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We Were Alison & Adam- August 27, 2015

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Yesterday I woke up ready for my past and present worlds to collide. Yesterday of all days. It blows my mind. An old news friend sent me a Facebook message recently asking about my new job as a Stroller Strides Instructor for FIT4MOM. She does a health and fitness segment each week and was wondering about coming to our class with her new baby and do a story. I couldn’t wait to see her and catch up. I was excited to get our team of instructors together and have all our fun moms share our class. As I pulled into the parking lot I got a push notification on my phone. I looked at it and had to catch my breath.

A reporter and a photographer at a station in Roanoke, VA were shot and killed on live television this morning. What!? I didn’t have time to read an article. I hopped out of the car and loaded the stroller. I was co-teaching the class, handling interviews and helping the crew.

interview collage

I saw the photographer Chris and gave him a hug. It had been awhile. This brave man attached a GoPro camera to my stroller right at kid level. Bless him. They couldn’t wait to knock, shake or chew on his expensive equipment. I said, “Hey, did you hear about what happened in Virginia?!” He said that he had. We shared a knowing glance of shock at the news. I was excited to see Caitlin and her family. We put it out of our minds. We had work to do. I put on my “spokesperson” hat and did the interview and taught class.

Afterwards I got emotional. I fought back tears explaining to others what had happened. I kept it together for the kids. When I got home and started watching the coverage I lost it.

I lost it because I was Alison Parker. In my twenties I was excited to report the news in my hometown. Just like Alison I fell in love with a guy in the newsroom. Before I was a reporter I was a producer. Sometimes I was in the control room and watched my then-fiance out in the field as a sports reporter, much like Adam Ward’s fiancee did yesterday.

I can’t tell you how many early mornings I did stories just like the one Alison and Adam were covering. You know the ones. The revitalization/economic impact/local reservoir news stories. I did hundreds of them. We all did. We still do. I say “we” because even after you’ve been out of the business for awhile it is still a part of you. It always will be. I sent messages to former colleagues. I texted Mark, my early morning photographer for awhile. He was my “work little brother.” News people have this strange kinship. It’s like we’ve been to battle together so we’re sort of brethren forever.

So, how come I got to marry my newsroom sweetheart and they didn’t? How come I got to do what I wanted to do in my news career and walk away when I wanted to and they didn’t?

All of us have stories of a crazy former coworker who got axed for some reason or another. You know,  they were that egotistical guy or girl who couldn’t take criticism and seemed like a loose cannon. They’re mad because someone got the promotion/better schedule over them. Whatever. It happens all the time. It’s a tough business. Awful hours. Disenfranchised people. No one goes into journalism to get rich. We all know this in J school! If you don’t learn those lessons in college, a mean News Director or scary EP will beat them into you. We all expect the weird loose cannon guy/girl to talk about how bad it was working at your station when they get to their next station, but shoot you during a live shot while interviewing the Chamber of Commerce representative?! Really?!

WDBJ likely doesn’t report from many war zones. Most of your local news crews don’t. Yes, we’re in some hazardous and potentially dangerous situations often. Now, it’s like this man made everywhere a war zone.

He committed murder in the sickest way possible. He documented it. He put it out on social media. Then in an act of someone who hasn’t been in a newsroom in awhile, he FAXED it to ABC News. I guess he made it to network. Via fax. Pathetic.

This isn’t about me or my past career. I know that, but I’m just so sad. I made Rice Krispie treats for the news crew Tuesday night to give them after class Wednesday. I joked that news people do better when “fed and watered.” How strange that it happened to be the day that I wanted to hug my former colleagues and thank them.

News people, stay strong. Stay safe. Keep your heads up. I already know you’ll do what you do best, eat free baked goods from the break room and keep risking your lives to tell the world’s stories. Thank you.

WDBJ color bars

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One More Year- August 25, 2015

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

It’s late August. Truly the dog days of summer. No school yet. No football. It’s hot. We are antsy. Some days we are lazy. Preschool doesn’t start for my 4-year-old until after Labor Day. Scrolling through your Facebook feed this week you can’t escape smiling kids with giant backpacks and little chalkboards declaring the new grade they’re beginning.

After a summer rain storm Monday she wanted to run around on the driveway in her “princess superhero” costume. A getup of her own invention. She called herself “Super Charlotte Girl!” Her curls sprung in the humidity. She shouted to her baby doll that she dragged with her. It was her “super sidekick!” Her tiny bare feet splashed in puddles. I sat on the garage steps and watched her. “Come play with me, Mama!” I smiled, explaining I had to listen out for her sleeping brother. Just then a school bus went by. She watched it for a moment before continuing her game.

c driveway

We have one more year. She has one last year of preschool before kindergarten. She will be ready. So ready. She already asks about kindergarten and when she’ll be able to read. In January I have to register her. Soon homework, standardized tests and buses will be part of her life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so excited for her journey as a school aged kid with all its learning, slumber parties and summer camps. It will be amazing.

