The True* Story of How Low-Rise Jeans Almost Ruined the World

*Not true.  At least probably not true, but I can’t really prove anything and haven’t fact-checked this either.  Just go with it.

While getting dressed this weekend, I smiled dreamily and took in the sweet sound of the angels singing because at long last, those low-slung hip hugger jeans have fallen out of fashion.  If you want to know why, grab a glass of wine and gather ’round, kids.  It’s a cautionary tale of youth and pride…but one that every woman should know.

A few years back, this hot, young and single fashion blogging trend-setter looked at her great bod and said to herself, “Imma show this off a little more.”  She felt that the best way to do this was to dial up the attention paid to her flat stomach and narrow hips.  I mean, I get it; she had it, so why not flaunt it?  She found a pair of vintage ’70s low waisted hip huggers and pulled them on her svelte little legs just in time to snap a picture, post to her site and BAM!  A trend was born.

Anyway, she rode this wave through her engagement to that J. Crew model-looking venture capitalist and in the pictures on their honeymoon low-rise-jeans-for-women-modelto St. Barth’s, she looked AMAZING with tight fitting tops that showed her tanned midriff peeking out above her low-rise jeans.  She kept this up during the first two years of marriage, even as she turned (gasp!) 30 because she went to the gym and did pilates and hot yoga and she and her husband Brock hiked together and ate all the right things and had gobs of money to spend only on themselves…therefore adding to her collection of low rise jeans.  She had it all.

Then one day the greatest thing happened: she got pregnant!  It was amazing.  She was 31 and was going to be the cutest mom to the cutest baby with the cutest husband ever.  She had a great nine months and delivered a healthy baby, just as the first snow fell.  How wonderful, a winter baby!  She swore that during the baby’s naps she would bring it to the gym’s childcare center while she sweat it out on the elliptical and got her post-baby bod back in shape in record time.  It was going to be AMAH-ZING.

Only that didn’t happen.  She was tired and cranky and the thought of spending 20 minutes packing up that baby (plus the 12 bags of crap that went along with it) to trudge out in the snow was simply too much to bear.  Her sports bras didn’t fit anymore thanks to the loaner boobs that being a nursing mom had left her with, so that didn’t help the cause.  Technically she could fit into her workout doritostights thanks to the stretchiness of the fabric (has the guy who invented Lycra been canonized yet, she wondered?) but it wasn’t pretty.  Her hips seemed to have gotten about 10 inches wider when she wasn’t looking, and this was enough to scare her right back into her jammies.  There was a foreign layer of body that seemed to POUR out over the tops of said workout tights, sending her into a fit of tears and running to the pantry where she happily dove headfirst into Brock’s stash of SuperBowl Sunday snacks.  New Mom=1; Doritos=0.

She knew that something had to give and as a lightbulb went off in her head, she knew the culprit: it was the jeans.  They were the devil’s work!  How could she possibly right the ship so as to not muffin-top her way through her 30s?  Wait a minute, she thought, I’m a trend-setter; what if I simply reverse the curse?  Promote a new look that not only celebrates “a real woman’s body” (now that she finally had a real woman’s body) but also hides/contains that layer of skin that had stretched so far outwards but wouldn’t un-stretch back.  One that covers up and contains these foreign hips she now had (seriously, WHEN did those get there?) and shifts the emphasize elsewhere.  This new trend was to be the dawn of a new day, a beacon of hope to all moms out there, and would give them back their style (if not their former physiques)!  She decreed that as of that day, hip huggers were no more and mid- and high-rise jeans were officially back. in.

And that, my friends, is how one brave (and tired and a few-pounds-overweight) woman saved the world.

(Next week – “Yoga Pants: They’re Not Just For Yoga Studios Anymore”)

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New Years Resolutions (barf)

I’m baaaaack….

