Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Mags: "Mama, Tuck showed me where all my bones are...with this marker."

You know those moments you feel like the children are involved in something so you can walk away for just a minute to go talk to your husband in the back bedroom? You feel safe because they are engaged in coloring at the dining room table and laughing at each other's silly jokes. They have not even noticed that you left the room. So, you take a chance. You tip toe down the hall, the sound of their giggles and deep conversations about poop lulling you into a false sense of comfort that they are still seated at the dining room table. 

You make it to your husband excited at the slight chance for some adult conversation. You formulate a complete sentence or two with a noun, verb, adjective and you even have time to throw in an adverb! (lolly, lolly, lolly)  Pretty soon you are having a complete...what's that word? me out here. CONVERSATION! That's it! Yup. I was having one of those and loving every minute of it. I was so enthralled that I let my guard down. Both my ears were listening to Chris.

Then, we heard it. "Mama! Daddy! Come look! I showed Mags where all her bones are!" We were like deer in headlights. I assured Chris, "I only let them have the washable markers." Just one little snafu.

How did a Sharpie get into the kids' marker box?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Test

She held the coffee cup close to her mouth. Under normal circumstances, the heat would have been unbearable, but at that moment, she hardly noticed it. She paced back and forth in the kitchen watching the timer tick down. Two minutes left. She took a quick sip of her coffee that made her  flinch as it singed her  top lip. 

“I promised myself I would wait the full three minutes this time”. 

She looked over again. Only 15 seconds had dribbled by. How could that be? The knot in her stomach began pulling  tighter and tighter with every passing second.

Her cell phone rang, distracting her momentarily . She glanced down at the screen and saw on the caller ID that it was her life-long friend. She didn’t pick it up. She waited until the voice mail light came on and  listened. She sat there and soaked in her confidante’s voice. Her strength. She continued to pace the floor, fighting the urge to look over at the numbers. It was a short battle. She gave in and saw there was 30 seconds to go. She gripped the ceramic handle so hard she thought it would crumble. The timer relinquished it’s control and beeped. Finally.

The knot was now strangling her stomach so intensely that she could barely breath. She walked toward the closed door, the barrier between her and the need to know. She turned the knob, forcefully pushed open the door, took a deep breath and walked in with purpose. She looked down at the pregnancy test  as she set her coffee cup down on the counter. That wretched blue line eluded her again. The knot transformed into a stabbing pain she knew all too well. The familiar feeling of disappointment came spewing out of her. She snatched the test off the counter and pitched it in the trash can beside her crying, 


read to be read at

Monday, February 27, 2012


Tuck:*chanting loudly*  "METRO! METRO! METRO! METRO!"

We got ourselves off the mountain and went into the big city this weekend! Some planes, trains and an automobile later, we were in Washington D.C! We actually just SAW the planes as we were driving past the exit for the Dulles International Airport, but in the kids' minds, they were on them. Mags went to California for a quick trip and Tuck went to the moon. His "plane" was obviously a little more advanced. 

When they returned from their imaginations, we were at the Metro station. This is usually the highlight of our whole adventure into D.C. We literally could just purchase the "One Day Pass" and ride back and forth on the Metro all day and the kids would be just as happy. This trip was different, though. We were meeting up with some family members that we adore, so we were all anxious to get on the Metro and see our cousins' smiling faces. 

Ahhh. The Metro. My hand sanitizing, Clorox wiping, no touching anything-self's worst nightmare. Seriously. We step onto the Metro car and I feel the germs CLING to me. By the time the kids have scooted their little butts into a free seat, they've already touched two handrails and bumped into six people. They are covered. It's the name of the game. 

We sit and soak in the people watching. Lots of different people to check out. There are the super trendy people who avoid eye contact with everyone. They usually sit there repeatedly refreshing their iPhone waiting for a signal that will never come in the tunnel we are speeding through. There's the tourist who is panicked and referring to their pocket guide, usually with a spouse and two fighting kids in tow. They look worn out and either under-dressed or over-dressed for the weather. There are the sports fans. If there is a game that weekend, the train will be packed with team t-shirts and hats. The groups will be loudly recapping the game while swinging from the handrail above them only stopping their chatter to check to make sure they didn't miss their stop. 

Then there are the stroller pushers. These are the parents with two young children and a double stroller. One parent usually has a baby on their hip and one is crudely maneuvering the double stroller into a small open space in the Metro car. It's like Tetris. You can almost hear the music if you listen closely enough. There are bags, coats, water bottles and a toddler piled high in that stroller. Once they are situated, the toddler ALWAYS starts the fight to get out and hold the dirty hand rail.  Chris and I were in that place last year so we can relate. It sucks. I give these people my best "I know what you are going through" look while they give me their most intense "You wouldn't happen to have some Rum, would you?" look. 

