Showing posts from 2009

Tinkle Bells

So ... I can explain. During this family photo shoot at the park, Jackson had to "go" and since at this time we were in the middle of potty training he dropped his drawers before I could even determine potty locations. While on the one hand I was horrified, on the other I was thrilled the boy chose monkey grass over his khakis. The photographer, who also has a little boy, knew just what to do. Document it! And thus the family Christmas card was born. Our Christmas cards were designed and created by the lovely and talented Emily Lytle. (Shout out to Cookie!) Once again, she has outdone herself and our cards were a big hit all around. We wish you all a healthy and happy holiday and a wonderful new year! Eric, Amanda and Jackson (and Elvis)

Merry Christmas



Every night, before putting ourselves to bed we do a check to ensure the boy is covered, settled, etc. in his crib. Usually we just pull up the quilt he has kicked off, or put Elmo nearby, etc.
However, the other night I peeked in to find Jackson's bare shoulders peeping out from under his quilt.
Odd. I had put him in some footie pajamas, since it has been so cold at night.
Footies that zip all the way up. Covering shoulders.
I whispered for Eric to come see this funny sight, thinking he had just unzipped the top of his fleece pjs and gotten his arms out. But as my eyes adjusted to the dark, I reached in to the crib and pulled out his entire footie pajamas.
They had been shoved to the other end of his bed.
Uh ...
I brought my evidence out in to the hallway to show Eric his boy likes to sleep in the nude.
"Did you check to see if the pull-up is on?" was the first thing he asked.
Oh shit, I didn't think to check that!
Eric, sneaks back in the dark nursery only to come back …

Pen-Nail Part Two

Jackson sang a new little hymn before bedtime tonight:

Jesus loves me this I know
Cause the Bible tells me so.
Yes, Jesus loves me
I gotta scratch from my pen-nail.


Jackson began our two-hour drive to Ft. Smith with concern about a tiny scratch he had on his hand.

"I got a boo-boo, mama."
"Oh, wow. How did you get that scratch?"
"From my pen-nail."

(Pen-nail is Jackson's word for hangnail. You know ... because ... uh ... because he is two.)

"I need a band-aid for my boo-boo, mama."
"Well, actually I think you don't really need one because the scratch is small and healing rather nicely."
"Yeah, be nice scratch!"

Sometimes you gotta let that pen-nail know who's boss.

Lil' Christmas

This is a book review by Jackson ... kinda.

Like many families, we split up the holidays between both sides of the family. We get to have two Christmases. We always have our first one with Eric's side of the family.
We've dubbed it Lil' Christmas, and everyone is always thrilled to be able have a whole weekend of festivities, family and fun.
One of the gifts Jackson received from his great-grandparents was this book:

Pop and Dearie recorded the story for each grandchild - complete with bells, laughter, cheer and each child's name when appropriate.
When I turned the pages and heard their voices acting out the story, my heart nearly fell onto the book. I had to blink back the tears.
I hadn't seen these but apparently they are from Hallmark. I know it is getting a bit late for gifts, but I highly recommend this book, especially for those children who don't get to be around members of family very often.
I was thrilled to know that while Jackson doesn't get to see Pop …

Christmas Star


Tonight we were reading The Night Before Christmas during Jackson's bedtime routine.
When I got to the pages about Santa and his nose like a cherry and his bowl full of jelly, I pointed to Santa's nose and then lightly tapped Jackson's nose. You know, for dramatic effect.
As I went to turn to the next page, Jackson stopped me.

"No, Mama," he said and quickly tapped the tip of his own nose and gently "returned" it to Santa's nose on the page. "That's his nose, Mama. Got to give it back."

I'm thinking he "nose" about that naughty or nice list...

P.S. Jackson has learned a new Christmas carol: Oh Christmas Tree. His version goes like this:
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!

Tuesday Evenings

Just being silly in the work hat, pjs and boots. You know how it is.

Teaching Rudolph the letter P, high dramatics with Elvis and then a self-admission:


Never try to separate a man and his boots. Never.


Eric walked in the door after work limping and groaning. He bent to rub his aching shins while taking off his dusty work boots.
Apparently he'd had a run in with a tree. And the tree fought back. All over his shin.
We all changed into our pjs and piled on the bed to hear about this day-long battle between Eric, the tree and its brittle limbs. After Eric recounted the details of climbing a giant tree and cutting limbs and feeling sweet relief when finally able to climb back into the boom truck, I asked Jackson how his day had gone.
"Very well," he said.
"Good," I said. "What did you do today?"
"A tree scratched me!" he exclaimed, staring me in the face while rubbing his leg.
"Oh really?" my eyebrow rises.
"Yeah!" he says, getting into his tale. "It scratched me right here and I couldn't turn around to get into the bucket so daddy was in the bucket and I was in the bucket."
"I see," I said. "Do you nee…


While managing his numerous construction projects, building and re-building his railroad dynasty and repairing various household fixtures such as door jams, Jackson also likes to wear a fancy pair of heels.

