Stop Thinking Women With More Than One or Two Children Are Dummies (Because Who In Their Right Mind Would Get Knocked Up That Many Times???)

A few weeks after giving birth to my fourth child, I was at the grocery store with all my kids. A woman came up to me and slowly looked from child to child, then said, “Are these all yours?

I was kind of taken aback. Um, I didn’t know four children was that many. My siblings and I number four. My own mother grew up in a family of four children, and my father was one of five sons. Was it terribly shocking that the child fast asleep in the shopping cart, as well as the three walking next to it, all belonged to me? I guess it depends who you’re asking.

It’s not only when people see me out and about with four kids that they either look at me with pity (what a burden those kids are on their poor mother) or judgement (stop crowding our world and using our resources on your kids)… but when I’m out and about sans kids, and someone finds out that I have four children, the jokes start. They say I’m crazy, a saint, too dumb to avoid pregnancy, or all of the above.

In fact, just tonight, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen for a few years. When he found out I had four children at home, he asked me if I’ve figured out how pregnancy occurs yet. It’s a laugh a minute when the number of children I have is being discussed. Ha… ha…. ha.

Unfortunately, I’m not the only woman who’s had to defend her decision to have a big family. One of my good friends has seven children. She told me that with each additional pregnancy she felt people’s judgment — as if they just assumed she was irresponsible — rather than that each and every one of those children is wanted and loved dearly.

And that’s a good point. Has it ever occurred to these people who laugh at the expense of mothers — who turn their big families into the butt of a joke (I swear, next time my smart mouth might take over my response) — that we really like having all these kids? That we really like being mothers?  Because we love them is exactly why we have them. They are not a burden, not an inconvenience, not an unfortunate accident… and we do know how to prevent pregnancy if we so desire (but thanks for checking on that for us). Our kids are the loves of our lives (along with our husbands. That goes without saying — but I better put him in there in case he reads this).

Not everyone can have or wants to have a big family, of course. But I’m baffled as to why those of us who choose to have big families become walking jokes in the eyes of some. There are so many positive qualities that come with big families. Sharing, communication, team work, problem solving, taking turns… kids realize from a young age that they are not the center of the universe. (If you’ve dabbled in today’s dating world, I’m sure you’ve found far too many adults who’ve never learned they aren’t the center of the universe.) Kids who grow up in big families often end up very productive members of society.

None of this is to say that you can’t raise a kid successfully in a one or two child family. You can. But I’ve seen plenty of literature defending a woman’s choice to have one or no children, and not much defending the number of children I — and many women like me — have. So I’m writing my own…

Dear mothers of large families… give yourself a pat on the back! Go YOU! I so appreciate what you do — because our world really doesn’t — and I know what you do is so important, so selfless, so loving and so taken for granted. You are amazing and your family is so so lucky to have you. Please ignore the jokes at your expense. Sometimes people don’t know what to say, so they say something not very well thought out. It happens to all of us. Please keep on keeping on. You are raising fantastic kids. If there was a 10th degree black belt in multi-tasking, you would have earned it long ago. YOU. ARE. AWESOME!

PS. That friend of mine who has seven kids? The first few are now adults… an attorney, two (TWO!) professional athletes, a famous cook (seriously, she’s the next Rachael Ray)… I think they owe a lot of their success to their wonderful mother.

PPS. My husband and I are thinking about having one or two more children in the future. We aren’t ready now, but might be someday. If people tease me about having four kids, I can’t wait to hear the jokes if I should have five or six. Hopefully, they come up with something more original than asking if I’m aware the stork isn’t actually how babies get here 😉 

Ebola is Coming For Me. I Know It.

October 15th, 2014…

I never should have done it. I knew I shouldn’t have done it. Truly and honestly, it’s the last thing I should have done before going to bed. I couldn’t help myself.

It started out as just watching the Ebola news. Can’t hurt to watch the news, right? No fear mongering going on there. Then I started researching Ebola some more. I need to be prepared. I’m not sure what I’m planning to do to be prepared, because I don’t have a lab in my basement where I manufacture ZMapp, but whatever else I can do to be prepared, I’m going to do it.

My research revealed that the Black Death, a plague that struck Eurasia in the 14th century (and intermittently for 300 years after that) and wiped out one fourth to one third of the population, is now thought to have been caused by an Ebola like virus. Oh joy. But I couldn’t stop there. Knowledge is power, and I needed to know what was coming. The last thing I did before going to bed rather late was to look up pictures of Ebola. Yep. My brain needed that before bedtime like my butt needed the leftover pizza from dinner I absentmindedly finished off. (Staying up late makes me hungry!)

Scary things do not bother some people. I am not one of those people. I purposely avoid scary movies, scary stories, scary places… I’m going to have to add looking up pictures of a scary disease before bed to that list.