But for one more year Charlotte, please wear your cape and tutu in the driveway. Talk to your baby dolls like they’re real. Fall asleep in the car after a trip to the playground. Watch Sesame Street with your little brother. Carry your sparkly, cheap “Frozen” backpack. Sneak trinkets into it before I buy you a durable one that will be filled with textbooks. Finger paint. Sing songs. Get excited for cupcakes with your friends in preschool when you each turn five. Snuggle up with Daddy or me to read a book.

Most of all, be little. Be little. You only have one more year.

C bus

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Tire Change- August 17, 2015

Monday, August 17th, 2015

I completely forgot to tell you all about my new job. I love that 2015 has turned into my “year of getting fit” so much so that I am now a Stroller Strides instructor with FIT4MOM. Seriously! Remember how I lost all that weight and got healthy with FIT4MOM through Body Back? Well, it lead me to instructor training for Stroller Strides and I’m having a blast planning and leading classes.

The one piece of equipment that is crucial for Stroller Strides is obviously a stroller. I love my single jogger. I have a Bumbleride Indie. It’s a great stroller and gets the job done for class. It was cute how I started this back in February, 2014 when Henry was 3 months old and I was like, “I mean, I’m not spending a ton on a BOB double jogging stroller. It’s not like I’m going to be doing this for long!” Ha! The joke was on me when I cheaped out and bought a chinzy knock-off for $100. I have the seats tied up with strings so that the kids sit upright and don’t go flying out the back. I have replaced the tires at a local bicycle shop multiple times.

The tires. That brings me to the point of this post. In Stroller Strides class last week I heard a “pop” and was suddenly unable to push the stroller without incredible drag. The front tire was flat down to the rim. No running for me in that class. I’m just glad I wasn’t teaching. I brought up the rear of all the moms in the class as my kids road the bumpiest ride of their little lives.

The flat eventually led me to the bicycle shop. Meanwhile, all the moms with BOB’s in the class were like, “Oh my God! Your tire! How do you get that fixed?!” They clearly haven’t had the tire issues I have and are not as familiar with the bike shop.

This was awhile ago when I got a tire on the single repaired after it an appropriate 4 years of ownership versus 3 times in a freakin' year like I have with the double!

This was awhile ago when I got a tire on the single repaired after an appropriate 4 years of ownership versus 3 times in a freakin’ year like I have with the double!

At the store I strapped Henry in the seat and PUUUUSHED the flat stroller to the back where their repair center stays busy. We waited as snooty “bike people” turned their noses up at my little ones and my stroller. Whatever. I’m not dropping $2,000 on a bicycle only to have people in cars get super pissed in their larger, faster killing machines as they zoom past me. We just waited. Henry was getting really antsy. The tire check for the Lance Armstrong wannabe ahead of me was taking forever.

When he finally got to us the repair guy was like, “Uh, can you take him out of the stroller?” I said, “Oh no, you don’t want to unleash the beast. It’s probably best to keep him strapped in. The last few times I was here they just replaced the tire while he sat lopsided in the stroller. Is that okay?” He laughed at my “unleash the beast” comment and continued. This dude was taking forever. My little beast was lopsided and going nuts. I caved and pulled out my phone so he could watch “Thomas and Friends.” I tried to get some WiFi. I asked the repair guy for the password. He said they weren’t allowed to give it out and they get no cell signal. They can’t even text inside the store.

As if Henry understood what all that meant, he lost his toddler mind and started with the thrashing and screaming. I pulled him out, preparing to chase him. And chase him, I did. Through the seats, weird cleats and ugly cycling shirts. He darted past a display with a $7,500 bike. I chased him screaming to find his sister. Oh yeah, I also had my 4-year-old, Charlotte with me. She found the $300 kids bikes (What the hell? No.) She was playing with the streamers you can buy to put on handlebars. Naturally, she chased her brother with them.

This was one of my worst parenting days. Let me say, my children are NOT the children who run amok in stores. People hate those kids like they hate snooty cyclists on major roads. Maybe it was the wait, but they had lost their minds and any smack I laid down was futile. I wrangled them and threatened them. At one point I had to wipe a booger from Henry’s face as he sped by. A snooty cyclist lady was looking at me. She knew I had a booger on my hand. Dammit! I did what I had to do. I wiped it on the inside of my t-shirt when she looked away. Sigh.

I checked on our progress with Henry screaming in my arms. I asked for another tire to be replaced because it was looking weak. The guy swore to me it just needed a new tube. Okay. Whatever. Let’s get on with this. When the tire was finally repaired I paid WAAAY more than expected. I wrangled them out the door, yelled at my daughter to step off the $300 bike. I reminded her of her super awesome “Frozen” bike that was like, $70 at Target by-the-way. My toddler wailed as I rolled out the door and heard a familiar “pop!”

I TOLD that guy the third tire needed replaced! My daughter whined. My son screamed. I sweated. I had one of those “How is this my life?!” moments. UGH! It had been 45 minutes at this point. I wheeled back in the store. He replaced it. He acted all generous by only charging me for the tube this time. By now I had paid nearly $75 for stroller tires, which was getting close to what I paid for the stupid stroller to begin with.

No, I’m not buying a new double jogger any time soon. Charlotte is going back to preschool in a few weeks and I’ll be down to the single jogger in Stroller Strides classes.

