Saturday, January 10, 2015

Identity crisis and the bikeride talk show

New year, new blog. 

As you know, I only write when inspired to. I hope you will appreciate my need to *not* post out of clickable desperation. I am not a money-making blogger, I am only a sometimes storyteller, fan of triathlon, and creative spirit in bursts, who likes to share. 

I was just having a flashback to riding my bike, at about the age of 10. Like most Floridians, my day-to-day bike was a beach cruiser. First of all, it was purple. A deep purple custom chosen by yours truly. It had an extra wide, comfy seat and handlebars that stretched out and up so that you could look like jimmy buffet seated upright at the bar as you casually smiled at all the girls in their bikinis waving at you from their beach towels and blankets, while you rode. A bike. Except that I was a ten year old girl riding up and down a flat suburban street named after a cigarette brand and rounding about alone on the cul de sac three hundred and forty six times. 

While I did this, pretty much every day after school and all day during the summertime (my parents did work, so I'm sure I went to summer camp at some point, but that is not how I remember it), I hosted a talk show. It was "The Ashley Show", I'm pretty sure, and in fact it had the air of a variety show, because I would also frequently sing in between guest appearances. 

It was, obviously, awesome. 

I interviewed celebrities, everyday people (like my grandma, who would explain how she accomplished her best recipes and how much she missed Staten Island.) Cute boys at school were prompted to explain how much they liked me, and then I would sing them a song. 

I could ride for hours like this. 

For some reason this pleasant memory came upon me in the middle of an identity crisis I'm having. Every time I go to work on the musical with my friend Sibyl I get a teasing taste of a life I thought I would have had. A life I tried to have, but couldn't sustain. A life I may have sustained, except for the fact that I desired many many other things (mostly snot-nosed little lego brat things), things I couldn't have lived without. 

And then I wonder what defines me, what career bullet points I will be adding to my resume in the next few years, and what direction my life is heading. 

And in the middle of this soul-crushing foray, I remember a time I made up shit riding around on my bike. And that is a glimpse at the core of me. Just riding around, enjoying the chat, the occasional song, and the freedom of the cul de sac. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Longwood Gardens Holiday visit & Santa pics

Friends, I just want to say Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays. 
We had a lovely visit to Longwood Gardens over Thanksgiving weekend and I just wanted to share some of the pics. This year, as the twyns were turning 6, we made an effort to go later (2 pm) and stay later (6 pm) so that we could enjoy the Christmas lights. They were beautiful. 

Although, we hyped it up to the kids that it was a "Christmas light show", and my daughter, in her infinite wisdom, quipped, "This is not a light show, this is light bulbs." So be careful of your semantics (although there is a dancing water light show, which was not enough apparently.) 

Because we were bringing the grandparents and making reservations ahead of time, it worked out to just get a year-long membership! Members don't need to make reservations on most visit days (the holidays are a bit different.) Plus, it is mostly tax-deductible. So we look forward to making some Spring and Summer visits there. The train area has been moved closer to the cafe, so this is much more convenient in your roundabout tour of the gardens. 

Also, this year Longwood was named "best restrooms"??? So we had to check this out. Apparently it is a "green" area (off to the right as you enter the Conservatory) and very hobbit-like and cute. 

Lastly, I had to share our Santa pics this year! The twyns were sooooo excited to discuss with St. Nick their year, what they wish for, and what cookies he would like on Christmas Eve. So so so super cute. And no more tears! How could we forget this pic:

Thank you for sharing our world with us. Looking forward to 2015. 

Love and Peace, and Big Hugs [times two]!! 

Ashley @ TwynMawrMom

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Survival Essentials

Well Hell-OOOO my friends! It's been a busy December so far, yah? [read in hopped-up mommy-Midwest accent]

I know you are missing my posts about the Elf, family fun, and training, but honestly, so far, this month has been about ETSY for me. The holiday. orders. are INSANE. Thanks for keeping mama busy ;)

If you aren't already following me on Facebook, keep track of me there when I'm quiet here. I've been able to share a few fun custom requests and mind-blowing space-time-continuum phenomena. Truly.