His favorites include my pink and tangerine sandals with a flower at the toe, my red pumps and my black high-heeled loafers. He loves nothing more than to clack around in these lovely little numbers, while taking out the trash, pushing his blue and yellow dump truck or working his bright orange pliers.
He is conflicted.
In fact, last night he pulled up his tiny red chair next to me on the floor, grasped his pliers and began to give me a trim in his salon. He "curled" individual locks with wooden pieces from his set of train tracks. After finishing my new do, he promptly transformed the curvy piece of track into an air guitar for some bluesy tune.
All in a hard day's work.

The Member Of the Wedding

Just finished reading this little gem. The novel is told from the perspective of 12-year-old tomboy Frankie Addams. The pre-teen's stifled life in a small Southern town is depicted in the telling of only two or three days before her brother's wedding - an event that she feels, hopes, knows will change her life forever. Carson McCullers portrays the adolescent's journey in a manner that conveys childlike wonder without being too juvenile.
Written in 1946, I'd never heard of this book before stealing it from my closet at my parent's house during Thanksgiving.
It's a simple tale, but told as though each word, each note, each voice has been crafted to form a sweet, soft, little poem on each page. Without muddling it up with over-dramatic nuances, McCullers identifies exactly what it feels like to be a nearly-teen on the verge of the rest of your life.

Teen angst is truly timeless.

My favorite passage:
It was the hour when the shapes in the kitchen darkened and voices bl…

Showtime - A Movie Review in Three Sentences or Less

It's like the movie Crash has gone international, which is fine but I just don't see why Brad Pitt is such a big deal.
Many consider a movie or book that leaves you feeling sad and uncomfortable afterward a success.
If you are one of those people, you will enjoy Babel.

We give this movie two out of three marshmallows.

Show and Tell

Just before Jackson goes to bed we review the day.
Last night, I reminded him that when he goes to school Monday he can brag to his friends that Ms. Alicia, his teacher, came to play with him Saturday night.
"They say 'No way, Jose!'" he warned me.
Guess they are a tough crowd.

Travel Dreams

This morning while Jackson and I were cuddling in our bed, I thought I would start to prepare Jackson for all of the holiday traveling we will be doing over the next three weeks.
I thought I would start small.
Little did I know he is our in-house travel agent who has been paying attention.

Me: Jackson, guess who we are going to see over the next few weekends?
Jackson: Paw-Paw! and Elvis! and Mam and Granddad! aaaaand Sylvie!
Me: Well. Actually. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

Later in the conversation, I asked him if he had slept well and if he had any dreams.
He said: I slept very well. I dreamed Paw-Paw and Elvis and a lion.


As the icy wind settles into the nooks and crannies of our 1952 home, so does a winter case of the Nots.
The Nots have slipped their way into breakfast, bath time, the car ride home from school and even when getting ready for bed. While they never appear in anger and they are only here to test our conversational patience, they do tend to pop up everywhere.

Be careful. I hear they are contagious.

A few symptoms to look out for:

Me:Look Jaxie! Christmas lights!
Jackson: Those are NOT Christmas lights.

Eric: Careful the water is hot.
Jackson: The water is NOT hot.

Me: Elvis is hungry; we'd better go feed him.
Jackson: Elvis is NOT hungry.

Anyway, there is no vaccine for this epidemic as of this posting.
Please, warn the others.


I know this is a touchy topic, but as a big animal lover I wanted to spread the word. Not only is the animal issue important to me, but I am a fan of and her writing and wanted to help out. So if you have a sec and can handle it emotionally, check it out.


Me: So, I heard you got in trouble today.
Jackson: Yeah.
Me: What happened?
Jackson: I got the Neosporin.
Me: Why?
Jackson: Cause I need the cream to put it on my hands and on my leg.

(please note there is no need for Neosporin on his hand, leg or entire body, yet he dispensed with a tube today)

Me: Well, the next time you need the Neosporin ask the teacher. You say to her, 'Teacher, I need some Neosporin, please.' Ok?
Jackson: Ok.
Me: Let's practice.
Jackson: Teacher, can I have some Neosporin to put on my hands and on my leg, please?
Me: Nice work.
Jackson: Can you sing "Cat's-in-the-cradle-when-you-comin'-home"?
Me: Ok.


This morning Eric decided to make a full-scale breakfast. Complete with sausage, spinach and cheese omelets, biscuits and some of the best bacon I've ever had.
It was the perfect kind of crispy. Not too crunchy. Not too chewy.
After a few bites, I complimented him on his bacon preparation.
He claimed it really had nothing to do with his cooking skills and that it was more about what kind of bacon he had purchased.
I inquired about the brand name and he immediately refused me.
He turned from the stove to look at me. Shook his spatula in the air and said:
"I will never tell you about my secret bacon so that you will always need me for this perfect bacon."

I grinned. Was he serious?

"And that's what I like to call 'Bringing home the bacon,'" he concluded.

He whipped back around to attend to his sizzling strips.

What can I say? The crazy chef knows how to make a marriage work.

The Help

This book has been making its way around my extended family for several months and just before Thanksgiving break I got my hands on it. Set in Jackson, Mississippi, the book revolves around three women and the racial barriers in the 1960s. The framework for such a classic plot guides you through an awakening of two maids, a young college grad and their community.
After reading it, I passed it along at Thanksgiving dinner and for a brief second before I placed it in my sister-in-law's hands, I felt sad about letting Aibileen, one of the main characters go to someone else.
She cares for her boss' two-year-old little girl as if she were her own and tries to instill an open heart in the nearly doomed child.

