Monday, December 29, 2014


Mags: "What in the heck? The Easter Bunny?"
Tuck: "What are you...OH MY GOSH! MOM!! LOOK! It's the EASTER BUNNY wrapped in SANTA!"
Mags: "Come look, Mama. This is totally creepy."

I'll be honest. Mags has been known to fib here and there lately. Once I call her on it, she likes to follow up with "I was just joking." We've been working with her on this and giving her examples of how she can be funny without telling a lie. 

So, naturally, I wasn't buying into her Santa Bunny story at first. I gave her my best Momcher (Mom/Teacher) look. She countered my look by calling in the big guns...Tuck. Sure enough, Tuck's reaction told me there was something to this holiday chocolate mix-up. I went over to the table and what to my wondering eyes should appear? An unwrapped Santa with two big bunny ears. 

Someone at the chocolate plant was taking the 3 R's a little bit too far. What? You don't believe ME? Well, here it is. I think it could be up there with the Virgin Mary on Grilled Cheese. 

Drum roll, please! 

Of course, Chris and I spent some time laughing about what kind of Memes could be created for this little guy. We'd love if you'd join in the fun! In the comments, share your best captions for this confused holiday treat. 

Here, I'll start! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Tuck: "It's the last day to be on our best behavior until Santa comes."

Mags: "Thank goodness, cause I'm exhausted from being so good."

From our house to yours: 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Good Lie Giveaway

"Moving and unforgettable...The Good Lie is a movie that simultaneously enlightens and inspires." - Michael Medved

Two extremely powerful words caught my attention in this descriptive quote about The Good Lie

  1. give (someone) greater knowledge and understanding about a subject or situation.


    fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

    Having my chosen profession and passion in life be education, there are so many things that touch my heart on a daily basis. Watching others around me lead and demonstrate their own passion for life is so rewarding.  I gain so much knowledge from students I guide through new concepts. Watching them in this process, I feel I grow along with them. They push my limits, as I push theirs. We stretch together, many times out of our comfort zones.  

    Preparing students for life's many challenges is an incredible responsibility. It's impossible at times to do it without others' help, support, and love. I often look for opportunities to light a spark in my students. People, books and movies are just a few ways I try to grasp their attention. So, when I was recently asked to review the movie, The Good Lie, with my friend, Michele, I couldn't pass up the chance. Especially if I could share it with our future generation. 

    And this movie did not disappoint. Starring Reese Witherspoon and actual former Lost Boys from the Sudan, The Good Lie gave the audience a chance to go on a journey. Personally, I felt a connection to the characters and the plot as I watched in complete admiration of their determination. I was cheering them on the whole way!  Their growth was immense and life-altering. The people they touched around them were forever changed for the better. 

    Explore the true story behind this incredible movie produced by Ron Howard.

    You want to run out and see it now, don't you?  Well, I have some good news! It's coming out on Blu-Ray and DVD on December 23. But YOU don't have to battle the stores to get it. Because, thanks to our friends at Grace Hill Media, YOU could win your very own copy right here! Simply enter in the Rafflecopter below to have a chance!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Mags: "Why are we burying this statue?"
Me: "It's St. Joseph. People say if you bury him by your house that it will sell faster."
Mags: "Ummm...why are you putting him in a baggie and upside down?"
Me: "Well, that's how they say to bury him."
Mags: "Well, you know how dangerous plastic bags are. If you put it over his head...he won't be selling anything!"

In preparation for putting our home on the market, our realtor took pictures of the house to post on her website. On top of that, we worked with her to write a descriptive and appealing paragraph to fit in the character limit allowed on the site. We all tried to find the most important parts of the home that would jump out at people. This got me thinking.  What if there was no character or word limit to our description?  What would I want people to REALLY know about our house? 

Here's what I would want to say: 

Our sweet house is for sale. It is nestled on a quiet, yet accessible .76 acre lot in Harpers Ferry. Its walls hold 10 years of the most precious memories I own to date. The front door is sturdy, waiting to open to your it did to ours. When we crossed it each night, we were home.  Being a split level, there's a landing on which you can catch your breath between steps...on which I caught many. The fireplace on the lower level, which absorbed many tender words and life-changing conversations, not only will warm your hearts, but also replenish your soul. The hall in the upper level is the road most traveled. It is filled with memories of passionate kisses, soothing newborn babies, chasing elated toddlers, and planning a plethora of adventures. In each of the rooms off the hall, our hopes and dreams were shared. Created. For 10 years, this house watched our marriage bloom, our babies grow, and our family form. And holding us tightly all along the way was its frame. But as life changes, so did our plans. Our hope is to sell our house. But it is also our wish that someone will fall in love with it as we did many years ago and give it purpose once again. 

