Life with an Old Dog

Our dog is old. Lucy is thirteen and to be honest – we are surprised that she is still with us. This time last year, we weren’t expecting her to survive through the spring. And this past summer, we figured that she’d be gone by Thanksgiving. A handful of months ago, we stopped all medical inventions beyond an anti-anxiety pill we give her when unfamiliar people stop by with the understanding that we’d know when the it’d be time to say goodbye.

Well – we think it’s time. Lucy isn’t the same. We know she is leaving us – we can see it in her eyes. And I’m not quite sure just how we’re supposed to say goodbye to a beloved family member who has been a constant through the deployments, separations, the birth of our children, multiple moves, and far too many moments of joy to count.

During our brief time as part of this world, there are many who are subjected to horribly unfair experiences such as outliving children, enduring unfathomable devastation at the hands of mother nature, or receiving a diagnosis with little hope. So writing about a life event that so many have faced multiple times – the death of a dog – may seem small and indulgent to some. But I can’t help it. Our dog – our wonderful, loving, sweet, and joyful dog is dying.

We’ve prepped our kids on the very real possibility that Lucy won’t be around at Christmas. They understand that Lucy is old and not herself. And as much as we love Lucy – we don’t particularly enjoy life with old and dying dog. We have some hard decisions to make in the next couple of weeks and I hope that we are strong enough to do what is best for Lucy and her quality of life. The past year has felt like we’ve been slowly ripping off a band-aid. And at some point, we are going to just have to pull it off.

When we adopted Lucy, we were in our first year of marriage. We welcomed her into our family knowing that we’d likely outlive her and would have to eventually say goodbye. Our time with her has been filled with profound joy and an embodiment of love that only a dog can provide. And as we prepare to say goodbye, it’s my hope that she understands just how much she is loved.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Cindy Lou Who

Happy November! We’re still riding high from our Halloween candy-induced coma. A sweet friend hosted dinner and drinks at her house and then we went trick-or-treating as a large group. I know I sound like a broken record when talking about our neighborhood but it really is a fantastic place to live and I recommend this little corner of northern Virginia to everyone wanting recommendations on where to live upon receiving orders to the national capital region. One of my favorite things that our little neighborhood school does is the book character parade on Halloween morning, which consists of the kids walking around the track while parents ooh and ahh while snapping photos and cheering them on.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Cindy Lou Who Costumes

The kids decided chose not to wear the costumes we purchased for trick-or-treating this year to the book character parade. Instead of trying to find a book that corresponded with a skeleton and a witch, they wanted to pick a character from their favorite books. And that is how we ended up with Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Cindy Lou Who from How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Cindy Lou Who Costume

For Cindy Lou Who, we sectioned off the top of her hair and used a toilet paper roll for height and braided her sides with pipe cleaners. She wore her Christmas dress from last year and the red capelet is the Christmas tree skirt for our small tree. I made the bow from ribbon that I found in one of our Christmas box. And then told her to cover her eyes as I sprayed enough hairspray to make Poison weep with jealously. Her costume was easy, fun, and free.


I am happy to report that her hair held up the entire day and the braids only fell out when using the monkey bars upside down on the playground after school. She absolutely loved being Cindy Lou Who and I couldn’t have picked a better character for her to be for the parade.

Greg Heffley costume Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Greg Heffley was another easy costume but not entirely free. I purchased the white T-shirt ($3 at Michaels) and the Hello My Name Is tags ($2 at CVS) but other than that, it was simple to throw together. We also sprayed his hair jet black but the blonde was peeking through almost immediately. The little guy absolutely loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney (it’s his favorite!) so there was no question as to who he’d be for the book character parade.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Cindy Lou Who costumes

I adore how their school allows children to dress up on Halloween and incorporates books into the event. Both costumes were comprised of stuff we had laying around the house and we had a lot of fun together working on the finishing touches the morning of the parade. It got me thinking about who I would dress up as in a book character parade…maybe Sarah Silvia Cynthia Stout or Mrs. Piggle Wiggle or Barney Northrup from The Westing Game. If you were in a book character parade, who would you dress up as?

How Not to Lose Your Mind During Summer Break {Guest Post}

Moving around as much as we do, I use social media to keep up with some of my favorite people I’ve met along this journey. I’ve ‘known’ Sheena since our Fort Drum days and I’ve enjoyed keeping in touch with her using the powers of the internet over the years. She writes over at Just Another Day in Paradise and I always appreciate her take on things. Keep reading to learn how she survives summer break with three kids at home.