Anywho in the middle of this craziness I'm inspired to write my five most important things I couldn't get through this holiday without, maybe we can all stop and be grateful for...

1. The Bus Driver
I'm no longer dropping off and picking up my twyns from school every day. Is this a small miracle invented by some sort of classic governmental decree? Yes. Does this give me at least an extra hour per day to get modern sh** done? YES! Thanks, bus driver!

2. Gingerbread Lattes
We know, rationally, that gingerbread is just a made-up flavor that could exist on Earth 365 days a year, but it doesn't. We only get it when those little red cups come out and the Baristas write the word "Gingerbread" on the chalk board in our school of life. And when it does, and when they do, we get a little happier inside. Sad, but true. And then we get a little more energy, and the mommy cliche spins on and on...

3. Light Timers & Remote Controls
Hubby has gotten more into the Christmas lights this year. Partly because of this product. And this product. And magically at 5 pm: Christmas appears! We came home from a family Christmas celebration this weekend and our trees were already lit. We thought: did we leave them on all weekend? Nope! Our daughter was just able to wiggle in the door before us and this was the first thing she did. EASY!!

Speaking of Hubby, as you know, he likes to 'do' things, rather than to 'receive.' So I'm shopping for him here, a great new gift site specifically geared towards men, which sends a crowbar with each crate to open it!: 
Man crates! Ha!
4. Family
I realize that there was a time in my life when family was thrust upon me, and it did not seem like a choice that all of my cousins and great aunts and grandparents would invade my home and bedroom and I would be sleeping on my brother's floor for Christmas. Then there was a time when I would rush home with the crowds in the airport or the train station so that I could join these people for these special meals and events and sleep on the couch in blissful choice for Christmas. Then there was a time when my own family was born, and I peppered the house with decorations and scents and food in the joyful anticipation of hosting those cousins and grandparents for Christmas. And I realize how special all three of those scenarios are. Thanks to family.

5. Ideas and the Internet
Honestly, what did our mothers do without the ability to Google "non-toy gift ideas for a ten-year-old boy"??? The growth of not only online shopping, but also mommy blogs and the sharing of all this information is, at times overwhelming, but ultimately, a fantastic resource for gift-giving. I truthfully have been blown away by my options of giving gifts that have a charitable or community component to them, or educational component, and most importantly, a sharing component to them. My kids are really enjoying games this year, and things we can all do together. This has become really important to us to make us sit down and focus on nothing else but each other, even when we have spent the whole day in the same house together, but haven't really interacted. Don't. forget. about. games! I posted about Busytown on Facebook, but we also just recently received an early gift called Deer in the Headlights. It's just a card game with some specialized dice, but it has already provided a lot of laughs.

Ok there's my list! What's yours? 
What would you put in your man crate?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Now thankful for things I once hated

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to a young bride as she prepared for her upcoming nuptials. In my infinite wisdom of ten years of marriage, I was able to pinpoint one of the strangest aspects of marriage I had encountered thus far:
"The things I once hated about him, I now love." 
And I think this makes for a wonderful Thanksgiving post. Maybe you can relate.

I often joked in our 20's that my husband was clearly possessed by the 80 year-old-man inside of him. He was always thinking of things I didn't think of! If you go back to the buffet for more goat cheese, you will get sick. If you tell someone you will be there at 9, you shouldn't show up at 11:30. If you are going to get a Master's degree, get a professional one. You cannot buy a puppy when you are about to go on tour.

It was SO. BORING! I didn't get it.

Now that we have IRA's and 401k's and I can take my kids to the Please Touch Museum and order extra treats without a care in the world, I am so very grateful that the girl who often had about $8 in her checking account decided to hook up with this guy. He makes me feel confident in the rules of the game. Knowing I'm dressed appropriately and not making a total a$$ of myself has its perks. I'm a bit sorry for him that he never got to wear fuchsia socks and birkenstocks to the local jazz fest, but something tells me he was never gonna do that.

