Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ketchup With Us - #25

Today signifies something special on the blog. A year ago today, Michele and I poured out our 'Ketchup With Us' link-up. That's right! 'Ketchup With Us' is one-year-old today. Our sweet KWU is now saying a few words, starting to eat some solids and moving all around. In honor of that, we're talking about memorable birthdays in your life. Come share the good, the bad and the ugly with us!

 For example: 

My 28th birthday was a memorable event. I was sleep-deprived, sore, bloated and madly in love. My little man was born two weeks prior. As my parents and husband sang the birthday song to me, I remember hushing them a little so they wouldn't wake a very colicky and fussy baby.  
Priorities, people!

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Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer for today is...

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The rules are...THERE ARE NO RULES! Just guidelines. 
And we'd love it if you posted our button and followed us on 
Facebook (Michele /Mel) and  Twitter (Michele/Mel). 

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'KETCHUP WITH US' - Prompt 25

In 57 words or less, tell us about an incredible, disastrous or otherwise memorable birthday in your life.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Me: "Tell me all about your day!" 
Mags: "Well, I made a new friend. She has brown hair, like me. Green eyes, LIKE ME! AND GUESS WHAT ELSE?"
Me: "What?"
Mags: "She has the very same Hello Kitty shoes I have! I HAVE to wear them tomorrow so we match.  My new friend is so funny. She makes me laugh. A. LOT." 
Me: "That is GREAT. I'm so happy for you that you made a new friend."
Mags: "I really, really like her."
Me: "Cool. What's her name?"
Mags: "Hmmm...that's a good question, Mama. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Mags: "I am a magnet. A magnet for winning UNO."

It's her favorite game. And I lose almost every time we play. Legitimately. Lose. To my five-year-old. She's really good. And really ruthless. I love it. 
Go on with your bad self, Mags! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Whole New World

A conversation I overheard after tucking them in for the night: 

Mags: "I don't know if I wanna go to school tomorrow."
Tuck: "Close your eyes and think of all the good things about school. You know, like the riding the bus, eating lunch and going out to recess."

In comparison, Mags looks SO much smaller than Tuck did on HIS first day of Kindergarten. I know it's because I had no one to compare him to, and Mags was two-years-old at the time. He was my big boy...the big brother. Now my little girl...the little sister is getting on the GINORMOUS yellow bus today. 
And I'm weepy. And I'm so ecstatic. And I'm a little lost. And I' Mags last night...all over the place. 

So, I'll leave you all with some of our favorite "Back-to-School" stories and songs that have become staples in our house. 

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Hot for Teacher by Van Halen  <----(Just making sure you're paying attention.)

Welcome to a whole new world, Baby. 
You're gonna fill up that space with 
your HUGE smile. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

There's a FIRST Time for Everything

From Chris' guest post: 

"We have a saying we’ve repeated at different moments since the birth of our relationship. 'Hey, this is a first for us.'"

In Ketchup this week, we (Michele and I) asked people to write about a big FIRST that they've had. It was a subject I could relate to, considering there are many firsts that HAVE happened and WILL happen this week in our house. And since I love to make lists, especially on sticky notes, I thought I'd make a list of our agenda this week. 

Well...let's take a look, shall we?  (If I think about it too much, I have a panic attack.)

If you're heading back to school in the upcoming weeks, 
I hope your family has a wonderful
FIRST day! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Me: “I need to get some work done in the bedroom.
Chris: “No problem. The kids and I will play a board game out here in the living room.”
Me: (sits on bed, starts typing on computer, hear screams) “What’s going on out here?”
Chris: “We’re just playing.”
Me: “What happened to the board game? That would be QUIET…so I could concentrate.”
Chris: “They didn’t want to play one. Sorry. We’ll keep it down for you.”
Me: “That’d be great thanks.” (walk down hall, hear huge screams and laughter, turn around and glare at husband)
Mags and Tuck: (both point to Chris) "It was him."
Mags: “We don’t have any control over his craziness.”

