Saturday, September 19, 2015

Summer and School Days are Cool Days

Summer officially ends in 3 days and I have no regrets on how I’ve spent the last 90 days. Well, I regret not blogging more, but I’m having a hard time keeping up with my Sentence-A-Day-Diary at this point in my life and I just need to be okay with it.  I’m really fucking busy and really fucking happy. Here’s what went down and what’s going on in as few words as possible.

Playing in the sand before swim lessons

Can we all just agree that this summer was amazing?!!! The weather was spot-on awesome; unbelievably hot and sunny, and you can bet your bikinied-bottom, I have some pitted-out work shirts to prove it.  That subway platform really does a number on us city-folk professionals…but my hanky kept me in-check and looking fresh.

Typically we spend many summer weekends at my parents little lake cabin at beautiful Bashan Lake in East Haddam, CT but this year the lake was partially-drained to clean up toxic pollution. I’m kidding!  (Can you tell I’ve been watching Wet Hot American Summer?). They needed to repair a dam. Damn! Therefore, we spent less time in CT and more time in BK. 

Ice cream, all day, everyday
As much as missed my CT family and friends and having easy access to a ski-boat/water, it was nice to stay close to home. A lot people complain about summer (weekends primarily) in the city, but that’s just because they’ve never stuck around to experience how great they can be. 

We took advantage of staying local by strapping the kids to our bikes or their stroller/scooters and heading out on “adventures”.  Sometimes these adventures were a lame, for example buying milk and bananas at the corner bodega or dropping off dry-cleaning, but so long as I called it an “adventure” the kids were thrilled and wanted in. I think I only have a few more months before they catch on.  We went on many real adventures too. We biked to swim lessons at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pop-Up Pool, went to dozens of outdoor picnics/concerts at Celebrate Brooklyn and Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and rode to Coney Island and back for a Cyclone’s game with my parents.

Travelling and saving money don’t mix. We are doing our best to save money and unfortunately, that means we can’t travel as exotically, frequently or as lavishly I we wish. But we still made a point to get in a few great trips. In June (feels like years ago), we rented a beach house with my Sister’s family and some friends in the North Fork. If you haven’t been…GO! There are too many wonderful things to say about it here, so just take my word for it and check out all the vineyards, farm stands, beaches and lack of crowds and stress for yourself. We also crashed "Grandparents' Camping Jamboree Weekend", went to Vermont, a state near and dear to me, twice, both times with new friends….hopefully the beginning of long-lived friendships and traditions. There was also that time when my parents watched the kids for the entire week in CT and Jeff and I had a no-fun, boring time (kidding, obviously).

Lovely Vermont
Kitzmans do NoFo! They better come back next year too!

Grandparents' Camping Gamboree in Paconic State Park

Kids wrestling at swanky vineyards while we sip wine,
pretending not to know whom they belong too.

These are the foundational memories that our kids will string together whenever they ride a bike, jump in a pool, eat a banana and smell the ocean from this point forward.  Really good memories of summer…we should all have that.

Marathon Update

Brooklyn Half Pre-Party

Ugh. Goo. Or should I say, Gu? Okay, bad runner’s joke.

Boo…rhymes with goo. Goo is an interjection, I use to describe how I feel about my running these days. For you non-runners out there, Gu is a flavored frosting-like substance, in a small pouch used by long-distance runners to re-fuel before, during and post runs. Neither one, is great.

I ran Hartford’s CTFastrak, 15K/9-mile course in early May and killed it. I came in 5th out of 50 in my age group with an 8:25/mile pace. Shortly following that, I ran the Brooklyn Half and did pretty well given the fact that I got like zero sleep the night before it (kids, man). I was just a few minutes shy from my PR (personal record) last year when I ran it with my Sister.  I was feeling fast, strong and 90% recovered from my injury last fall. I was excited about taking on my 3rd NYC Marathon attempt and 16-week marathon training program.