You guys.  It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything on this site – 22 months, to be exact – and I have a REALLY good reason.  Four, actually; their names are Ben, Georgia, Quinn, and work.  However, it’s a new year – 2017! – and the best time to get back at it.

photo-on-1-6-17-at-5-43-pmWhile lots of people swear off Resolutions, I actually kind of like them.  As long as you don’t a) make them too crazy (“lose 30 pounds by February 14“), b) place too much value on them (“Wipe out all of my debt this year or die penniless and alone!“) or c) make too many (0-1 is a good number in my book) then it can be a nice way to identify ways to live your best life.  Or else it can make you feel like a Super Hero when, on January 11th, you realize that you have already successfully hit the mark of NOT drinking wine on two consecutive Wednesdays!  (That may break my first rule of making resolutions, I’m aware. #hic)

I have decided to take a different approach to this (sadly ignored) blog for 2017.  While I continued to pay the annual WordPress fee for the past two years (fiscal fitness be damned!) in hopes that I would someday revisit this little writing experiment of mine, I have to remember why I stopped back in 2014: because I simply had no time.  I would stress out on Tuesday nights about what to write, then write it, and rewrite it, then rewrite it again…and so on.  But I loved having it, because it became a kind of journal that I could go back to and remember all of those little stories that I tend to forget; then once it was gone, I missed it.

On New Years Day, I was talking to a friend of mine who told me that during the year, she and her husband and kids write down anything great that they want to remember and put it in a jar.  On New Years Eve they sit down and read through all of those memories as a way to look back on the year and relive those good times.  Great idea, right?

In late December I started listening to the audio book “Superficial” by Andy Cohen (which I HIGHLY recommend; talk about living your best life, this guy nails it).  If you aren’t familiar, it’s a series of quick and fast diary entries and it inspired me to revisit my own journaling.  Granted, his days look like this:

MY days look like this

  • Spilled coffee on pants
  • Didn’t forget to pack Quinn’s lunch!  Hurrah!
  • Lunch alone at desk.  Spilled soup on shirt
  • Texted with Quinn’s teacher; actually DID forget to pack his lunch. #fail
  • Three conference calls, one at bus stop (all hail the mute button)
  • Dinner at kitchen island with one of the kids (I forget which one actually sat)
  • Watched Watch What Happens Live! in bed after three glasses of wine with husband Andy (Shumway)

That being said, I thought that perhaps if I don’t overthink these posts, do NOT edit them, keep them short and easy to read (unless something particularly great happens), then this dusty blog might just have a purpose after all – even if it’s just to get my money’s worth for the past two years of renewal fees.  Therefore, I’m bringing it back to life in 2017 and will regale you all the glamorous events of my non-important person days – the joys of parenting and working, of doing too many things at once and none of them really that well, the mostly mundane and occasionally funny, and of course, wine.  Everything’s better with wine.

Especially on Wednesdays.

Alex’s Letter to…The Ghost of Christmas Future

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Dear Ghost of Christmas Future,

Hey!  How are you?  Hope you had a nice summer!  Did you take any trips?  Not sure if you ever make it to the Cape but you should visit; there are so many annoying tourists to haunt that your dance card would be filled from May through September.

the-muppet-christmas-carol-50th-anniversary-edition-20051220045446879-000Anyway, I’m writing to you instead of Santa this year because what I really want for Christmas is less of the Big Man’s “bag” and more of yours.  I mean, he’s certainly cornered the market on wooden toys, sugar cookies and claymation specials but what I want is right in your wheelhouse.  I know this is a super-busy time of year for you, what with the television specials on everything from CBS to Sesame Street (ps, your Muppet Christmas Carol is one of my faves), but since you probably don’t get these requests that often I’m hoping you’ll hook a sister up.

Christmas Future, what I want this year is answers.  Simple answers that might make the next few trying months of parenting just a little easier.  You have to understand, my three little darlings are at such different stages of life – pre-teen boy, precocious elementary school girl and hell-on-wheels, four-year-old whirling dervish – that the hubs and I are perpetually stumped.  Just when we’ve put out one fire, another one pops up right next to it.  Will it end in 2014?  Will it end…EVER?

For example, let’s take the aforementioned pre-teen.  I’m told that these mood swings are normal but HELLO how long should I expect them to go on?  One minute he’s my sweet, helpful and caring firstborn and the next he’s an eye-rolling, “you-don’t-know-anything, MOM” creature whom I hardly recognize.  IMG_0451I can handle this as long as I know that there is an end in sight…and being the Type A kinda gal that I am, I’m gonna need to know WHEN that will come.  I mean, are we talking three months?  A year?  (Gulp) UNTIL 18?!  If that’s the case then I may consider diving into the ditch with your boy Ebenezer just to ride out the storm.