I was kind of afraid to even make it upstairs to my bedroom. I contemplated crashing on the couch with all the lights on downstairs. But the protection of my hubby sleeping in the bed next to me outweighed the dread at having to turn all the lights off and climb the stairs in the dark. I don’t know exactly what his sleeping body was going to protect me from, but I’m pretty sure he provides some degree of protection against my own imagination.


It wasn’t just normal Ebola pictures that I came across — although those are terrifying enough — but pictures that had clearly been altered in Photoshop to look like Ebola victim zombie demons. Do people not have better things to do with their time?! (Because I should be judging what people do with their time.) My brain knows about Photoshop, yet somehow, it doesn’t stop imagining Photoshopped images coming to life and jumping out of the dark recesses of the room. I’m happy to report that I made it upstairs without being attacked by a Photoshop image.

(I should also report how thrilled my husband is during the times I run, jump, and crash like an eight ton elephant onto our bed — while he’s sleeping — so that nothing grabs my ankles. He’s absolutely thrilled. I’m sure of it. Ebola was not grabbing my ankle that night — no, sir!) At one AM, I snuggled into my husband and drifted off to sleep…

…Until four AM, when I knew I had contracted Ebola. All the kids had it, too. I had to warn my husband not to touch us or he would also become infected. “Stay away!” I yelled. “We have it! We have Ebola! The CDC couldn’t stop it! It’s here!!!”

“Huh?” my husband muttered sleepily.

“I’m having nightmares!” I screamed my revelation– “Save yourself!” –but not all parts of my brain had registered it. “We’re ALL going to die, Chris!!!”

His arm pulled me close. “Shhhh, you’re fine. You don’t have Ebola.” He paused. “What were you doing before bed?”

“GAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! You touched me and you’re contaminated!!! Photoshop Ebola zombies on the internet.” I opened my eyes and moved as close to my hubby as possible. Ahhhhh. Protection. I knew there was a reason I braved the dark stairs instead of sleeping on the couch.

My husband sighed. This is not the first nightmare of mine he’s ever soothed, and it probably won’t be the last. We drifted back to sleep. It was good to know I hadn’t contracted Ebola.

I knew I really needed to calm down about Ebola. I didn’t check the status of Ebola in the US all morning. Our handyman stopped by to fix a couple things, and I made small talk with him as I herded my two year-old in and out of the bathroom (the fun of potty training). I had calmed down considerably since the night before. Then our handyman mentioned Ebola.

“It’s going to spread everywhere. They can’t contain it. It’s here and there’s no stopping it.”


I wonder if he has nightmares, too???

What I Always Wanted…

I didn’t believe it would ever happen. I dreamed about it… and wanted it… and sometimes I thought I could reach out and touch it, but nothing was there. It never materialized. Until now. 

My husband brought home the final piece of my fantasy today — a really comfy desk chair. I have an office!!!

I’m sure this isn’t anything special to most of you. What’s so great about an office? People go to offices every day. Normal people want OUT of the office! True, true… but my “office” is a house filled with four happy, noisy, full-time children. I love them and they’re great — but OMG, I want to hide in my new office. It’s so quiet down here. Nobody is climbing on me while I type. My toddler daughter isn’t standing on the chair behind me putting bows in my hair while I upload pictures. The baby isn’t hanging on my leg. My older boys aren’t asking for snacks. I’m not sure if I know how to get things done anymore without being totally distracted doing nine things at once. This will take some getting used to.

Everything’s not totally organized yet, so please excuse the mess, but here it is… a beautiful work space all my own!


The first thing I did was put 33 pictures of my kids all over my desk. Not exaggerating. That is actually the first thing I did.


My husband always told me there would come a time when he would watch the kids, and I could retire to the peace of my own space and write. I didn’t believe him. (He is the traditional “breadwinner” and I am the traditional “homemaker”).  But that time is upon us! Tonight, I cooked dinner — three cheese tortellini, broccoli in alfredo sauce, cornbread, sweet potato fries and pumpkin pie — we ate, and here I am in my office while my husband and the boys do the dishes, clean up the kitchen, and play with the babies. This is fantastic! I am totally alone. I love this. I never knew how quiet a room could actually be. It’s what I always wanted. Imagine all the things I can do with all this time and peace and quiet.

I’m imagining…

I’m imagining…

I’m imagining…

I’m kind of worried they need me up there. I just don’t know what to write. It’s too quiet down here. I should probably reposition my laptop.

That’s better.



I Never Wanted to Be a Parent, But Can’t Help Hoping For Babies For My Friends

Please don’t be offended and please read to the end before you get upset with me!