There are trade-offs. I only carry a purse now. You know, my purse that fits my whole house in it. No change of clothes, no diapers, no bottles and no STROLLER! However, you end the day with two tired children who just want to be carried the "rest of the way" to the Metro. Then when you get on the Metro, said children have used up their listening for the day. They don't care that there are 41 seats empty for them to sit in. They want to stand up and hold that shiny silver pole covered in disgustingness. (I just made that word up) Since Chris and I are tired and have also been giving reminders all day, we don't care. Go ahead, Tuck, hold onto that pole. Then I see it. The other kind of person on the Metro. I am jolted out of my exhaustion to realize why I don't want Tuck or Mags holding onto the pole. 

The "Butt Grabber". 
It's always at the exact level where my kids' hands would go.

Don't mind me. 
I'm just FRANTICALLY digging for my anti-bacterial wipe. 


He sits. Staring.
“Another one? Really?”
He should understand.
She’s different.
Her taste.
“Tell me again.” 
He sighs.
“How much?”
She smiles
“It’s my collection.
You knew this when you married me.”

This post is in response to this picture and Trifecta's weekend challenge":

For this weekend's Trifextra Challenge, we are asking for a 33-word response 
to the picture below.  Make what you will of it; there are no rules. 
 Poetry, prose, comedy, drama--just give us
 33 words, on the button.  Have fun with it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Me: "Yes, Mags, there is a 1/4 inch of snow on the deck. And yes, I really appreciate you getting your coat and boots on all by yourself. Unfortunately,  it is 6:45 A.M. and 28 degrees. We are not going outside."

Mags: "OH! PHOOEY!"

This is the eighth installment of "Picture This"
You can read all about why I started this by clicking on the link.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Mags: "Mama, can you help me get her boots and superhero outfit back on?"
Me: "Mags, you have had this doll for just a few minutes, why is she already naked?"
Mags: "Maaaaaama, you know it's what I do."

True. There are not many dolls in this house that are decent. Especially the Barbies. They all seem to be "clothing challenged". Chris calls it "Barbie Spring Break". So, when Mags discovered the Polly Pocket type dolls, I thought these would be different. Why? I don't know. I thought the rubber dresses would be hard to get off. WRONG! They are insanely easy to get off. On the flip side, they are insanely difficult to get back on. Rubber against plastic doesn't exactly glide. Mags would end up getting frustrated and come out of her room screaming like a lunatic, "WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME?!" Seriously, these things could drive a person nuttier than a squirrel turd. (I saw that on a bumper sticker this week and I have been DYING to use it.) At least the ones she had didn't have shoes. Until....

...bum, bum, bum. Wonder Woman came along. She was perfectly placed in the Target check-out aisle, at Mags' eye level. Score one for the person who stocked the aisle. Your manager would be proud. I knew it was done for suckers like me. The 30-something mom who watched Linda Carter as a kid, who raced around the house in her Wonder Woman suit while throwing her Lasso of Truth around anything that didn't move. Of course I had to buy it for Mags. "Oh, look, she has cute little boots." I thought.  I wasn't thinking straight. I was stuck in my nostalgic moment feeling all warm and fuzzy. 

Two minutes after getting home, I was snapped out of it. Mag had successfully removed the one piece outfit and the boots. When she brought them to me, I got the outfit on relatively quickly. The boots...well...those were for a professional to do. It took me 20 minutes to get them on. Before you laugh at me, they have really tiny openings. Take a look at the picture. Her feet are ENORMOUS for such a tiny opening. When I finally got the foot in, sweat dripping from my forehead, I didn't want to force the foot down for fear I would rip the boot. That would bring us into meltdown city. I had to choose the hill I was going to die on. Mags at this point had deserted me (traitor) and gone to play with her unkempt Barbies. 

Finally, after I turned, maneuvered, twisted and even considered Vaseline, one slid on. I quickly imitated the motions on the second one before I forgot and it slid on effortlessly. As a mom, though, I knew after five minutes, I would forget how I ever did that. I considered getting the superglue out. I did, I'm not ashamed to admit it. I didn't want these boots to come off again. 

Mags was excited and when she saw my face, I think she could relate to my frustration. She told me, "Let's just keep her dressed." It was the best idea I had heard all day. So, off we went, playing happily. I knew Mags was not going to be content with a fully dressed and booted Wonder Woman though. I knew she would figure something out. 

