Category Archives: family

a picture’s worth a thousand words

when i found out that i was pregnant with posy i told tom that i absolutely wanted professional photos taken of her and our family.  i knew that down the road she was bound to get screwed over for things that her older siblings had . . . especially lily, our first. like videos made of their first year of life and pretty much every milestone  documented so as to never forget it!  so knowing that she will most likely get none of that i decided to try and even the playing field from the beginning.  i told tom that these photos were the only thing that i really wanted and that i didn’t care how much they cost.  (ok, so i admit that i was having a major pity party for myself since i was pregnant . . . again.  sigh.)

fast forward to december.  sweet miss p was finally here and it was time for the photoshoot!  i was very excited but honestly had no real expectations since we would be dealing with children.  i’m so glad that was the case since gus refused to cooperate except for one picture.


in all of the others this is what we got out of him . . .


i. love. this. picture.  there is so much that was going on that you would never know just by looking at it . . . that is except for gus and his sourpuss face!  you’ve got to give him credit for his honesty.  but to anyone looking at this picture it would seem that we are just a happy family that is loving on our new baby/sister.  that much is definitely true . . . however what you don’t see is that tom and i were in the middle of a huge argument and didn’t even want to be in the same room together, let alone embrace each other.  what you also don’t see is that i’m holding a handful of posy’s poop that she had just done in my hand!  yes, i said poop!  and for any parents that read this you will know how grody that seedy, drippy, yellowish green baby poop can be!  we decided to keep going though since everyone was already in position and because posy was peacefully sleeping.  the only person who isn’t having a problem in this picture is sweet lily.  for once, she was giving us 100% cooperation and was so agreeable.  bless her heart!

even though gus isn’t smiling, this one is making it onto our wall of family pictures.  it will be a good reminder of the experience and how you sometimes just have to smile through the crap in life . . . literally.

anyway, i have really enjoyed the pictures that our photographer took.  they are beautiful and truly capture how smitten we are with posy already.




we are so incredibly lucky to have such a sweet and peaceful baby.  God totally knew that we needed her in our lives and we can’t imagine life now without her. we are so so thankful!


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have a holly . . . Jolly . . . Christmas!

like many families, we had a fun visitor this past Christmas season . . . the elf on the shelf!  on Thanksgiving morning, the kids woke up to a special gift left by Santa.



the kids (Lily) decided to name him “Jolly”.  we were just happy that she didn’t name him one of her made up names like some of her imaginary friends . . . Kerndern . . . Lim . . . etc.  anyway, Jolly immediately showed that he was a mischievous little elf . . . tricking our family and hiding in peculiar places.  a few times he even left presents for the kids  . . . like Christmas lights for outside of our house, a cardboard gingerbread house to color,  flannel blankets for the trip back to Ohio, and a few sweet treats too.  we found him in many different places but one of our favorites was in the bathroom . . . in a marshmallow bath, wrapping our toilet in christmas wrapping, and inserting himself on our photobooth strip wall!  he even managed to find us all the way at Walt Disney World when we stayed for the weekend!

we know that Jolly must have been tired after the holiday season, so we were happy for him to go back to the North Pole and get some much needed rest . . . he’ll need it for when he comes back next year!!

check out the slideshow to see all of his antics!

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Filed under family, gus, lily

i WILL be in the picture!

i know this article has gone viral . . . but if you haven’t read “The Mom Stays in the Picture”,  do yourself a favor and read it now.

i LOVE this article.  i know that i often don’t feel worthy of having my picture taken when i’m feeling less than “beautiful”.  however, after reading this article i am absolutely convicted of how i should and will proceed going further.

this summer, when lily learned to ride her bike without training wheels, i couldn’t wait to break out the camera and capture the momentous occasion.  i wanted to have this milestone documented to show her in the future.  who wouldn’t want to see a picture of themselves as a child,  unsteadily pedaling as their daddy runs beside them?  this is what i believe every child should have . . . only did you notice i said daddy and not mommy?  i don’t know how it is in your house, but in ours i am the photographer.  this isn’t to say that my husband refuses to use the camera.  it’s just that i tend to be a tad bit neurotic when it comes to documenting memories and milestones.  rarely do i ask to be in the photo myself.  this is mostly because i’m not so thrilled with how i look and because i don’t want to have my less than stellar body recorded for time and all eternity in these important moments.  however, on this day i do remember asking tom to take a few pictures of me with lily.  admittedly, i was hoping that i might get a good enough photo to post on my facebook page!  when i loaded the photos on my computer that evening, i was saddened by how i looked, and quickly went about deleting all but two of the pictures . . . only one of them being facebook worthy.