I know not everyone wants kids. I never thought I wanted them, either. Never, never, NEVER! I couldn’t imagine anything more tedious than taking care of a child day after day. What was with people who wanted babies? What was wrong with them? All of them mental I tell you. I used to think about diapers and potty training and baby drool and all I could say was that it wasn’t for me. Besides for that, I didn’t feel I had one maternal bone in my body. I would never know how to be a parent. I would never be good at it. The thought of my own child terrified me.

Fast forward a few years… my kids are 12, 8, 2 and 1. They are the light of my world. I couldn’t imagine life any other way. I had my first child at 18. Here’s that awesome kid in his fall football picture…

















Before you peg me as becoming a “simple minded baby machine” for lack of other options — I did have other options. Full scholarship to play soccer, a promising career in engineering, singing in a rock band… I had endless opportunities and possibilities, and I don’t regret for one second becoming a parent. There is nothing I can or will do that could ever be more important to me than being my kids’ mother.

So how did I go from the girl who was never going to have kids, to mother of four? I can’t tell you there was a moment I changed, or a moment I felt adequately prepared. I don’t think that moment ever happens for a lot of people. What changed is that I became a parent. And suddenly, nothing else mattered as much as that child. Pure love. Pure joy. Pure bliss. There is a “mom mode” that happens when you have a baby (I’m sure there’s a “dad mode”, too, though I can’t say I’ve ever gone into “dad mode”).


I cannot begin to explain the absolute love that you will feel for your child. You might think you love your parents or your siblings or your friends’ kids… but there is a whole other level of love and attachment that is reserved for one’s own children. I cannot help wishing everyone could experience this all encompassing selfless love.

(I just changed a dirty diaper, and all I could think of was how cute that cooing chubby little guy is, and how much I love him. Even his stinky diapers are cute. I’m not kidding. After I changed his diaper I picked him up and he gave me a big drooly kiss on my cheek. Priceless.)

I’ve seen something really sad happening in our culture. We see women in the media having their first baby in their late thirties, early forties, late forties — sometimes in their fifties. That’s wonderful for them, but we don’t take into account that many of these women have had fertility treatments, donor eggs, surrogate gestational carriers, etc. These things are often not attainable for the average woman. It’s a heartbreaking event for a woman who wants a child to find that her fertility is not cooperating. I’ve seen women and couples who — like me — never wanted a baby… but sometimes they change their mind. I’ve had more than a few friends confide that they want a child and can’t have one or that they wanted to have more children, but ran out of time.

Our culture keeps telling us women that we can “have it all” (whatever that actually means.) But we aren’t men, and we don’t have unlimited fertility. We never know when the magic number will hit. Will we be able to have kids in our forties? Will we be able to have them in our thirties? The number is different for each woman. And — unfair as it is to have to worry about our fertility — this is our reality as women. (I don’t think women should ever be criticized for their desire to have a family along with — or rather than — conquering the world. Sometimes having a family is conquering the world. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” comes to mind…)

It’s been said that there’s no greater pain for a parent than losing a child. I would imagine that the pain of wanting a child and not having one could be comparable, and further compounded by the fact it’s often an invisible pain. A loss that a woman feels, but one that goes unseen. I will cry along with you, my friend, if you should ever experience that pain — I wish, with all my heart, you never will.

I don’t want to end this so sadly, so I will end by saying that being a mother has never prevented me from chasing my dreams. I still love the things I was passionate about before becoming a mother — writing, reading, creating, soccer, baseball, snow sports, photography. I’ve incorporated it all into being a parent… I blog about my kids, write children’s stories, officiate soccer, coach my kids in baseball, snowboard with my kids; I color and draw with them (their artwork goes on the fridge, and mine goes into my books), and I finally have the most beautiful subjects in my photographs (though I admit to being as biased as every other mom when judging my own children’s beauty). There is something so special about sharing your passions with your children — to teach what you love to the ones you love most. How could parenting be anything but amazing?

I realize that some people do not want and will not ever have children, and I respect their decision. It is theirs to make.

I know it’s annoying for someone to be constantly asked when they are going to have a baby . I’m sure it is difficult not to take offense. If someone asks when you are going to have a child, please believe they are complimenting you (they know you would make a fantastic parent) and they wish for you to share in the joy they have found in parenting. For myself, I will try not to ask… but know that I’m hoping, should you choose to become a parent, that you will experience the same ethereal love I never knew I was going to discover.

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If There’s a Prize For Rotten Judgement…

I’ve spent much of my life singing my heart out. In choir… in church… in a rock band… belting out “Just A Girl” in front of the mirror as I pretended to be Gwen Stefani — oops, did I say that out loud?

