Jun 19, 2017

Slices of Life, Vol. 51

I was going back through my Drafts folder last night and found these Slices. They're 18 months old, and I can't believe I never published them. I think it was because that was around the time my iPhoto quit working, and I kept thinking that once I got access to my pictures, I'd post this with images. Well, that still hasn't happened.

So I'm sharing these with you anyway. Jake would have been in the middle of 2nd grade (age 7-and-a-half), Amelia would have been about 4 and Nick, 10.

FYI, I've decided to start fresh with iPhoto and just loaded the past year or so of pictures from my phone into it over the weekend. I also loaded our pictures from Costa Rica, so more posts will be coming. Not daily, but hopefully about once a week. I've missed it.

While going through a bunch of random papers after we moved, I found a stapled set letting us know that Nick had been selected as the Star Student of the Week. Last December 4 [2014].

We were to have sent photos of him to be displayed in the classroom, gone to have lunch with him at a special table in the cafeteria, and written a letter about all the things we love about him that his teacher would have read to the class, among other things.

Me: "Nick! I can't believe I'm just now finding this! Why didn't you give it to me when you were selected as Student of the Week? I feel terrible that we missed out on doing all of this for you."

Nick: "You didn't. I told you about it back then."

Me: "I don't remember that at all! I don't think I sent pictures, and I only remember coming to eat lunch with you on your birthday, not for this. And I don't remember writing a letter about all the things we love about you, either."

Nick: "You did. IT WAS A SHORT NOTE."

* * * * * * *

While going over Jake's spelling words one evening:

Grayson: "Okay, Jake, spell 'bandana.' "

Jake: "B-A-N-"

Amelia: "D."

All of us:  [blink blink]

* * * * * * *

We were eating supper at Texas Roadhouse, where they have TVs above some of the tables. America's Funniest Videos was on while we were waiting for our entrees to arrive. One video was of a girl about 6 or 7 years old sobbing with happiness and hugging her toddler brother, who had just taken his first steps.

On the video, the man taking the video asked, "Why are you crying, sweetie?" And she sobbed, "I'M JUST SO PROUD OF HIM FOR TAKING HIS FIRST STEPS!"

Jake: "Mommy. Did you see that?"

Me: "The video of the little girl crying because she was so proud of her baby brother? Yes. So sweet."

Jake: "Or. OR, they're in the Guinness Book of World Wecords for being the youngest married couple ever, and she was so pwoud because that was her SON taking his first steps."

Me: "Hmm. That's pretty unlikely, buddy."

Jake: "Yeah, I guess so. I mean, not ALL 6- and 7-year-olds are weddy for wo-mance like I am."

Me:  [raising my eyebrows]

Jake: "Do you want to know how I know I'm weddy for wo-mance?"

Me: "I can't WAIT to know."

Jake: "I don't woll my eyes at wo-mantic scenes in movies anymore."

* * * * * * *

And just a few weeks later, I was folding clothes in the den while Jake was watching TV.

Jake: "Quite fwankly, I can't believe they show this kind of wo-mantic content on Nickelodeon."

Me: "What?"

Jake: "That young couple just kissed. I mean, I'M not bothered by it, but a lot of kids might be. I wemember when we were at the beach, we were watching a show one day and Gwant said, 'EVWYYBODY CLOSE YOUR EYES.' And evwybody did, except me. I mean, the people only KISSED. But even Gwant and Nathaniel didn't want to see it. I don't know. Kids just aren't weddy for wo-mance."

* * * * * * * 

I was putting a barrette in Amelia's hair one recent afternoon:

Me: "Aww. You look so precious."


Me: "Okay, well, you look cute."

Amelia: "I DON'T LOOK CUTE."

Me: "Well, what CAN I call you if I can't call you precious or cute?"

Amelia: "Bootiful."

Oh Lord. We're in for it.

* * * * * * *  

We were out to supper at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and the waiter came to the table to take our drink orders. Amelia and Jake were sitting on the same side of the booth with me. I ordered my drink, then looked at Amelia.

