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Magnificent Seven

10 Sep

On July 31, BigHugs turned 7. Seven!

In honor of her 7th birthday, here are seven magnificent things about BigHugs:

1. She calls a 2-piece bathing suit a boo-kini.

2. She has developed a love for reading. Her current favorites are the Junie B. Jones books. Sometimes she insists on reading entire passages to me out loud so I can share her amusement. One day after reading The Mountain That Loved a Bird, she came to tell me all about it. “It was very nice. It has beautiful pictures. It took me places. Miss Celia [school librarian] has a chart that says stories take you places and this one did. It was me on a mountain. It was cool.”

3. She is admired by her peers. Last school year her class was encouraged to write letters to each other. She frequently received ones just like this:

Dear BigHugs,
I like you so much. You are smart. You are the little red hen. And you are kind and sweet. I like your handwritinge. You are cute. I like your jackit.

She is popular, not because she plays into the girl drama and manipulations that were already running rampant through her first grade classroom (that was so confusing to her!), but because she is kind and sweet to everyone.

4. She makes us laugh every day. The other night while we were eating chicken teriyaki she said, “I just can’t get these chopsticks to work. Are these for left-handers or something?”

5. She still absolutely adores pigs, and even had a pig-themed birthday party this year.

6. She is very sensitive to others and has a well-developed conscience. She feels guilt when she has done something wrong or thinks she’s done something wrong, and feels really bad if she thinks she has hurt someone else’s feelings. She is very quick to apologize and take responsibility for her actions.

7. She just started taking piano lessons and sings along while she practices the songs in her primer book. She also likes to sing along to the songs pre-programmed into our keyboard. There are few things more delightful than hearing your 7 year old singing “Fly Me to the Moon.”

Happy 7th Birthday, BigHugs! We love you!

A Decade of Goose

9 Jan

Goose turned 10 over the Christmas break.  On her birthday we went to the mall so that she could get her ears pierced and visit the American Girl Doll store for the first time.  She wanted to do the ear piercing first.  DynaGirl was also getting her ears pierced.  Years ago, we (well, more like I) had somewhat arbitrarily designated the girls’ 10th years as the time they were allowed to get their ears pierced.  DynaGirl opted not to when she turned 10, but when she found out Goose wanted to do hers, she thought she’d jump on the piercing train.

Claire’s is not the place to be four days after Christmas.  It was crazy crowded with after Christmas sales, and everyone and their dog was getting their ears pierced that day.  We waited in line for almost 20 minutes, which gave Goose plenty of time to completely psych herself out.  She started crying about 10 minutes into our wait.  I tried to reassure her that it wasn’t going to be as bad as she imagined, and even told her that we could come back another day if she’d like to wait.  When it was our turn, DynaGirl volunteered to go first.  She was very brave and stoic–a champ at hiding her fears and masking the pain.  (She gets that from me.)  Goose got in the chair, but when I started to pin her hair back so the piercing girl would have access to her ears, she started to lose it.  She just couldn’t do it.

We left Claire’s, and Goose bawled all the way to the American Girl Doll store.  They were tears born from fear and disappointment, but mostly from frustration over

Goose and her mini-me, Lauren, which happens to be Goose's middle name.

thinking she had failed to do something she had set out to do.  I was beginning to worry we had ruined her 10th birthday, but a few minutes in the splendor that is the AGD store helped snap her out of her funk.  She picked out a new outfit, a little skater number complete with board, and even got her doll’s ears pierced, which was considerably less expensive than what I had just paid to get DynaGirl’s ears pierced.  It was also less expensive than getting your doll’s hair styled at the salon.  Twenty dollars for 5 minutes in a chair with a “professional”??

After Goose picked up her doll from her post-piercing cubby, she had decided it was time to go back and face her fears.  Come heck or high water, she was getting her ears pierced.  There would be no more stalling and no postponing.  She was adamant.  So we went back to Claire’s.  She stilled looked more than a little nervous sitting in the chair, and at one point, I thought she might even be sick.  But in the end, she did it, and was grinning ear to ear the rest of the day.

And that is so Goose.  Stubborn to a fault, but steadfast in her determination.  Don’t ever try to tell her that she can’t do something.  Don’t even suggest that she try again another day.  If she wants to accomplish something, she will.  Sometimes it takes everything I have to ignore the kicking and screaming along the way, but when it comes down to it, this is one of her traits I am most proud of.

