Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Tuck: "It's Halloween decorating day! Oh, yeah. Let's do this 'thang'!"
Halloween in our house is always an event. We've created some 
yearly traditions that we look forward to every single year. 
As you can see, pumpkin carving (and eating) is one of them.

Choosing costumes is a big deal. 
The kids (and Chris) take this task very seriously.

And we sing and dance a lot to the Halloween station on Pandora. 

Our kids can sing Purple People Eater by heart.
We also like to make up our own lyrics to songs, such as this 
one sung to the tune of The Twelve Days Of Christmas

On the twelfth field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me...
 12 noses numbing, 11 cold kids griping, 10 hay bales heaping, 
9 scarecrows glancing, 8 kids a milking, 7 cider cups a brimming, 
6 pumpkins a weighing, 5 bee stings, 4 corn mazes deterred, 
3 goats in pens, 2 jack-o-lanterns, 
and an acorn from an oak tree.

What are some traditions that your family celebrates on Halloween? 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Mags: "Didn't she look like a princess, Mama?"
Me: "She did, Mags. She was stunning." 
Mags: "I hope she remembered to go potty before she put on her dress. Remember when I peed on my dress that one time, Mama?"
Me: "Oh, I remember. Dresses and the potty can be tricky. I bet her Mama reminded her to go potty. Don't worry.
Mags: "Thank goodness for Mamas." 
Me: *grin*  

I once wrote a post called I Fought the Stroller...And The Stroller Won. It was about an experience I shared in Disney with our then two-year-old Tuck, newborn Mags, and 21 year-old-cousin, Christie. She came to Florida to help me while Chris attended a conference there. It turned out that she and I got more than we bargained for. At the end of that post I joked that when she got married I would buy her a stroller as a wedding present. Fast forward four years.

A few weeks ago, this intelligent, successful, gorgeous woman got married! Mags and Tuck were both in the wedding as a flower girl and ring bearer. For months our kids counted down to the wedding. They told cashiers, teachers, strangers on the street, and really....anyone who would listen, that they were going to be in Christie's wedding. And then, the day came. I thought both the kids would explode. Mags and I got to spend the morning with the bride, her mom and all the bridesmaids. 

I happy cried most of that morning. I couldn't help it. I have watched Christie grow into this amazing woman for thirteen years. Chris and I could not be prouder of who she has become. And then, as Mags looked up at Christie, and people were snapping pictures at the sight, I thought:

"I'm so glad Mags has such a wonderful woman 
to look up to in this world."

And, in time, I can't wait to be able to give her 
that stroller I joked about.

Monday, October 29, 2012

According To Tuck...

"So we're getting a snow storm from one 
side and a hurricane from the other? 
We should call it a 'Snurricane'. 
'Snurricane Sandy'."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Trifextra: Lost Girl

This post is in response to Trifecta's weekend challenge. They are bringing a little Halloween spirit into it, so it was one I could not turn down. Thanks, Trifecta! Here's what they are asking for:

We want thirty three words that are somehow related to Hurston's zombie sighting.  How you structure your response is entirely up to you.

My screams are muted. My sight is skewed. My body is not my own. 
 I’ve been invaded.  And no one can help me. The hunger I feel is insatiable. I’ve lost all hope.

Here Comes Halloween

Mags: "Mama, wanna hear my song again?"
Me: "Sure, Mags. Of course. What's one more time?"

Since Halloween is on it's way, I thought I would post this 
festive little song from last year that Mags would sing 
to me over and over and over and over again. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Mags: "Where are we going again?"
Me: "The Buddy Walk."
Mags: "I love it when I have a buddy to walk with."

The waves of green shirts flowing through the sidewalks of the George Mason University campus was a beautiful sight. This weekend the family and I joined thousands of others at GMU in Northern Virginia to walk in support of Down syndrome at an event called the Buddy Walk. This walk is close to our hearts. Chris and I both work in the special education field and every day we are lucky enough to work with incredible students with all types of disabilities. 