From silver patterns to ten different ways to use Crisco, the book interlaces chapters about mundane household chores with others centering on shattering decade-old boundaries. During our own Thanksgiving meal, I fingered the silverware, wondering what pattern my grandmother'…

You're Welcome

As I left for work Monday morning, I turned to tell Jackson to have a good day.

He responded with the same sentiment.

I said, "Thank you." And as I went on my way out the door he said:

"Thanks, mama! Thanks for having me!"

Anytime, I thought.

The Known World

Wow. Exhausting. Tremendous. What a book. I felt like I needed to make a genealogical chart to keep track of these characters. I needed a great Oak to carry and organize each person, to follow the limbs of each intricate story line. Edward P. Jones incorporates so many details that I found it difficult to accept that this book was not true. Fiction? Impossible.
How could these characters not be real? Is there really no Blueberry foundation? No Moses? No Augustus? He and his bloodline were so real to me. Manchester County existed a million times over and yet it was never on a map.
The vivid epic unravels with an exploration of slavery on a Southern plantation. The title, The Known World, was an excellent tool in expressing that a person's world could be as simple as a few feet of a dusty path or as large as a ship drifting from France to a jail cell. Jones touches and prods at the heart of this racist and tumultuous county in Virginia from around the world without really ever leavin…

Total Request Live

This is currently Jackson's No. 1 request when it comes to music.
He loves it and tries to sing it daily.
We've watched it ... hmmm ... maybe a braziallian times?

Showtime - A movie review in three sentences or less

After a slow and sweaty start, it was more like funny, fat boy, funny. Englishmen and their pasty "cheeks" cast a certain charm on our living room audience. We chuckled our way through it and I even laughed myself into tears once. We give this movie three out of five Oreos.

Christian Rock

You'd Better Check Yourself...

While meandering up and down the grocery aisles this morning, Jackson was swinging his legs from the buggy seat while I was reading the list and keeping a running inventory of our pantry in my mind.
We made a morning out of the outing. It can be quite an event.
While cruising the aisles, Jack and I discuss politics, fashion and whether or not we really need chocolate milk or Oreos. ("for grandad!" he said trying to convince me...)
During this aisle-13-small-talk, I will usually try to sneak in a quick kiss on his rosy cheek or tickle his neck just to keep things silly.
Today, I bent down and dropped a noisy kiss on his right cheek.

"No, mama!" he shouts. "Don't kiss me!"

My heart sank. Already? I've heard about the dreadful moment when your kid shies away from your public affection. But one always thinks: Not my child!

So I go in for the kill and plop another on his cheek.

"No, mama!" he rejects it again. "You don't kiss me!" he de…

People of The Book

When a book conservator encounters a centuries-old Hebrew text, the Sarajevo Haggadah, she feels a “strange and powerful” sensation, something “between brushing a live wire and stroking the back of a newborn baby’s head.” It’s spring 1996 in Sarajevo, and Hanna has been called in to examine the book before it’s put on display.

Dancing between present day and years gone by, this book is not only filled with vivid descriptions and colorful language but is also laced with historical and cultural information that provides a solid connection between you and each time period.

With a writing style that traipses through time, one could get lost among the fact and fiction. But aside from a few meaningless sub-plots, the book refuses to let you go.

(actual page from the Sarajevo Haggadah that is referred to many times in the book)*

Lavish descriptions of ink colors, detailed fabric patterns and heart-breaking tales of families in danger, the book offers much range. Like the threads twisting into th…

I Was Holdin' My Motorcycle Shirt

Jackson was strolling up and down the hallway strumming his guitar absentmindedly when he spotted the outfit I had laid out for him for school the next day.
He was excited to see the black and white t-shirt* laid out on the the trunk. He snatched it up and carried it in to the hallway asking me:
"I wear this morrow?"
I said yes and I guess he was so thrilled he decided to immediately write a song about it.
Thus this bluesy tune ensued:

and this version:

Let's just say I caught many renditions on video.

*Please note there is no actual motorcycle on the shirt. In fact, it just says Old Navy.

Showtime - A Move Review in Three Sentences Or Less

The Bank Job

Based on a true story, which always makes a movie more interesting.*
You knew Jason Statham was going to have at least one ass-kicking scene.
I had no idea British parliament/royalty were so sexually deviant.

On a scale of 5 M&Ms we give this one 2.
A green one and a blue one.

*Once I heard a comedian say that the movie Transformers would be so much better if right before the beginning it said "based on a true story." I would have to agree.

Birthday Monkey

An International Halloween


You Can't Eat The Moon

While we are not crazy-granola-hippy parents, we don’t allow Jackson to watch TV. It isn't like a giant soap box that we stand on, it just isn't really an issue.
It’s just not on the schedule.
If one of us stayed home with Jackson during the day, I'm sure things would be different. TV would be most helpful when a parent has got to finally get to that shower, fix a meal, etc.
But since Jackson is in school, the minute we all come home we spend our time visiting, playing, etc.
All that being said, we do however let Jackson watch
That's right.
No T.V.
We just let him troll the underbelly of the internet.