Don’t go changin’, Goose.  I love you just the way you are.  Happy birthday!

Goose, now with ear bling!



My little buttercup has the sweetest smile

2 Oct

Dear little buttercup,
sweet little buttercup,
my little buttercup,
I love you!


Happy 12th birthday, DynaGirl!  You are a plethora of awesome!


12 Sep

Mr. T had a birthday.  He’s 15 and every bit as awesome as he was at 14.



After school snack.

Me: Why are you shoving that in your mouth all at once.  It’s not as enjoyable that way.

Mr. T: It’s more efficient.

Me: Food’s not about efficiency, it’s about enjoyment.

Mr. T: Everything’s about efficiency.  That’s why I try my hardest when I go to the bathroom.

Me: ???

Mr. T: I make every trip count.



Mr. T: If I shampoo my chest, does that mean more hair will grow?

He’s smarter than he looks.


Mr. T: If I were a millionaire, I’d completely fill my pockets with quarters and then go around asking random people trivia questions.  Then if they got the answers right, I’d throw quarters at them.

It’s important to have dreams.


Mr. T: I’m actually pretty sure I have like a good memory or something.

He gets it from me.


Mr. T: I’m a teenager.  We’re wasteful–it’s what we do.

Self-awareness abounds at this house.


At the dinner table. BigHugs still insists on chocolate milk.

Chuck: Eventually you’re going to need to learn to drink regular milk.

Mr. T: Eventually you’re going to need to learn to drink the blood of your enemies.

BigHugs: Ew, gross!

DynaGirl, to Mr. T: You have a dark mind.

Chuck: It’s all those video games.



Hidden treasures at the bottom of Mr. T’s backpack.

The guy with the sword has a jet pack on his back. I had to ask.

We love you, Mr. T.  Happy birthday! 
P.S. Hope you’re enjoying that giant beef stick!

The big six for BigHugs

31 Jul

Our little caboose is six! Where does the time go? No, really, where??

In honor of her 6th birthday, six random things about BigHugs:

1. She loves piggies–absolutely adores them.  She came home from kindergarten one day outraged because one of her little friends said pigs are dirty and gross.  She wouldn’t eat bacon for the longest time when she realized from whence it came (though she’s starting to get over that one).  I’ve lost count of her piggy related paraphernalia, but believe me, it’s plentiful.

2. She is one of my most timid children, NEVER speaking to strangers and rarely speaking to acquaintances.  It takes a long time to be welcomed into her circle of trust.  I can’t say this bothers me much, though I sometimes worry about her coming off unfriendly.

3. She is an extremely picky eater.  She loves cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, bananas, apples, grapes, melon, pancakes, bread, brown sugar/cinnamon pop tarts (yes, I let my child eat pop tarts–get over it!), chocolate milk and cosmic brownies.  She mostly stays away from meat except for the occasional poultry product, but she’ll eat scrambled eggs and cheese on occasion.  I don’t bother stressing about it anymore.

4. She’s willing to try new things (with the exception of food, of course).  Last year she took a ballet/tap combo dance class, and despite her shy nature, got up on that stage on recital day and danced her little heart out.

5. She has a fantastic sense of humor, and, like the rest of her siblings, is pretty handy with the one-liners.  Mr. T is often saying, “BigHugs, you’re awesome.”

6. She hugs me and tells me she loves me at least a dozen times a day.  I’m going to enjoy that while it lasts.

Happy birthday, BigHugs!  I love you, too!


Christmas miracles

17 Jan

Yes, I know it’s already MLK Jr. Day, but I have a few things I was planning to report, and if I don’t report the things I was planning to, who knows the next time I’ll have anything report-worthy to report, planned or not.

1.  I received in my Christmas stocking a receipt for a photography class—one of those one-night workshoppy things through the parks & rec, but still.  Pretty awesome.

2.  Chuck cleaned the bathroom.  On Christmas Day, people.  Counters, sinks, toilet, shower, floors—everything.  I should make more wishes on the blog.

3.  I only had one pre-Christmas meltdown/tantrum.  Just one.  I’ve conveniently forgotten what it was about.

4.  We did not exceed the limits of our trash/recycle bins with our Christmas-induced consumerism/frivolity.  I believe that is a first.  At least in many years.

5.  I only gained 5 lbs with my Christmas induced gluttony.  Now that’s a miracle.


Some less than miraculous events to keep it real on Christmas.