These days, I don’t sing in a choir — and during church, I’m usually busy shushing Lainey (our 2 year-old) as she croons at the top of her lungs — whether the rest of the congregation is in song or not. My husband says she gets this from me. He’s pretty much decided that everything challenging about parenting our children is due to me and my creative free spirit.

[Side note: I am totally going to teach Lainey to sing, “Just A Girl” in front of the mirror… “Don’t you think I know exactly where I stand? This world is forcing me to hold your hand… ‘Cause I’m just a girl, little ‘ol me… Don’t let me out of your sight… I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite…
So don’t let me have any rights!”]

Anyways, I am proud to say that — possibly as a result of all the years I belted out show tunes, pop hits, country and church songs while cooking, baking, and/or doing any kind of household chore — both of our older boys (almost 13 and 8) sing in their school choir. Lainey just thinks she sings in a choir. The congregation at St. Joseph’s thanks her for this.

















I’m not kidding about our daughter and her singing — above is a pic of Lainey using her lungs to serenade me while jumping on her bed. Tristan, our 1 year-old baby, does not sing yet… maybe he’ll be a drummer like Daddy 😉

If you’ve read my blog before, you may already know that we finally (after my kids, our civil marriage, two pregnancies, two babies, four children in all, moving to another city, lots of late nights planning) had a church ceremony and reception with all of our kids in the wedding party.

Because I loooooove to sing soooo much, we — oh who am I kidding? My husband had no part in thinking this loco thing up. In fact, when I called my little sister — who was Maid of Honor — to tell her all about this great idea I had for a grand march, it was a little quiet on the other end of the line. And when I emailed the plan to the rest of the bridesmaids and groomsmen, one of them thought it was a joke.

I intended to sing, “I Won’t Say I’m In Love” from the Disney Movie Hercules as the bridesmaids pretended to be the Muses. The song starts out, “If there’s a prize for rotten judgement… I guess I’ve already won that! No man is worth the aggravation… that’s ancient history — been there, done that!” (Um, is that perfect for a wedding or what?)

As that song ended, my groom and his groomsmen were supposed to dance in to the tune of “Louie Louie”, then each pair up with a bridesmaid and do some kind of dance move while the DJ announced them. The last to be announced would be us, of course, and my honey would lift me high into the air and spin me — a dance move we had neither a high ratio of precision nor accuracy on, and one we had never practiced whilst all the layers and petticoats of my dress surrounded me. (Though my husband did not dream up this deranged scheme, he fully supported the preparation and execution of it. We want to thank our bridal party from the bottom of our hearts for also going along with the crazy!)

Did we pull it off?

“I Won’t Say I’m in Love” from Disney’s Hercules

If there’s a prize for rotten judgement
I guess I’ve already won that
No man is worth the aggravation
That’s ancient history, been there, done that!

[Muses:] Who’d’ ya think you’re kiddin’
He’s the Earth and heaven to you
Try to keep it hidden
Honey, we can see right through you
Girl, ya can’t conceal it
We know how ya feel and
Who you’re thinking of

No chance, no way
I won’t say it, no, no

You swoon, you sigh
why deny it, uh-oh

It’s too cliche
I won’t say I’m in love

I thought my heart had learned its lesson
It feels so good when you start out
My head is screaming get a grip, girl
Unless you’re dying to cry your heart out

You keep on denying
Who you are and how you’re feeling
Baby, we’re not buying
Hon, we saw ya hit the ceiling
Face it like a grown-up
When ya gonna own up
That ya got, got, got it bad

Whoa: No chance, no way
I won’t say it, no, no

Give up, give in
Check the grin you’re in love

This scene won’t play,
I won’t say I’m in love

You’re doin’ flips read our lips
You’re in love

You’re way off base
I won’t say it

She won’t say she’s in love

Get off my case
I won’t say it

Girl, don’t be proud
It’s O.K. you’re in love

At least out loud,
I won’t say I’m in love

This Is A Freaking Hard Job!

“I’m a failure and I can’t do this and I’m having a meltdown. I have no identity! I just want a clean house for 5 seconds and to work on my snowboard apparel line and my blog. Do you know how many days I feel like the world’s worst mom because I can’t keep everything perfect and put away and laundry done and food perfectly prepared and served and look like a swimsuit model while I’m doing it?!” I texted my husband.

This is a freaking hard job! Being a parent I mean. The hardest there is, yet parenting experience counts for nothing on a resume (ergo, the feeling of having no identity).

No matter how many blogs are written about how the world should appreciate moms, I don’t feel better. I love my little ones and my getting-too-big ones more than anything, and I’m beyond proud of them — but it doesn’t stop me from feeling like a big fat failure occasionally.

Sometimes I feel like my spouse will never fully understand me, although he does notice when I’m having one of these meltdowns and it clues him in that it’s probably not the time of month to start constructively criticizing me. (Men are such problem solvers when all we women want to do is vent.)

