Friday, November 30, 2012


Mags: "Finally! I've been waiting my whole entire life for a booster!"

And just like that, we have two booster seats in our car.
 I really need to stop blinking altogether. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Tuck: "I didn't get to finish writing my list in school, but I'm also thankful for recess."
Me: "And me?"
Tuck:"Oh, sorry. What are you thankful for, Mama?"
Me: "No, I mean, you forgot to put recess AND ME?"
Tuck: "You're thankful for recess, too?"
Me: "Who's on first?"
Tuck: "And your thirst?"

Me: "Yes. Good talk."

Tuck and I have about 5-10 precious minutes of  "just us" time when he gets off of the bus. We either drive or walk, but it's time when I'm able to find out about his day in a nutshell. I love it. And we have some great talks in that little time span. So, when I saw the following list he made in school of all the things he is thankful for, it didn't surprise me.

1. Nana does knit comfy booties and hats.
2. School is fun for him.
3. We did have a talk that morning about his "soul". 
4. What can I say? He is all boy.

Check it out:

And when I finished laughing, I was pretty impressed 
with how he phonetically spelled "buttocks".

Monday, November 26, 2012


Chris: "Bye! I'll see you in a couple of days."
Me: "Have a safe trip! Good luck with your presentation." 
Tuck: "I love you, Dad."
Mags: "Have a fun trip. I can't wait until you get home and don't have a beard anymore."

Sigh. Chris decided to grow a beard this month. It's "Movember" to raise men's health awareness where men grow mustaches. It's also a catchy little thing called "No-Shave-November". And let's be honest, taking time off from shaving is always desirable. That's one reason I was so excited when the crisp winds of Fall blew in. (That and pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING!) 

Colder Weather = Long Pants = No Shaving

And who doesn't like a break from a mundane, daily task? I wish someone would think up something like "No Dishes September" or "No Laundry July". Get on that, will you? Thanks!

However, much like when I dyed my hair a reddish brown, our children were not good with the change. Even though my hair was a temporary color, the kids rejected it big time. In fact, when I told them it would wash out in 28 washes, Mags' response was, 

"Better get washin' then."

So, I don't know why Chris expected the kids to be heading up his "Beard Fan Club". It's itchy, collects stuff, and, well, it's itchy. He looks cute, yes, but it's not fun to kiss him while he has hair on his face. The kids have moaned and groaned about it all of November. Now, we have four days to go until he shaves. They are counting down, as am I. 

It's not like my Uncle Tim who has had a beard my whole life. Literally, if I passed him on the street without a beard, I most likely would not recognize him. It's just part of who he is. 

However, I did find a fun option for Chris if he missed his beard. The Beard Beanie. Best part of these? When he takes it off, I can kiss him without getting a brush burn. It's a win/win situation for all involved.

And, no. That's not blood on my face from his beard rubbing against
 my cheek. I had paint on my face from Mags' birthday party. 

But that would make for an interesting...and slightly disturbing post.


This post is in response to two fantastic weekly writing prompts. The first is from Lance's 100 Word Song and the second is from Velvet Verbosity's 100 Words. Lance is asking that we respond to the song, Landslide by Fleetwood Mac and Velvet Verbosity is asking us to respond to "what remains". The following is where these prompts took my mind and my writing. 


Insecurity fills my being. Every step I take is questionable. The words of frustration hang in the air, remnants of my day.  And then the creak of floor boards under the the rocking chair soothes my nerves like a lullaby. Two of the greatest parts of me melt into my weary lap. Warm cheeks, hearty laughter, genuine smiles and sweet words rearrange my atmosphere. And in an instant, it happens. Insecurities are erased, questions are answered, frustration is tamed and priorities are in check. Those previous lingering remnants are swept away. And how they see me is who I am.

The Edublog Award Nominations

Hi All,

I know this is not my typical style for a post, but as most of you know, I am a special educator. Even though I've been in the field part-time the past seven years, I still make time to keep up with the recent strategies and techniques being used in classrooms across the country. Some of the easiest ways for me to do that is by reading blogs and listening to podcasts full of recommended resources and current practices.

The resources you are going to find below are not only great for educators and students, but also for parents. You can find out more information about how to participate over at The Edublog Awards.

Best educational use of audio / video / visual / podcast-
by Chris Bugaj creates a podcast that shares practical technology tips while entertaining his audience. Each of his well produced episodes include current strategies that are being used in the educational field. Chris focuses on finding strategies and resources that are free or commonly found.