1.  My attempts to preserve our Christmas memories resulted in this:


and this:


and this:

and this:


(a strong candidate for next year’s Christmas cards)

2.  In my excitement over yuletide bathing in complete cleanliness, I managed to twist the hose of our detachable shower head thingy to such a degree that when I placed in back in its holder it immediately spun 135 degrees, dousing the newly cleaned mirror, counter and floor and blowing out three vanity bulbs.  Woops.

3.  It was a pretty impressive pre-Christmas meltdown/tantrum.  Still don’t remember what it was about, but I’m sure it was completely, ahem,  justified.

4.  Although our trashcans did not overfloweth, we still have gifts that remained untouched.  I’m hoping someday I’ll find just the right balance.

5.  Three weeks later, I still have that 5 lbs, so I’m thinking this is less of the gain 5 lbs in a day-lose in one or two days variety, and more of the gain 5 lbs in a day-keep for weeks, months or forever variety.  Ah well. 

Do you have anything report-worthy to report on Christmas and/or MLK Jr. Day?

The babies Jesus

6 Jan

I know Christmas is over, but I think I told Julie I’d show you my baby Jesuses that I worked so hard on.

First, a little background.  Thirty some odd years ago, my aunt made our family a bean bag nativity set.  What is a bean bag nativity set, you ask?  Well, this is a bean bag nativity set:

It’s the perfect nativity set for kids because you can actually touch it without mom freaking out.  Not only you can touch it, but you can play with it, and even act out the whole nativity story if you’d like.  With a closer look, you can see it has been well loved.

Hay and hair refuse to be tamed (though I’m not sure I remember the hair ever looking much different than this), Mary’s missing a hand (I’m hoping that has nothing to do with the nativity bowling incident of 1996), the camel can no longer stand unaided—you get the picture.  But this nativity set is responsible for some of my most treasured childhood Christmas memories, and I wanted to pass that on to my children.  So about a decade ago, my oldest sister and I made new nativity sets.

We mostly stuck to the original pattern my mom had acquired from my aunt all those years ago, only making a few minor adjustments.  The color palette is a little less 70s and we gave Joseph a sash and Mary a shawl, but otherwise we tried to maintain its original charm (including rastafarian-head Joseph–his locks were legend in our family).  It took hours and hours to complete.  My sister did all of the machine work since a decade a go I was even more clueless about the ways of a sewing machine than I am now (if you can believe it), and I helped out with the hand work.  Our original plan was to make a set for each of our other siblings, but after completing our sets, we decided to take a break for the rest of that Christmas season, and well, that was a decade ago.

This year when my kids set up the nativities, I decided my two other sisters must have their own bean bag nativities.  I really had the best of intentions, but keeping in mind my previous sewing experiences and that I made this decision just two weeks before Christmas, I’m sure you won’t be too surprised to learn that this is as far as I got (times two):

It took hours and hours to complete.  And hours.  I included a note with my sisters’ packages that I expected to be done with the rest of the sets in time for their grandchildren to enjoy them.  Maybe.  But at least they have the essential pieces, and aren’t they just the sweetest things you’ve ever seen?

If I do say so myself.

Nine has always been my favorite number

29 Dec

Goose is 9.  Nine.  It’s a little difficult to wrap my head around. 

This year for Christmas, Goose had a baby doll at the top of her list—at the very top with the multiple stars and underlines.  A baby doll.  My first inclination was to skip to number two on her list.  I mean, doesn’t nine seem just a little old for a baby doll?  And she hasn’t shown any real interest in baby dolls in years and years.  I think the last time she got anything baby doll related was when she was two or maybe three.  So I had just about talked myself into going with what I thought was a more age appropriate gift when it suddenly hit me.  Wait.  If the girl wants a baby doll, why not give her a baby doll?  She’s nine, for crying out loud.  Why am I in such a hurry for her to grow up?

She got the doll.  And she loves it.  And seeing her watching tv with it on her lap or tucking it into her bed at night reminds me that this is who Goose is.  She’s a nurturer.  She’s loving.  She’s maternal (her siblings call it bossy, but this is a birthday post celebrating her finer qualities, so we’re going with maternal).  She likes to take care of people.  And she’s managed to stay in the stage of childhood where she is not altogether naive, but still innocent and hopeful and unjaded, I guess.  And for that, I am very grateful.

