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I need to get this off my chest:

1. I ate all the Reeses out of Madeline’s halloween basket.  IN MY DEFENSE, there were only two.  And she’s only two; she’ll never miss them.

2. I spent 25 minutes this morning trying to figure out a way to wear my sweatpants that didn’t make me look like a bum.  (I’m trying really hard to break this “stay-at-home-mom” stereotype.  I wear makeup when I leave the house  and I refuse to discuss my child’s bodily functions with the world.  Yes, I did just link to that bad boy.)  Anyway, this morning I was on my second cup of coffee and the wind was blowing magically and the perfectly-selected music was so intoxicating that I decided it was time to get out of the house.

Problem:  this means that in order to stick to my guns, I have to change out of my (Dan’s) sweatpants.

Optimistically (delusionally) I thought, “Maybe I can dress the rest of me up enough that it will be cute.  You know, like I’m busy and productive and casual, but I’ve still clearly ‘got it.’”  (Never mind that I haven’t washed my hair in 3 days.  There is only so much dressing up that can be done with unkempt hair and giant grey sweatpants.)

I put on my favorite long-sleeve black Ann Taylor shirt.  Eh, not quite.  I tried a cute headband.  Turns out it did not hide the left-over hairsprayed, matted curls like I was hoping.  I pulled it back.  Better.  I added little earrings.  Hmmm, maybe it’s the black circles under my eyes that are giving me away.  I slapped on some makeup.

I stepped back to take a look.  Oh. My. Word.  TOTALLY RIDICULOUS.  I looked like someone working from home on a conference call.  Chic business on top, superman undies and bedroom slippers on the bottom.   I’m regressing here.

Begrudgingly, I changed out of the sweatpants.  Did I mention that I was just walking across the yard to the church?  To let Madeline play in the nursery?  Alone?

Call me vain or stubborn or whatever.  I’m standing on principle.

3.  So here I sit, all trussed up at the church, sitting in a tiny preschool-sized chair with my knees up to my ears, eating a bag of Doritos and blogging instead of writing what I’m supposed to be writing.  I think I’m perpetuating the stereotype more than breaking it.  I may go change back into my sweatpants.

Whew.  Confession is good for the soul.


I love Halloween.  In fact, I love pretty much anything that warrants decorations, Kit-Kats, and giant, glittery false eyelashes (oh yes I did).

Last weekend we organized a big fall festival for our community (which added a sizable amount of stress to my life).  But you know what makes it all better?  Cutie Madeline in a tu-tu.  Here are videos of each, respectively.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

I sincerely hope your weekend was as much fun as ours was.  Also, I will trade you all my candy for all your Kit-Kats.


Me:  Madeline, what’s the magic word?

Madeline:  Open sesame.

Me:  No.

Madeline:  Skidamarink.

Me: No.

Madeline:  Abre.

Me:  No, Dora, not abre.

Madeline:  I can’t say the magic word because I don’t have a mouth.

Logic extraordinaire.  Two is a fun age.

Serious Thoughts On The World Series

Last night I was watching the first game in the World Series with Dan, and something was bothering me.

Every time they showed the Giants pitcher, Tim Lincecum, I thought, “WHERE have I seen that man before?”

The news?  No.

SportsCenter?  No.

Commercial?  No.

Fathead?  No.

And then it hit me:

Just wait, it gets worse…

Ahhh!!!  Do you be-lieve in life after love?  (After love, after love, after love…)

(I’ve decided side-by-side look-alikes are my new favorite thing.  I still chuckle over Dan/The Unabomber.)

So have I completely ruined the World Series for you?  Or MADE it?

Well, Tim, if the baseball thing doesn’t work out, it’s safe to say you could have a future in the entertainment industry.  You know, I think you could really pull this off!

Just kidding; I mean no disrespect, Tim.  You’re a class act.  Don’t quit your day job.

**As I am married to a serious sports fan, you can expect more serious sports thoughts to come.  I will dazzle you with my depth of insight into the sports world.**

And in defense of Tim Lincecum:


It Was A Dark and Stormy Night…

It has come to my attention that when we were considering moving to North Alabama, nobody thought it was worth mentioning that this area is known for “inclement weather.”

We moved to South Huntsville on January 15th.  Here are some images from the storm in Huntsville on January 21, just 6 days later.

It’s all over youtube, too.

We had our FIRST sunny day three weeks after we moved.  I searched Google, Wikipedia, The Farmers Almanac, etc. to see if we’d unwittingly moved into some little-known black hole/armpit of the United States.  There is no data on record under “armpit,”  but “tornado alley” dredged up some interesting information.

Hey look!  That's where we live!
Hey look! That's where we live!