The Buddy Walk's slogan is "Get Involved, Be Inspired". Let me just tell you,  it is impossible not to want to get involved when you attend one of these walks. The outpouring of support and positive energy consumes you. Whether it was people on the sidelines cheering the walkers on, the volunteers directing people where to go, or the organizers who greeted everyone with enthusiasm....we were inspired.

Best of all, we made some new buddies on our walk!

You can learn more about the National Down Syndrome Society 
and the Buddy Walk by visiting on the links below. 
NDSS Buddy Walk on Twitter 

Chris' interview with Becky Switalski, the National Buddy Walk Director for the National Down Syndrome Society, who shares some history, insights, and awesome experiences from annual Buddy Walk events. You can hear it by clicking on the link:

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #97: Buddy Walk  

On Night Light Stories, we talk with national and local organizers for the National Down Syndrome Society's Buddy Walk. You can watch the interview by clicking on the link:

Monday, October 22, 2012


Today is deemed "Romantic Monday" by the man behind the blog Edward Hotspur. The rules are simple. Write a blog post that celebrates Romance. That's it. Since I talk about the kids A LOT on this blog...about the kids...I thought I would talk a little bit about the man behind it all. To be fair, I sprinkle him into posts, but never a whole post just about him. I think he deserves one, don't you? Yes. Good! Here we go. 

Mags: "Can I wear your ring, Mama?"
Me: "No, Mags, this is my wedding ring. It's very special to me and I don't want it to get lost by accident."
Mags: "That's the ring that means you're married to Daddy?"
Me: "Yep. Sure does. It means that we'll be together for our whole lives."
Mags: "And he can never, ever escape from you. EVER?!?"
Chris: (looks at me, smirks) "Yep. That's about right, Mags."
Me: (sigh)

He's my constant. The one person in this world who knows me better than I know myself. The keeper of all my secrets. The man whose face lights up at the sight of his children. My guide in finding that one more ounce of patience to make it through the day. He's a gentle reminder that it's not as bad as it may seem. He's one to see both sides of the situation. A thinker outside of the box. His laugh is contagious and his humor is my own. A brain full of movie facts. A bottomless pit of patience. The person who others depend on. He's a hard worker and a creative writer. His determination is unmatchable.

Our romance is simple. It's the smile he flashes, the way he suffers silently through vampire movies, the unexpected cup of coffee he makes, the quick dance in the kitchen, how he keeps me guessing, the piles of laundry he folds, the way he wrangles the kids, the killer of ginormous spiders, and the listener of all my silly whispers. 

I love you, Chris, more than I could ever say.

Even when you do things like place a Hannibal Lecter cardboard 
cutout to fall forward at me when I open my closet door. 
It is  Halloween season after all.
 Also, his marriage proposal to me was unforgettable.
You can read about it in my past post, My Wish For You.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Patching

Tractor operator of hayride: "May I help you up in the trailer young lady?"
Mags: "No thanks. I'm a big girl. I got this."

In honor of this being my umpteenth trip the pumpkin patch as a mom, I wrote a little ditty to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas". Enjoy!

On the first field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me....
an acorn from an oak tree.

On the second field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me...
two jack-o-lanterns and an acorn from an oak tree.

On the third field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me...
three goats in pens, two jack-o-lanterns and an acorn from an oak tree.

On the fourth field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me....
four corn mazes deterred, three goats in pens, two jack-o-lanterns and 
an acorn from an oak tree.

On the fifth field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me...
five bee stings, four corn mazes deterred, three goats in pens, 
two jack-o-lanterns, and an acorn from an oak tree.

On the sixth field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me...
six pumpkins a weighing, five bee stings, four corn mazes deterred, three goats in pens, two jack-o-lanterns, and an acorn from an oak tree.

On the seventh field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me...
seven cider cups a brimming, six pumpkins a weighing, five bee stings, four corn mazes deterred, three goats in pens, two jack-o-lanters, 
and an acorn from an oak tree.

On the eight field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me...
eight hands a milking, seven cider cups a brimming, six pumpkins a weighing, five bee stings, four corn mazes deterred, three goats in pens, 
two jack-o-lanterns, and an acorn from an oak tree.

On the ninth field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me...
nine scarecrows glancing, eight hands a milking, seven cider cups a brimming, six pumpkins a weighing, five bee stings, four corn mazes deterred, three goats in pens, two jack-o-lanterns, and an acorn from an oak tree.

