Thursday, December 9, 2010

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Tonight the husband had to work late, so it was just the little man and I. It was just minutes before our usual time where we venture upstairs and begin bedtime routine of brushing teeth and reading stories.

The little man hopped up on to my lap.

"Snuggles, mommy," he said as I wrapped my arms around him.

"Guess what?" the little man whispered.

"What?" I replied.

"I love you," he said.

"I love you MORE," I said as I hugged him.

"I love you as big as the house," he replied.

"Hmmmm," I said as I thought. "I love you as big as a toot-toot boat."

The little man giggled.

"Whoa," he said. "I love you as big as a ZILLION toot-toot boats."

"Wow! That's really big, mommy can't beat that one," I said. "I love you, too."

And with that, bedtime was postponed a bit for a few more minutes of precious snuggles.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Our family was recently introduced to what has already become a favorite Christmas tradition.

The Elf on the Shelf.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I received an e-mail from the little man's Aunt asking if he had an elf yet and if not, if it would be OK to bring him one. She explained the story of the Elf on the Shelf and said it had been a tradition in her family growing up, and also one that she has continued to enjoy with her own daughter.

The elf appears every year around Thanksgiving. He comes to your house to watch you in the weeks before Christmas and every night, when everyone is asleep, he returns to the North Pole to report to Santa if you had been naughty or nice. Because of his Christmas magic, he is able to fly to the North Pole and return to your house before you awake. Each morning you will find him in a new spot - watching and listening for his report back to Santa. However there is one rule - you cannot EVER touch him, for if you do, he will lose his magic. On Christmas Eve, your family elf returns to the North Pole with Santa - until he reappears next Thanksgiving.

I of course said an elf would be more than welcome at our home. So, on the day before Thanksgiving, our family elf appeared. We told the little man the story of the elf and said that he had to name him.

After some thought, the little man smiled and said "Wilson."

And on that day, our family welcomed Wilson into our home. So far, Wilson has quite the busy elf - he has been found on the chandelier in the dining room, perched above the living room on the speakers, in the Christmas wreath and even stuck in the blinds.

As the little man wakes each morning, the first thing on his mind isn't what to have for breakfast or what cartoon he wants to watch - it's to find where Wilson is perched for the day.

Wilson has also come in handy for reminders about the importance of not being naughty - one night when the little man was protesting the vegetables on his dinner plate, Mommy reminded him of the elf watching him up above.

"Wilson is watching you - you don't want him to tell Santa you didn't make a happy plate," I said. "Santa ALWAYS makes a happy plate."

The little man sunk back in his chair.

"I wish I didn't have a elf no more," he said as he begrudgingly picked up his fork and began to eat his vegetables.

"You just made Wilson said," I said. "Don't you like Wilson?"

The little man smiled and peered up at Wilson.

"I sorry Wilson. I like you a zillion," the little man said with little smile.

And with that, a tradition that is sure to continue for a zillion more years became a very big part of our family.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful (Still)

{Out of all of my blogs, the one that I received the most feedback from my close family and friends is my post "Thankful" which I posted last year before Thanksgiving. For whatever reason, that post touched many of the lives closest to me, and so I would like to share it again this year, with some updates. }

As I shared in my original post, Thanksgiving 2005 marked an ominous date for me. At the time pregnant with the little man, it was the date that my doctors said would be a miracle if I made it to. None of them were betting that I would be able to carry him much further than Thanksgiving. And while Thanksgiving was a better scenario than the one I faced just two months prior (the first time we were hospitalized), Thanksgiving was still much too soon.

Now, five years later, I felt the little man's arms around my neck early this morning as I hugged him. It still felt just as good as the very first moment I held him and he snuggled his little newborn head against me.

I will forever be thankful for my miracle.

I am thankful for another year of adventures in mommyhood and my awesome husband for sharing in each laugh and priceless moment along the way. I truly married my best friend and my soul mate. We celebrated 10 years of wedded bliss this year and I cannot wait to see what the next 10 have in store for us.

I am also thankful for my family, both immediate and extended; the older I get, the more I understand the true gift family is in our lives. I am blessed beyond mention by the fact that my mother and my mother-in-law are two of my greatest friends, mentors and confidants. They exemplify all that I, myself, hope to be as a mother.

I am thankful for my friends, near and far, and all that they bring to my life.

I am thankful for my niece, Avery, who made her big debut just a few days after my original Thankful post, on December 1, 2009. I am thankful that my big brother and his amazing wife, who did not have an easy road to parenthood, were able to finally hold their baby and forever be known as Mom and Dad.

And I am still thankful for you.

