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.

Friday, November 21, 2014

What exactly is the [one-hundred-and-forty] point [six]?

Oh, Lordy. Here we go again, y'all.

Y'all? Hello-O-o!

Ya still with me?

I know, I know, I'm a spazz. I write ten posts in a row, then one a month...

Give mama a little slack, you know you've been busy too!

With what, exactly, I couldn't tell ya. The time just...goes!

I think that if you have ever been unemployed, in a similar mommy situation, where you actually do have time to yourself during the day, you will find, like, me, that you give your time away. You commit to school, and to the kids' schedules, and to the hubby's needs, and extended family members and neighbors and charities until you realize...wait a sec...


So anywho, I need a anchor. I have been submitting my 'normal person' resume out and interviewing here and there; I have been running here and there; and I have been sewing here and there. But I really need another meaningful project, to harken back to my year-long pursuit, to buckle me down and focus.

So, that combined with the facts that:

  • hubby is tired of hearing me talk about the pros and cons
  • a new race has open registration slots within only two hours driving distance
  • I have no more excuses
  • I had promised myself, at one point, to do this before I turned 40
  • I am not yet 40
  • life goes more smoothly for everyone when mama has a goal race
  • it's there
OCTOBER 3, 2015. 

There. I said it. 

Why am I saying it now??

Well, I just did signed up for it. I was gonna wait to announce it after the start of the New Year when I would actually start to plan my training, but I already can't stop thinking about that. And there aren't a whole helluva lot of people holding their breath waiting for the announcement, anyways. 

And today I hit the Philadelphia Marathon Expo [so pissed I didn't train for the full now], realized I didn't train well for the half, but I have to get my butt in gear to start this new year of training off well. So I want to make myself accountable for that. So I had to tell you.

What's going to be different this time: 
  • I have to run a marathon this Spring
  • I have to ride a century late Spring/early summer
  • I need to get a coach/community [I have notified my inner circle support 'team']
  • I need to get a plan and STICK TO IT
  • I will be training a sherpa [hubby thinks it's him, doesn't know he's on a probationary trial period.]
That's all for now.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Animal kingdom

I, first of all, have to reveal that, in the end, my daughter chose to be a witch all-damn-day instead of ever gracing us with her home-made Elsa costume. Such is life!

Next year she will be getting a store-bought costume ;).
(And yes, we did have a great Halloween.)

And now to Animal Kingdom report! 

Quick & Dirty:
  • It's the largest of the parks, so there is a lot of walking. My almost-six-year-olds needed a stroller, even though I was originally against it.
  • It's not really about the rides, duh. It's about the animals! 
  • What rides they do have, are mostly for taller kids (44" and above.) 
Long & Winded: 

This was a great family day! We really had little planning and therefore little expectations, so I ended up framing our day with three "fast-pass" choices late the night before: 

"Finding Nemo" the musical at 11; (arrive at 10:30 for seating.)
"Safari" tour departing between 1:30 and 2:30 (we arrived right around 1:30 and the animals were still out and about, as it was not too hot that day.)
"Festival of the Lion King" musical revue and dance/gymnastics show at 4. My performer-friend is the star of the show and HOOKED US UP with VIP seating/entrance and photo meet & greet after the show. All those years of voice lessons finally paid off ;) 

Other than that, we ran around (counter-clockwise, so as to end up at The Festival of the Lion King) and enjoyed what the park had to offer. 

Bonus: lots of good vegetarian eats in Asia. I had chicken curry and my parents had falafal sandwiches with a great view in the seating area directly across from the Tree of Life. 

Ok I'll try to go in order and let the pictures do the talking.

First is Dino-land. There is a dumbo-like flying ride where the kids can control how far up you go. Bonus: controls in both seats (front and back.) 
Detraction: one controls the up-and-down, the other only controls the tilt. 
Result: Jilted twyns.

Next in Dino-land is an excavation-like site with tunnels, bridges, and slides. Also a sand-digging area. Lots of fun for exploration, especially at ages 5/6.

Next we saw Finding Nemo. SO great! They use larger-than-life puppetry a la the Broadway show "The Lion King." Not to be missed. Because we used a fast pass we were able to sit in the "bubble zone", where they float bubbles at you at the end of the show, but it is not necessary to enjoy the whole thing. 

Next up: A walk through Asia! It was a little tight because of the crowds and they are doing some construction, so I have to say it felt pretty authentic!! ;) 

There is a great jungle walk here with more animal sightings. Think: Zoo on steroids.

Then the Safari ride. 

These vehicles were huge! And yet still felt like you were actually on Safari a little. It was nice that they didn't have a set script or schedule to follow. The driver actually stopped and helped us find the animals in many non-pre-determined spots. 

