison to May, I laughed out loud. What’s the difference between 78.7 miles (May) and 52.5 miles (June)? Oh, you know. Just 26.2 miles. Or a marathon.

June Running!

So the difference in mileage between May and June was that little, itty-bitty Pittsburgh Marathon that I ran. Oh. And pace? My pace average in May was nearly 11 minutes because of the marathon. In June? 9:37. Yes! As you can tell, I spent a lot of June focusing on pace and speeding up. In order to do that at all in July, I’m going to have to continue waking up early—and pray the thunderstorms cooperate.

Here’s to the Columbus Half, to the end of the RunStreak, and to running with my husband! Let’s go, July!


Happy 2nd Birthday, Callie!

Yesterday Callie turned two!

Two-years-old. She’s totally not a puppy anymore.

Callie Turns 2

Except for how she still jumps. And whines. And annoys the ever-loving snot out of us sometimes. I keep hoping she’ll wake up one morning and think in her doggy head, “Oh hey! I’m no longer a puppy! That means I should no longer jump up on my owners or at the fan or at the window or in general. I should start to relax and be a good adult dog. I am a good adult dog.” Because in my head Callie speaks positive affirmations to herself on a regular basis.

But she’s Callie.

Callie Turns 2

And sometimes she jumps. She always sits on our feet with her bony back dog-bows and butt bones. She still gets too excited when people she loves come to visit and pees on the floor from a secondary, super-sensitive bladder. She barks a lot; less so than she used to, but it’s still so big and loud that the less doesn’t really matter. Less is more when you’re super loud. I should know.

She’s also awesome in eleventy billion ways.

She Loves Her Boys

She loves the boys so stinkin’ much. When she came home from the Doggie Hotel today, she happily flopped onto her back at my feet for me to rub her belly. But when she saw the boys? She whined and peeped and exclaimed her absolute joy as best she could, and then followed them around the house for a few hours. Also, don’t get in between her and her boys if she doesn’t know you. Bad choice. She’s really good at lay down, play dead, shake, “no the other paw,” sit, and stay. Not so much with the “roll over,” but I figure she can’t win them all. She’s a sucker for routine, which fits wonderfully in with how I like to run the daily household. She’s super great at shedding. She loves to play ball or frisbee or anything really. She’s really great at fielding a whiffle ball, even if you don’t want her to field the whiffle ball. She’s learned to be a great short-distance running companion for me; I think I’ll wait until it cools off before I attempt taking her on longer runs.

And she loves us adult owners too.

She hasn’t yet been part of our family for two years. That day comes near the end of summer, and we’ll probably celebrate that with an attempt at a family picture with the dog. For now, we’ll just celebrate the fact that two years ago yesterday, in a storm that apparently both knocks down churches and causes dogs to go into labor, our Callie came into this world. A couple months later, she untied the shoe of our oldest son and firmly secured her spot within our family.

Callie Turns 2

We can’t imagine life without her.


52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One with the Beach Togetherness

Brothers Beaching

I started writing a beautiful piece about how these two boys are getting along splendidly at the beach, how they dig holes and/or convince Papau to dig them a hole that they can continue to work on after the hard work is completed. How they made friends with another brother pair and spent hours digging and playing. How they acted like pirates and laughed as they engaged in a sword fight on a pirate ship.

Then BigBrother punched LittleBrother in the head upstairs after I told them to go find something to do because they argued over a game.

Vacationing can be hard on brothers. On parents.

The close proximity feels awesome for a few days. As neither seems afraid of the ocean this year, they’ve enjoyed the togetherness as they jump waves, ride boogie boards, and swim in the warm ocean waters. They’ve oohed and ahhed over a clump of seaweed filled with teeny, tiny hermit crabs. They’ve eaten lunches, snacks, and dinner together. Showered together. Sat on the porch together. Read in the morning after breakfast but before beach time. Together. Everything. Together.

I’m not surprised that this morning, Thursday, they’re feeling a little punchy. Literally.

I don’t approve of punching your brother in the head just because he took the really cool blue pillow in your shared bedroom, but I get it.

Right now, BigBrother is reading two more chapters in his book. Alone. In the bedroom. LittleBrother is relaxing on the couch, downstairs, away from his brother. Silently. Because silence. When the reading is done, I’ll bring them back together and talk about how lucky we are to have a vacation like this with each other, with our extended family. I’ll use my most often used phrase when I talk to them about brotherhood: “He’s the only brother you’re ever going to have.” I’ll talk about expectations for the rest of the day.

And then we’ll go about our day.

I don’t know if it will go perfectly. Or, rather, I know it won’t go perfectly, but I have hope that it will go. We have some beach time planned this morning. By afternoon, my husband will be back from golfing with my uncles, hopefully in one piece as he will be in charge of the afternoon hours while I do a little work. Then we’ll all head off for our annual dinner out at our favorite restaurant on the island, The Crab Shack. Birthday cakes will follow as this week brought about a lot of family birthdays.

I’m hoping for less head punching and more happy times today. Because we all deserve happy times right now—even two punchy brothers.


Mothering at the Beach

Beach 2014

Mothering at the beach presents some fun, some challenge.

Today I floated sideways on a raft with my youngest son, kicking against the current until a wave came and then flipping us back toward the beach to float with any wave that came out way.

Today I watched as our oldest son got too cocky out in the water with an older cousin and found himself on his boogie board out past where he could touch. Thankfully he was right near my mother who helped him until my husband made it out and pulled him back in to shore—for safety, for a serious talk about how we have rules about how far they’re allowed to go out for a reason, for a time out in his beach chair.

Yesterday I watched as my husband and father pulled the boys by on their boogie boards, sending them tumbling and laughing into the surf.

Yesterday I watched as my oldest son showed no fear, diving into the waves over and over and over again. I marveled at how he has changed since this time last year.

Today I carried six chairs down to the beach before our normal beach time so that I could ensure our entire multi-generational vacationing family could have the primo spot of the day.

Today I slipped into a new bikini, one I purchased yesterday. I pulled at the bottoms looking at my reflection in the mirror. I almost second guessed myself until I paused to feel how comfortable the suit felt on my body. I looked briefly at my stretch marks, extra white against the slight pink from the sun exposure the previous day. I smiled; I earned those marks.

Today I watched as my sons played with a cousin the same age as their sister; my heart broke as I thought about what it would look like if things had been different.

Today I watched as my sister-in-law stood in the waves, her eleven month old falling asleep in her arms. I remembered that phase of parenting. I felt nostalgic for a moment, asking my husband if he missed that phase—the water slapping, sand eating, happy giggling phase of the newness of the beach. Then we laughed the laugh of parents sitting in their chairs while their children figured out how to float on their 1980′s style raft.

Today I watched as two tired afternoon boys argued over the big shovel, one swinging the shovel at the other. I simply pointed at the one who swung the shovel and pointed at the chair—the same chair used earlier for time out. Then we packed up all of the things—the toys, the chairs I carried by myself earlier, the cooler, the towels, the everything of beaching with children—and walked back to the beach house.

We showered the children, clothed them in clean, dry clothes, and set them down with The Lego Movie so they could relax away from the sun for just a little while. I showered the excess sun block, salt, and sand from my body, dressed myself in clean dry clothes, and settled down with a book for a little while. Later, we had dinner, we had snacks, and then bed time rolled around. As I tucked them in, one said to me, “Today was the best day ever.”

And the other one said, “Yes, thank you, mommy.”

And somewhere between the time out and the floating, the bad and the good, the exhausted and sand covered and delicious food and beautiful beach breeze, I came into my own. Somewhere on a beach in North Carolina, I felt okay with who I am, right now, as a mother.