Our house is in the red on both maps.  I assumed we’d be fine since we weren’t moving to Oklahoma or Kansas – which serves me right for using Twister as an authoritative source on tornado information.  And maybe if I lived in Kansas I’d have a storm shelter, or at least a basement.

We’ve spent a few solid hours in the hallway this year, sitting under a mattress and listening to the sirens.

And sometimes, when they test the sirens at 8:30am, I wake up in a panic, and get totally disoriented because birds are chirping and sunlight is streaming through the window. Woah.  Am I dreaming?  Twilight zone?  Purgatory?  Sirens FOREVER???  (And yes, sometimes I wake up after 8:30am.  Don’t judge me.)

The whole scenario reminds me of my roommate in college, who, every single time the fire alarm went off, woke up and walked in frantic circles around the room like a confused puppy.  Then she would put on her bathrobe like a magical security blanket, and I could actually, physically see her sanity returning to her.  Like it was floating down, down from wherever dreams are and it finally landed on her head. Her eyes lit up and she knew where she was in time and space again – and she remembered the protocol.  By the end of the year we developed a system to help her get from dreamland to helpful RA partner more efficiently:

*Alarm!  Alarm!  Alarm!  Alarm!*

Kate: “Elisha! Don’t hit your head on the bunk.  It’s the fire alarm.”

Elisha rolls out of bed and walks in three circles.


Elisha puts on her robe and looks to me for further instruction.

Kate:  ”Now grab the paperwork and your keys.”

Elisha blinks.

Kate:  ”They’re on your desk.”

At this point we burst into laughter, Elisha gets her game face on, and finishes clearing her side of the hall in record time.  Sigh, I miss her.

Dan is usually at work by the time I find myself running in circles listening to tornado sirens – so we have no such system.

I digress.

Today was a tornado day.  ALL. DAY. LONG.

Our mailman informed me around 11 this morning that the schools were letting out early because of the weather.  The weather?  You mean the blue skies and wispy clouds?  Is the 80 degree weather too harsh, the sun too blistering?  But I turned on the weather channel and sure enough – a giant red arc of nastiness was headed our way.

Fast forward one hour:  Dan is home from work, sirens are blaring, I’m trying to lug our giant, saggy mattress into the hallway by myself (failing miserably), and Madeline is holding an angry Jasper by the haunches and yelling at him, “WE HAVE TO STAY IN THE HALLWAY, JASPER!”

It was cacophany.  Sirens, on top of the weather channel (loud enough for us to hear it from the hallway), on top of cats moaning, on top of “mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy,” on top of thunder, and rain, and the BLAME WIND CHIME which was screaming as it hung on for dear life.

The weather radar looked like a minefield – red dots every 30 miles.  By the time one storm cell passed another was upon us.  The soundtrack to our afternoon was a meteorologist (with a terribly abrasive voice, like Gilbert Gottfried, but taken down a few notches) talking about “wall clouds,” and “hooks in the system,” and “rotation,” and “tornadic winds.”

There were probably 6 storms with “tornadic winds” that blew by us on all sides.  Two came right through our little town, one crossed over our intersection.  As in VISIBLE FROM MY HOUSE.  My stress pimples and canker sores will be arriving first thing tomorrow morning.  Score.

So.  HOW, you might ask, do you get a two-year-old to sit in a hallway under a mattress for an entire afternoon/evening?

1.  In my experience you would start with the “we’re in a fort” thing.  This works until the child realizes he/she is not allowed to leave the fort.

2.  Then books.  Books work for about 30 minutes, give or take, depending on the nerdiness of your child.

3.  Then sunflower seeds, which works until your zealous child grabs a fistful of SHELLS and shoves them in his/her mouth. (I promise we feed her.)

4.  Then bribery with M&Ms.

5.  Then a blue Ring Pop from Grandmommy.  (I promise we feed her real food.)

6.  Then whatever you can reach by cracking open the bathroom door and fishing around.  In my case, bath toys and a tampon.


By 6:30 all of our warnings and watches had expired and all that was left was a measly wind advisory.  We are happy to report that there is no serious damage.

No immediate, physical damage I should say – because there’s no telling what might happen to me in my sleepy stupor the next time they test the sirens at 8:00 in the morning.

Here are some viewer pictures from our local news station.

We live at the bottom of that mountain, you know, where the funnel is dropping.
We live at the bottom of that mountain, you know, where the funnel is dropping.
Over the Tennessee river.  We drive this bridge daily.
Over the Tennessee river. We drive this bridge daily.
Tornado self-portrait.
Tornado self-portrait.

