Funny Conversations With My Daughter

We’ve been doing things outside the last few weeks to prepare for the upcoming cold and snowy season.

Ineviteably, whether it’s putting a wrap on the air conditioning unit, raking leaves, or trimming back plants, Zoe is nearby and always wants to know “Whatchya doin’?”

I always tell her  ”Winter’s coming,” or “we’re getting ready for winter,” or some such thing. It never occurred to me how confusing that concept might be for a toddler until one day while I was tugging yellowed hastas out of the ground. She asked her question, and I explained to her — for the umpteenth time — that I was working on the yard because winter is almost here. That’s when her gaze turned to the street.

“Is that Winter?” she asked, as a jogger raised a hand in greeting as she puffed by.

I laughed. “Nope,” I said. “Winter is a season…” I launched into some explanation about the four seasons, which she clearly was quickly bored by as she interrupted to ask “Will Winter come in a car?” and then “Is Winter a boy?”

I haven’t been able to find a way to convey to her yet that winter is not, in fact, a boy person or a girl person. I’ll try to explain it’ll be winter when it snows, and she’ll say “is he coming on an airplane?”

“No.” I try again, while stifling a laugh. “Winter — he’s not a person…he’s not a he…he’s a season…there’s four of them…” I stumble along until she interrupts.

“Is he a dog?” she asks.

What this girl can do amazes me. She recognizes her letters, knows her numbers and sings more than a dozen songs by heart. She can tell me in paragraphs about her morning at school, knows when to pull her brother away from danger, and can concentrate on a drawing for long minutes at a time.

But it was this talk of good ol’ Winter that made me think about how hard it must be to comprehend this world around her, and understand what an amazing job she does at figuring it all out.  When you see a child day in and day out you can take for granted the milestones and growth. But this time in her life is so incredible because her knowledge base and comprehension is growing so quickly. It’s funny that it took trying to explain something she doesn’t quite understand to get a glimpse of how smart my little girl is.




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Making Ugly Old Toys New Again

Our “playroom” is actually part of our divided living room. I can see it from the kitchen and the living room, so can keep an eye on the kiddos while they play/fight over toys. The picture above is about a year old and was taken following the madness of a playdate with five 2-year-olds, but still. You get the idea. Since it’s out in the open, we try to keep stuff put away when they’re not playing — we have two leather ottomans against the windows with storage inside, and lots of baskets we can throw things into. I also had picked up a Lego table for $5 off of Craigslist and my dad and Sallie had given us an old easel that had been my brother’s more than 20 years ago.

They were big enough that I couldn’t put them away, and I didn’t like how they looked in the space. But the kids used them a lot, so I wanted to keep them out. So our solution? We bought four cans of Valspar spray paint meant for plastic furniture and painted them black. They look great, and it was an inexpensive fix.

It was easy-peasy too: We just took the pieces apart as much as possible, scrubbed years of dust and dirt buildup off of them, and then spray painted them in the garage.

Zoe helping to clean the easel.

The Lego table ready for its paint.

Here’s our after photos:


So don’t throw that old stuff away! Just a coat of paint can give new life to old toys!




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My Baby Boy is 1!

We had a lovely birthday with Maxie Friday. Mark took the day off work, and we had French toast (a Max favorite), followed by a visit to the Experience Children’s Museum, followed by naptime, followed by dinner with his grandma and grandpa Murphy at Skippereno’s (Max and Zoe’s favorite).

We decided not to have a traditional party, but we still went all out for the little guy:

I loved my banner. I got the letters from here. They’re free, in case you want to do your own.

Zoe and I made this awesome cake. I was so impressed with myself. I sometimes call Maxie my “Very Hungry Caterpillar” because he eats so much and eats EVERYTHING, which made this a perfect cake.

Another highlight: Our visit to the museum.

Where’s Zoe? She is pathetic at hide and seek. But funny.

After a break in the fun for afternoon naps (for all four of us) Grandma and Grandpa Murphy came to visit in time for dinner at Skippereno’s. Maxie had as much fun as we hoped.

Then, of course, home for caterpillar cake!

(awesome birthday plate from my Auntie Annie. Both kids have one. We love them so much we leave them out all year round!)

We were all concentrating on Max and no one was paying attention to Zoe. She took advantage of that situation by chowing down.

Happy, happy birthday to our baby boy. He had such a great birthday that he needed a sponge bath at the end to clean up. He still had orange eyebrows when I put him to bed. 

Note to Mark: Orange eyebrows equal a successful birthday in my book any year.

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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Max, throwing down gang signs.

 Zoe, so impatient with mommy’s pictures because she wanted to get to the “dance party,” aka ZooBoo.

From our princess and frog to yours, have a safe and happy holiday today!

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Sissons’ Pumpkin Patch

Port Farms better watch out: There’s a new patch in town.

I have taken Zoe to Port Farms in previous years, but when a friend told me about a new place called Sissons’ Pumpkin Patch in Girard we decided to try it instead this autumn.

It was great. It’s a lot like Port Farms, but smaller — which is perfectly fine for kids our age. We still didn’t make it to all the attractions by the time the little ones (and their parents) were tuckered out.

Mark’s favorite ride was the trikes built for big kids. I think he would’ve ridden it all day if Zoe would have stayed on the back. I think he was too embarrassed to do it by himself, even though he really wanted to.


There were also six or seven super fast slides, all of different lengths. There were no lines the day we went so Zoe went down the short one about 100 times. I went down the long one about 110 times. So. Much. Fun. There was also a super long corn maze. Yawn. I hate corn mazes. Mark insisted. As you can see, I lagged behind with the stroller and Max. Luckily we made it out before I had to call 911 for help.