If you thought her boots were hard to get back on... should try her head.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Mags: "Mama, I can feel something on my face. What is it?"
Me: "It's just a little zit Mags. No biggie."
Mags: "Does that mean I'm gonna get a lot like you have now?"
Me: "No. Not at all." *sigh*

They keep us humble don't they? I joke about it, but the kids really do keep track of my appearance on a daily basis. They are like little monkeys picking through my hair. They notice every new zit, crows foot, and freckle. Especially when they have time to look, like in the front seat of a grocery cart. They are at eye level with you. Groceries get boring to look at. Your skin, wrinkles and unkempt eyebrows become their target.

This is a recent conversation I had with Mags who insisted her legs were "too tired" to walk through the grocery store. She wanted to sit up front in the we could chat. Here we go:

Mags: "Mama, don't forget the avocados! Oh, and can we get....WOW! Mama! WOW!"
Me: *looking around for what's so exciting* 
Mags: "Do you know that you have hair in your nose, Mama?" 
Me: "Yes. You do too. It helps catch all the dirt in the air so you don't breath it in."
Mags: "I don't have hair in my nose. But you do. See? *lifts my nose by the tip* "RIGHT THERE!"
Me: "You really do have hairs in there. It catches all your boogers. Please don't talk so loudly. OK?"
Mags: *maniacal laughing* "YOU SAID BOOGER CATCHER!" *more maniacal laughing*
Me: *laughing at her laughing* "OK, Mags, what other fruits and vegetables do we need?"
Mags: "*composing herself* "Hold on, first I need to check your nose for boogers. *lifts my nose again*  "Hmmm, lemme look. Nope, don't see any." 
Me: "Alright, thanks for checking. Now, who wants some apples?" 

So, when Mags is 16 and gets a bunch of zits, I won't point them out. I will run with her to the store and buy out the "Facial Care" aisle. That's what my mom did for me and that's what I'll do for her. 

After all, her payback for pointing out all of my zits 
will come when she's a mom. 

In ten fold. 

(I can hear my own mom laughing right now.)

*If you click on the "maniacal laughing" link, you can hear her crazy little laugh that I am talking about. 

Trifecta Writing Challenge: The Way to a Man's Heart

The kitchen table was set for two. She looked at her sent text message and confirmed she had written 5:30. Shoving her phone in her pocket, she carefully laid the bacon for the burgers in the pan. The sizzling and popping of the grease made her jump foreseeing the hot spray spitting on her skin. She flinched at every pop. She cautiously reached around the pan to  turn down the heat, watching for any signs that the splatter would slap her hand unexpectedly. She did not like to cook it this long, but it was not about her.

The bacon settled in the pan almost relaxing into the sea of scolding yellow but she knew from experience that there was always one more pop left, no matter how settled the bacon looked. She eased the spatula back into the pan, wanting to flip the bacon before it burned. That would be devastating. Ever so gently, she placed one corner of the metal utensil under the raised part of the bacon. She carefully lifted it and gave it an almost playful nudge. As the grease crackled, she smiled at her accomplishment. The bacon was perfect. She released the breath she didn’t realize she was holding.  He would be pleased. He would be proud.  

The door knob turned and the man entered. She heard his footsteps, heavy and fast. She looked up from the frying pan, anticipating happiness. Her eyes were met with his disgust. He tossed an empty fast food bag on the counter and in a gruff tone threatened, “Throw that away, will ya? I’m going to watch the game. Don’t even think about nagging me about it neither.” He exited the room as she quickly disposed of the reminder of her worthlessness. She slowly walked back over to the frying pan. She reached over, turned up the heat and watched the bacon burn as she whispered to herself, “You are such a fool.”

This post is in response to Trifecta's Writing Challenge:

Use the third definition for fool exactly as it appears below and weave it into a stunning work of art of between 33 and 333 words.

fool noun \ˈfül\

1   : a person lacking in judgment or prudence 

2  a : a retainer formerly kept in great households to provide casual entertainment and commonly dressed in        motley with cap, bells, and bauble
    b : one who is victimized or made to appear foolish : dupe 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Me: "Get your aprons on! I need help making the dough for the King Cake!"
Tuck: "YAY! King Cake! But no baby...right?"
Me: "Right, Tuck, we won't put a baby in the cake."
Tuck: "'Cause we don't bake babies in cakes...plastic ones or real ones."

Yep, every year I check and every year he is still scarred from my first explanation of the baby hidden in the King Cake. Picture it, Northern Virginia, 2008. I was trying to feed Mags her bottle and I mentioned to a three-year-old Tuck that we were going to be making a delicious cake for Mardi Gras. He was psyched. I went on to tell him that there was something special about the cake. I remember saying, "We bake a baby inside! How fun is that?" Then his face dropped. He stared at Mags in my arms and began to cry. I realized my frazzled, sleep deprived, epic FAIL at that point. There was no smooth recovery. To be honest, there was no recovery at all. No matter how many ways I explained that it wasn't real, that it was plastic, that if he got it in his piece he WON, (he loves winning) there was no convincing him it was a good idea. From that moment on all babies, real or plastic, were officially banned to be baked in our King Cake. Heaven forbid we ever visit New Orleans and the boy bites into a plastic baby in a piece of King Cake. He may have a nervous breakdown. 