Amelia: "I WANT SPWITE. Wait."  [To Jake.]  "JAKE, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DWINK?"

Jake: "Spwite."

Amelia:  [To the waiter]  "WE'LL BOTH HAVE SPWITE."

* * * * * * * 

Going over Jake's spelling words with him one night, we were asking him to spell each word and use each in a sentence.

Grayson: "Ammunition."

Jake: "A-M-M-U-N-I-T-I-O-N."

Grayson: "Good. Now, use it in a sentence."

Jake: "You have a lot of ammunition. CAN I HAVE SOME OF IT?"

* * * * * * *

Amelia: "My teacher Miss Gwace is getting mawwied!"

Me: "She is? That's exciting! To whom?"

Amelia:  [pause]  "To a PWINCE!"

Me: "Really?! To a prince? That's even MORE exciting."

Amelia: "I know!"  [sigh]  "I can't WAIT to see their fuhst dance."

* * * * * * *

Today at lunch on the way to the beach, a friend we were eating with asked Jake if he passed first grade.

Jake: "Yes, actuwy, I was one of the smahtest kids in my class."

Grayson: "ONE of the smartest?"

Jake: "Yes, technicwy the second smahtest."

Grayson: "How do you know that?"

Jake: "I tested evwybody."

* * * * * * *

The kids watched the movie Home on a recent trip. When it was over:

Me: Did you like the movie?

Jake: I really DID. It almost made me CWY.  [wipes tears from both of his eyes]  THAT WAS MY FUHST WEAL TEARJERKUH."

Jun 1, 2017

Is 'Boss Baby' rated R?

Amelia and Jake have been wanting to see Boss Baby for a while and the opportunity came up to see it over Memorial Day weekend.

I use the word "opportunity" loosely here.

Grayson and Nathaniel were on a scuba diving trip to the Florida Keys, so I took Nick, Jake and Amelia to the theater on Sunday for a "cheap" matinee showing. $40 in tickets and $50 in snacks and drinks later, we were in our seats and the trailers were beginning.

First up was Transformers: The Last Knight, and then Wonder Woman. Next up was Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I turned to Nick and said, "These trailers all seem a little mature for the little kids who're here for Boss Baby. You think?" He nodded. 

Then again, I hadn't actually WATCHED the trailer for Boss Baby, so ... 

But then the trailer for Cars 3 started, and I breathed a sigh of relief. And after that, Spider-Man: Homecoming -- which, while still not what I'd call a film for the toddler and preschool set, it was definitely preferable to what came next: THE MUMMY

INTERNET. Some serious STUFF goes down in that trailer. I looked over at Nick and I said, "THIS IS RIDICULOUS. This is COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE for 4- and 5-year-olds!" Nick had his ears plugged with his fingers and he was looking down at his lap. He couldn't even look at the screen. I could hear small children whimpering and a couple even crying elsewhere in the theater.

I looked over to my left at Jake and Amelia and said, "Hey! Guys, DON'T LOOK AT THIS. It's WAY too scary. I'm not even looking at it!" Guess who wouldn't take their eyes off it it. Yeah, eyes wide as saucers and glued to the giant screen, Amelia said to me, "I'M NOT SCAWED AT AWE. THIS ISN'T SCAWY, MOMMY. ISS FINE."

Finally, BY THE GRACE OF GOD the Disney logo came up on the screen. But Cinderella's castle was black, and thunder and lightning were going on behind the castle. For the last time, I again looked at Nick: "WHY is it thundering and lightning behind Cinderella's castle? Is Boss Baby a scary movie? Did I bring you to a movie about some kind of demented baby who literally tortures a family in their basement? WHAT. IS. HAPPENING."

Nick shrugged. To my left, Amelia was applauding the thunder and lightning behind Cinderella's castle. (Special effects!)

As if in slow motion, the movie started. And it was not animated. As it turned out, the little boy on the screen was a young Jack Sparrow.