Best Individual Blog -

Teaching All Students by Patrick Black – ( – This is a blog that is full of ideas that can be implemented  in a classroom immediately, multiple resources, and practical solutions for making instruction accessible to every student. Patrick's passion for enhancing learning for his students is apparent in each post.

Best Teacher Blog -

Speech Techie by Sean Sweeney - ( -  This blog focuses on the topic of using technology in the practice of speech-language pathology. Winner of the 2010 Best New Blog Edublog,  Sean shares strategies that are useful for every educator.

Best Mobile App -

Flying Books App (Free – Flying Books App This free storybook app provides users with a unique reading experience. The Flying Books app provides users with the ability to listen to text read aloud. There's an opportunity to record narration of the story which results in an increase in reading abilities of the user. You won’t find random, unnecessary interactive components that distract students from the story in the Flying Books app. Although the books in the library require a purchase, the app also allows students to create their own book, complete with full audio recordings, for free.  It is a great way to practice re-telling of a narrative and/or reading fluency.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Trifextra: My Favorite Things

This post is in response to Trifecta's Trifextra weekend challenge. They asked us to write exactly 33 words about the following: 

1n 1959, Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the music for the Broadway production, The Sound of Music.  One of the most famous songs from the musical is "My Favorite Things."  Since its inception, the song has been covered by countless artists, and we're asking you to follow suit.  Give us a few of your favorite things, in whichever form you want.

Today was our little family's traditional Christmas decorating day. I was inspired by this to write my entry. Enjoy!

Sparkling lights that all glow when they’re plugged in.
Boxes of decor that hold memories within.
Our history hung on each pine bough with strings.
These are a few of my favorite things.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Toothless Thanksgiving

Mags: "I love my family."

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. And there was much to be thankful for in our house. Like everyone else, Chris and I have been busy with work, school and our little side projects. I was thankful that both the kids had off of school for the whole week so I could spend some much needed time playing, cleaning and hanging out with them. I was also thankful Chris had Wednesday off from work so that we could finish up the last bit of grocery shopping and yard work.  As a nice surprise, Chris sent me away on Wednesday afternoon to the movie that had a certain sparkly vampire and shirtless werewolf in it

I was hesitant at first with so much to do, so little time and all that jazz. But then the idea started sounding fantastic and so I took a leap and went to the movies...all by myself....the day before we had family coming to the house. And it was glorious. I sat and drank my Cherry Coke all by myself. It was very peaceful and it gave me time to shut off my brain and be sucked into the movie for two mind-numbing hours. 

The rest of Wednesday went well and we finished our preparations for the feast. Yesterday was a success. The dinner was yummy, the guests were funny (and super helpful) and our kids were in heaven with all the added attention. Tuck was especially thankful because yesterday morning, while wrestling with Chris, something happened. His tooth that had been dangling like a shutter after a storm FINALLY fell out. And the first thing he said was,

"Now I can eat Thanksgiving dinner without worrying about my tooth!"

And in his 7 year-old-world, that was a LOT to be thankful for! 

Oh! One more thing I am thankful for is my writing partner-in-crime. I co-wrote another article with my friend, Michele, for the Manilla site/blog. I linked to both of them below. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Me: "Hey, Mags. Wanna help me vacuum?"
Mags: "ARE YOU SERIOUS? Yes! Yes, I do!"
Me: "Alright, let me get you plugged in and ready to go."
Mags: (vacuuming, singing, happy)
Me: (loading dishwasher as fast as I can)
Mags: (over hum of vacuum) MAMA! THE VACUUM IS TIRED!"
Me: "Okay. Let's put it away."

What I thought Mags meant from that comment about the vacuum being tired is that SHE was tired. It turns out when I pulled my beloved Dyson vacuum later that day, she really did mean THE VACUUM was tired. I noticed it did not have it's usual 'suck up the crumbs from across the room' kind of power. And then there was the noise. It sounded like a buzzing.

Quickly unplugging it and flipping it over, I couldn't see anything stuck under it. I pulled out the hose that Mags had been using and looked through. Nope. Nothing. So, I decided to call the 'HELP ME, MY VACUUM IS SICK' phone number on the side of the handle. A very professional man answered the phone and this was the conversation that occurred:

Miguel: "Hello and welcome to Dyson. My name is Miguel. How can I assist you today?"
Me: "Hi Miguel. My name is Mel. My daughter was vacuuming today and I'm pretty sure she vacuumed something up that is stuck in there. It's just not sucking like usual."
Miguel: (very professional sounding) "Okay. Could you please read me the serial number on your Dyson. It will be on the handle of the canister."
Me: "All it says is Dyson on the handle. No numbers."
Miguel: "Try flipping your vacuum over and looking on the bottom. It should be on a white sticker."
Me: "Found it! We're cooking with gas now. Here it is <insert very long number>.
Miguel: "Great. I have found the model to your Dyson. Please hold."
Me: (listening to elevator music, drifting into a dream state)
Miguel: "Hello. Mel? I'm back and I have the same model Dyson as you in front of me."
Me: "Well that's handy. So, where should we start?"
Miguel: (chuckles, leads me through a series of steps to test the motor, canister, and hose)
Me: "Motor's working, there's sucking coming from that hole you described and the hose is clear."
Miguel: "Alright. Now I want you to locate the two yellow buttons on the sides of the grey 'U' shaped  piece below the hose. Once you have located them, push them in at the same time and slide the piece out."
Me: "Got it. I just pinch and pull?"
Miguel: "Yes. It should release that 'U' shaped piece."
Me: (pushes buttons, pulls piece off vacuum, watches a large green marker fall out) "OH! MIGUEL! I found the problem. There was a MARKER in my vacuum. Wow. These things really suck up anything, huh?"
Miguel: (stifling a giggle) "Yes. They are pretty powerful. You'll want to clear out that piece of any debris and then you can place it back on the vacuum and then we can test it out."

Me: (snapping vacuum back together) "Alright, let's give it a go, Miguel"
Miguel: (still stifling a giggle at my ridiculous excitement) 
Me: (vacuums up half of lunch and dinner from under the table with no problem) "Miguel. It's back to normal. I can now suck up small children with this thing again."
Miguel: (laughing while trying to remain professional) Great, Mel. Thank you for calling Dyson. I'm glad we could help you fix the problem. If you need anything else, don't hesitate to call. 
Me: "I won't. Thanks for all your help!"
Miguel: (laughing) "Thank you for using Dyson. Have a good night!"

And the Dyson and I vacuumed our way into the sunset...
right after I took a picture of the culprit.

Have you ever sucked up anything besides dirt in your vacuum?


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mags

Happy Birthday to our spunky, goofy, playful, courageous, adorable, charming, tenderhearted, fierce, devoted, motivated, high-spirited, 

You were a spit-fire from the second that line turned blue. 
Keep it up, girlfriend. You have big things ahead of you.

 And you have one of the greatest side-kicks in the world by your side! 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Read how Mags made her grand entrance: 

The Contraction That Started It All : Part 1
The Contraction That Started It All : Part 2
The Contraction That Started It All : Part 3

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Contraction That Started It All : Part 3

Mags: "What did the doctor say when she pulled me out of your belly again, Mama?"
Me: "She told the nurses to hurry up and grab this wiggly baby out of her wet hands before she wiggled right out of her hands."
Mag: "I was a crazy baby!"
Me: "In my belly. Yes. Yes you were!"

Mags gave us quite a ride. Chris nicknamed Mags "Trouble" from the second we found out I was pregnant. My pregnancy with her consisted of the following:


And those contractions made us all nervous. My doctor included. I was in there every week being monitored from 22 weeks on. And then, on the Thursday, one week before Thanksgiving it all started. If you haven't read The Contraction That Started It All : Part 1 and Part 2, I suggest you start there first. 

So, after my adventure in the triage area, I went home. The contractions remained inconsistent, but intense. Every time I got up, I felt like there was a bowling ball between my legs. I knew the baby was coming soon, it was just a matter of when. Sunday morning at 3am, I was woken up by the pain. I counted two contractions in 15 minutes, but then was so exhausted, I fell back to sleep. I figured if it was the real thing, the labor would wake me up to my water breaking or a baby crowning. Neither happened. We all slept until 7am, which is unheard of in our house. 

The day lingered on with contraction after contraction. We did some errands, called family to update them on my lack of progress, and then decided we should all take a nap. I got into the bed and laid down. I had three strong contractions in 15 minutes and decided maybe it was time to call the doctor. After telling her to hang on twice to breath through my my contractions, she told me to come in. Chris packed the car and then grabbed a sleeping Tuck. I was on the phone with my aunt and uncle who lived in D.C at the time. They planned to meet us at the hospital to pick up our little man and take him back to their house

So, off we went. I tried to keep count of the contractions, but I always got confused about how to count the time in between. Do I count from the beginning of the first one to the end of the second one or the end of the first one to the beginning of the second one? No matter, they were persistent and becoming very consistent. 

When we got to the hospital, my uncle was almost there. Chris dropped me off at the door and I kissed Tuck good-bye pointing out two bags to Chris that should go with my uncle for Tuck. I walked through the familiar doors and hallways to be greeted by a nurse. She wasted no time having me get the gown on, hooking me up and getting my blood pressure. A million questions later, Chris came into the room, big smile on his face, holding one of the two bags that was supposed to go with Tuck. 

