Thursday, November 28, 2013

I am thankful to live a life that leads me to be so exhausted after cooking food all day, visiting with family all day, and breaking up quarrels between young children. In the moment, it can be stressful, but in the aftermath, it is all so humbling.

Happy Thanksgiving.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I sit here as my two girls are joined by their two cousins in a sleepover at our house. There was a Christmas movie and popcorn and laughter and now they’re settling into bed, no doubt staying up late talking in the dark. The Cousins live 12 hours from here, so at best we see them once every year or two. (Though this year it was a little more often because they came when my mom was sick, and also for her memorial service, plus we made the drive to their house for our vacation this year.) Anyway, my sister and her husband are (understandably) enjoying a night out at the movies since they are free of children for 15 hours or so. I am happy for them, but I am a little sad for us…

Sure, they agreed to keep The Big Sis with them for a sleepover tomorrow night (much appreciated!), however we’ll still have The Little Sis with us and can’t go out ourselves. :-/ We don’t have an abundance of babysitters in the first place, but have even fewer FREE sitters available, and certainly none we could ask pretty last-minute to stay with The Little Sis on Thanksgiving night while we go out. We can’t really go out earlier in the evening tomorrow (when my sister might be able to watch The Little Sis too…if The Little Sis would even let me out of her sight, as I couldn’t get much more than a foot away from her today without her freaking out) because we have our Thanksgiving dinner planned for approximately regular dinner time, so the timing just wouldn’t work before The Little Sis would have to go to bed. They are leaving on Saturday morning, so Friday night isn’t an option.

The Father-in-Law made a comment to the effect that he’d like the girls (both of them!) to visit him over the summer in Connecticut, which would be terrific and we’ll try to work out. But the logistics of driving up there at least 9 or 10 hours — twice (once to drop off, and once to pick up) — makes the whole thing seem so daunting. We’ve done it before with just The Big Sis, but it wasn’t easy by any means.

I’ve lost track of how many times I wish we had family we could call — even last-minute — and say, “Hey, this came up and we’d love to do it — can you watch the kids?” However, this is not a luxury we have. :-/

Making lemonade…and Scrabble words

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The other story I submitted for my mom’s memorial service earlier this year:

Even when she was faced with great obstacles in life, Mon always wanted to try and make the most of the situation and have fun where possible. When she was going through chemo in 2005, I would go to the hospital with her during her treatments, and we’d pack up some games to take with us, generally having a variety to choose from, but almost always coming back to the classic Scrabble each time. Under normal circumstances, we were fairly evenly matched, but wouldn’t you know, almost every single time we played during those chemo sessions, Mon would win the game, beating her journalist daughter quite handily, to the point that I would jokingly accuse her of cheating by sneaking something into the chemo meds she was receiving.

Some days we would get to enjoy our Scrabble games in one of the private rooms, laughing and talking our way through the minutes and hours to pass the time, though sometimes there wasn’t a private room available and Mom would get treatments in the common area, sharing a space with other patients who were also receiving chemo. But that didn’t stop our fun — we still brought along our Scrabble game, and nearly every time we played it in the common area, someone else would watch us and comment on how great it was for us to pass the time in that way, making the most of a tough situation.

One woman made a point to come over to us and proclaimed, “I’ve been coming here for a long time, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone have more fun during their treatments than you.” And that woman was probably right — Mom had a way of knowing how to enjoy life, even during the toughest of times.

Pull pull pull!

Monday, November 25, 2013

I forgot that particular childhood obsession when you’re trying desperately to pull out a loose tooth but can’t manage to extract it fully no matter what you try. Sure, each effort gets you a little closer, but in the end you’re still left with a tooth ensconced in your gums despite all the effort. You just want it OUT! NOW!

And that’s exactly where we find The Big Sis these days. Her first top tooth is super loose but still hanging on, and so far no matter what she tries, it won’t come out. So the past two nights have ended with her up past her bedtime trying to pull the tooth out but ultimate giving up (well, being told she had to give up) when it was time for bed and hoping the next day brings the desired result.

Funny on the timing but she had her dental checkup and cleaning today, and everything looks good. Three of her four six-year molars are all the way through, and usually they put sealants over those, but The Dentist wants to wait until all four are in so he can do them at the same time. That fourth one is just under the surface but not breaking through quite yet. Anyway, no cavities and just the usual reminder that flossing is especially important for her because her mouth is small and her teeth are super crowded.