We have made King Cake, or should I say, I have attempted to make King Cake ever since my first year of teaching in NOVA...thirteen years ago. I know, I know...I'm not for New Orleans and to be honest I never celebrated Mardi Gras until then. Sometimes you meet people that start traditions for you...that make them something you look forward to and treasure. That person for us was Preston. 

Preston was the very first principal that Chris and I ever taught for. Preston has a big southern accent and a big daddy type of laugh. You cannot help but smile when you are around this man. He was the kind of principal that made you want to do the best job you could do at all times. He knew every student's name along with their parents and sometimes extended family. 

Preston was originally from New Orleans. He always teased me about my "Bahston accent" and I teased him that he was from "Nawlins". He was proud of his traditions and his home city. You were automatically an LSU fan the second you walked through the doors of his school. Yellow and purple were your new favorite colors. Here. Have a shirt. 

Mardi Gras was another big time in the school. I was a new classroom teacher so I began to hear the buzz from veteran teachers about a school wide parade WEEKS prior to the event. It was a really big deal. Each year as principal, Preston threw a Mardi Gras parade down the halls of the school. You had to see it to believe it! 

You were given a photocopy of masks the week before and told to copy enough for each child in your class. You were then instructed to have them all decorated by Fat was part of your lesson plans for the week. Once Fat Tuesday came around, you would take your students out to the hallway. Everyone was in masks. We all stood there, waiting. Anticipating. Then he would come out! Mask on, beads in hand and music playing over the intercom. The staff and kids would all yell, "Throw me some beads, Mister". Beads would fly, laughter would be plentiful and screams of delight would be heard around the school. Every kid ended up with multiple kinds of beads. As if that was not fun enough, we were all given King Cake that was made from scratch by Barb, who was the head chef in the cafeteria. 

So, in making our own tradition, Chris and I began to celebrate Mardi Gras in honor of Preston. We would decorate our humble abode each year and make a King Cake. When our kids came along we were excited to share our little tradition with them. I send a picture of the kids dressed in Mardi Gras garb every year to Preston and he says, "Good to see you're raising your kids right!" 

So, here's to you, Preston! Thank you for sharing your own tradition with us to help us start one of our own. As you like to say:

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Let the good times roll!


Sunday, February 19, 2012


This was said after a day of me quarantined in my room with the stomach bug.

Mags: "Mama, I'm gonna put this picture right here next to you. Then you can never forget what we look like when your'e pukin'. OK?"

This is the seventh installment of "Picture This". 
You can read all about why I started this by clicking on the link.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Mags: "I just want to give you a kiss!"
Me: "Mags, my tummy is upset. I don't want to get you sick."
Mags: "You feel like you're gonna puke?"
Me: "Yes." 
Mags: "Eww! Then I'll save my kisses for later."

I woke up feeling not right. Off kilter, if you will. I usually am pretty good about ignoring symptoms that make you feel miserable. You know, the typical colds, sore throats, ear infections, sinus infections, and migraines. Those are a walk in the park compared to nausea. It is the only symptom I cannot ignore. It brings me to my knees ...literally. It is my weakness and always has been. Thing is, I fight it until the very last second, because I hate actually puking more than I hate the feeling of nausea itself. I know, I know. Once I puke I will feel better. That is, until the stupid nausea comes back full force and hangs around until the next time you throw up. It's a vicious cycle. Have I mentioned I despise it?

So, here I am in bed. This doesn't happen often that I just give in and go lie down. My husband knew I wasn't messing around when I abandoned the brewing cup of decaf on my Keurig complaining that the smell made my stomach hurt. So, I am quarantining myself in here until this passes. Hopefully soon. Until then, I don't want to make any sudden movements or I'll puke. Stupid stomach bug ruining my Saturday.

Nausea is my nemesis. 

Lucky for me, I have my own personal super heroes 
here to help me defeat it. 

TRIFEXTRA: Three Billy Goats Gruff

My first dinner. Gone.
There's something better trotting.
My second dinner. Gone. 
Something better I'm soughting.
My third dinner. Gone.
Such a gluttonous loss.
I rescind my intimidating existence,
living on bridge moss.
This post is in response to Trifecta's "Trifextra" weekend challenge:

We want you to take a famous story, poem, book, or fable, and retell it in exactly 33 words.  Feel free to change the characters around, twist the plot, interpret it in a new direction, or parody it, but try to leave it still somewhat recognizable.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Mags from her bed: "What are you doing out there? Having fun without me?"

