One Bigger Happier

While all the kids were together, we managed to squeeze in our second (hopefully) annual family photoshoot -- now with 50% more grandchildren and 100% fewer parents and at least 300% more chaos!

2011 Grandkids Easter

It's not a bad picture, but it's not great. It was much colder than it was last year when we tried this, and this was my first time attempting a quasi-sort-of-maybe-kind-of professional-ish shoot that involved posing an infant. I forgot to remember that getting the smallest of my models to look at the camera was going to be the EASY part. Shae's got something on her face and major hat-head and you can see the tags on the baby's blanket, but at least they're all not looking at the camera in approximately the same general direction.

By the time these kids are all in college, I should have this figured out.

Joey 2011 Easter

What we actually wanted to do, originally, was get all the kids to pose together with their assorted-colored bunny ears on. Um, yeah, I don't what particular kind of crack we were smoking when we came up with that harebrained (HA!) scheme, but we were at least able to get nice pictures of them individually with the ears on. Joey was the one I worried about, because he does not really strike me as a headband sort of guy, but we let him play with a rake while he had the ears on, and he gave us surprisingly little trouble.

Makayla 2011 Easter

I would like one of these in my Easter basket, please. Are not those cheeks so perfectly, delectably nommable? (What is it about babies that turns people into cannibals, anyway? It has been a very long time since I have seen a baby and DIDN'T think to myself, "That head looks gorgeous and melonious and DELICIOUS." Especially in my family, where we make babies with heads like perfectly ripe cantaloupes. I mean, look at this example -- I JUST CAN'T EVEN.)

Shae 2011 Easter

This is our fourth consecutive year with this particular pair of rabbit ears, and I for one will be terribly sad when they are handed off to the next "generation." These might be one of those things, like the sweater she was wearing the first day that we met her, that we keep in a special box in the bottom of her closet and never pass on, because they are so much a part of our family history. (Oh, hey, guess who has been working on a birthday movie for the last two days and feels really nostalgic and old today? THIS BLOGGER.)


Wide Open Spaces

The kids -- by which I mean Shae and Joey plus my sister and I -- spent a lot of time running around outside this weekend, even though it was not particularly warm and not particularly green. We still managed to have a good time, all things considered.

We Be Rollin'

Apparently rolling down the hill over and over and over again until your mother is just about ready to puke is the COOLEST. THING. EVER.


Climbing trees with your aunt is also apparently hella fun. (And it's not like your mother is going to do that with you -- what, and fall out and break your arm and die a horrible death like that guy in A Separate Peace? No thanks.)


Ditto, apparently, running wild in the streets like some kind of feral succulent wild child. Well, okay, running as "wildly" and as "ferally" and as "succutlently" as is possible with half a dozen adults around. You know, supervising.

Mickey Make Out

My daughter thinks that kissing someone on the cheek for a really long time -- like, two seconds, which IS practically an enternity in kid years -- is "making out." Let's not tell her otherwise until her father is 70, okay?

Drive My Car

Oh and we let the kids pretend to drive the car. That was probably the highlight of the entire weekend, and the one thing that they both wanted to do over and over again (except roll down the hill, which I DON'T EVEN).

It was so much fun, you guys. And I have like 900 more pictures to sort through yet!



I have about eleventy kajillion pictures from our weekend with the Brat Pack to sort through, but first let's talk about swimming class, because that happened at the very beginning of the weekend.

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I don't know what it is about this particular class, or this particular teacher, or what, but Shae is doing SO WELL this time around. She did fine last time, of course, but she is really working hard this time, doing everything Mr. Mike asks her to, trying to keep her listening ears on at all times.

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It's like she's decided that THIS IS IT, this is the big one, this is her last set of swimming lessons before the summer (because it is) and if she wants to be able to swim without the bubble at all, she's going to need to buckle down and learn some stuff, and boy howdy, she really is.

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Not that she doesn't take time out to have fun -- girls just want to have fun, after all -- but I am impressed with the dedication she's been showing this time around. She is really working hard at everything, and I feel so much more comfortable about the coming summer knowing that she really wants this.

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She's come such a long way since her very first swimming lesson, so long ago. In other news: she's going to be four years old in four more days. Where did my baby go?


Brat Pack

Sorry for the virtual radio silence over the last few days, both here and on Twitter, but I've been busy.

Brat Pack

I took about eleventy thousand pictures over the last three days (no, seriously, I took A LOT) while my sister and nephew were in town for the weekend, and I will be recapping the shenanigans in strenuous detail over the course of the week. (Also: these kids take GREAT pictures, even if I can't ever get the three of them to look at the camera or even look in the same general direction all at the same time. Even with bunny ears and other assorted props on my head.)

Um, after I finish making a birthday movie for Shae, and plan her birthday party and stuff. And probably somewhere between now and Friday, I should probably squeeze in some sleep or something.



Yesterday Shae came home from school as the winner of A Major Award. She had a most excellent day, being helpful and charming and on her best behavior for her teacher, and she got a little certificate that said "SUPER!" in big bright comic book letters.


