I was going to come here tonight and ask for all sorts of advice about parenting school aged children and tell you how absolutely tied up in knots I am after parent teacher conferences last week. Addie is almost 100% Cody when it comes to school and 70% him when it comes to personality. The 30% she got from me really is the best 30% she could have gotten but I sometimes panic about how to parent a laid back introverted child who lives, breathes and exists by the words (kind or unkind) spoken to her when I was just so different at her age and I am so remarkably different and similar to my mom in so many ways.

Parenthood, not for sissies.

Or worrywarts.

As I paced my bedroom with my heart in my chest after writing her adorable teacher a slightly long winded and neurotic email I started to think about everything I am probably doing wrong on a daily basis that could totally mess with her life in the long run. Maybe I don’t make her practice math enough. Maybe I should be more strict about her room being clean. Maybe I should take her to more cultured events or make her read more intelligent books. Maybe I should take away all those stupid Monster High dolls and maybe I should just stop doing a lot of things and replace them with a hundred other things I should be doing.

Choo choo Addie. #Ohio

Then my mind fast forwarded 20 years to the woman she will become. If I could foster, cultivate and nourish everything that is wonderful about her right now, at this very moment, I know for a fact that I would be sending a marvelous person out into the world. When I picture her grown I see her living in a tiny little cluttered apartment surrounded by treasures she has collected from all of her adventures with friends and hopefully some with me. Her fridge is full of funny photos of her with everyone she loves and her unmade bed is piled high with bright blankets and pillows in every color and texture. She would have friends around her kitchen table constantly because she knows that to feed someone in your home is to love them from the inside out, she learned that one from me. Chances are she’ll be covered with little bits of cookie dough and flour every weekend and her bathroom counter will be covered with a dozen different shades of lipstick and her closet will be full of ruffles and sequins. She’ll have at least one cat, one that will follow her around purring and most likely get away with jumping up on the counters. Her TV will be small and surrounded by half finished art projects and crafts, she’ll never know where she left her keys so she’ll end up walking or taking the bus half the time which is okay because she loves people watching, new adventures and meandering down different streets. I picture her to be an awful lot like my darling friend Jessie, curly hair and all.

She’ll write me funny little emails and texts, leave wonderful little notes on her friends’ Facebook walls and if she has a dream? She’ll figure out some way to accomplish it. Her dad will still tease her relentlessly when she calls or comes home and I will always hug her like I do now, as though I can transfer all my hopes and love for her through my arms and by simply burying my head into that magical spot on her neck I can somehow protect her from all pain and suffering.

Grown up Addie is kind, grown up Addie is funny, considerate and still believes in magic and fairy tales. Grown up Addie is still the best big sister Vivi could ever want or need, grown up Addie has found a job she loves, and she has learned to surround herself with the very best people from all over the world.

Addie's Fancy Hair

I just have to get her there, it’s sometimes overwhelming how much I love her.

I simply have to love her, fight for her and teach her to be kind and respect herself and those around her in the meantime. She will be fine, she will be more than fine.

She is magnificent, and her kind of magnificent can’t be taught by tutors or teachers.

 

‘Tis SAD lamp season. (SAD = Seasonal Affective Disorder)

If you get the slumps and grumps when the weather turns gray and dreary? You should seriously consider using a SAD lamp. This will be my third winter with one and I can’t imagine waking up without it each morning.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your SAD lamps.

This is the exact one I have, and it was worth every darn penny. The negative ions smell a little funny when they are on, but I don’t use them often so it’s really no big deal. I keep it right at the side of my bed and turn it on as soon as I wake up. It stays on for 30 minutes (it’s on a timer) and while it’s on I horizontal tweet, read on my Kindle or just stare at it. Other people eat breakfast in front of theirs, if Vivi could control her oatmeal I would eat in front of mine as well. What’s most important is that you use it, and use it regularly. Promise you’ll notice a difference.

Halloween went really well, see?

Halloween 2012
For more photos of Vivi in her kitty costume, click here. (The one where she loses her mind over the geese may be my favorite.)