Fewer and fewer women choose to be mothers these days. I have a theory that it involves a lot of fear. Fear of losing the lifestyle one loves… fear of the responsibility of shaping a life… fear of judgement and chastisement by those who “know best” how to raise a child — and yet we take on the daunting — and ultimately rewarding — task of raising children, in spite of all these fears.

The thought of failure used to paralyze me. I did everything I could to avoid it, even if it meant never trying something I just knew I wouldn’t be good at. But I’m not afraid anymore. I had to lose that fear along with becoming a parent. Maybe parenting has taught me as much as I hope I’m teaching my children (I don’t doubt it). Accepting the imperfect way I care for my home and family, because I don’t have another choice, is par for the course. I don’t have ten arms and an unlimited energy supply… I CAN’T do it all. And I’m not a failure… I’m a really good mom.

Oops, I have to go. I forgot to pick my son up from after school choir…

Image from

Autumn at the Apple Orchard

Autumn is heavenly. Everything about the harvest season enchants me… leaves changing colors… pumpkins… the crisp, cool air… Halloween… Thanksgiving… winter (and snowboarding) is right around the corner… cooking yummy food… college soccer season… football season… and apple orchards.

Normally, I write and I write and I write… probably more than anyone wants to read. But today, I’m going to write minimally (for me) and instead let the pictures do (most of) the talking.

From Lainey’s first ever pony ride… to apple doughnuts…. to Grammie and Bop (Grandpa) listening to the band… to the boys and their cousins finishing the corn maze looking like they’d conquered the world… the apple orchard is a fall memory to cherish.

DSC_0702 DSC_0729 DSC_0754 DSC_0756 DSC_0758 DSC_0761 DSC_0763 DSC_0767 DSC_0775 DSC_0778 DSC_0780 DSC_0670 DSC_0673Lainey refused to get out of the apple train. I had to drag her kicking and screaming. No photo op of that, but I will cherish the memory, nonetheless 😉 My perfect parenting derailed by the apple train. No pun intended.

Happy Birthday To Me, I’m Turning Nineteen…

I love it when my husband surprises me or plans something — although I don’t know if he’s caught on to that premise yet. It doesn’t have to be an expensive or grandiose surprise… just the idea of knowing he was thinking about me and planning – that’s the part that makes us women feel special.

We traveled to my hometown of Sycamore to visit my parents and celebrate my birthday last weekend. It’s quite a project packing our 4 kids — and all their kid paraphernalia — into our vehicle. As we were finishing the last of the packing up Friday afternoon – the day before my birthday — my husband mentioned that he had thought about getting me a comfortable office chair (to go with my new used desk) OR he had found a place that does hot cold stone massages.

“Okay,” I responded and went about my packing. I don’t really like picking out my own surprise. I want him to read my mind and know exactly what surprise he should plan (the one I’ve been dreaming of but haven’t told him about because if he knows me he will figure it out), and then I want him to plan it on time. It’s not that hard. I can’t fathom why men dread birthdays and anniversaries.

Everything (kids included) was finally loaded into the vehicle, and we set off on our three hour road trip. Our kids were thrilled after the 3 hours were up, when they found out Mom and Dad had taken the wrong exit and it would be another hour before we arrived at their grandparents’ house. We weren’t sure who exactly was to blame for this detour (I say him because he was driving and he says me because I was supposed to know the way), but the thought of an extra unnecessary hour in the car with four kids was making me really grumpy.

My mood was alleviated as soon as we arrived at our destination and smelled the yummy food my mom had waiting for us. I went to bed with a full, happy tummy. Tomorrow was my birthday. I drifted off to sleep.

I was racing my kids down Peak 8 at Breckenridge. A snowstorm was in full force, and I loved the feeling of cutting through the fresh powder. It felt like floating. Maybe that’s why I love snowboarding. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to flying. Then I WAS flying. Way up into the sky and then back down to cut through the powder, and then I would jump back into the sky again. I don’t know what they did to Peak 8 since the last time I was here, but it’s awesome! I was airborne again. Suddenly, something grabbed my hair and painfully yanked me back to the ground.

I opened my eyes to see what had me in its grasp. It was really dark. “AHHHHHHH! You’re hurting meeeeeeeee!” I yelled, then realized that something was pinning my hair down.  Something was my husband. “Get off me! OW! Right now!”

“Happy Birthday—“ he started.

“What are you trying to do to me?! GET OFF MY HAIR!” I realized I’d skipped weaving my waist length hair into a braid before bed last night.

He rolled the other way. “I was trying to snuggle you on your birthday. I know how you like to be snuggled.”