WE HAD JUST SAT THROUGH 20 MINUTES OF TRAILERS FOR PG, PG-13 AND NOT-YET-RATED FILMS. No wonder my Spidey Senses were on high alert.

At this point, about 10 parents got up from their seats and sprinted out of the theater, presumably to stop the madness. Meanwhile, onscreen, Jack Sparrow was telling his dad that he was going to go on this voyage whether he liked it or not. Even if his dad threw him overboard, he'd still find a way to go. [Insert rough seas, creepy men and lots of yelling. Now real-life theater kids were crying again.]

I looked over at Jake and Amelia (no worries about Nick, whose eyes were firmly fixed on the upper-right corner of the theater ceiling) and told them to just look at me, that this would all be taken care of in a minute. They paid me absolutely zero attention. Amelia, eyes still on the screen, said, "I WIKE THIS WRONG MOVIE."

I looked back up at the screen just in time to see little Jack Sparrow sinking to the bottom of the ocean. I guess his dad took him up on his offer and threw him overboard? I'LL NEVER KNOW. Before it could get any worse, they finally cut the feed and got Boss Baby started for us.


So what's the over-under on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead showing up on Amelia's Amazon Wishlist before her 6th birthday in September?

Feb 13, 2017

'I hate everything and everyone'

I put the title of this post in quotes because it’s something I said six months ago. To more than one person.

Something I said after I’d been dieting and exercising daily for three months, had lost 25 pounds and simultaneously hated life possibly more than I ever have. Including the semester in college during which I simultaneously failed Economics and Accounting.

I actually titled a post "I hate everything and everyone" and began writing about how awful life was without lots of carbs and unlimited chocolate.

I never published that post because I didn’t want anyone to worry about me. Like, about my mental health. And by “anyone,” I mean those of you who’ve been reading here for nine years as well as those of you who know me in real life and know me to generally be a glass-half-empty person – but not a glass-shattered-all-over-the-floor GLASS EVERYWHERE OH GOD GLASS EVERYWHERE person.

Which is kind of where I was six months ago. And it all has to do with the fact that I gave up tasty food.

Anyway, rest assured that things are better. I’m still struggling a little because I’m still eating more healthily than I used to and I only eat dessert once a week. But dessert once a week is better than dessert never. So in general I’m more balanced.

See? That call to 911 isn’t necessary.

But I haven’t written much lately and I’ve received several emails from readers who’ve noticed on Instagram that I’ve lost some weight, and you’ve asked what I’m doing and how it’s going. So I decided to give you the backstory.

Here it is.

Last April I decided it was time to get healthy. Then I waited a month to start, because that’s how I roll. I downloaded the Couch to 5K app, opened the LoseIt app for the first time in two years, and I asked my GP to refer me to a weight-management clinic downtown. I wanted to see a nutritionist and I wanted to talk to a behaviorist – to see if I could figure out the REASONS behind my unhealthy eating habits.

Sample questions: Why does a “veggie plate” to me consist of mac and cheese, creamed corn, white rice, squash casserole and a yeast roll? (BECAUSE YELLOW FOOD ROCKS.) Why do I consider a “serving” of Reese’s Cups to be six? (BECAUSE TWO IS RIDICULOUS.) Why does my body not consider a meal complete without dessert? (BECAUSE NORMAL.)

Keep in mind, I’ve lost and gained back the same 40 pounds probably 15 times over the last 25 years. I have proven time and time again that I can lose it – but I can’t keep it off. I always go back to eating the same way I did before, and the weight comes back. That’s why I wanted to find out what makes my brain and body work differently from the people who seem to be able to CHOOSE AN APPLE FOR THE LOVE.

Well, I lost 18 pounds over the first six weeks or so, visiting the clinic three times. They weren’t doing anything for me other than checking my bloodwork and weighing me each time. I was eating regular food – just a lot less of it – and exercising every day, and I tracked it all in my apps. Just like I’d done a hundred times before. And it worked, just like before. But my mood, OH MY MOOD. It was dark.


