Tuesday, November 29, 2011



As promised, here are some highlight shots of Thanksgiving weekend spent with my dad, step-mom, brothers, stepsister and her family.


This was the first Thanksgiving I've spent with my dad.  Maybe there were a couple before my parents split up but I was too busy spitting up on someone's fancy blouse to remember.

My step sister, Dawna, hosted the dinner this year.

(I took this pic through the window from the outside, hence the eery steamy creepy aura going on here.  Sometimes artsy works.  Sometimes it's Freddy Kreuger.  You decide.)

 (These pictures do not due justice to her arresting blue eyes.  She is one of those people you don't really listen to because you're too busy staring at how pretty she is while she's talking.)

And as is tradition my husband fried a bird.

I spent a little time outside jumping up and down with all the kids.

My brother, Alex, did too.

Cousin Tristan showed us all how it is properly done. 

(look at all that air)

My other brother, Donnie, is a sight for sore eyes.  He gives me the safest biggest hugs that make me feel like a Disney character for a few seconds:  small, joyful, and forever young.

 (Isn't he a cutie?)

My step-mom, Chris wasn't pictured much but she and I took a walk (almost) every morning which I enjoyed for more than just the exercise.  She's easy to be around and I always hope her strength of character is contagious through the pavement.

(Chris is the pretty one next to Andy and in front of my dad.  The configuration of this family photo is so funny for so many reasons that I love it for its oddity.  From left to right:  (Back row:  Donnie, my head, Pop-Pop standing on a stool, Dale, Alex.  Front row:  Grayson, Abigail, Andy, Chris, Dawna, Tristan and in front of all is Grace.) 

 (Proof more than just my face was present and accounted for at Thanksgiving Dinner. That's me in the club outfit.  I guess someone was ready to party the night away with her sparkling apple cider.)

The next day the big kids went Paintballing.  It was a first for Andy and me.  The other "kids" are veterans and this fact alone made me very nervous.  

 (SUPER tough in my purple gloves)

I tried to chicken out several times to no avail. 

(These people were serious war mongers.)

(I learned later the opposing team yelled out "JEANS!" to identify me.  At least it wasn't "Barney!")

Evidently, I had reason to be concerned about personal well being:

I might never do it again but I won't pretend I'm not a better sniper because of it.  P.S. If anyone ever tells you paintball shots don't hurt, swell, and threaten your vital organs with a blood clot is not your friend.  They are probably your family who is eager to hunt you down like a hapless chipmunk and shoot your knees off.  Other than that?  Totally fun.

Grayson and Abby had such a good time with Mimi, Pop-Pop, Uncle Donnie, Uncle Alex, Aunt Dawna, Uncle Dale, Cousin Tristan and Cousin Gracie that they both asked to stay longer.


They pleaded with me before bed, in fact, and while it was bittersweet to say goodbye to everyone the next morning we knew we'd be back again soon.

I'm afraid Abby will not take no for an answer.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Hi Everyone,

Sorry for the holiday hiatus.

I hope you had a relaxing time wherever you were spending your Thanksgiving.

We had a blast visiting family at Dad & Chris' place.

(I will be posting pics soon but need to catch up on life here.)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here, how about your place? I took the kids to pick out our tree this Sunday and they hit jackpot within fifteen minutes. May they always be so decisive. And I'm not kidding, the thing fits within millimeters of our ceiling. I guess all that measuring Grayson did with his measuring tape and tool belt (can you stand it?) paid off.

Last night, after much problem solving with the kids and I figuring how to get the scratchy pine off the roof of our van and into our living room, Grayson and Abby hung every single ornament on the same four branches so much so the tree began to lean east. I should've left it alone but me and my itchy fingers fixed it before nightfall.

So, with that paltry update, I bid you goodnight or good morning or good afternoon.

Pictures of paintballing with my family should go up tomorrow if both kids make it to preschool. Be sure to stay tuned for pics of impressive subsequent technicolor bruises on my legs. One looks like a smushed skin rainbow and the other a purple speckled hot air balloon protruding from my knee.

P.S. It's been over two weeks since Abigail's been to preschool. We're going to need to make introductions. She'll be "the new girl" with pine sap permanently affixed to her hair.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In the Pink

My poor mom got a tomboy when I was born. 

