Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Auld Lang Syne

Happy new year, from the world's worst blogger!  As we bid farewell to 2013 and look forward to the coming year, I have a few reflections to share.

I didn't do the couch to 5k program that I started in January.  I didn't even finish a full week.  Turns out that while my internal organs weren't literally dragging behind me on the ground, it felt close enough to the truth to put me off of jogging and running permanently.  I guess if I'm ever being chased by something scary, I'd better hope that I remember where I put my car keys.

Jack started speech therapy in January of 2013, and now we can hardly believe that we ever thought he needed it.  Hopefully by this time next year we'll be able to say the same about potty training.  (I hate potty training - I will happily give birth to your kids for you if you'll promise to potty train mine for me, because it is my least favorite part of being a parent - I'd rather deal with stomach flu.  I'd rather do nearly anything, honestly, than potty train man or beast).

In February I was slightly more awesome - I stood up for that kid at Chick Fil A who was being verbally berated by her grandfather for an accident (the whole story).  I didn't run anywhere.

In March I got an MRI of my head, proving once and for all that there is a functioning brain up there.  It was normal.  Here we are in December and I think we've finally found the right combination of medicines to keep my headaches away - I have only had one since December 10 and alcohol may have been a factor.  It has been a long year of "let's try this for 6 weeks and if it doesn't work we'll try the next thing for 6 weeks."  My answer has been, "Hey, I don't get migraines when I'm pregnant, BJ," but so far he's not a fan of that plan.  We'll see...  Claire turned 6.

In April I turned 37.  That's exactly 20 years older than I feel (until I hang out with actual 17 year olds, then I'm like, "Oh yeah, I'm a fossil.")

In May Kate turned 1, Jack continued speech therapy, and I didn't write much.

In June we bought our new home, and most of my time since then has been spent playing house.  BJ also turned 37.

In July I panicked about renters.  I shouldn't have, though, because the family we eventually found is AWESOME.

In August Mary Grace turned 8 and I accidentally got another dog.  The girls started 2nd and 1st grade.

In September Han Solo started showing up EVERYWHERE.  The girls discovered and then promptly blocked out the truth about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, etc.

In October, not much happened.  In November I didn't even post.  Truly I am the world's worst blogger.

In December Jack turned 3 and we spent most of the month partying instead of blogging.  You would know that if I ever posted pictures anywhere other than Facebook.

It's funny because this time of year I always look back and regret not writing more, but at the same time, I feel like the kids' stories belong to them more and more as they get older.  Last time I got all angsty about this I had another baby so that I would have new material.  Not sure that BJ is going to let me get away with that again.

Happy New Year, Internet!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Jack Turned 3!

Dearest Jack,

You are three.  I am so sorry for not writing your birthday letter on your actual birthday, but things have been ridiculously busy at our house.  But we'll pretend that it's because most of my pictures of you are on my work computer, because that's where I back up my phone, ok?  Cut Mommy some slack.

Last year I was so worried about you because you weren't talking much.  It makes us laugh now, because you never stop!  When you get excited you say something will be "so so much fun!"  Instead of "stop" you say "fop," and Superman is "Fooperman," but it's cute so we don't worry about it.  I apologize if you're reading this as an adult and calling me foopid for not fixing it.  Feriously.

When you go to sleep you still like to snuggle, and you're likely my last baby so I'm not as firm about it as I was with your sisters.  You like to feel my cozy arms (what is it with you kids and my arms?) and to rest your head on my tummy.  You love to read books - especially books about trains and dogs.

You are such a happy, sweet natured little boy.  It's very rare that you're grouchy or hyper.  You love to be around people, but you'll also play by yourself happily (it helps that you got lots of cool new stuff for your birthday).  You love your "gogs" (dogs).  You love Daddy and you break his heart when he has to leave for work and you're begging him to come downstairs and play trains with you.  

I'm so glad that we have had the opportunity to raise a little boy.  I hope that you grow up to be as strong and as gentle as your father.  I hope you stay as sweet as you are right now.  I hope you learn to do your own laundry at a prodigious age, because seriously...

Here's the checklist:

Here's the checklist:

Your favorite toy for playing is: anything with wheels, especially trains

Your favorite toy for snuggling is: your dogs

Your favorite foods: strawberries, apples, apple pie, chocolate

Your favorite book is: Spot Goes to School - books with trains, dogs, and flaps

Your favorite activity is: riding things (trains, bikes, etc.)

Your favorite place to go is: the park

Your best friend is: Penny

Something new that you're doing: counting

Something you've mastered: speaking, almost!

Something people say about you: "Look at his curly hair!"

Something that you're saying is: When I call you I'll say "Jaa-aack!" on a decending third, and you'll sing, "Whaaa-aaat," back to me, and I'll sing back, "I love you!" and you sing, "I love you too!"  Sometimes I lose you on purpose just so that I can hear you sing to me.

Something Dad and I are proud of you for: You are gentle with the dogs and almost never pull their ears and tails.

Something surprising about you: you have a sense of humor that is well beyond your age.

What you want to be when you grow up: Fooperman.

I love you so much, Jack Jack.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013


In the car this morning:

"Look at the pretty trees, Jack!  Aren't the leaves pretty today"

"Why somebody paint doze trees?"

Oh, this kid, he is my heart.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Things I Don't Want to Forget, October Edition

I was adjusting the "static correction" collar we got for Penny, because she barks constantly.

Mary Grace said, "Set it to extra crispy!"


