Wednesday, July 31, 2013


The most asked question of Michele and I during the conference: 

Stranger: "Are you two sisters?"
Me: (insert confused look)
Michele: (not skipping a beat) "Yes. Doesn't my older sister look great for her age?"

Thanks to these fabulous bloggers and writers 
I was so happy to meet face-to-face in Chicago:

Optimus Prime

A special thanks to my darling roommate, expo-extraordinaire, coffee supplier, writing partner, cheerleader, friend and overall goofball...

The Conjuring Happened

Me: "It'll be good seeing 'The Conjuring' together when we meet up in Chicago for the conference."
Michele: "I guess it will be better to be scared together."
Me: "Of course I'll be in your lap after the first five minutes."
Michele: "Pretty sure my lap won't be the safest place."

“Don't be afraid of being scared. To be afraid is a sign of common sense. 
Only complete idiots are not afraid of anything.”
 ― Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n

A few weeks back, Michele and I were asked to set up a giveaway on our blogs for tickets to the haunting movie, 'The Conjuring.' Thanks to Grace Hill Media! The two of us were also sent a pair of tickets so we could see it ourselves and write up a review. I know. The two biggest scaredy-pants in the world. I broke into a sweat every time I thought about it.

First of all, when I see a scary movie, I'm usually on my couch...with Chris. He's there to protect me, let me dig my head into his shoulder and tell me when the coast is clear. (Just like when we saw 'Evil Dead.') After the movie is through, he is always very sweet about letting me light up the house like high noon with both bathroom lights and the hall light. It's much better to not have any chance of letting my mind get the best of me while trying to fall asleep in the dark. To be fair, he knows what he's getting into when he rents them and convinces me to watch them with him AT NIGHT right before bed. 

So, when I met my partner-in-crime, Michele, in Chicago this weekend, it hadn't dawned on me that I wasn't going to have Chris to lean on through the movie. That is, until we were leaving to go see it and the panic set it.  As it turns out, watching this movie with a friend who harbors similar fears works out perfectly!  

This movie wasted no time getting right down to the nitty-gritty of scary. Think creepy dolls, creaky floor boards and unexplained footsteps all rolled into one. We both took turns looking at the screen during different points. As soon as either of us would hear the music start to increase in speed or sound, we'd lean into each other, peeking through our fingers. 

The story itself, about the widely known, ghost-hunting couple, Lorraine and Ed Warren, was very interesting. This case, in which they have never revealed details of before, was one of their most disturbing. It's no secret from the trailer that there are many twists, turns and points at which you will jump out of your seat. The audience collectively screamed three or four times and the woman on the OTHER side of me whimpered like a little puppy A LOT.  Pretty good job, Mr. Director. 

Michele and I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when the credits rolled. As we exited the theater, we both opted to walk the three miles back to the hotel. It was a crisp night, neither of which either of us have in NOLA or NOVA at this point in the summer. We walked, talked, dissected, pieced together and basically retold what we each got out of the movie. When we returned back to the hotel, we further researched the story. Michele read some articles she found, along with pictures of the family, then and now.  

Overall, I give this movie two thumbs up for unsettling, two thumbs up for audible audience screams and four thumbs up for seeing it with a fellow chicken-pants. (Each of us has two thumbs...I'm almost positive.)

Thanks, Michele, for letting me bury myself in your shoulder and grab onto your hand. But most importantly, thank YOU for sharing the bacon popcorn with me. Now, that is a true friend. 

That's right, people. I said BACON popcorn. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Mags: (sniff, sniff)
Me: "You're going to have a great time with Daddy. He's got so many fun things planned."
Chris: "Tons! We're going to be so busy you won't even notice Mama is gone." 
Me: "See? You'll be fine."
Chris: "Yes. And then when Mama comes home, you'll say 'No, go away again, I was having so much fun with Daddy.'" 
Me: (insert stink eye directed at husband)
Chris: "Sorry. I got carried away."

Both our kids keep switching up on us lately. Tuck is usually the one who has a hard time with people leaving on trips. Mags holds it together and stays strong to show her brother up cheer her brother up during these times. But, the other day when I left for my trip, Mags was the one struggling to hold her "sadness inside." 

Tuck stepped up and tried to distract her with Minecraft talk and the silly, talking cat app. These tricks were getting quick smiles and then she'd be right back to the sniffing and sighing. Not being able to handle seeing her pouty lip and eyes brimming with crocodile tears, I let my own fall. We chatted. I reminded her of my earrings that were in her ears and I gave her one of my lip glosses she LOVES.  

It's only five days, but still, she threw me through a loop. I kissed them good-bye, Tuck smiled and reminded me to get him something from Chicago. Mags screamed and begged me to take her. As I was pulling away, Tuck grabbed her hand and said, 

"I'm right here, Mags. I've got you." 

I smiled, closed the car door and thought, 

"Man, that kid is going to make a FANTASTIC 
husband and daddy one day."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Let the Adventure Begin

Chris: "Who wants to put up the tent to do a camp out tonight?" 
Mags: "Where are we going to put it?"
Tuck: "Out in the back yard?"
Chris: "Yep! And we can have a campfire in our fire pit."
Mags: "Mama, do you know about this?"
Me: (frantically trying to find clothes to pack for BlogHer without stains on them) "What?"
Mags: "Camping out in the backyard? With Tuck and Daddy. AND THE WILD ANIMALS?"

I don't foresee Mags being much of a camper. More like...a "glamper," as our friend, Ms. Lindsay calls it. Glamour + Camping = Glamping. Never mind the fact that tomorrow I'm leaving on a plane to meet my friend, Michele, in Chicago for a long weekend. We'll be attending the BlogHer conference. It's a large amount of women writers and bloggers all in one conference center. Let the estrogen begin! 

Anyways, Chris thought it would be fun to "camp" before I left. I packed this morning so I was able to hang out for a little bit tonight. Of course, Mags has been glued to my side all day. She's not happy I'm leaving. "Not one 'yittle' bit."  Tuck has been sneaking in a lot more hugs than usual today. I'm more than happy to receive them while he's willing to give them.

Chris, being the master of distraction, has made a plan for the day after they drop me off at the airport. As long as Mags doesn't pack herself away in my suitcase, we should be good. 

But for now, I'll enjoy the crackle of the fire...
and soak in my "stuck like glue" kids. 

"This is man's work"



Thumbs up for camping (mind you it's still light out)

Scary hot dog mustache

What adventures have you been on this summer? 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Present

Mags: "Mama! Mama! Daddy has a present for you from outside."
Me: "What? What is it?"
Mags: "I don't know."
Me: "Can you go find out? I don't trust him."
Mags: "I know. He's tricky."

In the fifteen (hundred) years I've known my husband, he's always been a jokester. Jumping out from behind doors, putting rubber, life-like frogs in my purse, or setting up a cardboard Hannibal Lecter to fall onto me when I open my closet door are just a few of his favorite things. Loving, guttural-scream-inducing gestures.

So, tonight, when he came in to present me with something special he found outside, you'll understand why my first reaction was...less than trusting. Take a look. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Mags: "Look, Mama, it's an S."
Me: "You know what, Mags?  I've looked at that for years when and never realized that was in the shape of an S made up of STARFISH." 
Mags: "Oh, those ARE starfish!"
Me: "Look at us teaching each other something new."

This post was written in response to Five Sentence (non) Fiction over at Lillie McFerrin Writes. She asked us to write based on our inspiration from the word "wisdom." Who better to gain knowledge and perspective from than the our wise children?  Since this was a true conversation Mags and I had while visiting my parents' house a few weeks ago, I'm breaking the rules a bit. R-E-B-E-L. But seriously, I hope I don't get kicked out!

I learned about this creative link-up from my friend, Bo over at My Thoughts on the Subject are as Follows. Bo's poetry always captivates me. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Gone Buggy

Me: Oh my goodness, Aunt Patti, look at that hornet!"
Aunt Patti: "Oh yeah. It's carrying a snack."
Me: "Holy cow. It's trying to shove it in a hole in the bottom of your chair. I've never seen that. Amazing."
Aunt Patti: "What? There's a hole in my chair?"

I won't deny it. Lately, I've been into bugs. Especially taking pictures of them and posting them on the blog. The kids have helped me to be more observant of what is around me this summer. I have decided to follow THEIR lead on wherever our adventures have taken us. 

So, even though my first instinct was to be grossed out by the following scene, I knew my kids would LOVE it. I snapped away. And here's what I caught on my camera. 

From a kid's point-of-view: 
  • How in the world did the hornet carry that? 
  • Hornets eat grasshoppers? 
  • Is there a tunnel for them in the chair?
  • Does a hornet have teeth?
  • Is there a nest in the chair?

From a grownup's point-of-view: 
  • That chair is dead to me.
  • Please pass the Raid.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Power of a Five Dollar Word

Me: "Look at the cool picture of the butterfly I caught in Ms. Beth's garden."
Mags: "Awww. She's beautiful."
Tuck: "And not symmetrical." 
Mags: "Tuck! Why do you always have to use words I don't know?!?"
Me: "Mags, chill. It just mean that she's not the same on each side. So, if you cut her down the middle, she..."
Me: "No. I wouldn't REALLY do it. Just do it in your mind."
Mags: "We DON'T cut butterflies down the middle in our minds either, Mama. Are you INSANE." (her new favorite word is 'insane')
Tuck: (frustrated) Mags, that's not what Mama..."
Me: "Let it go, Tuck."
Tuck: "Who knew the word symmetrical could cause so much trouble?"

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Don't Forget: Take 2

Tuck: "Mama, did I laugh a lot when I was a baby?" 
Me: "You sure did."
Tuck: "You know what else I did a lot?"
Me: "What?"
Tuck: "Poop." (insert his ROARS of laughter here)

Sometimes I forget: 

  • How he smiled constantly. 
  • How he would scream in excitement when he heard Chris come home from work. And still does.
  • How he was amused by the simplest things. See picture above.
  • How people would stop me in the store to look at his big, blue eyes. 
  • How he refused to eat anything but baby food until he was 13-months-old.
  • How everything was fixed with a bottle and a long rock in the glider.
  • How he would do all the motions to the Itsy Bitsy Spider while I sang it...100x a day.
  • How he burst out laughing if anyone around him sneezed. Including perfect strangers in the store.
  • How he was able to make car noises before any of his words.
  • How he was our one and only for two full years.

Can you tell I'm looking through old baby pictures today?

Don't Forget

Me: "Mags, look at this cute picture of you when you were a baby."
Mags: "That's not me, Mama. That baby has blue eyes. I have green eyes."
Me: "I know. Babies are born with blue eyes and then as they get a little older, some change color."
Mags: "That's freaky, Mama. I'm like a little alien."

Sometimes I forget: 
  • How her eyes were blue until she was close to six-months-old.
  • How soft and squishy her cheeks were.
  • How her vocabulary consisted of four words. (Dada, bra-bra, book, Mama)
  • How she used to love when I'd say, "How big is Mags?"
  • How she'd sit in her high chair in the kitchen and eat "hors d'oeuvres" while I cooked dinner.
  • How she hated baby food and, at five months, insisted on the "real stuff."
  • How she'd laugh uncontrollably at her brother. And still does.
  • How she went from immobile in the morning to rolling around the house by lunch.
  • How her gummy smile lit up her face.
  • How she used to be this little. 
What things about your kids younger years 
do you sometimes forget?

Trifecta: Earning Your Wings

This post is in response to Trifecta's Weekly Writing Challenge. The word they chose for us to include in our writing this week is:


A dragonfly whizzed overhead, it’s effortless flight grasping hold of my attention. As if a grappling hook had been thrown, I was involuntarily pulled along the path of her whimsical trajectory. Landing upon a flower, she steadied herself in the breeze. My mind was captivated by her beauty, her utter perfection. 

I envied her resolute pose upon that petal, balanced and strong, not allowing herself to be blown over. Her wings were able to release her from any binding chains. It all seemed so simple for her, almost as if she were chosen for a life of ease. As I stood in her presence, feeling the enmity rise within me, I caught sight of something. A remnant of a tumultuous journey. A crack in her paragon.

Her wing, tattered and worn, transfigured the image I had painted of her.  Nothing is given freely. She earned her place. She found her balance. She faced her challenges. As I watched her lift onto the passing breeze, it suddenly became clear to me. No matter how damaged her wing, she would find her way. And along her journey, she'd take comfort in a passing wind, a warming ray of sunshine and a soft resting place. Each their own welcomed a reprieve.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Spine Tingling Giveaway

Mel: "I'm about to watch that horror movie, Mama. You saw it. Should I run away or is it not that bad?"
Michele: "I don't know. I only saw about 10 minutes of it and that was through my fingers. The rest of the time I hid my eyes."

Have you ever read the story that I posted for Trifecta a year and half ago entitled, “The Fire?”  It’s a quick 333 words full of mystery and based on a true story…much like a movie that is being released on July 19th called “The Conjuring.”  Even if you aren’t a believer in the spiritual side, this movie looks like it offers some good adrenaline rushes. The movie features a haunting case that the well-known "ghost hunting" couple, the Warrens, investigated. 

After watching the below trailer, Michele and I were peeing our pants. So, naturally, we plan to see it together when we meet up in Chicago next week  for BlogHer'13.  

We’ll post our review then, but in the meantime, you can watch the (hides eyes) clip and then enter to win free tickets, thanks to Grace Hill Media! Michele and I each have two pairs to give away. You can use them any time through the duration the movie runs in any theater, with the exception of an AMC. 

You jumped, don't lie! It looks spine-tingling, doesn't it? 
Simply use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win a pair of tickets before midnight on Sunday, July 21st. And tell a friend. The more the merrier!  

Good luck, thrill seekers! 

Sharknado: The Remake

Chris: "Honey, can you get me some of the plastic sharks from the basket of bath toys?"
Me: "Do I want to know why?"
Chris: "Two words. Sharknado Vine."
Me: "The answer should have just been 'NO'. No, you don't want to know."

While visiting our family in Philadelphia this weekend, we were swept into the hype about the SyFy thriller, 'Sharknado.' If you haven't heard of it, it was as bad as it sounded ... if not worse. I missed the first half of the movie while napping with the kids, but no worries! I was quickly caught up on the intense plot with it's various twists and turns. I'm kidding. It was summed up in ... like ... two sentences.

So, of course, my husband had to recreate this campy film. He gathered his materials with the kids in order to create his props. Take a look...

Then, the remake began. If you haven't had a chance to view this cinematic masterpiece, you may want to divert your eyes. Or, better yet, save yourself two hours. The following series of Vines highlights all of the major scenes in the movie in three, six second videos. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 13, 2013


My parents, husband and I decided to take the kids into Boston to go on a Duck Tour. In order to get INTO Boston, we thought it would be fun to take the ferry from Salem, Massachusetts. After all, an added vehicle is an added bonus in the kids' eyes. They were all about it. Well, that is, until Mags SAW the ferry. 

Me: "Here comes the ferry boat, Mags. See it? It's pulling up to the dock right now and then it will..."
Mags: "There's no way you're getting me on that thing."
Me: (stunned) "What? Why?"
Mags: "HE-LLOOO! Do you SEE the hole in the middle of that boat?"

In Mags' case, perspective WAS everything.
Photo credit:


Me: "We're going to ride on a Duck Tour today, Mags."
Mags: "What? We can't ride a duck! We'd squish 'em. Well, maybe I wouldn't, but you're so big, you DEFINITELY would."

I grew up in the Boston area. However, I have never been on a Duck Tour. It wasn’t that I was denied this right. We just never really felt the need or desire. You see, I took a lot of field trips into the big city throughout my school years that fit all the historical pieces together.

But, this summer, when we brought the kids to visit my family, we decided to take them on one of these popular tours. It was something different and Tuck has really become a little history buff. Mags was just very excited to see how a bus could turn into a boat.

Our day began by taking the ferry from Salem, Massachusetts (yes the city of witches) over to Boston. It was foggy and overcast, but during the fifty-five minute ride, it cleared up nicely. We arrived in a timely manner and then walked about mile to the pick up point, which was at The Museum of Science.  We were slated to be on the brown duck aptly named, “Molly Molasses.”

Promptly at 12:30, our driver, tour guide and boat captain boarded. I was relieved to find out that he was a super hero named Super Size. I mean, really, what average man could handle all three of these roles at once?

He brought us around to all the popular tourist destinations such as; Cheers, Boston Commons, Swan Boats and The Garden.  We learned about the great Molasses explosion that shot a 30 foot tidal wave through the sweets… err…streets of Boston in 1919. Of course, along with that story came some fantastic corny jokes that left me in stitches. On top of that, Super Size worked his accent to the hilt. I begged Chris to let me adopt him. Unfortunately it was a no-go.

Anyways, as the tour continued on, Super Size stumped us with 5th grade history questions like “How many people were killed in the Boston Massacre?” and “What did Paul Revere yell out during his famous ride?”  

Then, the time came. The moment for the…dun dun dun...TRANSFORMATION. After our driver said a short prayer and completed a sequence of button pushes, we were floating along the Charles River. Super Size was spewing facts left and right when suddenly he realized that he was due for a water break. As you can imagine, you can’t just leave a large, brown, motorized boat driving blindly across the river. So, he did what any responsible superhero-tour-guide-boat-driver would do. 

He let my seven-year-old take the wheel. 

Then…my five-year-old. 

For the grand finale, I sat at the helm. I didn’t crash the boat once…
and have the sticker to prove it.

Once we hit land again, we headed back to our pick-up point, where we sadly bid farewell to our new best friend. Honestly, though, I cannot say enough about what an enjoyable experience it was. It had something for everyone. History facts for Tuck, ‘Make Way for Ducklings’ statues for Mags, superheroes for Chris and corny jokes for me.

Short story long, if you ever find yourself in Boston, take a Duck Tour. Preferably with the tour guide named, Super Size, formerly known as Super Swift.  He was knowledgeable, hilarious, daring (he wore red spandex people!) and an excellent driver. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

All You Need Is...

Mags: "Mama!"
Me: "Yes, Mags? What do you need?"
Mags: (singing) ''All you need is love. Love. Love is all *I* need."

One of the new "Love" sculptures that can be found around Virginia.
This one focused on all of the wineries around the state. 

Monday, July 8, 2013


Tuck: "I didn't mean to. It was an accident."

These words have become Tuck's mantra this summer break. "BREAK" being the keyword in that sentence. My poor guy. Everywhere he turns he's knocking into, onto, or over something. He's grown a lot in the past month and it's like he's not used to his new size yet. He literally trips over his own two feet. His legs are a line of bruises and scrapes. Sigh.

The day before we were leaving for our Boston trip, he was switching over the laundry from the washer and dryer. He had mastered it and was psyched to be "in charge" of that job. Next thing I heard was his now infamous mantra floating up the stairs along with Mags over top of it screaming, 


Floods of soap bubbles danced through my head as I ran down the stairs asking, 

"Tuck! Are you okay?"

I relaxed as soon as I heard.

"I'm fine, but I broke this pipe. I'm sorry." he said with tears welling up in his eyes and his bottom lip quivering.

After assuring him the only thing that mattered was that he wasn't hurt, I had him explain what happened.

Apparently, he had stepped off the stool at the washer machine (literally three inches off the floor) and lost his balance. He fell back into the air conditioner unit and snapped the PVC drain pipe in half. Water was dripping out slowly. No biggie. I ran upstairs, turned off the AC and grabbed my phone. It didn't take long to find someone to come fix it. 

My poor little guy worried the whole time the repairman was there.  He kept asking, 

"He's able to fix it, right? Is he working on it now? Is he almost done?"

Once everything was set and the repairman had left, Tuck relaxed. We played a game of UNO and sure enough, Tuck won. Watching him do his victory dance, I knew he was back on track. 

Then he knocked over my coffee-filled cup and 
I knew he was REALLY back on track. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013


As I was attempting to sneak up on this dragonfly to take its picture, I heard a tiny voice behind me. 

Mags: "Mama, look! A dragonfly."
Me: (whispers) "I see. I'm trying to be quiet so I can take his picture."
Mags: "Mama! That's rude. Give him a minute. He's trying to eat his dinner. Or go the bathroom. I really can't tell."

We have a story about a dragonfly on our Night Light Stories podcast. 
Download the audio for free or buy the fully illustrated ebook.

Dragonfly, Dragonfly, Show Us the Way: (15:03)

Three unique friends embark on a journey of discovery 

which reveals their individual talents.

Our fully illustrated ebook: Dragonfly, Dragonfly Show Us the Way

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What's in a Name

Mags: "Imagine if you fell off the boat. I'd just swim to that red thing over there."
Me: "The buoy?"
Mags: "No. The floating red thing. See it?"
Me: "Yep. It's called a buoy."
Mags: "No. The red thing. It has the white number on it."
Me: "Yes. I know. It's called a BOO-EE."
Mags: "That's a silly name."
Me: "Well, what do YOU think is a good name for it?"
Mags: "The Floating Red Thing."


Tuck: "Mama! Want to see me jump off this diving board?"
Me: "Yep. Let me grab my camera."
Tuck: "Okay. That will give me time to mentally prepare."

Tuck has become a swimmer this summer. A swimmer without floaties. A swimmer who jumps off the side. A swimmer who races his dad up and down the length of the pool. A swimmer who throws items to the bottom so that he can go retrieve them. A swimmer who keeps an eye on his death-defying little sister who wanders into the deep end "on an accident." Over and over and over again.

Today, though, he became the master of something else. The diving board!

I gave this one an 8.5 on the give-your-mom-a-heart-attack scale. After five of them in a row, I was having less of the worst case scenarios running through my head. I chilled, cheered loudly and took pictures. Each time he surfaced, he was gulping and gasping the words, 


He really made quite a splash. I simply asked that next time he warned me before hurtling his body into a front flip off a diving board. That way *I* could mentally prepare. 

Now, on with the show!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Mags: "Mama. Want to see something funny?"
Me: "Sure, Mags."
Mags: "Watch this. I look just like my shirt."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Interview

The hunt was on. Time was bearing down. Preparation was key. Needing this shaky feeling to be squelched, I laid down the groundwork to start carving a path in a definite direction. Using my instincts as a compass, I trudged along.

And then, just like that, definite choices needed to be made. My path was becoming ever clearer. Or so I thought. Led into a bog, I was forced to turn back; blaze another trail. Disheartened, I began again, crude language inhabiting my mind. I had to rework my expectations and let my heart be the guide. In an instant, uncertainty became certain.

This was written for three incredible link-ups. First was for my friend, Lance. He oils Leeroy for the 100 Word Song. I was honored to be the one to pick this week's song. I chose The Fray's Uncertainty. Next was for Trifecta. They asked that we use the third definition for the word "crude." Last, but certainly not least was Velvet Verbotsity's 100 Words. Her word was "rework."