Things I’ve Bought Lately

non-disclosure: I bought everything in this post with my own cash, and have no incentive to write about any product except my desire to share my finds with you. Links are not affiliate links. 

Taking a cue from Sarah Lena, I’ve decided to share with you some of the things I’ve bought lately. Just because.

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Swell soap and sea buckthorn oil. I saw this item being discussed on Twitter by a few people who were swearing by it. Apparently it’s the new buzz product being recommended by estheticians around town and it’s now being sold at local-grocer Heinen’s. At first I scoffed at the idea of a $24 bar of soap. Not to mention that I haven’t used a bar soap on my face since I used Clinique in high school. But I kept seeing people talk about it so I checked it out. I was totally rolling my eyes at the hippie-talk on the website but I noticed it’s a local company. Then I ran out of my previous (purchased on clearance at Target) face soap and I Heinen’s had both the soap and oil on sale. So I’ve been using it about 2 weeks now and I’ve noticed an improvement in my skin, especially my pores (not so visible anymore) and the overall tone. So, color me impressed. I would by this again.

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Payless Women’s Claire Scrunch Flat by Dexter. I have finally admitted to myself that I am a flats girl. I’m slowly getting rid of all my heels, including my long-coveted Cole Haan pumps. I don’t wear them. Ever. If I need height I wear wedges. So when Miranda (and someone else, I can’t remember who!) mentioned some Payless flats a while ago on twitter, I ordered some in black. Fast forward 5 months and I’ve worn them every working day and the sole is starting to wear out. So I took advantage of the current BOGO sale and got a new pair of black and this tweed gray. I LOVE these shoes. They are like wearing slippers. I may need to stock-pile some at the next sale in case they ever stop making them.

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I didn’t buy this but Mark gave it to me for my birthday. I was nicely surprised but I’m not a huge cookbook person…I prefer to get my recipes from the web where I can read reviews and reactions. However, I’ve quickly fallen in love with this book. It’s nothing ground breaking, nothing fancy. I’ve described it as “stupid-easy recipes you wonder why you didn’t come up with yourself”. Nothing is odd (no doctored condensed soup, no pre-made ingredients), but every recipe we’ve had so far has been really good and very fast. I’m looking forward to cooking my way through the book.

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Bacon, tomato, basil pasta -so so good!

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Grilled flank steak with corn & bacon salad – yum!

So, have you bought anything fun lately?

Cheering at the Cleveland Marathon

This past Sunday was the Cleveland Marathon, and while Mark was not running it, we knew several people who were – including my friend Vin and twitter friends Jenna and Michelle. This was going to be the first time Mark would be on the spectator side of things since he started running, which was interesting. As I said before, this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve cheered at several marathons in many cities.

The entire week before I kept saying “We need to make our plans for Sunday” and he’d kind of shrug and say, “we will”. Ha. He’s never done this before so I didn’t push. On Saturday I dug out a couple of my laminated signs and got poster board to make a few more.

FINALLY, on Saturday night after the kids were in bed we started to plan our cheer attack. We pulled up the course map, Google maps, a list of road closings, and cheering stations. Of course each one of these bits of information were on different webpages – the Cleveland Marathon site wasn’t much help. We did find that had a good resource page with links for everything we needed.

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Race-spectator planning, more complicated than you’d think it would be.

By the time we had it done (nearly 2 hours later) Mark was tired and a bit shocked at how much effort it took. But, before we went to bed we had our bags packed, signs made and route plotted.

Bright and early on Sunday morning we loaded up the kids and headed to Tremont. We easily parked behind Sokolowski’s and set up at the corner of W 13th and Abbey just before the 10-mile marker. This was a GREAT spot to see both full and half runners. Easy to get to, there were other people cheering nearby and shade was plentiful if you wanted it. It was also pretty easy to see they runners as the came around the corner from W 11th.