I complained that Jack hadn't touched his dinner.  He stuck out one finger and gently nudged his sandwich.  "I touched it."


Aunt Mimi was babysitting, Jack had a dirty diaper.  He wouldn't let her change it.  She asked him why.  He replied, "I do not want you to see my butt."


Our friends gave us a big cardboard stand-up Han Solo.  The kids have delighted in scaring me with him at every opportunity.  First they left him standing in my doorway.  I actually screamed and jumped backward about 8 feet.  He has shown up in every room of the house, in the shower, in my bed, behind BJ's car.  I even printed little Han Solos and sent them to school in the girls' lunches one day.  The whole thing has been hilarious.


A girl was giving Claire a hard time at school - this girl gives everyone a hard time, actually.  Claire came home asking what it means when someone holds up their middle finger at you.  Ugh.  So I explained, and told her to just stay away from that kid as much as possible.  Instead of listening, Claire drew a picture with the two of them holding hands under a rainbow.  She took it to school and gave it to her the next day.  The little girl with the problems showed the teacher, and Claire got to "clip up" to Sparkling - the highest honor for the day.

I am humbled by her gentle heart.  It turns out that the little girl has a paraprofessional with her in the class, and obviously has special needs of some kind.  Leave it to my girl to realize that she needs a friend, and to reach out to her.


Oh, how I love these wonderful kids!

Friday, October 4, 2013

PPD in the News

I'm heartbroken this morning to learn that the woman driving the car in Washington DC who was shot to death by Capitol police after running over a member of the Secret Service and driving erratically in the mall area suffered from postpartum depression.

Actually, chances are that she suffered from postpartum psychosis, which is a different disorder, but since I'm not a shrink and I've never met the woman, I'll refrain from diagnosing her myself.

What kills me is that PPD and PPP are known disorders with effective treatments available, and yet so many women suffer in shame and silence.

I know the pain of PPD.  I have felt helpless, wanting the pain to end so badly that I might have done anything to make it stop.  Instead of doing anything, though, I called my husband or my mom, I called my sister, I called a friend.  I got help.

I'm heartbroken that this woman didn't have the support she needed so desperately.  I'm heartbroken for her baby who will never know her mother. 

And I'm writing this today because I know that there are women out there who are in the throes of PPD and who will read this story and think, "Might I do something like that too?" and it'll send them spiraling downward - as any bad news will do when you're in that place.

Listen to me - help is out there.  There are plenty of places you can go.  Call someone you love.  Call the crisis line - 1-800-273-TALK.  Call your doctor.  Call the hospital where you gave birth.  Don't suffer alone. 

You are not alone.  Perinatal Anxiety and Mood Disorders affect thousands and thousands of women every year - nearly a million women in the US per year, according to Postpartum Progress.  Only when we're honest with each other and willing to be vulnerable and admit, "Yeah, this happened to me," can we get help or help each other.  Which is why I am brutally honest about my experience on this blog.  It happened to me.  It was awful.  But I GOT BETTER and you can too.  Please, if you're suffering right now, ask for help.

Rest in peace, Miriam Carey. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

School Pictures

Dear People,

In the interest of being able to send the children to college one day, I have elected to never ever ever buy prints of their school pictures to distribute, because it would cost a fortune.

Therefore, I have purchased the digital rights to these photos and you are welcome to copy them and print them to your heart's content.  Actually, if everyone prints each one 47 times it will bring the total cost per picture down to a reasonable level.

Here is MG's official 2nd Grade Portrait:

And here is Claire's official 1st Grade Portrait:

I still regret not getting the laser background.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rest in Peace, Santa

"Mommy, one time I was at Miss Monica's house, and I saw a toy that we got from the Easter Bunny, and I asked her about it, and Miss Monica said, 'That's because your mom and I went shopping together.'  Is the Easter Bunny real?"

"Are you sure you want to know?"

Hesitantly, Mary Grace said, "Yes."

"No, honey, the Easter Bunny is a story parents make up to make Easter magical for their children."

"Oh."  (pause)  "What about Santa?"

"Are you sure you want to know?"




"(deep breath)  No, guys, Santa's not real.  The spirit of Santa is real, and there's a little bit inside everyone who believes in that spirit, but there's no jolly man who comes down the chimney and leaves gifts for children.  That was me and your dad because we're Santa's helpers.  And again, parents lie to their kids about these things to help make their childhoods more magical."

"So Santa was never real?"

"No, there was a real man named St. Nicholas who lived a long time ago, and that's who Santa is based on."

"Woah, so you bought our American Girl dolls?" Mary Grace asked.


"You have a hundred dollars???" Claire said.

"Not anymore," I replied.  "So now that you know the truth, you have two jobs.  First, you can't spoil it for other kids who still believe.  Second, you have to help Daddy and I make Christmas magical for kids who still believe, like Jack, and everyone else.  Maybe when we go shopping this year you can buy Jack's gift from Santa.  Would you like that?"


"Mommy," Mary Grace said after a moment, "is anyone else a made up story?"

"Like who?"

"The Tooth Fairy, is she real?"


"OH MY GOSH!" she yelled, falling back against the couch.