But then I did Soul Cycle. Fucking Soul Cycle. I didn’t fall off my bike or anything, but all that “tappin’ it back” was not well-received by hamstring. I tapped myself back so far that I’m in physical therapy twice a week and modifying my training the best I can to prevent further injury and race in this year’s marathon. Seriously, running the NYC Marathon has turned into a mean, long-running joke…I’m just going along for the ride and trying to keep my head up and feet steady underneath me. Stay tuned, I’m sure there will be more to come on this topic.

School Memo

1st Day of Pre-K
Colette started Pre-K. I started my MBA. She’s learning about community leaders. I’m learning about world leaders. She has like 1 minute of homework, whereas I have hours. We’re both into backpacks, highlighters and kitten folders. We agree that being a student is cool but hard.

Two years ago, Mayor Bill DeBlasio and his administrators, launched NYC’s first free, full-day Pre-K program (UPK) made available to all 4-year olds. At its inception, I had a 2-year-old and newborn, was in survival mode and didn’t think much of the program and what it would mean to our family. Fast-forward two years, and it’s all I can think about. After four years of paying for full-time childcare we were so excited to take advantage of the program and savings this fall.

The only problem with the program, is that everyone wants in, and everyone wants in on the same schools. It’s a lottery system and every eligible child is guaranteed a placement, but not guaranteed which placement.  Over 500 families applied to our first choice, our zoned elementary school PS 9, but they only have 90 Pre-K seats available. Therefore, there is a waitlist, and the Rigbys are #6 on it. In the meantime, we accepted a seat for Colette at a private school, which is part of the UPK offering.  Sunny Skies (not to be confused with the horrifying Sunny Side Day Care in Pixar’s Toy Story 3) has been good so far but definitely an adjustment (8am drop-off, uniforms, frequent vacation days, etc.) We’re still crossing our fingers, that we get off the waitlist and into PS 9…the school that all of our and Colette’s friends got into. We’ll see.


We’re happy, healthy, learning, training, going on adventures and making great memories. I’ll update you soon….I promise.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hunting for Something

Dang, y’all…time is flying by. I started writing this entry in January and I’m just getting the chance to finish it. Last time I posted I was sitting on the NYC marathon sidelines, drinking away my sorrows and I’m happy to report that I’m no longer a spectator. Not even close.

Before I fill you in on what’s happening now, let me back up a bit.

My focus over the past three and half years has been on my babies…making them, growing them, nursing them, comforting them, getting others to help me watch and love them and introducing them to their surrounding world.  Obviously, my children will always garner much of my attention, but as they get older and more independent (think walking and self ass-wiping, not driving) I’ve had a renewed sense of freedom. With that, I’ve also felt antsy, easily distracted and bored, grappling for direction and purpose.

Last summer, these feelings really came to the forefront and I asked myself “If I’m not making a baby, what hell should I be doing?”.

Thoughts on how I should quell my needs for adventure, purpose and self-improvement were all over the place and even contradictory. For example, I told Jeff we should quit our jobs (or take sabbaticals, which I’m pretty sure isn’t even an option) and travel the country in an RV with the kids. Being the kind dude that he is, his response was something like, “um, okay, Ash, we can talk about that” as he gently reminded me that I’m not the best camper, I’m not good when I’m in close quarters with my kids for long periods of time. Oh, and that both of our kids get carsick with the click of a seatbelt. Okay, scratch that.

There go the Rigbys (pretend I look like her, and pretend Jeff would rock those khaki shorts)

 Hmm. So if we aren’t going to be the adventurous type…let’s be the complete opposite and buy a house in the suburbs. Instead of exploring, let’s not and hunker down in our hometown. My house-hunting mission was underway as was Jeff’s fear and frustration. Jeff knows that once I add something to my “to-do” list, it’s getting done. This is just a guess, but think Jeff would rather me be a city-living baby-making machine, than a suburban house-hunting maniac. And to fair, Jeff thought we had put the suburban house hunt on hold for a few years, because that’s what I agreed to when we signed our two-year lease.

On August 30th, my 32nd birthday, we met with a real estate agent in West Hartford, Connecticut and looked at a dozen or so houses.  Poor Jeff. Being the supportive husband that he is and the fact that is was my birthday, Jeff went along with my roller coaster ride of emotions and ideas, shuffling his feet through open houses and feigning interest in architectural details.

