Rants in my (yoga) pants

Sometimes while standing at the bus stop in the morning, I see my childless neighbor leave for work, dressed all spiffy and professional-like.  I get a whiff of my stank self, still sweaty from my pre-dawn workout and dressed in my running shorts and race t-shirt of the day, and feel a twinge of jealousy.  The last time I felt like I looked spiffy was back in the spring and I was going to a friggin' funeral.  

I thought about my neighbor, wondering if she felt that same twinge of jealousy about me and the other moms at the bus stop, who are dressed in sweats, sipping coffee, and don't have traffic to fight or co-workers to disagree with.  I wonder what she and everyone else who drives past us on their way to work thinks about what we do all day in our comfy clothes.  Well, one of those moms cares for her own two kids, as well as three or four other children whose parents work at the Navy base nearby.  Another mom chugs down her coffee and carries on caring for her three children, despite having taken phone calls as a triage nurse from 10pm - 6am.  I go home and answer my four year old's endless stream of questions, most of which are followed up with another question of "How do you know?", sometimes while trying to keep my infant nephew from choking on the leaves I hadn't gotten around to sweeping up off my floor yet.  I take my child to and from pre-school and swim lessons, run various errands for my family and my business, all the while explaining why we can't buy certain things or go to certain places to said curious four year old and enduring the wrath that accompanies the answer she does not wish to hear.  I assist with homework, drive to and watch soccer practice, cook for the bottomless pit that is my husband, keep our training schedules on track, and diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate any injuries that my family endures.  Oh, and after the kids go to bed, I put in three hours of Fancy work (usually while the laundry is going) before retiring for a meager 5-6 hours of sleep before starting it all over again.  

I am not writing this to impress anyone or to make myself look busy or feel important.  I hate being busy, first of all, and being a wife, a mother, a sister, an aunt, and a friend makes me feel important, regardless of how some might convince themselves I spend my day.  I am not whining that being a stay-at-home mom is just sooooo hard and working moms have no idea what it's like to do what I do because that's ridiculous.  But would someone ever ask a working mom to list what she does all day?  Because she collects a paycheck for what she does between 8 and 5, she doesn't have to justify how she spends her time?  And what about the people like myself and my neighbor who are watching the children of working moms out of their homes?  Are we still not working because we haven't left our house?  I chose to stay home with my kids and not look spiffy and not have co-workers and bosses around to validate the hard work I put in every day.  There are no awards or fancy banquets or pay raises for me when I do my job well.  But if that's what I wanted, I wouldn't sit here complaining that I don't get any of those things.  I would dust off my resume and get myself a job.  

All of this being said, I am truly looking forward to the next few months.  I'm sure many of my fellow soap opera watching, bon bon eating stay-at-home mom friends would agree that it's easy to lose your sense of self when your days are centered around your children's lives.  Now that both of my kids are in school, it's even more common that I'm known as Brynn or Camryn's mom instead of Karen.  And when I really thought about it, I think this diminished sense of self is what brought about that twinge of jealousy when I saw my neighbor leave for work that morning.  But this time of year is when I'm my Fanciest, filling pumpkin orders for fall and jumping right into the holiday season after that.  My business, no matter how small and unimportant what I do is in the grand scheme of humanity, is MINE.  It's Fancy Fonts by Karen Psimas, not Fancy Fonts by Brynn and Camryn's mom, and that feels so good.  I also have races scheduled about every 8 weeks for the next 5 months, and those are mine as well.  It's MY name on the race bib and MY name that's announced at the finish line and MY name on the results page.  And because I have the privilege to spend most of my time being Brynn and Camryn's mom, that's enough for me.  Now where are my yoga pants?

being a stay at home mom quotes - oh man my stomach hurts, this is hilarious!


The dark side

I have crossed over to the dark side.  And I think I like it here.  