I began this blog at the suggestion of a dear friend of mine and fellow writer. It began as a way for me to expand my own writing horizons and branch out into a new style of writing for me. I had no idea that anyone would actually read it, and I had no idea that I would receive such amazing support in my blogging endeavors. Thank you for continuing to share in my adventures with me.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Anyone who knows me personally knows that if there is something about UFOs, Bigfoot or the paranormal on TV, then I am watching it. I believe this fascination began as part of my mother's own fascination with all things Sci-Fi. She and I would spend Saturday afternoons watching any Sci-Fi movie that was on, most of which were laughable.

My husband often joked with me that he didn't want me to pass along my own love of aliens, Sasquatches, et. al. to our son. He became increasingly concerned when one afternoon the little man asked Daddy if he could "watch that movie with the bear that walks on two legs" again. My husband looked at me questioningly, without a clue as to what the little man was talking about. With a laugh I explained to him that "the bear that walks on two legs" was what the little man called Bigfoot.

However, you cannot shield your children from everything. Especially your own habits.

This became especially true two weekends ago. The little man woke up early Saturday morning and since my husband is a habitual early bird, the two boys got up and went downstairs. I awoke to squealing - the good kind. The little man was extremely excited about something, but I could not make it out. I got out of bed and walked downstairs to see what all the excitement was about.

"MOMMY!" the little man squealed as I walked down the stairs. "Look - ALIENS!"

I looked up to the television and saw three little green monsters.

"Aliens, mommy," the little man explained. "They are living in the attic!"

I looked at my husband, who was giving me the look.

"You did this," he said. "You officially warped our son."

Meanwhile, the little man was so excited about the aliens he could barely sit still. He sat with a wide grin on his face, bouncing on the couch as he watched the aliens' every move.

"It's Aliens in the Attic," my husband said. "And he LOVES it."

It was a cute children's movie about a group of aliens that crash land on Earth and take up residence in a summer home. The home is full of a group of kids who are staying there for the summer with their parents when they discover the aliens in the attic.

I couldn't help but to laugh as I saw how excited the little man was to be watching aliens. My husband had conceded in his fight to keep the alien-loving trait from our son.

"Well," I said to my husband. "What did you expect? He is at least half mine."

And with that I sat on the couch with my alien-loving son, loving every minute of Aliens in the Attic.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

One of the things I'm really trying to instill in the little man now that he is getting older is compassion for others and a sense of giving back and doing good. We live a fortunate life and while I am proud that we are able to provide the little man with a home in a great community, excellent schools, hoards of toys, etc. I still want him to grow up appreciating it.

An extraordinary opportunity to help instill this value in him came across my my way in a very ordinary manner - it was a busy day at work so I decided to grab a quick lunch at a nearby Chick-fil-A to take back to my office. As I reached into my bag, I found a small card. On it was an advertisement for Operation Christmas Child - a charitable event where you simply pack a shoebox and send it overseas to a child in need. You can even pick the age range and gender of the child and if you donate money to aid in the shipping of your box online, you even receive a barcode to put on your box so you can personally track your shoebox and see where it goes.

I had never heard of this organization, so I pulled them up online and found a great organization that is doing great things for people of all ages in need.

And so I saved that card - and on Friday afternoon the little man and I set off to fill his shoebox.

Before shopping, I reminded the little man about all the places we went to just last summer on our cruise - places like Haiti. I explained that those other countries had many children, just like him, who unfortunately don't have a home, school or even toys like him. I explained that they lived in a beautiful - but poor - country and asked if he would like to help a little boy just like him in one of those countries have a special Christmas, too.

"Yeah," he said, smiling. "I wanna help!"

"Mommy will help you, but I want you to pick out the things for the box,"
I said. "Can you do that?"

The little man smiled and nodded his head.

The rules were simple: pack a shoebox with a combination of fun and useful items. The recommended items included things like small toys and hard candy, paired with other items like toothpaste, a washcloth and school supplies. To my surprise, the little man understood that the not-so-fun items were just as important as the toys and candy. He understood much more than I thought he would, which made me even prouder seeing how proud he was.

We bought colorful crayons, a green harmonica (just like the little man's), pencils, a Wall-E toothbrush (also just like his), his favorite hard candies (Smarties), a bright red race car toy and more. We stuffed the shoebox until it could be stuffed no more. We topped it off with a note from the little man, wishing his new friend a very merry Christmas. We then closed the box and affixed our label.

"Mamma, does my new friend like Smarties?" the little man asked as he himself munched on some candies.

"I think he will love them," I replied.

"Yeah, I think he will, too," the little man said matter-of-factly as he proudly looked at his box.

