No Butt About It

Zoe is sometimes missing an important piece of clothing.


Sometimes it’s on, but not where it’s supposed to be.

IMG_3201It’s an issue of really liking to be au naturel. The girl just wants to be naked. The other day I was in the front yard watering plants and went around the corner to fill up my can. When I came back around, Zoe, who had been in a bathing suit, had stripped down to nothing. She was peeing in the front yard. Then – still naked – she rolled down our hill. Twice.

Luckily no one came by.  Hopefully the neighbors weren’t peeking from behind the curtains.

The biggest issue is that every time she goes potty, she takes off EVERYTHING from the waist down. Pants, underwear, shoes and socks. All go. So if we’re not there to get her dressed again, she just goes back to playing, half naked.

Sometimes, especially now that it’s warm and if we’re in the middle of say — making dinner — she gets to run around that way for the better part of the night. Which leads to some interesting situations.

photo 3

 One of these days modesty will hit.

I hope.

It better.

But there’s no butt about it. I will miss moments like these.



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Beach Fun


We are lucky enough to live 15 minutes from Lake Erie’s beautiful beaches.


Erie has a seven mile sandy stretch on Presque Isle State Park.

If you’ve never visited, you should! We like visitors!


Gorgeous sunsets, great swimming (it’s the shallowest of the Great Lakes so is also the warmest), great fishing (you can rent a charter or even check out fishing poles from the library!), and lots of rocks and sticks for the kids to throw.


Zoe, playing in the sand with pals Maely, Nolan and Jacob.IMG_4400This last one I just took yesterday when I went on a walk ALL BY MYSELF on the beach. Had a sitter for the morning so I could spend a few hours getting work done, but got a tad bit sidetracked by a chance to enjoy some solo beach time. Found some great beach glass, and since it was a gray morning, pretty much had the place to myself.

Except for the gulls.

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Zoe’s Big Girl Room


We redid Zoe’s room a few months ago. We had been wanting to paint her room since we moved in. I love how it turned out.


The room was yellow and green when we moved in.

Here’s an after. And, yes, I do believe she’s picking her nose in this photo.


The headboard was a gift from a neighbor who wanted to get rid of it. Here’s what it looked like before:


And after. We painted it white to match her other furniture.


 The Z is just a cardboard Z that we spray painted with glitter paint. We also hung new blinds and got a bench to put in front of her window that doubles as storage. And that’s the same Dorothy we’ve had for a year and a half now! So amazed we haven’t knocked off that poor fish yet.


She also has some great built-in shelves in her room. They were painted white. I stole an idea off Pinterest and bought sample sizes ($2.99 each) of all the colors on a paint swatch and painted each of the shelves a progressively deeper color.


What it looked like complete (for like a day). Now there’s a huge jumble of books on the bottom shelves. Still trying to find the magic organization tool for books.


We let her pick the colors and she wanted pink and purple (surprise surprise).  But I like the colors we ended up getting, and I don’t think it looks like a cotton candy explosion.

IMGP7563We stumbled on a Valspar product while picking out paint that you mix into your color. We decided to try it, though we were a bit nervous about how it was going to turn out. But it ended up great. You can’t tell in the photos, but it gives her walls a nice sparkle when the light shines on them right. I wouldn’t want it for the kitchen, say, but for a little girl’s room it is perfect.


I added the last touch a few weeks ago. She had an empty spot above her dresser that we had been casually looking to fill since we finished the room. Max had broken a guitar a few months back that I couldn’t bring myself to throw away and then one afternoon I decided that I should hang it on Zoe’s wall. I call it Guitar Deconstructed (by Max).  The entire contraption is hung with Command Strips because I wasn’t sure if we’d like the end product. But I really do! Not bad for an empty frame and a $1 guitar I picked up at a garage sale.


And that is Zoe’s new room! It was a lot of hard work because we painted EVERYTHING – ceiling, trim, door, and, of course, walls. But the fresh coats of paint was worth the time. It looks great and hopefully she’ll love it for years to come! She better. Because I’m not painting it again.


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Things to Do in Erie With a Toddler


Spent about an hour yesterday online coming up with a list of things for me and the kiddos to do this summer, and more specifically, this week. I don’t know about other stay-at-home mommies, but our week goes so much more smoothly when I have a plan on how to spend our days.

Figured I’d share my research in hopes it might save someone else time!