There was one house that I really liked.  Jeff liked it hypothetically. I loved the 3rd floor office with a private bathroom and great natural light. I envisioned myself working there, drinking coffee, decorating it in cream and navy with artsy finds from Etsy.  Jeff asked me, what I would do about my job. Ugh. When I thought about it in more detail, the only work I would be doing in that super cute office would be on my resume. Also, it’s hard to shop without an income.

Boom! It all came into focus.

I do not want to leave my wonderful employer, Herman Miller, and I really do not want to leave them before I take advantage of their supportive education reimbursement program. I immediately stopped looking at houses and started looking at MBA programs. Jeff was ecstatic and my friends and family in West Hartford were not.

Over this long-ass winter I investigated all the Executive MBA programs within the city and surrounding areas. Over the past few weeks, I have been accepted into Fordham University’s EMBA program, the only one to which I applied and Herman Miller has agreed to pay for the entire 2-year program. WTF?!!!

I continue to house-hunt, but only as hobby. My need for adventure still bubbles to the surface, which is when I remind myself that our apartment, long and narrow, similar to an RV, is parked in one of the best places in the world. Adventure, kids, family, friends, comfort, love, personal and professional growth are swirling all around me in the best possible way and I’m so appreciative and focused.

Chilling in this amphibious camper will have to wait until retirement, or at least a few more years

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Longest "Warm-Up" Ever

Colette drew this super sad face...
she really knows how to capture my emotion.

I’m totally bummed and in disbelief. The NYC Marathon, which I’ve run over 300 miles training for over the past 16 weeks, is on Sunday. That date has been noted in my calendar for the past three years (sandy, post-pregnancy, injury).  This is now the second NYC Marathon that I have trained for and will not be running, but the heartbreak is worse this time. When it was cancelled post Super-storm Sandy, all runners we’re disappointed together, and the experience (or lack thereof, was shared).  This time, 45,000 runners are running, running without me. I just want this week to be over.

I strained my adductor/hamstring over four weeks ago during a sprint exercise, following a 17-mile run without a stretch in sight and continued to run, stubbornly thinking it would go away. That has not been the case. Once I realized it needed professional attention, I’ve been in physical therapy three times a week trying to massage and stretch it back into top condition.  It’s getting better, but so incredibly slowly. I can do everything without pain, except run.

Post 17-mile selfie
There’s a reminder at every turn of the excitement, joy, pain, and thrill, I will need to wait another year to experience.  As I log into Fresh Direct, our online grocer, it highlights the best carbo-loading food to eat this week; I get on the subway and it’s plastered with “Get Your Amazing On” advertisements for the race; I receive daily e-mails from my on-line running coach pumping me up for the final stretch. Oh, shut the fuck up, I think to myself.  

Also, Jeff is running it, and he’s unavoidable. He’s trained incredibly hard, harder than me and bought all the top running gear to prove it. He’s bummed for me and I’m jealous of him, so as you can imagine when he’s not stretching and I’m not icing, the sex has been amazing.

This really sucks for me (and a little for Jeff)…but I don’t want to be sad about it any more. Booze is helping. Muffins are too. But the biggest help is planning my comeback, which oddly enough doesn’t involve booze and/or muffins. I have guaranteed entry for NYC Marathon 2015 (as does my Sister and Jeff) and I’m going to be fitter and faster than I am now. You’ll see. You’ll be jealous.

As for this year, I’m going to be drunk on the sidelines with family and friends, full of emotions I’m trying to suppress. I might not be getting “my amazing on”, but I’m going to do my best to support all of those that are. Go get it…Bynne, Nikki, Jeff, Rachel, Ashley!!!

Even when life sends shitty stuff my way, it's still really freakin' good. This is why. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vacation from Vacation

I’m in Pittsburgh at the moment attending a 3-day work-related conference. I’m staying in the Westin downtown, connected to the conference center and it has been raining on and off since I arrived. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh before and should be more interested in exploring the city when not working, but instead I have been so thrilled to spend the time in my room alone…doing whatever the fuck I want...reading blogs, writing, filling and abandoning shopping on carts on, etc.  Ya know, the shit one does when there’s no laundry, no diapers, no dishes, no sex you should be having. That’s the best part, there’s no guilt for what I think I could/should be doing. I’m just doing whatever the selfish Ashley wants to do and it’s amazing.

