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“. . . and I made THIS necklace just for you, Mom. To make you FANCY!” my three year-old daughter explained as she showed me her day’s collection of art from school.

I should explain. I am NOT a fancy person. In fact, my daughter is very much like her favorite book character, Fancy Nancy, right down to the red hair, while I’m much like her plain jeans and t-shirt mom (although I, too, have red hair). The kids ask where I’m going if I’m wearing mascara. Even the dog takes notice when I put on heels.

So Little Sister has taken it upon herself to make me her beauty project (Fancy Nancy fans will recongnize the parallel with Ooh La La! It’s Beauty Day). For my birthday last week she picked out colorful dangling earrings, a sparkly necklace and a bracelet for me. My husband managed to talk her out of buying the entire jewelry department at Target, which is what her first plan was. She immediately gravitated toward the ultra-glitzy costume jewelry, but again Daddy came to the rescue and convinced her that she needed to think about what *Mommy* would like instead of what she would pick for herself. The results were perfect and she was proud of herself when I wore all three pieces for my birthday dinner. The problem is, she wants me to wear it all every. single. day.

Then yesterday she brought home the necklace she made at school out of yarn, noodles, straw pieces, and a tag that reads “Mom” in her very best three year-old writing. Without her having to ask, I immediately put it on, inducing the biggest hug a mom could ever hope to get from her child. I wore it to the post office, the grocery store, and the chiropractor. Everywhere we went people commented on (or just smiled at) my special necklace, which in turn made me smile and made my daughter glow even more. Funny thing is, I feel more fancy in the noodle necklace than I do in “real” jewelry. Maybe it is the love factor that makes the difference.

So now that I’m preparing for my husband’s work holiday party (the first we’ve attended in nearly 10 years), I’m starting to worry about what to wear and what jewelry I have that would be appropriate for an evening affair. Seriously, I get dressed-up for weddings (no more often than once every two years), but that’s about it.  I could wear the pearl necklace my husband got me as a wedding gift, I could splurge on a new necklace to wear with a new dress, or just maybe I should wear my new noodle necklace. Noodles are like pearls, right?


Thank you, Kind Readers, for your words of support and encouragement after my last post. Things actually got much worse before they got better (hence my extended absence) – and we’re still on the mend here (though mostly better).

Here’s a “fun” by the numbers look at our week:

1 – wicked ear infection
2 – cases of pneumonia
4 – cases of the stomach flu (I got it the worst, which is a mixed blessing)
7 – trips to the doctor in 11 days
2 – prescriptions for antibiotics
countless – trips to the bathroom
4 – home improvement shows on the DIY Network before the kids realized they weren’t watching/sleeping through episodes of Curious George anymore
1 – night of my husband “sleeping” on the hallway floor so he could assist the rest of us through the horror that was Saturday night
2 – notes of appreciation for the star doctor and nurse that really came through for us
1 – cancelled vacation to Pennsylvania to visit family to reduce the spread/collection of old/new germs

The good news:

1. The ear infection is gone!
2. The pneumonia is gone!
3. The stomach flu is gone!

New challenges:

1. Getting Little Sister to take the last 3 days of her antibiotics (she gags, vomits, kicks and screams . . . often resulting in the need for doing doses more than once before they stay down – even after mixing the stuff in with other liquids).

2. Getting Mr. Music to pace himself with his new found energy so our days aren’t as much of a roller coaster ride. Though putting my hands over my head and yelling, “Aaaaaggggggghhhhhh!” might not be such a bad coping strategy, at least for another day or two.

3. Helping my husband not feel so bummed about having to cancel the trip to see his family (see all 3 of his siblings at once and meet our new nephew, visit his grandma . . . you get the picture).

4. Returning to my workout schedule. I’m not eating much just yet, so I can’t do too much too fast. Any ideas for how to get back into running/strength training after missing a week and having the flu???

I look forward to “visiting” with you all here and on your blogs as I get back in the groove this week. And thanks again for the bloggy love . . . this running mama really appreciated it!

I hope this week is a healthy one for you!