Being a busy mom who works a few extra part time jobs, I often get my work done in slivers of time. The kids’ quiet time,  moments when they’re playing nicely together (stop laughing) or at night after they are asleep. Occasionally, when I’m on a deadline, I’ll seclude myself in the bedroom (20 feet away from the living room) while my husband, Chris, handles the kids.

It’s during these times that I wish I had my Chris’ handy skill of blocking out any extraneous noises, laughs, screams, fights or talking.  I struggle to get things written when it’s not completely quiet.  My brains cells are not what they used to be.  I had actually been considering buying a white noise machine or headphones that block out noise.

Enter BlogHer 2013.  Michele (ODNT) and I met some wonderful representatives from Monster headphones during the Ulta party. They were showing off their stylish, noise-reducing headphones called “Inspiration.” Michele and I wasted no time posing with some of their more exotic headsets and then posting them to our social sites. 

Their soft and comfortable fit caught my attention immediately. It was like there were two pillows on each side of my head. After being complete goofballs, we got down to business talking about the cool features that we’d find in these headphones.  We had to really strain to hear over the people and the blaring music  at the party.

But, being a podcaster, I wanted to know about everything they offered. We had a great time chatting it up with one of the reps about the headphone’s design for comfort, ability to individualize the headband to your liking as well as the clear, crisp sound. These headphones also offer “Control Talk.” Basically, this incredibly handy feature allows you to control your music from the cord. With a single button on the cable attached to the headphones, you can play, pause, or skip to the next or previous track. You also can scan forwards and back. AND control volume. All with ONE BUTTON!

But that’s not all! What feature impressed me the most, you ask? The active noise-cancellation. I immediately thought of my inability to block out noise around me while working or writing. It just so happened we were in a perfect place to check out how well this feature worked. We tried them out right there, in the large party at BlogHer, with noise that caused us to have to shout at each other to be heard. Sure enough, when we put on the headphones to listen to the music in the headphones, it remained crisp and clear. That’s when I noticed it. It was calm around me. Not only were there comfortable ear pieces on each side of my head, the ear-drum-pounding noise of the party was dull. Barely noticeable. I was impressed. As was Michele.

Michele and I were given a pair to review. We started right away in the hotel room testing out the different things the headphones could do. And they did not disappoint.  We used them while writing a blog post. It was helpful to have the “Control Talk” so we could stop our music when we needed to ask each other something. Michele used them while packing to listen to the music on her iPhone. One quick push on the cord and she was still virtually hands free.

Then, the real test came. I used them at home while Chris and  the kids were playing. SUCCESS! It allowed me to concentrate while I wrote, blocking out the louder noises. I continued testing them as I sat on the deck checking emails. The usual screeches of birds, chirps of crickets and overall woodland creature noises were reduced greatly. Now, I take them everywhere with me.

The great thing about that is…the headphones fold up compactly and fit into a fashionable, soft, zip able case. They literally fit comfortably in my big, purple purse, right next to the fruit snacks and mismatched Barbie shoes.  

The Inspiration headphones have become part of my routine while I am working on the computer. Helpful, chic, comfortable and effective. You can’t go wrong! 

Want to win a pair of your very own Monster Headphones? 
Of course you do! 

Michele and I are EACH giving a pair of Monster's N-Tune Candy headphones. They are perfect for Back-to-School, Back-to-work or Back-to-Vacation time. They come in an assortment of bright, bold colors. With a flexible headbands, they'll hold up in a backpack, briefcase or suitcase. Plus, the quality of that Monster sound can't be beat! It's no wonder this line is called NCredible. 

Simply enter in the Rafflecopter below by midnight on August 23rd. There's plenty of ways to enter. Good luck! 

Can't wait? Want some Monster headphones right now? Great news! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Grand Entrance

Me: "You're the best boy that ever happened to me."
Tuck: "And you're the best Mama that ever happened to me."
Me: "Gimme a kiss goodnight before you make me cry."
Tuck: "How about I toot? That will REALLY make you cry."
Me: "What a precious moment."