“It felt like you were instigating my slow and painful death,” I grumbled. As if the day I officially turn a year older wasn’t enough to make me grouchy. (For the record, I love being snuggled, but I’m very sensitive about my hair being pulled!) I closed my eyes and made my way back to my flying snowboard and a few more hours of sleep.

By lunchtime that day, my husband had neither mentioned a birthday surprise, nor given me one, and I was beginning to think he really believed that thinking about surprising me counted as actually surprising me. “So you thought about getting me an office chair?” I inquired.

Chris looked at me like he wasn’t sure he should participate in this conversation. “Actually, I went in a store and looked at office chairs. And I found a hot cold stone massage place.”

“By ‘found a place’ you mean that you did an online search for one?”

Chris laughed. That was a yes.

“You didn’t plan anything for my birthday, did you?” I was getting sad. It’s miserable enough for a woman to have a birthday, without feeling like she’s not important as well. I couldn’t stop my mouth from running on… “I plan everything. I want somebody else to plan something for me. I want it to be planned on time – not a week later. I would rather have a five dollar pair of earrings that you picked out and put some thought into… than for you to tell me you were thinking about getting me a chair sometime.”

“Hey… some of those office chairs cost a lot of money,” he replied.

“You thought about getting me a chair that cost a lot of money. I feel so much better now.” My mom walked into the room. “Mom, don’t you think an office chair is a guy gift? Chris thought about getting me an office chair. That’s not a gift for a girl.” My mom smiled and agreed with me… then she told us about the time my dad bought her some cooking supplies as a gift. I guess my dad was really excited and thought he found the perfect thing. My mom… not so much. Chris and I were laughing by the end of the story.

“Baby… I like jewelry. And… jewelry. And, if you can’t think of anything… jewelry!” I smiled. Chris laughed some more. “Since you didn’t plan anything for my birthday, I’m going to take the boys downtown to the confectionary with me.” I went outside to get the boys.

I was back inside a short time later. The boys did not want to go to the confectionary because they were busy playing Capture the Flag with their cousins. I couldn’t even bribe my own children with candy to do something with me on my birthday. This birthday sucked. I grabbed Chris and told him he was going along with me downtown because I was going to do something today.

I hadn’t been in downtown Sycamore — a cute little street full of shops and businesses – for probably ten years. As I pointed out some of the shops, I told my husband the history of their significance. The bakery where my cross country team liked to pig out on doughnuts. (We all ran so much we could eat what we wanted.) The confectionary… the best candy around, and I had to have some (no, I can’t eat whatever I want anymore, but it was my birthday). Then I told him about the handmade jewelry shop, and how – when I was in middle school – it was the cool thing for a boy to buy the girl he liked a necklace with “his and her” initials… and that no one had ever bought me one of those necklaces. I’m still holding that against the universe.

It’s a rare occurrence that Chris and I are out and about together without children, and it was nice to spend time with each other. Also, we purchased some chocolate from the confectionary. Heavenly.

That evening, I got dressed up for the six of us to go to church and then out to dinner with my parents.


Normally, I come up to somewhere around Chris’ lower ribs. Once or twice a year, in my six inch high heeled boots, I manage to make it up to his shoulder.















After mass, our kids were running around on the playground as we were trying to corral them back to the car. I remembered why I don’t ever wear heels.


Bea’s Wok N’ Roll is my parents’ favorite restaurant, and serves the best Vietnamese cuisine I’ve ever had. I love going there when I visit home.

We finished dinner and went back to my parents’ house. My mom had baked my favorite – yellow cake with her homemade white frosting. I don’t know what happened to the candles, though. They must have gotten reversed or something? (I turned 19 last year, and I’m turning 19 again this year. A couple years ago, Chris actually put “Happy 19th Birthday” on my cake. What a great husband!)


Chris gave me this…


Along with some earrings that cost more than $5. (I know this because he forgot to take the price tag off.) He said he’s getting me a comfy office chair next week — whether I like it or not — because I spend so much time sitting down writing at my computer, and he doesn’t want my joints and back negatively affected. Well… it’s really sweet and kind of romantic when he puts it that way. I like it.

I’m getting a romantic office chair for my birthday. And I’m now the proud owner of a “his and hers” initials necklace. (I love it!) I’ll have to find something else to hold against the universe 😉

Could You Bring Me a Blindfold When You Stop By?

(image from

I used to have it all together. I cooked lovely things to eat. My house was sooooo clean. I scrapbooked, made jewelry, sewed pajamas and Halloween costumes for my kids, always found time to work out. I even homeschooled my older boys for 3 years.