Jake asked me, “Mommy, how much wonger are you going to be DOING this?”

Amelia said, “Mommy, eating healthy food makes you say ANGWY words.”

I had a short temper. And I snapped at the kids a lot more often. THEY NOTICED, you might say.

At around 8 weeks I told the nutritionist how I was feeling and she said, “Oh, I completely understand. You know, you should keep some small squares of dark chocolate at home. They’re great for taking the edge off when you want something sweet.”


Outwardly I remained calm as I replied, “Yeah, dark chocolate squares really aren’t gonna cut it. But thanks.”

I waited for the behaviorist to come in the room a few minutes later. Just steaming.

She came in, congratulated me on my (at that point) 20-pound weight loss, and I said flatly, “Thanks.”

Her: “You should be so proud of yourself! That’s great!”

Me: “I know. It’s fine. I’m sure for most people the weight loss would be reward enough, but all I can think about are the Reese’s Cups I can’t eat, the ice cream I’m going without, the chips and guacamole I’m skipping every time we eat Mexican, and the chicken fingers and yeast rolls I want to eat, like, RIGHT NOW.”

Her: “I think we need to find some things we can substitute –“

Me: “NO. It’s not about substitution. It’s about the fact that my quality of life is AWFUL. I still do everything else I used to do that I liked, but I hate everything. EVERYTHING. I still watch TV, I still see my friends, I still read books and listen to podcasts, and I still see the occasional movie, but none of it makes me happy. NONE OF IT. Because when I watch TV I don’t snack on chips or have another piece of cake. When I see my friends, I get a grilled chicken salad dressed with my tears instead of Ranch. When I read books and listen to podcasts, I’m not popping Rolos or peanut M&Ms. When I go to the movies, I’m not mixing mouthfuls of popcorn with half a handful of regular M&Ms.”

“I don’t know how many different ways I can say it: Dieting and exercising makes me Hate. My. Life.”

Her:  [long pause]  “I’m really sorry this is so hard on you. Do you ever feel like you want to harm yourself or others?”

Me: “When the nutritionist told me I should keep squares of dark chocolate in the house so I could eat them when I need to take the edge off, I wanted to wring her little size-4 neck and kick her in the face. But in general do I want to hurt anyone? No. Not myself or my children. Ever.”

Her:  [even longer pause]  “Okaaay, how would you feel if I offered to refer you to a psychiatrist to explore some of this? I think we may be getting a little out of my depth here.”

Me: “That would be great. I think I probably need a pill.”

You know what happened next? She never gave me the referral.

And that was the last time I went to the clinic.

I decided since I was handling it on my own anyway, I’d just keep doing it on my own, and if the unhappiness didn’t go away, I’d have my GP refer me to a psychiatrist.

The clinic has never, to this day, called me to ask why I haven’t come back or how I’m doing.


(And, I might add, it’s a darn good thing I HAVEN’T harmed myself or others, because THAT would have been a REAL doozy for them to explain away.)


Fast forward to the end of 2016 and I’m able to report that by the end of last year, I lost a total of 46 pounds.

I never take pictures of myself alone – especially full-length pictures – so I had to crop everyone else out of a group picture to make this comparison shot. Ha! But here I am in November 2015 vs. about a month ago:


For the past month or so I’ve just been maintaining, but I’d like to lose some more weight. I just needed a mental break, because I totally committed to it last year (if you couldn’t tell), and it really took a toll on me. Combined with the fact that I started a new job about six weeks into the lifestyle change – or the “HFL” as my friend Honor and I call it (Healthy F’ing Lifestyle™) – I needed a month to six weeks to kind of reset.

I haven’t gone back to my old habits, but I’ve allowed myself popcorn with M&Ms once at the movies, dessert once or twice a week, Ranch dressing on EVERY salad I’ve ordered … and I haven’t felt guilty about a single bit of it.