Click on the picture if interested! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Mags: "I wish I could have breakfast in bed for my birthday in the morning."
Me: "I was planning to surprise you with it, but do you wanna place an order?"
Mags: "Surprise me. Cause you know how I love Dinosaur Egg Oatmeal, grapes and orange juice."
Me: "Okay, I'll definitely surprise you...with that exact order."

She'll be so surprised, don't ya think? 

Happy Birthday to this sweet girl. I don't know where seven years have gone...
but I've loved almost every minute of it! 

Friday, October 31, 2014

WE Are Groot

Stranger: "WOW! That's quite a costume."
Chris: "I am Groot."
Mags: "He's saying you can put his piece of candy in my trick-or-treating bag."

Chris and the kids created something a few weekends ago that was so amazing I had to share. Brag, even. We decided this summer what we wanted to be for Halloween (as a family) the moment we stepped out of the theater after seeing Guardians of the Galaxy.  

Mags was quick to put her claim on Rocket Racoon and Tuck wasted no time snagging Star Lord. They told me I had to be Gamora and I really didn't mind. She was the kick-butt green chick in the movie. Chris had a few choices, but he was set on Groot. Groot, the ginormous tree creature.

I figured by September they would have the costumes for this summer blockbuster out in full force. And I was right...except for Groot. The one they had online just didn't do his character justice. Naturally, Chris took matters into his own hands. He decided he needed to branch out. He just couldn't leaf well enough alone. (I crack myself up.) 

After pulling out the materials he'd need in order to create this costume, he and the kids got busy. "It'll only take a few hours at most." Famous last words. Much like Tucker's birth, this timeline was WAY too ambitious. Soooo, TWENTY HOURS later, Groot was my kitchen. My kitchen that now resembled the Henson's Creature Shop Challenge. No matter. In all seriousness, the results were OUTSTANDING!  

Take a look at a bit of the process and final product:


So, spill. What are you guys going to be this year?

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Michele: "Mags should be a Sunday comic strip."

I agree, Michele. Thanks for the great idea! And thanks to the fun and easy comic creating website,  Bitstrips, I was able to recreate a funny "Magism" that occurred last night. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Got InstaWave?

I'm not the most patient woman you'll ever meet. I think most of my patience was lost during the great sleep deprivation of 2005-2014. It's been a long haul. Needless to say if I'm trying a new product and it is not easy to use or truly does not do what it says it will within five minutes, I'll abandon it altogether.

Enter the Kiss InstaWave. This  product was ready to go right out of the box. I read the quick tips and tricks pamphlet and off I went. From the very first curl, I was completely entertained and amazed. I've always steered away from curling irons due to the fact that I never really achieved great results. The curls never seem to hold and the ends of my hair always look frayed. 

Not with the InstaWave

It was like a magic, twirling wand. By the end, I was able to use it with only one hand. The curls were instant, dramatic and long lasting. It took me ten minutes tops to have a head full of curls that lasted an entire night of dinner and dancing. I was so impressed.

And check out MY results. 

Want to win your own InstaWave curling iron? My friend Michele and I are giving one away to one of our lucky readers! Enter multiple times and ways below in the Rafflecopter. 

This contest closes at Midnight on October 15th.

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Mags: "Tell me the Aunt El story again. You know the one."

It all started with a Snickers Bar. A seemingly insignificant moment turned memorable. So memorable, in fact, that I have told my children on multiple occasions. It's a surefire way to watch them build from a little giggle to rolling-on-the-floor laughter. 

A Snickers Bar. I never suspected it. I should have. The lurking. The shivers up my spine. The stare. It bore a hole through the back of my head. But I went for it. I was young and full of fortitude. My inexperience was glaring, just ripe for the picking. I moved with the grace of a newborn foal toward the closet door; the prize behind it calling to me like Pavlov's bell. Salivation dulled my senses and I lost all control. I threw the door open haphazardly and grasped at the familiar rectangular shape. The wrapping fumbled beneath my fingers...unaware. 

I heard the footsteps first before I realized what was happening.  I was captured, brought to the floor and stripped of my precious chocolate all in a matter of seconds. Her style. Her grace. They were unmatched. I couldn't deny her a smile as she devoured the bar in front of my baffled face.  