Every now and then we will play a youtube video of a family member, a great song or of a Sesame Street character. Currently Eric has been trying to educate him on Michael Jackson's music. Youtube has a plethora of MJ as you can imagine.
But his favorites are of course Fiest's 1234 Sesame Street song as I have mentioned here before, and anything Elmo related…


While getting Jackson ready for his bath, I noticed a pretty good size scratch on his right shoulder.
I wrinkled my brow and asked him what happened.
"Who scratched you?" I ask.
He looks up at me and wrinkles his brow.
"You did," he responds.
I quickly review the day wondering if one of my nails had grazed him and couldn't recall a thing.
"Me?," I reply. "No, not me!"
Turning toward me again, he repeats a bit louder, "You."
"No, I did not scratch you," I protest.
"YOU!" he raises his voice getting a bit irritated with the line of questioning.
I recount the days' events again, thinking there just can't be any way I did this. I am not taking the fall.
"No way." I declare. "Wasn't me."
"No! Yooooooouuuu!" he shouts, thrusting his chin so far forward I think his neck will pop out of place. "Youuuuuuuuu! Youuuuuuu!" he chants like a tiny ghost.
Finally, he puts his tiny hand o…


You know how crazy I am about Where the Wild Things Are? Right?

Check it out:

Small Talk

During dinner everyone discusses their day. Highlights, recaps, funny moments etc.
Jackson asks each of us how our days were.
"How was your day, mama?" and after my short response he will turn to his left and ask, "How was your day, daddy?" and Eric will also partake in this bit of dinner-time small talk.
But the best part is when we turn the question to him.
Typically he mentions playing in the kitchen and how he cooked something like sour cream soup. Sometimes he acts as though he has been working at a construction site all day by having to "hammamer" at school. He sometimes makes up stories about jupiter jumps and maybe even adds a few tall tales about falling down or getting a boo-boo that doesn't even exist.

Yesterday, they must have played in the gym because while devouring a pile of spaghetti he mentioned a new activity.

Amanda: What did you do today, Jackson?
Jackson: I played with balls.

Eric doesn't miss a beat.

Eric: Who's balls did you pla…


From Jupiter jumps to fire trucks, this weekend was packed with flashing lights, cookies, music and so much candy collecting that in the quiet darkness of his room as Jackson drifted off to sleep last night he said:
"Let's go to another festival, mama."

And so the festivus season has begun.

Back Seat Driver

You might be a bad driver if on the way to school this morning your two-year-old says:
"Slow down, mama! Not like a race car!"

Hop On The Potty Train

We are currently in the throes of potty training. We seem to be nearing the other side as Jackson has total understanding of the process and every now and then the only issue is remembering to get to a potty in time - not just 5 seconds before, making mama and daddy nearly break their necks as everyone flings themselves down the hallway and into the potty. As I do for most parental undertakings, I read a lot of different resources about it and asked for advice from anyone who would give it. So I thought I would put together a timeline of tips and advice that worked for us in case any of my four readers were interested. (I see you taking notes, Cookie!) Timeline/tips: 18 months: Jackson displayed an interest and so we got him a potty chair of his own (from Target) and put it in the bathroom. Just so he would get used to seeing it. He loved it. Found it hilarious. Would sit on it. Giggled and pointed at it. BUT- he never "used" it if you get my drift. Not once. So that was a w…


Movie: Miss Potter Review:
Such a delightful, utterly charming, jewel of a film that after viewing you must tilt your head just so and speak only with a soft English accent while conversing with colourful caricatures of tiny, yet smartly dressed woodland creatures.
Based on the current potty training holiday-reward system, we give this movie: 3 out of 5 candycorns.


Me: Ok, Jack here is your m&m for using the potty!
Jackson: No, mama. This is my medicine.

He clutches the purple candy, and wanders down the hall, head down, wearing a very serious face.
I follow.

Me: Oh, you need some medicine?
Jackson: Yeah. I'm sick.
Me: Oh. What's the medicine for?

He turns back, looks up, thrusts the tiny and now melting candy in my face.

Jackson: It's for ME!

Not Really About That Dream I had Last Night

Me: I had this dream last night that I kept trying to talk to you but you kept watching t.v. Except it felt like a nightmare.

Eric: Oh, really? Man. Well... But what was on t.v.? I mean ... was it like X-Files? Because then ... well. Come on!


We texted during the first half.
Bailed before the second half.
We love both of these actors, but could not get through this.

Based on the current potty training reward system, we give this movie: 1 out of 5 M&Ms.

So Long, Summer

It was a good summer.
There was lots of sliding, plenty of tomato picking, endless reading, visiting family, tons of growing, some travelling and it was all topped off with potty training

What did you do this summer?

So Not Attractive

So after bath last night, Jackson was giggling so hard while hanging upside down that he gave himself the hiccups and then urped through his nose.
Sometimes parenthood is gross.

Mail Call!

Oh? Have I mentioned ...

... my courtesy copy arrived last night!
From London!

So, I highly recommend adding it to your reading list.
Oh, and also page 176.
Just sayin.'