I have logged plenty of miles in less than ideal weather conditions before today.  Hot, humid, snow, rain, wind, you name it.  I begrudgingly laced up and hit the road.  In my mind, that earned me my stripes and I could call myself a runner.  But I never felt like one of "those" runners, the bat shit crazy kind...until today.  The difference in today's dark, torrentially rainy, windy-as-hell 8 mile tempo run was that I enjoyed it.  Not only that, but I actually looked forward to it.  Who the hell looks forward to getting up at 5am when it's raining buckets with 25 mph winds and then running balls to the wall for an hour while the rest of the world is sleeping?  Why, bat shit crazy runners, of course!  Gimme my badge, I am one of you now.

Bat shit crazy Halloween Round Sticker

I haven't run a race in 6 months, and with the Wicked 10K just two weeks away, I'm starting to get really excited.  Despite running a PR, I was not pleased with my performance in last year's race.  I felt I was on cruise control for the first 5 miles, but then my body betrayed me on the last mile and I had to walk for a minute because of a nasty side stitch.  Nobody makes me bleed my own blood, so I'm out for redemption this year!  The training plan outlined in Run Less, Run Faster has been the boss of me for the past 8 weeks, and I should PR with relative ease.   To up the ante a bit, I'm hoping to break into the top 10 of my (new) age group, and I'm shopping around to get ideas for what I will buy myself as a reward if I do.  I'm thinking a brightly colored windbreaker for those early morning rainy, windy runs would be just lovely.  

It took her a while to figure out she could run, but when she did, she was long gone


Show me the Fancy!

As much as I mourn the end of summer, I can't help but be excited about the fall.  The coming of October signals my Fanciest season of all...I go from popping out pumpkins to oodles of ornaments in just a few weeks' time, and I love how excited you get when you see your final product.  Now I want to see what you do with it!  Email me pics of your Fancy...your pumpkin on the mantle or the hearth, your ornaments on last year's Christmas tree, your little one feeding some change to his or her piggy bank...I want to see it!  Send me your pics by this Friday (October 4th), and I'll share them all in an album.  Once the album is posted, let the voting commence!  Fancy Fans will vote on their favorite Fancy by simply liking their favorite photo, and the submission with the most likes wins the first ever installment of "Show me the Fancy!"  The grand prize is a medium pumpkin with the design of your choice, so make sure you campaign hard.

Email your photos to karen.psimas@yahoo.com with the subject "Show me the Fancy!"  Submit as many photos as you like, as long as they are of different Fancy items.  I leave you with this example:



A few weeks ago, the director of the athletic training program at my alma mater sent out a mass email to alumni saying he had recently switched over from PC to Mac, and was having trouble transferring all of his contacts.  He wanted us all to write back to confirm we received his email and that our info was correct, which I did promptly.  Today, I receive this follow up email from him:

Looking at my records Karen, I have "nothing" written in the "job/setting/place" category, other than "Virginia Beach, VA"...

Where are you, and what exactly are you doing these days?

A simple inquiry, but it sent me into a fit of laughter, tears streaming down my sunkissed cheeks.  You see, earlier this morning, I dropped my kids off at their grandparents' for them to spend the night there tonight.  I then proceeded to blow off anything productive I should be doing for something I've been wanting to do all summer:

So to answer your question, Dr. Geisler, your records are 100% accurate. 


Happy place

A typical summer Saturday for the Psimases goes a little something like this:
  • alarm goes off at 5am
  • hit snooze a couple times, brush teeth and eat a bowl of Rice Krispies as quietly as possible, out the door no later than 6am
  • run 10-12 miles (I'm terrified about this number gradually increasing when I dive into a marathon training program this fall!)
  • tag team with Ryan...he runs when I get home, I get the kids and cooler ready for the beach
  • get to the beach by 10 (timing is critical if we're going to avoid being charged the hefty $2 parking fee if one arrives after 10am)
  • enjoy the sand, sun, and surf with my favorite blondies until 3 or 4pm
  • head home, enjoy a cold adult beverage or two, scrape up whatever's available in the pantry/fridge/freezer for dinner
  • de-beach myself and the kids, read a few books, and go to bed early, ready to enjoy another day at the beach on Sunday