You can never imagine the power he'll have over you. Every part of your being belongs to him forever. A place in your heart so deep that no one could find it. It's unfathomable. The love that begins with a plus sign on a plastic stick. It grows with each passing day. So much so, you feel almost hesitant to dive in head first. That is...until you hear his heartbeat. See his fuzzy little being on a screen. Hold your belly tight as he wiggles, kicks and hiccups inside of you. Then, you meet him. Hold him close. Kiss his face. Count his fingers and toes. There's a lifetime of memories to be made at your fingertips. 

And when you turn around for just a moment...he's eight. 

Happy Birthday to our sweet, charming, fun-loving, cautious, 
intelligent, funny boy! 

To read about Tuck's exciting entrance into the world, 
click the links below: 

Ketchup With Us #24

A new school year is fast approaching.  In fact, Michele's kids have already begun. (She can help you prepare with her Back-To-School ABC's.) My kids begin next week. In fact, Mags is getting on the bus for the FIRST TIME. I actually wrote a story to help me handle this situatioin for the podcast I co-produce with my husband. It's called 'Bus Stop Bravery' and was a little bit of therapy writing for me. 

This year, there's another big first in our family. I'm heading back to work full-time after eight years of being at home with the kids and balancing multiple part-time jobs. Tomorrow is my first day. And, if I'm being perfectly honest, 
I'm feeling a little bit like this...

My first day of Kindergarten. September of 1982.

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Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer for today is...

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The rules are...THERE ARE NO RULES! Just guidelines. 
And we'd love it if you posted our button and followed us on 
Facebook (Michele /Mel) and  Twitter (Michele/Mel). 

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In 57 words or less, tell us about a significant first day in your life … of school, work, parenthood, rehab, veganism, prison, whatever you want.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hazardous Occupations

Chris and I were looking through the pictures I took at Niagara Falls today.

Me: "This is kind of a cool one. Look at the boat captain driving right up to the Class 6 rapids."
Chris: "You know who that is in 15 years, don't you?"
Me and Chris: (in unison) "Mags."

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Me: "I'm a little nervous."
Mags: "Don't be nervous, Mama. You got this."
Me: "But I've never been on water skis before. What if I fall?"
Mags: "Then you get right back up."
Me: "Thanks for the pep talk."
Mags: "You got it. Oh! And remember, this is a lake, so there aren't any sharks here. Just big fish. But they won't bite you. Well, they might bite you a little, but not like a shark. Have fun!"

We were at a lake house for a week with our friends. The first morning there, all the adults called a meeting. We sat the kids down and made a list of rules. My son started us off with the first rule of "No Boomerangs in the house." It went on from there in a hilarious manner. After we reached 15 important guidelines to keeping the peace in the house with 24 people...the ADULTS made some rules. They were:

1. Have fun.
2. Try something new.
3. Make memories.

Everyone took these rules seriously. Having fun was natural. Making memories was constant. Trying something new...well...that took some bravery. But that specific rule is the one I took to heart. One of our friends brought his boat and was taking everyone on tube rides. It was a BLAST! But then, he pulled out the water skis. I'd never tried that before, so I went along on the boat and watched. But I didn't ask to try. I wanted to, but I was too nervous to look fail.

Throughout the day, I watched a lot of our friends get up on those water skis flawlessly. And then, after lunch, I walked out on the dock to see my husband in the distance pulling himself up and WATER SKIING! I was so proud. And then, I was determined. The "try something new" rule rang louder in my head. I confessed that I really wanted to try it to a friend of mine who sealed the deal by telling me,

"You can totally do it. It may take a bunch of tries, but who better to do it with than this group of people."

She was right. I was with a group of people that have known me for quite some time. A supportive group...a patient accepting group. As soon as I saw the boat pull up to the dock, I jumped on and told my buddy I wanted to try to water ski.  The reaction was what I expected.