Pumpkin Town

Was a very big success. I recommend it. ...for the rest of the adventure visit:


Since we've just discovered NetFlix about a year ago, we thought we'd include a new feature here at houpley inc.
Welcome to: Three-Sentence Movie Reviews!
How does this relate to parenthood, you may ask? NetFlix is the easiest way we are able to actually watch a movie! We've been playing catch up for quite some time.
Not only have we been trying to watch some classics we never got around to but we've also been working on The Wire. Also we're fans of the Watch It Instantly feature.
Plus with NetFlix, it doesn't sting so badly when you've ordered a dud.

Like this one:

Movie: I love you, man

We laughed out loud four times.
For sure a renter.
Gag reel was funniest part.

Based on our current potty training reward system, we give this movie: 2 out of 5 M&Ms.

Fall Reading List

Excited to start a few new books.
Over the weekend, mom loaded me up with some literary recs.

First up: People of the Book

Next on the list: The Known World.

Except I took a peak at this one and may have to move it to the top of the list.
Have you read either of these?
If so, let's make plans to discuss. I'll bring the wine, you bring the cheese.
If not, I'll still bring the wine.

I love having new and delicious books waiting for me on the bedside table.
You know, for those 30 seconds before I fall asleep.

Paw-Paw's Spousal Abuse Prevention Program

Nearly every night, just before bed time we all head out to the bench on the front porch and take a few minutes to hear the crickets, smell a storm coming in, or feel a cool breeze on our cheeks before reading a story and tucking Jack in for the night. Last night, while swinging his legs from the bench and enjoying a final graham cracker or two, Jack spotted three tiny slugs coming up through a crack on the porch.
We all became very interested in their unhurried travels and Jack must have asked a million questions about them.
His last question, "I touch 'em?" was met with a “no” and followed up with a few slug stories.
Everyone has a slug story.
Once, I accidentally stepped on one barefoot and it was one of the grossest things I've ever done.
Paw-Paw regaled us with a classic slug-torture tale involving salt. He said he had seen someone do it and it was horrible.
This led to the discussion of why children, particularly boys torture animals and why some parents don't do…

Hop On The Potty Train

We are currently in the throes of potty training.

We seem to be nearing the other side as Jackson has total understanding of the process and now every now and then the only issue is remembering to get to a potty in time - not just 5 seconds before, making mama and daddy nearly break their necks as everyone flings themselves down the hallway and into the potty.
As I do for most parental undertakings, I read a lot of different resources about it and asked for advice from anyone who would give it. So I thought I would put together a timeline of tips and advice that worked for us in case any of my four readers were interested. (I see you taking notes, Cookie!)

18 months: Jackson displayed an interest and so we got him a potty chair of his own (from Target) and put it in the bathroom. Just so he would get used to seeing it. He loved it. Found it hilarious. Would sit on it. Giggled and pointed at it. BUT- he never "used" it if you get my drift. Not once. So that was a …

Paw-Paw's World

After fighting down a fever for two days and seemingly feeling back to normal, Jack headed to school Monday with what appeared to be good health…
…only to be "carded" by 9 a.m.
The giant, orange card screams from the front of our fridge that he can't return until later in the week.
It seemed he'd had a few episodes of a … shall we say ... unattractive "symptom."
With no family nearby, we are the parents that have to battle the PTO nightmare with our jobs.
Who takes this shift? Who has the least hectic day? Who has PTO to spare?
Eric was ready for an afternoon shift but the kid had to head home, asap. Monday and Tuesday are my busiest days so our schedules wreak havoc.
Much like the havoc that was happening in Jack's tummy.
I race to collect the boy, who’s happy demeanor belied his turbulent belly. Winning personality or not, fact was - he'd been kicked out.
Once home, I start to whip up elements of the classic B.R.A.T. diet and Eric has called to say he'…


Every night, when putting Jackson to bed we say a little good-night prayer.
And every night I end it with a quiet, "Amen."
And every night he always asks, "Where Amen go?"
And every night I say "Amen is the word I use to close a prayer."
And every night he softly replies, "oh."
Every night.

Did I mention....

... my 15-year-old-self got her work published?
She would freak if she knew her musical genius would one day be out there for all the world to see.
But I'm in charge now, so she can deal.

Here is an article about the book:

Good Read

Just finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Thick with emotion, each page is littered with some of the most delicate descriptions. Once you've digested some of his unusual phrases, poetry and graphs, you realize that is exactly what that particular emotion looks like. I highly recommend it. What are you reading?

Car Ride Conversations

During the two-hour drive to visit family ...

Amanda: It's hard to explain, but when my boyfriend and I broke up, at the time it was one of the worst things that had ever happen to me. Every time I woke up, for a few seconds each morning I had forgotten it had happened. And then after a few minutes, I would remember everything that had happened and I would be so sad all over again. You know what I mean?

Eric: Yes. Like how I feel about Patrick Swayze right now.


Eric: Come here, Jack. Let me wipe your nose buddy.

Jackson: Kay.

Eric: Whoa. I don't think that's ... I'm not sure what that is. Wait a minute. Is that? ... I don't ...

Amanda: What? What is it? What's wrong?

Eric: Yeah, that's not snot. That's got some cinnamon and icing in it.


We attended a PTA meeting last night and I overheard Eric and another mother, Roxanne, discussing the differences between Dora and Diego.
Since Jack doesn't want TV much at all we are not caught up on the details of the characters. However, I had noticed Diego is skateboarding on the front of Jackson's pull-ups.
So, naturally we had some questions.