That day I was taught a very valuable lesson: 

Keep your mind on the prize...and your eyes on the competition. 
Or...offer to share your chocolate. 
Nah...just keep your eyes on your competition. 

Forever and always I will eat a Snickers Bar with a huge smile on my face...
and hunched in a corner looking over my shoulder. 

I love you, Aunt El, more than words could say. 

Monday, September 15, 2014


Well, friends, here we are. A day we knew was inevitable. Michele and I are putting the cap on #KetchupWithUs. It began as a quirky and fun idea that two friends would wear a ketchup costume in as many crazy situations and places as possible. Michele and I had some of our heartiest laughs coming up with ideas, especially when we were together to don the red bottle. 

We've had the honor of meeting some incredible bloggers in our two year journey. It's been quite a ride. 

In the beginning we were a little nervous. Would people link up and play along with us? Would they think we were stark raving mad? Would they spread the word? We soon found out that like any ride...

Sometimes you have to just throw your hands up in the air, trust in others and JUST. HAVE. FUN. And that we did, friends. We hope you did, too! 

In the end, we have a fantastic collection of bloggers who shared their ups, downs, twists, turns, laughter and creativity with us. We could not have asked for a better group of people! But, as they say, "All good things must come to an end." 

 However, we don't want to say "Goodbye." We'd rather say, "See you later." Because you never know what we have in store for the future. 

Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep laughing. 

Love, Michele and Mel

* * * * * * * * * *

Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer 
from last time is ...
* * * * * * * * * * *  

* * * * * * * * * * *  
Click here to read how this foolishness all began.  
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Share with us your favorite or most popular post of your entire blogging career. 
We'd LOVE to read it.

Thank you for giving your love to our little venture. 

Monday, September 8, 2014


Mags: "What are you teaching this year?"
Me: "Well, I'm teaching English, Conceptual Physics, Chemistry and Reading Strategies."
Mags: "Whoa, whoa, whoa. You know about ALL of those things? I had no idea you were that smart."

This year I have an eclectic schedule. As a resource teacher in a high school, I team teach in areas where I am needed and qualified. Last year, I learned all about Conceptual Physics. Oh, the formulas, the labs, and the tears (from me). Kidding...mostly.  

This year, I was added to Chemistry. The teacher in there tells corny Chemistry jokes like...

You know what you should do with Chemistry jokes? 
<insert laughter>

Naturally, it's growing on me. The chemistry teacher also lets me help with demonstrations that include burning chemicals. Safety goggles are my new best friend. I'm totally gonna have Mags bling them out for me.  

And then, I have my comfort subjects: English and Reading Strategies. You know, like grilled cheese and tomato soup? These are familiar subjects that I've taught over and over again. They make me feel like I know exactly what I'm doing. Every teacher needs a few of those in their schedule. 

So, here we go, 2014-2015 school year. The first week is under my belt, I had a nap today, and my lunch is packed for the morning. 

I'm ready for you.  

(My schedule in visuals)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Where There's Winter...There's Hope

Me: "Man, I could use a break. I'm pooped." 
Mags: "Me, too!" <insert stifled giggling>
Me: "Are you laughing at pooped?"
Mags: "You betcha!"

We've been running ourselves ragged. Between visits to and from family, starting a new school year and still adjusting to a new area, we could use a break. Usually, in order to relax, we go to see a family-friendly movie.

Lucky for us, there's a sequel to one of our top family favorites coming to theaters this weekend! Dolphin Tale 2, starring the talented Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, along with the beloved dolphin, Winter, splashes into theaters on September 12th. The latest movie introduces a new and upcoming marine-life star, Hope. We cannot wait to see how this story unfolds.

Since I love to promote the positive, I joined forces with my friend and writing partner-in-crime, Michele, and Grace Hill Media to support this film. In fact, Michele and I became ambassadors. This gig landed us a sea of perks and promotional gear. 

My kids were quick to claim the Winter and Hope beach towel, books, t-shirt and sun hat. That's okay. They let me keep the tote bag, that now helps me to cart around all my class materials I need throughout the day! 

Below, check out the Dolphin Tale 2 trailer. If you're around this weekend, you should make a date with your friends, kids, grandparents, parents, neighbors or dog to go see this movie. What's not to love? Dolphins, people who love dolphins and Hope. ENJOY!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

An Open Letter to Summer

Every teacher everywhere: "Way too fast!"

Dear Summer,

You clever little fellow. Every year you get me. 

