Wednesday, December 28, 2011

uga home meet

We were so excited to watch Riley take 2nd place AA at the UGA Home Meet!  She was so excited to have Grandpa and Uncle Dan, as well as a few pals and her "regulars", in the stands!!

Friday, December 23, 2011


I'm finding it difficult to find the spirit this season.  I'm not sure why.  The house looks great, all the presents have been wrapped for a week and my cookies are even baked.  I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that it looks like mid-March outside.  Gray and rainy and sort of warm - not Christmas weather.  And there's no hope for the white stuff in our forecast.  No White Christmas on its way. 

But there are three kids in this house that have spirit for us all, who can't wait to rip open the presents that sit under the tree.  I've never done that before - put presents under the tree before the big day - I think I did it this year with hopes that some spirit would exude.  And it did, for the kids. 

I loved the last episode of Modern Family on ABC, (if you don't watch it, you must) where this quirky, funny and abnormally-normal-in-every-way family rented a snow machine for their fake Christmas celebration in California.  Maybe that's what I could do?

I suppose that wouldn't do the trick either.  The Christmas spirit must come from within.  I know it's deep down in there, buried under the pressures and stresses that accompany this time of year.  Somewhere under the worries of whether or not I've bought the right gifts for the right loved ones, maybe just beyond the 200 samples of cookies I've tasted.  It could be next to the mental menus and to-do lists, concerns over paying off the gifts, excitement for a houseful of loved ones for a week or the lurking weight of upcoming tax prep and personal and business-related New Year's resolutions. 

Now that I've written that, I realize that the Christmas spirit isn't anywhere near those inevitable components of my full life, but instead resides where it always has, within my heart, within my actions.  It's in the fleeting peaceful moments spent with my kids, a stolen dinner out with Mike alone (the first in at least a year), drinking coffee in the wee hours of the morning in front of the tree in a silent, sleeping house, the backdrop of Christmas carols playing during the day, the immense, unyielding gratitude for the year passed and the endless hope I hold for the year ahead. 

It's in the deep traditions, however silly they may seem, that we give our kids each year.  From too many cookies baked, to Uncle Griff's tree, to eating waffles for dinner on the day after Christmas; these traditions are their stronghold on family and what it means to be a part of one, in every way.  Orchestrating and ensuring these traditions, this holiday, this family, is what the Christmas spirit is all about. 

Who needs snow?  I had the spirit all along. 

finn's on fire

The Finnism's have been flying as of late; he cracks me up every day.  He surprises himself, too.  A couple of days ago, while at the mall, he began reading the words on every sign we passed.  With each word, the shock and awe of his own ability grew.  It was hilarious.  "Super Sale!" he'd exclaim.  "As Seen on TV!" he'd yell.  "Panera Bread!"  Logan and I witnessed the whole world opening up to Finn right then and there, when he figured out that he could read absolutely anything. 


He made a pit stop in the Panera bathroom.  Gone are the days of accompanying me into the gals' room - he's on his own in the mens'.  As he ran off toward the bathroom, I yelled, "Just keep your coat on!" 

A few minutes later, he emerged, coat in hand.  "I had to take it off," he explained. 

"It's okay, but where did you put it?" I responded, imagining bathroom floor germs crawling all over it.

"Well," he continued, "I held it like this.  Then I pulled my shirt up like this and my pants down like this," he demonstrated.  In Panera.  Thank goodness the nearby diners appreciated his five year old streak!  There were more than a few chuckles as I struggled to keep him covered and get his pants pulled back up.


Yesterday, when Grandpa stopped by, he asked him about reading.  "Where did you learn to read like that?" he asked.

"At the mall," Finn said matter-of-factly.


And finally, while sitting on my lap the other night, Finn wiggled all around.  I was on the verge of telling him to sit still or find another spot when he said, "Sorry Mom, I had to stretch out.  Sometimes my wiener gets stuck to my leg."

And that's life with Finn.

Monday, December 19, 2011

too much

I can't believe that Christmas vacation is starting and I'm already THIS exhausted.  I hate to beat the same old drum, but something has got to give.  While the week and weekend brought much joy (like catching up with my Uncle John who I haven't seen in ten years, spending time with Riley's class on Friday,  Logan and Riley's trip to the salon and Santa's awesome visit to Grammy and Jim's Christmas party), Riley eventually paid the price for our late night and running around at her meet on Sunday. 