I wanted to yell back, "Yes,  I'm having a laundry party. It's LOADS of fun", but she wouldn't get my funny word play and would just hear "party". Drama would ensue and I would regret trying to be clever with my words. Instead I stuck with my old standby: "I'm just folding laundry. There's no fUn without U, Mags." She doesn't get it yet, but it satisfied her need to know that I was not having fun and my need to have a clever moment. 

I remembered Tuck doing this, too. When I would pick him up from preschool with itty bitty, newborn Mags, he immediately would ask me, "What you and baby do while I at school?" (He was only two at the time) I would always respond the same way, "Well, I dusted and washed dishes." I had learned my lesson the week before that when I mentioned I had fed her and he flipped out in the usual two year old manner. "NOOOOOO! I feed MY baby! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! No Mama! No Mama!" Cue Mags to be startled awake from her brother's screams,"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" 
Awesome. Maddened Mel, tantrumming Tuck, and a miffed Mags. It was the perfect combination for a super fun car ride home. I digress. 

Where was I? Oh, right, laundry. Aren't you so glad you are reading this today? So, the laundry party I was having. That excuse worked for a bit. Then she got smart. She decided she wanted to "help". Anything to get out of quiet time worked for her. I fell for this one day when she proposed from her bedroom door, "Mama, can I help you fold the clothes?" Since I was staring down six loads of clean clothes that had been piled on top of each other throughout the days, I was weak and jumped on her offer to help. "That would be great, Mags, if you want to help me fold during your quiet time."  BIG MISTAKE. 

She flew down the hall with two naked Barbies in hand. "I'm here Mama!" Then the bossing began. First, she wanted different music than what was playing on my iPod. "How about we turn on some Laurie?" That would be great, but I wasn't in the mood for kid's music. I really wanted to listen to MY music. MY "big girl" music. Since it was supposed to be MY quiet time, too. This was already a bad idea. Next, she told me "My Barbies are going to help us." This meant she was going to play dolls while watching me fold clothes and incessantly talk my ear off...over the kid's music she insisted turning on. 

I suggested that she could be "The Sock Hunter". I told her it was a very important job where she had to track down all the socks in the pile. The indecent, blonde bombshells could use a sock or two to cover up. It's like a nudist colony for Barbies in this house. Anyways, this caught her attention. She liked that. So, we spread out the laundry that enveloped my bed and most of my bedroom floor. I was busy attacking the bed pile while she was busy hunting through the pile below. I looked behind me to see that there was a nice little sock pile forming. I was pleased she was actually doing it. She was busy as a bee. I praised her efforts to ensure she would keep at it.  As I folded, she predictably chattered her way through the hunt. Then, as the third "Rocketship Run" song ended, I heard silence.  I turned around and didn't see Mags. I must have got lost in the kid's music and not heard her leave the room. I called for her. Then, I heard a giggle...and the laundry pile came to life a bit with some movement. 

Oh no! The laundry ate my baby!

I guess the hunter became the hunted

Thursday, February 16, 2012


The familiar whimper of the baby mixed with static from the monitor came like clockwork.  It was 3:33 a.m. The woman knew the vent must have shut again.  Her husband told her the bolts were loose on the wheel, but she knew better. She knew instinctively that her daughter was cold. She forced her own covers off in a huff, her bare feet the first to be assaulted by the cold air.  She moved half awake out of her room and stood in the baby's doorway, gathering her strength. The exhaustion and heaviness threatened to overtake her.  She was hesitant to enter and lingered with her hands tightly intertwined over her chest. 

"It's so cold," she murmured as if coming out of a trance.

He watched her as she stood there, as he had for many nights. The woman moved curtly past him, past the crib and over to the closed heat vent. She rolled the wheel under the ball of her foot as it turned to release the trapped air. Warmth rose up her body, removing the chill. Like a dance they had shared since his arrival, she moved cautiously toward the crib and stood beside him. She laid the thick blanket over her daughter. The baby gave a small residual whimper as she settled securely under the new found warmth.

The woman gazed with him, in unison, for several minutes. She made her way out of the room with a feeling of insecurity, of denial. He could feel it. He tried to talk with her, but she was not ready.  One day she would hear him and his presence would be bearable.  

"I was unable to save my own children from the heat. I will watch for the fire. I will keep the heat away from her skin. I promise."

He drifted over to the warm, open vent and with all his energy, forced it closed.

"She is safe," he whispered  "The heat will not touch her."