Then along came babies 3 and 4. Um, what happened to my life? In my former life, I was obsessive about keeping my house nice. My brain has an anxiety attack at the sight of a messy house. It’s bad. Like… I used to go to other people’s houses and want to start cleaning things up so my brain would feel better. And now I can’t keep my own house clean for anything. I’m a disgrace to obsessive compulsive individuals everywhere!

Today, if you stopped by my house, I would be like, “What? Don’t you have strawberry pop tarts smashed onto the walls of your dining room? It’s modern art.” Then I would tell you there’s a good reason I’m still in my pajamas. Followed by not telling you that reason. I would really hope that you stayed in my front living room, where only a few stray toys lurked, so that you would never see the state of my kitchen. I don’t want to see the state of my kitchen. Could you bring me a blindfold when you stop by?

Once in a while, I get everything spotless (on the first floor at least… don’t mention the basement… or the 2nd floor… or my toddler’s bedroom she likes to tear apart upon waking). I look around for a few seconds and breathe a sigh of relief. All is right with the universe. Then I hear it. The sound of a missile. It’s getting louder. Oh no! NO! I try to throw my body in front of it, sacrificing myself to preserve the cleanliness. But then another one comes. And another. And another. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! The demolition crew is wrapping it up and my clean house just bit the dust.

My children seem to have an affliction called, “I didn’t see it. I didn’t notice it. I didn’t know you didn’t want it there”… it being “my backpack, my books, my legos, my trombone, my 47 dirt-filled shells from the beach that I was going to clean, but dumped on your kitchen table instead, Mom.”

This affliction was clearly present the other day, when I asked Wesley, my eight year-old, to carry his laundry upstairs and put it away after school. He picked up his laundry and went upstairs with it, returning a few minutes later. A few hours later, I was on my way up the stairs with Wesley to tuck him into bed, when a trail of laundry caught my eye.

“Wesley… I thought you said you put your laundry away.”

“I did.”

“Then what’s this all over the stairs?” I pointed to the incriminating items.

“Oh. I didn’t see it.”

“Really? Each of the seven times I saw you run up to your room and back down during the 4 hours since you were supposed to put your laundry away, this pile escaped your vision?”

“Um, I didn’t notice it.”

“Hmmm. What are the chances?”

“Well… probably what happened is… I didn’t know you meant put it all away. That’s what happened. I’ll put it away now, Mom.”

“Thank you, Wesley.”

See??? An affliction. “I didn’t see it. I didn’t notice it. I didn’t know…”

I’ve had to adjust my standards of clean a LOT — considering the condition that runs rampant in my children. Okay, okay… they try really hard to be good helpers, but mommy is a clean freak who woke up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and she can’t seem to clean up the dead bodies as fast as they pile up, and her kids don’t know how to clean up the dead bodies as good as she does, anyway… and they might forget to use disinfectant, an important step in cleaning up dead bodies… and oh darn it, now mommy has the affliction, too. She’s one of them and she doesn’t care. Except she still does care, so she has to walk around her house with her eyes closed… which may, at first, seem dangerous, but, in fact, increases her chances of surviving the zombie apocalypse ten fold.

I give up. My house is a mess on most days at most times, though it’s not from a lack of cleaning effort. Mommy’s tired.

I’ve been needing an office area for awhile. I’m supposed to be illustrating my children’s book series, among other design projects. I also have a ton of scrapbooking, jewelry making, and sewing supplies that needs to be organized (though what century I will ever find time for those things again, I couldn’t tell you). Anyway, I found this completely AWESOME, entirely made of solid wood desk/bookshelves on craigslist for way cheap… what a work space! The desk alone is 7 feet across (plenty of room for drawing and designing). Since it’s almost my birthday, I had to get it for myself 😉


The entire room behind it is a mess, so I’ll have to close my eyes whenever I turn around, but at least my desk looks pretty! And I’ll be able to store my massive hobby collection in the side bookcases. (This is what convinced hubby to carry the 12 foot long monstrosity down the steps… the promise that all my crafting supplies would be put away instead of strewn across the basement floor.)

Also, in honor of my upcoming birthday, I decided to make a trifle for dessert tonight. (I’m really spoiling myself. You would think I love my birthday. I don’t. I haven’t aged a day since I was 19 so why should I have a birthday? But what better way to distract yourself from aging than eating something yummy? End tangent.) Making yummy things to eat also used to be one of my hobbies. (These days, if none of my children are screaming in hunger, I call it good.)

I ignored one year-old Tristan standing at the front window screaming his head off because his dad was outside mowing the lawn, and Tristan wanted to mow the lawn, too. I ignored two year-old Lainey dragging my vase with the faux flowers around the living room. She was even chewing on some of them, and I ignored that. I ignored Wesley doing a backflip off the couch. Kid is bound and determined to make it back to the emergency room a few more times anyway. I ignored the mess of dishes. I ignored the crumbs all over the floor. I ignored 12 year-old Devin reading a book, instead of cleaning his messy room. (I did comment to him that his room looked like a nuclear bomb and a tsunami hit at the same time, to which he replied, “Okay, Mom.” But other than that I ignored it.) With all the time ignoring these things allowed, I made a pumpkin-butterscotch gingerbread trifle. It was delicious.