And of course there was the cornbox. Zoe spent many happy minutes playing in it and brought home a souvenir kernel or two in her diaper, which was a bit of a shocker until I figured out what they were.

There was a pumpkin launch, which was super fun. We didn’t win anything, but we had a good time trying.We ended the day on a tractor ride. It about lulled us all to sleep. It was a nice way to end our day without any temper tantrums about leaving.Little cuddlebugs.

I like Port Farms a lot, but Sissons was a great size for our little ones, was a tad cheaper (at $6.95, the entry fee is $1 less on the weekends at Sissons Farms), and didn’t have nearly the crowds that you find on a nice day at Port Farms. That might change though as more people hear about Sissons. Oops.It’s definitely nice to have more than one of these great farms-turned-entertainment centers close by. We’ll be back again next year! And next year I will hit the pumpkin target. You can bet on that.

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Starting school

My little girl started school this fall. She is going to Villa Maria’s preschool program two mornings a week. I figured she would like it — she is soaking up information and knowledge as fast as she can right now and she loves to be with kids her age.

But I underestimated. She LOVES it. She asks every day if tomorrow is a school day. She is always happy to be dropped off (though since she’s two I still get the huge mommy smile and hug like she hasn’t seen me in a year. That’s a nice feeling.). She knows exactly where to go now, and sometimes runs ahead of me in the mornings because she can’t wait to get there.

She loves her teacher, who she calls Ms. Sandra.

We got her first school pictures the other day. They’re pretty terrible. Which is pretty great. Because who has ever taken a good school picture? She looks like a boy with super messy hair. I swear I put her hair in pigtails that morning. Or maybe not. I can’t remember.

It’s crazy to me how much she knows. She can pick out almost all of her letters and numbers by sight, can spell out her name on a keyboard, and has her colors down cold. Just this week she started drawing things I could recognize — a spider and then a few days later, a person.


She’s so proud of herself. One night this summer we were out for a walk and she made us hold her up at every Stop sign so she could spell out the word. It’s quite amazing to watch her learn. My jaw drops daily with something new. Love that girl.

 Now if only she would agree to use the potty I’d be a completely happy mama.



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Famous (for a Day) Babes

Did you see them in the Erie Times-News this morning? They were models for a story on no-sew Halloween costumes by Jennie Geisler. It was a super fun photo shoot with super photog Jack Hanrahan. It was complete with tears, a poopy diaper, and a baby who wouldn’t sit still. I was afraid Zoe was going to freak out about taking off the angel costume because she LOVES dressing like a princess, but she had no troubles. Perfect little model. I, however, was sweating by the end from changing costumes and trying to keep them smiling for Jack. I’m sure he has lots of pictures of my hands and feet swooping in and out to put Maxie back in the light. You can see the story here online, but there’s only one picture with it. Here’s the rest of Jack’s photos that were in print:

Adorable, eh? Thanks Jennie and Jack for including us in your story! We had a blast!

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Zoe, the Future Rock Star

So my girl rocked it at Penn Shore Winery’s Duke Sherman Band gig a few weeks back. She strummed daddy’s guitar, danced, and generally enjoyed being the center of attention. She even caught the attention of a professional photographer named Thom Heinrich who happened to be there, along with about 1,500 other people. He was nice enough to email me some of the shots he took, and I have included some of them here. You can find his work at

Oh yeah, and Duke was there too.

And here’s some of my less professional photos, shot with my iPhone:

If you haven’t been, make sure to find a Saturday next summer to go to Penn Shore for a concert. They have great bands, and such a fantastic venue with a huge wide open lawn, a great stage for dancing, and it’s all set in the middle of vineyards. They also have tents set up so there’s plenty of shade. When we were there, the grapes were almost ready for picking. Zoe and I tried a few. Delicious. The guys only play a few select gigs now — they chose four this summer — and this is one that they kept on their list because they always have so much fun and such a great, responsive crowd. Hopefully they’ll be invited back next year!

Thanks again to Thom for the photos too! If you live in the area make sure to check out his site if you need a photographer!



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Hi Ate Us

Hello my dear readers (all four of you):

We’re having ongoing computer issues at home which is messing with my photo library. I’ve also got several freelance projects that are going to be eating my time up in the next few weeks. So we’re going to get our computer straightened out and I’m going to get my projects done and then I will be back!

Look for new blog entries starting in the first week of October.



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The Littlest American Idol

Zoe has been listening to the same CD every night since she was about six weeks old. It’s a CD of traditional lullabies I was given as a shower present (Thanks Val Myers!).

A few weeks ago Mark and Zoe began singing along to the songs as part of their bedtime routine. He quickly realized  she knew every word on the CD by heart. We were suitably impressed, and I think because of our reaction she was proud of herself. The result is that she now sings the songs all the time. She sings along to her CD while she lays in bed or sings all by herself in the backseat of the car.

It’s the cutest thing ever. Her favorite is “Hush Little Baby.” She sings it a lot. When I try to sing along she holds her hand out to me and says “No, baba, no. Stop.” Apparently she’s the only one who can sing in this family.

I got her on video the other day singing “Hush.” Here it is. I apologize for the sun in the video. It’s definitely not the best quality, but you can hear her clearly. The lyrics follow in case you have trouble understanding toddler-speak.

Hush little baby, don’t say a word.
Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird won’t sing,
Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring
And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass
And if that looking glass gets broke,
Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat
And if that billy goat won’t pull,
Papa’s gonna buy you a cart and bull
And if that cart and bull fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town

Adorable, right?

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