This post is in response to Trifecta's weekly writing challenge. Write a story using 33 to 333 words about the third definition of the chosen word. This week's word was: 

safe adj \ˈsāf\

1   free from harm or risk : unhurt

2   a: secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss
     b: successful at getting to a base in baseball without being put out

3   affording safety or security from danger, risk, or difficulty

4   obsolete of mental or moral faculties : healthy, sound

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Trifecta kindly asked that I answer these questions to post on their blog so all the Trifectans can get to know one another better. This was the first writing challenge I linked to from my blog and was hooked immediately...and not because I won the first time I entered either. :) Seriously, it is such a talented bunch of  writers in there. I look forward to reading everyone's creations and to the next challenge each week. Thanks, Trifecta for making this such a fun writing community. 

Now for the Q and A part of the post: 
  1. What is your name (real or otherwise)? My real name is Melissa, but my friends call me Mel. 
  2. Describe your writing style in three words. Developing, cautious, emotional.
  3. How long have you been writing online? I've been writing with my husband and posting our children's stories online for 3.5 years. I started According To Mags in January of 2012 (it's just a baby) to practice my writing solo. 
  4. Which, if any, other writing challenges do you participate in? I've participated in The Lightning and the Lightning Bug, Writers on Edge, Yeah Right, and The Mom Pledge Blog Hop. *whispers* Trifecta is my favorite. :)
  5. Describe one way in which you could improve your writing.  Taking the time to draft out my ideas, flesh them out, write a rough draft, edit, and then write the final draft. With two young kids this is a dream. :) 
  6. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given? "Write like no one is reading."(Husband, 2009) and "Saying it out loud always helps." (ODNT, 2012)
  7. Who is your favorite author?  I don't like to pick favorites. I enjoy exploring and reading a lot of different authors and genres. When I read, I learn about different writing styles. It adds to my writer toolbox.
  8. How do you make time to write? I wake up at silly hours of the morning and burn my tongue on my coffee. 
  9. Give us one word we should consider using as a prompt. Remember--it must have a third definition. Scintillate or wallop
  10. Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn't miss reading. This was my first post I made on the blog. Since it was my first solo post,  it took me about 45 minutes to finally click "publish". It's called 'Better Late Than Never'.


Tuck: "Mama, can you use your computer voice?"

It took me a minute to understand what he was asking, but when I got it, I laughed hard. He made a good point. The kids were sensing my morning routine mania. We woke up later than usual, due to Mags and I partying all.night.long. Don't be jealous. I was struggling to get them fed, dressed and whatever else I needed to do to get them to their schools on time. My eyes weren't even fully open yet.

I was racing around the kitchen pouring cereal, being told "I DON'T WANT CEREAL", pouring the cereal back in the box, waiting not-so-patiently for the next food demand, running to get their clothes out of the dryer, hearing Mags scream for me as I passed my "I couldn't see you for 20 seconds" limit, coming back in to the kitchen, being handed a bag of frozen waffles, sticking them in the toaster, emptying the dishwasher, answering  24 questions in 24 seconds, DING, burning my hand on waffles, putting them in front of the kids, "SYRUP PLEASE!", pouring syrup, dripping it along the kitchen floor on the way back to the fridge (which I would find later), making Tuck's lunch, answering another round of questions, Tuck interrupting it all by telling me I basically needed to chill out. HIT.THE .BRAKES. 

He was right.  This was no way to start the day. So I plugged in my "computer voice" and we all listened to me tell us a story. You see, my husband and I create a children's podcast. We write our own stories, record them and post them free for download on our other blog and iTunes. We call it Night Light Stories. You can listen to them anytime, anywhere, as we say. Forty-three stories and a little over three years later, we are still going strong. Often times, our kids request  their favorite stories by name while we are driving to see our families in Boston and Buffalo. (end total, shameless plug)

However, on mornings like these, it was a good idea. The kids chilled while "I" told them a story. I chilled out because I had a moment to think straight. It wasn't their fault I got caught up in what I made out to be "hectic". We were behind, but so what? So what if we missed the bus?  I would just drive him to school. It was right on the way to work. My anal personality gets the better of me sometimes. I am certain I'll need to be reminded again and again. Side note: As I am reading this to Chris he is nodding his head frantically. 

I know what strategies work to calm my kids down. Bring them back to the reality of the situation. Make them see it is not that big of a deal. Obviously, THEY have found their own strategies to calm me down, too. Well done, kidlets. Well done. 

Aww, crap! There's  maple syrup on my socks! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Mags: "Mama, I'm gonna marry Daddy when I grow up." 
Me: "Sorry, Mags, I'm already married to Daddy."
Mags: "Then I will marry Tuckah."
Me: "Mags, you can't marry someone in your family."
Mags: "Fine, I'll marry someone just like my Daddy."
Me: "Smart girl."

Mags will often strike up a conversation with me about who she is going to marry, where she is going to take the person she marries to live, and how many babies they are going to have. She's sounds so confident. I want to be Mags when I grow up.  