Eric: Dora has her own show right?

Roxanne: Yes.

Eric: So, Diego is like a spin off of Dora?

Roxanne: Right.

Eric: (pauses to digest this news) So ... he's like the Frasier of Cheers?

Roxanne: (doesn't miss a beat) Exactly.


One of the great things about attending a fairly small, private daycare is that everyone knows you. The children, the other parents, the teachers, the directors, even the cook.
So everyone is cheering you on as you learn to use the potty. That means teachers stop you in the hallway to congratulate you and your new Elmo underwear.
Everyone has heard the news.
You are a potty training rock star.
(it helps to feed the Leo)

Free Love

Before heading to school we take a bathroom break.
Before heading anywhere we take a bathroom break.
In fact, we take potty breaks every 30 seconds these days.
We've been potty training for nearly a full week, and apparently Jackson is slowly learning to love the potty.
This morning he strolled into the bathroom and greeted it.
"Good morning, potty," he said.
He held out his arms and leaned in.
"Hug, potty?"

I couldn't help but think to myself ... oh, honey ... you'll be hugging that thing a lot during your freshmen year.

Bad Batch

In the car on the way home...

Me: Did you have a good day today, Jackson?

Jackson: Yes.

Me: What did you do today?

Jackson: I played in the alligator room.

Me: What did you play?

Jackson: Kitchen. I cooked.

Me: Oh, what did you make?

Jackson: Soup.

Me: Really? What kind of soup?

Jackson: Uh ... sauce soup.

Me: Oh, sauce soup. I love sauce soup. It's delicious.

Jackson. No. It was yucky. I don't like it.

... a good chef recognizes his mistakes. He knows when the batch of sauce soup just isn't up to par.

Taught by Tomato

Our vegetable/herb garden not only produces lovely green peppers, basil, parsley and several varieties of tomatoes but it has taught Jackson how to care and nurture something.
He helps weed and water on a weekly basis.
It has taught him his colors as he waits for the tomatoes on the vine to ripen.
He tries to be patient while he stares at the in between tomatoes resting on the window sill. He checks every day, if not several times a day, to see if they have turned a bit more red.
It teaches him how to be gentle as he places each tomato into his basket to carry back into the kitchen. Even tiny leaves of basil are sometimes carried directly to the kitchen counter with great reverence.
But to learn that the results of his hard work are so tasty in his spaghetti dinner may be the biggest pay off.
Caring for a growing garden - a classic learning tool.
I highly recommend it.
What did you grow this year?

So Far So Good

Eric retrieved Jackson from his crib this morning and plopped him in between us at about 8 a.m. Within a few minutes, Jackson's arms were tightly woven around my neck and his face was smushed against my forehead.
He kept squirming for a comfortable spot while mumbling "Here we go, mama ... here we go ... here we go ... " repeatedly until he found it.
Eventually after the twirling tornado of toddler had settled, his face was in my face, a pacifier was lodged in my eye and I could barely breathe.
He dislodged one arm from my neck, patted my back and asked, "How was your day, mama?"

Before suffocating, I managed, "Well, it's only been about 15 minutes long, but so far it's been great."


Jackson: I tickle daddy?

Eric: Oh no! (he laughs as Jack's fingers scrunch around his neck)

Jackson: I tickle mama?

Amanda: Oh no! (she also laughs appropriately)

Jackson: I tickle me?


Sometimes I feel really low thinking how he won't get a chance to know her.
But then I see his grin.
His dimple.
And I think ... oh, there she is!
She's right there.
In nearly every smile.

(kind of catches the dimple. a little.)

photo courtesy of sylvia (free to go) (

Family Trees

I am an only child.
My mother is an only child.
My father has one sister. She only has one child.
I only have one first cousin.
All this math to point out I have a small, tight-knit family tree. Maybe even just a shrub.
Eric however comes from a forest of family.
Every year, the limbs from his family gather at Petit Jean state park for a Labor Day family reunion. The park and its lodgings are taken over by the family. They come from all across the globe. It is like nothing else I have ever experienced. And this is just his mother's side of the tree. (He has an entire Yellowstone Park full of family trees on his father's side as well.)
The first time I attended this particular reunion as a mere girlfriend, I was overwhelmed. Not only were there tons of family members but the majority of them all look alike. Meaning Eric's dark hair and set of teeth were staring at me from every cabin.
I am still not totally used to the event but have found my reunion-comfort-zone.
And of course, now…

Turn Up the Heat

Now that we have a outdoor sound system, it's fun to lounge on the deck and listen to my fave summer songs. The following are a few tunes/albums I crank up when throwing open the sun roof and soaking in a summer daze.What are your favorite summer tunes to crank up in the heat?
blister in the sun by Violent FemmesI think the title really explains my reasoning Live by Ani DifrancoWell, the heat is so great. Turns water to sky. Outkast by Andre 3000Just plain fun.

BumFest 2009

While walking downtown after lunch, my husband and I passed a large man bellowing words from the gospel at passersby. He wore a black suit, had a large white cross standing beside him. A worn bible was in one hand while the other was in a fist being shaken at downtown employees scurrying for grub on their too-short lunch break.
He was unstoppable, passionate and very loud.
His booming shouts were echoing off of downtown's skyscrapers.
Eric kept glancing his way as we neared and I noticed how he made other folks a bit uncomfortable.

