children, family, gratitude, happiness, humor, kids, life in pictures, motherhood, parenting

A Year in Review (Happy New Year!)

I am typing this with a sports-related pinkie sprain.  While I have learned some great lessons this year, apparently I still am slow on the realization that my husband is a competitive beast.  Even playing an innocent family game of touch football in the backyard brings out his win-at-all-costs attitude.  I blame him entirely for the injury, but I blame myself for even playing in the first place.


In 2013 I think the biggest change I have noticed, especially with Full Speed, is the strange phenomena of actually being helpful without being asked.  I am rendered speechless when one or both of my boys volunteers to hold a door, carry a bag, let a dog out, etc. and in turn, make my life a little bit easier.  I didn’t think it was possible.  That’s not to say they are perfect or that it happens all the time, it’s just a tiny, little gleaming light at the end of the tunnel for those parents up to their neck in diapers, bottles and constant demands.  May this help us all set the stage for even more positive changes and growth in the coming New Year.


Another major positive change was being reunited with our dog.  T.Puzzle continues to respond well healthwise to both dogs we have now, and seems to have completely outgrown his allergy to them.  Honestly, we never outgrew our love for her and we never will.


Mad Dog and I celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary.  I can say without doubt, these past ten years have been the best of my life.  It’s not that life somehow got magically easier once we got married, in fact, we’ve faced some pretty major life events.  It has more to do with having someone in your corner that appreciates you for all the right reasons and sticks by you even when you are anything but your best.  My goal for my family is to create a home that is filled with love and acceptance.  With Mad Dog by my side, this goal is automatic.


Familes, people, circumstances and life are never perfect.  The real lesson is to somehow find the love when all else seems dark.  There are always reasons to be thankful.  Sometimes it takes creativity to glean gratitude from your life.  Just make sure you surround yourself with awesome people and then finding the gratitude will be easier than you think.

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children, family, gratitude, humor, kids, motherhood, parenting


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I’m noticing a trend.  In many ways, life with Full Speed and T.Puzzle is becoming much more pleasant.  Even though they are off school for a whole week for Thanksgiving, I didn’t even bat an eye.  I took them to the store today and I had zero anxiety about it.  If you know me it all, that is a near miraculous statement.  Of course, I still have rather unusual conversations with them before we enter any place that is of public domain.

“Your decisions in the store will determine whether or not you will be spending a large amount of time in your rooms or not once we return home.  I am only going to give you one warning.  Next time I have to speak to you about your behavior, you will have to go to your rooms as soon as we get home.”

“But, Mom,… is that one warning total or is that a warning a piece for each thing we do?  Like, ‘Calm down!’, ‘Be quiet!’, ‘Don’t kick your brother!'”  Full Speed had quite a list.

At this point I was only half-listening as the list went on and on.  “I don’t know, Full Speed.  I just don’t know.”

“Mom, what if T.Puzzle and I came up with 5,000 different ways to get in trouble?  Is that equal to 5,000 warnings?  What would you say to that, Mom?”

“I would say you are very talented.”

He grinned and chuckled.

Thankfully, we didn’t even crack the top ten.

children, family, humor, kids, motherhood, parenting

Merry Christmas Eve

ry=400-3This Christmas is extra special for our whole family.  We welcomed a brother-in-law and his son to our clan.  Each year we seem to grow in love and blessings.  When all the young cousins get together on Mad Dog’s side (all boys!) there is a lot of spirit, Christmas and otherwise to be had.  I imagine at some point they will manage to get together and it will be calm and mannerly.  Or, I’ll be so advanced in years at some point, I’ll politely put my hearing aids on mute to deafen the roar.

If you join in this family, you have to participate in our now annual family soccer classic.  Naturally, playing against Mad Dog is not for the faint-hearted.  He always wins.  It’s as simple and annoying as that.  Thankfully, for the health of our marriage we were on the same team this year.  At one point Mad Dog executed a perfect defensive slide to deny our opposition a goal.  He almost took me out in the process.  If that had happened, this post would have had a much darker theme to it.

Even though Mad Dog is one of the most competitive people on the planet, I wouldn’t trade him for anything.  Sure, his offspring are a little rough to manage at times but obviously, they have amazing potential to be anything they want to be.

I hope that you all are surrounded by people you care about and who care about you.  Winning isn’t everything (ignore Mad Dog), but the love you have in your life is.

Merry Christmas Eve to all!

children, family, humor, kids, marriage, motherhood, parenting

Happy Anniversary/Birthday/Christmas to You!

I was chatting with a friend and we were discussing our December wedding anniversaries.  We both realized that at the time of our weddings, December seemed like an awesome to wed.  There were holiday decorations everywhere and it made us feel as if the whole world was celebrating with us.  However, subsequent wedding anniversaries smack-dab in the middle of the demands of the holiday season (which grow exponentially with children), are not always easy to make special.  Never one to keep things simple, throw in T.Puzzle’s sixth birthday the day after this year’s anniversary, and let’s just say, romance may very well have left the building.

T.Puzzle gets ready to make a birthday wish.
T.Puzzle gets ready to make a birthday wish.

In the midst of all this, Mad Dog and I were lucky enough to have an evening to ourselves (thank you, Grandma!).  We reminisced about our fateful third anniversary where instead of going out to dinner, we opted for the maternity ward of our nearby hospital.  I gave birth to T.Puzzle in the wee hours of the morning.  To be honest, I would take anniversary jewelry over labor any day.  Of course, hands down, once I was through the labor stuff, T.Puzzle has been my favorite anniversary present of all time. 

Mad Dog and I marveled at the speed of these past nine years and how thankful we are that we are still standing.  I believe the secret to our marriage is simple.  I talk and he listens.  He doesn’t always agree, he may even zone out to football scores/standings in his head, but he appears to listen.   At least that is what I plan to tell Mad Dog.  Whether or not he actually listens to me is hard to know.

children, kids, motherhood, parenting


Full Speed back when snow was not his friend

The turkey is gone, thanks has been given and now it’s time for more holiday cheer.  The positive to living in a warmer climate is that there is no snow for Christmas.  The negative is that there is no snow for Christmas.  It is awfully hard to drum up Christmas spirit when you’ve sent your boys to school in shorts all year.

I saw an ad on television where there were mounds and mounds of snow.  It brought back many midwestern memories and I was reminded of how much Full Speed hated snow as a little one.  When I would pick him up from preschool during winter the reports from teachers, besides the obvious won’t-sit-still-for-a-moment ones, were how he would cry in misery when it was time for outside recess.  If Mad Dog and I would attempt to pull him on a small sled around our yard, he would yelp in frustration as tears would freeze on his tiny, unhappy face.  Looking back I can actually say that the memory of it is kind of sweet.  Living through it was awful and yet time has dulled the sharp edges of Full Speed’s snow-covered tantrums.

What I realized is that if I can finally find the humor in Full Speed’s snow experience, maybe whatever challenges I face with him today will have the same result.

I guess into each life a little snow must fall and it’s up to us to find a way to shape it into something lighthearted…eventually.