So where did we go straight after the dentist? Out for frozen yogurt (which means an excuse for a bowl of candy for The Big Sis). I totally rock.

No limit

Sunday, November 24, 2013

This is a story I had the minister share at my mom’s memorial service. I haven’t really saved it anywhere other than email, so I’m going to post it here.

Anyone who knew Mom well could tell you that two of her favorite things in life were beach vacations and shopping — and she tried to combine both whenever possible. One year, she, Dad, and Sis, and I were spending the week in Panama City Beach, and the city map showed the location of a shopping center that Mom decided she just had to get to. Dad was in the driver’s seat and Mom was playing navigator — but it’s probably important to note here that Mom often couldn’t read maps that well and didn’t want to — Dad claims that she may have even taken some pride in that fact. But there she was, trying to get to this shopping center, so she was paying extra attention to make sure Dad got us there.

“Keep going straight on this road, then turn onto Limits Drive,” she told him. Dad obeyed, as he knew better than to get in between Mom and her vacation shopping. But we kept driving, and there was no Limits Drive in sight. “Turn around,” she said to Dad. “You must have passed it.” So Dad dutifully turned around and looked more carefully for Limits Drive this time. But still no Limits Drive.

It was time for someone else to take a look at the map, and Mom pointed out Limits Drive on the map to the others. “See? Right here it is,” she pointed. Sure enough, a dotted line was shown on the map, and if only they could find that road, it would take them directly to the shopping center.

“Um, Mom,” I said, probably with an obligatory teenage eye roll. “There’s no such THING as Limits Drive. The dotted line you’re looking at is where the city limits are marked on the map. There’s not actually a road there. We have to get there a different way, on a road that actually exists.”

We all got a good laugh out of it, and it became a frequent family joke that still continues to this day. Mom was always good-natured and took the relentless teasing at her expense. So, Mom, wherever you are, we hope you’ve finally found your Limits Drive — and that the shopping you find there was worth the wait.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

I was on a pretty good roll with NaBloPoMo, then a yucky stomach bug hit me on Friday morning and I was out of the game. Boo! Hiss!

People play

Thursday, November 21, 2013
As shown in yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday, The Little Sis has been playing with her Little People a lot lately. She’ll set them in chairs around a table and have them eat dinner…have them go on trips in the airplane…have them use the potty in the house.
Anyway, she’ll set up these little scenes, then ask me to take a picture! “Go get camera?” she’ll say.

A girl after my heart!

So I’ll take a picture, then of course she wants to see it. So I’ll hold the camera for her, and she says a quiet “ahhhh!” almost under her breath when she sees it, then she always asks, “I hold it.”
So I let her hold it.
And she looks at it, amused and self-satisfied.
Then she carefully turns off the camera and hands it back. “Here go!”

Wordless Wednesday: People play

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ten things

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

So there’s the meme going around Facebook where you share X number of things people might not know about you. For a variety of reasons, I’m not too keen to do it there, but I’ll share here so I can have a post for today. πŸ˜‰

1. I should have received the school-wide typing award my junior year in high school. We did a series of timed tests to determine who got the award, and I had the highest cumulative score, but another girl scored a couple points below me and received the award instead of me, simply because she was a senior and I was not, the teacher told me.

2. I took German in junior high and high school but didn’t take any foreign languages in college. In fact, most people who get a journalism degree go for a BA, but I didn’t want to take anymore foreign language classes, so I opted for a BS, which is often viewed as tougher. I was the only journalism degree my graduating year who opted for the BS. I don’t speak German now, but my 8th grade teacher said she wanted to teach us a phrase that’s immensely useful, and indeed I have always remembered it. Es hangt davon ab. “It depends.” πŸ™‚ I can also say that I go into the city. That’s about it. πŸ™‚

3. As a copy editor, sometimes I say things in my head how they’re spelled, now how they’re actually pronounced, so I have to be careful when speaking sometimes. However, this goes back to my school days as well. I was shamed by my 5th grade teacher for mispronouncing the word “participle.” I said it “par-TIS-iple.”

4. I like my shower and bath water as hot as possible.

5. Aside from Love Actually, my favorite Christmas movie is “A Very Brady Christmas.” For reals. It is so bad, but I love it.

6. My kids are 4 1/2 years apart, the oldest born in January and the youngest in August. My sister’s kids are 4 1/2 years apart — also with the oldest born in January and the youngest in August.