this is the photo i chose to post.


while the photo above shows a mom running beside her daughter, beaming with pride at what she has just accomplished, deep down i know that this is how i wanted lily  (and the facebook world) to see this moment.  in my heart i knew that i was putting on a show for the camera.  yes, i was genuinely happy for what lily was doing, but i was also genuinely sucking in my stomach as hard as i could so the camera wouldn’t see my flab!  i was trying like hell to make running beside her look as effortless as possible, when in reality, i was sweating profusely and completely out of breath!

at the end of the article, they ask you to submit a picture of yourself with your kids.  immediately, i thought of the “good” picture.  but the more i thought about it, the more i realized that i need to break myself of the goal of seeming perfect . . . so i submitted the following picture instead.


here i am at a terrible angle  . . . no makeup . . . not sucking in my flabby tummy . . . and sporting my pajama jeans!  as crappy as i look in this moment, i’ve come to appreciate this picture for what it is.  this is who i really am . . .  a mom, running after her child and ready to catch her if she falls.  yes,  i need to be in the picture so that lily can see what true motherhood is really like.  it’s not a show for your kids or anyone else, but a real life!   i’m going to start handing over the camera  more often so that i can be included in the memories too,  with or without full hair and makeup!



Filed under family, life lessons, lily

passing on the past

do you remember your favorite childhood toy?  many people have a teddybear, dolly, or even an action figure that they cherish from when they were young.  even though i didn’t really have one of these, i did have my dollhouse.

though i have only a few real memories of my earliest years, i remember the day that i saw it for the first time . . . my mom, guiding me into my room . . . my hands blocking my eyes so not to ruin the surprise . . . my grandma and grandpa standing off to the side, eagerly awaiting the big unveiling . . . my dad snapping pictures.  it was my fourth birthday and i was about to see one of the most treasured presents i will ever receive in my life.

i had no way of knowing, at that time, just how significant that gift was . . .  not just to me, but to others in the room.  my grandpa and grandma had spent many long hours lovingly creating this dollhouse for their only granddaughter.  for my grandpa, it was the culmination of years spent making things out of wood.  this was to be his final project, as he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and his time of being able to work on projects like this was quickly slipping away.  i was only four years old and still quite young for such a “big girl” gift.  however, it was important for my grandpa to do this (with the help of my grandma) before it was too late.  he wanted this memory for me.  i didn’t know it then, but he was teaching me a valuable lesson in how to be a grandparent . . . one i hope to put to practice someday myself . . . to love unconditionally, to give of your time and talent, and to do everything in your power to make memories that will last a lifetime.

after opening my eyes and seeing this beautiful dollhouse that was now all mine, i quickly began opening up present after present which contained pieces of furniture and family members to fill up my new house.  it was wonderful!  as a parent, i can now understand how it is to witness the delight of your own child, and i am sure that my parents saw that in me.

i played with my dollhouse for years and years.  the *festrunk family that lived there was so very real to me.  it was (and still is) one of my most cherished possessions and i did everything in my power to keep it safe.  in fact, i was so paranoid of a tornado hitting our house and destroying it, that every time we had a bad storm i would have my dad take it to the basement for safe keeping.  a little bit dramatic, i know!  i knew that if i ever had a daughter, that this beautiful gift would one day be hers, and hopefully, she would love it as much as i had.

fast forward to september, 2006.  tom and i are expecting our first child and are awaiting the confirmation of either a jack or a lily at the ultrasound appointment.  when i heard that i was having a little girl i immediately had visions of pigtails and princesses, of dance recitals and doll babies.  needless to say, if you’ve read this blog at all, you know that lily is not your typical “girl”.  as the years have gone on, i have known that the dollhouse was waiting for it’s new owner, but would she even want it?  from playing with one at the museum center, i thought there was a chance she might, but i wasn’t sure.  her preferences and attitudes towards things change like the wind.

i decided now was as good a time as ever to give her this gift.

a few weeks ago, i got to cleaning.  i had read online of what not to do in cleaning an old dollhouse and how to bring it back to life.  i laundered curtains . . . i vacuumed . . . i did windows . . . and i dusted everything in sight!  then it was time to move on to the furnishings.  as i opened each box and unwrapped each piece it was like seeing old friends.  there was the piano that played “The Way We Were”  when you lift the lid . . . the tiny blue plates with white speckles . . . the baby basinett . . . and “buddy” the dog, who only had three legs.  (my dad having cut one off so he could be like our own three-legged family pet of the same name.)