I can remember wondering when I was a little girl who I would marry when I got older. How would he propose? Easy. On one knee, of course. That is how they always did it on TV or when I saw it in a picture in a book. When my now husband and I began dating and then got serious, this vision would come to me now and then. I would picture him on one knee, ring in hand, saying the words, "Will you marry me?" It would be magical. Little did I know just how magical. Chris had a usual. I was just along for the amazing ride.

Chris and I both were working in schools at the time so we were on similar schedules. He BEGAN his proposal the first day of summer break and it ENDED the last day of summer break. Yep, he proposed over an entire summer. How did he do it? Well, let me tell you. 

I got home after a day of closing up my classroom for the summer and found the apartment empty. On our little table, there was a projector and Chris' laptop. There were instructions for me to follow to turn on the laptop and start the projector. Being a techie kinda guy, he made a video explaining how the summer was going to go. 

When I got the video started, he revealed how he had created a large cardboard puzzle the size of a poster board. On one side, each puzzle piece had a word on it that had to do with marriage and on the other side it had part of a message. He asked me to think hard about the word that was on every piece. He wanted me to ask myself if this "word" was something I could do with him the rest of my life. He apparently had already gone through the process, hence the asking. 

I was then instructed in the video to go meet him at one of our favorite restaurants at the time. I ran in the bathroom, washed my tear stained face, quickly re-applied my make-up, and jumped in my car. I don't even remember driving the distance to the restaurant. There he gave me the first piece of the puzzle: Friendship.

The days rolled on and we had so many fun adventures. Some were planned, some were surprises, and some were off the cuff (my favorite kind). I collected 12 pieces in total. Here are the words that I found on them and how he presented them to me:

Fun: I got this one after we spent a day with dear friends at Kings Dominion.
Family: Our parents came to visit and we took them out to dinner. The owner of the restaurant placed the puzzle piece under my plate. 
Forever: We went and got tattooed together...not our names on each other or anything like that. 
Support: I was teaching summer school and taking classes at night. He came to school and surprised me with lunch. 
Home: He made dinner, printed out a menu and set up a little eatery out on our concrete back porch. 
Sharing: We went to a Reggae wine festival with friends and shared some really tasty wine.
New: We went and explored a historical little town about an hour away that we had never visited before.
Adventure: We went tubing down the Shenandoah River.
Laughter: He took me to an improv comedy club in Washington D.C.
Intimacy: *blush*  We had got a new mattress and he put it in the plastic wrapping.

The final piece was given to me on the last day of summer vacation after I had spent the entire day setting up my classroom at school. I got home and found another video set up. He gave me clues of where I should meet him. After figuring out his clever little signs, I hightailed it to the building where we first met, The Staff Training Center, as it was callled. He was there, in the outfit I met him in. As soon as I walked in, he handed me the last piece: LOVE. This one was the easiest of them all. 

He brought me over to a table where all the pieces were laid out. He told me to put them together so that I could read the message. Once I got all the pieces in place, it read, "WILL YOU MARRY ME?". When I turned to him he was on one knee, diamond in hand, just like I had imagined. In one fell swoop he made all my dreams come true. I can honestly say it was one of the best summers of my life. 

So, to answer your question. Yes, Mags. 
I hope you marry someone JUST like your Daddy one day.

Hands down, it was the best decision I ever made!

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Monday, February 13, 2012


Me: "What is going on in this room?"
Mags: "Nothing to see here. Moving right along."

I should have known when Chris said he would "settle them down" for bed that I would hear booms, bangs, screams and very large, very loud "ROARS". 
My settling down and his settling down were drastically different. Night and day different. Polar opposite different. 

When I would hear the ruckus before bedtime I would get so aggravated. I would feel my blood pressure rise and the disapproval in my face intensified. This sort of reaction from me was usually after a long day of toddler-isms, poop, stain filled clothes, more poop, and tattling. On days like this I just wanted them asleep at bedtime. Magically. Asleep. I expected Chris to make it happen...peacefully.

My thoughts would grow to an irrational state while I was listening to him getting them into bed. "Great. Now he's getting them all riled up. It's going to end up taking us twice as long to get them to bed. If he would just do it the normal way for once." EEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Put on the brakes. That thought actually formulated in my head. As soon as a thought like that would make appearance, I would hear it. Silence, glorious silence. The kids would be in bed; happy, settled and waiting for my kiss. How did he do that?

One night I decided to talk to Chris about it. It was eating me up and he had no idea. He has had 12 years of experience with my crazy thoughts, so it was no surprise that he completely understood where I was coming from. He listened to me and then made some really great points. One of them was to give into the commotion. He pointed out that both of us got the kids happily into bed. We just had different methods. These points helped me realize that the control freak in me didn't always have to be in control. My way of doing things was not the only way. If that were the case, our lives would be so boring. 