"Alright! Let's go!" 

Others joined us, including Mags. We took off on the lake until we came around to a deeper spot. My nerves started to build. Mags was holding my hand.

"Who's going first?"

And with a deep breath, I took the plunge. Literally. A quick tutorial was given. I was shaking as I fit the first ski to my foot. The second went on a little too quickly. I pushed myself in, questioning my sanity the whole time. What if I broke a leg? What if I face plant? What if the rope gets stuck on something?  Before I knew it, I had cleared myself from the boat and motor. My friend tossed me the tow line and reminded me to keep it between my legs. 

Suddenly, the motor roared to life and I almost bailed. I almost let go of the rope. But, I looked up and saw my friends on the boat cheering for me. I looked to my side and saw that Chris and Tuck had paddled out in the kayaks to give me a boost of support. And then, I heard it. From both my kids at almost the same time,

"Go Mama! You can do it!"

My friend made sure I was ready and before I could think...I was being pulled. My legs felt like they were caught in quick sand and my arms were being pulled forward at an alarming speed. The part of my brain that's in charge of coordination was shouting profanities at me. Right as I was about to react, I was down. The nerves were replaced by determination. I got those skis on again. And again. Until my arms gave way and I needed a break.

"You're SO close! Great job!"

I pulled myself up on the boat and rested while someone else took a turn. As I sat next to Mags, she patted me on the back and remarked,

"You were so brave. I'm so proud of you. You almost did it! Did you bring me a snack?"

The first three sentences warmed my heart and got me back out there moments later for one last try. I just wanted to get up without losing balance. Just once. Alas, I finally did get my butt out of the water, but that's as close as I came.  It was worth it and Mags was right. It felt good to try. Next year...I'm all over it.

Now, we're hungry. Who brought a snack?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Approval

Mags: "How long has Daddy known his friends again?"
Me: "Since he was in THIRD grade! Isn't that incredible?"
Mags: "Wow. That means they're like...eighty-five years old!"

The Approval

I was nervous, even though I'd experienced this before. All the "what ifs" neared the surface. My stomach quaked as we began to close in on the destination. I gazed over at his face as I attempted to keep my overflowing emotions in check. He was worth it, there wasn't a doubt in my mind. But this...this was the ultimate test. No, scratch that. The final approval.

Before I could think any further, the venue came into view. The car came to a rest. A warm, assuring hand grabbed mine and squeezed in three quick spurts. A smile spread across my face as I whispered,

"I love you, too."

"Here we go." he spoke with great ardor.

Displaying his chivalrous nature, he walked around the car, tapped on the hood and flashed me a smile as he approached my door. He opened it as I pushed myself out of the seat exhaling the breath I never even realized I was holding. 

"You look beautiful." 

Hesitant, I accepted the compliment. Walking toward the restaurant, I rehearsed my possible greeting options. All seemed full of weak content. 

"Nice to meet you." 
"I've heard so much about you."
"I'm so sorry I just puked on your shoes."

The last choice was the most probable at that moment. Before I knew it, we were in the entry way. Up the stairs we tromped, our hands intertwined. I heard the friendly voices before I met their eyes. His hand slid out of mine as he  was swept to the side into a crowd of hugs and bright smiles. He turned, pointed at me and motioned me forward. Captivated, I was accepted into a circle of his lifelong confidants drenched in his history. And instantly I was part of that.

For the past 14 years, I have been very lucky to be a part of something my husband holds so close to his heart. A circle of men that he has known since he was in third grade. They've grown-up together, shared huge milestones in each other's lives, cheered on each other's accomplishments and have all married some seriously fabulous women. 

Today, I sit on a porch by a lake, listening to the laughter of these friends' and their beautiful families. We hang out, we laugh, we share stories, we support, we love, we eat and eat and eat some more. I admire these men for keeping these incredible relationships alive and full of joy.  It brought our families together. And for that, I am forever grateful! 