As the snow falls in February, the hint of your name soothes the savage beast inside of me raging with cabin fever. Your intoxicating scent is often brought through a burning flame of a candle fabricated to smell like the sand and lapping waves that welcomes my feet each and every time. I allow myself to get lost in daydreams of sunbeams and a delayed moon. Fireflies will often dance through my mind as I watch the snow flakes settle on the previously shoveled mounds. I long for extended hikes with mud underfoot and a symphony of birds all around me. Crystal, chlorinated water calls to me...welcoming a multitude of cannonballs and breath-holding contests. I love getting caught red-handed after discovering wild raspberries ripe for the picking. You are by all stretches of the imagination, an open door to new adventures and the promise of much needed renewal. 

And then you arrive. The wait is over. You always ease me in...slowly. Warming me up to the thought that you'll be around for a full nine weeks. But then something happens. A fast forward button is pressed, a time machine is altered, a worm hole is opened and POOF! You are gone. Before the raspberry stains are completely faded from my fingers, I hear the school bell ring.  Buses circle like flies as waves of backpacks race toward them. Bird harmonics have been replaced by alarm clocks. It's time. 

My internal conflict of carefree vs. the slight longing for structure is ever raging.  So, I bid you adieu. I thank you softly and often begrudgingly for the short time we had together. I start the countdown the moment you leave until we meet again. And I fool myself. Yes I do. I tell myself next year will be longer. It's better that way. 

So until we meet again, my tricky little fellow, I'll bask in your glow. Be well and be warm. 

Longingly yours, 


Friday, August 15, 2014

Ketchup With Us

It's time for Ketchup With Us. Hosted by Michele and me on the 1st & 15th each month, our link-up gives you TWO ways to play: (A) Write about a big FIRST you've had OR (B) Link up an old favorite. Or both!


I'm going to choose from column A. Mags had a BIG first yesterday. I'm not sure you'll be able to sense her excitement, but perhaps you could catch a glimpse. 


* * * * * * * * * *

Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer 
from last time is ...
* * * * * * * * * * *  

* * * * * * * * * * *  
Click here to read how this foolishness all began.  
Facebook (Michele /Mel
Twitter (Michele/Mel)
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WE give you a picture to inspire you to KetchupWithUs.

YOU link up something Fabulous!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Mags: "I can't wait 'til I can read super good. You know the first thing I'm gonna read?"
Me: "War and Peace?"
Mags: "No! Your blog about me and Tuck."
Me: "Just take into consideration my sleep deprivation in the beginning years."

Friday, August 8, 2014


Me: "Mags, what are you doing snuggled up with Tuck? I told you he's sick, honey. Do you want to get sick, too?"
Mags: "I don't care if I get sick. He needs me."

Our kids have always been close. From the second Tuck met Mags on the outside of my belly, their bond was instant. He brought out her first coo. Her first smile. Her first belly laugh. Her first word. Her first steps. He is, by every stretch of the imagination, her rock.

And she is his. She brings out his strength to walk down a dark hallway. One word from her can send him into fits of laughter (or tears). Her smile puts him at ease when he's uncertain. In fact, Chris and I often joke that we pity any girl who breaks his heart first. The wrath of Mags will be fierce.

So, when my friends at Grace Hill Media shared the featurette from Gavin DeGraw, You Got Me, it spoke to me. Written for the heartwarming sequel, Dolphin Tale 2, it really connected to my own life. The lyrics are insightful and touching. Not only will this song be perfect for this future family classic, but I guarantee everyone has had times in their lives in which they can relate. 

When a song speaks to my heart, it captures my attention immediately. This song does just that. Want to hear it? Well, thanks to Grace Hill Media, I have the chance to share it with you! 

Take it in and enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Me: "What was your favorite part of the lake vacation?"
Tuck: "My favorite part was how you let me tube all by myself. I know you were scared, but you let me do it. It was the best thing ever!"

I realized something on our vacation. I can't be the one to hold Tuck back. The potential is there out of pure maternal instinct to keep him safe and sound. But how will he learn? How will he find his own way if I'm constantly there steering him in the safer direction? I'm keeping him on the road MOST traveled. I know in some instances, this is a necessity. But there are those times where I have to step back, trust we've done our job, and let him decide.

So, as my "baby" climbed on that tube behind the boat and floated slowly away, the symbolism was not lost on me. The line attached to the boat was secure. But it stretched further out of my comfort zone than I would have liked.  I realized then that as Tuck gains years of experience, I have to be here to cheer him on and ADD to his courage to try new things. I have to be here to GUIDE him through his adventures, no matter how big or small. And if my comfort is compromised a little, well, so be it. We will all grow through this.