On the tenth field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me...
ten hay bales heaping, nine scarecrows glancing, eight hands a milking, 
seven cider cups a brimming, six pumpkins a weighing, 
five bee stings, four corn mazes deterred, three goats in pens, 
two jack-o-lanterns, and an acorn from an oak tree.

On the eleventh field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me... eleven cold kids griping,  ten hay bales heaping, nine scarecrows glancing, eight hands a milking, seven cider cups a brimming, six pumpkins a weighing, five bee stings, four corn mazes deterred, three goats in pens, 
two jack-o-lanterns, and an acorn from an oak tree.

On the twelfth field trip to the pumpkin patch my child showed to me...
twelve noses numbing, eleven cold kids griping, ten hay bales heaping, nine scarecrows glancing, eight kids a milking, seven cider cups a brimming, six pumpkins a weighing, five bee stings, four corn mazes deterred, three goats in pens, two jack-o-lanterns, and an acorn from an oak tree.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


SOCKS ARE THE DEVIL! Yeah, I said it, Socks. What are you going to do about it? You've already been treading on thin ice with your "Dryer Disappearing Act". I mean, seriously, where do you go? And it's not the plain white ones with the worn down cotton heel. It's always the cute ones with the owls or dancing Snoopy on them. Maybe it's because you feel slighted from May to October in our neck of the woods. I'm sorry. It's not my fault. 

But then, Mags gets used to the feeling of freedom on her tootsies. That first fateful Fall day comes and then there you are. Eager. Waiting. Smelling fresh for once. I think how exciting it will be for everyone to be reunited. The comfy warmth. 

But let me down. Your seam right across the top of her toes is like a trip wire. The second it lands, KABOOM! She is set off and this is the scene that occurs:

Me: "Yay for new princess socks!"
Mags: "Where are my favorite dancing Snoopy socks?"
Me: "Remember we lost one last Spring in the dryer?" (insert grumbles) "But, look! Yay for new princess socks!"
Mags: "I like these. Here let me put them on." (pulls socks on)
Me: (scurries away to brush teeth in bathroom)
Me: (stomach drops, jumps, scrapes up gum with toothbrush, whispers profanities, runs to living room) "What Mags, what happened? Are you okay?" (checks over her body, feet, looking for possible insects crawling away)
Mags: (writhing on the floor) "My socks. They feel yucky. They're buggin' me. Get them off! GET THEM OFF!"
Me: "Holy cow, Mags. Okay. It's not like there's acid or biting spiders in them. Calm down."
Me: (quick mental note to keep my sarcastic humor to myself) "No, Honey. I'm sorry. There are no spiders. I was just kidding. You're acting crazy LIKE there were spiders in your socks. That's all I was saying."
Mags: "That wasn't nice. You scared me. I'm never wearing socks again"

Congratulations on your Mom Fail, Mel! 
You win....another try at this tomorrow. 

Better get thinkin' of some better strategies other than biting spiders.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Tuck: "Mama, you need to use your computer voice."

Nicely, played, Tuck. Nicely played. My computer voice *is* much calmer.

He's referring to the voice I use to record the stories for our podcast. Besides this blog, Chris and I produce a podcast called Night Light Stories. This is where we write our own children's stories, edit, record, edit them some more, and post them on our compendium blog and iTunes  for free. We just celebrated posting our 50th story. In honor of that, I'm going to tell you a quick story about some exciting news we have! 

Once upon a time, about 7 months ago, we got an email from a children's story app called Flying Books. The queen of Flying Books was Hana. She asked us if we'd be interested in publishing a few of our stories as e-books with them. After some extensive research, Chris and I agreed that we should give it a try. We sent two of our manuscripts to Queen Hana and she paired us up with their royal artist known as Regina Silva. With her talent, brilliant color schemes, and great insight into our story, she brought "Dragonfly, Dragonfly Show Us The Way" to life. I added my voice to narration. Queen Hana assisted us with the edits. And viola! We present to you:  

We would love for you to join us for our book release at Flying Books 
and let us know what you think! 