Here’s another answer I seek…when, OH WHEN, will I be able to go out for dinner with my children again, knowing they will behave like humans?  Get this, tonight a friend and I took our kids out to a pretty family-friendly restaurant, The Halfway Cafe.  They stuck the seven of us in a booth in the back corner of the joint (smart move) and we must have threatened our children 48 times apiece with the old “Naughty List” standby.  To be honest, I think the kids are on to us at this point; they must plan on pulling an 11th-hour miracle because about 10 seconds after each warning they were back under the table again, swallowing full sugar packets.  IS there a future for my family when it comes to fine dining?  Or any dining for that matter?  Will we be relegated to a lifetime of takeout?  Or worse…DRIVE THROUGH?!

My last question is a simple one: when will my children stop yelling?  I don’t mean outside, with friends, on a playground, during a soccer game or at a concert…I’m talking about at home.  While eating dinner.  Or laying in bed.  Or watching a movie.  Or at church.  I’m seriously concerned that they don’t physically have the ability to do anything BUT speak at a volume so loud that it would wake the dead (no offense).  Is there a time in the future that they learn the art of the whisper?  Ever?  No?  Can you nod?  Why do you continue to point that bony finger at me?  Are you going to turn it into a thumbs up?  No?

Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to read this.  Obviously, peace on earth and good tidings to Tiny Tim and all that jazz; I’m hoping that because I’m not being AT ALL materialistic in my list this year (and since you probably don’t get a whole lot of love from anyone EVER) that you’ll send me the answers that I’m looking for.  If you’ve ever wanted to leapfrog over the Man in the Red Suit, this could be your big chance.  Don’t squander it, Ghostie; take a page out of Scrooge’s book and learn from this.  Ain’t nothin’ like a shiny new second chance.

Hope you have a great Christmas scaring the bejeezus out of cranky old jerks.  If you’re looking for a few new victims this year, just holler; I keep a list of some really deserving ones.

Ho Ho Ho,

Love, Alex

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The Obligatory “Here’s What I’m Thankful For” Post

It’s Thanksgiving.  You knew this was coming, so settle in and embrace the schmaltz.

photo-3Although I often curse the ubiquitous Barbie doll-sized rubber bands that show up everywhere from inside my purse to the floor of the shower, I am actually thankful for Rainbow Loom.  Why?  Because it can occupy hours – HOURS, fellow moms – of Georgia’s time and when one comes face to face with the long sigh/eye roll/”I’m boooooored” monster, you too will want to nominate the inventor of Rainbow Loom for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I am happy that certain retail stores still have revolving doors (stay with me here).  While dragging two unwilling children to Legacy Place shopping center last weekend (four year old completely decked out in his Captain America costume, November be damned), I was at my wits end.  Between the constant refereeing of arguments (“She touched me!” “NO. I. DID. NOT!”) and near-shoplifting act by Quinn (he didn’t MEAN to wear the headband out of the store), I was about to lose it.  That is, until we passed Williams Sonoma and the kids took five turns around the revolving door, going faster and faster and laughing like hyenas.  Made the 19-year old cashier confused.  Made me smile.

192904_10151583909027880_847399697_oNow that Ben is in 7th grade and taking English via Latin, I am THANKFUL BEYOND WORDS that I took 5 years of the dead language when I was in school.  For years I felt duped; grownups swore to me that the time spent suffering through conjugating verbs and translating the Iliad would help me on my SATs and in the end, they really didn’t.  However, aside from the fact that I can KILL IT in certain Jeopardy categories (Greek Mythology remains a strength), I am actually somewhat able to help my son recognize the difference between the present and future tense of “to be.”  Ad astra per aspera!  (That one’s for you, Magistra Lowe.)

After injuring my back this summer lifting a sofa (apparently the 41-year old back is not made for that sort of thing, WHAAATTT???!), I am quite sure that Zelayna, my chiropractor, is nothing short of an angel roaming the earth.  If you live in the Boston area and are in need of a miracle of the vertabraeic kind, email me.  Hell, even if you live in Duluth, consider making the trip.

I am super thankful that Whole Foods offers 10% off when you buy six bottles of wine (that one’s pretty self explanatory).

1385483_10201186964739081_653230068_nQuinn has started to really hit his stride when telling a (completely insane) story.  For instance, earlier tonight he proceeded to tell me (while sitting on the throne) that he knows a boy who went on vacation and actually fell down into the potty and got lost.  He declared in bed that “My name is Adrian Crockshaw” and despite googling this character, he seems to be completely made up.  And on the way home from daycare as I was reminding him that Santa is watching and if he finds himself on the the Naughty List then it will be no presents for Christmas, he had a backup plan.  “If Santa puts me on the Naughty List then I will hide behind him and when the kids are sitting on his lap I will creep up and steal all the toys.”  I guess that’s a great alternative to actually being good.