So, that’s the deal. No gimmicks. Walking or jogging five to six days a week, 1,100-1,300 calories a day, for seven months. Forty-six pounds.

Total, abject misery with a pretty big payoff.

Happy to answer questions.

Dec 21, 2016

Merry Christmas from our home to yours

I'm mailing our Christmas cards this week, but I decided since I've posted so rarely this year that I'm going to post our annual Christmas letter here for you guys, too. So you'll actually get to read it here first!

Thanks for sticking around, loyal readers. And merry Christmas!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Grayson has finished up another year in his role as an I.T. compliance project manager. As continued annual proof that I do not really understand what he does, I had to double-check his job title with him via email. Even though I had last year’s letter pulled up and was relatively sure his job hadn’t changed since then. YES I DO SO PAY ATTENTION WHEN HE TALKS.

Aside from compliance-y project manager-y things he does, his main distractions include cycling at Oak Mountain and on nearby Lakeshore Trail. And of course his life -- and many weekends -- wouldn’t be complete without the Boy and Cub Scout activities he leads and/or participates in with Nathaniel and Jake.

As for me, I took a huge leap of faith and jumped from my long-time home in our Talent & Culture (formerly Human Resources) department to its Engineering department. And then about six weeks later was “reorged” into our Business Development line of business, but thankfully kept the manager I’d left T&C to work for, so it’s all good. I’m heading up our Change Management area, which means that I try to soften the impact of constant change (product and system rollouts) we introduce to our branches. I’ve written very little on my blog this year, not because I haven’t wanted to, but because my increasingly busy schedule has kept me from it. Oh, did I mention I added daily exercise to my schedule? Yeah, that takes time. And it stinks. Like, a healthy diet and exercise have got to be the all-time WORST way to lose weight, because it totally sucks. But I lost 46 pounds this year (only about half of that at the time our Christmas photo was taken back in September), so I guess it’s worth it? But it’s a miserable existence when all you want is Reese’s ALL. THE. TIME.

Nathaniel turned 14 on Dec. 19 and is in 8th grade. He speaks about 20 words per week to me and his earbuds have been surgically affixed to his ears. He MAY shower without them, but I cannot officially confirm that, as I do not visually monitor his showers. I am TREMENDOUSLY proud of his commitment to his schoolwork and his recent achievement of the Life Scout rank. Next up, Eagle! He’s already thinking about his Eagle project, which hopefully he’ll plan and complete before he gets interested in girls. Because then all bets are off. He’s started jogging nightly this year and slimmed down a little (not that he needed to), and he’s several inches taller than I am. It’s FREAKY.

I love: his interest in cooking, his independent completion of homework and thorough study habits. I could live without: his insistence on jogging in dark clothes at night when I warn him repeatedly he’s going to be flattened like a pancake AND MOMS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT.

Nick turned 12 on Oct. 4, and is in 6th grade. He still loves playing Minecraft and Clash of Clans online and has made friends around the world playing via Skype. He’s developed a real affinity for recreational soccer and is about to start his fourth season with Hoover Soccer Club. He loves to play and even loves to practice, which is saying something. Nick’s only been in middle school for a few months but he’s well-acquainted with the assistant principal. Always making friends, our Nick. He’s got a mischievous streak, for sure, but he’s also pulling down straight As, so …

I love: The way he loves on Amelia, that he still gives me a hug every night before bed. I could live without: the occasional subterfuge when there’s something he doesn’t want us to know. We always find out. I THINK.

Jake is 8 years old, in 3rd grade and just finished reading the entire Harry Potter series. He read it in just a few weeks and was so sad when he finished the final book -- it’s extremely rare to find Jakey without a book in his hand, and if he’s without one, it’s because he’s watching youtube videos about game theory on his iPad. Jake is a fascinating person to talk to, mainly because he speaks as though he’s about five times his age. He’s in Enrichment at his elementary school, which means he gets pulled out of class one day a week to do special activities that are a little more stimulating. Wednesday is his favorite day of the week!