Where: Flying Books App on the iPhone or iPad

When: Now...or whenever is convenient for you. No pressure. 

How: Visit the App Store on your iPhone or iPad to download Flying Books. The app itself is free. Their library of books inside the app range in price from $1.99-$3.99. You can browse the library for "Dragonfly, Dragonfly Show Us The Way". There is also an option when you purchase a book to "gift" it to someone. Simply put in the recipients name and email address and send the gift of imagination on its way! 

What: The app has some great ways to personalize the stories you buy. You can choose to listen to the set narrator's voice OR you can record your own voice as you read the story. We thought this was a great idea for grandparents or traveling parents to still be able to read a story to their grandkids and kids. It also has a "Playroom" where you can find puzzles, coloring pages and other activities for each story. 

We hope you'll join Chris and I on our new adventure! As always we look forward to watching the glow grow brighter with the many stories...
and e-books we can share together.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Yesterday, Mags and I went for a walk around the mountain. We made it to the house up the street where we got side tracked. Why, you ask? Well, our neighbors decorated for Halloween. 

Hold on, let me clarify. When I say "decorate" their yard, I really mean "DECK OUT" their yard. Most of these figures you see in the pictures will stay up year round and be used for multiple different holidays. Santa hats and bunny ears make any ghoul look less ghastly, after all. 

As we approached the house, I wasn't sure about having Mags see them. That was, until she started describing to me what was going on in their yard. I thought I would snap some pictures and share her version with you. It's amazing to me how differently I see these creatures having been exposed to them through horror movies. 

So, without further ado, I give you our neighbor's Halloween decor seen through the eyes of Mags: 

"Look at Frankenstein. He's so nice. His wife was tired, 
so he's carrying her home."
(That corpse, you mean?)

"Oh no, Mama! That man is hurt. See the guy with that mask on? 
He's bringing him to the doctor over there."
(Does she not notice the large butcher knife in his other hand? 
And dragging him by the hair is definitely not the best method.)

"The doctor will fix him up. Right now he's helping someone else."
(And by "helping", she means "hurting". )

"But he can just sit with his friends in the waiting room."
(With friends like these, who needs enemies?)

"Look at this silly vampire. He's playing hide and seek behind the tree."
(I don't want to be the one to find him, though. Olly, olly oxen free!)

"All these guys look like they are going to a Halloween party."
(Yes. And at the party they'll be serving BRAAAAAAINS.) 

Of course, it's always a bummer when the party is over after Halloween. 
But no worries! Christmas will be here in a few months and 
then they can all celebrate on the porch with Santa! See?

(You thought I was just kidding about the Santa hats, didn't you?)

Friday, October 5, 2012


"Mama, Tuck's gonna come out here and tell you lies about me that are true."

Fibbing, falsification, fabrication, untruth...we've seen these more and more from our little woman, lately. They aren't huge, mind-blowing lies. They are silly, four-year-old lies that she uses to test her boundaries. Normal. But we still want to nip it in the bud. We've tried multiple strategies; 'The Big Bad Wolf', time-outs, imaginative play where I have her dolls tell Mags a lie and then we deal with it together, and so on. 

Here's the thing. I was wondering if YOU have any suggestions or strategies that worked on the fibbing front?

I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below!



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

TRIFECTA: Innocence Be Damned

It's been a couple of months since I have written a Trifecta Weekly Challenge prompt. The whole summer and month of September seemed to have slipped through my fingers. But now, we are beginning to slow down a little bit (quick, knock on wood). So I thought I would give this prompt a try. To remind you, Trifecta asks us to write a 33-333 word story while using the third definition of the word given. This week's word is: 

1: causing physical or mental discomfort
2: not easy : difficult
3: marked by lack of ease : awkward, embarrassed <gave an uneasy laugh>

Authors Note: The picture at the bottom of this post was created in They have a whole "Halloween" category right now with a ton of fun effects. I decided to play around with a picture I caught of my daughter one day. It sparked the inspiration for this story...and freaked me out a little. She's much cuter in person. 