Using the windowed sky bridge from the hotel to the conference center has basically been my exposure to the outside. I don’t want to hate on a city without giving it a chance, but it’s not so attractive, and looks and feels like a large Waterbury, CT. If Jeff were here with me we would have a great time exploring and finding it’s best hidden and exposed gems.  But, I’m solo, just me, a glass of chardonnay and complete wonderful solitude.

4th of July race, pre-rain
Family life is fab, but last Friday we returned from a 9-day family vacation, and by the end of it I really needed a vacation of my own.  Jeff and I don’t normally spend that much concentrated time with our kids, and as interesting, funny and cute as they are that’s a lot of “kid time” and lacks the structure to which we are accustomed to and from which I thrive.  I was beginning to twitch by the end of it and was having a hard time finding the cuteness and funniness of it all.

Our trip didn’t take off as swimmingly as I had planned.  The drive to my parents’ lake cabin in East Haddam, CT was long and riddled with 4th of July traffic, even though we did an impressive job of weaving through it using Google traffic and Navigon, our go-to tools for car travel. In my mind, I envisioned us on the highway shortly after lunch, just in time for naps and before the mass exodus out of the city for the holiday weekend.
Bashan Lake beach
Camper Kisses
Unfortunately, Jeff’s last minute packing derailed that dream. He has an unrealistic understanding of how long it takes him to pack. He only packs for himself, which also includes being able to support any technical malfunction/need that might occur within a 25-mile radius, i.e. Various cables, wires, speakers, chargers and adapters.  I fear we would never cross the apartment threshold if I added anything else to his plate.  Unlike, my laidback extended family members, who throw a few essentials in a plastic grocery bag and are on their way, Jeff packs like he works in a Gucci store, aligning all edges, seams and corners. (I shit you not; he uses a shirt folding board). We were about 3 hours behind schedule but Jeff’s socks we’re color coordinated so as you can imagine I wasn’t annoyed.
Blue Our dinner

We arrived to the cabin just in time for a lovely family dinner, shortly followed by rainstorm that chased the intense heat and humidity away.  The rain was welcome at first, but not so much when it continued to pour throughout the entire 4th of July.  We made the best of it by playing games, drinking and grilling under an umbrella.  We were happy when the sun returned the next day allowing us to hit up the beach, boat and the Blue Our, a great spot located on the Connecticut River, for a lobster roll dinner.

The following morning Jeff and I packed up the kids and car, said goodbye to the family and headed 40 minutes south to New London to catch a ferry to Greenport, Long Island.   The ferry was low-stress, breezy and sunny. The four of us shared a salty pretzel and the two of us, a cold beer.

Greenport, is a small beach town as far north and east as one can go on Long Island, generally known as the Northfork. Northfork, unlike its southern counterpart, the Hamptons, is very laid back, void of crowds and unpretentious.  It’s lined with hundreds of vineyards, farms, fruit stands and beaches. We arrived at our weeklong rental, which was a beautifully renovated cape-style house shortly after our friends arrived and quickly settled in.

Winery with kids

Drive-thru wine tasting

Winery without kids

Early morning pig-pile (notice the whites)

Introducing herself to a pony

Views from the ferry

 Almost the entire interior of the house was decorated and painted white of varying shades, lined with huge glass lamps, artwork and seashells galore, had two exposed stairways, and a pebble-covered patio. It was a 9-month olds dream and my nightmare. Visiting the vineyards during the day, buying and drinking wine by the case helped calm some of the anxiety this environment caused me.  When we weren’t prying ceramic starfish from Julien’s strong, sticky grip, we were hanging out on beach or in the ocean (again, lots of prying from tiny hands and mouth but of less precious, non-decorative flora, fauna, rocks and shells), petting farm animals, taking walks downtown for rides on the carousel (Colette called it the carrot show) and enjoying great food and company.