Not for lack of trying.  When I was a baby she dressed me in sweet frilly dresses.  She bought me dolls and  Barbies. She curled my hair, shopped for pink things, and let me play with her make-up.

Somewhere along the way though I chose mud pies over dolls.   Stuffed animals were lauded over Barbies never taken out of the box.  I stopped wearing my hair in curls and sported a face full of stringy black hair most of my life because I could not be bothered with a brush or a barrette.  My ultra stylish mom's dream of a feminine little girl who wore dresses, played with dolls, collected Barbies went down the rabbit hole the day I took over my brother's Adidas wardrobe.  Including his knee high socks.

And then Abby was born.

The child who refuses to own anything if it's not pink.  The one who makes us late to preschool because she is putting on yet another necklace or bracelet.  She already knows which shoes are fall and which are summer.  I have to ask her if it's okay to wear dangly earrings with yoga pants.  (It's not.)

She does have a fearless tomboy streak running through her but if that football isn't pink she will not even consider trying to catch it.

So, Mom,  You had to wait for it but here it is.

For Thanksgiving I present to you your girly girl.  The girl you deserved to get thirty-some years ago.  I present to your Princess who is now surrounded by an entire new Princess bedroom set.  It is absolutely more pink than I can stomach but she loves it so.


This child is all girl and I have no idea what to do with it.  I should've paid more attention when you were trying to teach me.  I should've known I'd be blessed by a creature who requires lipgloss, tea parties, and Princess dress up all before 7am.

But don't worry, she is patiently teaching me everything she knows.

And I am learning slowly, how to embrace the girl in me too.

I guess Grayson will have to find another use for his Adidas socks.  It does not appear we will have a use for them here.

Monday, November 21, 2011


An hour ago I called my husband at work to let him know I caught the bug the kids have.  I was sick in every way imaginable.  Shakes, sweats, yuck here, yuck there, everywhere a yuck yuck.  I put my kids to bed then myself and fell into a very deep leave-your-miserable-body-behind sleep.

The phone rang, I slammed head-on into a migraine to answer it and knocked over an empty coffee cup as a result.


I'm not sick. 

Just incredibly...stupid.

I accidentally went cold turkey from coffee...again.  Day 2 and I had no idea the headaches, general feeling of malaise and me faced voodoo dolls were actually withdrawal symptoms from caffeine.  Who knew withdrawal symptoms would be so graphic with only one cuppa cup in my daily regimen?  Not this jerky, that's who. 

I've done this once before and stuck with it.

This time?  Not one chance of sticking with it.  It's Thanksgiving.  I want to be thankful, not psychotic.

So, there's that.

I will hope to update later, after scurrying to Starbucks for my salted caramel latte like a heat seeking missile finding its target in the middle of the rueful night.

Happy Thanksgiving.

May you not flood your system with one smarmy little toxin this week.

At least wait until  the week before Christmas.  You'll likely already be feeling like hell from holiday stress and cold weather blues.  Stack the plate is all I'm suggesting.  With a few chocolate chips on the side as a reason to live another five minutes.

And please refuse my frantic pleas for coffee donations when I'm clanking my empty tin cup around in front of you at Macy's.

Walk on by.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sick Bay

Not much to report today.

Grayson officially has the yuck that poor Abby just can't shake.  They seem to be passing the bug baton back and forth since Halloween.  Pediatrician keeps calling it a virus therefore no antibiotics ergo we are at home fighting it with boiled toothbrushes, Clorox wipes, covered sneezes, and more OJ than the Florida Keys.

Having them huddled under covers at home reminds me of the days I would come home sick from living off of Egg Drop soup and Arizona tea in college.  I'd drop my dirty laundry in a heap on the floor, curl up in blankets filled with years of lofty dreams and girlhood memories and hunker down in my twin bed for hours.

I can remember waking up not knowing what day it was or even what state it was until hearing my grandparents' voices somewhere down the hall.  My grandfather carrying on a soliloquy about healthcare benefits and my grandmother daydreaming about Crystal Falls Michigan with a hot mug of coffee in her lap.

I'd resist the urge to get up and feed my growling stomach in lieu of another hour or two of free fall napping.  Nowhere to be, nobody to answer to, and nothing in store.

Those "Creature Comfort" days are behind me now but there's something comforting knowing a new chapter of sick days are ahead.