Not a bad way to spend a weekend, right? Our summer weekends are especially precious to us...the way we see it, we only get about 12 weekends out of 52 to do this, so you'll have to drag us by our salty, sandy toes to get us to do anything else on a Saturday or Sunday during the summer. When we're at the beach, we're not thinking about the laundry that still needs to be done, the grass that needs cutting, or how Spongebob and Patrick will unknowingly foil Plankton's plot to steal the recipe for the Krabby patty. We are either actively engaged with our kids by swimming with them or helping them surf, or we're simply watching them play in the sand right in front of us, taking in every sweet (and sometimes not-so-sweet!) moment of their childhood. I know that all too soon, these girls will be way too cool to hang out at the beach with their parents, so I'm dead set on taking advantage of this time while I have it.

I realized I haven't been taking all that many pictures of the girls at the beach this summer, so I made it my mission to work on that this weekend:

Brynn created these sand people to inhabit her chair and Camryn's. From left to right, we have Sam and Cam.  Sam and Cam must be very important, as Brynn and Camryn refused to move them, forcing me to give up my own beach chair when they wanted to sit down.

Lost somewhere inside her own imagination

Waxin' up 

Crazy beach hair 

That's my girl!

Camryn will rarely look at the camera when I'm taking her picture.  Brynn, on the other hand, works it.  Given their personalities, you'd think it would be the other way around.

What's not to smile about???

Another great weekend in the books, and thus begins the countdown to the next.    


What's my age again?

I remember when 35 seemed soooo old.  And now here I am, on the cusp of that very age.  Does being 35 mean people will start referring to me as "that middle-aged woman"?  God, I hope not!!!  Mathematically, that puts me on death's door at age 70, and I plan to have plenty of good years long after that!  I don't feel 35, not that I know what 35 is supposed to feel like anyway.  While I don't quite remember what 5, 15, or 25 year old me thought my life would be like at 35, I can promise you that this life I'm living was not it!  If you told 5, 15, or even 25 year old me that at age 35, I'd be living in the south, running half marathons, raising two gorgeous daughters who surf, learning to surf myself, and running my own business, she would laugh in your face.  Yet that's my reality, and it's better than anything 5, 15, or 25 year old me could have dreamed up.  

For some reason, birthdays that end in 0 or 5 feel like milestones.  I started thinking about what happened in my life during the other years that ended in a 5, and was fascinated to realize that some pretty monumental things happened during each of those years.  When I was 5, for instance, my younger brother, Kevin, was born.  I became a big sister that year, and my life was forever changed.  

Not really sure what hairstyle lurked under that Santa hat, but I'm so grateful they made me wear it for that picture.  Kevin and his wife Meghan are two of my most favoritest people on the planet, and if we're being technical about this revelation, Meghan was also born when I was 5.  Coincidence?  Or something bigger?  Whoa.

When I was 15, I had my first "boyfriend," experienced my first kiss (I was a late bloomer, ok???), and subsequently my first heartbreak, and my life was forever changed.  

Obviously (well, I hope it's obvious) this is not a picture of myself and that boy.  But it IS a picture of me with the iconic gymnast, Nadia Comaneci.  At age 15, I had the honor of meeting this legend while performing some gymnastics skills on a balance beam in the middle of the underwear section of Bloomingdale's in New York City.  WHAT??? You really can't make that up.  Long story short, Nadia was doing commercials for Jockey underwear, so Bloomies needed some local gymnasts to help promote the brand.  Seemed totally normal at the time.  And wow, that is one Fancy lady behind Ms. Comaneci!

Fast forward another ten years to age 25...I moved from New York to Virginia, started dating this guy named Ryan, and was engaged to him seven months later.  And my life was forever changed.  

Before I started thinking about all of these huge life events that happened in years ending in 5, I wasn't really all that thrilled about turning 35.  After realizing how defining each of those other years were for the life I live today, I started getting really excited about what 35 may have in store for me.  And while I've never really been one to tempt fate, I have decided to be proactive and MAKE something incredible happen this year. I'm nauseously excited to announce that in about nine short months... 