I knew this day would come...  (Here's the post from 1000 years ago saying we weren't going to do Santa, and here's the follow up from when everyone flipped their lids.  Santa even got passive aggressive and threatened to bring drum sets and tubas to the girls if we didn't see the error of our ways!  LOL)

I feel a little sad that they're old enough to know, and I feel like a part of childhood is over for them forever, but I also feel kind of relieved.  I think I handled it pretty well.  They didn't cry.  Well, I take that back, Claire cried during the conversation but that was because Jack poked her in the eye.  I think they'll be ok.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Han Solo Just Scared The Crap Outta Me

Our friends the Perrys gave us a life sized cardboard cutout of Han Solo today. MG immediately claimed it.

So, BJ and I watched a movie tonight. Afterward, at midnight, I came upstairs to get ready for bed. The kids sleep with their doors open so I didn't turn on the hall lights - I just had my phone in my hand when I saw this:

I assure you it was much more startling without the flash. 

I yelled "SHIT" followed quickly by a disparaging comment about BJ, thinking he was the culprit.  

When he stopped laughing he told me that the whole thing was Mary Grace's idea!  "Let's put this where it'll scare Mommy!" she apparently said.

Oh, it's on kiddo. It's on.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


On the way to the sitter's house this morning, Jack said, "Have ickies, Mommy?"


"Have ickies?"

"I don't understand, honey, have ickies?"


"No, I don't have ickies."

"I have ickies?"

"No, you don't have ickies."

"Oh."  Pause.  "Have a hug, Mommy?"

Oh my gosh, he was asking for a KISS.  Have a kiss, have ickies.  I am a horrible mother.

Of course I gave him about a thousand kisses as soon as I got to Erin's house.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Not So Fast

While doing some online back-to-school clothes shopping, Claire informed me that she no longer likes polka dots, and that she wants to wear a lot of black because it "goes with everything."

Every single item she picked out was black or denim.

Isn't 6-1/2 a little young for a goth phase?

So if you see her walking around looking like a midget Morticia Adams, know that I tried.  But she doesn't like purple anymore.  Purple is for babies, Mom.

Also, we're growing out her bangs, and she refuses to keep any sort of barrette or bow in them for more than eleven seconds, so her hair is always in her eyes.  I get after her, constantly, to push it to the side, "you know, the way Mimi wears hers?" but it doesn't do much good.

If she gets into my eyeliner, I swear I'm sending her to boarding school.

Middle child syndrome, y'all.  It's a thing.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mary Grace is Eight!

(I wrote this Friday night and scheduled it to auto-publish on 8/10, but I must have done something wrong because it never did.  Sorry, Kiddo...)

Dear Mary Grace,

Once a year I have a good cry about my baby being X years old, and how could that possibly be because it seems like just yesterday... blah blah blah.  But seriously, you were just born, how can you be 8 already?

Official First Grade School Picture
This year I've really started to see glimpses of the adult you're becoming.  For example, your brother had the stomach flu, and he threw up all over the new house, and you helped me clean it up!  I was stunned.  I mean, I'm the mom and I still have to put on my big girl undies to clean up vomit, and there you were helping, for real, without being asked.  It was pretty awesome.

You're going into second grade, which blows my mind completely.  You love school, you love to read, you love learning about science.  You're awesome at everything.  You totally take after your dad.

Daddy, Superman, and Mary Grace at ComicCon.
In fact, considering that Daddy didn't even think you liked him when you were a baby, you've turned into quite a Daddy's girl.  As I write this, you and your siblings are downstairs with him watching Star Wars.  You had a great time with him at ComicCon, and you're looking forward to GenCon with him next weekend.

Adler Planetarium - October 2012
When we were in San Diego, you totally geeked out over the pandas at the San Diego Zoo.  I love watching you get that excited over things like that.  We had to go straight to the pandas, because you just couldn't stand to wait any longer.  

50s day at school - Poodle Skirt Costume
I've been having technical difficulties with everything, so these pictures are largely from last year...  Sorry about that kiddo.  But honestly, I'm having a good time looking through them.

This is animated on my screen. I don't know if it'll show up that way in the post or not. Crazy.
You're just awesome, Cuppycake.  I don't write about you much anymore because you've got your own voice, and I feel like your stories are your own to tell (and let's face it, with moving and everything Mom hasn't written much about anyone in a while).  But don't think for a minute that it's because you're any less awesome and fascinating than you were the day you were born.  You get more awesome and more fascinating every day.

Here's the checklist I started doing a million years ago:

Your favorite toy for playing is: your bow and arrow (it's real!)

Your favorite toy for snuggling is: your panda bears

Your favorite foods: cheese pizza and anything sweet

Your favorite book is: Nancy Drew

Your favorite activity is: board games

Your favorite place to go is: Dave & Busters

Your best friend is: Ava

Something new that you're doing: cleaning up - for real!

Something you've mastered: riding a bike without training wheels

Something people say about you: "She's so tall!"  (they also like to play with your hair)

Something that you're saying is: you've learned to whistle, and you do it a lot

Something Dad and I are proud of you for: I can't pick just one thing.  We're proud of EVERYTHING you are, Cuppycake.

Something surprising about you: you have a great sense of humor, you make us laugh all the time

What you want to be when you grow up: you said that you want to find a cure for cancer *sniff*

I love you to bits, Happy Birthday!


Friday, August 9, 2013

My Accidental Baby

Tuesday was a work day for me, the kids were home with our awesome friend and babysitter Erin.  I had to run an errand on the way home, so I thought, "I'll take that old fabric travel crate to Natalie's on my way.  If I go without the kids, I won't come home with a dog!"

Famous. Last. Words.