as much as i enjoyed the walk down memory lane, i was also left with a few questions too.  like where was the rest of the grandpa’s body?  (i had only found his head rolling around in the bottom of the box.  disturbing!)   also, what happened to the Christmas tree?  i guess i’ll never know!


i admit that i cried through much of this process.  not just about the memories of my childhood that is now long gone, but because i was missing my grandparents and wishing they were still here to talk with during this time.  now that i am older, i can appreciate the time and talent that went into it’s design.  as i hand-washed each curtain, i thought about my grandma, sitting at her sewing table and carefully adding trims and stitching to make each panel detailed.  and i thought about my grandpa and the hands that wrote the word “stairs” which i uncovered underneath the wobbly staircase that i removed and re-glued into place.  again, it was a beautiful reminder of love and loss.

finally, i was finished.  i had decided some time ago, that the dollhouse needed a safe place where lily could play and would be out of reach of little fat gus fingers.  the best place was at my mom and dad’s house, and it will remain there until our house in florida is built and we can move it to the playroom.  i called my mom, who was thrilled to get to see the finished product, and told her i would be over to set it up after lily was in bed.  my mom and i had the best time playing . . . er . . . setting it up.  i had to keep begging her not to cry because i knew once i started it would be hard for me to stop.  it was really a therapeutic experience and a whole lot of fun!

when i left my mom’s house that evening, i prayed to the Lord for how the next day would be.  like many people, i often have unrealistic expectations of how i think things should go.  in fact, i’m a lot like Clark Griswold, setting “standards that no family activity can live up to.”  in a perfect, Norman Rockwell world, lily would run to the dollhouse squealing and telling me how much she loved it and how it was the best thing she’d ever seen, etc. etc.  however, i know my little girl and how things can be hit or miss with her.  the only thing i could do was pray.  i asked God to soften her heart . . . to check her attitude and to help her enjoy things as a little girl should, instead of trying to act so “adult” and reject things because they aren’t “boy” enough.  i prayed for her to enjoy playing with it as i had, but also for myself that i wouldn’t get my feelings hurt should she not be as excited as i hoped.

i had wanted to recreate the surprise for lily that i had experienced myself, so tom and my parents were all there to watch the surprise unfold.  finally, the moment came and she and i walked into the room, just as i had so many years earlier . . . her little hands protecting her eyes from peeking and ruining the surprise . . . and my dad snapping pictures like he was a member of the paparazzi!

as you will see from the video . . . she LOVED it and this made for one happy mama!

i am so thankful that the surprise went as well as it did.  it made for a very happy day for all of us.  i absolutely praise God for such a positive experience.    lily has told me many times already how much she loves it, and i know this to be true since she’s played with it non-stop.  she’s already had the family going on a picnic, taking naps, and even using the potty!  we told lily that her nana and i would take her to hobby lobby so she could get a few new pieces for the house, but she told me she loves it just as it is.  she didn’t even want to change the name of the family either!

i’d like to think that my grandparents were looking down in that moment and that they were rejoicing in seeing such happiness on the face of their great-granddaughter.  like when i received it myself, i know that i will cherish this day forever.

(* in case you didn’t know, the family got it’s name from those “two wild and crazy guys” on saturday night live.  thanks a lot, dad!)


Filed under family, life lessons, lily

“The Light I Leave”

Lily is obsessed with Mary Poppins these days.  This means we all get treated to various performances of those famous songs:  “Spoonful of Sugar,”  “Jolly Holiday,”  “Chim Chim Cheree,”  “Supercalif — ” … well, you get it.  In fact, she’s watched the movie so many times now, that we’re starting to hear renditions of the lesser-known tunes.  With that, I present you with the original version of “The Life I Lead”:

And  here’s Lily’s version (complete with subtitles):


Filed under family, lily, lily-isms

knowing you’re finished

how do you know when your family is complete?  there seems to be no exact science in how to come to that decision.  i fully understand that God might have different plans for me.  He might even be smiling as i type this at how sure i am that i know we are done.  however, in my heart, i do feel complete.  not saying that i couldn’t or wouldn’t welcome another child, i most certainly would . . . but if i’m being honest, i’m hoping it doesn’t happen.

after giving it a lot of thought, i have narrowed it down to these five reasons . . .