I love: his unique perspective on everything, that he still gives me four or five hugs every day. I could live without: his propensity to walk away from whatever -- WHATEVER -- he was doing and leave everything right where it was (this includes eating and leaving his plate and utensils, watching TV and leaving it on, and bathrooming and leaving it unflushed).

Amelia is 5 and HAH-MAINT-NANCE. She is literally my shadow. She follows me so closely everywhere I go that often, when I turn around suddenly to go the other way, I knock her down. Then tears. (Hers.) Then apologies. (Mine.) Wash, rinse, repeat. She is obsessed -- and I do mean OBSESSED -- with animals. She loves them all. When she lists her best friends, it goes like this: “Bayla, Abby, Missy, Fred, Missy and Mira.” If you’re keeping track, those are a dog, a dog, a cat, a dog, another dog, and finally, a friend from preschool. ONE HUMAN BEING MAKES THE LIST. All the rest of y’all can suck it.

I love: her obsession with family, her love of errands, her desire to learn to read. I could live without: the whining. When do they outgrow that, again?

We are thrilled to be down to one house payment, having sold our previous home to a very nice couple who was willing to pay us for it. That was all we required of them. NOW all we require of them is that they text us twice a week to come pick up all the Amazon packages that arrive from the kids’ wish lists on which I forgot to update their shipping addresses. MERRY CHRISTMAS, NEW HOMEOWNERS!

We love you all and wish you the happiest and healthiest of Christmases and new years.

Dec 19, 2016



You’re halfway through 8th grade and several inches taller than I am now. I remember 8th grade much more clearly than you’d think possible at my age, and when I think back to some of the things I did and thoughts that went through my head, I cringe. I think you’re probably more mature than I was at your age, though -- or maybe you’re just a little more reserved. You certainly don’t SAY much, for sure. YOU’RE A YOUNG MAN OF MYSTERY.

I don’t want to make it seem like I think you’re hiding things, because I don’t. I just think because you’re clearly an introvert, and a teenage boy, you’re naturally quieter around me. You have a really small, intimate group of friends that seems to consist of three or four guys AND one girl. She’s a year ahead of you in school and we haven’t met her yet, but she’s kind of your BFF. So, there’s that. DADDY AND I ARE INTRIGUED.

I’m so proud of you for the way you’ve just handled all of your schoolwork in middle school. You come home every day and tackle your assignments and studying, and your grades are top-notch. We never have to badger you about doing it, and you’ve already set a course for your future by declaring an interest in engineering at the high-school level. You’ve got the math and science skills you need (which you didn’t get from moi, no surprise), and I’m so excited to see where the next few years take you.

Sometime over the last year or so you kind of maxed out on playing with your siblings. Now your default is lying on the couch upstairs with three things: your pillow, your blanket and your iPhone. OH, AND THOSE EARBUDS. I’m slightly worried that your earflesh is going to grow around them. Like, permanently. You don’t even take them out to talk to me … you just hit Pause.

Fourteen is super-old. In case you didn’t know. It’s only four years from 18, which is the age I have to officially let you go and send you out into the world, flesh-embedded earbuds and all. I’M NOT READY. For a couple of years after you were born and Daddy was on the road almost full-time, it was just you and me against the world. And even after Nick was born, for a year or so there, it was still mostly you and me with Nick just along for the ride. Now you’re so darn independent and I literally have to look UP to you when I’m standing next to you … it’s so weird. In case nobody’s told you, you’re not a toddler anymore. All this growing happened without my approval or consent, and quite frankly, I’d like to take a moment and turn back time.

In the absence of a magic wand, I just want to tell you how proud I am to be your mom, what an amazing young man I think you’re becoming, and that I always, ALWAYS want you to come home for Christmas. I’ll be lonely without you, my Christmas baby.

I love you,

Dec 9, 2016

I can't NOT share this post at Christmas. It's a tradition

I haven't quit blogging.

I mean, I haven't BLOGGED, but I haven't given it up forever. It only seems like it.

