Saturday, December 28, 2013

Brown Couch Christmas Photograph.

Every year on Christmas I make my kids all sit on our brown living room couch for a family photo. 
It's probably their least loved holiday tradition, each and every kid groans, whimpers and complains, but we make them do it anyway.
Usually we take the photo while we are still in our jammies, but this year we opted for Bengals spirit wear instead. 
For historical reference and are the past seven years of brown couch Christmas photos.
Only Turkey hasn't changed... year in and out, he has managed to maintain the same youthful appearance while the rest of us get older. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Second Townsperson Pride and Peace.

Although Christmastime is ideally the season of peace and love, unfortunately my younger kids have been behaving more like it's the season of crabbiness and bickering and each has been getting on each others very last Christmas nerve. 
There have been some very big and not so peaceful moods lately. 
So when this happened, needless to say, I was shocked. 
Last week, Rosie played the part of the second townsperson in her school's Christmas pageant. 
Jamie and Lily surprised me when they said that they WANTED to come to watch their little sister on stage. Then, while sitting in the audience, they both fretted a bit about her saying her single line without making a mistake. And, when she made it through without missing a word, they were relieved and happy for her! I had a hard time believing that Rosie's little part in the Christmas play was really important to her big sibs…but apparently it was and I left the show amazed, not by Rosie's acting chops, but by Lily and Jamie's unexpected goodwill to their youngest sister.
Later on, Lily even told me that she couldn't believe that Rosie was so good…"she didn't just say her line, she DELIVERED it… Mom, she was actually VERY GOOD!"
This display of sibling pride and support was my very own Christmas miracle.
I'm still smiling about it.  
Peace on.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Our Festive (and high) Christmas Banana.

Christmastime this year has been a lot more disorganized and a lot less festive than ever before…which really says a lot as our organizational bar was pretty low to begin with.

We are in the midst of renovating certain aspects of our house, which means that certain aspects of our house, like the area that we live in, just aren't available anymore and I have been required to do stuff this year that I don't usually have to do. 
 Like drag household debris from one part of the house to the other- doing what I can to clear a path for our dear worker guys. 
It will be great when it's finished, but all of that time I spend dragging stuff about doesn't leave a ton of time left over for decking the halls. Which I was ok with, but then my darlings started to panic about the  fact that we did not have a Christmas tree.   
We don't really have a good spot for a tree, but we brought one home anyway and kind of wiggled it in a corner where it sat naked for a few days while I continued my duty of clearing a worker guy paths. 
Until Henry felt sorry for our nude tree…so he hung up his stuffed Jamaican banana, (who has the happy but heavy lidded look of a substance abuser) to jazz up our poor tree.
And for far too long, this was our only Christmas ornament…we took festive to a new low.   
Henry, posing with his beloved substance abuser banana, who is posing as a Christmas ornament. 
There is nothing like spending a few days with a stoned banana as your sole Christmas ornament to motivate you to break out a few more decorations. So I did...and now I think our tree looks cute, even if it is shoved in a corner amongst the debris of my messy house.  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Coffee and Research Facility.

Our  Jamie was impressed this week when his favorite teacher brought a very glamorous looking drink to class… in fact he was so taken with her drink that he asked her exactly what it was and where he could score one of his own. As this was important information, he wrote it down so he wouldn't forget the exact name and origin of this exotic/delicious looking beverage.
It was a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks which led to Jamie's very first Starbucks visit.
He was really quite taken with the glitz and hushed but busy atmosphere of the place and had a couple of questions...
"what exactly is this place?"
"what are all of these people doing?"
"are kids allowed?"
Then he offered is own Starbucks interpetation and I thought it was a good one…
"I think this place is a kind of research facility that has a lot of really fancy coffee"