Monday, June 17

10:30 a.m.

Whitford Park, 5400 Iroquois Road, Harborcreek

Storytime. Free. Specifically geared to ages 3-6, but any ages welcome.

Bonus: Great playground, stream for throwing rocks, and great view of the GE Transportation test track, which last time we were there meant a train going by every 10 minutes or so, much to my kids’ delight.

Tuesday, June 18

10 a.m.

$1 movie at Tinseltown

This week: Horton Hears a Who

Bonus: $1 off popcorn with ticket

Details: here.

Wednesday, June 19


Mid-Day Art Break, Erie Art Museum

This week: World Refugee Day (this is normally a band, not sure if it is this week — can’t tell by the name. Anyone know?)

Bonus: Free gallery tours at 12:30 and 1 p.m.

Thursday, June 20

10 a.m.

Asbury Woods Beetle Safari. ($6 members, $9 non-members)

Bonus: Take time while you’re there to visit Little Woods, a natural playground for kids.

For details and to purchase tickets in advance, go here.

Friday, June 21

Can’t find an actual event. Good day for the beach perhaps?

Saturday, June 22

Soapbox Derby, 37th and State

Details: Starts at 8 a.m. Not sure how long it goes, but if your kids are like mine getting there early will be no problem!

Let me know if you know of other summer happenings! We’re always on the lookout for summer fun!


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Spring (Snow) Showers

Oh, this weather. Today is the third day of spring and we have about a foot of fresh snow on the ground. The only person in all of Erie County who I think is enjoying this spring storm is Max.


He is always bringing me his boots or his hat. Then he goes and stands by the door and cries. He just wants to go out and play. So we go.

IMGP7521He likes to walk around. Eat snow. Throw snow. Look at snow. You know. Stuff you forget to enjoy when you are an adult and more snow just means more shoveling, icy roads and cabin fever.


IMGP7489 IMGP7547

  He has to wear his sister’s hand-me-downs. He doesn’t mind.


Sometimes he falls down.
IMGP7495 But then he pops back up. And he’s off again, to enjoy this winter wonderland. In spring.


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Max’s Olive


Olive joined our family last summer, an adoption from the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania.  She and Max are best buddies.


 She won’t stay away from him, no matter how many times he pulls her tail, her ears or her paws.


IMG_1422 She doesn’t seem to have that same need to be near Zoe.IMG_1341

 Or me and Mark.


No, it’s definitely Max that Olive loves best.



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A Love Letter to My Favorite Grocery Store

On this Valentine week let me share with you my love for the company in my life who brings me all sorts of unexpected happiness. Oh Wegmans. How I love thee. Let me count the ways:

1. WKids Fun Center. A 2-hour free babysitting service that allows mom or dad to go shopping without a reluctant child (ages 3 and over) in tow. Enough said.

2. Drive up service. Weather bad? Have your hands full with kids?Just don’t feel like schlepping all your groceries out to your car? Ask for drive up service and you can take your car to the drive-up service lane where your cart full of groceries will magically be transported into your trunk without you having to leave your vehicle.

3.  Cooking classes and beer demonstrations. I wrote about one here before. They’re fun. We learn a lot. We get full on lots of yummy food and slightly high on the interesting beers to try. The classes, which last an hour, are usually only $10 with a Wegmans card, making it a fantastic deal.

4. Wegmans magazine. It is a happy day when we get our Wegmans magazine in the mail. I stash them next to my cookbooks and have quite a collection with dog-eared and stained pages.

5. Prices. Wegmans feels like an upscale grocery store, but that doesn’t translate to the prices. An example: A club pack of chicken breasts (10 breasts to a package) are  priced at $1.99 a pound, which is significantly less than the price I found at Sam’s Club recently.

6. Chicken packaging. Speaking of chicken, I love the new packaging Wegmans uses for the club pack of chicken. Each breast is individually vacuum sealed so all you have to do is cut off the number of breasts you want to use. So nice not to have spend time repackaging yucky raw chicken when I get home.

7. Local food selection. I love when summer hits and Weggy’s produce area is crowded with choices from local farmers. It’s nice to be able to buy local without changing my routine.