Innocence Be Damned 

He walked through the deserted and decimated hallways. Rotting wooden beams exposed through disintegrating drywall allowed shadows to escape from their confines. The remnants of the teenage hotspot were littered along the tattered, mold stained carpet. The spine-tingling stories floated through the historic town, told on weekend ghost tours to the visitors that hoped to capture a misty laden specter through their lens.

But he knew better. These crypt-like corridors he walked through were a place of hallowed grounds. He knew he should have brought the bulky equipment with him. But lately, he felt constricted by it and less organic in the process. He had a feeling. A calling. Haunted by thoughts that lay dormant in the corners of his mind, he had to work through this himself. In search of her.

The girl was a presence like no other. She was an anomaly. A tale made up to scare misbehaving children straight.  Making contact with this wraith was your downfall. She’d invade your soul with her madness over her lost life. It’s told she waits in the shadows for the unsuspecting, hoping they would be her way to travel this world. Her wails  were dispersed through the crisp autumn winds mingling with the scraping of the fallen leaves as they were forcefully scattered across the ground. But he sensed her need for help, for guidance, for rest.  She called to him. And here he was answering. His open soul. Unprotected.

He trusted that they were just tales. The soul of a child could not be that malicious. And just as this thought entered his uneasy mind, the warmth around him drained. He swiveled cautiously, head buzzing and shadows dancing. An apparition appeared swiftly, quietly facing him. Her eyes fixed upon him. He couldn’t look away. His last lucid mentation was how he foolishly believed in the innocence of a child. 


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Muddy Hand

Tuck: "There are no scary parts in this movie, right Mama?"
Me: "It's 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid', Tuck. No scary parts. It's a funny movie."

And for the rest of my life I will never live down those words. Ever. He'll be calling me for movie reviews from college and then reminding me:

"Are you sure? Remember when you said there weren't any scary parts in that one movie, Mama?" 

Yes, I remember. But, to be fair, Tuck is an easy scare. He's jumpy like his Mama. If a scene in the movie we are watching is set at night, he is on high alert. He'll start by sitting straight up. Then he squirms in his chair. He'll ask for a snack or even get up and pace. It's always been his way. 

About a month ago we were invited to a cool "sneak peak" of the 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid'. Chris works with the author, Jeff Kinney's sister. She wrote us and asked us if we'd be interested in bringing the kids to have some movie fun. As an added bonus, Jeff was going to be there, so we would be able to meet him. We were all in for the adventure. 

We arrived, met up with everyone, got ourselves some treats, and made it into the movie theater. Tuck was excited that he got to meet a "real live" author. It was very cute and Jeff was very sweet with all the excited kids that were there. After we were situated in our row, the movie began with Jeff introducing it. There was laughter, popcorn eating, more laughter and happiness all around. And then...there was a scene set around a campfire at night where the kids were telling ghost stories. Mags put it best in her description when she said,

"It wasn't 'scawy', it was just a little spoooooky."

Scary or spooky didn't matter. I felt Tuck start moving around right away, so I put my hand on his. I knew the scene was coming to a close soon, so I began to relax...and so did he. Then, it happened. A typical "lure you into a false sense of comfort" type of scene. The ghost story being told on screen was coming to an end just when one of the actors jumped out yelling, "MUDDY HAND" really loud causing everyone to jump in their seats a little. 

Not Tuck. He screamed. A guttural, high pitched, lengthy shriek . It was the scream heard 'round the world...or the movie theater in this case. He was wrapped around Chris in a second crying at the top of his lungs and begging to leave. Chris held him tight and hugged him whispering that it was over and trying desperately to sooth him. That's when we were pretty sure we knew why everyone jumped in the theater. 

After the longest three minutes of Chris' life, we finally got Tuck settled. The rest of the movie went swimmingly. We enjoyed being together and while Tuck didn't release his grip on Chris, he did laugh out loud a few more times. 

So, kudos to you, Jeff Kinney! We had a BLAST at your movie. And thank you for the invitation, Annmarie. It was much needed family time and Chris got a nice long snuggle from his fast growing boy. Sorry we scared the poop out of the audience. We'll just say we were "placed" there to add to the effect.

Oh! And from now on, we'll just stick to these 
kind of "muddy hands".