Messy Life


I have a vision of myself in the future. I am totally laid-back and easy going. I wear pajamas till noon, let the kids dump Play-Doh on the couch, and don’t freak out when Emmy tries to put our dog’s bone in her mouth. I’m known as the “cool mom” around town, and my kids brag about how we finger paint the walls.

In reality, I’m kind of OCD. I am very much aware of the slightest thing that’s out of place. This is a great quality to have as an editor. But it’s not so great when I’m trying to raise my children to be more free spirited than I ever was. Charlotte has already adopted my fear of bugs, which makes me realize how easily our children can step right into our shoes.

In my ongoing effort to be more laid-back (let me know if you have any advice!), I didn’t make a peep this morning when the kids threw grass from their Easter baskets all over the livingroom. Where I initially saw a mess, they saw pure joy. They laughed like crazy, and I couldn’t help but appreciate every second of it. It’s the incredible messiness of life.


I swear I have more to learn from them than they have to learn from me.


This is How I Feel


This is Emmy watching her sister leave for school, and this is how I feel right now. After a few weeks of working stealthily on my blog, I’m going to make it public. And all I can think is “Waaaaah I don’t wanna!”

My problem is that I have this little itch that hasn’t gone away since I was 6 years old (that’s a persistent itch!), and it keeps telling me to write. But I’m nervous… I’m nervous about sharing my business around town, putting my kids’ pictures online, inviting others to judge my work…I’m nervous about all of it.

But I also realize that I have a need to share our story. I’ve benefitted from the stories of so many other families, and I’d like to join the circle.

So here is where this particular story begins: The Story of a Smile

And here is a look of hope:


Don’t Apologize to Me


I was in a store the other day, just browsing and in my own little world (as I usually am). Every few minutes, a loud, deep voice would burst into my reverie. I kept trying to ignore the intrusion but, finally, I glanced up to see a teenage boy (probably about 17 years old) who was making throaty noises. He was trying to get his mom’s attention. He would shout a word or two and then make some more guttural noises. He would sporadically run down the aisle and then back again. My first thought was that he was just being a rowdy teenage boy, and my second thought was that he had special needs.

I glanced up at his mom who was in her fifties and looked tired. She had a very loving nature with her son. She answered his requests with patience and kindness. But she was also very aware of their surroundings. She kept gently saying, “Shush” and “Not so loud” and “Please be quiet.” I imagined that, at home, she couldn’t care less if he makes loud noises. But here, in a public place, I could sense her discomfort. She might have been worried that someone might give her dirty looks for not “controlling” her son. She might have even been scolded by complete strangers in the past.

The mom looked at me in an apologetic way. She wanted to let me know that she was sorry for all the noise.

And I really felt for her. I’ve changed so much since having Emmy. My level of empathy has increased immensely. I could put myself right into this woman’s shoes and feel the hot stares from strangers. True, I haven’t been through her exact experience. Emmy is still at the age where any acting out would be considered typical behavior for a toddler. (And she’s actually pretty mellow so far. When in public, she enjoys just looking at everyone.)

But now I understand that everything isn’t what it seems. Everyone comes from different circumstances, and we never know what another family might be facing. One person might see a mother’s inability to control her child, while another might see a mother’s steady patience with her son who has special needs. Frankly, I wanted to hug her and tell her that she certainly didn’t need to apologize to me.

But, because I’m shy and definitely not one to intrude on personal space, I just smiled timidly and offered to help her find what she was looking for on the shelves.

4 Steps to Family Fun Night


A couple months ago, I broached the idea of having Family Fun Night every Friday. The idea is this:

4 Steps to Family Fun Night

1. We Order Take-Out

2. We Don’t Turn on the TV

3. We Don’t Do Chores

4. We DO Sit Next to Each Other and Play Games

Here’s what I expected…

I pictured Charlotte rebelling. “No Dora the Explorer? You can’t do this to me!”

Here’s what I got…

Charlotte gave me the biggest, brightest smile and said, “Really? Yay! I can’t wait for Fridays!”

A little while ago, she asked if every night could be Family Fun Night. I’ve realized that she prefers our company over Dora’s, and that feels good.

Of course, nowadays, sitting around silently staring at a screen seems normal, and interacting over board games seems foreign.

(I tend to project into the future, so now I’m picturing my kids sitting home during prom, playing Hi Ho Cherry-O with their folks.)

I’m Counting on You


One of the many, many things I love about Charlotte is how she drops phrases that I’m not expecting. I remember so clearly holding this little baby in my arms and wondering how she was going to act when she was older. I would try and picture her–in the future–sitting down to eat dinner with us or sharing details about her day, and I would come up blank. I wasn’t able to envision this baby any other way than snuggled up in my arms–sleeping, crying, or gazing curiously at her surroundings.

Well, at 3.5 years old, she has proven that she has a mighty personality. She’s independent, witty, observant, and has a sharp memory. She picks up on phrases from her teachers or from us, and she waits for the right time to use them.

Yesterday, I was driving her to school, and she mentioned that she wanted me to read a particular book for story time before bed. Still tired from waking up only an hour before, I said, “Ok, I’ll try and remember.”

She got very serious and replied, “I’m counting on you.”

I instantly perked up. She’s counting on me! I better deliver the goods.

I could picture her teachers using that same phrase, and I love that she tucks these words away and brings them out at the perfect time. She’s a little adult in many ways–an old soul.

Of course, as soon as I got home, I found the book and dutifully put it on top of her toy chest–in preparation for story time that night. You can count on me, Charlotte.

Green Bagel Morning


My husband, Dan, loves traditions. Two years ago, he decided that green bagels on St. Paddy’s Day would be a tradition. He’ll dutifully go to multiple bagel places and wait in long lines (something I am far too impatient to do). Charlotte loves it. Emmy is still too young to understand the tradition, but she does appreciate a good, green bagel.