It's not fun seeing the kids unwell but it is good to know they can hunker down under their covers that smell like shampoo, hear me typing away on the keyboard and fall back to sleep as long as they want just because they can.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

God's Paintbrush

At a book fair in my kids' preschool last week I bought an excellent book called, God's Paintbrush. Just pretend it's underlined, I don't know how to ask my keyboard that favor. We are only on page 12 or so but I had to post the kids' responses before I forget them.

(In this sweet story about friendship, love, and God there are questions designed to make your kids think on each page. Answering these questions is their favorite part. Scratch that. Talking over each other to get their response out first is their favorite part. I hope the next chapter is on patience.)

A few question and answers I wanted to share with you:

What makes you afraid?

Abby: When it's 12:30 and Grayson comes home. (???? This is news to me.)
I am afraid of people walking under my door.
Grayson: When I'm alone (So NOT news to me.) or when the moon has a mean face and it looks angry at me. Oh, and screeching and scratching. I hear mouses at night.

What makes you feel better?

Grayson: Snuggling up with Gray Wolf. Checking to see it's trees making noises. Calling Sadie to come in my room at night.
Abby: Taking my pillow and going in Mommy's room.

What makes you cry and laugh?

Abby: Getting flu shots makes me cry. Squeaking noses makes me laugh.
Grayson: Getting a scrape on my legs and my hands and my arms makes me cry. Hugging and snuggling Mommy makes me feel better.

What makes God cry or laugh?

Grayson: Getting him out of the sky, taking him to a restaurant and cooking him makes him cry. (Ummm, what the????) Feeling beautiful of nature makes him laugh.
Abby: Getting him out of the sky, taking him to a restaurant...(Hold it right there sister, it was sacrilegious enough the first time.) Happy whales makes him laugh!

How can you be God's friend?

Abby: With a little girlfriend. (Good plan, Abs, the buddy system never hurts.)
Grayson: Think about him and asking him questions.

How are you God's echo/What might he ask you to do?

Abby: Wash the sink.
Grayson: Help people out when they're really hurting or very sick.

When do feel you don't belong?

Grayson: When somebody isn't my friend.
Abby: Scrub his hands.

When do you feel safe and warm?

Grayson: When someone goes with me wherever I go.
Abby: Play-Doh!

Where would you look for God?

Grayson: Rocketship, in a tree, in the sky, outer space.
Abby: In the snow and my juice box.

There you have it. According to my kids, I've been searching for God in all the wrong places when he's been in their Fruitables all along.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

And as We Wind on Down the Road

Sometimes I feel like we know what's ahead. Like all the planning we do will in fact result in something we planned to do

Sometimes I feel we don't know a damn thing about what's ahead.

Both are valid.  Both are scary.  Both are true.

While there is no way to plan for the unforseeables, it's great to have some things concrete.

We get to stay in D.C. area one more year.  There are mixed feelings in our family about what all this means but in short, it's a good thing.  A very good thing if you ask Grayson and Abby who don't remember living anywhere else.  They can't imagine a life without our neighbors, our hallways, our little spot here on this earth.

And sometimes neither can I.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Marine Corps Ball

Saturday evening Andy and I had a very fancy date night. 

We went to the Marine Corps Ball held at the Gaylord Center in D.C.

Trees were being dressed up in white lights as we drove toward the huge building.  Car doors gave way to blue satin gowns, spit shined black patent leather shoes, and dress blues that could take your breath away.

For once, I did not feel nervous.

It was like walking into someone else's castle to enjoy a glass (or two) of wine, have a chat with strangers while waiting for the king to arrive to give his speech.

We arrived early.  Andy bounced us up the parking garage in his big truck as if we were on our way to the dump and not a million dollar mansion.  I opened my own door, hiked up my red gown and met a nervous Marine on his side of the truck.  His collar kept popping which is the military equivalent to your fly being open.  Somewhere people are drinking water with deadly bacteria in it yet there we were dealing with a wardrobe situation like our lives depended on it. 

Being early birds, we were able to glide through pictures and drink registration without any delay.

We walked and took in the others arriving in full uniform, gowns, and shoulder wraps.  Each woman had a tiny purse and each man had a tiny woman.