It's pretty awesome, I have to admit. She was totally stoked about it, couldn't wait to show me her "fantastic prize" (her words, not mine), wanted to put it in a place of honor on the refrigerator. She loves the attention, the recognition, the affirmation. Who doesn't?


We've had a couple of bad days at school in the last few weeks, including Wednesday, which the teacher ranked as "four thumbs down," so was so proud when the teacher told us how hard she was trying to behave yesterday, to do the right thing, to make good choices. Certificate or no, I think this kid is pretty super.


Moving Right Along

Our winter swimming lessons continue. Shae is now officially, fully in the "Pike B" class, with a new teacher who is absolutely fantastic, and things are going, well, swimmingly.


She's in the "deep end" (3 feet, vs. the 1½ feet in the "shallow" section) full-time now, with some of the same kids who were in her class last time. This new instructor gives quizzes at the end of each class, and Shae would totally be blowing the curve, if they had one.


Where the last class seemed to be all fun all the time, for this session she seems to be a lot more focused. I already think she is going to be able to go without her bubble for most of the upcoming summer, but she is determined to make sure of it.


And she thinks that it's the coolest thing ever that the teaching assistant is on the swim team, because at the moment that seems to be Shae's biggest life goal. She really, really wants to be on the swim team someday. Her favorite part of class, I think, is watching the swim team practice in the other pool after we're all finished with her lessons.


I can't believe we've been doing this for nine weeks already, with only a handful left to go (five more classes, I think). I am really proud of how well she's doing, how seriously she is taking her lessons now that we're getting closer to summer. She is STOKED for outside swimming season to get here. (Me too.)


Work It, Girl!

I don't consider myself a stage parent, not really, although I do sometimes allow myself to entertain daydreams that Shae might someday get cast in a production of "Annie" or something -- a show that I myself auditioned for many years ago, when I was still young and cute and precocious enough to play one of the orphans and not old and bitter and miserable enough to play Miss Hannigan -- and sometimes I imagine that one of my Flickr photos will get "discovered" and Shae might be able to save up some extra money for college by becoming a local catalog model. I mean, she's a really pretty girl, and she wears her clothes well, even if (when left to her own devices) she does tend to accessorize everything with Crocs and silly bands.

Easter Dress

The problem is, this kid is maybe the world's absolute worst fashion model. For me, anyway. Admittedly, I am no Mario Testino or Annie Liebovitz, but you would think that I could get her to smile once in a while.

What. EVER!

Especially when she is wearing a very pretty dress that she loved trying on in the store. In front of those crappy-ass full-length discount store mirrors, under those god-awful fluorescent lights, when all I had was the cell phone camera that couldn't keep up with her, she twirled and spun and curtsied and grinned from ear to ear, her face lighting up like fireworks. At home, with natural lighting and a decent camera, it was like pulling teeth to get her to even stand up straight, let alone pose.

Too Cool For School

Well, okay, she "posed," but not in any of the ways I wanted her to. And there wasn't even anything good on TV at the time, just basketball.

Strike A Pose

I'll give her some credit -- at least she tried to smile. Sometimes. When she felt like humoring me. Which you can totally see in the gritted-teeth faces she makes.

Not Rose Queen

But it's pretty clear to me that we have a LOT of work to do if I ever want to successfully campaign for her to be the Queen of the Rose Parade.


Shamrock Shake

We're having a couple of exceptionally nice days right now, yesterday included, and when I saw the "menu" for Shae's St. Paddy's Day party at school, I figured she would like (and I could use) some running-around-outside time after dinner to burn off some of that sugar. (They had sandwiches made with cream cheese and mint jelly, green jello, brownies, scones, and "leprechaun" gold coins for lunch. Um. I gave myself diabetes just typing that all out.)

This Is Your Brain On Leprechaun Chocolate
Don't do drugs, kids. Or eat nothing but sugar on St. Patrick's Day.
(OH! They did have a vegetable -- celery. So there's that.)


Even though I hate Daylight Savings Time with the white-hot heat of eleventy suns, it was nice to be able to take advantage of the extra daylight. Nice thing about this time of year: you get about two hours of "magic hour," since the sun is still low in the sky yet.


Now if only I could figure out how to WORK THE DAMN CAMERA.

Starin' at the Sky

I am not sure how lying down on the neighbors' back sidewalk is immediately and directly related to searching for 4-leaf clovers and hunting for leprechauns, but I have not been four years old in a very long time, so I guess I just forget. No doubt this particular plan of attack made sense to her at the time.

... No Frickin' Idea

Or maybe not. I don't know. I JUST DON'T KNOW.

Close Encounters

Still and all, we had a nice little dinner -- ham, potatoes, green beans, and hot dogs, even though I prefer my traditional St. Patrick's Day meal of Lucky Charms and Shamrock Shakes -- and a nice time in the backyard. It almost -- but only ALMOST! -- made me want to get in some camping.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Shae looked adorable this morning in anticipation of the big party at school today ... so OF COURSE the camera battery was dead. Thank goodness for cell phones. Better pictures later, hopefully. We'll go outside and poke around among the clover, maybe find a few of the 4-leaved variety.

St. Paddy 2011

For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way --
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.

Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd duibh.
(Great health and every good blessing to you.)


Spring Training

My parents are headed to Florida for a little vacation this week -- they're going to see the Phillies at Spring Training. I am jealous, because it's gross and rainy today, and I can't wait for spring to officially arrive. Let's do this thing!


We had some nice weather over the weekend, and once you get a little taste, it's hard to go back to the dismal dampness that comes with the last vestiges of winter in the Northeast. Maybe there's no more snow in the forecast, but we still have the stubborn chill in the air. I'm over it.


Plus we had the time change on Sunday, and now that Shae has been outside and felt the sun on her face and the wind in her hair and she knows what fun there is to be had in that great big world out there, we're having a heckuva time getting her to go to bed while it's still light out. She's already figured out that once spring comes, it's only a little while until summer and swimming.

Silly Pants

And I have a pretty good idea of the general silliness that is coming soon. It was good practice, training for the exciting seasons that are coming up. She loves playing outside, running around in the grass, getting dirty, sprinting to the playground, racing to the swings and the slide.

Miss Face

Early spring has always been my favorite time of year, when everything turns that bright shade of green again, when the crocuses pop open, when the shoots and leaves that will turn into daffodils and tulips start appearing, when color comes back into the world. This jacket she's wearing was a Christmas present, and I love it, because it somehow represents all that I love about the time of year when she'll be wearing it.

I'm looking forward to another great spring and summer. For realsies ... let's do this thing!


Reply Hazy, Try Again

Sometimes I look at pictures of my daughter and I think -- or perhaps fear -- that I can see the future, or at least see visions of a version of a possible future.


I see traveling packs of skaters and boys with BMX bicycles riding up and down our street, doing live-action stupid human tricks, landing face-first in my rose bushes.


I see skinned knees and scabby elbows and numerous attempts to build a ramp in the backyard out of plywood and PVC piping and spray paint and glitter Hello Kitty stickers.

Danger Mouse

I see a raggedy 10-speed with a basket on the front filled with Pop Rocks and Coke and Cool Ranch Doritos and a cell phone filled with misspelled text messages.

Speed Demon

I see the next ten years flashing before my eyes like a trick of the light, her childhood evaporating in front of me like baseball cards disintegrating in the spokes after a good hard rain.

Sweet cracker sandwich, I am not ready for this. Can't she just stay three-and-three-quarters forever?


Who Could Ask For Anything More?

We had an anniversary this week that I didn't mention earlier, but I should have. Three years ago Monday, on March 7, 2008, Shae came to live with us. I can't believe it's been three years already, but it has, the three best years of my life. That kind of thing really ought to be commemorated, because once-in-a-lifetime things really do only happen once in a lifetime, and it does a whole lot of good, I think, to let the Universe know you have not forgotten. So, big ups, Universe! For this, at least.


It's been kind of a cruddy week, what with the earthquakes and the tsunamis and the thing in Wisconsin and the sinus infection and the rain and the water in the basement and all, but you know what? Right now, it's not so bad. It's Friday. I just ate a really delicious perfectly ripe banana. I'm having shrimp scampi for lunch. I'm probably not going to have to cook dinner. I've got daisies in green pastures. I've got my guy AND my girl -- who could ask for anything more?


Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

When they're not busy having crazy sugar-orgy Mardi Gras parties at school, all the cool kids will be spending today the way God intended:

Les Bon

Wearing Easter bunny ears and a sparkly pink princess pigtail holder, tromping around in their father's giant shoes. Of course. We'll be playing Louis Armstrong tunes all day. Bring your own jambalaya, and let the good times roll!


Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat

Saturday was Shae's last class for this session of swimming lessons. The big theme of this class was "boating safety" -- because hey, why not? -- which is evidently WSI code for "put on your life jacket and sit the hell down, jeez kids!"

Lifeboat to Disney World

They took all the kids in an inflatable boat for a lap around the whole pool, which the teachers called their "cruise around the world." Ever wonder where kids would go if they got to pick their own ports of call? Walt Disney World and Canada, apparently. I wish I hadn't been laughing so hard that I missed getting a picture of her "WTF?" face when they left "Canada" and her teacher said, "Bye Justin Bieber!" and Shae was all, "The hell?" I guess she doesn't know what the heck a "Justin Bieber" is either. (We're Little Monsters in our house. Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah, roma-roma-mah, Gaga-oh-la-la!)

Pretending to Be a Figurehead

Shae did great, even in spite of spending what she thought was her last swimming class not actually swimming, and in spite of the fact that the teacher wouldn't let her dog paddle her way back to Disney World. Apparently someone is impervious to the begging.

Picture Yourself in a Boat on a River

It actually looked like it was a lot of fun -- Shae is now asking for a life jacket for her birthday, which I find positively hilarious, because she's spent the last six weeks telling us how when my grandparents' pool opens up this summer, she's not going to need her bubble any more.

Shae with Miss Cat and Miss Amie

When we told her that she's going to take swimming lessons again, starting next week, she just about lost her mind. She is bound and determined to be the Queen of Pike B by the time all is said and done. In retrospect, I probably should have given her teachers a tip in the form of Valium and ear plugs.