{We will be tracking our box online and will update you on the travels of our box as we know them. Where will it go? The answer is yet unknown and sadly, there are many possible destinations. However, all that matters is that somewhere, some other little man is able to share in some Christmas joy. And somewhere, some other mother will also be able to see the excitement and magic of Christmas wash across her little man's face.}

November 15-22 is the national pick-up week for this nationwide event. If you would also like to participate in Operation Christmas Child, visit

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween Spoils

As a first-time mom, I remember the very first cold the little man got. I was convinced it was much more than a cold and rushed him off to the doctor.

"It's just a cold," the pediatrician assured me. "Put a humidifier in his room."

And so the same set of actions also went into motion for at least the next 20 colds. Now, as the little man is approaching the age of 5, I thought I felt a bit more confidence in myself as a mother to know the difference between just a cold and something much more.

At least I thought so.

Halloween is undoubtedly a favorite holiday for the little man. As the summer slowly ended, the little man welcomed fall in by asking on nearly a daily basis if it was Halloween yet. The days drifted by at an agonizing slow pace for the little man, who could not wait for Halloween to arrive.

As we woke up Sunday morning, we were greeted with a somewhat cranky little man. I wasn't too surprised, for we had spent Friday and Saturday at Papa and Grammy Jo's house and figured the little man was just tired from his big fun weekend and mad to be going home ... even if it was Halloween.

As the day ticked by the little man continued his crankiness and he complained that he didn't feel well.

"It's just a cold," I told myself. After all, he didn't have a fever and looked perfectly fine. You would never tell by looking at him that he was sick.

As night came and the little man was finally able to dawn his costume (a police officer) we set out to fill his bag with candy. We had barely made it around the block when the little man asked if we could just go home - he wanted to sit on the couch and watch some TV.

"Wow, that's strange," I said to my husband. "He must really not be feeling well."

That night the little man woke up, coughing. I assured myself once again it was just a cold.

That morning the little man looked and sounded even worse. We decided I would stay home with him that day since he hadn't slept well the night before. I asked my husband what he thought about the doctor.

"It's probably just a cold," I said to him. "Probably just a waste of time and money to take him in."

However, later that morning I felt the same little urge I had felt so many times before. The questioning whether or not it really was just a cold. The urge to take him to the doctor. I knew that for the little man to forgo trick-or-treating it must be much more.

And so we went.

As I was explaining to the doctor his symptoms I awaited the usual "It's just a cold" speech. I began to feel bad for wasting her time. I told her that he didn't even want to go trick-or-treating the night before, which piqued her interest.

"We've been seeing a lot of strep lately," the doctor said to my surprise. "And it isn't presenting itself with the usual symptoms, I would like to take a swab and test him for it. Especially since he wasn't interested in Halloween, that tells me he really isn't feeling too well."

A short wait later and the test was confirmed. The little man had strep throat.

"Mommy?" the little man asked as we waited for the pharmacist to fill his prescription. "Is my medicine going to make my thwoat all better?"

"Yes, it is buddy," I replied. "It will make the owies go away." I felt bad that the little man had waited the whole year for Halloween to arrive, just to have the fun ripped from him by sickness.

"Good," he mumbled. "I want to eat my candy."

And so he did ... that is, after the antibiotics took hold and he could swallow without pain once again.

And mommy vowed to stick to writing ... and leave the diagnosing to the doctors from now on.

Even if it is just a cold.

The Ghosts of Halloween Past ...

{Halloween 2009}

{Halloween 2008}

{Halloween 2007}

{Halloween 2006}

Monday, October 25, 2010

Team Sports

As the summer came to an end and the fall approached, I decided it was time for our first foyer into organized team sports. See, the area we live in is crazy for soccer. Soccer fields surround us and soccer games and soccer practices can be seen in any park, schoolyard our just any wide open space on any night.

Because soccer is so popular in our community, I decided it would be a good fall activity for us and the little man - who will undoubtedly grow up with other little friends who also partake in the sport.

Plus, organized team sports help teach valuable lessons - lessons like teamwork and how it's not about winning ... right?

I found a short soccer program meant to introduce kids the little man's age to the sport of soccer. It wasn't competitive and because it was only a month long, we wouldn't be stuck going to practices and games all season long just in case the little man hated soccer. To top things off, a friend of mine, who also has a little boy just days older than the little man, also signed her son up for the same program - and the same team.

So, we dived head first into soccer. With a new soccer ball, shin guards and cleats, the little man proudly walked onto the soccer field for the first time. He learned the fundamentals of soccer (well, at least, at the level a 4-year-old can comprehend) and after a few practices, we were ready for our first "game."