Right now, Goose would say her two favorite books are Bridge to Terabithia and Where the Red Fern Grows.  I mentioned how sad these books both are, and she was quick to point out the good and inspiring messages—how Jess learns to accept who he is and his circumstances in life and develops closer relationships with his family, and then there was something else about a fern (I can’t remember what she said exactly and I’ve never actually read Where the Red Fern Grows).  Anyway, the point being that while some might see a nine-year-old with a doll and think she is still stuck in a younger-than-her-years-should-indicate mindset, she is actually quite insightful and mature.

And don’t forget awesome, as she would say.  Goose is awesome.  And although there have been more than a few times we’ve butted heads and I’ve wished for our road together to be a little less bumpy, I’m very glad for who she is. 


 I love you, Goose.  Happy birthday!

In honor of the close of my 37th year

9 Dec

3.7 things I crossed off the bucket list this year.

1. Sew triangle bandages.  This goes on the list because presumably, if you’ve crossed it off the list, you never have to do it again.

2. Hit on a panhandler.  Again, a memorable experience, but once is enough.

3. Get arrested by a clown.  This one gets a checkmark and a star.

.7  Bask in my glorious accomplishment.  I hope I continue to have such opportunities.  And I hope to continue sharing them with you.  Thanks for your friendship and support.  Who needs birthday wishes* when I have all of you?


*as in, blow-out-the-candle wishes–I got plenty of birthday well wishes!

Thanksgiving Momories

25 Nov

Every year as I’m preparing the turkey for roasting, I am reminded that I’m much too squeamish to ever be a proper chef.

My daughter asked me last night if I’d be doing the turkey dance.  The turkey dance is a tradition passed down from mother to daughter.  I don’t recall when it began, but one year some of us kids were watching my mother prepare our turkey for roasting, and as she was rinsing and shaking the naked bird to get out the excess fluids, she suddenly had the turkey break out in dance.  With wings extended he waltzed, he sashayed, he did a little jig.  It was just like my mother to turn something as mundane as cleaning a turkey into something bizarre and delightful.  It would be nice if I could say that right then and there I swore to myself my own children would know the joys of the turkey dance, but I didn’t think much about it until a few years ago when I was preparing my own turkey in front of my kids.  I think it was DynaGirl who commented on how disgusting the whole procedure was (which it is).  I agreed and then told the story of the turkey dance with an accompanying demonstration, of course.  She was as delighted as I had been when I first experienced it, and knowing DynaGirl, I wouldn’t be surprised if she swore to herself right then and there that her own children would know the joys of the turkey dance.  I didn’t do the turkey dance this year.  All the kids were still asleep this morning during the turkey preparations (and are asleep still), and it seemed silly to do the dance without benefit of an audience.  I find myself wishing now that I had done it anyway just so when DynaGirl asks I can tell her yes, and she would know that she can depend on her mother to do all the things she expects her mother to do even when she’s not there to witness.

My culinary skills generally leave a little something to be desired.  I am a decent cook, I think.  Actually, if I were to compare myself to others based on the offerings of most of the potlucks I’ve attended, I may even be slightly better than average.  But I’m no Julia.  Or Martha.  Perhaps I get that from my mother.  Growing up, Thanksgiving meant stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, some sort of vegetable, rolls, pie, candied yams, the obligatory cranberry sauce (though I don’t recall anyone ever actually eating it) and turkey dust.  My mother was notorious for overcooking the turkey.  Every year it would come out of the oven richly and beautifully browned, renewing all our hopes of a Thanksgiving turkey to remember.  But then as she began to carve it, inevitably the breast would begin to disintegrate into dry clumps of turkey dust.  With enough gravy it was still delicious (I’m convinced a good gravy can fix just about any culinary disaster).  I think my first turkey met a similar fate–perhaps not quite as crumbly, but still a little on the parched side.  It was comforting—a little bit of mom at our Thanksgiving table.  I don’t think it was too many tries later when I produced a turkey of traditionally desired moistness and consistency.  As I carved into the breast forming perfectly sliced portions, it almost felt like a betrayal of my mother’s memory. 

I hope she knows that no matter what I do now—whatever “mom” traditions I do or don’t keep going—I will always look back with acute fondness and gratitude.

I would love to hear any Thanksgiving “momories” you would like to share.  Among the many blessings I am grateful for today, are all of you, dear friends and readers. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you!