Lesson learned.  There's too much going on for us to feel so tired - whether one of us is on top of the beam, watching from the stands, attempting to follow a Christmas cookie recipe, accidentally printing out ten copies of the same BINGO page for a school party or sitting up with insomnia all night Saturday worrying about the unknown location of a brand new camera.  And of course, a migraine began yesterday by noon and is still in full storm.  Much apologies go out today as I recap the last few days.

To our daughter, we're sorry we didn't get you home in time to get a decent night's sleep before your meet.

To the 2nd graders, I apologize for the most boring BINGO game of all time!

To anyone who eats my Christmas cut-outs, they may not be quite up to par.

Ugh, this is one boring post.  That's enough!  This week looks better - this week will be better!!  I've got little work, I'm mostly wrapped and ready.  All I've got left is family time, the remainder of my cards to get out and my all-time stress-reducing love, cooking.  I can handle it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

catching my breath

This weekend was ridiculous.  I hate when our schedules are so packed that you can't even be in the moment with anything because "EVERYTHING" is taking up every ounce of your brain.  We started Friday night with our annual ugly ornament contest in the 'hood - which I'm excited to announce that we won - after participating for many years!  Looking back, even though it was another line item on the calendar, that party was pure relaxation in comparison to what followed.

Saturday morning, we took Riley to the gym at 8 AM.  By 9, Finn, Logan and I were at Finn's pancake breakfast at school.  At 10:30, we picked up Riley from the gym and went to Finn's basketball game, with Grammy and Jim, until 12.  Mike and Finn dropped us off and went to get haircuts - Mike was really starting to look like a cross between Max Hedrum and Conan O'Brien.  After what might be consider lunch, we packed up with our good pals, the Marienthals, and drove out toward DeKalb, to our traditional tree-cutting stomping  grounds.  Two unbearably frigid treks through two different farms resulted in zero tree choices; they were all too small!  We ended up buying from a tree lot at the second farm!  We went home and tried to decorate, but it was so late that we got little done and rushed the kids into bed so that we'd get a good night's sleep before the 5 AM wake-up call for Riley's meet.


Sunday at 2:39 AM, Finn arrived to tell us that he'd thrown up all over his bed.  Every hour, for the next several, he vomited more; his little body wondering what the hell is going on.  His ID Reaction, which had been almost healed, flared into craziness and all the spots became dark red and scabbed.  At 5, I woke Riley, did her bun and headed out, without the rest of the fam, to the meet.  I hate sitting there watching alone - it's so stressful!!

Riley rocked it like never before, raising her personal best by one whole point!  She scored 9.3 on floor (personal best), 9.225 on beam (personal best), 9.150 on bars and 9.125 on vault.  I can't describe the excitement on her face with each flashing score - I was one thrilled mama.  She has worked her butt off for a meet like this!  There was a stinging disappointment later, when she learned that at this particular meet, they don't announce places or scores, they just give everyone the same trophy.  Our non-drama girl sobbed for an hour when we got home, but later, a good friend let us know that she was listed at the meet as placing 3rd All Around out of 56 girls that were not separated out by age.  AMAZING!  She felt better, needless to say. 

We rushed home to decorate as this was our only chance before Christmas.  This year, and every year from now on, we've decided to have an "Uncle Griff Tree", in the living room.  Aunt Michelle generously donated her pre-lit one to our efforts.  The kids made ornaments for it and left notes and we hung things on it that remind us of him.  Yesterday was also Griff's birthday.

By 6:30 PM, we met up with Nana and Tony, Grandpa and Irene, Grammy and Jim, Tom, Michelle and Ellie to see Logan's Christmas Choir Concert and it did not disappoint!  She is so adorable and growing up so fast.  I couldn't believe my first little babe was standing up there, tall and proud and singing her heart out, with her requested straightened hair.  How did she grow up so fast?  Finn laid in my lap like an infant though, so at least I'm still needed!!

We ended the  night at Potbelly's with Nana and Tony before they headed back north.  What a whirlwind!  Today, with Finn home, I'm trying to catch my breath, make last purchases and get a stronghold on what lies ahead.  It certainly feels like the holidays.  Looking to this weekend:  Finn's school holiday festival, another choir concert, basketball game and meet, another Christmas party, a birthday party and an invite for drinks with friends.  Will I survive?  And when am I supposed to bake cookies?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

the molluscum contagiosum support group

Welcome to the inaugural meeting of the molluscum contagiosum support group.  If there's any doubt, I hate this awful nightmare of a virus.  What started out as a few bumps have grown into hundreds on Finn, flaring up his eczema and resulting in a treatment of blistering about forty of the bumps.  The blisters, teetering on the edge of infection, are finally starting to show signs of improvement and healing, after a week off school and round the clock dressing changes.  I THOUGHT we were rounding the bend to health since Finn did make it to school yesterday.  But when I woke him up this morning, I was shocked to see a red, angry, itchy rash all over his entire body.  No school again.