Even, just this Sunday, I circled a few blocks in Center City looking for free parking before the half marathon. I had an overwhelming sense of defeat when I had to pull it into a little lot and pay the man $20 to not watch my car all morning. I harkened back to my first half marathon luck and cursed my fate as I headed out on the run course.

Although I now find it a sick challenge to find free parking wherever we go (or, at the very least, think far enough ahead to bring a coupon and find some kind of discount), I many times have declared I was going to break up with this man because of his obsession with it.

I think that if I had asked him when we first got together, if he could receive free parking for the rest of his life, no matter where he went, or marry me, he would have most certainly chosen the free parking. Maybe he played too much monopoly in his childhood and believed there to be some secret pot of cash lurking in the alternate side parking area, or maybe he is, at the very core of himself, cheap as hell. What's most probable, and what he would probably say, ironically, since he manages shopping centers and parking lots for a living, is that there is no inherent value in the parking, so why should he pay for it? When a lot exists down the street, but he could just WAIT IN HIS CAR FOR 55 MINUTES for free parking on the street, he would always choose the latter. I got to the point where I would wave to him from my apartment window and refuse to wait in the car with him, even though I hadn't seen him in days and was looking forward to our date. Dates which, by the way, could never start before 7 pm because we were never quite sure if he would make it to the 6 pm side of the street, or the 7 pm side. It was like getting a golden ticket if I was miraculously graced with my then-boyfriend's presence before 7.

I think all of this has changed, by the way, with Mayor Bloomberg's campaigns. He not only filled the coffers of the parking lot operators, he may have also saved a couple of marriages...

Speaking of when we first started dating, we had a long distance relationship. This only lasted a few months, and we had a plan down the line to be in the same city, but I thought, for those precious first months, being the swinging single that I was, what would be the problem with me dating a few guys up here, and him dating a few girls down there? Nothing naughty, just social time, really. This was not an option for him, and he declared his intentions. And knowing his dating history like I did, I knew this to be absolutely true. There was no gray area. It was 100% or 0%. So I complied. Oh so many men in the NYC were disappointed that year...[hardy har har.]

Now that we have been together for fourteen years, I could not be HAPPIER and more relieved that he is this type of guy. There ARE no gray areas, people. There is no sext-ing and casual dinners and flirty glances across the room. He's all mine and I'm all his. We are stupidly in love and devoted to each other. This is a great sense of comfort as I approach my 40s. I have my ups and downs in my career, my weight, my parenting, but in my marriage: nothing is shaky. This is the foundation for my world and probably the thing for which I'm most grateful. NO gray. (Except on our heads.)

So there you have it...another sappy post about this guy. Gross. Try not to puke up your turkey!!!


I'm also so grateful for all of you, whoever you are, 
that engage with me in this conversation of life. 
Have a great weekend.

What are you thankful for that you 
NEVER thought you would be?

Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm glad I'm sore: Philly half marathon report

So I did my 'shake-it-off' run this morning- it was the .2 miles to the bus stop with the twyns, does that count?

Ok, ok, I may have run .05 of it and watched the kids run the rest of the way.

Ok, ok, I just ran down the driveway and checked to make sure my legs were still there.

I am sore, people.

Like, super sore.

But in a good way.

It teaches me:
a) that when I train well, it pays off (by not being so sore afterwards.)
b) and that I was able to push myself yesterday (which I'm not really good at doing: pushing myself.)