Dear Monday

Today, I will be making the most of “My Day!”  I recognize that that’s almost too cheery to handle, but I LOVE a good play on words.  And it’s really overcast and damp here, and I was woken up at 3:00 this morning by TORNADO SIRENS, so I’ll take all the cheer I can get.  (And you should probably add thxthxthx to the list of sites you check daily.)  Here are some faves:

Delightful.  Happy Monday, friends.

Mama Bear

She is awesome.
She is awesome.

I love the term Mama Bear.  Like – I would be offended IN NO WAY if people started calling me that from now on.

Aw, Mama Bear.  It sounds so nurturing  and snuggly (I mean besides the big teeth and temper). And overweight in the sweet and wise way, not the frumpy, sweaty way.  Don’t you think?  Mama Bear perfectly describes a “natural” mother, someone to whom it comes easy (if there is such a thing as motherhood coming easy).  I’ve even known some Mama Bears that weren’t mothers, biologically speaking.   I just think that Mama Bears always know the right thing to say, when to hug and when to scold.  When to stand up and fight, and when to offer baked goods.

I like how matronly it sounds.  HOLD THE PHONE.  Did I just use the word matronly in a positive way?   Quick, someone come slap on my high heels and take me dancing.

Seriously though, I love Mama Bear.  I want to be a Mama Bear (unless it means I have to cook more often, in which case, nevermind).  I get warm fuzzies when I think about slapping on band-aids and kissing wounds, a pile of children in my lap reading stories, wiping faces on the way out the door, and humming old hymns and spirituals to myself as I put away the dishes.  (Somewhere, a feminist just died.  And did I just say “spirituals?”)

“Mama Bear” conjures up all sorts of delightful images of fresh cookies and such, but there’s another side to the coin.

There is a ferociousness about a Mama Bear that I love as much as the softness.  On the list of creatures I never want to meet in a dark alley, a mama bear is near the top (near man-eating sharks, snakes not in cages, and giant rabid dogs).

It’s the mother-love that makes them crazy.  Mother-love is crazy.  It is seated deep in your gut, and it is ferocious, and wild, and it sometimes takes your breath away.  My mother-love is not greater than my love for Dan or for Jesus, but it is unique in the feeling that I might drown in it.  Like I would turn inside out if something were to happen to Madeline.  I would turn inside out and howl.  My heart would not survive.  Mother-love is crazy.

I channeled a little bit of Mama Bear today – both sides.

We had a set-back, well, not really a set-back, just a disappointment, in our quest to find an appropriate schooling option for Madeline.  She is too high-functioning to fit into the special needs preschool here, but to date we haven’t been offered “enough” vision services to warrant inclusion (a regular classroom setting, with typically functioning kids).   She wouldn’t get the help she needs either place; both would hinder her in a different way.

And so I was inside out for a while today; I am still inside out, intermittently.  I cried a lot and I played Mama Bear.  On one hand I nurtured:  I baked with Madeline, I took her to the library, I snuggled and tickled and indulged her all day long.  We played all her favorite games and read a hundred books.  And on the other hand, I called my mom and bared my teeth.  I vented, I cried, and I spent Madeline’s nap time ordering books about negotiating with the school district (graciously), reviewing my Braille, and making phone calls.  Fighting for my child, so she can get what she needs, even if it’s inconvenient, or out-of-the-box, or just hard.  Did I mention the crying?

At one point, Madeline looked up at me and asked, “Are you happy crying?”

“Yes,” I told her, “because you are special and I love you so much.”

“Oh.” She crawled up in my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed, “Awww, it’s okay Mommy.”  Then she started patting my back with her tiny hand, because everyone always pats her back when they hug her. “Awww, Mommy.  I love you.”

Confession:  this evening, I tried to self-medicate with Disney movies, obsessive email checking, making casseroles I had no intention of eating, and pouring enormous glasses of Diet Coke (days like today I’m glad I don’t drink) – thank goodness I didn’t make it to the thrift store.  Can you imagine?

And then I prayed.  WHY does it take me so long to pray?  I’d been sending up distracted, auto-pilot prayers all day,which I believe in.  I want to talk to Jesus enough that there’s an auto-pilot mode at all.  And God hears knee-jerk prayers certainly, and answers them often, and He loves me no matter how (or if) I pray.  But distracted, auto-pilot prayers are a poor replacement for quieting my racing mind and raging heart, and acknowledging slowly, sincerely, in the silence:

“You reign.  You are no less on the throne now than you were yesterday, or when Madeline was born, or before creation.  And you are no less good.”


“You love Madeline more than I do (unfathomable), You’ve given us everything we need so far, and You reign.”

“Great is Thy faithfulness O God, my Father
There is not shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
As Thou hast been Thou forever will be.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

We’re Aliiiiiive!