I was on the phone with Amanda when I rolled up.  Got the crate out and tried the door.  Locked.  Tried the other two doors.  Locked and locked.  The sign said "open" but they weren't.  I put the crate outside the door, and walked back to my car as another car pulled in.  Two women got out with a cute little puppy.  They started trying the doors and peeking in the windows, looking a little desperate.

"Amanda, I'm going to have to call you back.  I think I'm about to get a dog."

I got out and asked them if they were there to surrender that cute widdle baby puppy wuppy.  They said that they were social workers and that he'd belonged to a client.  Social worker #1 had 5 dogs and 2 cats, and social worker #2 had 5 cats and 2 dogs.  "We just don't know what we're going to do!  We can't take him home!" they said.  They explained that their client was planning to put him in the paper for free, and they were afraid he'd end up a bait dog.

I asked if anything was wrong with him, and why the former owner wanted to get rid of him.  "No, he's a great little dog.  She's just that way, she's done this before," they explained.  "His name is Max."

Game over.

"We just don't know what we're going to do!" they were practically in tears.

"I'm going to go get that crate I just donated," I said, resigned, "and you're going to put him in my car."  We exchanged phone numbers and hugs, and they assured me that it was fate that we happened to be there at the same time.

I called BJ on the way home and said, "You're not going to believe what I just did."  He wasn't even mad.  I guess 16 years with me have worn him down to the point where he just rolls with all the crazy.

Wednesday I took Sheldon (we couldn't call him Max.  In this life you only get one Max) to the vet.  He was pronounced healthy, except for a case of fleas (and let me tell you, if vacuuming were an Olympic event, I would've won the gold after they called and told me that!).  They think he's an Australian Shepherd mix.  He's cute as a bug.  He has a sweet little personality, and even seems to be house trained.

I had him neutered and he did just fine, but now he has to be kept quiet.  We're dog-sitting for my friend Kaity, so right now I have three dogs (one who has to be kept quiet), which is a little nuts.  But they're good dogs.  It's kind of fun.  (Don't worry, Honey, I won't get a third dog!)

Oh, and the "free" dog has cost $600 so far.  

So, between the new house (which we're still unpacking), the old house (which we got ready for our tenants with 30 whole minutes to spare), the new dog, the old dog, and back to school...  Well, that's where I've been.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hello, Blog

Sorry if any of you got spammed.  My sister said that a post claiming to be from this blog showed up from "Angie" on Feedly. I have no idea how that happened.

We're getting settled in at the new house, the fence should be installed next week which will make everything a LOT easier.  Penny and Jack are kind of going nuts.  Penny has a small dog run, but she can't really get much exercise in there because she spends the whole time scratching at the garage door to get back in.  Jack has done a pretty good job of staying in the yard, but he doesn't know that he's little (having older sisters will do that to you) so if I'm not careful he'll just take off down the street to look for the neighbor's cat, or to look at the little Mickey Mouse fountain that the neighbors have.  *sigh*

We kept our old house as a rental, and we had some interesting folks come to see it.  My favorite was the woman who called and said, "I know you're asking for X, but I can only afford X/2, so if you're willing to rent it for that I'd love to rent from you."  I was like, "I"m sorry, that's hundreds of dollars below our break-even point, there's NO WAY I can rent it to you for that."  "Oh, well if you change your mind...."  Um, no.

The other good story involved a guy who gave me the wrong first name (he said his middle name was Y Z, but it was actually X Z, and Y was his middle name, which I found out when I looked him up on the county's website).  I also found that he had $20,000 worth of debt that had gone to court over the past 10 years - showing a habitual pattern of not paying his bills, as well as a couple of assault charges and generally more criminal history than I was comfortable dealing with - especially considering that there's a school two blocks away!  When I confronted him and said that I'd need first and last month's rent, plus the security deposit, he got all hostile with me.  Dodged that bullet.

Oh, and there were the 36 year old twins who were dressed identically and who talked over each other constantly, so it was like having two conversations with the same person at once.  That one made my head hurt!  (Also, they were guys).

In the end, we found a wonderful family that's moving in from out of state.  They have a daughter Claire's age and a four year contract at the university.  I'm super hopeful that they'll stay for the whole four years -that would be amazing, because trying to find a tenant SUCKS.

Right.  So we'll see how it is being landlords.  We have a couple more weeks to get the rest of our crap out of the old house (currently the garage, the shed, half of the play structure, and the contents of the attics - stuff I couldn't get on my own and BJ's back has been too bad to get) and get the projects done over there.  We have a lot of projects to do over there, which is why I haven't had much time to post, lately.  I've been on Facebook quite a bit, though, you can always look for me over there.  Facebook is easier to do from my phone.

All right, time to get this day on the road.  Need to get showered and go take down the rest of the play structure.  Thanks for sticking around during this transition.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Part 2

If you haven't yet, read this.

Right.  So I literally backed down the street, rolled down the window, and yelled, "NICE HOUSE!" at the Realtor and the prospective buyer who were coming out.

"Want to see it?" the Realtor replied.

"Hell yeah!"  I said, but then she asked me if I was working with someone, and I said I was, and she said that she wouldn't want to step on someone's toes and I'd better go get my Realtor.

It just so happens that Lauren, the Realtor we've been working with for about 2 years, lives on the back of the same block we were on, so I drove around the block.  She was in her front yard watching her kids, talking on the phone.  I waited until she finished her call, then said, "We have to go see a house right now." 

"My baby's asleep inside..." Lauren said.  She's so professional, she only looked at me like I was crazy a little bit.