7. I quit swim lessons when we were told that we were going to have to jump off the high dive the next day. My low dive jump had not gone well, as I struggled a bit to tread water, and I had no interest in doing it off the high dive. I swim fine now. About seven years ago, I finally conquered my fear of the high dive and jumped off it. While I can’t say I want to do that repeatedly, I’m glad I sort of tied that loose end.

8. My initial inspiration for becoming a journalist was reading “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” as she wants to be a journalist. Coincidentally, we also share a birthday.

9. I don’t always have a specific side of the bed — it’s whichever side of the bed is closest to the bathroom.

10. I have had two broken bones but never have had a cast. One was my nose when I was younger and cracked it on the edge of the concrete porch. The second time was as an adult playing intramural softball for work and I came down on my leg weird and slightly cracked my tibia.

Little People for my little people

Monday, November 18, 2013

My parents, while junked-up kitchen counters and coffee tables were their specialty when I was a kid, did not keep any of my childhood toys or clothes. We lived in a 1,000-square-foot house with no attic and no basement and no garage, so it was a matter of logistics that there just wasn’t room for such storage. I have to admit that I’m a little jealous of people whose parents kept at least some of their toys to pass along, as I had literally none. At all.


When my mom died in April, my sister and I were very civil about how we divided up her personal belongings. When there was a dispute, we found a fair (and usually random) way to settle it, but I don’t think either of us left with hard feelings. Mostly it was jewelry we had to divide up, saving some for our own kids, too, but there were some other things that we had to divvy up too. It was a difficult process, but at least made easier that we didn’t really fight over anything.


When I was cleaning through my mom’s closet, I ran across a large plastic storage tote in the back. In it, there were just some old shower curtains and beach towels, until I got to the bottom. In the back corner of the storage tote, I found one of the original Little People (pictured here) from when I was a kid. It’s larger than the Little People of today, and had some sort of unknown stain on the head. While I didn’t have a specific memory of that particular Little People character, I knew that I had to have it.

I knew I would be willing to fight my sister over that one item — a representation of my childhood. A relic of my past that grows more distant each day.


Thankfully, my sister had no such attachment and I gained the Little People (Person?) without any objection.

The stain didn’t come off the head, but that doesn’t matter. To see my own little people playing with my Little People makes me smile. I don’t think my mom kept it on purpose — I think it just got lost in the shuffle of everything else they owned, but I was glad it made the journey through all those years.

And when it’s time to pack up my girls’ Little People, I’ll set a few of their favorites aside, as well as the one that brought my own childhood back to life. They might not appreciate the history of it like I do, but who knows, maybe they will.

Sissies are the best bedtime story readers

Sunday, November 17, 2013

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These boots were made for sleeping

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I’ve mentioned The Little Sis’ love of shoes, and I think also how she’s gone to sleep in shoes before. But this picture rocks, so that’s tonight’s post:

Current favorites

Friday, November 15, 2013

Favorite book:
The Big Sis: The Smurfs comic series
The Little Sis: “You Can Go to the Potty” or “Kim and Carrots” from Babybug

Favorite dinner:
The Big Sis: homemade vegetable soup and grilled cheese
The Little Sis: spaghetti

Favorite breakfast food:
The Big Sis: blueberry bagel with butter
The Little Sis: toast with butter

Favorite color:
The Big Sis: pink
The Little Sis: the first color that comes to mind

Favorite thing to do:
The Big Sis: play with her friends; read
The Little Sis: play with her mommy; put on other people’s shoes

Favorite special treat:
The Big Sis: Suckers
The Little Sis: ice cream

Favorite TV show:
The Big Sis: My Little Pony
The Little Sis: My Little Pony, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

Favorite stuffed animal:
The Big Sis: A little bunny rabbit
The Little Sis: A big stuffed golden retriever

Time lapse!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Feb. 2012

Oct. 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Thankful for these gals

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shoe in

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ways you know your 2-year-old is utterly obsessed with shoes:

#248: She is currently asleep for the night with The Big Sis’ too-small Crocs on her feet, after wearing them non-stop once she got home.

#249: When #248 becomes a regular occurrence in your home.