 I even puked in my mouth a little while typing that.  You thought I was going to say something crazy like "welcome our third child," didn't you?  Negatory to infinity.  Much like surfing and owning my own business, running a marathon is something I never in a million trillion years thought I would even consider doing.  A few months ago, Ryan mentioned running one when we turn 40, but so much could happen between 35 and 40.  And thus my motto for 35 is: 


Crazy as it seems even in my own head, I feel ready for this challenge.  I imagine it (and by "it" I think I'm referring more to the training than the actual race) will be harder than anything I've ever done in my entire life.  I know it will be a challenge to log the miles necessary to be physically and mentally prepared on race day, especially since I'll be starting my actual training during my Fanciest time of year.  But I recently read a quote that said "The person who starts a marathon is not the same person who finishes."  

5, 15, and 25 year old me can't wait to meet the 35 year old me who finishes.


Camping...it's in-TENTS!

Summer is a big deal in this family, and what better way to officially kick it off than camping on a sandbar?  We packed Big Red to the brim with food, tents, surfboards, and more food and headed south on NC-12 for a weekend of being off the grid.  

The drive seemed especially long this time, but it's wiped away when I see the Mirlo Beach sign as you enter town.

Season after season of coastal storms have left this part of town covered in sand, once majestic beach houses on the verge of collapsing into the Atlantic.  A little bit spooky, but totally awesome.  

We set up our tents once we got to our campsite, then hit up Lisa's Pizzeria for dinner, as is tradition.  Once we had our fill of a Polynesian pie (ham, pineapple, green peppers, and bacon...aw yeah!), we headed back to camp for s'mores and a summer solstice sunset.  "You've seen one, you've seen 'em all" does not apply to a sunset on Pamlico Sound:

For the first time, the girls slept in a tent by themselves while Mommy and Daddy camped out next door.  They've gotten quite accustomed to sleepovers in the tent in Brynn's room at home, so it wasn't much of a stretch with the real deal.  We were up with the sun on Saturday and hit the beach for a little swimming, sunning, and surfing.  While Ryan was surfing, I was capturing the beauty of Rodanthe:

When it was determined the waters were too rough for the girls to get any surfing time in, we headed back to the campground for them to swim in the serene waters of the sound.  Camryn loved being able to walk out for yards and yards and still be only knee deep...she was convinced she was in "the deep end."  We took some kayaks out for a nice little paddle, then Ryan took the girls out on a jet ski for a bit:

Camryn said her favorite part of the trip was riding the jet ski.  Shocker.  I kept a close watch on Purple Teddy and Coco while she rode like the wind:

We played hard that day, and a perfectly timed rain shower led to a perfectly timed nap for the Psimas girls while Ryan got in another surf session.  Camryn didn't rest long, but Brynn was out for quite some time.  While waiting for her dinner to cook, Camryn pulled up a chair and enjoyed watching the good-looking Canadians hit the volleyball around:

Brynn couldn't be coaxed from her slumber for dinner, but she somehow managed to rally when there were s'mores involved:

After a not-so-restful night's sleep (thanks to my face hurting from what was probably a sinus infection, and our neighbor snoring like a chainsaw didn't help), we were up when the sun started cooking us in our tents.  We hit the beach for some more fun in the ocean, with Brynn riding waves like a champ.  We made a couple of four-legged friends on the beach:

This guy was one of them.  My phone had died by the time another came down and plopped himself right on top of my feet.  Love a laid back beach dog!  We watched storms come and go on either side of us, but managed to evade bad weather the entire day.  The Outer Banks is probably my favorite place in the world to watch thunderstorms:

But all good things come to an end, so we soaked up every last bit of sunshine we could before heading home:

Seeing all of these pictures together almost makes me forget how much work goes into roughing it for a weekend.  Almost.  We'll head back down again this summer, hopefully for more than just a two night stay.  Camryn asked if we could stay forever, so that's the least we can do!  


