You smell like a dirty hippie. But at least you showered.

I was asked by several people about the henna process. How does it work? How long does it last? Do you notice a difference in your hair? Texture, conditioning, curl? Is it worth while? Does it fade?

And every time I get a question my brain starts to go in a million directions and my poor thumbs have a hard time keeping up with it as I text out the process.

Let’s make it easier, friends. Let me tell you about it.

Please note, everyone has a different experience. But I can proudly say that now I can do a henna application in less than 5 minutes, start to finish. And when you see how messy it could be, the fact that I make nearly zero mess whatsoever, it’s really worth the time.

Why do people henna? That’s hard to say. I can say why I do. I was tired of my dirty dishwater blonde hair. Moreover, I was tired of putting chemicals in my already thin hear, leaving it broken, limp, and sad. I don’t do a lot with my hair. Truth be told, I pull it back more often than not, but just because I pull it back, does that mean the color has to be blah? I read about henna for a few years and finally, several months back, decided to bite the bullet and commit.

Henna is a commitment, guys. An honest to god commitment. Why? Because henna doesn’t invade the hair shaft like chemical dyes. It binds to the hair shaft. So if you decide that henna is not for you, you will have to google how to break those bonds. Read: a lot of chemicals.

Please know, henna, pure henna, will only turn your hair red. So if you buy it at some store and it says “chestnut brown henna” or “mahogony red” chances are it’s mixed with other items, and probably chemicals. Henna in its purest form turns hair red. One color. The color of red you get depends entirely on two things: natural hair color and frequency of hennaing. The more you henna, the darker it will end up, because the henna just adds on to the already binded-to-hair-shaft hair, thus creating a deeper color.

If you want brown or a reddish brown, you can mix in Indigo and get those results. I have never used that, or Cassia, so I won’t comment on how that works. Though I will someday probably go into using Cassia (because not only is it a fantastic name) but it will enhance blonde hair.

The benefits of henna are simple. It will strengthen your hair, condition your hair, and give you a beautiful color all without harming your body. It strengthens because it binds to the hair, as I previously mentioned. I have naturally thin hair. I have noticed a difference. Is my hair super thick now? Heck no. But it is improved and I have far less breakage.

The biggest question I get is usually: How long does it take?

Hennaing isn’t something you up and decide to do on a Saturday morning. You have to pre-plan. When you mix the henna, it has to release the dyes, which takes time. It can take anywhere from 4-10 hours. You know it’s ready when the henna goes from moss green to a solid brown, and when you put a drop on the palm of your hand, it rinses off, leaving a yellow stain. I get my henna only from because it’s tested, honest and super quality customer service.

What do you mix your henna with? I’ve hennaed my hair four times. The first time I mixed up far too much for my hair and used apple cider vinegar which smelled absolutely awful. Henna dyes release best when mixed with an acid. Lemon can be too drying, so that’s why I went with ACV. Never again, guys. Never again.

I’ve also used OJ. The smell wasn’t so awful then.

What I now use is a mixture of henna, nutmeg, cinnamon, hibiscus tea and amla (which acts as the acid, while improving hair tone and curl.) I have been satisfied with that mixture. The smell is tolerable, and I’ve been able to henna during the day.

That leads to the next part of the question, how long do you leave the henna in? It totally depends. I’ve left it in over night, for up to 10 hours. I’ve left it in for as little as four. My results have been the same.

Henna not only conditions the hair, but the scalp, too. It has anti fungal properties that can cure dandruff.

The last big question I get is, doesn’t your hair turn orange?

The answer is yes. Yes it does. Immediately after hennaing your hair, if you’re a natural blonde like me, your roots (or entire hair should you be a henna virgin) will be OMG WHAT DID I JUST DO orange.

But my hair ends up such a neat red, why? Science, baby! Henna takes three days to settle on what color it will end up being. It needs to oxidize. Like Mars. The red planet, people. It takes three days to do that.

So yes, immediately for the first 12 hours or so, you will have a coppery orange hue and it will make you question why you’d ever in a million years do that. Then it calms and deepens. In the beginning I used to henna at night. But henna is heavy and it made for awful sleeping. On top of that, when you rinse it in the morning, you have to suffer with the orange hair for a day. When I henna in an afternoon, rinse in the evening, then I only have to deal with the orange until I go to bed. I smell like a barnyard, yes, but it goes away once your hair is dry (mostly.) When you wake up, your hair will be a much more subtle ginger, and by the end of the day, it should be a red that you can tolerate. By day two, the hair should deepen, and by day three, you should be pleased.