Lather, rinse, repeat

Monday, November 11, 2013

Here is a list (not an exhaustive list) of phrases I would like to never utter again for the rest of my life, in no particular order:

  • Keep your feet to yourself.
  • Keep your hands to yourself.
  • Just eat your dinner.
  • Sit in your chair, on your bottom or your knees.
  • If you would sit in your chair like a normal person, you wouldn’t fall off.
  • Get off the coffee table. It is never okay to sit/stand on it.
  • Stop standing on the recliner.
  • The bar stool is not for climbing on.
  • Stop spinning in the computer chair.

Get the back

Sunday, November 10, 2013

With The Little Sis in the potty-training process, there are a lot of times she tries to use the potty but doesn’t do anything. Maybe this should be a confession, but we don’t make her wash her hands every single time she sits on the potty; we do if she is productive, of course, but otherwise, we just have her use some hand sanitizer, which we call “hand rubbies.”

Recently, I was showing The Little Sis how to use hand rubbies on her hands. “Rub your hands together. Good! Now make sure you get the back.” What I MEANT was to make sure she got the backs of her HANDS. However, she took this to mean her ACTUAL back, so she reached around her body to spread it onto the small of her back.

And each time since, she does her hand rubbies by rubbing her hands together first, then reaches a hand around her body to put some on her back. I tried correcting her the first few times, but now I just let it amuse me as I watch her do it and don’t speak up. πŸ™‚

Fall into fall

Saturday, November 9, 2013

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Career day

Friday, November 8, 2013

I am not a good public speaker.

No, seriously.

One of the perks of my career as a copy editor is that I don’t have to stand in front of large groups for, well, anything. I get extremely nervous beforehand, then one of two things happens when it’s time. Either I completely lose my train of thought and can’t get it back, or I get on some tangent I hadn’t originally planned to talk about and veer way off from what I’m supposed to be talking about but can’t get myself to shut up and get back on track.

I probably should have, but I did not offer a story during the “sharing time” of my mom’s memorial service in April. The pressure of public speaking at such an emotionally delicate time was too much for me to handle, so I declined. (Which I don’t regret, by the way. My mom would have understood how uncomfortable it would have made me.)

Seriously, it’s bad. Or rather, it used to be, when I had to do such things back in my school days. But thankfully those days are largely in the past for me, so on a day-to-day basis, it’s really a non-issue.

So I was quite conflicted when I got an email from The Big Sis’ teacher earlier this week asking if I would come speak to the class on Friday about my career and my career path. On the one hand, I would LOVE to! I was one of those who knew pretty early on what I wanted to be, and I did follow that path to where I am now. Copy editing isn’t a “flashy” career, but it’s one I’m passionate about.

But on the other hand: ACK! Public speaking! And they’d be inviting another class into The Big Sis’ class for the presentation, so there would be 50 sets of eyes on me. Sure, those eyes belonged to 6- and 7-year-old kids, but the thought made me nervous all the same.

The teacher even gave me a perfect out, saying she would love to have me come in and talk to the class but understood if it wasn’t my cup of tea. Honestly, it WASN’T my cup of tea, but next thing I knew, I was replying that I would love to do it.

Wait, what?!

I guess I figured I should look at it as a challenge. Just because I’m scared to do something…why should I let that stop me from doing it? What if it were The Big Sis in that position? Would I encourage her not to take on that challenge, or would I encourage her to face her fears and find it within herself to do it?

So I began to prepare what I was going to say. I’m bad at public speaking, but I’m even worse at impromptu public speaking, so I needed to have an idea of what I was going to say. I didn’t want to read from a piece of paper, but I couldn’t just go into this unprepared. So I started practicing, first developing an overall point to my talk, then filling in with details and examples and anecdotes. Once I had a general idea of what I was going to say, I started practicing saying it out loud — in the car, in the shower, at the office before anyone else came in for the day…just whenever I found myself alone with a few minutes.

At times my practice went awesome. At times I couldn’t keep my concentration and would forget what I was going to say next. But I didn’t let that frustrate me too much and I kept practicing. Throughout the process, I would ask The Big Sis for some advice and feedback on some things I wanted to talk about, and she was actually very helpful in guiding me in some areas. By Thursday morning, I really felt pretty confident about my talk and I just wanted Friday morning to get here already! I practiced a few more times that day but felt pretty ready, so I didn’t overdo it.

Friday morning, I put on some nice clothes (skirt! pantyhose! heels! I never wear this stuff to work!) and headed to school, ready to do this. I was actually relieved to find out I was the only parent talking to the class about their career. Part of me was afraid there would be someone else there who had a super-interesting career and mine would seem boring in comparison, but it was just me there. I got up in front of the two classes pretty much as soon as I got there, and I must say…everything went perfectly.