Didn’t get a run in this morning as I had hoped, but I did tackle some things that were more deserving of my attention today:

1. The mid-year conference with my son’s teacher
2. Doctor Trip #4 for the week (#3 for Little Sister)
(That’s Mr. Music on the left . . . and Little Sister reading her favorite book below – photos by Jennifer Tai Photo Artistry)
As we inch toward Friday I am feeling quite worn down, but not nearly as much as I expected after taking care of two really ill children for so long. I’m sure it is because of these things:
1. The unwavering/unconditional support of our extended family members. My parents showed up to take care of Mr. Music so I could take Little Sister to the doc without having to entertain TWO children in the waiting room and exam room. PRICELESS! As if that wasn’t grand enough, my mom made dinner for us twice this week. That helped more than she’ll ever know. My mother-in-law (a nurse!) helped from afar with kind words and encouragement – also helpful!
2. The wonderful doctors/nurses/support staff at our local pediatrician’s office. Each time I called for an appointment (they likely can identify my voice by now) they were able to get the kids in to be checked within 2 hours. Unfortunately we weren’t able to see the same doc each time, but they are all fantastic and their careful note-taking made it easy to have the cases transferred from one to the next. We did see the same nurses a few times, so that was great. Our follow-up appointment will be with the same doc we saw today – hooray! Each doctor took the time to listen to my concerns, get feedback from the kids verbally and with careful exams, and then take time to explain how their illness had progressed and what steps we’d need to follow to get them healthy again.
3. My husband has been working like a maniac for the past few weeks, but he checks in with me a few times/day to see how things are going with the kids. He didn’t have meetings one afternoon, so he came home in time for one of the appointments – again, so Mr. Music didn’t have to endure the doctor’s office during his sister’s appointment (he’s feeling much better and the two hour visits are more than his busy body can endure now that it is nearly back to normal!). Super Husband has also been knocking out the dishes each evening and put the kids to bed without me last night so I could take a few minutes to let my brain check-out.
4. I did workout 3 out of 4 days this week (and may be able to run like a hamster tomorrow – fingers crossed!!!). I’m not sure how I would have survived the week without my own good health and fitness. Between being up with the kids 87 times/night (well, maybe not THAT many times, but darn close), carrying around a 30 lb. two year-old and a 40 lb. 4 year-old, taking 3 showers with a toddler in one day (to rinse off the yack that landed on both of us) and holding down the two year-old for medicine taking time (a NIGHTMARE with that one!!!) several times/day . . . I HAD to be fit to accomplish it all.

Tomorrow will be Doctor Trip #5, but it is for a follow-up and will hopefully be the green light to get back to the basic antibiotic regimen. Pneumonia is for the birds. Heck, I wouldn’t even wish it on birds (and I’m not a fan of birds – go ahead, ask anyone). But we’re going to get through it, thanks to the team of folks pitching in to take care of these sweet kiddos.

I hope my next birthday is as great as Little Sister’s was today:

– out to breakfast for bagels with Dad
– cookie baking with Mom
– playtime with friends
– presents morning, noon and night (it is best to pace yourself)
– cookies morning, noon and night (again, it is best to pace yourself)
– two helpings of Mom’s homemade lasagna for dinner
– photo viewing time with Mom (after bedtime when Mr. Music was asleep!) to relive the highlights from the last two years

The requested birthday oatmeal chocolate chip cookie (one of about 6 dozen . . . some are tucked safely out of reach in the freezer for Sunday’s game – Go Steelers!)
The birthday girl successfully extinguishes the flames from her toothpick birthday candles – a proud moment.

The birthday girl “reads” the card from her grandma “Yia Yia“.
At the very end of a long, but lovely day. Bedtime, anyone?

Today marks the LAST day of my son’s break from school – now THAT is cause for celebration! While we’ve had some good times during our 3 weeks together, everyone is ready for him to go back. He even did a “I get to go to school tomorrow!” dance this morning and I joined in (maybe even a bit more enthusiastically than necessary!).

There are other aspects of our lives that get back to normal this week, making this mama’s heart quite thankful:

1. Little Sister’s music class gets going again on Wednesday.
2. A new session of swimming lessons will be underway on Saturday morning. This time I have them signed up for the same day and time. We’ll see if that combo is a good one or if it is too much to juggle since I’ll be in the water with Little Sister and have to get all three of us cleaned up afterward. Hey, you never know until you try!
3. The kids are encouraging me to run in the mornings. Of course they’re great about leaving me alone for only 10 minutes, but that’s a great start. I enjoy those 10 minutes of peace and then grit my teeth to knock out a minimum of 10 more minutes, squeaking in any extra time if they haven’t torn apart the basement or started taking one another apart. It used to be that Mr. Music would groan and pitch such a fit that I’d give up and not get on the treadmill at all. Seriously, folks, this is progress. Even a single step gets you closer to your goals!

