Sunday, December 15, 2013


 Dani turned five this week.  Five!  Where does the time go?
It's been quite a year for our not-so-little Dani.
She started Pre-K.  She waits for the bus, with her Super Mario backpack, just like a big kid.  Every night at dinner, she's so eager to tell us about what her buddies did at school, to sing us songs, and tell us about her day.  When we drive around town, she loves to point out her friends' houses, and she's learning how to get places, telling me while I'm driving which way I should be going.
For weeks, she was singing songs in anticipation of her Christmas concert at school.  When the flyer came home, I was scheduled to be in court, but at the last minute, the matter was adjourned so I was able to go.  With some help, I snagged a second row seat.  She walked out with the twelve children in her class, anxiously looking around, and she saw me and Grandma Deb.  She frantically waved, and was so excited to sing to us.  Tears rolled down my cheeks while she sang and danced, "I'm a little snowman, look at me." 
There was my baby, up on stage, at school, in her first concert.
 She's the first one to offer to help, before I have to ask her.
Usually, she's the first one to tattle, unless she's joining in the mischief with Tori and Tommy.
She's quick to laugh, and make silly faces and sounds.
She's getting good at talking back too--Mommy, apparently, is very often wrong, you know.
And she's getting SO BIG--she's the tallest kid in her class, and comes up almost to my shoulders.
And she still wants to snuggle, as often as possible.  But these days, she reminds you more of one of those big dogs who doesn't realize she's not a lap dog, as she piles on top of me on the couch or asks me to pick her up.
 It's hard to believe she's five.
I swear, just yesterday she was a baby, trying to gnaw my face off.
And wow, I had far fewer grey hairs back then!
 It was so much easier back when there was just one.
I had so much time for just focusing on her...and celebrating the silliest of holidays, like her first St. Patty's day photos.
 She loves fiercely.
From the moment we brought Tori home, and she exclaimed "Baby" and kissed her, she embraced the role of big sister.
 And she couldn't wait to do it again with Tommy.
 She usually sets a pretty good example for them to follow.
And she is naturally good at sharing the spotlight.  It's interesting that when she chooses characters that she likes best, it's most often the supporting ones.  She prefers Luigi to Mario, Robin to Batman, Widget to Wubbzy.  She's the first one to hand over the coveted toy of the moment so Tommy won't cry, and to share her goodies with Tori without being asked.  An action not accompanied by please or thank you is nearly non-existent with her.
She changed my life.
She taught me how to love with a depth I did not know I possessed.
She taught me, and continues to teach me every day, important lessons like these:
A walk around the block can be magical if you find pinecones.
The boxes stuff comes in are often more fund to play with than the stuff.
Everything is better with sprinkles.
Always make time for another kiss and hug.
Bedtime songs are way better than bedtime books...Raindrops on Roses is still her favorite.
Getting dressed is more fun if you don't care if your clothes match.
You don't need a reason to turn off the lights and have a glow stick party.
Knock knock jokes don't have to be funny to be funny to toddlers.
All you need is a sunny day and a maple tree seed pod to turn into a unicorn.
And the most amazing part is that this is just the beginning.  The beginning of the life of my amazing little Dani.  As much as I selfishly hate to see her to grow so independent, I love to see her roots grow stronger as my little flower reaches for the sunlight.
Happy birthday, Dani.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Being Thankful.

 I should be working right now.  Have a computer bag full of files that need my attention.
But I can't.
I spent a few hours at a wake for a classmate of mine.  Two years ahead of me, with a young son, and she's dead.  Cancer.
Isn't that our worst fear?  That type of tragedy?  Leaving the world too early, before our children are grown, while they still need us to tuck them in at night, kiss their boo boos, and raise them?
No child should ever have to know that loss; no parent should have to either.
So I am pausing for a minute or two tonight to be thankful.
For sunny afternoons on the playground.
For dress up games.
 For coloring, and silly faces.
Family dinners.
 Playtime with out of town family.
For every moment I get to enjoy with these little kiddos, and their daddy.
We never really know if we will see tomorrow.
Make the most of each day.
I'm going to make sure I try to.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Of mice and men. Or fairies and superheroes.