Seriously, I’m not sure it could have gone much better, which is more a product of my preparation beforehand and practice, as I can assure it wasn’t a natural thing for me to be doing. But I engaged with the class, involved them in what I had to say, kept their interest the whole time, and even got some good questions at the end. All told, I was up there for 30 minutes, with probably half that time being my talk and the other half them asking me questions and me asking them some questions about what they’d like to do when they grow up. It certainly didn’t feel like that long — it felt like I’d been up there for 10 minutes (which had been the plan). The Teacher was particularly interested in what I had to say, as she said she usually thinks of writing when she thinks of journalism, so it was good for her to hear about a different side of things.

A couple of funny things: I’d brought “The Diary of Anne Frank,” as that was a big reason I went into journalism. I held it up, and one kid raised his hand, and I wasn’t going to call on him until the end, but it was too distracting so I called on him. He said, seemingly randomly, “My dad’s name is Frank.” At first I thought, “What the…?” but then I realized the book was by Anne FRANK. He heard Frank and made that connection and apparently just HAD to tell me. Somehow I managed to not lose my train of thought with that one.

Another girl saw the book cover and said, “Oh! I think I’ve read that book!” I thought to myself, “Wow, I HIGHLY doubt that…” and then she asked me, “Anne Frank is the one who is blind and can’t talk, right?” Sorry, kid. That’d be Helen Keller. Not quite the same. πŸ™‚

I’m so glad I did this; I felt like a million bucks as I was walking away from the school after it was over. I was able to conquer a fear of mine (at least this one time — I’m not “cured” by any means), and most of all, I did it without embarrassing myself or The Big Sis.



Thursday, November 7, 2013

So I had a good friend email me yesterday, saying she’d seen a childhood photo of Celine Dion and thought it reminded her of The Big Sis. It was funny — the more I looked at it, the more I agreed. I think there are some obvious differences, and it’s not a flattering picture of Celine to start with, but I still thought it was pretty noteworthy.

What do you think?

Wordless Wednesday: Is it child labor if they volunteer to do it themselves?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Clowning around

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dear Adult Little Sis:

You might be wondering why you have a seemingly irrational fear of clowns even though you don’t know why.

Well, I can tell you why. It was because of that one kid during trick or treating in 2013 who walked right in front of you wearing a scary clown mask. I had hoped not to pass along my own personal dislike of clowns, however it turns out the universe had a different plan in mind.

At least you’re not the only one with this fear??



The best-laid plans

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I hadn’t made an official declaration, but I was attempting to participate in NaBloPoMo this year, as I have in past years. I knew it would be a difficult task to make a post each day at a time when blogging has taken a back seat to other things going on, but I wanted to at least try.

But then I had a weekend away with a girlfriend and a cold that hit me hard and I missed two posts. Boo on me!

But I shall not give up. This is not a fail. Instead, I will just double up on some posts a couple days so that by the end of the month, I’ll still have 30 posts in 30 days…just not one each day.

Deal? Deal!

Making the grade

Saturday, November 2, 2013

It’s report card time! Well, sort of. Grades K-2 don’t get actual letter grades, but they are assessed on a scale of 1 to 4 in 42 different areas:

1 – Not yet within expectations
2 – Progressing with help
3 – Meets expectations
4 – Exceeds expectations

Last year, The Big Sis did well on her report cards, but I think her teacher was pretty stingy with handing out 4s last year, and thus she didn’t get very many. (Example: One category was “Can count from 1 to 20,” and she only got a 3 [meets expectations] even though she could count much higher. Isn’t that exceeding expectations?)

Anyway, I haven’t gotten a sense of whether this year’s teacher is easy or strict with the assessments, but The Big Sis came home with 4s in all 42 areas.

The teacher’s comment for the 1st-quarter report: “[The Big Sis] is a pleasure to have in class. She stays on task and is exceeding expectations in all subject areas. She is becoming a strong independent learner and sets goals that will help her continue to be successful.”

Now, there may very well be other kids in the class with identical assessments and comments, but given how it’s often challenging to manage The Big Sis at times, this is such great news. Good things are in store for this one.

Halloween 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Glinda the Good Witch (from “Oz the Great and Powerful,” not from “The Wizard of Oz”):

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Our red princess witch:

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