It took a few days to get used to the fact that you didn’t have to rush to the beach to save a spot in the sand or find a parking spot.  This survival of the fittest and fastest mentality, which we have become accustomed to in the city, has no place in Northfork. If you have two hours to spare the artisanal ice cream shop down the street from our apartment is great, but in Greenport, when you wanted ice cream, you just got ice cream.  There were no crowds, lines, nothing but a really easy beachy lifestyle…hot and breezy.

Of Friday afternoon, en route back home to Brooklyn, as the kids napped in the car ( we stood guard with doors and windows open) we continued to hit up farm stands that operate on the honor system and vineyards trying to squeeze every last piece out of the vacation and headed towards the city traffic.

After some much needed alone time in Pittsburgh and as my twitching has subsided, I’m already looking forward to the trip back next year. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Dream of Fields

A few weeks ago I had two weird dreams in the same night. In one, I had sex with a fat nasty chef in exchange for cooking lessons and in the other, Jeff and I left the kids unattended in a field so we could meet up with our running groups, and were subsequently picked up by Department of Child and Family Services.  I awoke a little disturbed, but mostly humored. Eating and running are popular subjects in our home and both command a lot of our attention consciously and apparently subconsciously. Let me fill you in on the running subject…

Brooklyn Half Pre-Race Party at Brooklyn Bridge Park
(this picture was taken at an amazing fitness playground for all ages)
As I picked up Julien from daycare the other day, a fellow parent noticed my Brooklyn Half t-shirt, and commented on how impressed she was that I ran that race, given that I also had an 8-month old. It was a hurried interaction, and I quickly replied with a shaky, brushed off “ha, yeah” and moved on to pick up Colette next door. As I walked home with the kids, Julien in the Ergo and Colette holding my hand, her comment stuck with me.  I felt proud and I wanted to scream back….”fuck, yeah, I ran the Brooklyn Half, but I also ran the New York City Half and the Austin Half …starting at 4 months post-partum and all within 3 months of one another!!!”

It took an outsiders comment for me to pause for a second and reflect on the drive, hard work, and incredible support that made those races possible. I’m proud not only of myself, and my Run Club, but especially proud of my running support crew Jeff, my Sister Shawna and my Mom.   I had the ambition but they are ones who made it possible.

Brooklyn Half post-race party at Coney Island
Jeff and I hardly run together. He’s faster and prefers to run later in the day than me.  Also, he needs to stay behind to watch the kids (although a field, fenced-in of course, sounds like it has some potential). I often run early in the morning when the kids and I have the most energy, unfortunately it’s when Jeff has the least, but he feigns interest in play-doh and paints, until I return sweaty and happy with muffins and coffee (basically, anytime I cross the threshold, night or day, Colette asks if I have muffins). He tends to run when the kids are napping or already asleep, which for obvious reasons is fabulous no matter my energy level. He never pressures me to shorten my runs, or return home soon and I try to offer him the same courtesy.  We encourage one another when it’s hot or rainy, or need the extra kick out the door, to go out and get it done. 

My hot Mama

I hardly run with my Mom and Shawna, either, even though we run at the same pace.  It’s a special treat to run with them when they visit us in Brooklyn or on our monthly trips to West Hartford.  Shawna is an ambitious, athletic, busy, working mom with two kids under the age of 4 so naturally she gets me and I get her.  When I bitch about my thighs chaffing in running skirts and saggy tits in sports bras, she laughs and responds with a joke about not having tits. We encourage one another to sign up for races (NYC Marathon 2014…here we come), listen and share advice on work, parenting, running and life.

My Mom and her running deserves a post all on it’s own. In   short, she’s incredibly talented and inspiring. She wants in…on everything; every trip, every race, every pre-race party, every post-race party, every first place in her age group. She’s pretty damn good about getting what she wants. We love her a lot so we want her in on everything too.  She will turn 60 next year and can keep pace with her 30 something year old daughters, not for 1 mile or 2, but 13.1! That’s insane and awesome. Most often, I run alone, but with those three by my side, it’s never lonely.