On my sewing front, I’m working like a maniac in the evenings and making AWESOME progress on a handful of unfinished projects. The end is in sight for my daughter’s birthday quilt. I just hooked on the last big row to quilt and will then just have one small row to go! Last night I made her a cow-themed pillow case out of the fabric she picked out LAST YEAR. It is so refreshing and energizing to make forward progress!!

Wishing you a wonderful week as you get back into the post-holiday groove. Happy running, happy reading and happy goal-reaching!

I like to take my time waking up. When I was teaching (before we had kids) I’d get up at 4:45, shower in the dark, throw on a robe to have breakfast in the dark, and THEN brave the light to get ready for the day. My mornings as a mother aren’t quite as leisurely (at ALL!), but I still take a bit to soak everything in before I can get rolling. Today was no different.

After breakfast the kids were engaged in some sort of fort-building, baby-doll playing, book-reading adventure (yes, all three at once – my kids are multi-taskers like their mama). Since they clearly had a plan that didn’t involve me (this time!) I had a chance to check my email and read a few blogs. My husband needs coffee to jump start his mornings, I need my computer screen.

About five minutes later my daughter wandered over into my work space (a stone’s throw from where they were playing) and spotted my hand weights and Bounce Your Body Beautiful Book.

“Mama! This Mama’s!” she excitedly announced, holding up the weights.

“Yes those weights are Mama’s. Put those down so you don’t drop them on your toes. I’ll use them later.” I said as I finished reading a post.

“Now, Mama! Ball, Mama!”

“Go play with your brother for a few minutes and then I’ll get to it.” I tried to stall her.

“Ball! This book, Mama! Now! Yeah! Yeah!” she shouted as she ran full speed down the hall to my bedroom to retrieve my balance ball. Clearly she wasn’t interested in MY timeline. This girl wanted me to work out – NOW. And, as it turns out . . . so did Mr. Music.

“Come on, let’s put on our workout clothes, too. We can ALL work out!” he chimed in. There was no turning this thing back – a workout clearly was my destiny. Blogs could be read later.

So, I threw on something more appropriate than flannel pants and an old 5K race shirt while the kids disappeared into Mr. Music’s room to conjure up their own brand of gear. Knowing that it wouldn’t go well with a 4 year-old or a nearly-2 year-old on a grown-up’s balance ball, I figured I better make an alternate plan for their modified exercises.

Each would do their exercises on a yoga mat. Instead of hand weights, one would use rhythm sticks, the other drum sticks. This is how we roll. We’re a musical bunch. You knew that, though, right?

No sooner did I have my plan figured and in place then the kids came barrelling out to join me – decked out in Mr. Music’s superhero Underoos. Yup – Mr. Music in the Superman garb, Little Sister sporting a mix of his Diego and Spiderman sets.

“Oh, I see I have some superheros joining me!” If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?

“We’re not super HEROES, Mom. We’re super WORKOUT heroes!” Mr. Music corrected.

“Yeah. Super. Work. Mama.” Little Sister grunted, raising her arms up to show me her muscles.

Really, how could I have been so naive as to not notice that these were no run-of-the-mill superheroes?

And so, with my super WORKOUT heroes beside me, I got started. They stuck with me for about 3 exercises before they felt strong enough to rescue some poor stuffed hippo from a burning building (closet) somewhere. I knew this because my son announced, “Woah. I’m feeling stronger now. I’m sure glad we decided to work out with you today, Mom. My muscles are definitely bigger! Come on, (Little Sister), someone needs our help!”

“Yeah! Strong!” she agreed.

And off they pitter-pattered, leaving me to finish my circuit with a smile. Sure, I had a bit less screen time before facing the day, but this time it was worth it.

*Sorry it took me two days to get the photos posted, I had trouble with Blogger, but finally got it to cooperate tonight! Thanks for coming back to see the super WORKOUT heroes a view.

‘ve been eyeball deep in tissues and snotty noses this week (Little Sister, who shall forever more be called “Fireball” – for that is what her daddy has appropriately started calling her – she’ll be a girl who loves to run in no time, too) . . . so much for compiling a Year in Review for my blog’s 1 Year Anniversary. Don’t worry about me, I’m not all that broken up about it . . . it is more of a detail-oriented thing than I realized it would be. I’m more into moving forward and taking steps to reach FUTURE events and goals. Perhaps that’s why I never got into my idea of Friday Flashbacks as a topic for my Friday blog posts . . .