1.  My orchid is still alive. (Which reminds me I should feed it this week…)  In a moment of idealistic zeal, I almost bought mums at the store this week, but as I neared the table I could hear their teeny high-pitched voices crying, “Please, don’t kill us!”   Thank you, mums, for the reality check.  No mums were harmed in the making of this post.

Hardy sucker.
Hardy sucker.

2. We still have Sadie.  She is unreasonably cute.

She needs a home!  (The giant, downy, grey tiger is mine.)
She needs a home! (The giant, downy, grey tiger is mine.)

3. Remember the puzzle?  I stayed up late a few nights last week working on it.  Somewhere around midnight I realized – “Hey, I bet this would be easier with better light!”, so I started dragging lamps from all corners of the house.  YEAH, because lighting is my problem.

Here are some things overheard at the puzzle table this week:

“It looks like it should fit, but it doesn’t.  Like Pangea.”

“This puzzle might be good for the spatial reasoning part of my brain, but it’s reduced my vocabulary to mostly art terms and 4-letter words.”  ie: “No!  It needs to be more chartreuse-y and with a (mental expletive) VERTICAL brush stroke!”

Kate:  ”I GOT ONE!  Finding one piece tides me over for at least another half an hour of looking.”
Dan:  ”At this rate you’ll be done in six months….If you work on it 40 hours a week.”
Kate:  ”Okay Captain DreamCrusher, you’re excused from the table.”

Dan: (ever the supportive husband) It’s like 2,000 tiny victories!
…an hour later…
Dan: It’s like 2,000 tiny defeats.

Here’s where we stand now:

Happy yellow wall, check.  Now onto the dark, soul-killing abyss.
Happy yellow wall, check. Now onto the dark, soul-killing abyss.

I’m so proud that sometimes I walk into the dining room and just run my hands over the pieces and it feels magical.  My progress was energizing me and spurring me on – that is until I realized that I’d completed all the cheery colors, and the next 3 years of my life will be spent matching depressing, insane Van Gogh blacks and browns and blues.

I no longer judge people who frame puzzles and hang them in their homes.  I think this one will look nice in our yellow play room.  Don’t you?

Story Time

Madeline:  Mommy, now it’s my turn to tell YOU a story.

Me:  Okay

Madeline:  Once upon a time, there was a little girl named….Hope.  And HOOooope, she went on the playground and slid down the slide and pricked herself on the mulch.  And then she went in the road and got hitted by a car.  Then my Daddy came and saved her.  He picked her up and kissed her and she was all better.  Then they went to a safe library where there are no cars, and she walked and held his hand, because they were in the parking lot and there are cars in the parking lot.  Then they got an Elmo video and played with the Dora dominoes.  Then they found a kitty, and she was sleeping.   THE END.

Me: …

(I think we’ve instilled a healthy fear of traffic.)

What Was I Smoking?

I do not know what came over me yesterday.  I was putting away some toys in the play room, I innocently opened a drawer where we keep some games and lo!  There it was!  A PUZZLE.

My pulse quickened.  I thought, “You are no match for me, puzzle.  I will put you together with skill! It will be good for my brain – fending off Alzheimer’s and all that.  And it will be a  relaxing way to spend my afternoons this week.   Game on.

Mind you, I haven’t put together a puzzle in a zillion years.  I think the last time was a few Thanksgivings ago at my grandparents house – and that was a Snow White Movie Poster puzzle with my six-year-old cousin.  But we finished it in like 20 minutes, so CLEARLY I have a gift.

Inspired, I spread out my puzzle mat on the kitchen table (yes, I have a puzzle mat because I am cool like that), ripped open the box and dumped all two thousand pieces in a giant heap.

When I realized that there was not enough room on the kitchen table to flip all the pieces over, that they were, in fact, two and three LAYERS deep, I experienced a bit of buyers/puzzlers remorse.  My fingers felt totally arthritic by the time I flipped over all the pieces.  I skipped lunch and instead ate mindlessly out of a tin of pecans as I mined for “edge pieces.”

Somewhere during the mining process I realized that all the pieces looked the same: same color, same texture.  A word of advice:  If you foolhardily decide to do a puzzle on a whim, don’t choose a 2,000 piece picture of a Van Gogh painting, as all the pieces are random swirls of color that resemble NOTHIING.

I began to understand that in order to complete this puzzle I was going to have to pick up a piece and systematically try inserting it into all 1,999 other pieces until I found it’s buddy- there is no other way.

I spent the better part of the afternoon hunched over the table, raking through the pieces with my hands, and defending the dining room from inquisitive cats (able to leap tables and destroy puzzles in a single bound) and grabby toddlers (able to ingest  six pieces in the blink of an eye).

This is how it looks at the end of Day 1.

(That little patch of green and black “tree”swirl on the top left took me like an hour and a half…)

What was I smoking?