So, I took my husband's advice. I began to enjoy the fits of laughter, the screams and the overall hullabaloo. I found out that when I did that, it actually helped to melt the day's little irritations away. My husband and I came to an understanding that he had his ways and I had mine. Both ways worked. Both ways got the job done. 

His way was just a little more unconventional...but that was alright.

As long as they were asleep by 8pm.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


"Mama, quick! Get her brush. Her hair is atrocious!" 

Nice word, Mags! Your vocabulary is rapidly surpassing mine. 

This is the sixth installment of "Picture This". 
You can read all about why I started this by clicking on the link.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Lady: "Yes. She is tall enough."
Mags: "Finally! I've been waiting my whole life to go on this ride."

She had waited her whole life, meaning all three years and nine months. When I heard the lady say this, I felt the blood drain from my face and I wanted to throw up. I measured Mags before we left, with shoes on, and she wasn't tall enough. I thought I was safe from this experience. Had she grown in a week? It seemed that way. She was just about four and they were going to let her on? So, I asked the lady, "Isn't there an age requirement?" The lady wasn't catching my drift and said, "Nope, she is free to go on. The entrance is right there. There isn't much of a wait if you wah wah wah wah wah wah." I didn't hear the rest...obviously. 

Panicked, I looked at Chris and my dad. They both assured me it would be OK. Two men I trusted with my own life were reassuring me. Never mind there was  Mags, who was attempting to pull my arm out of my socket screaming, "Let's go people!" We left Tuck and Meme (my mom) behind while we went on "THE TOWER OF TERROR". Tuck wanted nothing to do with it. One ride was plenty for him a year ago. "NEVER AGAIN" were his exact words. 

I had to remind myself that Mags was a different child. I mean, her favorite ride at Disney was "Snow White's Scary Adventures"  because it had the old witch in it. Maybe I was overreacting to this a bit. So, off we went. The lady was right. There was absolutely no wait and we walked right in. Dammit. 

If you've never been on this ride, you begin in a pitch black room. TV's flicker on and explain what happened to the "hotel" you are in and how it is now haunted. This part didn't phase Mags. She actually held my dad's hand so that he wouldn't be scared. She obviously didn't see the trepidation on my face. 

Next, they release you from the pitch black room and you walk to the line where you wait for the "elevator"...which is the actual ride. My husband grabbed me around the waist at this point as Mags twirled, sang and giggled the whole way. Me? I was hoping it was a typical Disney line where you had to weave through three miles of a metal maze just to get to where you wait. Nope. Not today. The seas parted for Mags and we only had to wait a few minutes for the elevator of horror. 

I knew they would re-measure her before letting her on the elevator. She must have shrunk by now. Sure enough, the young man dressed as a hotel bell boy came over, took Mags by the hand and measured her. I thought at this point we were home free. Then, to my dismay, the young man put Mags back in line to wait for the next ride and said, "She's good to go". I wanted to punch him in the face. Again I got reassuring looks from my men. 

Mags was so excited I thought she would burst, so I just let myself relax a little. Nothing would happen to her. We were right there. Then the doors opened and my whole perspective went back to horrible thoughts.

We were in the very front row. Of course we were. We strapped Mags in. The click of the seat belt never sounded so loud. It went like this in the row: my dad, Mags, me, Chris. Chris tried to grab my hand but both of them were locked on Mags. Just then, the doors to the elevators closed sealing our doom. Right before we took off, I exchanged a quick look with my dad, who now looked more like me. He also had both his hands gripped on Mags' shoulder. Then we started to move. 

Slow ride up. Check. Creepy story with ghosts. Check. Twilight Zone music. Check. I leaned in to ask, "You alright, Baby Girl?" She shushed me and said, "I'm tryin' to listen." Then the doors closed again and I knew. There was no time to jump ship. There was no escaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaape! Holy crap! UP, DOWN, UUUUUUUUUP! DOOOOOOOOOOOWN! 

My mind was racing as fast as we were falling. I couldn't see her. It was too fast. Was she OK? What kind of mother am I? She has to be crying. Wow, this is fast. When is this going to end? I am going to hurt Chris. Never again! NEVER AGAIN! I don't remember it being this long. Can she breath? My stomach is in my throat. What if she puked? Would I feel it on my hand? I can't hear her screaming. Why is it so frigging dark? They need an emergency light for freaked out moms. Chris is dead meat! OH! Thank is over! 

We came to a stop. All three of us immediately leaned into Mags. She was just sitting there. In unison we asked, "You OK Mags?"  She crossed her arms, got this kick butt expression on her face and responded:


Maybe in a few hours, Mags. I need to find my stomach first.