And it was Halloween. 
Halloween has always been one of my absolute favorite holidays.  Back in my younger, funner, thinner cuter days, I was always dressed up and at a party or a bar to celebrate Halloween.  Even now, I dress up with the kids (this year, like last, I was a cow which is less and less like a costume for me), because Halloween is just magic.  The girls were fairy princesses.  Tommy, Superman.  If Tommy could choose, he would wear Superman every day.  We have about 4 Superman shirts in his size, and every morning he asks for chances are, he's wearing a Superman shirt every time you see him...and the shirt is clean--I can't make the same promise about Tommy...he may or may not be clean, and we aren't so good on baths.  Grandma Deb had a super cool cheetah costume--she and Wes took Dani and Tori trick or treating while Tommy and I handed out treats.
 It was a crappy, rainy night.  Only three houses on our block had lights on, so Dani and Tori weren't gone too long.  Halloween in my city is a vicious cycle.  We literally have about 700 people come to the door--kids, full-on adults and everything in between. When I was a kid, trick or treating meant staying in your neighborhood, or traveling to a friend's house and walking in theirs.  Nowadays it seems to be an all-out candy grab.  In my line of work locally, its fair to say I recognize a fair number of folks who come to my door--and many don't live nearby...but they live in perfectly walkable neighborhoods, but they come to mine to trick or treat.  And I don't say that to suggest my neighborhood is superior in any way, but it's a very wide street, with sidewalks and street lights, and is very popular for trick or treating.   So, it's impossibly expensive to get enough goodies to hand out, and every year fewer and fewer people turn their lights on, so more people drive around to other neighborhoods to find places for their kids to trick or treat, and the cycle continues.
This year, I bought:
4 gross (576) vampire teeth
4 gross (576) spider rings
100 piece toy/candy assortment (but I sent in about 50 pcs to Dani's class)
100 Fortune Teller Miracle Fish.
My order was $79.
And, my friend, Jessica, came over with some toys to hand out as well.  This was the first year I ever had enough loot to last the two hours of trick or treating.
In any event, my kiddos were thrilled to get a bit of candy.
Dani manned the door all night--we can remove the glass from our storm door, so it is a keep-kids-in barrier, but is perfect to hand out items to trick or treaters.  Dani wanted to talk to each kid that came to the door, telling them about the cuteness of their costumes, and mentioning that she sees them ont the school bus and being completely oblivious to the fact that from a trick or treater's perspective, we are only the handers out of candy--and in the brief moments it slowed down, she was shouting to the street, "We have treats for you!"
 Tori had only a passing interest in handing out candy.  She was far more interested in consuming lollipop after lollipop.  But she was just darling in her dress.  (I bought the girls' dresses at a consignment sale, for about $10 each...Tori's is so exquisite, I am seriously considering it as a Christmas dress.)
And, they had fairy wings, and wands and all that good stuff too. 
And, in other news, elections are over, and I almost have my life back but first I have to catch up at work.  And the chaos continues.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ch-ch-ch changes.

I don't even know where to begin! 
It is, by nature, a crazy time of year for me--election season.  As the county's Democratic leader, I have a pretty big job each fall--to help my candidates get elected.  Balancing that with a busy law office, a working husband, and three toddlers is no easy feat.
We try to find time each day to be crafty.
 And, if there wasn't enough chaos, we just listed our house for sale...because a house with three toddlers is so easily show-ready.
It all came about when a realtor-friend had a buyer who wanted a historic house--they knew we were looking to move in the not so distant future, and they called to see if we would mind if the buyers did a drive by.  The drive by was followed by one hour-long showing, and when they wanted another showing we figured we needed to see what was out there, to avoid homelessness after our sale.  And we found, pretty much, the perfect house.  And then the buyers put in an offer on the smaller Victorian, and not ours.  So, Wes and I brought the family to see the house and it was perfect.  Perfect enough to try to buy.  So we put in an offer contingent on our sale and they said YES.
So, it's been hyper-speed here trying to make our house show-ready so that we can lose our shirts on this sale and hopefully not have to bring money to the closing sell quickly.
Meanwhile, Tommy has decided to dress as a drag queen for Halloween.
 Dani is rocking Pre-K.  Got her standardized assessments today, and she is in the 99th percentile for everything.  (She was born 8 days too late to start pre-k last district doesn't budge on that.)
 We are still doing a really good job at family dinners, and family time.  We have three little conversational people and it's starting to be a lot of fun.
I just need more hours in the day.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Happy Anniversary, my love.