Of course, no Thanksgiving list would be complete without taking stock of how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends and family, and for that I’m truly blessed.  This year I seem to be even more aware of those that I love and to never take them for granted; I hope that they all stay healthy and happy and focus on the good that is around all of us.

And for all those baddies out there, let’s just hope that Santa has eyes in the back of his head…‘cuz they’re comin’ fer ya.

10 signs you and your husband aren’t on vacation anymore

With just 24 post-vacation-sans-children hours under my belt, it’s now glaringly obvious that the honeymoon, as they say, is most definitely OVER.  

  1. The people at your hotel hang on your every word.  The people at home require you having to say things 14 times (and yell once more) before they respond.
  2. Instead of chocolates on your pillow there are leftover Halloween candy bar wrappers on your floor.
  3. You can’t go to the bathroom by yourself anymore (it sure was fun while it lasted though).
  4. photo 4The thought of going to a wine tasting at 4:00 now seems like a really bad idea.
  5. Instead of being greeted with “Hello, Mrs. Shumway, and welcome!” you’re greeted with “MOMMY I just pooped and it looks IZZACLY like a monkey head!”
  6. Instead of lazily rolling over and waking up naturally to the sun peeking through the hotel blinds, your alarm clock buzzes at 6:45 and you put a fist through it.  BOO.
  7. You and your husband aren’t taking frequent strolls outside to “explore the neighborhood you’re staying in;” now you speed-walk in the cold for the sole purpose of getting Elvis to poop on the grass instead of the dining room rug.
  8. The most decadent thing on the menu is leftover macaroni and cheese (homemade, not out of a box) and the only poor schmoe clearing your dishes is you.
  9. IT SNOWS ON YOUR FIRST MORNING HOME (grrrrr).
  10. photo 1The sunset may not have palm trees in it, but you both get to share it with three little people that make up for all that.

A wonderful and much needed vacation, but happy to be home.

A letter to my In-Laws (as they take the kids for the weekend)

Dear Earle and Jeanne,

Andy and I want to thank you SO very much for taking care of the kids while we take a fast – but fabulous! – four day vacation to celebrate our 15th Anniversary.  I know, 15!  It seems like just yesterday we were walking down the aisle.  Actually, it seems like a lifetime ago; yesterday involved making lunches, driving those lunches (that had been forgotten in the kitchen) back to school, paying bills, washing and folding laundry, working a full day, helping study for homework, refereeing sibling smack downs…but I don’t mean to scare you.  This is gonna be EPIC.

A few tips as you embark upon the full time parenting of three young kids for the first time in…well, a while.  Don’t worry if you lose your mind/patience/car keys/house keys/even a child or two; it happens to us as well.  And should you need it, the wine rack is fully stocked and there is beer in the fridge.  That’s no accident.

  1. Remember to gas up your car, as you may think you’re spending time with your grandchildren but what you’re really doing is logging more miles than a New York City cabdriver does in a month.  You may never leave a 5-mile radius of the bed you’re sleeping in, but over the course of four days you’ll become a regular at Dedham Gas and Service.  Be nice to Joe there, you’ll see him a lot.
  2. Your eldest grandson – that sweet, blonde haired little boy that you remember – is now 12 years old and does NOT smell good (I’m told this is totally normal, but you just aren’t used to it anymore). Despite the daily shower, he can take on an otherworldly odor that will mentally transport you back to your High School locker room.  After the big game.  As if there were barn animals living there.  A trick I’ve learned is that when you pick him up after soccer practice, crack a window and breathe through your mouth.  You (and your nasal passages) will thank me.

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    Georgia, mid-meltdown.