Addie was a witch, a very adorable witch (assuming there is such a thing, which there is, because look…)

Halloween 2012

So maybe we’ll go with ‘adorably serious.’

While we’re on the subject of adorable…I was asked to do a holiday hair guide for little girls. I worked really hard on it and my darling Addie stuck with me (and let me stick her with bobby pins) through the whole thing and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I’d be tickled if you’d take a look at it and if you’re a pinner, give it a little pin. Thank you.

Fancy Holiday Hair Ideas

While I am feeling the looming doom of winter coming, I’m doing really well, when you’re surrounded with these two? You can’t help to feel a little sunshine no matter what the weather is outside.

Untitled

How are you friends?

Today is National Cat Day. Let us all give a celebratory ‘mrow’ and take seven naps out of respect and honor for the feline.

Yesterday was Wink and Percy’s one year adoptiversary.

They celebrated by kneading my boobs and walking across my keyboard, today they will be getting rabies shots and thermometers up their puckers.

Wink got a bite of bacon last night. Percy did not get a bite of bacon because Percy is allergic to food, nerd.

I love both of these cats so much it’s stupid.

I could easily be a crazy cat lady, I mean, if I’m not already.

Even though neither cat chose me as their favorite human, and the only reason I’m not at the bottom of the human totem pole is Vivi and her fond desire to throw rubber blocks at the cats’ heads, that’s okay. Because I chose these cats (well, Wink at least, Percy just kind of hopped in the stroller and announced “I’M COMING TOO HUMANS!”)

Happiness is waking up to a purring cat smooshed up against you.

.

I love you guys, thanks for taking such good care of my family (and for not pooping on the floor, peeing on the rug or hacking hairballs.)

In case you’re wondering where all the pictures of Percy are…they’re around…somewhere. I promise we love him just as much even though there aren’t as many pictures of him.

So in the house of moosh you’ll know that Halloween reigns supreme as the best holiday of all (to me at least, Cody is still team Thanksgiving/Christmas, Addie is undecided and Vivi doesn’t have an opinion yet.) Addie has started a very spirited countdown to the big day on our family calendar and asks daily just how many Halloween parties we can fit in between now and next Wednesday.

We sat down for a little chat (in costume) about Halloween, the rules, and what it’s been like for us over the last several years.

That Addie, she truly is magnificent.

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I’m so grateful to partner with Hallmark in 2012 on their “Life is a Special Occasion” campaign again and I thank them tremendously for their patience with me, supporting me in all that I do and for sponsoring this post. Life with my family is the most special occasion of all.

I don’t normally do twitter parties, but something about Halloween puts me in the mood to do just about anything, especially since I’ll be doing it from my couch with Emily and a hundred other friends who live in my computer. Tonight I’ll be hanging out on twitter co-hosting a live twitter viewing party for the special Halloween episodes of The Middle (based in Indiana! (filmed in California, but whatever! INDIANA!)) and Suburgatory (I’ve heard more than once that I remind people of Tessa.)

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So my grandma has cancer.

grandma

I got my blue eyes from her, Addie is named after her.

It’s weird to say, my grandma has cancer. I mean, cancer is really common and frankly she’s made it to almost 90 years old with nothing more than a bum knee and a bad eye. So to say “Grandma has cancer” is weird, because on one hand she’s lived for almost an entire century, it had to happen sometime. On the other hand, she’s lived for almost an entire century, why now? It’s bladder cancer and my mom has been keeping me updated on what’s going to be happening next, which is an ostomy. Turns out there’s a local company right here in Indy called Awestomy! and I’m going to see if they will make her a shirt that reads “Grandma’s got a brand new bag.” Because my grandma, she has a sense of humor. She also grew up in Oklahoma so the ‘Oklastoma!” shirt may be even more appropriate. Hallmark even has a whole bunch of funny “So, you have cancer?” cards and suddenly I find myself with someone to send them to.

She’s always been my more, well, frightening grandma. I can remember when I was Addie’s age my mom told me to ask my grandma to cut a grapefruit for me, I came up behind her in her chair and the thought of asking her to cut a grapefruit for me was terrifying so I decided I’d rather go without a grapefruit. She is a very no nonsense woman, a curmudgeon in the very best way.

my grandma and addie

You don’t mess with grandma, ever.