"I kind of like it," I said gesturing toward the corner preacher.

"Really?" Eric was a bit surprised.

"Yeah," I said. "I like to hear stuff like that on the street. I think it's cool. It's like America. It's like I live in a big city."

Eric paused and took a sip of his soda while considering my reasoning.
I continued.

"It's like one time I walked back from lunch and passed one guy playing a guitar, the…


It occurred to me that when Jack moved from being a Penguin to a Monkey I wrote a bit about his transition, new class and teachers. Last week he made yet another transition into the Alligator room.
It seems like every transition is a very big deal. Last time it was stressful for me because he was moving up to toddler level meaning no longer on the infant floor.
This transition is once again all about becoming more independent.
Fortunately many of the independent behaviors they will be developing he already enjoys doing.
Such as..,
-using utensils
-drinking from a cup
-taking his dishes to the sink
-washing his hands
-using a napkin

These are all things he has been doing at home on and off again for quite some time.
While nervous about Jack becoming such a big kid, I am excited about his teacher’s curriculum plans.
They will begin a daily preschool session and by the end of the year are expected to know colors, shapes and more in Spanish. I'm thrilled about that because the majority of the Spa…

I Saw Tuesday

While cooking supper...

Jackson: I saw mama.

Mama: Oh. You did? Ok.

Jackson: I saw daddy.

Mama: Oh, yeah? I did too. Where did he go?

Jackson: I saw Elvis.

Mama: Did he go with daddy?

(I finally look up and see Jack headed toward the dog with the green-handled SAW from his tiny toolbox.)

Mama: Hang on, now! Don't saw Elvis.

After supper...

Jackson: Mama, where trash cans go?

Mama: I don't know. Where did they go?

Jackson: Garbage man came, Mama. It's Tuesday.

Watch Out Tom

Me: I had a terrible dream last night.

Eric: Really?

Me: I dreamed you cheated on me.

Eric: Awwww, baby.

Me: With Katie Holmes.

Eric: Oh wow! Great job, Eric!

Literary Offensives

It's hard to write about this topic without coming off like an arrogant, pompous kind of mom (you know the type.) But after noticing this a few times and even discussing it with a few relatives who have noticed it too, I've decided something must be said.
I am so irritated and disappointed with the incorrect grammar and punctuation slipping into children's literature.
It's out.
Is this the part where I yell at those kids to get off my lawn?
Now that I have set myself up for scrutiny - as I'm sure my posts are riddled with misspellings and grammar whatnots - I would like to point out these posts are causal and not meant for teaching children to read.
On the contrary, Jackson's latest favorite, Speedy the Fire Truck, is a great Wheelie book he thoroughly enjoys.
Meaning we've read it a brazillian times.
It's got everything.
Plenty of fiery action, handsome firemen, rhyming phrases, large spinning wheels, a cat, etc.
And it all ends with a giant, glaring erro…

Photo Recap

Birthday photos are here:

and here:

(hope these links work. otherwise, you may have to cut and paste.)




While playing with his new tool set...

Jackson: Mama, I hamammering!
Me: I see that.
Jackson: I hamammer Elvis, mama?
Me: Don't hammer Elvis.


Jackson: I hamammer Jackson, mama?
Me: Uh.... Sure.

So Much Birthday

To top off our birthday-week-extravaganza, Jack was invited to his first little kid birthday party the Sunday after his party.
His classmate, Sawyer's birthday party was held at The Little Gym.
At first, I thought it would be just another giant, loud kid place riddled with pink eye.
But when we arrived, it was a lovely place that the group of kids got to enjoy all to themselves.
Jackson loved the gymnastic equipment and was a pro at the open-jupiter-jump-thing.
Mama however, not so much.
He did the parallel bars, walked the balance beam and climbed the rock wall.
After much running, climbing and flinging of tiny bodies on to colorful, odd shaped items, the staff corralled the kids in line for a little pre-cake Purel.

That was the moment I fell in love with The Little Gym.

The staff Purelled each and every one of their little grubby fingers prior to them smashing Elmo cupcakes into their faces.
My heart soared and I nearly made out with her. But I didn't want to embarrass the boy... or t…

Birthday Season

Birthday celebrations are over.
Bits of wrapping paper have been vacuumed. Laundry is done. New outfits are ready for school tomorrow, new colorful trucks are being broken in while shiny new books are being memorized.
And while everyone has returned home and the work week has already begun to drag by, Jack is still riding the birthday train.
In fact, he is the conductor of the birthday train.
All day at school, he sang "Happy Birthday." Apparently to anyone who will listen.
This continued through dinner, at which point he asked for my strawberry and when I gave it to him he said "Happy-birthday-to-YOU!" like it was one word.
A polite, proper, mannerly way to really show someone how thankful you for the bit of fruit.
He's weaning himself from the fountain of birthday.
Evidently, every day is a "Happy Birthday" kind of day.

He may or may not get this birthday-continuation trait from me...