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One of my favorite cheer signs ever – always gets laughs

We saw Vin who was in great spirits and gave us high fives and a very sweaty hug. Having not ever met Jenna in real life, every woman with a green tank top on got a good look over. When we saw her she was on the other side of the road so we burst into shouts of “Go Jenna” and I waved her sign around above my head.

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Once we saw Jenna and Vin and Mark got to see some of his running mates, we packed up our things and headed to our next spot at E 40th and Chester at mile 16. Again, having planned our route the night before, it was easy to get to this spot. We found street parking on 40th and walked 2 blocks to a shaded cheering spot. This was a pretty good place to cheer with easy access to parking just a couple of blocks away. The kids were hungry so we set them up with snacks, mounted a sign on the stroller and started cheering.

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The stroller hasn’t been used in a year, but came in handy on Sunday

I must say that it was here that I started to feel sad about how my city appeared during this marathon. There was a pile of rubble in the road right in front of us and a half a block down there was tire debris strewn near the curb. We were near a cross street that had weak traffic control so people were zooming across in front of runners even though the intersection was closed. Those that did stop to turn around weren’t given good instructions about how to get around and often ended up back at the stop sign confused and angry about being stuck. The lack of thought about things like sweeping the streets and providing clear directional signage just makes Cleveland look amateurish compared to other marathons.

photo 1-4Vin, looking good just over halfway through his first marathon

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Random rubble pile, in the running lane of the street – not cool, Cleveland! 

After Vin and the others went by we carted our stuff back to the car to head to our final destination: E 33rd and St. Clair at 24.5 miles. After getting stuck in a parking lot-like traffic on E 55th (I couldn’t see but I don’t think they had any alternative route for traffic where St. Clair was closed – nothing was moving at all except for cars turning around to head back north. It was a mess), we finally got to Hamilton which runs parallel to St. Clair and parked in a lot facing the course at the corner of 33rd. This was an AWESOME spot. You can literally tailgate from your car here. This should be an “official cheering station” next year.

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I made this sign after Mark lost his first toenail. Runners are gross.

It was brutally hot and there wasn’t anyone else cheering nearby and I felt awful for the runners. They were coming up a long, hot stretch of nothingness – mostly empty storefronts and warehouses with no shade anywhere. I also couldn’t believe that there were large box trucks parked on the street here that the runners had to run around. Again – couldn’t the Marathon Organization do something to clear the side of the street the runners were on? This intersection did have a more forceful guy directing traffic (“Get off your phone and get the hell off my street!”) but there were still some close calls as idiots played chicken with the runners. It wasn’t until a cop showed up that the cars stopped going across the course.

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Outtake of photo above, but it shows people being stupid

About 70% of the runners were walking through here. We were cheering and reminding them they were less than 2 miles to the finish, trying to keep them going. Lots of them had cramps… lots of them were complaining about the heat, the many potholes and the boring route. “I hate this course!” was heard often. I felt so bad for them – we kept reminding them a water station was just ahead.

I finally saw Vin walking and I walked out to meet him. He was cramping pretty badly and was drenched in sweat. I walked with him for a block then Mark ran/walked with him for the next mile. On his way back to us Mark saw his friend Michelle, also walking, so he joined her for a bit.

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Michelle aka “RunnerMommy” – drove up from Cincinnati and ran a marathon with bronchitis. BAD. ASS. 

By the time he got back the kids were D.O.N.E. and were waiting in the car. It was close to noon so we took off for home, getting the finish results via text on our phones.

It was a fun day and I’m thrilled to have been able to cheer on our friends, and make a few other runners smile with our signs. But, overall, I was kind of disappointed in my city. I was dismayed to hear of injuries due to un-marked potholes or broken concrete. I was sad to see the debris on the road and trash on the sidewalks where we cheered. And disheartened to see so few cheering on the sidelines (compared to what I’ve seen in Columbus, Cincinnati and other towns). No, Cleveland will never be Chicago, Baltimore or the Twin Cities – all known for their scenery or great crowds – but we can at least send the street sweepers through the course and do more to encourage a crowd.