"My sister Megan was a first grade teacher and she has a one year old and I trust her with my life, can she watch your kids?"

I mean, obviously it was an emergency.

So Lauren left her three small children in my sister's capable hands, and we walked over to the house.  I called BJ on the way and had him meet us there.  "When?" he asked.  "RIGHT NOW."  I said.

As soon as I walked in, I knew it was my house.  I was ready to put in an offer right then and there.  We have had so many houses bought out from under us, and some that we've wanted to look at that were sold before we could get there.  I knew we had to act fast.  BJ was less convinced, so we made arrangements to look at it a second time the next morning with our dads.

The next morning we arrived, and we were told that there were 8 showings that day with several second showings...  So we wrote an offer in the kitchen.  The seller accepted.  Now I'm writing to you from our BRAND NEW HOUSE!

It is so beautiful.  The master bedroom is bigger than the entire upstairs was at our old house.  It has everything we needed (a bedroom on the first floor with its own bath - that will be BJ's office, unless a parent needs to come stay with us someday), a basement so I don't have to take Xanax during storms anymore, a HUGE sunny backyard, a wine drinking porch, an amazing kitchen, a two car garage, a front porch that's so welcoming and inviting...  The list of things I love just goes on and on.  The street it's on bears my grandfather's middle name.  It's like it was meant to be.

We managed to get an amazing mortgage rate, too, and now they're starting to go up again, which was something we feared would happen when they bottomed out about a month ago.  If we bought today the rate would be about 1% higher. 

The seller was so amazing - she fixed everything we asked her to fix.  She could have held out for a higher offer and gotten us into a bidding war with someone else, but instead she accepted our offer and that was that.  I brought her a plant when we did our final walkthrough, and thanked her for being amazing and for letting us buy this gorgeous house.

The closing was so much fun - we laughed and joked the entire time.  The banker even came because, as she said, "I knew this would be a great closing!"

Ok, break time is over, I have 10,000 pictures in my car that need to be unpacked.  I'm sorry I've been busy but I had to upheave my entire life and bring it over here.  I haven't even begun to tell you about the process of keeping our old home as a rental and all the fun Craigslist people I've met as a result.  That'll be Part 3.  It's well worth the wait!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Triumphant Return to Blogging

"Where," you might be saying to yourself, "the hell has Amy BEEN for the past month and four days?!  Her niece turned one and she disappeared!"

I will tell you, my friends.  I will tell you chronologically and in a series of posts with ample pictures and hyperbole.

It all started about 50 days ago.  How do I know?  I'll get to that.  But about 50 days ago my sister Megan and her baby Kate came down for a visit.  We went places.  We did things.  Then both the kids (Jack and Kate) fell asleep in the car.  "Rolling nap!" we said, and drove directionlessly around town.  Normally we do rolling naps on the phone, so it was a nice treat to be able to roll in person.

Megan just bought a house last year, and she knew that we'd been looking, so I said, "Let's drive by some of the houses we've looked at."  She was game, so I steered the family truckster into one of my favorite neighborhoods in town.  We drove past the one that was too narrow, and the one that was too beige, and we were on our way the one that I almost bought while BJ was out of town when......  <brakes>


3056 Hamilton St, West Lafayette, IN

...and now it's time for me to go get Jack so you'll have to check back later to find out what I said to the Realtor who was coming out as we were backing up.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy Birthday Kate!!!

Dear Kate,

You are ONE!  I just can't believe it, because this...

...seems like just yesterday.

All babies change and grow so much during their first year of life, and you are changing and growing faster than I can keep up.  You were a very early walker - starting at 9 or 10 months old.  I loved watching your face when you were beginning to walk, because you were just so tickled with yourself.  "Look at me go!" you seemed to say.  

You are such a good girl.  You're a great sleeper (a very important quality in a baby) and a wonderful eater!  You LOVE food.  I think you get that from me.  You have such a sunny personality, and a big smile for everyone you see. 

My favorite part of the last year, other than all the snuggles you and I have enjoyed, has been watching your mom and dad become parents. You really lucked out, kiddo, because they are amazing.  I always knew they would be.  They love you so much, and they are doing such a great job.  I'll tell you what, though. it's been kind of weird watching my baby sister, who I played dolls with growing up, have a real baby of her very own.  I'm sure she felt the same way about me with your cousins.  I hope someday they'll give you a sister so that you'll know exactly what I mean.  Sisters are cool.

Meanwhile, though, you have your cousins.  You and Claire have a really special relationship.  She and I came up to visit once without the others, and you two really bonded.  Maybe it's because you look alike, or maybe it's because she saved you from going down the stairs in your walker, but you two have a special connection that is so cool to witness.

Claire's 5 years older than you, just like I'm 5 years older than your mommy.

When I think about how much the world has changed in the 37 years I've been in it, and then I try to imagine what the future will be like for you and your cousins when you're my age, I get a little dizzy.  Some things will never change though - your family will always love you, and we'll always be in your corner to support you and guide you and help you become the amazing person that you were born to be. Even if we end up with flying cars, a colony on Mars, and Google enabled contact lenses in the next 35 years or so, many fundamental things will remain constant - love, family, kindness, connection, compassion - those are the things that really matter and always will.

I have this checklist that I fill out for my kids on their birthdays, and your mom emailed me to say she filled it out for you.  I'm going to do it, too, and we'll see how many answers I get right.  Maybe she'll post her answers in a comment.