Me: "What are you doing with that, Honey?"
Chris: "You told me to bring this one in." 
Me: "No, they were both supposed to go with Tuck. That's his diaper bag with his diapers, wipes, and milk cup. The other bag had his jammies and clothes in it."
Chris: "I'll go call your aunt."

When he came back in, he let me know that my aunt (a veteran mom of three) was already on her way to the store to get diapers. Awesome. Soon after my doctor came in to tell me that I was contracting every two minutes and that they were going to do a c-section within the hour. Then she remarked,

"Guess I was wrong. You aren't going to make it until Thanksgiving. 
But you should definitely be home for it!"

She did one final exam, let me know the anesthesiologist would be in within minutes to prep me (I could have kissed her) and told me she'd meet me in there. 


And then, things went fast. The nurses were getting everything set. Unlike Tuck's birth, everyone was relaxed. The anesthesiologist came in and said he was going walk me to the delivery room so that they wouldn't have to move me after he inserted the needle in my back. He didn't have to tell me twice. I was at the door to the operating room before him. He laughed at me saying that I was the fastest moving pregnant woman he'd ever seen. 

I was numb in no time and every nurse there for the surgery walked over to me to introduce themselves. Chris walked in the room and looked a little panicked. I immediately asked what was wrong. He told me that he had lost his other sterile bootie to cover his shoe. He was worried his exposed shoe would contaminate the whole room. He was assured by everyone it was fine (as they all chuckled a little) and then it began. 

There was a lot of laughing and joking throughout the surgery. Before we knew it our doctor announced that I'd feel a ton of pressure. Just as she was about to pull Mags out of my stomach, she asked the nurse for the time. The nurse commented if we waited just 30 more seconds, she could be born at exactly 5:00pm.  Before I could stop myself I shouted, 

"That's okay. Just get her out!"

So, at 4:59pm (and 50 seconds), Mags was brought into the world, screaming and wriggling with all her 6lb 10oz might. The doctor welcomed Mags into the world, told us that she was a spitting image of her brother and ordered the nurse to quickly come take the wiggly baby. 

And poof! Just like that, our family was complete. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Contraction That Started It All : Part 2

One week prior to The Contraction That Started It All: Part 1 , this conversation happened in my OB/GYN's office:

OB/GYN: "Okay, Mel, you're still 1cm dilated and 50% effaced." 
Me: "Well, at least I've stayed consistent the past 4 weeks. So, it's 2.5 weeks away from Thanksgiving and I currently have 12 people coming to our house for dinner. Do you think I should cancel that?"
OB/GYN: "No. I think you should be good. You're having sporadic contractions, but they don't seem to be doing anything. And you haven't progressed any more. I think you should be safe."
Me: "Phew. Okay. Well, I'll be back next week same time."
OB/GYN: "I'm at the hospital next week, so Dr. W will be examining you. But, I'll see you the week after that. So, have a Happy Thanksgiving! Eat as much as you want, while you can!"

My OB/GYN had to say it. She had to basically throw the gauntlet down for Mags. I could hear Mags in the womb. 

 "What? Did she say that Mama SHOULDN'T cancel Thanksgiving? 

So, a week later I was headed to the hospital. Chris had successfully retrieved Tuck from school after multiple missed calls from me. When I arrived to the hospital, I took a deep breath, waited for the contraction I was having to pass, and made my way through the sterile halls. A young nurse greeted me as I rounded the corner to the nurse's station. 

"Are you Melissa...Bug...Boo...Bug....oh, I give up. 
What is your last name, Sweetie?"

Before I could answer, all the nausea got to me and I barely made it to the bathroom. The nurse followed me in and suddenly I realized she was holding my hair and rubbing my back. Nicest nurse ever. Phew, I felt a ton better after that (until the next contraction, at least).  

While I was in the bathroom, she had me put on a breezy hospital gown. Next thing I knew a million and one questions began, an IV was started, a monitor was hooked up to my belly,  and I was given a cup of liquid to help settle my nausea. Then I was told to try to relax and grab a nap for the next hour while they monitored me in the triage area. Being the best napper around, that was not going to be a problem! And then my nurse pulled the curtain shut around me as she left.

I was going to call Chris to fill him in on the plan when I saw that I had no reception on my phone. Darn it! Well, the nurse would be back soon. Or so I thought.

That's when the first pregnant woman came in. The nurse greeted her as she walked into the small check-in area. They went through formalities of her name, due date, how far her contractions were apart from one another and then...her water broke...right then and there.