Sunday, December 8, 2013


I think that snow days are really great. 
Especially snow days that happen on a Friday.
So the kids and I both were thrilled to get the early morning "no school" call.
 Only there was absolutley no snow.
Every school in the city was cancelled but this is what our front yard looked like.... one little girl in a sunhat and evening gown stalking squirrels with her "bone-in-arrow," and not a flake of snow.
At midday... the snow began, and so did the snowball battles.  The kids are smiling here, but as in all wars, there were many tears as the day/fighting progresses. Rosie was hit at very close range causing the snowball to go through her ear and "into my brain, I think." 
It seemed dangerous to have snow on the brain by noon, but she bounced back. 
  We are very lucky to leave in a neighborhood with a lot of kids close by... so Lily's pal was able to join us on the snow ball battlefield.
As the day progressed, so did the snow and the gear. 
Jamie was smart to get into the bags of cold weather gear first so he was outfitted the best. The younger kids were left with mom's mittens... probably even less cool than wearing your mom's jeans.
Later in the afternoon, Karl took two unskilled and unwilling boys to help him shovel the front of his office. Helpful sons don't happen so often here, so I made them pose to mark the occasion.
Then I dressed up the dogs...
And then I had them switch hats to see how Turkey would look in antlers. 
(like this) 
And while I was taking multiple photos of my dogs in Christmas outfits, I realized that I had become  the type of person who dresses and photographs her pets.
Maybe peculiar enough...but then I took it to the next level and took some photos of my decorated cement pig.
While you can't tell due to the abundance of snow, our pig has a Santa hat at a rakish tilt bumped up on her cute little hogshead. 
And so ends of our very fun snowday, full of decorated hogs, dogs and snowball wars... couldn't be a better Friday.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Rosie's Secret Signal.

Rosie is a little girl with a very loud voice and not much of a filter. 
She is also very curious, asks a lot of questions and notices just about everything that is a little bit different about people.
During one particularly awkward afternoon, Rosie made two gleeful (and loud) observations in the course of the two of us running errands… 
"oh my goodness, I think that man is growing a baby inside his tummy!" 
"I have never seen a lady with a mustache before- that is amazing!" 

As you can imagine, I was mortified, and in desperation, told her that if she ever noticed something that's a little different about someone that she wants to talk about later, she should flash me a secret signal. That way we can talk about it in private without hurting anyone's feelings. 
The secret signal looks a little like this.
This little hand to chin move has spared us both of us from many sticky situations, but as she gets older I find that she has been using it less and less. 
So I was surprised the other day when we were picking Anna up at the airport and she got all wide eyed and started bumping her chin like crazy. 
"Oh man, oh man… I think I see a vampire!" 
While the gentleman that she was secret signaling about did look a little bit vampire-ish, he also looked a lot like Johnny Depp, and I thought it was very sweet and wise of her to want to avoid hurting a potential vampire's feelings.  
Well played Ro.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Bald Eagle...Gratitude.

 Guess what big awesome bird we got to see on Thanksgiving morning?
Not a turkey, but a giant and gorgeous BALD EAGLE!!!
Not kidding.
He was eating his dinner in the middle of a corn field when we drove past. 
I made Karl u turn the van around so I could jump out and and confirm that I wasn't imagining eagles and such. 
Even though he was very far away, he gave me a grumpy look and flew off.
My photos are pretty lousy, but they prove that we didn't imagine it...the emblem of our nation was really and truly right there, eating his dinner in Lebanon, Ohio. 
How fitting is it that we sighted him on Thanksgiving, the only uniquely American holiday. 
Thanksgiving- 2013.
Our day of gratitude and appreciation for all of the blessings in life... family, friends good heath and the love and strength that connects us all together.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Ancient Egyptian Men in My Life.

I have discovered that the men in my family have skills...specifically, some very excellent ancient pharaoh skills. Who knew they secretly harbored such Egyptian talent?
I wasn't really sure what to expect when Karl and Jamie headed into the basement last week to build a sarcophagus for a school project. And this morning, this shiny golden creation emerged from the basement a needed a ride to school.
(funeral tombs are not welcomed on the school bus, no matter how royal the Egyptian status)
Jamie was very pleased and proud of his project which makes me think that I had better find a place in the house to store and protect his homemade sarcophagus for a very long time.
It also makes me think that I am a very fortunate to be married to a fellow who understands when a project is of great importance to a certain 5th grader, and then take the time and energy to help create something really beautiful.
ps. Did you know that the plural form of sarcophagus is sarcophagi? I did not.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Breakfasts. Gratitiude.

I am always grateful on Friday mornings.
First, for making it through the week and secondly, because of breakfast.
On Friday mornings I take a kid to breakfast and love it. 
It works out for both of us... I get to spend a little bit of one on one time and the kid in rotation is happy because there are chocolate chip pancakes involved.
Happy Friday to you.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tadpole People.