Never wanna say goodbye

Thanks to Brynn being in school, Camryn being with my mother-in-law, and the DMV experiencing technical difficulties "statewide" today, I had some time to peruse the running store as thoroughly as I wanted, for as long as I wanted.  The number of sports bras I tried on reached the double digits, but I found one I think will get the job done.  Who knew that "encapsulation" would be something I'd find really appealing about a sports bra?  I also found a pair of running shorts that a) do not make me look like I'm wearing a diaper, 2) do not sit so tight on my waist that the muffin top I've worked so hard to eradicate magically reappears, and d) won't (fingers crossed) chafe my thighs until they are raw and bloody (try taking a dip in the salty ocean with chafing on any part of your body...yowzas!!!).  Running in place in the dressing room can only tell you but so much, so tomorrow's run will be do or die for this polyester pair.  

And for the coup de gras, I wandered over to the shoe section to find what I was really looking for...the pair of sneakers that would get me through my next 300-400 miles.  I'm not sure if you've seen the latest trend in running shoes, but they're pretty hideous.  It's like the 80s threw up in a Nike factory somewhere.  For a girl whose favorite color to wear is gray, this is a tough sell:

Of course function is more important than form here, but I just can't put those things on my feet!  I told the expert assisting me the type of shoes I've had success with in the past, and she brought me these:

The orange is a bit brighter in person, but I could handle this pop of color, especially when my legs take on the golden hue of a summer tan.  One lap to the front door and back and I was sold.  She asked how they felt and all I could mutter was, "I. Love. Them."  I was so excited that it didn't take trying on a half dozen pair to get it right that I paid for my new gear and drove home feeling like my life had been changed forever.  I was in a state of euphoric bliss, envisioning how delightful tomorrow's miles would be, running on these new cloud-like shoes.  Then I got home, looked at my receipt, and felt like those very clouds just unleashed a downpour on my parade.  What I hadn't realized in the store was that my new, perfect, heavenly shoes cost about 50% more than I normally spend, and I knew immediately I was going to have to return them.  I once had to return a kitten to an animal shelter because my husband had no interest in the responsibility of having a pet at the time (or at any time, for that matter!)...returning these shoes might feel worse.  Having test driven a Cadillac, it's going to be really hard lacing up a pair of Pintos.  The good news is I can probably find a slightly inferior shoe to get me by until these angels show up on clearance when the newer version arrives in a few months.  But I'll never forget the time we had together, sweet, beautiful Asics.  I hope you find a home with someone who appreciates your comforting sole, and when the time (or in this case, price) is right, I hope we can be reunited and go on long strolls together at dawn.  Godspeed, dear friends.


Fantastic voyage

That song "Home" by Phillip Phillips (poor guy) gets me every time.  Since I'm not an American Idol follower, the first time I heard the song was on a video someone posted on Facebook about a college freshman's first week at Ithaca College.  The lyrics and the video stroll down memory lane brought me to tears.  The song later became popular on the radio, and I would have requests from the backseat to turn it up whenever it came on the radio in the car.  The next time I cried while hearing "Home" was during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  A somber event, I know.  Staten Island's P.S. 22 Chorus sang it on a parade float, and I couldn't help but get emotional when I thought about all they and the residents of the northeast had gone through during and after Hurricane Sandy.  

Fast forward a few months, and I'm driving back from NY with my mom and daughters after a spring break trip visiting some of my favorite people on the planet.  We're crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and "Home" comes on the radio.  I didn't cry this time, but I couldn't help but think of how serendipitous the timing was.  In October, it will be an entire decade since I made the life changing decision to leave my home in New York and make one here in Virginia Beach, and I truly can't believe how great it has all worked out for me. My life today is not what 24 year old me had envisioned, but a million times better.  In the words of Phillip Phillips, I've made this place my home, and I couldn't be happier.  

While I think Virginia Beach is a fantastic place to raise my children, I think it's important they know where their mother comes from and how it's made me who I am today.  I also want them to feel as at home in New York as I do, so I make it a point to take them up there as often as I can.  It's far from easy, and I often feel the need to lock myself in a quiet room by the time I get home, but it is so worth the effort.  It helps that my children are pretty easy to please.