"Don't move a muscle." the nurse commanded, 
"I don't want you to slip. Let me get a towel." 

Before I knew it, the woman was hooked up in the bed next to me and contracting fast and furious from what I could hear. The nurse was on the phone trying to find a room. At that time another mom-to-be made her way into the triage area. Again, the nurse went through all the questions and the woman told her she was there because she thought her water had broke. She was put in a bed adjacent to me and the first woman. 

Then the nurse said aloud after examining the second woman that, sure enough, her water had broke. They hooked her up and the nurse called for back-up. She seriously should have just lit an SOS with gauze because at that time a third woman was brought in. The third woman wasn't messing around. She was crowning and the baby was born very soon after she arrived

There was a lot of running back and forth, yelling and clinking of medical instruments. I sat, straining my ears, waiting for the next baby to drop. That's about the time my nurse popped in, announced my contractions had stopped, and that basically they needed me to get the heck out. I was taking up precious space. Free of the IV and dressed, I was given my discharge instructions to come back if the contractions started up again consistently or my water broke. 

Soon enough, I was out in the fresh air and able to call Chris. As I looked up into the twilight sky, I saw a full moon smiling down at me. It all made sense at that moment. I was so excited to tell Chris about what just happened...and that we'd have to wait a little bit longer for Mags' entrance

How much longer, you ask? Well, it was three days later and
was back there again...this time for the real thing.  

Patience is a virtue.
Stay tuned for The Contraction That Started It All: Part 3


Friday, November 9, 2012

The Contraction That Started It All

Tuck: "No 'cool today, peeeeease?"
Me: "But it's 'Firetruck Day' and you get to wear your firetruck shirt!" 
Tuck: "No fanks."
Me: "Aaaaaand, you get to bring a firetruck with you to school for show and tell! YAY! Let's go find one!"
Tuck: "Me pway wif it at 'cool?"
Me: "Yes!" (Note to self: Remember to tell teacher to let him play with it.)
Tuck: (squeals in delight while picking out a toy firetruck) "YET'S GO, MAMA!!" 

And that is how I bribed my then two-year-old Tuck to go to school. But I had good reasons:

1. I was in my last month of pregnancy with Mags.
2. I had to go get an internal exam by my OB/GYN (again).
3. Tuck FREAKED out on the doctor when she tried to touch my stomach the last time I brought him with me to my appointment. "NO TOUCH MY BEEEEBEEEEE!!" 
4. He was two...and well...had mastered the art of pushing every single button I had.
5. He loved school once he got in there and saw all his friends.

Every Thursday, I made the same appointment. I had just enough time to get Tuck in his classroom, waddle back to the car, drive to the doctor, get an exam, be told I'm 1cm dilated (for weeks on end) and drive back to pick up Tuck. Everything always worked out. Except one morning it didn't.

It started off as a typical Thursday. I was contracting. Tuck was melting down over putting his pants on. Did I mention he was REALLY good at being two-years-old? Anyway, we eventually made it to his preschool, with pants, and on time. I dropped him off and got back to the car when I noticed another contraction. It took my breath away. When I arrived at the doctor's office, I was called back by the nurse who handed me a gown. We went through the formalities of weight check, urine check, and blood pressure check. Then I was left in the room on the crinkly paper with a breeze up my back and another very intense contraction. 

The doctor walked in as it subsided and commented on how flushed I looked. I told her it felt like the baby was trying to dig her way out.

Her response,  "Oh boy. Lay back."  

And as she did her thing, I heard her say,  "So, I'm going to need you to head over to the hospital. You're 2cm dilated and contracting right now. I'll call over and let them know you're on your way." 

And this is how my pregnant brain responded to what I heard:

WHAT? I have to pick up Tuck. I still have three weeks to go! I have to call Chris. I have to let my parents know. OUCH! Contraction. Damn, that hurt!  Is my bag in the car? I wish I ate more for breakfast. Man, I'm nauseous.  WHY ISN'T CHRIS PICKING UP HIS PHONE?!? I really have to pee. And throw up.

Just as I was spiraling into "When can I have my epidural?" (mind you I hadn't even left the doctor's office yet), Chris called me back. It turned out the school he was visiting that morning had no cell reception. He assured me he was on his way to pick up Tuck, having figured something was up by the 14 missed calls from me in five minutes. After he talked me off the ledge, I promised I would call him as soon as I got the hospital and figured out just how "in labor" I was. One little problem, though. Once I arrived to labor and delivery, it was my turn to have no cell phone reception. Oops

Stay tuned for Part 2 of 'The Contraction That Started It All'.