While I have always been a little frightened of her, she is also one of the most admirable women in my life. You see, she puts up with my grandpa and has for over 60 years. My grandpa turns 93 in a couple of weeks and while he’s still up and at ‘em, he’s getting older too. Alzheimer’s. I visited them last month while I was in California and in my time there he made toast, twice. When I talked to my grandma about her cancer she wasn’t so concerned about herself, she was more worried about who would take care of grandpa while she was busy kicking cancer’s trash.

Who knows how much toast he’d make if I weren’t here!

If I were cancer and looking for someone new, I sure as hell wouldn’t pick you.” I said.

Stopped in and surprised my grannies. Married 67 years.

She laughed. Even she knows you don’t mess with grandma.

Last year she had to put her foot down with my grandpa and tell him he could no longer work. He was getting lost on the way home, a home he has lived in for over 60 years. She confessed that having him home was exhausting but it was better for everyone that he wasn’t out on his own.

my grannies

If you ever get sick of him, you can always send him back to work and maybe he won’t find his way back!”

She laughed really hard.

I love making my grandma laugh because she doesn’t laugh at much.

my grandma and me

So my grandma has cancer. My mom is on the front lines caring for both my grandma and my grandpa, she told me last year it’s hard to watch your parents get old. My grandma is determined as hell to get better so she can take care of my grandpa (she was a career nurse, while I sometimes wonder if she instilled the same fear into her patients that she instilled into me as a child, there is no one better or more qualified to take care of my grandpa’s hundred little quirks.)

my grandma and me

Neither of them will live forever, and with how closely entwined their lives are and have been for the last half a century, the heart of one would never last long without the other. I’d like to think that if Cody and I make it to 67 years married and 90 years old we will be just like them. Fighting so hard, through cancer and Alzheimer’s, to stay together for as long as possible because we would each be lost without the other, even if we do drive each other nuts.

grannies

So my grandma has cancer. This is new territory for me. One one hand, my grandma has cancer, on the other hand? She is a fighter, not only for herself, but for the man she has loved for almost her entire life.

I took a yoga class at 6:30 in the morning on Saturday, which means I can feel every muscle that I’ve ignored for the past two years screaming that I’m a damn fool and I should probably do a lot more yoga a little more often. Add in the fact that I took the class in NYC the day after walking around the entire city and my hips basically feel like rock grinding on bone.

Don’t mind my grunting JFK airport! I just took my downward dogs a little too seriously on Saturday!

Before we talk about New York and how mad I am that anxiety messed with a good thing (my love and wonderment for the city) let’s finish up talking about Ohio. You know, that magically quiet and serene place I was in with my family this time last week?

As we drove through and over the mountains in Ohio I totally started to believe that we should cut all ties with society and move to a cabin in the woods. We would have horses, Cody would hunt and I would make bread from scratch. I would wear lots of plaid and have an impressive collection of work boots.

Then Cody said “I could never live out here.” and my little fantasy popped into a thousand tiny little splinters of dreams and wishes.

I said before that last Saturday will go down officially as one of the best days ever in Addie’s childhood and as a family. It started at 9 am with a trail ride up and through the mountains under golden leaves. I really need a horse. Could someone convince Cody of that? Our ride was at Spotted Horse Ranch and our cowboy guide was named Bob. (I think, I thought it was Buck, but regardless, he was charming and fantastic and everything you’d want from a man in wranglers, leading your horse.)

I'm (well, I was) on a horse!

Lunch was at Ridge Inn, this is where I aside and say that we didn’t eat at a single chain restaurant while in Ohio, everywhere we ate was small and local and wonderful. Ridge Inn was especially fantastic because of the donuts. We hung around an extra hour waiting for the second batch of the day. THEY WERE STILL WARM AS WE ATE THEM.

It was homemade and still warm. From Ridge Inn in Laurelville, Ohio.

Warm donuts.

More proof that life is very much worth living.

After the donuts we made our way to a KOA Campground (no, I will not spell it with a K) where we were promised gem mining at the Hocking Hills Gem Mine, this was what Addie had been looking forward to. We bought a big heavy bucket of dirt and sand and headed out to pan for treasures.

gem mining

gem mining score!

Addie and Cody finished the bucket off in no time and Addie was enamored with the “jewels and gems” she had found. Confession: I wanted to buy a bucket all to myself and find my own treasures. But there wasn’t time! We had a zipline to get to.

Our last scheduled stop was Hocking Hills Canopy Tours where the staff is pretty much the best staff in the entire world. Especially the guys that helped Addie with the zipline, she made fast friends with them and left them a positively glowing review on her comment card.

Dragonfly Zipline

Dragonfly Zipline

When asked “How would you rate your experience today?” and given an option of selecting 1 for ‘poor’ or 5 for ‘fantastic’ she wrote in 100 and circled it. When the survey asked her “What could we do better?” She wrote “Don’t ever make me get off.

comment card

The zipline is a course of bridges and lines that she was able to completely traverse on her own, her line was snapped in at all times so there was never any risk of her plunging to her death, kind of an important feature to mom and dad. Traversing the track   twice was included in the fee ($39.) The next trip was $10 and any trip after that was $5. We let her go 5 times, she would have done it until the sun had set and everyone had gone home if we would have let her.

Dragonfly Zipline

Ever since our trip to Chicago last summer I have told Addie that we’ll be going on an Addie/Mom trip for one weekend every summer. She chose New York for summer 2013 and as I began talking to her about last Wednesday she said “Mom? I don’t want to go to New York anymore. I want to go to Ohio again, okay?

vivi photobomb

Me too kid, me too.

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Disclosure: Lodging, activities and some meals were provided for my family while in Ohio.

Day One in Ohio.

Day Two in Ohio.

Addie loved Ohio.

Other restaurants we ate at while in Ohio:

Inn at Cedar Falls – Super cozy and romantic cabin atmosphere, while it wasn’t a place you would normally take kids, they accommodated them wonderfully with coloring books and a legit kids menu. Cody had swordfish and shitake risotto, it pretty much changed his life.

Millstone BBQ- Tasty, tasty (and tender) pulled pork and plenty of cornbread. Worth the stop if you enjoy BBQ.

Brass Ring Golf Course – Lovely setting overlooking a tree lined golf course, very kind wait staff and the most spectacular chocolate cake looking thing ever. Addie and Cody inhaled it so fast I never even had time to take a picture.

Olde Dutch Restaurant – This is the restaurant I will dream of when I am PMS-ing and in the mood to eat nothing but warm comfort food and carbs.

Today I prepare to leave for NYC for a Blogger Summit with Pfizer about getting old.

Truth is? I lived enough wild and crazy life in my teens that the granny inside me is begging to come out to bake cookies for her grandkids and give those super good warm squishy hugs that only grandmas can give.

Cody will be tagging along, and while he’ll be off doing his own thing (re: eating pizza and cheesecake) it means a lot to me to have him in New York with me. Twelve years ago he asked if I’d like come with him to New York and that was when I knew I was going to marry him.

In the meantime on Shutterlovely:

Teach your children well and don’t let them grow up to be those buttheads who crowd the luggage carousel.

Don’t poop in front of people, especially the ones you make whoopie with.

And over on Toddler Times:

Hiking with a toddler in tow, it’s not for sissies.

We took Vivi to the COSI museum in Columbus. She was a fan.

If we suddenly won a trip around the world (or say, New York?) We’d probably leave Vivi behind.

Cody got a fist bump in the mall for (supposedly) being there by himself with both girls.

9 things Vivi, Percy and Wink have in common. (#3 – BOXES ARE THE BEST)

UPS delivered the best toy ever, it had a dryer drum inside.

And finally, 10 little tasks you can complete while your toddler is in the tub.

(Remember, slideshows over at Babble are all new and improved and won’t make you want to punch a wall!)

And finally finally? This is maybe the third or fourth picture IN EXISTENCE that has all four of us in the same frame.

We're all in one picture! It's a miracle!

We’re pretty cute.