8. They’re nice to their employees. Wegmans has been on the Fortune magazine list of best places to work 16 years in a row. Employees’ helpfulness, friendliness, expertise — not to mention their attention to customer satisfaction — show its place on the list is deserved.  Case in point: I bought a brie and warmed it at home. It melted everywhere. Next time I went to Wegmans I talked to one of the women in the cheese section about it. She explained what I did wrong. Then she gave me a brie FOR FREE to take home. She told me not to be discouraged, just to try again.

9. The entrees. Wegmans has a whole selection of ready-order meals that cost $6, $8 or $10 depending on your choice of entree and sides. Our planned Valentine’s Day dinner this year? A ready-order special meal for the night that includes a 4 ounce filet, two shrimp, and our choice of two sides. The price? $10 each. Perfect.

10. Free stuff for the kids. Free cookies at the bakery counter. Free helium balloons on the way out. Oh, and can’t forget the free diapers in the bathroom. All designed to keep kids happy (and dry) — which keeps moms and dads happy. Which keeps us coming back again and again and again.

Oh Wegmans. This is a love that will last forever. I’m so glad you’re mine.

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If You Need Me, I’ll Be at Home

The day I decided never to leave the house again went like this:

We start the process of getting ready to go. That means I start hunting for Zoe’s shoes. I find a lot of single shoes, but no pairs. But finally, under her bed, two of the same shoe. Great. Let’s get them on. I run down the stairs to find my girl, holding the shoes aloft. Triumphant.

Zoe doesn’t share my sense of accomplishment. In fact, she flips out. These aren’t the shoes she wants to wear. I wrestle her onto my lap and get the shoes on. She is wailing. Now she has thrown herself on the floor in a full, stretched-out tantrum, a 3-year-old in all her toddler glory. I try to explain I can’t find the shoes she wants to wear. She’s not listening though, caught in this whirlwind of  shoe angst. Whatever.  I tell her if she wants to, she can go find the shoes she wants to wear while I get Maxie ready. She jumps up and runs off, instantly happy again. “I be right back,” she says.

Maxie’s turn. Amazingly, I know where his shoes are, which is good because he only owns one pair. I get them on with little problem, and decide to go ahead and put on his jacket. I also wrestle on his hat, which he immediately snatches back off and giggles. Knowing I have no prayer since it’s now a game, I shove the hat in my pocket. He toddles off happily as I go to the stairs to yell to his sister to come back down. I hear noises that aren’t consistent with a 3-year-old trying to find her shoes. I clomp up the stairs, hot now, as I have on my jacket and boots already.

Sure enough, I find her sprawled out on my bed listening to Hansel and Gretel on the iPad. There are no shoes on her feet, which she is waving in the air.

I grab her up, turn off Hansel and Gretel, and carry her back downstairs.  Then I remember the shoes and run back up again. By the time I find them — tangled in the sheets on our bed — and start down again, Max is almost to the top of the stairs, a sippy cup swinging from his mouth.

I carry him back down. Zoe is now building a tower with Legos, still with no shoes and no jacket. I nestle her into my lap and put on her shoes. Again. The same ones we started with. This time she has no problem with them. Then her jacket. “Just me Just me!” she yells when I start zipping her up. She’s in the “I do it” phase, which means everything takes an extra half hour. I let her wrestle with the zipper while I load up the car with the diaper bag, snacks, and drinks.

OK. I’m ready to get the kids in the car. Where are they? Max is in the kitchen, his pants covered in water from the dumped dog bowl. Oh Max. I scoop him up and we run back up the stairs, him giggling the whole way. I take off his shoes, change his pants, finding a poopy diaper in the process. I change it, get  a new pair of pants on him, get his shoes back on and take him back down. I carry him straight to the car and strap him in. He’s happy, a graham cracker in one hand and his sippy cup in the other. I put on his hat while his hands are occupied. It stays in place.

Now for Zoe. I come back inside, and yell for her. I hear a response, but no little feet running my way. “I have idea,” she yells, her new favorite saying. I find her up  in her chair at the kitchen counter, demanding lunch. It’s 9:30 in the morning. She refused to eat breakfast, I remind her. “I have idea,” she repeats. “I want spaghetti and chocolate milk.” Um, no. I promise her graham crackers and water. Amazingly she is agreeable to this. I pick up her jacket off the floor, put it on her, leave it unzipped, and carry her to the car. She is happy now, chattering about Maxie and kitty cats. I strap her in  to the car seat give her the promised food and drink.