This post is in response to the weekly Trifecta Writing Challenge.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Me: "Hey, want to get your swim suit on and go in the lake?"

Mags: "No, thanks. Just leave me to my swinging, please."

It's all about taking time to enjoy the simple things in life. 
I love it when she reminds me of that. 


This post is in response to the fabulous, Jen at Skew the Mold. She hosts the Twisted Mixed Tape link-up. She asks that we choose five songs from the 2000’s. Since the most important and memorable things in my life happened in 2004 (marriage), 2005 (birth of son) and 2007 (birth of daughter), I’m going to make the tape for my husband and munchkins.

Hang on a second. Anybody have a pencil? Mags was messing around with the cassette. I need to rewind the excess tape. Alright. That’s better. And away we go!

Shania Twain’s 'I Feel Like a Woman'

While sitting at a stop light with my new (I’m talking weeks) boyfriend, this song came on the radio. He was and still is NOT a fan of country music. But, he listened to Shania because he was that nice AND Shania Twain’s a hot woman.  He turned to me during the refrain, made a microphone from his hand and BELTED OUT, “Cause I feel like a woman.” We both laughed uncontrollably. I knew I was in for some serious fun with him at that point.

U2’s 'Everlasting Love'

Chris used this song for a video he made me to begin our engagement. Haven’t heard that story? Read it here. He proposed to me through an entire summer.

Cake’s 'Love You Madly'

We got married at a lighthouse in North Carolina with 10 members of our family and friends by our side. This was our “wedding song.” He introduced me to Cake (so he wouldn’t have to listen to my country music as much) and I fell head over heels…for the band. Cake is a staple in our house.

Jack Johnson's 'Upside Down'

This song reminds me of our baby boy.  Curious George has been a constant in our house pretty much since he was born. The shows, the movies, the books, the plush doll. We love that little monkey.

Justin Robert’s 'Giant Sized Butterflies'

Justin is an adorable children's songwriter and singer. Chris downloaded this song for me when Tuck was heading to kindergarten and getting on the bus for the first time. Now, in a few weeks, our baby girl is getting on the bus for her first day.  I can’t think of a better song to sum up how we both will feel. The quality of the video isn't that spectacular...but it gets the point across. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ketchup With Us #23

Michele and I spent a long-ish weekend in Chicago at the BlogHer conference. Heard of it? If not, it's where 5-6 THOUSAND women...and TWO men all come together in one place to learn about writing, blogging, SEO's or, heck, just to eat free cheeseburgers. STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT! I only had two.  Moving along.

The morning after we arrived, Michele shared a video with me that had gone viral in the past month. It was called...well...just take a look for yourself. But, please, DO NOT watch it around kids. They use some potty words. It is very funny, unless you DO NOT like potty words, then skip this and read a feel good post such as this

After laughing until I had tears in my eyes, we began imitating the video. Naturally. Nerds of a feather flock together. While at lunch, we used the extra time we had waiting for our food to make our own "faces" that were described in this video. It was hard to do. YOU try keeping a straight face around that woman!  But, as we were going through the process, Michele innocently suggested we should do this for #KetchupWithUs. Immediately, I LOVED the idea. All we ask is for ONE picture on your blog. Your best BIT<Hi Readers!>CHY face. What? You're a guy? No worries. You saw the video. There's a face in there for you, too. The more the merrier. 

So, come on Ketchupers! BRING IT! 

Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer for today is...
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The rules are...THERE ARE NO RULES! Just guidelines. 
And we'd love it if you posted our button and followed us on 
Facebook (Michele /Mel) and  Twitter (Michele/Mel). 

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Easiest link-up ever. All we want is a picture. Give us your best bi***/a**hole resting face. Blog-less? Email it to or 

and we'll create a post of these entries. Want to remain anonymous? Find one in a magazine. Models are notoriously plagued with this disease.