Does henna fade?

Technically, yes. In four months. So you have one of two options, touch up the roots (because like me, blonde hair roots with red base hair looks awful) or do an all over henna. I just do all over henna because it’s easier.

How do I apply my henna? Super simple. I get disposable gloves, (a must!) my prepared henna, my henna towel (the one I use over and over,) a shower cap (I’ve heard garbage bags work,) and one of Matt’s old white undershirts. On damp hair, I take a glob, I put it on my head, I massage it in. I do that until all my hair is covered. Then I cover with the shower cap, and then create a cover with the old tee. Henna works best when warm, so the cover not only makes me feel not so ugly during the process, but it keeps the heat in.

But I hear it’s messy! Sure it can be! Anything can be. But if you make your henna a pudding like texture, not too thin, not too thick, you shouldn’t have any problems. Just lay an old towel on the floor and wipe up anything you spill quickly.

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Then you rinse. I call it the four phases of hennaing. First you start with the dead sexy cover. Then you uncover the even sexier shower cap. Then there’s the poo like mud. And you end up with a nice head of hair. (Note, my hair is wet in the last photo, so it’s darker.)

Here’s day two of this application:

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Tomorrow it’ll be a little darker. And brushed. Because I haven’t brushed my hair yet today. I’m lazy, so sue me.

The henna process isn’t for everyone. But if you want red hair, and you don’t want to ruin your hair or watch it go down the drain wash after wash, it’s really something to consider.

Something to take note, if you’re a person who uses shampoo, try not to shampoo for at least two days post henna, so that the oxidization can take full effect.

If you’re on the fence, look into doing henna glosses. It’s when you want a subtle color change and the conditioning effects. It’s kind of the way to dip your toes in the water before jumping all the way in. Also, the bonds are easier to break should you decide it’s not for you.


Happy hennaing!

The time of Claire

This past week it almost seems as I’ve completely forgotten I have three other kids, but yes, lately the spotlight has been on Claire. I like to think I’ve done a good job of keeping her level headed, but you can never tell when day after day the spotlight has been on her.

Last night Matt asked if her head was getting too big. She made a video of herself on the car ride home from being on the news, because I told her to document the moment and how she was feeling. She started it out by saying, “I raised all this money for the animals and it was soooooooo cool!”

After he saw the video, he said, “Shouldn’t she had said ‘we’?” and I defended her saying she was just excited.

But then I started to think.

Today I briefly mentioned it to Jess and the fear that people will think I’m pushing her to do these things and that it’s not a genuine want on her end. Along with that, I mentioned how I feel almost hypocritical for not teaching my kids enough of what the true meaning of what Easter is, but allowing them to believe in the Easter bunny. (Random, I know, but it all connects, I promise.)

There are reasons why I have Jess in my life. What she said to me today is reason number one why I love her so:

I get that. But, do you ever have to push Claire to do it? Do you ever force her? No, it’s something she wants to do. I think everyone who knows you and knows her knows that. And that is how we teach our kids morals and values.

Don’t beat yourself up. You are an awesome mom. And you’re not hypocritical. If you want to do something about Easter without being over religious, what about this? Tell them that Easter is about sacrifice to make things better for other people. I think that’s exactly what Claire is doing.

So that would mean that you are not in the least bit hypocritical. If anything, I think you’re more authentic than a lot of people who go to church every Sunday.

Hugs to Claire for me.

So instead of sitting here wondering if my kid is turning into an egomaniac, I just asked her.

Me: Do fundraise alone?
Claire: No.
Me: Who helps you?
Claire: My friends, my school, your friends….you.

She’s fine. She knows what the deal is. I tell her all the time that she’s a conduit for change. That she has to be the change, but it doesn’t stop with her.

So Sunday was the spinathon. When all was said and done, she raised 1233, but one of the guys who did ALL SEVEN HOURS of the spinathon is an ARL runner, therefore 200 of the funds raised is rightfully his for his donation page. When all that money gets factored in, she’s 15o dollars to the cent short of 2k. But KDKA basically said she’s on par to raise near what she did last year (4k!) Yah, no. But I feel bad that it’s not what’s actually happening.