1.  my kids are awesome.  i know that in the past i would tire of hearing how great people think their kids are, but now that i’m a mom i totally get it!  lily and gus absolutely drive me bonkers sometimes, and i’m not kidding myself by thinking that i don’t do the same thing to them.  but there is nothing that they could ever do to make me not love them for the unique kids that they are.  i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again, they have completed me in a way that i never knew needed completing.  my love for them runs so deep and i don’t feel that i need any more children to feel fulfilled.

2.  the cost . . .  i’m not just thinking about college tuition or a wedding either.  paying for another cesarean section, diapers, food, clothing, school expenses . . . and then eventually college, possibly a wedding, etc.  it all adds up!!  right now we are able to live comfortably and provide for our children.  adding another might very well make the difference between comfortable living and feeling too stretched financially.

3.  pregnancy . . . i actually think that i do rather well as a pregnant person.  ok, i snore a lot (or so my husband tells me) when i’m pregnant, but that only lasts for nine months.  however, walking around for months without having to suck in my stomach is a major perk . . . am i right, ladies?  but with the fun of not having the monthly “friend”, the sorta cute maternity clothes, and the awesome hair that comes with pregnancy also brings swollen feet, not being able to sleep on my stomach, barfing every time i have to feed the dogs their food, and out of control emotions.  (admittedly, people that know me best might think that i don’t need pregnancy for the latter . . . sigh.)

4.  weight loss . . .  i drop baby weight . . . fast . . . and i’m not ashamed to shout it from the rooftops.  if i were a celebrity, i’d probably be one that women get pissed at for losing the weight in a matter of weeks.  however, that is pregnancy weight, people.  i’m not embarrassed to admit that i packed on several pounds between my two pregnancies.  after gus was born though, i was absolutely hell bent on losing all of the weight . . . pregnancy and laziness weight.  i did it, with help of weight watchers, and i’m in absolutely no hurry to have to go through all of that again!

5.  the dark cloud that is PPD (postpartum depression) . . .  i get it, and it sucks.  brooke shields has no idea how her willingness to write about her own struggles with this helped me.  should i ever meet her, i will tell her just that.  i had never experienced depression before being hit with it after lils was born . . . and it absolutely scared the hell out of me that i’d get it again the closer it came to gus’ arrival.  i absolutely credit my doctor’s (both in orlando and cincinnati) for helping me through such a miserable experience and for prescribing wellbutrin.  it saved my life, and that is no exaggeration.  i hope to never go through that again.

6. (ok, so i added one more!)  see the picture at the top of the page?  this image is what prompted the decision to be made in the first place.  it may just look like a picture of a family’s toothbrushes, but to me it means so much more.  it proves completion.  it shows that we need to be content with who we’ve been given, and that there is no need to add anyone else.  it means that, if i did get pregnant again (nice one, God) we’d have to rip out this awesome original toothbrush holder from the 1930’s to make room for a bigger one . . . and that i’m really not wanting to do!

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have teeth, will bite.

well, it’s happened.  i have a child who is a biter.  gus has recently discovered that his little teeth can be used for more than just chewing his food but also a weapon to retaliate against those who take his toys, “hug” him around the neck too hard, etc.  lily has not been the only recipient of this behavior.  i’ve personally received a few bites when holding him / playing with him . . . on the shoulder and even once on the thigh which really did hurt.  there are two incidents that specifically stick out in my memory (and i’m sure in lils too!).

one day, while at the grocery store, i decided to be the cool mom and let my kids “drive” the car attached to the front of the grocery cart.  i’m sure some of you have experienced these monstrosities before.  you know, the carts which are practically impossible to maneuver and stop on a dime?  anyway, here i am, attempting to push this around the store, trying to get my coup-on, when all of a sudden i hear my daughter screaming, “no gus! no gus!”  i run to the front of the cart only to find gus chomping down on lily’s little shoulder.  big tears rolling down her cheeks she’s yelling, “why did he bite me?”  after correcting him, i tried to explain that sometimes babies just bite but sometimes it’s the only thing they can do when being provoked.  after all, i had just seen her with him in a headlock!  needless to say, gus quickly became the lone driver of the car.

the second, and dare i say, more loving incident happened just a few days later.  we had just pulled into our driveway and i had finished unbuckling lily.  she walked over to gus’s seat to give him a kiss on the lips.  bad idea!  she pulled away with a bloody bottom lip.  though it was hilarious, i really did feel bad for her.  poor girl, she was just trying to be affectionate with her little brother, only to end up wounded!

in the end, this has been gus’s biggest fault thus far.  i’d say we’re doing pretty good!!

oh, and i’m sure that he could give charlie a run for his money.

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Filed under family, gus, life lessons, lily