We’re off. Wait, where’s my car keys? Swearing not-so-silently at myself, I begin the search. They’re not on the hook where they’re supposed to be. They’re not on the bookshelf right inside the door where they usually are. They’re not on the kitchen counter. I run upstairs, starting to get frantic now, as I have two kids in their car seats in a cold garage. There they are. In my jeans I wore yesterday.

I run downstairs, in a full sweat, and jump in the car. Both kids are happy in the backseat. Zoe is singing what sounds like “Happy Birthday” to her graham cracker. I open the garage door and we back out. We drive a few blocks when Zoe says:

“Mama, I have idea. I have to go potty.”

And that is when I decide we will never leave the house again.



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Zoe’s Birthday Party

My dad made this fun video of Zoe’s birthday party.

We held a princess brunch on New Year’s Day and had eight 3-year-olds, their parents and siblings. It was quite crowded! But very fun — we decided to try to do different “stations” around the house to keep people spread out. It worked pretty well. The older kids next door were nice enough to come over and do face painting for the little ones. We also had crown decorating with stickers and crayons, all the instruments out and ready for drumming, strumming and general noise-making, and a frog – drawn by Mark – for the kids to kiss after being twirled around. The brave ones agreed to lipstick to mark their spots. Of course we had food too, though we bypassed the traditional birthday cake. Instead, parents snacked on bagels and lox (with mimosas or coffee to choose from), while the kids feasted on cake batter pancakes and milk.

We also had four grandparents on site. Thank goodness. We couldn’t have done it without them. All hands were on deck to encourage sharing, take pictures, pour drinks, and keep track of our own two kids.

Zoe did great, up until about the last half hour. It was a two hour party and she was definitely tuckered out by the end of it. So were we, Zoe. So were we. We understood.

Happy 3rd birthday to our sweet girl!

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Princess Zoe

My baby is three.


She is completely consumed by the ups and downs of toddlerhood. She’s opinionated, charming, stubborn, sweet, loud, loving, emotional, independent, and so smart.

She also, it must be noted, is a princess.

She is a princess at the grocery store.

She is a princess on walks at Presque Isle.

She is a princess at the playground, even when her mean mother makes her wear pants and a jacket because it’s cold out.

She is a princess at home. Even when we are out doing yardwork and she takes on a Cinderella-esque look.

She is sometimes a princess while she sleeps, down to what she  calls her “princess shoes,” which are sparkly white shoes I bought on clearance on a whim at Shoe Carnival and which she has worn so much they are now gray and not very princessy-looking, at least to my mind.

It’s not enough that she looks like a princess, often complete with tiara, wand and necklace. She has to proclaim that she is a princess to one and all. Of course, she’s three and adorable, so people find this cute and funny. I have reached the point that I just smile and move on. Sometimes, I admit, I roll my eyes.

That’s because this has been going on so long now that most times I don’t even think about the fact that my daughter is walking through Wegman’s in a tiara.

So of course, when the time came, we planned a princess-themed birthday party for her. This was the day after her grandparents gave her a beautiful, authentic-looking astronaut costume for Christmas. She wanted nothing to do with it, to the extent that they took it back to Cincinnati with them. But the day of her party Mark and I presented her with a brand new (read: cheap polyester) princess dress, meant to replace the one she’d worn so much it was stained, torn and getting nubs all over it from the times I tried to wash it. Princess dresses, it turns out, are not made for the washing machine.

She loved her new pink princess dress we gave her. Then her friend Jacob gave her another  princess dress — albeit a slightly different shade of pink — as a birthday present. She immediately — in front of the crowd watching her open her presents — stripped down to her pull-ups to put on the new, even pinker, dress.  Oh, my child.

But perhaps an end is in sight. She also opened a really nice pirate costume for Christmas and likes to wear it around the house with her patch in place and brandishing her sword and yelling Aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr at her brother. She is sometimes a dog too, following me around on all fours, barking, and licking me when I’m least expecting it.  Perhaps that’s just a cry for attention from a mother focused on the gigantic mountain of laundry that I can’t seem to scale.

I don’t know how long this princess phase will last. I expect one day I’ll tell her the story of walking through Wegman’s in her princess gear and she will think how silly that was. Of course, she’ll probably be wearing  jeggings and tie-dye, or whatever the trendy clothes are for teenage girls are at that point.

And then, I’m sure, she will probably roll her eyes.

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