The moral of this story: If you cheap out on a stroller, make sure the bicycle shop near you has good WiFi or you could end up with a booger on the inside of your shirt. 

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Two Target Trips- August 6, 2015

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

I explained on Instagram and Facebook that I had a truly extraordinary weekly pilgrimage to Target yesterday. Not once did I say “No! Don’t touch that!” “No, not today.” “Maybe for your birthday.” “Stay with me!” or “Keep your hands in the cart!”

target alone

Yep. It was the mother of all Target trips. I was a mother, ALONE. Sans children. By myself. It was everything I thought it could be. I perused clearance sports bras and snagged some of my favorite coffee creamer from the grocery section without anyone whining about how cold it is near large refrigerators. Thank God for grandparents being willing to watch them.

Last week’s Target pilgrimage was the exact opposite. These are some exact phrases I used on this trip: “Stop hanging on the cart!” “Oh wow! That IS a different Doc McStuffins than yours.” “No, we’re not buying toys today.” “You will NOT get chocolate milk if I have to tell you again!” “Stop throwing things out of the cart!” “You already had a snack!” “We’re almost done, Buddy.”

As I dragged my weary babes and full cart to the checkout I started unloading. I looked over at my 4-year-old perusing the candy by the register like they were clearance sports bras. That’s when I saw her snatch a chocolate bar, break it in half and put it back. In an instant she did again! She was ridiculously fast with her greedy little preschool hands. I grabbed her wrist, shocked at her behavior.

IMG_1240

 

I was so freakin’ mad with this child! I made her apologize to the clerk through tears. I bought the three mangled chocolate bars. She sobbed all the way home as I threatened to take away every toy she ever owned. I questioned everything I knew about parenting as I texted my husband to tell him what she had done so he could also wonder if we needed an overpriced psychologist to assess this behavior.

I have a confession about each of these Target trips:

  1. On my solo shopping trip I may have glanced down the toy aisle, missing them a little.
  2. On my shopping trip with the candy incident I was a little excited I had to buy the Rolos. I ate the hell out of those Rolos.
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A Letter To My Kids at 4 1/2 & 1 1/2- July 21, 2015

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Dear Charlotte & Henry,

I didn’t write you individual letters at your half-birthdays back in May like I meant to. I haven’t written much lately, actually. I think it’s because I’ve just been with you and enjoyed you. Especially this summer. Summer 2015 has been so much fun for us and I love that we still have so many weeks left together before the fall.

This weekend a friend took this picture of me.

Amy July 2015

This isn’t a picture I would normally post. I’m not as posed and camera-ready as you, no doubt, have learned I like to be. It’s a vain flaw I hope to not pass down to you. I want both of you to always know there is no “bad picture” of either of you. You are beautiful at all angles.

I think I like this picture because it reflects how I feel at this point in my life. When the shutter snapped I had just been talking to both of you. Looking at you, and discussing you with my friend. My eyes are a little tired, but happy. That is me. That is your mother at nearly 34 years-old, parenting a 4 1/2-year-old and a 1 1/2-year old. My face shows our life right now. Every day I wake up to wrangle, snuggle, feed, kiss, play with you and carry you.

Charlotte, I can’t tell you how proud Daddy and I are when we see you excited and brave as you jump into the pool. You’ve learned so much at your swimming lessons this summer. Your stories, your games and songs make everyday exciting and fun. You are so smart and capable, now! I’m constantly amazed with the newest thing you’ve learned. You make us laugh all the time. I’m sorry I laugh so loud that you have to cover your ears. I can’t help it! You’re funny! Your hair is so long and beautiful! It falls in ringlets down your back. It’s the hair of dreams. It’s amazing.

Henry, you make us smile with your sweet looks, your crazy run and silly antics. Your personality grows every day. Your love of trains, cars and trucks is intense. You run so fast I can’t catch you some times. Every day you have a new like or dislike. You’re talking so much at 20 months-old! Your favorite things to say are “Mama,” “car,” “choo-choo,” “Daddy,” “Jinjin,” (Ginger) and “Shaya.” (Charlotte) You have your own word for your favorite food, “Ahbees.” Those are berries. You would eat your weight in fruit if I let you, son. We don’t even say “berries” anymore. Only “Ahbees.” You had your first real haircut from a stylist. You look more like a little boy than a baby, but your beautiful curls remain.

The biggest thing I’ve seen this summer is the relationship between the two of you grow. Sigh. There are moments of sibling rivalry. Henry, stop pulling her hair. Charlotte, stop antagonizing and taunting him. But, other times. Maybe when you think Daddy and I aren’t looking, you play together. Charlotte, at a play group the other day you saw another little boy take Henry’s car. You patiently followed him until he set down the truck. You quickly picked it up and gave it back to your brother. You didn’t like another kid having it. Henry, you found your sister’s hair bow on the floor the other day. You went up and pressed it to her head. You know it’s hers.

Mostly, this photo of me shows my hope for all that is to come and my satisfaction and joy with the now. Thank you for letting me be your mother. It is the privilege of my life.

I love you my darling, darling girl and my sweet, sweet boy.

Love,

Mama

Charlotte and Henry

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