As the little man took to the field in his very first soccer game, he proudly wore his bright blue jersey. The whistle blew and off took the gaggle of 4-year-olds, chasing the ball down the field.

Suddenly the little man stopped and began wringing his hands. He scanned the sidelines for me and by the look on his face, I knew he was upset.

I stood up and waved my hand so he could see me, I motioned him over the sideline so I could see what was so wrong.

"Mommy, they aren't being nice," he said. "They aren't sharing the ball. They aren't letting me have a turn."

With that, I faced a conundrum I had not foreseen.

I had thought that team sports would teach him good lessons - but as the soccer game continued on without him, I took a deep breath and said something I never thought I would say.

"That's because you need to steal the ball from them," I said. "If you want the ball, you have to take it."

The little man stood silent, looking at me.

"That's the game," I said. "It's OK to steal the ball away during a soccer game."

And with that, I feared I had just erased any sense of sharing from the little man's conscience. I had anticipated talks about teamwork and how you should always just do your best, regardless of winning or losing, but I had not anticipated the lesson of don't share - just take.

Luckily, the little man quickly dried up his eyes and before we knew it, the little man was back on the field, also chasing the ball with the other 4-year-olds. He laughed and smiled with them and when he stole the ball away from an opposing team member and dribbled it down the field, he couldn't have been more proud. At the end of the season he received a gold medal for participation and we celebrated with ice cream.

And mommy had a renewed appreciation for individual sports.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


A Great American Cowboy.

Nothing better describes my grandfather, Harold. We always used to joke that he was born years too late, for "cowboy" was the very essence of what he was. He belonged in the Old West, where he surely would have been one of the greatest of the great American cowboys.

His jeans were dusty and worn and his boots were even more dusty and worn. He was a great horseman and anyone who ever saw him in a saddle knew that that is where he was home at. He was the hardest woker you ever would have known and he lived a life of integrity. He wore a cowboy hat not because of fashion, but because that's who he was.

A cowboy.

I only really knew my grandpa Harold growing up because my other grandfather (my mother's father) died when I was very young. One of my fondest childhood memories is the afternoon that he took me riding on his horse. It was always a big treat amongst me and my cousins to be able to ride grandpa's horse. As we were all clamoring for who would be first, my grandfather suddenly reached to the back and picked me up first. Instead of the usual slow walk around in a circle, we went for a ride in the country for what seemed like the entire afternoon.

Just me and my grandpa and his horse.

By the time we got back, saddle sore doesn't even begin to describe how sore my backside was. But I was determined to not let grandpa know. He was a tough cowboy and I was his granddaughter - I had to be tough, just like him.

Sadly, my grandfather passed away when I was in high school. A cowboy born years too late left us years too soon.

Just six short years later I would be sitting in my parent's living room with a white veil in my hair and knots in my stomach.

My grandmother reached into her purse as she asked me if I had a penny to put in my shoe that day, just as the old wedding day adage says.

She then handed me a tarnished, worn, old penny.

"This was your grandpa's lucky penny," she said. "He wore it in his boot every day of his life."

And, just a few short hours later, two wooden and stained glass doors would open and I would take my first steps down the aisle with a tarnished, worn, old penny in my new white satin shoe.

That penny would also be in my shoe on days where I needed a little extra luck. It was in my shoe when I accepted my first real professional paid writing job and was also with me on December 21, 2005 when I met the little man face-to-face for the very first time.

And now, as a adult, I often wonder what my grandpa would think of me today if he was still here with us. I wonder what he would think of me as an adult and the life I have led.

I wonder what he would think of me as a writer.

And as a mother.

Then I wish oh so very much that he could have known the little man.

And that the little man could have known him.

And I begin to wonder just how I will ever be able to explain to the little man about his great grandfather, the great cowboy?

How would I ever be able to keep his memory alive so that my son could know at least a little bit about who and where he comes from?

And just as I begin to believe that I will never be able to convey to the little man what a great legacy he comes from, I look up and see this:

And I know that I don't need to explain anything to him. For some things don't need to be explained to us,
it's just in the very fiber of who we are. He will never know his great grandfather personally, but his great grandfather's legacy does continue on through him.

And I smile, knowing that somewhere up above, there is a Great American Cowboy and very proud great grandfather smiling with me.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Little Brother

No, not that kind of little brother.

However, our family did recently grow by one:

Meet Willie - the little man's new little brother.

See, our family began to grow just about 2 short months before my husband and I got married. Yes, that's right, we had an illegitimate puppy. Our first West Highland Terrier, Casper.