I love that people from all over the word really do appear to be the exact same person
from the eyes of their preschooler.
From what I understand, if you give a pencil to a little kid  and ask them to draw a person, they will universally draw the same image. 
So it brings me happiness to know that no matter what corner of the planet you happen to live in, someday your child will draw you as a tadpole...a face with a few arms and legs.
I'm not sure when Rosie made the switch from tadpoles to bodies but it must have been within the past few months. 
 This is the card that she made for  me in the beginning of September.
Please note my cute but pointy teeth and birthday worried eyes.
And this is her most recent drawing....a note of apology to Henry.
In it, herself and Henry are holding hands and both smiling widely with happiness.
In this alternative reality, the curly haired sister made a better choice and did not drink Henry's very own chocolate milk, and Henry is delighted at having a nice sister who respects his snacks and is not a "chocolate milk robber"

Saturday, November 9, 2013

US Citizenship. Gratitude.

 Earlier in the school year, my kid's school hosted a Naturalization Oath of Allegiance ceremony. 
The entire student body and staff attended along with the families of our nation's newest citizens.
It was a very moving ceremony and I wasn't the only one who got misty eyed over the experience. In fact, I came close to a big ugly cry at the moment when the judge finished giving the oath and announced...
"You are all now U. S. citizens. Welcome and congratulations."
And with that, the band struck up a patriotic medley...gulp.
Afterwards (as I was trying to compose myself) Jamie found a gentleman in the crowd who like him, was born in Guatemala and was now a very new, very proud American. Some of the students made cards to give to the new citizens and Jamie was very excited to give his to this particular fellow.

And so this naturalization oath reminded me of how grateful I am to be a citizen in a nation that is based on a set of founding ideals that include equality and opportunity. 
Jamie at school.. ready to welcome United States newest citizens.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gratitude. Fast Feet and Good Aim.

One of my sons...I am not saying exactly which one to protect the sort of innocent, threw up his breakfast yesterday.
He wasn't ill in the least... only extremely grossed out by his very own shoes.
He intentionally smelled the soles of his own shoes and was then so overwhelmed by the stench that he ran to the toilet and heaved.
It happened at about the very craziest point of our morning minutes before the bus arrives.
When I went upstairs to see why my son, who was 100% fine moments ago was now violently sick... he shared that the bottoms of his shoes smelled so bad it made him barf.
He said... "I actually smelled the bottoms of was really bad mom, really bad."
While I can't imagine why my son would ever do anything as dangerous as deliberately smell the soles of his shoes, I am very grateful that he had the foot speed and timing to make it to the toilet before he lost his breakfast.

Gratitude...boys with fast feet and good aim.    

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I have noticed that a lot of people out there in the blogosphere are using the month of November to express their gratitude. 
I think this is a terrific idea and I have so much to be grateful for so I will be using this month to totally copy off of that idea.
My fist post of gratitude is that I am lucky enough to have spent the weekend with my two dear friends from way back Erika and Terry.
Erika and I have been pals since we were both 7 and I thought her name was America.  We both had the extreme good fortune to meet Terry during our 2nd year as Buckeyes at Ohio State.
 While Erika still lives close by, Terry lives way far away, and we don't get to see each other nearly enough...which is very sad.
And so it was great to get together for a football weekend when Terry, her husband Frank and their cute son Frankie, drove many hours from Philadelphia to watch the Buckeyes play (and beat) Penn State on Saturday night and then the Bengals play (and beat) the Jets on Sunday. 
The games were great, but the best part was just hanging out, engaging in some delightfully immature conversation and very much laughing our middle aged tushies off for about 48 hours straight. 
As an of our weekend highlights happened when Erika and I were asked by a small gathering of older boys, if they could "rub our nuts." 
While it's not nearly as scandalous as it sounds...we were in the Buckeyes stadium during a game and were also wearing our very fashionable string of buckeye necklaces which are traditionally rubbed for luck, but still we were both embarrassed and so we quickly ran to tell Terry all about it. It was no surprise that she knew just what to say and suggested that we go tell those "boys" (who were even deeper into middle age than we are) to "go rub their own nuts." We both agreed that was the absolute perfect comeback and only wished that Terry had been there at the time to offer such a fantastic reply.
So yeah, it was that kind of weekend.
And I am so incredibly grateful for friends like these two and every minute we get to spend together.
The kind and tolerant husbands (and son, Frankie) who behaved like gentlemen all weekend and did not make any lewd comments at the Buckeye game..bless them each.
Our adorables making pre-game scary faces.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Trick or Treat Excitement and Tooth Loss...Halloween 2013