We went to the pediatrician - I needed an advocate to help make sense of the mixed messages we've gotten from the three dermatologists we've seen.  She diagnosed Finn with an "ID Reaction."  Apparently, his immune system is sending out a signal that it's in overdrive trying to fight off the molluscum and heal the forty blisters on his little body.  There's no treatment or idea when it will go away, but it eventually will.  In the meantime, there will be no more treatment on his skin of any kind.  He's on Benadryl to control the itching.  For all the poking and prodding and pain he's had in the last week, this kid is one hell of a trooper.

In unrelated news, I knew I heard Jingle Bells in the middle of the night last night.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


This week is total bust.  What started out with a whole day spent searching for hair ribbons for the gymnastics team at five different stores on Monday, continued with helping a good pal with surgery all day on Tuesday, went on with Finn's horrible case of molluscom contagiosum (yes, we are living in a Harry Potter movie) needing extensive treatment yesterday and me starting a preventative migraine medicine after fighting it for decades, has now culminated in Finn unable to move from the horrible pain of the blisters all over his poor, tiny body and me having an adverse reaction to the new med.  "Hey Rocky," Mike said to me this morning.  One eye is totally swollen and the other doesn't look so hot either. 

I am a totally deadline-driven person and can't stand to miss one.  But with two articles due tomorrow and four videos that were supposed to be shot today, I think it's time to throw in the towel.  No one wants to watch Puffy Eye talk about making holiday appetizers or decor.  I am waving the white flag on this ridiculous week, getting under the covers with my little man and waiting it all out.  Instead of filling my day with what I could be doing, I will fill it with what I need to do - nothing. 

Tomorrow is a new day!  Oh please let tomorrow be a new day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Sticking your neck out sucks when it doesn't work out.  But sticking your neck out is what I believe in.  I feel, with all my heart, that life is for taking chances, stretching your limits, leaving your comfort zone and above all, trying hard.  And I guess, life's about failure, too.

I can't explain the unfathomable joy and utter shock that I felt when contacted by the producers of a new show for OWN six weeks ago, who had found me through my weekly column and asked me to throw my hat into the show's casting ring.  After thinking it over and deciding if I might be a good fit, I jumped in head first and loved the excitement of filming video footage, doing Skype interviews and imagining all the possibilities that might lie ahead if it all worked out.  It was so crazy fun and thrilling, then the wait was grueling and now the end result just plain stinks.  For whatever reason, I didn't make the cut.

So, I want to cry, but just a little.  I'm now forced to give up these OWN-related possibilities, but on Thanksgiving Eve, I am very thankful for the opportunity to get outside that box of mine and imagine more for myself.  Even though it didn't work out, I still see it as a sign that I'm working within the flow my life is supposed to have; that I'm on the right track. 

Pardon my self-preservation for a second, but I can't help but think (and desperately hope) that I'll watch this show someday soon and think, "THANK GOODNESS I DIDN'T MAKE IT!" because just I wasn't a good fit for it.  I wholeheartedly believe that things happen for a reason.  Just look at all the times J.K. Rowling got shot down; ANYTHING is still possible!  Ideas have arrived and creativity birthed that might never have surfaced if this experience hadn't fallen into my lap. 

So on I go.  Bruised today - but not for long!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

so it's true

I must be 40.  I mean, the other day I stopped in HomeGoods to look for a mirror for above our piano.  I quickly learned that what I want is sitting in an antique shop somewhere, not in a retail store.  Nevertheless, I looked around the rest of the place, hoping to find some clearance-priced diamond in the rough.  I did.

For $9.99 I got the absolute-coolest collapsible step stool to slide into my pantry.  For pretty much 40 years this vertically challenged gal has hunted around the kitchen dragging chairs or bar stools to the cabinet she couldn't reach, but those days are (finally) over.  There will be no more begrudged trips to the laundry room to drag out the loathed heavy and broken metal one.  Nope, this little lightweight durable cutie is all I'll ever need.

So now the reason I associate this delectable find to my age.  Years ago, I wouldn't have looked twice at this stool, would have never been bothered enough by my daily inconveniences to search out a solution.  But times have changed and this insignificant purchase leaves me feeling as if I've won a little bit of the lottery. 