  3. Georgia, your pretty little 8-year old girl, is a giant question mark to me.  She will be helpful and kind, helping Quinn put on his sneakers and kissing his forehead, and you will thank the heavens for her.  Moments later (and without warning) she will collapse into a fit of tears (although NOTHING has changed from that previous idyllic moment) and become inconsolable, only to then snarl at the same little boy she was just taking care of.  I can’t explain it and I CANNOT diffuse it.  My advice is to just hang on to something stationary and wait out the storm.  It’s windy, wild and EXTREMELY unpredictable but like any hurricane, it too will pass.  You’re New Englanders, you can take it.
  4. While I had hoped to have completely “fixed” Elvis’ emotional issues, I didn’t quite get to that on my to do list.  He needs to be walked 57 times a day and still occasionally eats the pillow he sleeps on at night.  Also, I apologize for the early morning barkathon as he doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of daylight savings (earplugs and/or pillows on your head can help drown out the 5:30 am wakeup call).  At times, you may want to drop kick him into next week but at least he’s cute and hey, an 11-pound dog has small poops (it helps to look for the silver lining).
  5. photo-2Quinn’s preschool class is learning letters.  This week has focused on the letters F and P and despite his brother and sister’s best efforts, he does NOT think it’s funny when you say that “Fart” and “Poop” begin with F and P, because “Dose are baffroom woords.”  Unfortunately, he WILL tell you that snake, lollipop and dog start with F and P but I guess that Rome wasn’t built in a day so try to work on this.  He did mention that Power Ranger starts with P but just between us , I think it was a lucky guess.  We’ll take it anyway.

Andy and I cannot thank you enough for giving us this long weekend to rekindle our romance, celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss and actually get to talk about our future together.  Kidding!  We intend to sleep and eat nice food (while actually sitting down) and drink wine and drive only to places that we want to visit.  It should be pure Heaven.

You, on the other hand, might want to look into booking yourselves a vacation for the moment we get back because you’re gonna need it.  But while you’re here, remember that they are used to crazy and the time with you both is something they can’t wait for.  Embrace it and just hang on; Monday will be here before you know it.

And if that wine rack is missing a few bottles when we get back, we get it.  Bottoms up.

Love, Alex

Happy 4th Birthday, Little Buddy

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Last Thursday our baby turned four.  FOUR.  It sounds so cliche to say but HOLY HELL does time fly.  It seems like just yesterday I was telling Andy that if he really didn’t want three kids, I would be ok with it…only for him to tell ME that after years being convinced otherwise, he was now on board.

Yes.  That would be our Quinn.

While pregnant with Quinn, I was constantly reminded of my age.  Perhaps it was because I had two other kids to take care of or because it had been over four years since my body had been through this little nine-month roller coaster, but I like to think that it was because the OB nurses LITERALLY reminded me every time I saw them.

“Hi Alex, we’ll need to take some blood again.  Because you’re of advanced age.”

Old and pregnant.  Super.

At 28 weeks along, we had a major scare; Quinn’s heart rate shot through the roof and as we were whisked off to labor and delivery, I’d never been so terrified in my entire life.  Was the baby going to die?  Was I going to die, leaving Andy to raise Ben and Georgia and this preemie?  It was horrible….for both of us.  Although his little heart fixed itself within an hour (apparently babies in utero “can just do that,” WHAAAT?!), it was a very tense last trimester and I knew I wouldn’t feel completely at ease until he was born healthy.

Well, he was.  VERY healthy.  And extremely explosive.

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You see, our baby has been a tornado long before he even existed.  He kept us on our toes while in the womb and hasn’t stopped since.  Labeled a “Happy Spitter” by his pediatrician, he barfed for 10 months straight but never failed to grow.  He spent his first year being passed from one parent to another while his brother played soccer and baseball and served as a kind of mascot for the 9-year old Summer Travel team.  He was treated like a living baby doll by his big sister who, despite her 4 1/2 years, would pick him up every time I turned my back.  He has been loved.

Photo1Of course, as he’s grown up he’s asserted himself into this family (and the world in general) like a tiny dictator when he so chooses.  A typical third child, he’ll bark when he wants something because if he doesn’t, he might not get heard.  He fought me for six months when it came to potty training (I’m forever scarred) but now frequently insists that I come admire his “handiwork.”  And despite a bad back, he can STILL get me to carry him when he wants.

That being said, he’s still the little boy who jumped out of the car with me on the ride home from daycare to admire a rainbow stretching across the afternoon sky.  His excitement upon finding his new Power Ranger Halloween costume was priceless (“IT’S THE BEST THING I EVER SAW!”) and I still can’t help myself from getting one last look at him before I go to sleep.  He has definitely been worth it all.

IMG950101And besides, what other four year old do YOU know who’s poop “looks JUST like a dolphin?”  Kid’s a keeper.