Your favorite toy for playing is: Tupperware, your walker, your dogs

Your favorite toy for snuggling is: Biscuit Jr., the stuffed cat I bought you after you fell in love with Biscuit Sr., who belongs to Claire

Your favorite food is:  all of them, but your mom told me that you're a really big fan of the Gerber Wagon Wheels - which are these giant, dry cereal wheels

Your favorite book is: hopefully the one I recorded for you!  Ha ha!

Your favorite activity is: walking!

Your favorite place to go is: work with Mom and Dad

Your best friend is: Julie, your babysitter, and your cousin Elise

Something new that you're doing: walking!  

Something you've mastered: wrapping people around your little finger

Something people say about you: "She's so pretty!"

Something that you're saying is:  Mama and Dada

Something I am proud of you for:  you're fearless and strong

Something surprising about you: you have blue eyes!  I got really used to brown eyed babies before you were born.

What you want to be when you grow up: hmmm...  I'm going to have to guess because you haven't said anything about this issue yet...  you'll probably start by setting tables, then you'll be a server at Aberdeen when you're old enough, then a bartender when you turn 21, then maybe a chef for a while before you take over for your folks and they retire.

Happy first birthday, sweet girl!  Auntie Amy and Uncle BJ, and all of your cousins love you SO much!  See you at your party on Sunday.

Aunt Amy

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Jack learned the phrase "I want" yesterday, and at bedtime we were talking about all the things one can "want."  After a few minutes we settled down, and I thought he was falling asleep.  Then out of nowhere he said, "I want baby."

"You want a baby?"

"Ha Mama," ha means yes.

"Do you want Mommy to have a baby?"


"You want a brother?"


"What would we call him?" I laughed.


Where on earth did he come up with that?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Determined to Run

Hey, remember the other day when I told you about Jen and Ricky and how he needs to raise money for charity to run the Chicago Marathon?  I texted with Jen this morning, and they're not going to let what happened in Boston stop them from running.  In fact, they're more determined than ever to run it, even though I totally tried to talk her out of it because I am a big chicken.

Jen and Ricky are both cops - they're the kind of people who run toward danger every day.  They're the helpers that Mr. Rogers told us to look for at times like these.

Today I'm grateful that my cousin Jill, who was standing in between the two explosions with her boyfriend, cheering on her friends, is safe.  I'm grateful that Kate, my cousin Bridget's daughter who also lives in Boston, is safe.

And I'm grateful for the helpers.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cream of Soup

I learned something new the other day...

BJ hates mushrooms.  He makes gagging noises if I even cook them in the house.  This puts a real damper on casseroles because every single one in the history of the world uses cream of mushroom soup.  Every.  Casserole.  Ever.

I didn't understand casseroles before I had kids.  Why would you cook everything once, assemble it, and then cook it again?  Why not just have chicken, vegetables, and pasta instead of chicken vegetable pasta casserole?  Two words:  Nap time.

Casseroles allow you to make dinner while the kids are asleep or having "quiet time" after lunch, and then put it up so that you can make it at dinner time.  The casserole alleviates a lot of evening-time stress.

So I've been bumming for years (um...  16 of them this summer, to be exact.  Wow!) that I can't cook with cream of mushroom soup.

Cream of chicken works for some recipes, but not for beefy recipes.  Cream of celery has a very off-putting greenish tinge that depresses me.  But last week I discovered that Campbell's makes a cream of ONION soup.

Boom.  Problem solved.

Apparently it's been right there in the store all along, and I have never seen it.  My sister Megan didn't know it existed, either.  So if you've been stymied, like me, by a family member's hatred of mushrooms, pick yourself up a can or two and thank me later.

Who knew?

Mommy's Little Helper
(Nobody paid me anything to write this post.  I'm just stupidly excited about soup tonight for some reason.)

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Chicago Marathon

No, no, I will not be running the Chicago Marathon - are you insane?  I can't even run around the block without leaving moderately-vital organs in my wake.  But my friend Jen and her boyfriend Ricky and 44,998 of their closest friends will be!

Jen and Ricky running a 5K
Apparently people are just dying to run this thing, and the spots sold out in a day.  After that they went to a lottery system.  Jen got a spot but Ricky didn't.  But he found a charity that will give him a spot if he raises $750 for cancer research.

Piece of cake.  Everybody hates cancer, right?

So Jen had the great idea to ask people to donate a dollar a mile - or $26.20 - to help fight cancer and get him a spot in the marathon.  Your donation to the American Institute for Cancer Research is tax deductible.

Jen and Ricky are awesome people.  Jen doesn't want me to enumerate all the ways that they're awesome, because she's modest, but they totally are.  She and I have been friends for over 20 years.  And honestly, if someone awesome wants to run farther than I'm willing to drive in Chicago, I think that we should help make that happen!

Please go to this page and make a donation - any small amount will help!  And thanks, in advance, for supporting my friends!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dear Universe,

I know you think you're really cute with the irony, the Murphy's law, and the other-shoes that drop, but I have to tell you that if the cramping, heartburn, and competition-level burping that is happening to me today is a sign that I'm coming down with the hideous stomach flu that is going around, I am not going to be a happy girl.

Look, I've already been through it with all three kids.  I do not need to experience it first hand.  I am all done.  Stick a fork in me (as long as it's clean and doesn't have any norovirus on it).