Me:  "Brynn, what do you want to do in the city today?"
Brynn:  "Ride the subway."

Um, done. 

While it still seemed a bit new to Camryn, Brynn looked like a lifetime member of the Straphangers Union.  The hustle and bustle of the big city didn't phase her one bit, and she walked around like she owned the town.  Camryn held her own, walking as much as she could since I was a horrible mother and forgot her stroller.  All they wanted for lunch were bagels with crumbs (everything bagels to the rest of us), so bagels with crumbs they got:

It was cold and windy during our trip, so we opted for some indoor fun at FAO Schwartz.  The girls oohed and ahhhed at all of stuffed animals that greeted us in the lobby, but were particularly drawn to the plastic figures one can find in the dollar section at Target (but were being sold for the bargain price of $14.99 and up at the world's most famous toy store):

And of course there was the Big piano:

One unexpected experience happened when we were waiting to cross the street in front of the Plaza hotel...the horse and buggies were lined up, waiting for passengers to take around Central Park, when one of the drivers offered Brynn a carrot to feed to his horse:

As we're told, this friendly fella was a retired racehorse named "Til We Meet Again" and was celebrating his 13th birthday the next day.  

With two tired rock star kids, we made the trek back to Brooklyn for a little dinner and relaxation.  Mommy was a mere afterthought at bedtime when Dayna and Michel offered to read some bedtime stories:

The following day, we said goodbye to Brooklyn and headed north to Westchester, where I gave Brynn and Camryn a brief tour of where I grew up.  We drove past the house I grew up in, my grandparents' house, a few of my schools and places of work, and they loved hearing my stories along the way.  I pointed out where I used to wait for the bus for middle school, which they thought was particularly fascinating.  Their little minds were officially blown when they learned I rode one of those "two buses stuck together" home from school!  

We stopped for some pizza for lunch before we went to visit the East family in Scahhhhhhsdale.  We were greeted with sheer excitement from Charlotte and sweet smiles from Jackson and Logan.  The kids all burned off some energy in Charlotte's bounce house, which is always a hit with my little jumping beans:

Jackson and Logan weren't going to be left out of the fun:

The girls all had a big sleepover in Charlotte's room that night, and I enjoyed a much needed night of solo slumber after spending the last two nights with a coughing, kicking Camryn.  From Scahhhsdale it was on to Lahhhhchmont, where I surprised the girls with a little souvenir of our Mommy/daughter trip to NY:

It's a "piece of my heart" necklace set, with mine being the large round circle with the two hearts cut out, and Brynn and Camryn each having the cut out heart on their own chain.  I fell in love with the concept when I saw something similar on Pinterest, and sent the picture along to Felix at Rubino Jewelers because I knew he could make it happen for me.  It's pretty awesome having your own personal jeweler!!!  I may be Fancy, but Felix and his brother are ridiculously talented at their craft...pay them a visit!!!

From Lahhhchmont, it was back to New Rochelle to pick up Grandma and head back to Virginia.  It was a long ride home, but Brynn and Camryn were awesome in the car.  I loved hearing Camryn tell Daddy, "We had a really good trip!" and look forward to making another like it again soon.  Maybe next time we can have some extra company in the form of Hannah and Gia:

Right, because they came to visit us last weekend before we left for New York!  They popped in Saturday night, had an Easter egg hunt (or 12) Sunday morning,  and hit the road again to spend their Spring Break in Florida.  Incredibly surreal to have Dayna, Karen, and these unbelievably adorable girls all under one roof.  It doesn't happen often, so we made the most of our teeny bit of time spent together.  Still so weird to look at them all together!

This week felt like a visit to some of my favorite memories of my past, from childhood through high school, college, and even early adulthood.  I am so lucky that I still have these awesome people in my life, even if I am so far removed from where I grew up.  I feel even more lucky to have two awesome little girls who love hearing me reminisce and want to know more about their mom when she was a kid.  And while life may make it tougher to get up there as often as I'd like, I vow to bring these girls to New York every chance I get so they will always feel at home in a place I once called home.