I think 40 makes it easier to find the good in every day!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

career day

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to go to Logan's class and talk to the kids about writing as a career.  I was nervous that I'd struggle to gain their attention or keep them interested and did some research in order to present it in a way that would speak to them.  Some things I think I hit on the mark, while other efforts were lost on them completely.  I quickly learned that the best script means nothing, even in the hands of decent speaker, when kids are allowed to ask questions.  As soon as it began, my time with them took on a life of its own.  Here are a few of my favorite questions:

"Do you make lots of money?" (No)

"Have you written about any famous people?" (Not anyone that you'd consider famous.)

"What is your favorite type of poem to write?"  (In my dreams I sit around writing poetry, not content on Smart Analytics integration for utility companies!!)

"This is not a question, but my mom has a company that sells cute hair bows she makes.  Would you like to buy some?" (Ummm, I'll have to check that out!)

These are just a few of the fifty questions they asked.  The only one that matters was probably the one about whether or not I ever have to edit my work. We had a great conversation about why editing makes you a better writer and how ALL good writers have to do it.  It's actually one of my favorite things to do!  We also talked at length about finding a way to turn what you love, whatever it is, into a career.

And the day ended with one child asking if I ever wrote for AT&T.  Another asked about PWC.  The next about White & Associates.  Soon, every child in the classroom took their turn at asking me if I'd worked for their mom's or dad's company.  It was pretty funny.

And Logan silently smiled the whole time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

and so it begins

The new season of gymnastics kicked off with the purchase of a decent camera that has allowed us to capture our first inside, low-light images of our girl.  Riley had an awesome meet!  Can't wait to add to these with shots of Logan at her swim meets and Finn playing hoops!


I just love this shot of Dempsey watching her beloved human who is just beyond her reach.  The tree isn't so bad either.  This picture just feels like home.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


How time flies!  It was a slightly less rainy day 14 years ago when this lucky girl married Superman at the Little White Church on the County Line with everyone we love squeezed in tightly around us.  It's unimaginable that it could possibly be 14 years later, but it is, and we've got the three kids, three houses, four dogs, numerous vehicles, multiple careers, umpteen trials and tribulations and countless blessings to prove it.  Happy, happy anniversary to the man of my dreams.

By the way, that's same man who signed his last name in the card he gave me this morning!  (Just in case I didn't know....)  Oh, how I love him so!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"pit stain" steelers

Finn now opts to watch football with Mike and I, rather than watch a kid-show with the girls on Sundays.  It must be some genetic specific desire that begins at such an early age, a desire that I don't really have, I just want to hang out with Mike!  It's so cute to see him glean an understanding of the game and learn the teams that he is supposed to hate (Dallas) and love (the Steelers), based on his father's opinions.  Even that gets handed down, I suppose.

On Sunday, when we were all jet-lagged from our 3 AM rising to catch a plane, Finn was beyond exhausted.  He wasn't crabby or anything, just constantly finding hilarious ways to let us know that we had pushed him beyond his five year old limits.  He kept falling down randomly, or running into things, even doing this sort of trance-like dance out of the blue.  But the best thing he did, twice, was to scream out game-related excitement or frustration about the "Pit Stain Steelers."  Even after our chuckles and corrections, he even went so far as to correct his sister:  "That's not the Bears Riley, that's the Pit Stain Steelers!"

Considering that's one of the teams he's supposed to like, I wonder what Pittsburgh would think of their new nickname?

He passed out on the couch at 6:30.

halloween 2011


for the birds

Our North Carolina trip was great for many reasons, but one of our favorites was a trip to the Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park in Scotland Neck.  Our guide was amazing and our group, made up of all interests and ages, totally enjoyed every minute.  The highlight was a nameless two-month old crane out for a walk with one of his caregivers.  He bobbed up and down on skinny legs with knobby knees, with the same undying curiosity about everything around him that our three kids had while there.  We spent about ten minutes getting acquainted and learning about each other.  I don't think I've ever felt more connected to nature than at that moment, when I could barely tell a difference between the humans and the birds - we all just felt like "beings."

This place is so cool, supplying training, rehabilitation and more for zoos all over the country.  They're personally responsible for keeping some species off the Endangered Species List.  Kudos to them for a job well done and for an experience like no other.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


What a great week we had last week when we surprised the kids and Mike's Dad with a trip to North Carolina for his 70th birthday!  I think our arrival surprise was a true success and Alby loved it.  We spent the next three days, without any agenda, enjoying each other, hanging out and catching up.  I hope it was Alby's best birthday yet!!  Here are a few shots from our trip...