I do not have time.  I do not have patience.  I do not want.  I know that you think that since I caught up with the laundry, it's time to smite me (and really, what is the deal with every piece of laundry growing legs and heading straight for the laundry sorter the instant someone throws up in this house?  Is that strictly necessary?) but let me assure you that it is not that time.

Yes, yes, I know.  Some people have real health problems, and I dodged that bullet this week.  That does NOT mean you owe me.  Kapiche?  Go pick on someone your own size.  Like Particle Man.

It's going to be nice this weekend and I have a porch to paint.

Be well,

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Breaking news...

That MRI that I mentioned the other day, the expensive one?  Everything looks normal.  No need to worry about physical brain problems.  Now, if we could only figure out why my migraines are so much worse.

I don't get them when I'm pregnant.  The only solution to this problem is MORE PRETTY BABIES!

Monday, April 1, 2013


I've been trying to teach Jack to say "I love you."

"Jack, can you say, 'I love you,'?"


"Say 'I love you!'"


"I love you!"


"I love you."


And then it occurred to me, maybe those two things mean the same thing to him.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Dear Jack,

When I am putting you to bed and I gently whisper "hush" to you, kindly refrain from shouting "HUSH" in my ear for the next seven minutes. It kind of defeats the purpose.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Things I Actually Said

So I need an MRI of my head*, and my health insurance isn't being very helpy.  I find myself calling around town and talking to various MRI-scanners asking for price quotes, and they range from about $520 all the way to $3982.  Needless to say, I don't need $4000 pictures of my head.

Anyway, I'm on the phone with the last place (the $4000 place) and I said, "I've called you, and Open MRI, and IU Health - are there any other places in town that do MRIs that I should try?  I see that St. Elizabeth's has a breast center, but my breasts are fine.  Actually, they're fabulous..."

Pretty sure she's still laughing.

* My migraines which have always been very predictable, are suddenly LESS predictable and more frequent, and they've changed where they happen and when they happen, and while the doctor is fairly certain that <Arnold> **It Is NOT a TUMOR </Arnold> he still wants me to go have exceptionally expensive pictures taken of my head.  Just in case.  I am cheap, though, and I do not want to pay $1000 (which is the amount of my deductible) for pictures that aren't even suitable for framing, which is why I'm cracking jokes to poor unsuspecting MRI center phone answerers all over town.

On the phone with the last option as I'm writing this.  Their cost?  $5129.  10 x more than the cost at the Open MRI place.  THIS IS THE BROKEN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.  (Click through, great article, I'd probably understand it more if I didn't have this giant tumor**...)  If I were sick, would I really be able to call all over town and find the lowest price available?  NO.  I would go to the nearest hospital, and pay the highest price. UGH.  So frustrating.

By the way, our health insurance for our healthy family of 5 costs our small business $21,245.64 per year.  And apparently that and a buck will get you a cup of coffee.

Monday, March 18, 2013


"Hey, you're a pirate, Grandpa.  You always say 'arr arr arr!'"
                                                 ~Mary Grace


"Roy G. Biv is the guy who invented the rainbow."
                                                      ~Mary Grace

Red Handed

Jack helped himself to Claire's leftover birthday cake this morning. I caught him red handed. Haha!

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Mary Grace:  Mommy, what's for dinner?

Me:  Well, I can either make "rotten" potatoes (au gratin potatoes) and sausage or sausage and spicy rice (Zatarains Jambalaya).

Mary Grace:  That's not really much of a choice.  It's just potatoes and rice.

Me:  ...

Mary Grace:  Can we have hot dogs?

(You know, because those are fundamentally different from the turkey smoked sausage that goes in the rotten potatoes and sausage/spicy rice in some way.)

Me:  Is there anything else you'd like to say on the topic of dinner?

Mary Grace:  Mommy, "au" is underlined red.

Me:  It's fine.  The computer doesn't speak French.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Happy Sixth Birthday Claire!

Dear Claire,

Holy cow, you're six.  How time flies!  

You are doing wonderfully in school.  You have the same teacher that Mary Grace had for Kindergarten, and we all love her.  You are learning to read, and your writing is really impressive.  We are so proud of how hard you're working and how well you're doing.

This year your birthday falls during Spring Break, so I sent chocolate chip muffins to school with you last Friday and you celebrated with two other friends whose birthdays are during the break.  We're having a "friend party" next Saturday - the theme is Hollywood because you wanted everyone to wear fancy dresses - and we're having your "family party" on Sunday.  I went on the internet while we were all stuck home with the flu a couple of weeks ago and ordered all the party supplies.  Mommy might have gone a little bit crazy.  It's going to be a heck of a party!

You love your brother and sister SOOO much.  One of the best parts of being a parent is watching the three of you and your wonderful relationships with each other.  Jack is always the first person you say hello to when you get home in the afternoon and the last person you kiss goodbye when you leave in the morning.  

You also love being a Daisy Scout.  We have had a lot of adventures together this year - the pumpkin patch, the symphony... we have a bunch of science stuff planned for this spring.  It's been really fun and interesting being your leader.  I've learned a lot about you, watching you with your friends. 

You are really looking forward to soccer this spring, and to Girl Scout camp this summer.  It's hard for you to watch Mary Grace do things first, sometimes.  You are very good at being patient and waiting your turn, and I admire that about you because I know how tough it must be.

You are such a fantastic person, Claire.  Dad and I are so proud of you, and we love you so much.  

Your favorite toy for playing is: Starfall, ABCya, and other educational websites on the computer

Your favorite toy for snuggling is: Biscuit, still!