When my oldest child was small, people truly used to tell me he was so well-behaved and charismatic that I should write a parenting book. I remember humbly saying “Well, we’ll see how the next one goes…” while (obviously) concocting a working title in my head. Then I had a girl (Insert an understanding “ohhhh” from all mothers of daughters out there) and believe it or not people stopped telling me that. When our girl was about 16 months old, I became pregnant with my third child because every woman wants to be pregnant five calendar years in a row, right? He is now two, and dearly beloved and so precious and spoiled – the way the baby of the family should be, but times were tough there for a while with a challenging toddler and a new baby, and then another challenging toddler, a new baby, and a pre-K’er. I am not ashamed to say that the sun has only recently come out from the behind the clouds of frustration and overwhelm for me.

Anyway, I told you all of that to tell you this:

I am a crazy person who smooshes her children in so close in age they practically share birthdays. I have exactly zero business passing out parenting advice because my older children LIVE to torment each other. But I do know a little something about life in the trenches of motherhood, and I have some tips that have kept me from absolutely losing my mother lovin’ marbles this summer (which starts in May here, by the way, so I’m an expert already) – my first summer after getting used to having two of three children out of the house for at least part of the day.


All The Popsicles –The rule at my house is that popsicles don’t get eaten inside. EVER. Can’t stand another minute of the fussing? Send them outside with an ice pop. They don’t care if it’s hot, they have popsicles! It’s raining? EVEN BETTER! Put on their rain slicker and galoshes first. Yeah, chemicals, sugar, blah, blah, blah.  Sanity is the name of the game, here. You can get back to wholesome meals at dinnertime. Or in an hour when they want another snack. And on that note…

Snack Trays – My kids are eating all the things. Someone recently told me just cut up some veggies and throw them on a plate and leave it on the table. My mind was blown. Produce has never gone faster at my house than when it just sits around begging to be snacked on. They think they won the lottery if I put some olives on there too. Tell them the platter has to be consumed by the time popsicle hour rolls around and watch it all fly.

Just Get Yo’Selves Out – This morning after we were all up at 5:45 (thanks to a leaky diaper), fed by 6:30, and desperate by 9 as it was already 92* outside, I loaded the kids in the car and we drove 35 minutes to the gourmet donut shop the next town over. They chose glazed donuts which had been frosted and topped with those rainbow tropical marshmallows and chocolate sauce. It gave me a toothache to look at it. Luckily, they all chose juice for their drinks because it’s important to make healthy, balanced choices in life. Whatever, man. It killed an hour of the day, and the kids thought they were getting the treat of their lives. Then we went to Target and they acted like absolute bats out of hell from ALL THE SUGAR, but everyone at Target in the middle of a weekday is a mom or grandma so no one batted an eye. Suddenly it was lunch time and since we were now an hour from home we had to go out again. We tried a new street taco place, and I let my oldest get a burrito that he’s “always wanted to try” that was honest to God the size of his thigh. I was impressed that he managed to put down half, and it felt good to both of us for me just to say “Yes!” to his request, rather than telling him to get a kids meal. It was loud in there so no one noticed the awfulness while we waited, and if they did I’m sure they thought “Man, summer is hard on Moms, I bet she wishes she could have a margarita with her lunch.” And they’d have been correct. But we all survived! And every summer field trip proves to be easier than the last.

Say Yes to Netflix – Turn on a movie you loved as a kid (although I speak from experience when I say the odds of them liking it are slim). Or turn on whatever crap show they’ve been begging to watch. A minutes peace so you can, say, write a guest blog post is more than worth it.  I’m all for carefully curated art projects and relevant documentaries, but just take a moment for yourself and let them watch the stupid show about stupid Lego Ninjas while the baby naps- they’ll be fine. Also, I feel compelled to share that my two oldest were watching a movie while I typed this out and they just turned it off and started playing together. So maybe marshmallow donuts are the answer here? I’m not saying I know all the answers, but hot damn if something didn’t fall in to place today!


Find a Bookstore – Set a budget and go in. Kids don’t see bookstores or libraries enough (but libraries = quiet and my crew just can’t manage that, and if you’re still reading by now, I’m guessing yours can’t either.) I don’t know anyone whose kids don’t go ape for new books. Sure, buying books in real life means they’re more expensive than on Amazon, but A) it’s hard to teach budgeting on Amazon, and B) instant gratification. And secret bonus C) SILENCE ON THE CAR RIDE HOME. Please imagine my emphasis here.