Oh well. I’m still ridiculously proud, and I used to work for the newspaper. We tend to exaggerate all the time.

Monday she was on KDKA and WPXI. There’s still no link to it on the website that I’ve seen, but I did get to see it, and I was super proud.

Today she was in the Tribune (above) and I didn’t know that until the yoga instructor came up to me and said he saw Claire in the paper. “Section B, front page, big and in color!”\

Matt stopped and got three copies, one of which was left with her instructors at ATA. Claire was there late tonight because she had demo team try outs. What’s demo team? Basically it’s the best of the best (for each rank) demonstrating through a choreographed production. So imagine what Jackie Chan does in movies. All those stunts and stuff that’s choreographed? That’s a demo team, except they’re super good and well paid. This is a bunch of kids who give it their all and a whole lot of heart.

Claire thought trying out meant she could show up and break a few boards and look cute. I had to explain to her that, no, this is a big deal and she needs to show some effort. I told her that doing the first few moves of her form would be the best way to show her instructors that she has the capacity to learn and retain choreography. She didn’t think that was a great idea. I let it go. But today she came up to me and said, “I’m ready to learn,” and we took an hour running through it, over and over. AND with a smile.

Plus I now know her form, too. Give me a belt!

I had to teach at the gym, but Matt brought her and sent me video updates. When I saw her do her form, she didn’t make one mistake and she looked so confident. I was so proud.

She’ll find out next week if she made it.

Next week, I’m excited that it’ll be back to normal around here and all my kids get my equal attention. But in the past few days of fundraising and demo team practicing and media frenzies, I learned so much about one of my kids.

There are days when the kids are all in bed and I’m left to my own thoughts, and I think I don’t know them at all. Then days like the past few days happen and I’m so very thankful that I had the opportunity to know one of them just a little bit better.


I think it’s Luca’s turn.

Love, Claire

Are you ready? It’s time to wake up…

I’m going to be Wonder Woman today.

Yes. Yes you are. Let’s get ready.

Eight hours later we were at home and Claire was extra sensitive. She fell in love with a two month old kitten that she named Squiggles.

Squiggles got adopted.

Will Squiggles know I loved her? Will she know I cared?

Claire, it’s OK. She’s at her new home. You helped her find a new home.

I bet she’s running around right now. And finding her perfect spot in the sun.

When I was a kid, I wanted to save everything. The Earth, animals, people. I wanted to make sure that everything was happy. I spent hours reading about how I can fix the Earth, thought of countless ways I could help animals, and even things I could do to help my neighbor.

I was 12 or 13 when I volunteered at our local Humane Society. I cleaned the cages out, gated up the entrance so the healthy kitties could roam free and be out of a cage, if even for a few minutes.

I scrubbed down dog kennels, took them for walks, taught them how to sit.

So, when I told Claire about what I did, and how it made me happy, she of course had to do it, too.

I’m going to save the animals, mom. I’m going to save them all.

This isn’t new news to us. Claire’s done quite a bit for the Animal Rescue League of Pittsburgh in the past two years.

But yesterday I got to have my fun.

After hours and hours of time spent organizing and stressing, the big day came – the Spinathon.

Claire and I got to the gym a little after 7 and I immediately started running around setting up banners, donations, fans, and tables. Since I use the big group fitness room for the spinathon, that relocates the regularly scheduled classes elsewhere about the gym. Because of this, I made sure the other rooms were set up and ready, too. Yoga moved into the spin room, and if you’ve ever been in our spin room, it’s dark, cold and a bit musky. To show the members I was very sorry to displace them for a day, I swept the rooms – twice – and mopped. So while they downward dogged, they also got to smell lemons.

So let’s get down to it.

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Wonder Woman was in the house.

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Selfies were in the house.

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A lot of selfies.

We took a photo every hour. Since I taught the last three hours, obviously I had to have some fun with it.

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And the spinners were enthusiastic.

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Three spinners went for all seven hours. Ron, above and Sarah and Bill, below.

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They’re crazy.



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Again, Claire’s Taekwondo instructors came out to support her. Two years running. They’re so amazing.

Guys. It was so much fun. SO much fun. While sure, it was tiring, in the end, we raised just over 1200 dollars. There’s plenty of time to get your donations in to make Claire the top fundraiser (aside from the executive director!)

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So fun news. While typing this up, I got a call from the ARL asking if we could be there at 3 to meet some news crews.

WPXI (Channel 11,) KDKA (Channel 2) and the Tribune came out for interviews. So look for her tonight on the news! Then tomorrow (or later?) in the paper! She was also asked to be interviewed for WHIRL Magazine, the Post Gazette AND Valley News.

I’ll update more as I hear!

Busy is the word

So I woke up today and thought holy crap it’s the middle of April. This winter was a serious killer of time. I happily wished away day after day of sub zero temps and six inches of snow. No regrets.

Now here I sit in the quiet of my house while the two little ones nap and Claire and Luca dig in the dirt. It’s nearly 70 and the sun is shining and perhaps for the first time in a while I have a minute to myself to think.

Why have we been so busy? Let’s see. Take last week for example. On top of the classes I teach at the gym, Claire started her running club, I subbed two classes at the gym, Mae and Luca had soccer, Mae had dance, they all had taekwondo, and on top of THAT, they had to do an extra class if they wanted to be able to test today. So back to ATA we went. Today I subbed Body Pump at another gym, got home, quick changed and brought the kids to testing.


Claire is on her way towards transitioning into the youth classes, which will probably take place sometime after the new school year begins. This translates to more carting kids back and forth.

Luca got his orange headband and he was so confident today, I almost couldn’t believe that was my kid.

We celebrated with Oakmont Bakery because that’s the Pittsburgh way.

Matt’s training for the marathon that’s in a few weeks, I’m training for the half, which let me just say is hard to do when you’re already averaging 5 classes a week and have a husband training.

We have the spinathon for the ARL tomorrow. Claire’s big day, and she’s so excited. She’s spent the last week drawing elaborate thank yous. In fact, my dad sent a package of donations and her thank you consisted of a (now) three legged dog because a zombie ate one of the legs off and it is now a zombie-dog.


She’s still got time to fundraise, if you’re in the giving mood. The link is on the left. If you donate, maybe you, too, will get a zombie dog.

Audrey discovered she likes bubbles.

I partially dislocated my shoulder last weekend. That was fun. Monday I went to my chiropractor praying he’d be able to work magic. Guys. This is why you should never underestimate the importance of a chiropractor. He did some stretching thing, and pushing thing, and it hurt a lot, and then he adjusted it, taped it, and BOOM. Better. I was able to teach two Body Pump classes Wednesday pain free.

Let’s see. What else. My mom’s boyfriend came by to measure to install new French doors for the deck and basement. Hopefully sometime this century we will finish it. But for now, Jim will install the pretty doors and that will be a start.

Oh! I got my hair cut for the first time in nearly two years. haircut

I still henna it, and I’m absolutely in love with the color. I think I make a much better red head.

And now I’m off to go make some PB Chocolate chip bites for the Spinathon tomorrow. Think of me tomorrow around 4 o’clock when I’m laying on the couch, exhausted, and dreaming of the moment the pizza guy shows up with my dinner.

Who wants to be the kids will get to watch Frozen for the zillionth time?


What’s in a onesie?

It’s no surprise to anyone that I’m done having kids. Mentally, I’m tapped out. There’s only so much of me to go around and with four kids, most days I’m spread thin. While I know I could do it, should a fifth kid magically arrive, I don’t want to. That’s the difference. I can do a lot of things. Doesn’t mean I want to.

I have zero regrets, making that final decision to be done. None at all.

That said, I’m still allowed to be an emotional basket case when it comes to letting go.

I spent last week cleaning out the girls’ room and reorganizing, adding storage to their closet and bookcases. During that, I discovered a bag of 6-9 month clothes that needed to go up into the attic.

Then I thought, why? Why waste the time? A good friend of mine was going to be travelling back to our hometown for a baby shower, and figured why not unload all my baby girl clothes on her?

She happily accepted all the items I tossed at her (six bags, two boxes, a jumparoo, bumbo chair, mobile, crib toy and a manly diaper bag.) She’s set! It’s less junk in my house! Win, win!

Maybe it’s because I’m getting over a stomach virus, but when Matt brought down box after box of 0-6 month baby clothes, I got emotional.

(Just typing that last sentence is making me tear up.)

I have zero regrets. I’m glad I’m done. It’s that – my kids, the ones that I’ve bathed and dressed and helped them be who they are now - they grew too quickly. The time I had with them in their 3-6 month Penguins onesie was too short. The love onesie that Matt dressed Audrey in every Saturday I’d work, it went too fast. The mint green hippo onesie that my mom bought for Claire, the outfit she wore when we brought her home from the hospital, that memory is a blur.

I woke up this morning with a six year old Claire snuggled up next to me, and I thought, while she can’t fit into that onesie anymore, why should I give away that memory?

So after breakfast I went through those six bags of clothing and retrieved about 10 onesies that immediately made me weepy. Jen won’t miss those items when she sees how much other stuff she’s getting and I won’t feel regret giving away those memories.

It’s a common misconception that when women say they miss snugly little babies, they have baby fever, and want another baby. Maybe that’s true. But for me, it’s not that I want another baby, I just wanted the babies I already have to have stayed babies a little bit longer. You know the saying “The days are long but the years are short?” They’re not joking.

While I may have a zillion photos of my kids from all various stages of life, they’ll never be that tiny sleeping baby in the swing anymore. Every time I hold one of their hands, I think, how much longer do I have before that hand grows bigger? When Audrey crawls up to my leg and stands, I wonder, how much time is left before she never does that again.

You never know when the last time something happens until it’s done.

So today, I sat in the hallway and had myself a good cry and I set those onesies aside. Maybe I’ll turn them into a quilt or something, I don’t know. But what I do know is that over the years I’ve let go of a lot of things, I’m just not ready to let go of this yet.


And that’s OK.

By Accident

In our house, the phrase “By accident” happens a lot. For example:

Mae: I spilled the milk by accident.

Claire: I got permanent marker on my wall by accident.

Luca: I left my bike outside in the rain, by accident.

You get it. Basically it’s their cop out.

This morning, I fished a nickel out of Audrey’s mouth. When I asked the kids who left it on the floor, because it certainly wasn’t me (I never use cash. Sad, but true,) Mae and Luca both looked down at their knees and Luca responded with, “By accident.”

There are days when I’m so thankful I have a background in nursing. I swear, I think I would be a far less competent mother without it. Of course, I can handle any run of the mill scrape to the knee and a fall down the stairs, but once, there was a time when Luca choked on a grape. He came up to me, while I was sitting on the floor with Mae, and he was wide eyed, making absolutely no sound and was swinging his arms around.

Oh, and he was blue.

I quick grabbed him, flipped him over, smacked his back, and out popped the grape. He walked off as if nothing happened.

I sat there and tried not to sob.

Point being, if I hadn’t been through a code or two, I probably would have lost my shit and had freaked out until he passed out, then fished it out. Either way, he didn’t die, I stayed calm and that’s that.

Nurse power.

Not twenty minutes ago, Luca came downstairs from his quiet time early. I gave him the look that says, what are you doing, sir? He looked at his feet. It’s not like him to just come downstairs and not ask for something right away – be it a hug, snack or water. I asked him what he needed and he said, “A Lego got up my nose by accident.”

I took a quick look, didn’t see anything, but then again, it’s a nose and it’s dark, so when I pressed lightly, he said, “Ow!” and then began to whimper.

Calmly, I led him upstairs to my bathroom, sat on the counter and invited him to sit on my lap. I pulled his head back so it was resting on my chest and tweezed them out in a matter of seconds.

He asked for the Lego back, and after a quick rinse, he was on his way.

I think tonight I might need to drink some wine. By accident.

Earning it

A few months back, Luca saw a commercial for a Flashlight Friend and got it into his head that he needed one.

“But mom! I can use it to play Legos at night!”

I looked into it, and it got decent reviews. It even had a timer that would shut off after 10 minutes of use, making his claim to play Legos at night an OK one to me.

It, however, was 30 dollars.

I don’t know if I’m of the abnormal, but my kids don’t just get things bought for them. Birthdays, holidays and rare occasions when they’ve been really good. They have a lot of stuff. They don’t need more stuff.

I decided that if he wanted this Flashlight Friend he would need to earn it, one dollar at a time.

He agreed, even after I told him that any bad behavior would cause him to lose a dollar. So I got a piece of notebook paper and started to keep track of his dollars.

It took him almost 2 months and a lot of earned back dollars after having lost them, but he finally got it.

He learned the value of a dollar by vacuuming, watching Audrey while I showered, taking the recycle bin back after the truck came by, feeding the cats, making sure his room stays clean and other various jobs.

And more so, as time went on, he’d just start to vacuum on his own. Or say, “Mom! Come look! I cleaned the playroom all by myself!” and sure enough, it was spotless.

Claire wanted in on it, too. After all her chores and such were added up, she earned a Wonder Woman costume.

They immediately started thinking of what they wanted next. Things! They want things! Yah, no. No you don’t need things. I felt stuck, though. Because I had started something, and it was a great idea, teaching the kids the true value of money.

Then Claire had a private lesson at taekwondo with one of the chief instructors.

Totally worth the money, as you can see.

She had a great time, but let’s get real here. At 35 dollars a lesson for 30 minutes of his time, that adds up. But she learned so much, and how can you really put a price on that?

*Light bulb!

“Claire, do you want to have another private lesson?”


“OK! How about that be the next goal you save up for?”

She was sold. Of course, I had the conversation with her that things are just things, but knowledge and practice is paramount. She agreed, and I was off the hook.

That following week when the kids had class, Luca proudly marched up to Mr. Weston and announced, “I’m going to have a private lesson with you! I’m saving my dollars!”

Well, alrighty then! You go on with your bad self.

As of right now, he’s up to 10 dollars. I told him he only has to save 25 dollars, I’ll spot him the remaining 10. Same for Claire.

So today, after I taught Body Pump, I needed a shower. Bad. We all went upstairs and I gated up the stairs and asked Luca if he wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on Audrey for me. (Otherwise I just plunk her in her crib with books.) He enthusiastically said yes. Win.

When I came out, he and Audrey were sitting on the floor in the hallway surrounded by 20 matchbox cars, sucking their thumbs and having adorable conversations (and babbles) about the cars.

Now he’s up to 11 dollars.

Mae is earning dollars, too. Though, hers are infrequent and kind of funny. For example, the other day she shared part of her Oakmont Bakery cookie with Audrey. I didn’t ask her to, she just did.

Boom, dollar earned.

One thing I’ve never really been good at is money management. I’m getting better and trying my hardest, but stores like Target darn near kill me. But when I stopped to think about how I’m not letting my kids buy things they don’t need, why do I get to do the same thing? I’ve done the same thing with eating. I don’t let them have treats until at the end of the day, some days. Not every day. Why do I get to binge eat all the junk? I have to lead by example, but truth is, my kids are teaching me what’s right. Go figure.

Along with teaching the kids the honest meaning of money and where it can or should go towards, Claire was one of three people featured in an article in the Post Gazette yesterday. Today she’s proudly parading around school with the physical copy from the newspaper. She was so excited to see her photo in print, she was so proud. And why shouldn’t she be? She’s earned it.

Right now, her closet is filling slowly with items people have given her for donation. Her wishlist is here.

Her money fundraiser is here. She’s so happy she’s on the first page. Right now she’s in 8th place for being a top fundraiser. She loves that she’s on that first page.

Go, Claire!

You had one job

While I got the kids ready for naps, Matt sayed downstairs watching the Pitt game with Audrey, because she had already napped. As I’m running around dealing with one emotional kid after the other, I hear Matt cheering, and I smile to myself because he deserves to watch the game after the week he had.

After getting Mae’s face washed, I turn to see Audrey at the second to last stair at the top, beaming with pride.

No, Matt behind her.

I shout, “Matthew!” and I hear him jump to his feet, then shakes his head at the bottom of the stairs, grabs Audrey and puts the gate up.

When I came downstairs, he said, “I asked Audrey why she got me in trouble, but she’s not answering me.”

22 things I will do when the weather doesn’t suck

I’ve done my best not to complain. I really have. But it’s nearly the end of March and I think I have legit Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’m so desperate for a day where the sun shines AND the temps are above 50 so badly that today the kids and I took a walk through the neighborhood, with clouds, wind and a temp of 49. We are beyond having cabin fever, here.

You know how you feel when you clean your entire house, top to bottom, but turn around to find the dog took a feather pillow and ripped it up and your house is now swimming with feathers?

That’s me vs Old Man Winter. He just doesn’t know when to die.

So instead of complaining,  I’m going to make a list of the things I can’t wait to do when it’s warm. Like for real warm.

1. Wear sandles without getting snow in them.
2. Climb the tree in the front yard.
3. Remember what it feels like to be outside AND feel your fingers at the same time.
4. Go for a run. A really, really long run.
5. Maybe, just once, I won’t have to scream, “Why don’t you have socks on with your shoes?!”
6. Or, “What in the world were you thinking when you went barefoot into the snow?!”
7. OR! “Seriously? You think it’s OK to leave the front door open? It’s negative 20.”
8. I’ll let Audrey go outside. And watch her face simultaneously say “ZOMG,” and “WTF is this?” It’s grass, dear.
9. Drive without thinking Black ice. It’s everywhere.
10. Remember what the sunroof is for.
11. Play Sudoku on the deck when the kids nap/have quiet time.
12. Do a fist bump for freedom! Yes, I’ll leave my house and go somewhere aside from the gym, Target or Trader Joe’s.
13. I will NOT say, “Hurry up guys! Get in the car! Quick! I can’t feel my face!”
14. All the winter coats will quickly find their new home in the attic with the stink bugs.
15. I will learn how to grill a pizza.
16. When I first say, “It’s too hot out here!” I need to close my fingers in the car door or something.
17. I’m going to try on all my shorts and be proud that they still fit.
18. I’ll finally go to the West End Overlook. I’ve lived here 11 years and still have never gone.
19. I’ll take the kids up Mount Washington.
20. I will reinstate our North Shore walks.
21. We will have lunch with Matt at PPG Place and the fountains.
22. I will sit on the front stoop, drink a beer and revel in the fact that I made it through one of the hardest winters I have ever experienced since having kids and enjoy watching them bike around the cul de sac until it’s too dark to see anymore. And then we will look at the stars.

Guys. I hate pulling the mom of many card, but this winter sucked. It was too cold or snowy to do anything. And the last thing I wanted to do was go to the mall playground or even the Science Center because just the mere act of carrying the kids out in the cold was painful. I am not wishing time away, but if it was 60 degrees tomorrow, I sure as hell wouldn’t complain. It’s hard. So hard. Then you throw restless kids in the mix and you begin to thank god for things like DVD players, Legos and the Innotab. If I had a dollar for every time I said, “Mom is so over this. Go entertain yourselves,” I’d be rich.

Next time they threaten a winter like this one, I’m moving south. Look out, Jess. Your sister wife is moving in.

Dear Sister


I had the bed next to the stairwell. Yours was on the other wall near the window. For some reason or another, we always had sleepovers in my bed, and when we tried to be sneaky, because we were still up past bedtime, Mom would hear us.


We’d giggle and quick hide our heads under the sheets. Yes, of course, we’d magically go to sleep with that warning.


Since we lived in Brooklyn Park, MN, we played the game kitty. Remember that?

I’ll give you this much food, and this much water. But that’s it.

Hours. Hours we played that game. It was so pointless, and there was no way to win, but night after night we’d play that game.


Anytime I look back in my brain and think of happy childhood moments, you’re in the memories. I remember playing in giant snow banks in Coon Rapids with you, missing gloves and my fingers throbbing from cold, but not wanting to go inside. The time I fell off my bike three blocks from home at Clarion University’s stadium and telling me to take a ride with those two college girls, because that’s totally safe. Stuffing things down Grandma’s laundry chute and having Grandma stick her head in the other chute to yell at us to stop. Climbing the apple trees in the back yard. Listening to the Cranberries and singing really bad karaoke in Plymouth. Crank calling people in Clarion asking if Gladys is home. Taking the tarps off the high jump mats and then hiding under them when security saw us. Breaking into the press box at the stadium. That time we invited our boyfriends over when Mom was out of town and we left the GIANT FRONT ROOM WINDOW wide open and was caught by one of our many watchful neighbors.


You were there for me for every major milestone. You’ve been patient with me for every single freak out. You pushed me to be brave when I didn’t want to be. A lot of who I am is because of you.


We moved a lot. And a lot of times we had to make new friends and learn new rules and discover new neighborhoods.


But because of you, every place we went to, it was home.

Today is your birthday.

Happy birthday.




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