Most importantly, I want him to know I trust him in his choices. He's morphing into a young man right before every one's eyes; including mine. And when I forget and pull that rope in a little, I need to remember the elation on his face when I witnessed his self-confidence explode. I'm so proud of you, Tuck.

Here's to MANY more independent excursions!

Friday, August 1, 2014


It's time for Ketchup With Us. Hosted by Michele and me on the 1st & 15th each month. 

And we have a fun way for you to Ketchup With Us this week...or should I say...Ketchup With "Ussie." Have no idea what I'm talking about? Here, let me explain with an ever so helpful (and <cough> reliable) Urban Dictionary entry.



Basically, it's a "selfie" with more than one person. Chris has been taking ours due to my arms being half as long as his. I always end up getting me and then part of his eye and ear. Definitely not Christmas card picture worthy. He does a much better job. See? 

So, we want to see what YOU...and anybody else you'd like to include (or have take your ussie due to your short arms).  Take an ussie and post it for us. Then come over to Michele or my blog and link-up. It can be as creative or crazy as you want it to be. 

* * * * * * * * * *

Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer 
from last time is ...
* * * * * * * * * * *  
* * * * * * * * * * *  

Click here to read how this foolishness all began.  
Facebook (Michele /Mel
Twitter (Michele/Mel)
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We give you an USIE to inspire you to KetchupWithUs.

All you need to do is LINK UP YOUR OWN USIE!

And, for the love of the flapping motion needed to develop a Polaroid picture, TELL YOUR FRIENDS!


Thursday, July 31, 2014


Friend: "What are you guys doing this summer?"
Me: "We're going to spend a week at a lake house with Chris' friends."
Friend: "Oh, really. Fun! How many people?"
Me: *counting families on my hands* "Seven families."
Friend: "I'm sorry, I thought you said seven FAMILIES. You mean seven PEOPLE?"
Me: "Nope. I mean seven families."
Friend: "That sounds more like insanity and less like vacation."

Honestly, it's a trip we look forward to each year. One whole week where we can relax, be ourselves, have happy hour without the need of a designated driver or babysitter and just...breathe. 

The Lake trip with Chris' childhood friends. It never disappoints. We begin the countdown to the next year the second we pull away from the house. These are some of the finest men I have the privilege to know. And they married some very fun women to boot. There's a bond with these guys that is so unique and precious, I often find myself in awe when I watch them together. They share a lifetime (quite literally) of history. They've been there for each other's major (and minor) milestones, heartbreaks and accomplishments. 

And after fifteen years together, I forget that I wasn't ALWAYS a part of them. There are parts of me that they don't my childhood. Today, in the early morning hours, when the rain was gently falling and the children weren't yet awake, a few of us were sipping our coffee together in the common room. The subject came up about what some of the wives were all like as children. And the three of us wives that were in the room shared a sneak peek into OUR childhoods. We laughed in hysterics, gasped in disbelief and listened with interest.

There we sat...adding to the memories. Letting in our own shadows of the past.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


After I text Chris a picture of (only) Tuck running out of the waves at the beach... 

Chris: "Tucker didn't find it funny when I texted this picture to him." 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Down in the Meadow in a Little Bitty Pool

Me: "Whatcha thinkin' about, Mags?"
Mags: "Nothin'. Just watching those little fish and wondering if they have teeth." 
Me: "Those little minnows? Nope. They won't bite."
Mags: "Well, I'm not taking any chances. I like my toes. A LOT!"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


It's time for Ketchup With Us. Hosted by Michele and me on the 1st & 15th each month, our link-up gives you TWO ways to play: (A) Write about anything for 10 minutes OR (B) Link up an old post. Or both!


I'm going to choose from column B...Link up an old post. Enjoy!


* * * * * * * * * *

Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer 
from last time is ...
* * * * * * * * * * *  

* * * * * * * * * * *  
Click here to read how this foolishness all began.  
Facebook (Michele /Mel
Twitter (Michele/Mel)
Instagram (Michele/Mel)
Pinterest (Michele/Mel) 

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WE give you a (completely random) picture to inspire you to KetchupWithUs.

All YOU need to do is link something up.

And, for the love of Heinz-Ketchup-FINALLY-Available-in-Dip-n-Squeeze-Tubs, TELL YOUR FRIENDS!