Unlike other Balls in years past, I didn't know a soul.  It was absolutely liberating.  While my husband had to shoulder all the social weight, I felt at ease and relaxed like that woman who knows nothing in an artsy film about power, love and money.  Ignorance for me was total bliss.

So we had a couple of drinks, chatted with Andy's coworkers some, and checked our cellphones for messages from our darling children at home who missed us so much they had to call. (They never called.)

(Some of my friends on FB asked what the kids thought about us all dressed up.  Here's the skinny:  Before we left the house Abby cried because she thought I was going to steal her tiara.  Grayson pushed me aside to check out Daddy's medals.  Sadie never noticed we walked out the door.)

Back at the Ball:  As we were waiting to sit down to watch the ceremony begin, I saw three Marines pushing themselves along in their wheelchairs.  Three handsome Marines with three very pretty dates at their sides.  Three Marines who had lost their leg or both legs at some point during their most recent "visit" overseas.  They could not have been older than twenty.

The banquet hall looked regal:  Marine Corps flag shown proudly center stage.  All tables were set beautifully with soft white hydrangeas and deep maroon flowers at the center, reminding me the cost of peace and freedom will and does inevitably draw blood.

The Marine Corps Ball felt different for me this year.  Not because I wasn't scraped in the cornea like the last time.  Not because I didn't know anyone.  This year's Ball was different for me this year because I was not distracted.  I got to feel the bass drums in my stomach as the marching band took the stage.  I listened to the words the Commandant spoke when he reminded us there were troops waking up in Fallujah as we sat there waiting for our Filet Mignon.  I bowed my head during silent prayer time for those service members we know, don't know, see, don't see, read about in the news, don't read about in the news.  This big fancy dance allowed me the chance to leave my small little life at home and remember the bigger lives of those past, present, and future.

It was one hell of a date night. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Doctor Doctor

I am balls to the walls today, you guys. Taking both kids for their flu shots after they've both been to preschool (and one started a new activity this afternoon, Booyah!).

Annnnnnd, doctor's website indicates they are all out of the nasal, so we all know what that means. Tears, guilt, the innocent steadfast trust Abby has for me shattered to bits the second needle meets tender girl arm. Oh but I hope definitely a snugglefest on the couch when we get home too. If they'll have me. Which I'm sure Abby will not. She holds grudges. Fool her once....

Wish us luck.

Fevers by 5pm, what do you think? Probabaly ham steak is out of the question then. It'll be tea, cookies, and long naps for dinner.

I've done this for five years straight and it does not get any easier. It's like Bocce or Hip Hop class or something.

If you are looking for me tonight, I'll be the one kicking myself black and blue quietly in my closet. Let me be, it's better than seeing Abby's hurt eyebrows wondering if maybe she is being raised by wolves.

So tell me, because misery loves company, what is something unfun you must do today?


4:50pm Update

Click here to see what not to do to your children.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tree College

Last night I fell asleep before reaching for the remote. Oh BRAVO, you really aren't worth it, are you?

An accidental 8 hours of sleep.  It felt like 5 minutes.  

Doesn't it make you wonder just what the heck happens to your brain and body while you sleep?  Don't you wish the more tired you were the longer your sleep felt?  Sometimes I like to believe my mind is totally separate from my body.  That I can abuse one without it having any negative recourse on the other.  But it's universally untrue... You must pay homage to both, at the same time.  Or at least the same week if you're snacking on edamame and carrot sticks while ignoring your electronics.

One way I keep a positive outlook when my body is feeling old and my mind is wearing bifocals is to go outside and look up.  To physically walk my body outdoors and physically turn my head toward the sky.

It works every time. 

During a minor mommy meltdown over silverware or something equally benign and projected upon, I forced myself outside on a cold fall night and brought my chin to the sky.  


Just like that I was small again as were my problems.  We both shrunk wee beneath black tree trunks towering:  older, wiser, working tirelessly to keep roots firmly planted with nothing but a dark cloud as a blanket and a full moon as a nightlight.

I can learn a lot from a tree.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hideaway Pics, Continued

Sadie tried to trump update blog time by requiring a bath.  She took a dip in some raw sewage pipe (at least that's exactly what it smelled like) and I just finished bathing the dirty dirty dawg.  Hopefully you haven't eaten dinner yet and Sadie didn't make a liar out of me. 

Here's Installment Two of the pictures: