December 25, 2012

That One Christmas In Ohio

Christmas in Ohio

When my brother and I were little, we would sneak out of bed to see if Santa came at, like, three in the morning. I didn't sleep most Christmas eves of my childhood. There are a few middle of the nights under the glow of the tree that I can remember so clearly that I can be right there, I can smell it.

Last night we went to John & Connie's and they took us in with their family and friends. We sang carols by candlelight and, right in the middle of Jingle Bells, Santa arrived with a bag full of presents and his book with the name of every child there. He knew the exact doll Ivy wanted, and the Legos the boys didn't have yet. The magic, we were in it.

I hope I never misplace the look on their faces when he came to the door, and how I felt watching them. And the most precious sight of Ivy zonked in her carseat on the ride home. And when we were together in the home we made for now and everything was so very OK.

December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

December 21, 2012


snowy day

If today had been the end of the world, I should say that I wouldn't have wanted to spend it any other way. The snow fell and fell softly around us. Neighbors brought cookies, friends brought gifts, the UPS man brought packages.

snowy day

snowy day

Goodbyes were said, to make room for new Hellos. 

snowy day

And while this world year is coming to a close, a whole new life awaits, wide open: in a very unexpected and serendipitous turn of events, we are preparing to move again, this time to the Oregon coast. Talk about a view.

December 14, 2012

Merry Miss Much

I had just swept, and I'd just wiped the counter. I made noodles with olives because I thought it would be easy, in between decorating the tree and helping Carter with long division. But then I dropped an entire bowl onto the floor, and missed the garbage can when I went to throw it all away.

I'm going to miss it when our tree branches are no longer weighted down to the floor with three ornaments per branch and laminated reindeer heads with tiny school pictures.

It's so easy to forget. I know this because already I hold a ceramic blob made in art and I don't remember if it was Noah's or Carter's. The blue Hallmark Baby's First Christmas ornament... I can't recall whose first it was. I look at our tree, uneven and I suppose not exactly how I prefer it to look, but I imagine my mom, and my mother-in-law decorating their trees just so, how they like it. Perfect and without the assistance of small children. And I know all too soon that will be me someday. I already miss this.

I read Ira Sleeps Over to them before bed Again, in my best librarian storytime voice. Everything is special by Christmas-tree-light.

originally published 11.28.11

December 12, 2012

Twelve Twelve Twelve


I wondered what today would be like, kind of expecting it to be special being 12-12-12 and all. Like something was going to happen.

Well, I dropped Ivy off at school and went to the store for dinner and more sugar cookie supplies, ran home to put a roast in the crock pot (it was incredibly delicious!), and then back out to finish up some Christmas shopping. I don't even remember all the stores I made it to before picking Ivy up and taking her along with me for more errands and present-buying. We came home and I straightened the house and finished up some knitting and the last of the gifts to send to family. We're going to be here-home for Christmas, not back-home, it's our first time away. Our first time wrapping and sending off presents to make sure they arrive in time.

12-12-12 was quite a productive day, I might have even set a few dreams and wishes off into the air. And I feel like something is going to happen.

December 10, 2012

Use Your Light

Christmastime 2012

I don't have a life list. I don't even make New Year's resolutions. There are plenty of things I hope to do someday but I feel like if I permanently put them out there then it's pressure and forced and planned and then I will probably dread doing them. I want to be able to buy real art someday, and go to Paris again (and again) and create a spectacular knitting pattern and a million other things but I want those things to surprise me, to sneak up on me, to move easy along the way. Not something I will strike a line through and then on to the next item. Me and my John Lennon ways.

The only thing that would be on my life list is... to not die. It happened upon me suddenly, to find out that I am afraid of dying. Not for what's ahead, but for who I leave behind.

Christmastime 2012

It was Christmas break when I read Jane Eyre for the first time. I didn't leave the living room couch until I finished, yet transported almost out of body, definitely somewhere else. I even remember the cassette tape that was playing over and over- a collection of classical music from Victoria's Secret, I think it was $1 with the purchase of Rose Garden lotion, or maybe it was Strawberries & Champagne. I cried at the end of that book, and would every time I re-read it through the years.

Christmastime 2012

Last year on Christmas Eve I sat in the ER with Carter's severe allergic reaction to a nut in a cookie, and there in triage also discovered he had lice. I could not get the vision out of my head- of their photo with Santa that morning, Carter's head leaned against Santa's. Did we give Santa lice? I've never done so many loads of laundry and I was never so tired in all my life. I honestly didn't think I was going to make it, but I did. Here I am. It's been a year and I still check their heads obsessively. I don't know if I'll ever fully recover.

Sugar Cookies

It's dark when Noah goes out to the bus in in the early morning. He has a flashlight on his keychain and every morning I say "I love you, use your light" and I watch from the window and he does, until the other kids can see, so he turns it off. And I think about the depth of that very thing, every morning.

Christmastime 2012

I've drank and was too busy to taste, I've traveled through time with no recollection of where I've been, I've tripped and tangled, but my regrets are few compared to all the good that I have seen and savored and remembered with fondness.

Christmastime 2012

December 3, 2012

December FOUR

kids holiday 2012

I won the kid lottery. Four times. 

I realized today that I am one of those moms who thinks her kids are perfect. I do. Because they give me so much reason to believe it. They are like masterpieces. I am in awe. 


I used to take photos of my kids on the first of every month, now it's on the fourth. Four for four. (Here's December 2010 & 2011.) 

November 29, 2012

Open to Close

"You know, so many writers don't like to write. They must, they do it under the compulsion that makes any artist what he is... but they really don't enjoy trying to turn a thought into a reasonable sentence." -Harper Lee 1964

oh this day

In the morning I open all of the blinds downstairs when the sun is just about to rise. I shuffle around and pick up, make the coffee.

At night I read a book by the light of the lamp clamped to the arm of an old wooden chair next to my bed, until my eyes are too heavy.

In between, I am maestro, conductor, the center of their gravity. I am steel.

I always write, I envision a whole chapter at the stoplight, how the green glow reflects up on the metal and how this needs to be recorded, so that I don't forget? So that I can make someone else feel what I feel? Because it's just plain beautiful? Lately it only stays in my head. And I think I'm finally comfortable there.

In between and into the beyond, I fill the hours with the things that need to be done, things I want to do, this moment to that moment,

turning the rod to close the blinds again.

November 28, 2012

Oh this day

oh this day

Four out of twelve ears in our house have ear infections. Early morning ER visit. Pulled over for speeding. Late afternoon doctor visit for another. Friend's daughter has brain surgery. She is OK! I miss book club night and a glass of wine but I'm home. I'm where I need to be. I'm home.

November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Retreat 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

We are hosting my parents & Jeff's parents this week for Thanksgiving. It has been wonderful. We are eating the best food, sitting around relaxing and hanging out and visiting and watching movies, playing all sorts of card and board games, and eating more good food. I am so thankful we finally have a home to fit us all in and then some. This year we are overwhelmed with thankfulness. And I even got my Thanksgiving wish- late last night I checked my email and found out we had an offer on our house! 

Thanksgiving 2012
Gray, watching Spongebob

Thanksgiving 2012
This is so my Dad.

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012
A Thanksgiving poem.

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012
Carter, hard at work on his latest comic book.

Thanksgiving 2012
Jeff, helping me stage our Christmas card photo (and talking to his imaginary friend?)...

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Giving thanks and saying grace. We are so blessed beyond measure.

November 20, 2012

I envisioned my vision board.

bulletin board

We are finally starting to hang things on the walls here. I think I put it off because I thought we wouldn't be here very long, but the house (and woodland creatures) has totally grown on us and while we won't be buying it, it's making it very comfortable to wait for our next house. Also, I thought for sure our other house would be sold by now. Lots of interest and promises of an offer... but not yet. It's my Thanksgiving wish this year.

So I put off decorating because I kind of don't like whatever we used to have. And this house has way more wall space anyway. So we have to buy all new stuff for a rented house not knowing if it will "go" with our next home. Anyway, we have family coming to stay this week and I want something on the walls! One specific thing I knew for sure I wanted was a big bulletin board to hang my map. There's a perfect spot for it at the end of our main living room. But they are so expensive and even if I wanted to try to be DIY it would all add up. But it was the only thing I could see in that spot, I emailed a friend about it and worried about it and pretty much the very day Jeff and I were trying to figure out how we could do it while still looking nice enough for the living room- we decided to just postpone the idea for now and I had a feeling someday I'd find it thrifting. So I pouted off to Goodwill hoping to find a big mirror or some artwork. There was the bulletin board waiting for me as I was walking out of the store to leave. $10. Done.

After Listen To Your Mother I might phase out the map and turn it into an official vision board. I also might just add stuff to it now, too, like a picture of our house with a sold sign on it.

November 15, 2012

Listen To Your Mother 2013 (and me!) in Twenty Four Cities

Listen To Your Mother 2013
Please don't mind my wrinkly map, but do look for all the tiny red dots- all 24 of them! 

One of the first things that came to my mind when we decided to move away was Listen To Your Mother. What will happen to Northwest Indiana's show? Well, I'm glad to say that it will go on.

And, so will I...

I am honored, still kind of in a dream-like state, to reveal that I am Listen To Your Mother's Online Content Manager. I've watched this show of Ann's grow from one to five to ten and now twenty-four?!

Honestly, I can see it in every state, pins all over that map. I am so thankful to have a part in all of this. I hope you'll consider coming along, too -- see below for how you can connect with us and find out when auditions and performances are coming near you. (My hope is to attend at least a few of the shows!)

You can subscribe here to be updated on all the latest Listen To Your Mother Show news, and keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter, and YouTube, too.

washed away to Washgington

I had to include this pic- Ivy is quite intrigued by my new map and revealed that her "real family" washed away to Washington. This is a thing with her, and one day in the line at the grocery store she loudly declared about the woman in front of us, "I know her! She was my mom before I found you." 

November 11, 2012


Array Cowl

I finally completed this cowl I've been knitting for far too long. I could tell about halfway in that I wasn't going to like how it ends but I kept on anyway. The yarn was so expensive, there are so many flaws, and I don't like how it fits. But oddly I don't regret it, and I'm glad I finished. Take that for whatever it could mean!

I'll probably make Ivy wear it on cold days.

Now I am casting on tiny sweaters for a tiny sweetheart.

I made the mistake of sharing my Pandora with Noah on his iPod and he deleted all of my stations! Like, years' worth! So I started over. I give a thumbs up or down like it's my job. Also I can't get enough of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young and The Allman Brothers. Some things never change.

I just checked out Where'd You Go, Bernadette from the library and am reading Falling Leaves for book club. · I get to update my bios this week because of something truly exciting. · I heard from our realtor this afternoon and we're getting closer to a sale, much closer! · Both of our parents are coming here for Thanksgiving next week and I'm so excited to have a reason to buy new dishes and furniture and toast to our new life here. (And hopefully celebrate a sold home! I can feel it!) · I am kind of stupid excited to show them Chippy and the squirrels. · No matter what I want to always remember having us all here, what it was like when we had to make two house payments, and that we were okay. · Big thankful.

November 8, 2012


I save things like the newspaper after the election, and from the day the kids were born, and 9/11. Someday it will be something to look at maybe.

Stacks of folded towels are my bookends, at my sides, until I carry them up.

I wonder if I should write more things down, with my actual handwriting. They will have all my words, but will it mean the same. I don't know. Would they like to pull a book off the shelf and touch and see, she was here.

November 5, 2012

First Day of Preschool, Class of 2026

Ivy's first day of preschool 2012

It was Ivy's very first day of preschool, my nest was to be empty for two whole hours! but then Gray was home sick with a fever. Wah wah.

Carter stood by the front door, coat and backpack on (all of my kids would stand there with their backpacks an hour before if I let them) and I decided to jump in the shower while I had time- his bus wouldn't be by for another ten minutes."I'm going to jump in the shower real quick before you go out for the bus!" and I ran up to my bathroom.

When I was finished I called downstairs to him to go get the newspaper because Ivy needed pictures of her favorite foods- first day of school and we're already slacking on homework- and he answered back from his bathroom upstairs, "Ok, mom! I'm just putting on my clothes!" 

I'm like, "You are what?! Your clothes? Why?"

"You told me to take a shower before I got on the bus!"

LOL ohmygosh bless his heart, that kid. He "listens" without ever questioning me. I had the best laugh, I swear it was a venti's worth, and it lasted me all day. Thankfully he got dressed in time to catch the bus. And was very clean.

Ivy had a great first day. There was play-doh and they read books and went outside and to a "gym place" and they have gerbils and two hamsters and a fish tank and babies and a kid liked her "too much" so she told her teacher he was ann-oy-ing her and she made him stop.

just write

November 4, 2012

November FOUR

November FOUR 2012

We are getting closer to an offer on our house. Ivy starts preschool tomorrow, and the classroom is like the Wonder Pets- complete with gerbils and things in it that I remember when I was a little girl. I'm so glad for this. Her teacher has been teaching a long long time and has never had an Ivy in her class before. Also, she lives on Ivy St. But of course! 

I will have four kids at four different schools at the same time... I don't know what my heart will think, such a scatter, but I feel surprisingly okay about it.

November FOUR 2012

We found a church we like, it's nice to have a place to land for the holidays, and hopefully beyond that.

Every other week since we moved we've been trying out new pizza places and breakfast spots and I love how confident and adventurous the kids (and okay me, too) are getting with their orders, and it all feels so splurgey, and it's super fun. 

I am really really thankful and happy right now, November 2012.


I used to take photos of my kids on the first of every month, now it's on the fourth. Four for four. (Here's November 2010 & 2011.) 

November 1, 2012

a little desk


One of my favorite things about recently moving is that I have a reason to shop for furniture to fill the empty spaces here. And where we live, everywhere you look there is a Goodwill, thrift store, resale shop, upcycling, antiques, shabby chic boutiques... it's awesome.

We stopped in Goodwill yesterday to look for winter coats for the boys and Ivy actually spotted this little desk for $5 and rocker for $8! 

little desk & chair



Something Ivy said to me yesterday that I want to remember for-ever: "It makes me so so happy when you read me stories." 


Linking up with Small Style again, I just love this Baby Nay dress I bought at Zulily  It's so soft and warm, I hope to find more like it. Leggings & Emu boots are from Zulily, too. 

October 29, 2012


If I want Ivy to hold my hand, I let mine fall limp. Her grasp will tighten, and she hangs on.

If I strengthen my grip, she will pull away. Every time.

I don't really know what this means. I imagine it can be metaphorical for so much. Keeping her safe while nurturing independence. Control. Freedom. Other people, and me. God, and me.

When the situation calls for it - most often in the Target parking lot- I say "hand!" and reach for hers. If I didn't, she would dance right into moving traffic, with the best of intentions. So, I reach and I lead while letting her think she is leading.

just write

October 28, 2012

Trick or Treat 2012

Trick or Treat 2012

Out here they do trick or treat on the Sunday before the 31st at 3 o'clock in the afternoon!

Here's the thing- Gray wanted to be a dog for Halloween. Do you know how hard it is to find a dog costume for a kid? Specifically a dachshund costume? All we could find were lots of costumes for actual dogs. Thankfully we stumbled across this mouse costume at a local resale shop and Gray was SO happy even though it was SO small LOL.  Him in that thing is like the best thing ever.

Oh one last thing. Carter wanted to be a viking. I found this warrior costume at Once Upon A Child, still in the package. Ivy kept thinking he meant "biking." When someone asked, she told them Carter was going to be a bicycle. Also Jeff made that battle axe like 5 minutes before we were supposed to leave (of course) out of that round cardboard piece in the pizza box, foil, and a hammer.

Trick or Treat 2012

It was (and still is) very cold and rainy here, and it didn't look like many homes were participating, so we headed to Boo at the Zoo. It was very wet and chilly there, too, but it was better than nothing, you know? And they gave out full size treats. We had a great time. (PS I won our tickets via the Akron Ohio Moms blog, thank you!)

Trick or Treat 2012

Boo at the Zoo 2012


Trick or treats past:

October 25, 2012



"They don't make 'em like they used to." The nice man said as he hefted the big green bench into my car.

I garbage picked again.

Driving into our neighborhood on one of the nicer streets this couple was hauling a beautiful green bench... to the street! I turned around and went back and asked them if I could take it. They were so super nice- it was a good quality item but they had it for many years. They carried it back up their driveway while I dropped off the kids to make room. I came back and there they were still waiting, and they even put it in my car.

It wasn't until I got home that I realized maybe I should have offered them something for it? I might drop a card on their doorstep. I should do that.


I raked the leaves in our front yard by moonlight because I needed the air and I'm embarrassed by how nice the neighbor's yards look. I want stuff like that to matter to me, too, so I thought they'd appreciate it in the morning. It felt good.

In my dream last night the kids were riding bikes and there were little trees swaying all around us, and I put my face to the sun and told myself to write this down, to remember when the trees were small and moved like that.

Some other things from this time that I don't ever want to forget:
  • The way Carter moves his hands when he explains something.
  • My early early early mornings with Noah before he gets on the bus.
  • Looking over at Ivy in bed this morning and seeing her baby face. It comes back when she sleeps.
  • How much she's been asking about God, and did he move to Ohio, too? And asking why is that girl singing "we are never ever ever getting back together" again?
  • How cute Gray is HOW CUTE HE IS and how good he is and how he waits at the bus stop while I watch from the window.
  • The chipmunks and the squirrels and how there was a time I could just look out the window and watch and be truly silly happy.
  • Reaping the bounty after saying no and letting go and how good a slow life feels, to have more time than commitments (note to self: please revisit if you slip and forget. Make it happen again.)


October 21, 2012

Scooter Girl

Scooter Girl

Scooter Girl

Scooter Girl

What if there were no words. I could leave it at that. But this weekend we were at the top of our game, it should be recorded. Best ever. So far. Things are good here.