Because as my coach/hubby said on my way [to bed the night before, cuz he wasn't waking up at 4 for the pep talk]:
"This is your baseline for Ironman training. 
Just set a nice baseline." 
Ok well I don't know exactly what that means, but I'll trust ya, I guess.  I had a couple of other mantras in mind:
"Run a 5k. Then add your normal 10-mile training run." 
"Run your normal 10-mile training run, then add a 5k." 
"This is not your goal race. This is just a training run with 30,000 friends." 
"You will probably not PR, but you may just prove consistent after all your spazziness. Get under an 11 minute pace."
And as I raced, I ended up with one thing in mind:
"Just stick with this 4:45 marathon pacer, and you are good." 
It's funny how goals motivate us. What are these random goals? Why do we make them? What do we get out of them? I certainly didn't care about the Expo, or the swag, or the medal this time...didn't even remember that it would be such a big race, and that we'd be running alongside the marathoners the whole time. But once I realized so many people were running their goal race, it made me appreciate the gravity of it all, flog myself once again for not training for the full, and go out and give my best that I have, this day, for the half.

So there, I've been long & winded already, but here is your
Quick & Dirty on Philly [half] Marathon: 

  • much more city running than the Rock n Roll
  • and thus, many more spectators [yay! philly!]
  • on a windy day, the run by the river would hurt [but we had great weather]
  • running alongside the marathoners is inspiring
  • some ups and downs [not really hills per se] miles 7 to 10
  • very well organized, a lot of water stations, great volunteers
  • parking is a problem because a lot more roads are blocked off
  • when they say get there at 5:30, maybe just push it to 6 a bit
  • having not trained well, I was hoping to stay under 2:30 but not expecting to PR under 2:18. I was just under 2:22, so that'll do for now.
  • am most proud of having stayed with the 4:45 pacer in my sights the entire race. Consistency is not my strong suit! 
More Slow & Painful:
I think I do not like big races. I'm still at home in a triathlon. There are a lot of people and I feel like, not special, and it takes me a while to start to feel like I belong in that big crowd. I did see my twin mommy friend who got me through my first half, but then I lost her right away! She has been rocking the ultra's lately, so I lost my pacer!
I see so many real runners and start to think that I am in the wrong place! I don't feel that way at triathlons because I'm not a bad swimmer, so I always feel like I have a little something to offer and will not completely embarrass myself even though so many triathletes are super intense and I'm definitely in the back of the pack. So I guess what I'm most proud of and surprised by in this half marathon was that I was able to stay with a 'middle of the pack' pacing group the entire time, and felt like I belonged [a little.] This was the best aspect of my race today: that even when I walked to the water stations, I was able to catch back up to those little balloons on the pacer's sign. I felt like a little kid, looking for those balloons. And even a few times, I found myself in front of her and thought, "get back! get back in line!" The running brain. 

But I'm getting better and better at 'race day' prep. I knew what I needed to eat and drink the day before (coconut water, lots of regular water, and Pad Thai), race morning (raisin toast and coffee), and during the race (one Gu half-way and only water, no gatorade.) I carried a Luna coconut bar with me the entire race because I had been eating one in my 10-mile training runs at the half and taking a 2 minute break. But I didn't take a break during this race! Surprised myself a little. So I still haven't eaten that bar! It's my new mascot.
I also downloaded a few more songs this week for my running playlist and was secure in 'my race.' I know what I like to wear, I know what I like to hear, and I don't mind being the a-hole who is carrying her phone in her left hand. Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" and Arianna Grande's "Break Free" were a feature. I will always. ALWAYS. step up my pace on the key change. #runningmusician

The only new component to my outfit was new running gloves I got at Costco for $12! They are also smart gloves, so I was able to toggle with my playlist without taking them off. Which was great, because taking them off for my Gu at the half was almost impossible. I think my hands swelled! 

And speaking of swelling, I'm definitely experiencing some with my right foot. Gonna take it easy today. Hopefully do a real shake-out run tomorrow. 

But you know, mama's gotta host Thanksgiving! Ain't gonna host itself! 

So enough procrastination with this whole blog thing. You guys don't want to hear how I immediately got into the right chute when they directed us if you wanted to high-five the mayor and governor. You know I did!! ;) If only Cecily Tynan was giving out high-fives...:) 

Let's get our holidays on so we can get back to training, bitches!! 

Gore-Tex Expo Photo Booth.
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