I did want to bring your attention to a fabulous challenge posted over at My Friend Amy. You can read all about the campaign on her original post for why folks should Buy Books for the Holidays!
I discovered it by way of Scrub-a-Dub-Tub which is the blog for the nonprofit reading group, The Reading Tub. That’s a great place for you to learn about some great new books (not just the top sellers, though many of those are reviewed, too!) for families to share together. The Reading Tub reviews children’s books and sponsors community programs that encourage kids to read. You should definitely give them a look – maybe YOUR family could become a book reviewing family!
So, how about it? Will YOU be buying books for the holidays? Where do you like to buy books?

I was going to write some Blog Anniversary stuff for you today, but then we got the call that there’s a new member in our extended family, which makes me an aunt (and my husband an uncle and the kids cousins!) for the first time! I’m an only child, so growing up I never knew if I’d have a chance to be an aunt. I’m thrilled that life’s adventures led me to marry into a bigger family and that the family grew today to make me an aunt.

So, I’ll stick with my usual Monday post because I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the start of a new life.

Today I am thankful for:

1. The safe arrival of dear, little Nate. Well, okay, he’s not SO little, weighing in at 9lbs. 6 oz., but he’s just a few hours old, so that makes him little!

2. The closeness of my husband’s family to one another. The phone was going for at least an hour as we all called one another and celebrated Nate (and his lovely mother who is likely feeling relieved to not be pregnant anymore and tired after a full day of bringing him into the world, and his lovely father who is likely just exhausted from the sheer intensity of it all and cheering on his wife).

3. Little Sister’s snuggles this afternoon. She’s fighting some sort of bug, so she’s been quite snuggly – usually she’s wiggly and will only let you get a quick hug and kiss. Today she fell asleep in my lap. There is something powerful about having parents close to help you feel better. I remember that from when I was still small enough to climb into my parents’ laps/bed when I was sick.

4. The fact that my parents are squeezing in a bit of a date night for us even though their week is remarkably full.

5. The safe arrival of dear, little Nate. I think that news deserves mentioning at least twice, don’t you? Happy Birthday, Nephew!

It is sometimes easy to dismiss the constant stream of words that gushes out of my son’s mouth. From the time he is fully awake to the moment he finally gives up and falls asleep, his internal monologue is external. Truly. And I love him for that, but I don’t always pay what he shares full attention (if I did, I wouldn’t have a chance for thoughts of my own – really, this kid is on fire!).

Today his imaginary scene caught me completely off guard and even induced a few salty tears. It went something like this:

*shuffle, shuffle* “I’ll get these ready so our visitors will know about Mama’s book,” he muttered to himself while swiping some of my business cards from my computer armoire. (to which I sighed, but didn’t take action to retrieve)

*ding, ding, ding* (he fingered a few notes on the piano)

“Who eeees it?” he called out in a sing-song voice mimicing the characters from Jack’s Big Music Show.

“Oh, a visitor! We have a visitor!” he announced, pointing to me as I sat on the floor in the adjoining room entertaining his little sister.

“Yes, I’ve come to see you,” I played along.

“Oh, good! Thanks for coming. Do you know about my mom’s book?” he inquired in a crisp, businessman-like voice.

“Your mom has a book?” I asked, playing dumb (I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to be – usually he let’s me know my character!).

He handed me one of my business cards and instructed me, “Here, you can read all about it on this card. It is about her book. It’ll be ready soon.”

“Thank you. Can you tell me about the book?” I fished.

“Oh, sure. It’s about being a mama and all that kind of stuff,” he said confidently while gesturing wildly with his hands, almost magically as if he would conjure the book to appear right then.

Since he was so focused and clearly dedicated about getting the word out about my book, I thought I’d use this opportunity to let him know just what the book WAS about, while continuing to be in character (still no further details about what character, though, so I just fell into step as my own idea of Visitor #1). “Oh, it says here that the book is about girls who love to run and girls who are strong. Wow!”

“Righ!” he confirmed. And then he floored me . . . “Just like you.”

That’s when the tears welled up in my eyes. And in true, Ethan-fashion, he darted back to the piano to make the “doorbell” ring again. Visitor #2 (a stuffed hippo) had arrived and clearly needed educating about his mama’s book. Visitor #3 (Abu, the monkey) was close behind to get a business card and help spread the word about this great book that would be ready soon.