Your favorite food is: "Panda Chicken" (orange chicken from Panda Express), and crepes with Nutella

Your favorite book is: Green Eggs and Ham

Your favorite activity is: Wrestle Night 

Your favorite place to go is: Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Busters

Your best friend is: Jack, Mary Grace, Jocelyn, Emma, Caitrin, Juliet, and Cameron, and UNCLE CHUCK

Something new that you're doing: reading!!!!

Something you've mastered: fashion - you have a strong sense of your own personal style

Something people say about you:  Your teacher told us that she wishes she could have a whole class full of Claires!

Something that you're saying is:  you're SINGING.  You are really good!  You have a natural ear for music.  I can't wait for you to start piano lessons next January.  You're going to be amazing.

Something Dad and I are proud of you for: you have such a loving heart, and such a curious mind.  It's so much fun to watch you grow into the wonderful person you're becoming.

Something surprising about you: you are very, very consistent.  Some of the answers on this checklist have been the same for years and years!  

Love, always,

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Busy days

I finalized my reports for the troop's Girl Scout Cookie sales and turned in my report last week, and it was a huge weight off of my shoulders.

Jack can't be trusted around iDevices of any kind - he steals them.  He's very good at using them, too, and I've had to double check my settings to keep him from buying every train app in the App Store.

I've been reading a lot.

Jack calls most women older than me, including his grandmothers and his speech therapist, "Lady."

Mary Grace and Claire attended the Daddy Daughter Dance for Girl Scouts with Daddy and Uncle Chuck.  I had tickets for a concert that night, so I wasn't home when they left, and therefore this is the only picture:

The concert was SUPER fun.  Karen, Shannyn, Renee and I went to see Indigo Girls in Indianapolis.  The last time I saw them was 21 years ago.  That's hard to believe.

The girls are on Spring Break, and I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to entertain everyone for the next week.  I just hope everyone stays healthy.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bedtime Stories

One of the girls chose a songbook for her bedtime story, so BJ is reading it, but he refuses to sing. So he is sort of tonelessly saying 'woah woah woah' in his baritone voice. I can't decide if this is cute or creepy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Called In Sick

I did something that no one else has ever done before yesterday.  I called in sick to a doctor's appointment.

We had a tummy bug - MG had it really badly, Jack had a milder case, BJ was queasy enough to go back to bed for most of the day, I spent most of the afternoon - after BJ recovered - in bed, and Claire came home from school pale and headachey but not vomiting.  When Jack started throwing up and BJ was still comatose, I called the triage nurse and said, "I just don't see how I can leave BJ alone with this mess when he can barely move!"

My appointment was just a med re-check on the Lexapro that I started a month ago (and the answer is that it's brilliant, and I feel very sane and normal, now, yay!).

It's funny how when MG was a baby I would take her to the doctor for every sniffle and sneeze, and now my kids have to be bleeding from their eyes and foaming at the mouth before I take them to see the doctor.  I can't remember the last time Jack went for anything but a well-child visit.  I swear MG and Claire were there every other week when they were his age.

We're all better today.  I had to keep MG home because of the 24 hour rule, but Claire and BJ are back to normal programming.  I cancelled Jack's speech therapy just to be cautious.  The only weirdness is that no one has an appetite - but I'm not pushing anyone to eat.  I figure they'll ask for food when they can handle it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What Would You Do?

The kids had today off from school for President's Day, and once I gave them a bath and trimmed all their gnarly toenails (motherhood is glamorous), made them clean up the toyroom, and got the kitchen clean, we got in the car and headed out to run some errands.  We drove through Walgreen's, went to Hobby Lobby and got some stuff for Girl Scouts, and then I took them to Chick Fil A for lunch.

Chick Fil A has stopped giving money to hate groups, so it's ok.

We had finished eating and the kids were in the play area, and I was sitting talking to a friend that we had bumped into, when the little girl at the table behind us (she must have been 3 or 4) dropped something glass (no idea what it was - everything there is plastic) and it broke.

The girl was there with her big sister, her mom, and her grandpa.  Mom chose that moment to take the big girl to the bathroom.  So Grandpa was left to deal with the little one and the mess.

In true Chick Fil A style, the young man who worked there came over and started sweeping it up right away.  But the grandpa, he was PISSED.  He yelled, "Way to go, Ace," in this really loud, sarcastic voice.  Then he yelled, "You just sit there.  JUST SIT THERE!" and then he mimed punching the little girl and said, "POW!"  So, naturally, she was scared and she tried to hide under the table - where all the broken glass was.  Of course this made Grandpa even more angry, so he's yelling at her to come out, which makes her want to hide more...  And it was just awkward and BAD.

So, being me, after a minute of this I got up and said, "I think she's trying to hide because she's scared..."  Then I got physically between him and the little girl and said, "Hey, Sis, come up here before you get hurt.  It's ok, it was just an accident.  Whatever broke was just stuff, and stuff can be replaced. The important thing is that you're not hurt, and you need to stay up here on the seat so that you don't get hurt, ok?"  She had been sobbing and screaming, "I wanna go home!" for a while, so I said, "I'm ready to go home too.  It's my little boy's nap time.  Do you still take a nap?  Is it naptime for you too?"  Of course, at this point I was talking to the grandpa, trying to calm him down and make him see the situation from her point of view.  I got her calm, he backed off, mom came back, and they left.

After they left, all the other adults around us thanked me for getting involved.

One of these days I'm probably going to get punched, but it wasn't today.