I WILL be back, but I don't have a schedule. It would actually be sort of easy to just post a photo a day with a one-line caption, but I mean, that's what Instagram is. And I don't want to just post the same thing here that I post on Instagram, you know?

Seems like a waste of all of our time.

Anyway, I couldn't let Christmas get any closer without reminding you of My Favorite True Holiday Story Of All Time. (For my Canadian readers, it's My Favourite True Holiday Stoury Of All Time.)

For those of you that have been around for years, you know what this is about.

It's about the time my dad witnessed what I call a holiday miracle, courtesy of an international visitor and the Salvation Army's Angel Tree.

Click here to read all about it.

And Merry Christmas!

Nov 1, 2016

Trick or treat, for real


After trick-or-treating for an hour last night:

Jake: "Why do you say 'trick or treat' every time you go up to a door if there are no tricks involved? This is ridiculous."

Me: "Well, everyone gives you a treat, so THAT'S why there are no tricks. Only if someone gives you no treat would you be allowed to play a trick on them."

Jake: "So I wanna go back to the house that gave me POTATO CHIPS. And do we have any EGGS at home?"

Oct 4, 2016


Today, you are 12. TWELVE! I think I wrote my last birthday letter to you on your 8th birthday. Can that be right? I’m not sure; I’ll have to go back and look to be positive, but I think that’s probably right.

I’ve wanted to do it every year, but when I sat down to do it on your 9th, and your 10th, then your 11th, I just couldn’t. What I would have written would have been, “Buddy, Daddy and I are doing our very best. We love you so much. Love, Mommy.”
It was a really rough few years, buddy, I won’t lie. I mean, I don’t have to, because I know YOU know it, too. It wasn’t just hard for you, me and Daddy … it was hard for the entire family. And your teachers. And sometimes, like, general passersby. We tried a Christian counselor and, later, a psychologist. But in the end, after a lot — a LOT — of compromise and a lot of patience — EVEN MORE OF THAT — we’ve finally come out the other side.

I’ve never doubted that your heart is solid gold. You’ve always shown moments of tenderness that astound me, and you’ve been a wonderful big brother to Amelia since the day she joined our family. You continue to show her the most attention, play one-on-one with her the most often, and be the most proud of her accomplishments of any of your brothers. 

Your temper DOES occasionally still get the best of you, but those times are now the exception rather than the rule. You’ve adjusted to middle school better than I ever dared hope, and you are a real social butterfly — you constantly ask to invite friends over to our house and you’re always being invited somewhere, whether it’s a weeknight or weekend. 

You’ve also really come into your own on the soccer field … I’ve lost track now of how many seasons you’ve played with Hoover Soccer Club, but you possess a real natural gift for the game. I love watching you play every Saturday and I’m so proud whether you score, assist or simply play your heart out each week.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of the wonderful young man you’re becoming. You’re a natural leader and my hope and prayer is that you use that gift in the most honorable ways. I can’t wait.

You’ve come a long way, baby.

I love you,

Sep 26, 2016



Neither my heart nor my head can believe that today, you are 5.

You’ve been counting down the days to your 5th birthday for at least two months now. You seem to think being 5 is your destiny — although you said just the other day, “I’m weally going to miss being fo-uh. I’m awfully good at it.”
Let me tell you what it’s like being your mommy. Have you ever heard someone described as someone else’s “shadow”? Well, THAT’S YOU. You follow me so closely at all times that if I stop quickly, you bump into me. When I go to the bathroom, you follow me and stand at the door. (If I don’t lock it, you come in. If I lock it, you stand there and jiggle the handle, asking if you can come in and/or how long it will be until I come out when am I coming out why am I taking so long I am taking forever I’m never coming out.)

While I put my makeup on in the morning, you sit between my feet on my bathmat. You know my routine so well that if I haven’t moved on to my hair by the time the Today show theme song comes on, you tell me I’m running late. (And you fuss at me if hairspray lands on you, EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE SITTING DIRECTLY BENEATH ME.)