 I met you at 17.  I was a small-town kid, in a big city, going to college in your home town of Chicago.  We were student athletes, running into each other in the Fieldhouse.  My freshman year, we both lived in Woodward Court--you were a friendly face when we moved in after living in the sports dorms.  We were both work study kids--and we had jobs at the Fieldhouse/gym.  You were a supervisor, and I checked IDs when people came in.  It was 1991.  I worked until midnight, and would walk home alone after work, because there were streetlights and sidewalks, so I was safe, right?  At some point my first year, a woman was taken (kidnapped seems like too dramatic a term) in the evening, in the proximity of my walk home.  My next night at work following that event, you showed up to walk me home.  I insisted that I didn't need help and could do it alone.  You showed up at the Fieldhouse at the end of all my shifts to walk me home.
At some point, you kissed me.
We dated.  We loved with all the fervor of young adults, squeezing into my dorm room's twin bed for the night, playing songs, madly in love.  You were my date to my sorority formal.  I always felt like I never quite good enough in those sorority sorority sisters all had more money, nicer clothes, were thinner/prettier than me, etc., and you knew how I felt.  Like me, you were a kid with parents who worked for living--who were sacrificing to send us to college.  I remember at that formal, our Rose Ball, at the Hotel Intercontinental downtown, we stood on a balcony and you told me...something along the lines of me often comparing myself to my sisters....and that on that night, I had them all beat.  You made me feel like the prettiest girl at the ball.
And, we dated.  At some point that year, we stopped dating.  That was all me.  I remember agonizing over my decision to my best friend Gina, telling her that you were the kind of guy I wanted to marry, but that at 18, I needed to see what was out there.  So we broke up.  And you were wonderful.  And so began a epic friendship that would span hundreds of miles and committed relationships.
I eventually moved back to New York.  You would visit every year, on your way to see family in Connecticut.  We would write letters, talk on the phone, and stay in touch, never mentioning whether or when we had significant others of our own.
And then there was the visit in 2002.  You and a few friends from college were supposed to come...only they didn't, and you did.  It was just you and me for a weekend, all alone as adults, spending time together.  And you kissed me.
We decided that weekend, that despite the fact that you were in Michigan and I in New York, that we would date exclusively.  I planned flights and you planned road trips.  We talked every day.  During one trip you gave me a ring, and announced you would move to New York.  You didn't tell me how much you were sacrificing career-wise to come.  But you came.  When you proposed, I questioned you...were you sure...I declared that I never wanted to have children, and that you needed to be a dad.  You chose me over fatherhood.
You came to New York, and we married in Las Vegas.
When you moved, you brought lots of things.  Among those things were all the letters and cards I sent you since we parted ways.  I read them--and it was an awakening--my letters to you were so affectionate, so caring, that I realized that you had always held such a special place in my heart, even when I didn't know it.
And then, one day, I wanted to start a family. I was the woman who professed I would never want to, and you loved me anyway.  I've always described that awakening in me as once the pieces of your life fit together so well, and you love someone so much, you want to expand that love.  And so we did.
Dani, Tori, and Tommy.  I can't imagine life without them, or you.
I know that when we said our vows, we pledged for better or for worse.
I recognize, sometimes, perhaps even often, I test that vow.
There is no me, without you.
You are the rock that holds our family together.  I'm the silly string that makes it a fun mess.
You have encouraged and supported me to achieve my goals, at the sacrifice of our time together.  You are the best father I could have envisioned for my children.
You are the most patient and loving husband I could ask for.
You are my best friend, my confidant, my love.
It's been nine years on paper, but two decades in my heart.
Happy Anniversary, my love.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

40 is the new, well 40.

I turned 40 a few days ago.  We had a rocking party, with lots of friends, and it was awesome.  There's an overdue retrospective of how I got here, and where I'm headed, but tonight's not the night.
It's been hard to make time for blogging lately.  Work has been crushing me, and things have been downright chaotic at home.  Not in a bad way, but certainly, I could and should be making more time for the things that are important.
Like this little dude.
 Our house is now officially high chair free.  Everyone sits at the dining room table, like big kids.  It blows my mind that my three children are pretty much conversational.
 Working so much means that I try to pack as much fun into the limited time I have with the kiddos.  Tori's always up for a fashion show.
Dani rocks her school uniform.
 We went apple picking.  I'd never been before.  There was a wagon ride, and a hay maze.  There was also a huge corn maze that I didn't dare take the kids into, lest the state police helicopters have to rescue us when three kids decided to run in three different directions into the corn.
 Every one in one hundred pics results in near smiles from everyone.
 I was pleasantly surprised at how low to the ground the apple trees were.  The kids had no trouble picking them.
 And nothing tastes as good as a minutes-ago picked apple.
 I love this picture.  Its the kids walking back to the apple farm, each following their own path, but sticking together, keeping pace with each other.
 We made masks this week, and tons of Halloween decorations--pumpkins and bats are all over our house, we're working on the Halloween costumes, which should be pretty darn cool this year.
 Tommy wasn't so keen on wearing his mask.
See his curls?  Gone.  Big Man gave the little guy a buzz cut while I was at work on Friday.  He went from looking like my little baby boy, to a kid.  A KID!  Where'd my baby go?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

And the first one is off to school.