We’re better than this, Cleveland! There are 360 days until the 2014 Cleveland Marathon…. Put May 18, 2014 on your calendar now and join me on the sidelines to cheer!

How to Cheer at a Marathon

I’m not a runner. I never will be. I tried it for a while but I hated it. But ever since Mark started the C25K program nearly 3 years ago, he’s been addicted. That means the kids and I have cheered at a LOT of races – 5k, 10k, half and full marathons – we’ve done them and I have a few tips for anyone who wants become a professional run spectator like me. I probably should have posted this last week, before the Cleveland Marathon, but now you’ll know what to do the next time a crazy friend or family member says they are running a “mary”.


Cheering with my cousin & his family at the Oktoberfest Half in Grand Haven, MI

Here’s what I take when I cheer, especially with the kids:

  1. Snacks – race cheering is all about waiting for hours to watch someone run by in 30 seconds. Snacks and drinks are a must.
  2. Noise makers – it doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s noisy take it. We usually take 2 cowbells with us. Side note: why are cowbells a marathon tradition? Just to be obnoxious? This time I also took a tambourine (from the toy box), in the past I’ve taken whistles, maracas and once, a harmonica.
  3. Something visual – pompoms are always in our bag. Small flags work, too.
  4. SIGNS – of course make them for all of your friends running. But make some generic ones for runners to enjoy why you’re waiting. They really do like them. My other tip is to laminate a few with clear contact paper – this will protect them from rain & water stations and makes them sturdy enough to keep for a few races. (You’ll see some sign repeats in the photos).Image
  5. Course Map – this is critical, especially when the races’ website crashes on race day (cough *CLE Marathon* cough)
  6. Distractions – race spectating is a hurry-up-and-wait game. It can also be totally boring. Take a book, a phone, and if you have kids with you, toys. They will save you.
  7. Camera – I don’t lug my big camera with me because I’d rather cheer when I see my runner then have a camera in my face. I do, however, try to snap a shot or two on my phone or a point and shoot.
  8. Pack all of this in a backpack and wear comfortable shoes. You’ll likely be hoofing it for several blocks at each cheering spot. Take a stroller for little kids.


Cheering at the Shaker Father’s Day 5k


Cheering with friends is best – at the Blossom Time Run with the ClassyChaos Crew

When it comes to long races (half-marathons and above), I like to move around and catch my runner(s) a few places on the course. Here’s what I do pre-race.

  1. Print course map and look at recommended cheering spots. Almost every long race will have some “official cheer stations” and these can give you a good idea of where you can easily part near the course. I don’t normally cheer at these official spots, but go a mile or so on either side.
  2. Find 3-4 areas I want to cheer that are 5-7 miles apart, which gives me about 35-60 minutes to get from place to place. (Unless your runner is crazy-fast, then you’ll have to scale back to 2-3 areas).
  3. SCOUT YOUR CHEERING SPOTS. This is critical – something that Mark learned this past weekend. Where can you park? What streets will be closed? What’s the best route from A to B; can I walk or should I ride? I can spend more than an hour pouring over Google Maps looking for parking, access to public restrooms, and how everything interconnects. Don’t forget to look for a list of road-closures in the area. Even better – drive the course the day before and find your spots – I do this for out of town races so I can learn the area a little better.
  4. Print driving maps for each section (i.e. map from cheering spot A to cheering spot B) AND have a phone/gps with you on race day in case you run into any obstacles.
  5. Sign up for up for text alerts so you know where your runners are on the course. You’ll start to get anxious without these updates… remember that even if you know their usual pace, they may be slow for the first few miles before the pack thins out.


Finish line cheering at the Perfect 10-Miler

Race Day!

  1. Have your runner(s) text you a photo of what they are wearing that day. This gives you something to look for in the herd of runners. This was critical for me finding Jenna on Sunday.
  2. If you are cheering with a group, you can all wear matching shirts, hats, headbands – something for your runner to look for.
  3. Let your runner know where you will be. I’m not talking exact locations, but “somewhere between miles 9 and 11” will give them something to look forward to.
  4. Dress in layers – most races start early when it’s chilly but warm up fast. And don’t forget your sunscreen!
  5. If you want to see your runner cross the finish line make sure you arrive at least 35 minutes before you anticipate them crossing. This is the most crowded area, it’s hardest to find parking and people will be jockeying for space on the curb.
  6. CHEER! Cheer for everyone – shake those noisemakers and randomly yell encouragement. Many runners have their names written on their shirts so use it when you cheer.


Cheering at the Flying Pig Marathon with my parents


Cleveland Fall Classic Half Marathon cheering squad – this one is ALWAYS cold!

That’s about it. All my knowledge about being a good cheerleader for the runners in your life. Have something to add? Put it in comments!

 Coming soon… our Cleveland Marathon Cheer Experience.


Like many people, I’ve been walking around the last few days on the verge of tears. I burst into tears on the way to the grocery store when I heard a Christmas song with a line about children laughing. I’ve been at a loss for what to say, what to do. I think Jonna summed up exactly how I’m feeling right now. Especially the part about how being a parent puts a crystal-clear picture in my head. Those kids were Matilda’s age. I’ve had to stop my brain 100s of times in the last several days from going there.

The sadness is being replaced by anger. Anger with how weapons that fire multiple bullets per second are readily available. Anger with the media for glorifying evil. Anger about violence as entertainment (a chicken and egg question – I know). A BLIND RAGE with anyone who is voicing support for more guns. I can’t. I just can’t.

So I’m doing what I can. Yes, I’m hugging and squeezing my kids harder and longer with this fresh reminder that it’s all so fragile. I’ve thrown money at it hoping that one of those families can feel the outpouring of love and support.

And yes, I’ve gotten political. I’ve always been in favor of more sensible gun control. I grew up in a house with hunting rifles. I shot our BB gun as a kid. I’ve trained on handguns and semi-automatic weapons during ROTC training (for the record, guns terrify me). I think having felt that power in my hands – having the kickback rattle through my bones – is part of why I think guns need to be regulated and controlled. So I wrote to all of the politicians in offices representing me: my Senators and Representative, my State Senators and Representative and Governor. In case you’re wanting to do the same, here is what I wrote. Feel free to copy if you want… I started with the letter posted on Daily Kos and added my own opinion. Did it make me feel better? Not totally, but at least I felt like I did something.

Dear Senator [Smith],

It’s way past time to pass reasonable gun control legislation. In the wake of the horrific massacre of 20 innocent children and 7 adults in Newton, CT, I implore you to work others in the Senate to enact sensible gun control legislation.

Specifically I would like to see:
– Ban the sale and possession of automatic/assault weapons in this country.
– Limit the size of large capacity ammunition clips, and create a database for all purchases of ammunition (similar to database used for the sale of pseudoephedrine-containing products).
– Require a criminal background check, mental health check and mandatory waiting period for anyone to buy a gun, eliminating gun show loopholes.
– Mandate spousal notification before a gun can be legally obtained (similar to Canadian gun laws).
– Institute a gun-ownership permit or license that requires the passing of a test and annual renewal (similar to drivers licenses and license plate renewal).
– Require legal gun owners to safeguard their weapons against theft and misuse.

People claim the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, but this is not an unlimited right. I believe we’ve let the gun lobbies and fear mongers exploit the Constitution to an absurd level. There is nothing in the document providing a right to possess assault weapons that can shoot 100s of rounds in seconds. We regulate everything from driving to drinking to buying cold medicine; it’s beyond time to regulate gun ownership.

I appreciate your consideration and look forward to a response.


So, how are you doing? What have you done that makes you feel marginally better? If you need a place to vent any frustrations, grief or  feel free to do so in comments. However:  my blog, my rules – I will not debate my opinions on gun control. You will not change my mind and any comments supporting civilian possession of automatic or assault weapons will be deleted, as will calls for more guns. Fair warning.

Christmas Cookies

I am the baker in my family. Have been since about middle school or so. For years I’ve been the one to make the sugar cookies for cut outs at Christmas, loaf after loaf of zucchini bread in the summer, and birthday cakes year-round. As a newlywed I made extra money for gifts by selling my Christmas cutouts to co-workers! Now, I’m the one to provide the sugar at our family Christmas gatherings.

I have some tried-and-true recipes that I make year in and year out but I every year I also try something new. After a consultation with twitter, added 2 new recipes to the mix this year and both were fantastic. On Saturday and Sunday I made 6 different types of cookies, most of which are hanging out in the freezer until the celebrations begin. Here’s what I made…

Peanut Butter Blossoms. These are my husband’s favorite and a must every year. I use a recipe from a family friend but it’s similar to the one I linked to. I makes a ton so it’s good for a cookie exchange. If you want to up the ante like I do use mini Reese’s cups instead of the Kisses. They will melt so I usually pop the finished cookies into the freezer for 5-10 min after they cool to room temperature which will harden the Reese’s cups.

Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies. Yes, this is the recipe that’s been floating around since email was invented. Yes they are delicious. My recipe is double what I linked to and makes a TON of cookies and even my trusty Kitchen Aid can’t handle that much dough. So I halved it and the linked recipe is the smaller version. I got to use my new Vitamix to make oat flour and to chop the chocolate this year so it went much faster. Make sure you use really good chocolate (this is not the place for Hershey’s bars). I baked 1 dozen of these then scooped the rest of the dough into balls and froze them so I can easily make fresh cookies when I need them.

Mexican Wedding Cookies. These are new this year – I don’t know why I’ve never made them before becuause they are super easy. I made them on the recommendation of Crystal via Twitter. I used the Smitten Kitchen recipe because I always have good luck with recipes she posts. And, I got to use my new Vitamix again! These are so yummy, I will be making them again.

Sugar Cookie Cut Outs – This is what started it all. I took over making the cut-outs in high school, I think. True story: my dad used to take us kids out of the house when my mom made cut-outs because of all of the cursing. At some point she switched to making them with the pre-made dough in a tube you can get at the grocery store and I thought homemade were better so I took over and have been making them ever since. I’ve tired dozens of recipes but I find the simpler the better (again, I linked not to my recipe but to a similar one). I like to roll them thin to get the maximum frosting:cookie ratio. These are frozen, undecorated and will be frosted at another time. This year, given Matilda’s sensitivity to red dye I’ll be trying out some natural (and expensive!) food coloring. And please, no royal icing… only buttercream in this house!

Orange Sugar Cookies – This was one of my “trial” recipes that made it into regular rotation. I love these cookies with or without the chocolate. I linked to the recipe I use but I up the orange zest to 3 tablespoons, increase the orange extract to 1.5 teaspoons and add 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract to the glaze. Sometimes instead of dipping the cookies I drizzle them with the glaze because I’m lazy. These are great in the summer if you use lemon instead of orange.

Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies – These were a trial cookie that hit it out of the park. They are insanely good – sweet with just a hint of heat. I read through the comments and decided to add the cinnamon and chili to the dry mix and rolled the cookies in plain white sugar. Next time (there will be a next time) I’ll add half a bag of chocolate chips. I’m not exactly sure how I heard about hot chocolate cookies but I looked at probably 8 other recipes before discovering Martha’s, but all the others had bad reviews in comments except for this one. I highly recommend.

I still plan on making America’s Test Kitchen’s Gingerbread Cake for our Christmas dinner dessert. That will also be a new recipe so I’ll have to report back later.

Here are a few tips if you want to make 6 kinds of cookies in a single weekend (I didn’t count, but I think when I was done there were  around 21 dozen cookies).

1) A Silpat is your saving grace (0r any other silicone baking mat). As are heavy half-sheet pans (I got mine for cheap at a restaurant supply store). Having these mean no washing cookie sheets between batches and nothing sticks. Plus the big pans can mean more cookies per batch.

2) A cookie scoop (again, I got this for cheap at a restaurant supply store). Makes scooping cookies super easy and uniform.

3) Parchment paper. I lay this out when rolling dough so I can get away with less flour which makes for a better cookie. I lay out a sheet and put pre-scooped dough balls on it while waiting for the oven. That way I can empty my mixing bowl, wash it and move on to the next dough even if all of the first kind of cookies aren’t done baking.

4) Read through all your recipes. Know what order you’re going to make them. Does it need chilled? Great – make it, throw it in the fridge then make and bake your next recipe while that one chills.

5) Mise-en-place – I know that might sound too “Iron Chef” for some but it makes all the difference. On day one I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked. So that night I got all my dry ingredients mixed, my wets mixed (where I could) and laid it all out. On Sunday morning I was able to have 3 kinds of cookies (nearly 10 dozen!) DONE before 10:30 AM (I started around 7:15 thanks to the Madman alarm). I was shocked at how much time it saved.

6) A spouse who will keep the kids out of the kitchen while you work. I love to have my kids in the kitchen with me but I was in cookie-mode and just needed them out of my hair for several hours. At kitchen with doors (like ours) so you can close everyone out is also a nice thing to have.

What are your holiday baking traditions? What recipe should I try next year?

Things I Won’t Apologize For

Is it me or does life feel a little upside down lately? Things are happening in life and online that have me shaking my head and wondering if I’ve gone beyond the looking glass. I’m feeling a bit ranty lately so I’m going to get it off my chest.

Here’s a list of things I won’t apologize for:

1. Using twitter any damn way I please. If you don’t like what I’m saying or what photos I’m posting or the hashtags I’m using you are free to unfollow. I don’t care, seriously. I won’t hurt my feelings and I likely won’t notice.

2. Attending events for local companies and using said twitter account to talk about it.

3. Buying an expensive product at full price from a locally owned company that happens to be large and tweeting about it. Supporting local does not mean you have to buy only from small mom-and-pop shops. If you think that large local companies don’t deserve our support you’re crazy.

4. Calling you out if you post the Ben Stein “Confessions for the Holiday” piece that is 2/3 false and has been proven to be lies year in and year out. Just stop it.

5. Wishing you  Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. (should note here, because I didn’t then, that I’m not Jewish. But in that moment I just wanted to shut that lady up. I’m not apologizing for that lie, either.)

6. Raising money. I AM a fundraiser, after all.

I think that’s it for right now, but I’m in full honey badger mode right now so watch out.

What’s getting on your nerves lately?



Treat yo’self (Treat Free Code)

woot! woot! sponsored post alert!

Treat is a new card brand on the block – owned by Shutterfly and run by the former Tiny Prints Greetings. And while I adore and use Tiny Prints for things like holiday cards, thank you notes and invitations; Treat has become my go-to for one-off cards (but! you can order multiples of a single card, too!).

Here’s what I love about Treat:

– High quality cards that you pick from the comfort of your laptop (even at 1:00 AM when you remember that your aunt’s birthday is in 3 days).

– They have designs that use photos or not – it’s up to you. And there are over 300 Hallmark-designed cards to choose from.

– You can set up all your cards at once and then Treat will send them out at the right time making you look like a rockstar. I did this in May – I sat down for an hour and set up about 27 birthday cards to go out over the next year and it’s awesome. Remember “set it and forget it”?. Yep, it’s like that but instead of a perfectly roasted chicken you get the praise of being a good friend/daughter/coworker/etc. You can even add gifts to the card by including a gift card to places like Amazon and Target.

– Treat will send the card to your recipient or to you. If you want to add a handwritten note, they’ll send it right to you and you can deliver it yourself.

– You can set up a card then edit it for several different recipients. I just did this today and several Thanksgiving cards featuring my kids will be going to the family who isn’t joining us around the table. All I had to do was update the personalization and the address. Easy peasy.

– They have an App! You can send cards right from your phone. Talk about easy!

So here’s the deal. I’ve been using and loving Treat since May. And they are running a promo right now where you can give them a try for free, too. Use code TREATBLOGR for one free Treat card good only on Monday 11/19 & Tuesday 11/20. I know you’ve got someone in your life who would appreciate a card. What have you got to loose?

Disclosure: Treat is giving me a credit in exchange for this postI only share products that my family  has used, so I can attest to their quality. 

No Sleep Till…

Matilda was a horrible sleeper until around age 4 and I swore the universe owed me a good sleeper. And we (mostly) had that with Madman. That is until we moved him to a toddler bed last spring. I was determined to keep in his crib until age 3 but he figured out how to climb out shortly after he turned 2 so the crib came down and the toddler bed went in. We haven’t slept since.

He goes to bed just fine, but around 4 AM he decides it’s a great time to get up and play. He doesn’t cry or demand our attention which is a nice change from Matilda’s old, clingy habits. What he does, however, was worse. He quietly destroys his room.

(FYI: you can assume that most of these photos were taken between 2 and 6 AM)

Or he would gather every toy in the room and bring it into bed with him. Do you know how jarring it is to wake up at 3:27 AM to the sound of wooden blocks crashing together?

Sometimes we would actually sleep through the mayhem in the room next to ours and find him like this in the morning:

Or we’d find him asleep on the floor somewhere which I don’t mind. Except for when he falls asleep right behind his door and we can’t open it without hitting him.

It got to the point that even with naps, I would always go into his room with my camera ready because I’d never know where I would find him.

Most of these issues we’ve solved by putting his dresser, toys and books into his closet where he can’t get them. He still gets up daily around 4 AM, but Mark can usually get him to fall back to sleep for a couple of hours. But he’s always been an early riser and we know that we can’t just let him play alone or he’ll cause a major mess (he picks at his diaper through his PJs and will shred it, polymer balls everywhere! such fun!). So when Madman is up, one of us is up – no matter how early. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped going into his room with my camera ready to go. You just never know when you’ll find a swashbuckling cowboy at 6:45 AM.


Strong Silent Type

I feel like I don’t give the Madman his proper due here on the blog; poor, neglected second-born that he is. As the third child I always swore I wouldn’t let my kids experience different treatment…that they would have equal billing in baby books and beyond. I’ve told you about old boxes of slides with my name spelled wrong, right? Yep…one of my parents (I won’t out the guilty party) spelled my name wrong nearly a year after I was born. Pretty good reason for me to try harder, right?

But, I haven’t. I must say that I didn’t even make a baby book for Matilda until she was 3. But then I did her first three years in beautiful oversized photo albums and never even attempted to start another. Perhaps Madman will get a baby book for his 3rd birthday but the truth is I didn’t document his first year as well as I did Matilda’s and I’ll have to cobble together his 1st year via this blog and my twitter archive.

Bieber hair

But this boy of mine, oh he has my entire heart. He’s tall for his age with a strong, athletic build. I let his blond hair get shaggy because I can’t get enough of it, but once it gets too far into Beiber-territory we get it chopped. He refuses to stand still for even a second so getting a photo is nearly impossible. But beleive me when I tell you I could right volumnes about this kid’s smile, his laugh and don’t even get me started on his dimples.


At 2 years and almost 7 months he’s finally just starting to talk with some clarity, which, to be honest, if he were my first I would have had him in and out of specialist offices by now. But he communicates well without a full grasp of language and gets along just fine so I’m trusting myself (and our pediatrician) that he’ll figure it out sooner or later. It does get him frustrated sometimes but if you don’t understand him he’ll just grab your hand and drag you to what he wants and makes you understand.

His favorite thing in life is his big sister. The two of them are pretty great together, and Madman wants nothing more than to be doing whatever Matilda is doing. His fearless nature coupled with his desire to do exactly what she’s doing has led to some harrowing experiences.

Madman is the one who is teaching us all to slow down to look at the bugs and dig in the dirt. He’s showing us to just go with the flow (especially if that flow includes wearing costumes in public) and to just laugh because laughing is fun. I just love this kid so damn much.

Halloween 2012

So! OhMommy left and apparently she took my will to blog with her to Chicago. Back in July. Oof. It’s been awhile, eh? No real reason… I’ve got 59.7 blog posts formulated in my head but I never found the time to commit them to paper (screen?). I’ve lot’s to catch up on…little stuff like my oldest starting kindergarten, you know, NBD. But, let’s ease back into this with a photo heavy post, shall we? (if you follow me on twitter/instagram you’ve seen them all, sorry!)

Thanks to the frankenstorm that gave us hurricane-style 70mph winds and waves on a Great Lake of 20 feet, our neighborhood’s trick-or-treat was postponed until yesterday. Let’s not even talk about how fast a post-vacation high can be harshed by losing power for 3 days and having roof/chimney damage that leads to plaster/fireplace/mantel damage.

Tip: a waterproof crib topper under your leak buckets will help to protect your floors (something I wish I didn’t have to learn)

Huge shout out to Emily for opening her home to us while she traveled for work. We had warm beds, hot showers and homemade meals in her adorable house rather than suffering at our 45-degree house. Thanks, Em! (and to Emily’s mom!)

The story of how we got these pumpkins to come. This photo is pre-storm when they were freshly cut. Last night they were 75% moldy goo.

Back to the point… 2012: the year Halloween was in November. Matilda knew she wanted to be an equestrian since probably last Christmas. Since she’s been taking riding lessons anyway she had most of the gear. I did finally give in and bought her a (deeply discounted) real riding coat after I looked for a boys jacket at a few thrift stores with no luck. She also scored real leather riding gloves out of the deal which I justified with the fact that she actually uses them at her lessons. She looked pretty darn cute, even with 2 layers of long johns under her costume.

And lord help the person who called her a horse rider… she would correct you with a quick “I’m an equestrian!”

Madman, my sweet opinionated 2.5 year old, was a monkey. Stuffed into the same size 24 month costume his sister wore just a month after she turned 2. I want to make clear that I didn’t not force this costume on him. He had a choice between a bee (which would have fit him much better) and this monkey (which I didn’t realize was so small until after I showed it to him) and he picked the monkey. Luckily, the coat fit him fine, but the pants were about 5 inches too short so the little feet were just below his knees.

Of course, since I can’t help myself when it comes to making these comparisons, I dug up photos from Halloween 2008 to see my two monkeys side-by-side.

Much to Matilda’s delight, Mark decided to dress up at the last minute by donning his Army fatigues. Let’s pause for a moment  and consider that these were issued to him when he was 18 years old and he still fits into them.

And, even though these really have nothing to do with Halloween, I have to post these photos to show how delightfully weird my kids are right now. Matilda is so into horses that EVERYTHING is about horses. Everything. Her scooter is really a horse named Scarlet and yesterday she found a snow brush which she then used to groom her “horse” for about 20 minutes. She even picked over the horseshoes like a proper equestrian would.

As for Madman, he’s at the age that it’s just a heck of a lot easier to give into his demands to wear what he wants than to fight him. This is why he’s frequently seen out and about in costume:

A walk to the neighbor’s house requires his sister’s riding helmet.

The man of steel enjoys pancakes for breakfast.

Buzz prefers to shop Trader Joe’s in the early morning on Saturdays.

I think I may have my blog mojo back… hopefully there will be more updates soon!