When I leave for my walk every night, you beg to go with me and get a wobbly lip if I say no. I often let you do the first mile with me, because it’s so hard to say no when you’re so desperate to go that you’re willing to walk a mile in princess flipflops because they’re the only shoes you can find, and you come home with a huge blister — but you don’t complain because all you wanted to do was go on a walk with me.

You’ve inherited my love for animals, and you still talk about our cat Scout, who we lost a couple of years ago. You bring him up a couple of times a week even now, and you talk about how you’re going to have 10 cats and 10 dogs when you grow up, and “they’re all going to get along.” That’s why I call you Snow White.

Your very best friend is Bayla Stocks, the dog that lives behind us. You ADORE her to the moon and back, and the feeling is mutual. I’ve told her mommy Rebecca that she can never move, never ever ever, because I don’t know how you and Bayla would go on. (I really don’t.) I’ve never seen a purer love than the love between you and Bay.

Four years and 364 days ago, we’d consumed TRUCKLOADS less baloney and yogurt in this house than we have now. We had far less pink and purple in our lives than we do now. And had nowhere near as much fun as we have now. You complete us.
Happy 5th birthday, baby girl.

I love you,

Sep 7, 2016

House Peace was here

If you were to describe our house, "peaceful" wouldn't crack the top 100.

We're loud, we're busy and we stack things.

That's my main organizational or "cleaning" challenge in my house: we stack things here, there and everywhere. So you don't walk around tripping over things all the time, and it's not that you look around and see junk on every surface. But look around the perimeters of the rooms, and you'll see stacks of toys, books and even clothes that have been folded but not put away.

I hate that about myself.

My friend Tara has a whole business -- House Peace -- built around helping people get organized. She offered to help me a couple of months ago, but I told her -- in all honesty -- that I had $10 in my hobby account and I couldn't afford to hire her at the time.

Tara very sweetly offered to come over and just basically show me what she could do in a couple of hours, free of charge. Which she did.

And although I didn't have any cash money to pay her, I DO still (kind of) have this blog, so I told her I'd at least write a blog post about it so I could share her talents with you. She didn't sponsor the post, but I did want you to know that I didn't pay for the organizational wizardry she worked in my master bath vanity.

Here's the inside of my vanity Before:

Not the worst you've maybe ever seen, but plenty of room for improvement.

And here's the After:

I'm not sure if -- SINCE YOU'RE NOT INTIMATELY FAMILIAR WITH MY TOILETRIES -- you can tell what she did here. But she added another level of storage for my contacts and contact-related items in the center section, moved most of my haircare stuff to the top-left bin, and used Steri-Lite containers (which she provided) to corral things by category in the right cabinet. And she labeled everything.

Was I proud and did I note out loud to her that I own the same exact labelmaker?


Here's the left cabinet After:

Honestly. Who else on the Internet is showing you their panti-liners and cotton rounds in full living color? THIS IS WHY YOU COME TO GRASS STAINS.

In the right cabinet, she used some containers that I already had, and I was completely fine with that. This is storage behind closed doors, and the things I reach for most often (flossers, plastic cups) are easily accessible.

Unopened makeup and toothbrushes, our thermometer and other things I only need to access occasionally are stored in the labeled Steri-Lites.

Finally, my daily makeup items remained in my easy-to-grab lucite tray, but she neatly stacked my Clinique-bonus bags that hold my fingernail polishes behind it.

What she did in the vanity drawers is pretty self-explanatory ... mostly cleaning up all my hair tools on the right (which I don't use but which I refuse to throw away), and using 4x8-inch containers to organize things that often just float around.

Right drawer After:

Left drawer After:

I asked Tara if she does "virtual consultations" for non-locals, and they do! Since most of you aren't here, I invite you to reach out to her if you have a need and are interested in seeing what she can do for you.

To learn more about any of their plans and pricing, click here and then click "Our Process" at the top.

Thanks for indulging me in sharing Tara and her business with you today!
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