Dani started Pre-K this week.  Pre-K!  While it would sound sweet and nostalgic to *sniff, ask where my little baby went, but, I was pretty excited for her.  While I'm a big proponent for kids home with parents, I realize they miss out on the camaraderie of peers. She's going to meet kids that she can't boss around and make friends and have a blast!  So, yesterday was the first day of half-day pre-k through the school district.  Wes brought her to school and picked her up.  The school has a dress code, which I'm a fan of, and hope that the petty materialistic bullshit that comes with peers can be avoided, in part, for awhile because of it.
Of course, when we were shopping for bookbags, Dani had to have the Mario and Luigi design.  No cute Hello Kitty or anything...
She literally got a happy meal toy yes, bad mommy buys happy meals with a Luigi in it, and has been a fan ever since.  I should mention we do not own any Nintendo game system that exposed her to Mario and Luigi before the toy.  Since then, we've been intermittently watching the Super Mario Super Show on Netflix....for those of you too young to know what that is, it's a show from 1989, which is a mix of cartoons and skits with actual people (Captain Lou Albano from the WWF plays Mario).  Worst show ever.
 Soooo, back to Dani and school and such.  They let the parents in on the first day to check out the classroom.  Dani's been very close-lipped about the day-to day at school, only telling me that they are learning manners and what to do.
 Today was the second day, and we decided she'd take the bus.  To be honest, we ranked the elementary schools so that we'd get a school that she could take a bus to.  Our city is small and we can drive to any school in less than 10 minutes, but I didn't want us to have to drive her because we were too close to the school (packing up 3 kids to deliver one would suck!).  So Dani got on the bus today!  She (and the girl next door) were the first kids on the bus.
On the way home....Wes waited at the stop--and the girl next door got off, but not Dani!
I had filled out a form months ago that asked if we needed child care transportation, and I had put our sitter's address and said Tues and Thurs were the days.  BUT when we got the bus pass, it was for our home only.  Wes called the bus garage and they said the school had to set up the alternate transportation but that they were swamped and he should wait a day or two to call.
When he asked the driver where Dani was, he mentioned that she was on the way to the sitter.  Wes calls Miss Ruth to give her a heads up and see if Dani was there yet, and Dani arrived at Miss Ruth's house.  She was crying at that point, as she had to switch buses and she kept telling the driver that he was not going the right way to our address.  But all ended well, with Tori and Tommy being super-excited to see Dani get off a school bus! 
 It's been a wild ride, these few days.  Dani really seems happy to be going to school, like it something that is hers, alone.  I've got to literally interrogate her to find out what she did all day, not because she didn't love it, but because I think she liked it so much she can't really describe it.
 Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I think Tommy and Tori are happy for the 33% additional less kid they have to share mommy and daddy and Miss Ruth with!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Little Dude turned two.