The twyns enjoyed the list of animals to find on the placards above the seats. 

Requisite new loveys courtesy of, you guessed it, Grandma! 

And then finally: the denouement! 

The Festival of the Lion King show. They pulled the little guy up to perform!! He was thrilled. 

Please note: you can take photos during the performance of the Festival of the Lion King. But this is not typical of shows. Don't go thinking you can do it anywhere else! Normally it is prohibited, and you will might kill a performer taking a leap off of a trapeze, k?! 

Then: the meet and greet afterwards. I was so humbled by Tim's performance. There are four main singers who lead the revue, and then the dancers and gymnasts pepper the rest of the performance. He was awesome, and his voice has not lost any of its magnificence in all these years! 
It was super nice of Timone to stay 'out' in this heat for us.

Ahhhh, that face. So I was fortunate enough to work with Tim many years ago on a show at North Shore Theatre outside of Boston. I was even more fortunate that we have stayed in touch for over 12 years! Thanks, Facebook! And it was super duper lovely of him to give us the V.I.P. treatment at his show. 

It was such a highlight, we had to leave directly afterwards. We had a few more things we could have done, but we were so blown away by the show and his generosity. 

Hope you enjoyed the continuation of my Disney freak-outs

More posts I owe you: 

Um, I'm running the Philly half-marathon on Sunday. 
I'm still working on that musical with Sibyl.
I may or may have not signed up for something HUGE.
I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. 



Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Let's play, "find the twyns" ;) 
So, I think I have a sickness. Being from Florida, I seem to think that you can do Disney in a day.

I mean, not that you can, but that you don't have to do an overwhelming all-encompassing tour of all the lands for days on end every time you hit the MCO. I spent my childhood only hitting the area one day a year.

I like the 'mini-trip'!

So when hubby had a hankering, and the kids had a day off from school, we decided to go for one. We hadn't gotten a Disney fix in, oh, say, OVER A YEAR [gasp!] so we just needed a lil' ol' itty bitty fix. Just a lil'.

And since we didn't plan all that much, and this was just a kind of bonus, we decided to try two completely new [to us] parks: Legoland, and Animal Kingdom.

I'll start with Legoland.

First, we are in FULL ON lego "I-want-to-be-a-lego-master-builder-when-I-grow-up" phase. So this was a no-brainer. We read a lot of reports online, [ok ok I read a lot of mommy blogs online] and heard that it is a smaller park and we may be through the whole thing in under a few hours.

But we actually started running out of time towards the end of the day!

We did a few coasters, 
(Most rides are good for 42" and over. We were only too short for one.)

hit a "4-D" movie experience in the theatre,

and all of a sudden it was lunch. 

But we pushed through to enjoy Mini-land, and WHOAH, we could have browsed around there for a long long while.

There are amazing feats of brick-buiding, 
But there are also interactive / moveable parts! 
And the city-scapes, TO DIE.

Sorry. You knew I was going to say that at some point in this post.

So then we ate lunch at the Market Cafe back at the entrance of the park, and we had a delicious set of teriyaki beef rice bowls. Not that bad for amusement park food. My parents are vegetarians and were able to get a veggie rice bowl and grilled cheese and were satiated.

My son was marveling at the Tower ride, which is an old-school ride that goes up and slowly rotates so that you get a view of lovely Winter Park, and I then had it in my head that the water ski/pirate show would be amaze-balls.

Welllllllll.....that's when my husband started to poison my brain about the clearly "formerly Cypress Gardens features" and the "all new Lego-organization-built amusements." He said we should stick with the latter, and I, upon sitting down at the Pirate show, immediately realized the error of my ways and proceeded to ask the children every five minutes if they were ready to go get their Driver's Licenses. Finally, about five minutes before the end of the show, they were ready. So we bolted to avoid the crowds.

Except for stopping at every Lego built display.
Even though I was like, 'Come on let's go', because I soon realized
Oh wait. This is like, the whole point. 
And actually, speaking of crowds, there really were none. This is the beauty of a weekday after the water park section of Legoland had closed. We had it mostly to ourselves and never waited more than five minutes for a ride.

The driver's license area (we did the older area, as we are turning 6 next month), and the Imagination Station area were SUPER entertaining. Very well done.
This 'ride' is not to be missed! The twyns took their driving test very seriously.
They made their own cars and raced them in the Imagination area.
They could have stayed in this indoor section all day.
Then to shopping.

Too overwhelming.

And buh-bye! Thanks for the fun & inspiration!

My son woke up the next day, and after hearing the description of Animal Kingdom and the things we were going to do that day, asked: "When are we going back to Legoland?"

So there you have it ;) Out of the mouth of brick-crazy babes.

Next post: Animal Kingdom! 

And we thank you for your patience. ;) 

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