My husband bought Casper for me the very first weekend I relocated to be with him, shortly before we got married.

Fast forward 10 years. Casper is of course still with us, just a little slower. The old man has begun to slow more over the years and especially this past year he has seemed to show his age more.

I had been hounding the husband for the past 10 years for another puppy - I always thought dogs were better in pairs.

Of course I am a dog lover.

When the little man came along the usual "no" response changed to "we have all the puppies we need right now" as he would shoot a gaze toward the little man.

And he was right.

But now the little man isn't so little.

And our house isn't so little.

And Casper isn't so little.

However, I was still shocked when the husband came home one Sunday and showed me a photo on his cell phone of a little white ball of fluff and asked me if I felt like taking a drive to go see the little fluff ball in person.

Of course I said yes.

So, the next day, our family piled into our car after work/preschool and took a drive. When we arrived there were two little balls of fluff to choose from.

While the husband and I were deciding which one to take home, one particular ball of fluff took an interest in the little man. The little man giggled and took off running. The ball of fluff quickly followed after.

As we watched the little man and the ball of fluff chase each other around a tree we couldn't help but smile. I looked down at the other fluff ball who was by my feet.

"I don't know, I think they both look pretty good, which one do you think?" I asked the husband.

The husband looked over at the game of chase that was still ensuing around a big old oak tree.

"Well that's pretty cute," he said, pointing to the little man and the puppy. "I don't see how we can't take the one that likes to play chase with him.

"Besides," he said. "Sometimes we don't choose them, sometimes they choose us."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Toot-Toot Boat

My absence lately has been because our family recently went on a great adventure on the high seas. Our family joined much of the extended family including my parents, my husband's parents, both of my brother-in-laws and their wives/girlfriends and my lovely nieces. It was a great celebration in honor of my mother-in-law's birthday, who wanted nothing more than to have her entire family with her for her birthday.

So, after much anticipation and endless months of waiting, our family boarded Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas for a one-week adventure on the high seas. Our adventures took us to Labadee, Haiti; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.

We had been preparing the little man for this adventure for months. We showed him photos of our "toot-toot boat" and explained to him how big it was. We told him about all of the new, exotic things he would see and told him about the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean. He admired his passport and asked daily if today was the day we went to the toot-toot boat.

But none of that prepared him for just how big the toot-toot boat really was and how much fun he really would have.

Our first port of call was the beautiful island of Haiti. We splashed in the warm water and lounged on the white sand beach. We hunted for crabs near the rocks on shore and saw spiky sea urchins. We later lounged beneath the palm trees while the little man and his cousin played in the water and hiked up to the Dragon Rock - a rock formation that when the waves crash into it, make a noise that sounds like a dragon is snoring just below.

Our second port was the green island of Jamaica. We went into town and marveled at all of the local vendors and their colorful crafts. The little man sampled some fresh ice cream and took in the sights of town.

Our third port took us to Grand Cayman where we found a pirate ship full of pirates. We boarded the Vallhalla and the little man enjoyed an afternoon of pirating, which included taking a pirate's oath, swabbing the deck and of course, firing some cannons. When the ship dropped anchor in the bay, Mommy then walked the plank, much to the little man's delight (once Mommy surfaced from beneath the water, that is.)

Our final port of call was Cozumel, Mexico, which included one final trip to the beach. The little man and I built sandcastles on the soft sandy beach while Daddy and the others found some grown-up fun on jet skis. Unfortunately, the clouds rolled in and cut our day a bit short - but not before the little man and I built a great sandcastle decorated with seashells.

On the last day, the little man sadly protested as we made our way off the boat.

"I want to stay on the toot-toot boat," he said. "It's fun here."

"I know, but we have to share the toot-toot with the other people, it's their turn to go on the boat now," I said.

"I don't wanna go," the little man protested once more.

"Neither do I, little man," I said. "But we'll be back."

"Bye-bye toot-toot boat," the little man said as we made our way off the gangplank. "I'll see you again soon."

{Our ship docked in beautiful Haiti}

{The little man's favorite part of the ship - his "high bed."}

{Our family in Haiti}

{Balloon Fun in Cozumel}

{Floating with Daddy}

{Sharing a laugh with his cousin}

{Becoming a little cheese connoisseur}

{And then dancing the night away}

{Grand Cayman brought us to this pirate ship}

{Where the little man got to take the pirate oath}

{Taking the oath with other novice pirates}

{And then like any good pirate, he swabbed the deck}

{Little Pirate}

{Cannons are cool}

{Did I mention that cannons are cool?}

{Hugging his new friend, Sharkey the Whale}