These kids are worth every bit of mess in my house. Tristan is, too, but he couldn’t be in the picture because he would have gone face first into the trifle. And that might have sent mommy off the deep end… 😉




Be Careful What’s Ridiculous

“Dad, that’s ridiculous!

Our two year-old daughter, Lainey, has a new favorite word… Mom is ridiculous. Her big brothers, Devin and Wesley, are ridiculous. Baby Tristan is ridiculous. The food mom makes is ridiculous. Nap time is ridiculous. Going potty is ridiculous. But most ridiculous of all is Dad… because he laughs and laughs when Lainey tells him he’s ridiculous. I wonder if it will be as funny when teenage Lainey says it? 😉

Lainey’s vocabulary has been really taking off… along with her happy-go-lucky little spitfire personality.

“I’m cooking, Mom! I’m making dinner,” Lainey (our two-year old) informed me, as she gleefully carried dishes from her pretend kitchen into her playhouse, where her little brother waited patiently at the table.

“Are you feeding Tristan?” I asked. “That’s so sweet. Are you a nice sister?”

“No, I’m not.” (her matter-of-fact reply)

At least she’s objective…

“I wanna GO, Mom!” seemed to be the buzz phrase of the morning.

“Where do you wanna go?”

“I wanna go somewhere.”

“Do you want to see Daddy?”

“He’s ridiculous,” she giggled.

“Do you know where Daddy is?”

“Yes. Daddy’s at homework. Ridiculous!”

I decided to satisfy Lainey’s two year-old wanderlust, by having lunch with Daddy at “homework”.

After I buckled baby Tristan into his car seat, I turned to go get Lainey from the house… just in time to see a midget in high heels (and with a sparkly purse on her shoulder no less) teetering across the driveway. She was pretty serious about this visiting daddy at the office thing…

Later on in the day, I had to stop at the bank after dropping her big brother, Devin, off at football practice.

Um… tangent. Devin’s first football game is tomorrow. He’s so grown up looking in his jersey… I’m going to cry. I am having a mom “my kids are growing up too fast” moment, and I am going to cry. Awwwww, he looks so handsome. He’s not dating until he’s 35.
















But back to the bank… we went through the drive up. I was doing my transaction and the bank lady was asking if my kids needed suckers. Lainey chose this moment to roll down her window and belt out, “I’m sooooo fancy!” at the bank teller.

Yes… my two year-old sings Iggy Azalea. The clean version. Don’t judge. My husband keeps thanking me for turning our daughter into a gangster. I didn’t see what was so bad about Lainey singing, “I’m sooooo fancy.”

If, however, “I’m still in the murder business, I could hold ya down… like I’m giving lessons in physics,” comes out of her mouth, I’ll have to find a new song to play in the car.

The bank teller looked at me strangely. I knew what she was thinking… that sweet little girl is singing gangster music. Shame on her mom! 

“No thanks, no suckers… we’re good!”

“That’s ridiculous!” Lainey screamed out her window. I started to roll Lainey’s window up with my master control, but paused to reach out and grab the deposit slip from the automated drawer. Lainey rolled her window back down. “You’re ridiculous!” She was so thrilled with herself and her antics. “Shut up and drive!” she yelled next. That’s Lainey’s other favorite song (by Rihanna). Oh, I needed to get out of there. Where was the darn button for the child window lock?

We drove away. I’m thinking I probably won’t mention Lainey’s gangster rap rendition at the bank teller to her dad. The music got switched to a Christian radio station and she sang along to “Good Morning” all the way home.

Back at our house, Lainey found a cake and got really happy… until she realized I wasn’t serving it for dinner.



Tristan began pulling everything out of the kitchen cabinets. He’s appointed himself organizer of the pots and pans cupboard — and takes his job very seriously. DSC_0908

He was taking it seriously until he saw Dad, anyway… then he crawled over to hang on Dad’s pant leg and make gorilla noises until he was lifted into the air.

“Hey, big guy. Is the view better from up here? Tristan, are you going to be tall, like Dad, or are you going to get your Mom’s shortyness?” [Excuse me??? Shortyness?] Tristan smiled and drooled as my husband went on… “Buddy… if you get Dad’s six-four height and a little bit of your Bop’s [Grandpa Don’s] fighting spirit, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with on the football field.”

“Dad, that’s ridiculous!” yelled a little voice from the peanut gallery.