 Tommy turned 2 on the 16th...good thing he doesn't know his dates, because we had cake on Saturday.  Grandma and Grandpa sent presents for all the kiddos, and fun was had.  Probably our last birthday without a kid demanding a party.
And what to say about this little tyke?  T is for Tommy and for Temper and for Tantrum.  He is Mister If I don't get my way I will scream until you give in.
He's also destined to be the class clown, amusing his sisters at every turn with silly faces and gestures.
He's the daredevil.  The only kid we've really seen bleed.  Because when you are jumping off of everything, and getting in to it all, you are bound to get a little banged up.
He likes to announce "HAND" as he extends his so that he can lead you where he wants to go, which is, most often, to the kitchen for cookies. 
Amazingly agile, he could climb the stairs like a big boy months ago.  He's our little mimic, repeating everything the girls say.  Tonight at dinner it was "Chuck E Cheese" over and over in varying voices to Dani and Tori's delight. 
He is, by far, the best snuggler of the three.  When you pick him up, he wraps his arms around your neck and places his head on that sweet spot on your shoulder made for baby heads and just snuggles.
He is love.  He is energy.  He is chaos.  He is our Tom Tom.
 And he loves his sisters.  "DANEEE. TOWEEE" he calls, often when they sneak away to do something else.
 We went to Animal Land a week ago.  Tommy had no fear.  He touched every animal he could, feeding them, petting them, and at one point, picking up a huge piece of deer poop that we thought was a rock.....ugh.
 He's game for rides, and whatever his sisters have in store for fun.
 On the safari ride, one camel followed us, and was fixated on Tommy.  All I could think was "please don't bite my kid's face off", but the camel walked along us, sticking with Tommy as he petted her nose and said hello.
 And then, of course there was some cake.  Dani helped me bake it.  What a difference a year makes.  He wanted a fork, he always wants a fork because his sisters use one.
He's an amazing boy, our little Tommy.  No doubt, because he has grown up with two smart, older sisters, his vocabulary at his age is amazing.  He's the king of the funny face, and without a doubt makes Wes and I laugh at least once per dinner.  He's our little fireball, and I love him to bits.  Happy Birthday Tommy!
And, before I forget to add some of the recent fun things the kids have said.....
We've had a bunch of work done in our house recently, and I was somewhat friendly with the contractor that meant that he shared a number of meals with the family.  One day, his car broke down and he took a cab to our house.  We would routinely bring him home.  On day three of no car, he mentioned at dinner, "I just feel naked without my car."  Dani leaned over to me and said loudly, "Why does Mr. M think he doesn't have any clothes on?  He's wearing clothes!".  I looked at Wes, perplexed (probably because we weren't paying too much attention to Mr. M), but Mr. M caught on--and pointed out to us what she meant so we could explain.
In other news, and funnies, Dani is starting Pre-K next week.  We received a packet in the mail two weeks ago with information from the teacher, and which advised us of the dress code:  solid color collared shirts and pants/shorts/skirts in designated colors.  Reading it, I explain to Dani that she will need to wear solid shirts to school.  She looked both disappointed and perplexed.  "Mommy, will the shirts be hard?", she asked.  I looked at her, not having a clue...and asked what she meant.  "Mommy, solids are know that," she said.  There has been some talk of liquids and solids with water and ice cubes, but it's easy to forget how literally words can be taken.  Ice cubes are solids, and they are hard, so wouldn't the shirt be hard too?
These kids, all amazing in so many ways, but I feel like I'm leaving Tori out.  Perfectly potty trained, she's been accident free and wearing underwear to bed for about 6 months...amazing.  At newly 3, she can write most of her letters, as she showed me with chalk on the sidewalk yesterday.
They are amazing little peeps, my kiddos!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Long overdue.

Wow--this post is LONG overdue.  I haven't posted in nearly two months--which has never happened.  I got so caught up in life, kids, work, etc., that I just did not make time to blog, and I thought "no biggie".  But when I started thinking about it tonight, I reminded myself that this blog is, for all intents and purposes, the baby book for the kids, the record of our lives that I have printed and bound every year for the kids to have someday, and I realized that posts to facebook won't be anything tangible years down the road that the kids can read, and hold and touch.  So...I'll do better.  And until then, here's the summer in a recap.
Father's Day--the kiddos greeted Big Man with "I love my Dad" t-shirts.  Getting three toddlers to smile and look at the camera at the same time is impossible.

 We spent so much time outside, squirt guns in hand, in the big and little pool.
 We have a gender-neutral dress-up policy.....Tommy's wardrobe is compliments of Dani and Tori.
 We were invited places, and actually showed up, despite being outnumbered by kids who could scatter upon arrival.  Here's Tori at a graduation party.
 And Dani at the same one--they love putting on "party dresses" to go somewhere. 
 At times, they felt like they were in baby jail, just waiting for release.
 Meanwhile, Tommy just sprouted. 
 Grandma and Grandpa visited and, of course, that meant a trip to the beach.
 Grandpa braved the deep waters of Caroga Lake!  (Grandpa is actually an accomplished swimmer and diver, not that he'd need it in the lake!)
 Grandma showed Tommy around.
 Dani and Tori saw their first fireworks this summer.  Their reactions were priceless.
 It was just awe.  Tori yelled, "Mommy, look it's pixie dust!"
 Dinnertime silly.
 And there are just so many things I didn't capture because I didn't post them when they came up--sorry kiddos.  A few funnies I can think of:  Dani is starting Pre-K and we received the orientation packet.  School has a dress code so I told Dani we needed to get school clothes so she could dress accordingly with solid shirts and pants.  "Will the shirts be hard?" she asked.  I asked what she meant...."Solids are hard, Mommy, not like liquids," was the response. So we explained the concept of solid colors.  We've had someone doing some home improvements  (painting, etc)  "Mr. Mark" who has had dinner with us a time or two while he was working...the other night Mr. Mark (who had taken a cab to our house as his car would not start) remarked at dinner that he felt naked without his car.  A minute later, Dani leaned over to me and asked, "Mr. Mark has clothes on, why does he think he's naked?"
It's been a zany few months...and I promise it won't be so long for me to update.
 Sister hugs!