Our little Beyonce had an fabulous night trick or treating in spite of gale force wind and rain. This is how she looked prior to her big night...very excited about her new look and the promise of lots of candy. Her look went down hill from here as I'm sure you can imagine... lets just say that caramel streaked highlight wigs aren't so practical in a rainstorm and I sent a lot of time chasing her wig down. It wasn't too long before I had to confiscate her gross wig after it ended up in the gutter...I  refused to let her put it back on due to absolute nastiness.
I'll bet Jay-Z sets the same sort of hair limits on his Beyonce.   
Jamie dressed as Ace Ventura, Pet Detective...none of his buddies knew who he was because his favorite film was made about 8 years before Jamie and his pals were born. He discovered Ace through his love and admiration for Jim Carrey who he considers a comic genius. 
Jamie's friend Auggie is in the middle of this photo, dressed as a green Slimer monster. It seems likely that the kid in the middle would be Henry, but Henry was too excited about the free candy to be gained from trick or treating and took off before I could photo document him. 
Anyway... Beyonce was absolutly fine with Auggie standing in as Henry. In fact she could not even begin to contain her delight when Auggie/Slimer put his arm around her shoulders for this photo opp...Beyonce was truly smitten.
Lily created a very feathery bird of paradise costume which also did not fare well in the rain. 
She and her pal, dressed as a mad scientist, went trick or treating in a up in a neighboring subdivision and had a great but soggy night. When the rain got to be too much for her feathers, she called and asked to be picked up on "Rookwood Doctor." Which confused the heck out of me, but Karl was able to quickly translate Lily's "Rookwood Doctor" into Rookwood Drive... the abbreviation for "Dr." that made more sense given the context.
Halloween 2013 ended with a most disgusting act of candy overload when Ace Ventura's tooth was pulled out by a huge wad of orange Laffy Taffy. 
It was a baby tooth and he was destined to come out sooner or later, but the candy sped up the tooth losing process by a few months...Jamie excitedly pointed out that it wasn't even a little bit wiggly when it came out.
So now, this family has learned to respect the power of Laffy Taffy...when taffy meets tooth, the taffy will win.
Hope your Halloween had all of the same trick or treaty fun and none of the revolting and a bit painful tooth loss.
Enjoy your candy with caution, friends!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chicago Girl.

 Six weeks ago, Mary moved to Chicago to go to school.
and completely and happily embraced the windy city as her own new home...just as she said she would.
Lily, Rosie and I planned a girls only trip to see Mary and were very lucky that Mary did not mind acting as our Chicago tour guide for our busy and fun weekend. 
 Our first act of tourism was to spend the morning at the Shedd Aquarium were we were mesmerized by the adorableness of the smiling beluga whales.
Rosie enjoyed taking very up close and personal photos of the little fishies. 
This is her best photo of a fish butt.
 The highlight of the trip was meeting all of the terrific new friends that Mary has made.
Her friend Brian even had the patience and strength to join us for some fabulous Chicago style pizza at Pizano's, and then a night time walk to Millennium Park. 
The Bean was lovely under the night lights.
We all enjoyed the drama of the giant fountains, but Rosie especially enjoyed running back and forth under the pink light...silly me for thinking she might be too tired to race around and around after a very full day.
Apparently this is what the end of a fun and successful girls weekend looks like...

Rosie in hoops, munching on a giant Hershey kiss from Lily's new most favorite store in the whole  world...The Hersey Store. 
Evidently, I do not have my daughters city life stamina and fell sound asleep during that girl party.
Not sure if it was Mary, or Lily who took the photo, but I very much hope that it wasn't anyone else...however, this proves that the last one standing gets to eat as much chocolate as they wish.
(I am extremely glad not to have woken up with a sharpie marker mustache, or worse.)
It was wonderful to share the weekend with three out of four of my girls... we all had a great time but by far the best part was seeing Mary so happily adjusted to student life in the big city. 
Love this girl and her big city sensibilities...