Take the Trip – My best friend lives near DC which is about 9 hours away from my home. Last year when she invited us to come up for a week that summer I was nervous, hesitant, excited and juuust desperate enough to do it though it meant a full day of driving without another adult to help. Staying with anyone for a week can be tough, so pick someone who is understanding and loves your kids, and whose children you also love. My friends kiddo and my own children have very different personalities and play styles, and sometimes get on each others nerves. But that’s part of life, right? Learning to interact with people different than yourself. And they’ve invited us back this summer despite having infant twins in their home now. And yes, we’re going. For the cost of a few tanks of gas, my kids get the memory of road tripping with a mom who wasn’t afraid to do things on her own, a glimpse at our nation’s capital, and hopefully, the travel bug. If you don’t have someone to visit, how about going to the zoo a few hours away instead of the one that’s local? Or even to the story/music time at a library that isn’t the one nearest to your house? Hey, if your kids are the craziest ones in the pack – you can just pick a different library next time!

Make a Mess – Go through the effort of doing something they like that makes a mess, even if you have to remind yourself that cleaning it up is a good way to kill a few more minutes before bedtime. We made cookies yesterday. I HATE baking, both because of the mess it makes and  because I am just not very precise. So my baking is usually… “off.” But you know what kids like? Baking. And you know who doesn’t care if the cookies are too crumbly? Kids. The good news for us is that we live on a military installation and always have a new neighbor nearby to bless with our sorta funky baked goods. Because you know who else doesn’t care if your cookies are too crumbly? New neighbors who feel welcomed and wanted. Can we get #messesmeanmemories to start trending? Maybe that will help me when I see my children and everything on my entire first floor coated in flour…


Happy Summer, friends! Here’s to hot coffee, crisp (or whatever adjective describes red – earthy? woody? icky?) wine, and keeping our collective marbles in their rightful place until bedtime! We’ve got this!

Lessons Learned From Coaching T-Ball

Back in January, I went to a local middle school gym to sign-up the kids for Little League. While both have played baseball in the past with YCMA and Parks & Rec leagues, this marked our first official experience with Little League – an organization that is synonymous wholesome Americana and considered by many to be a childhood rite of passage. In Arizona, I grew up playing Little League softball and as a result, I developed a lifelong love for the sport. During my later years in high school, it became obvious that despite being good – I wasn’t good enough to play at an elite college level. So after graduation, I transitioned to an intramural and fun-league softball player and still rather enjoy surprising people with a diving catch or a hit into center left.

So when a league coordinator at the Little League sign-ups pleaded for people to volunteer as T-Ball coaches, I felt a push that I needed to do it because I got so much out of my Little League experience growing up. This is a crazy season of our lives – Clay’s position takes him away a lot and with Violet playing T-ball and Weston playing baseball, I knew there’d be times I’d have to be in two places at once. But after the league coordinator assured me that the T-Ball head coach commitment was manageable, I filled-out the paperwork and agreed to coach my daugher’s T-Ball team.


The league undersold the commitment – beyond practices and games, there were mandatory manager meetings, field prep, and other events. It was difficult to coach Violet’s team and not feel like I wasn’t there for Weston. Clay was gone a lot but thankfully not too many games overlapped so I was able to see both kids play most of the time. Practices overlapped a lot and required me to be in two places at the same time – which is officially one of the my least favorite aspects of parenting. And when you’re the coach, it just adds an extra layer of stress. That being said – the 2018 spring season ended a few weeks ago and I can definitively say that I am thankful for the opportunity to coach Little League. And I learned a few things along the way.

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I learned that parents can make or break a team. Almost every parent associated with my team was willing to pitch in and help when needed, which is absolutely essential for a successful season. Additionally, I had fantastic assistant coaches who made my job easier because wrangling 12 four-to-six-year-olds can be absolutely exhausting.

I also learned that there are some intense coaches. Overall I had a good experience with the other T-ball coaches in the league. There were a few that perhaps aren’t suited for working with this age group and one in particular who made the game miserable due to his attitude and behavior toward the children, but I just reminded myself that there are bad seeds everywhere. It was painfully obvious that some were coaching in order to fill a void caused by broken major league dreams rather than to teach fundamentals to our next generation. Seeing that always bummed me out a bit.


And finally, I learned that it’s difficult to coach your own kid. Or at least my kid. Violet is a strong personality. She is also super affectionate and never hesitates to give me a hug – even if we’re in the middle of a game. She doesn’t like to hear “No!” and if she isn’t the best at something, she will convince herself that it isn’t worth doing. I learned a lot about my daughter this season. I also learned a lot about myself.

As the sidebar on this silly little blog states, children constantly remind me that I don’t know as much about the world as I think I do. My season as a T-ball coach certainly proved this to be true. I thoroughly enjoyed coaching and hope to do it again in the future. I hope that I helped foster an appreciate for a sport that I love and I hope that the kids learned a rule or two about the game. But most of all, I hope the kids had fun.