So here we are the morning of Jackson's (and Eric's) birthday celebration.
Just this moment I hear Jackson eating breakfast with all the family that is slowly filling up our tiny house.
That's how I prefer it- family bustling all around, chatting and laughing.
Coffee is brewing and breakfast is warming up.
It is a luxury we don't get to relish in very often. Well, not as often as we'd prefer.
With family scattered across the world, it is always a treat when they drop in by car, by plane or even by Skype.
When family arrives to take part, it makes my emotions swell even more. I take a step back and lose my breath for a second when I realize they are all here for him.
Because they love him just as much as I do.
Because they can't wait to see how this life unfolds.
And mostly because they can't wait to see his face when he discovers there is frozen custard in his cake.


When company is on the way, cleaning is always at the top of the "get ready" list. Yesterday, we were cleaning for company and the upcoming birthday party.
I heard Eric wander into the kitchen and rummage for a snack while I was buzzing like a bee dusting every surface in the house.
He comes wandering over to the bedroom where I am threatening numerous dust bunnies with my industrial size can of Pledge.
"Is it snack time?" I muse out loud, hand on my hip.
"No." he says with a hang dog face.
"What time is it?" I ask, smiling in my mama-voice.
"Cleaning time," he mumbles. But as he turns to walk away he promptly moons me from the doorway.
Of course, I promptly spray the "moon" with some lemon scented Pledge.
The moon is dusty.

Lit Review

Jackson loves to read. The very first book we read to him was Goodnight Moon when he was 8 days old and trapped in a swaddle. He seemed to enjoy it....or maybe he was just in love with the ceiling fan.
Most mornings, it is the first thing he asks to do before I have even lifted him from the covers for a morning cuddle.
I say, "Good morning!"
He almost always responds with "Read book? Read book?"
So we generally start the day with a few of his favorite books. Even when he gets upset and we go to his room to calm down a bit, he always asks to read a book.
Reading soothes him.
So, the following, in no specific order are his very favorite books. And by very favorite, I mean we read these books over and over until mama and daddy's eyes glaze over while we think of possible hiding spaces for them.

1. Baby Einstein's Look and See (this has been a fave for more than a year)
2. Wheelie Books (Speedy the Fire Truck and Bumpy the Tractor are a package deal)
3. Baby On the Go

Before You Were Two

While for many parents the first birthday is an emotional event that many have a hard time accepting, I find I am having more heartache over Jackson's upcoming second birthday. It's just around the corner and I'm not quite ready to face the fact that he will be two.
I guess because "one" is closer to baby.
"One" was still little. Singular. Just still barely here.
For Jackson's first birthday, we had a very big get together, grilled outside and enjoyed the pool.
But two.
Two is serious. Two is a kid. Momentous.
Two has been around now. Familiar with the territory. Sophomoric.
Two is major. Tries to boss you around now that it has gotten comfortable with the campus layout.
I'm conflicted.
Because two is also funny. Two is so quick. So willing to learn. Two is adorable.
I always think "this is my favorite phase." But I find myself thinking that at every new phase.
Each stage is my favorite.
As we near the eve of his second birthday, I am once aga…

Sick Day

Home with the boy, today.
So we're hanging out, playing, swapping tall tales, etc.
However, Jackson never watches television.
But I do sometimes play a few youtube videos. Just stumbled across this one this morning.
And this video has been played...well...more than four times that's for sure.
Check it out. It's hilarious.
Sesame Street rocks.
He loves her.
Every time the song ends: "Where lady go?"


Should I be worried when Jackson takes his tiny bottle of fake syrup out of his grocery cart and pours it on to his hands to rub all over his body?


He slings the long white strap of one of my old purses over his tiny shoulder and drags it into the living room.
"Bye-bye, Mama!" he shouts over his shoulder to me.
"Bye-bye, baby. Love you," I respond as he turns the corner. "Where are you going?"
"Goin' shopping, Mama. Go get groceries," he says.
A few minutes go by, and I inquire, "What kind of groceries?"
He blinks.
"Baby groceries," he explains.
Thinking he might be referring to the actual size of a grocery item, I ask for further details.
"What kind of baby groceries?"
"Milk, Mama," he states very matter of fact. "Diapers."
"Great!" I say, thrilled he's finally taking some responsibility around here. "Here are the keys."

Wicked Awesome

We are going to finally see the Broadway musical Wicked this weekend.
I have been waiting to see this production for a very long time.
The last time it came through, it was an hour away and I was VERY pregnant so the two-hours in a car bit trumped going to the performance.
This time around it is in town and no one is pregnant.
I've already decided I will love the show.
It appears to have everything one could desire: grand gestures, magical costumes, wonderful music coupled with catchy tunes, a green lady, talking animals - what else is there?
Everyone knows how I adore a talking animal.
Call me corny, but I do love a good musical.
Rent is in my top five favs and while I wasn't so sure about The Lion King it turned out to be one of the most incredible shows I have ever seen.
I thoroughly enjoyed Chicago and continue to enjoy the soundtrack.
And of course Les Mis was life changing.
Those are my top four.
I'm leaving a slot for you, Wicked. That's how much I already love you.

So, what…

Vanishing into the Internets

Book burning takes on a whole new level.

(saw this link on and had to share.)

A Long Journey

Last night, at 10 p.m. my husband became official.
After four long years of school and countless hours of training, he passed his journeyman’s exam.
He is now officially a licensed journeyman.
He took the test after a working all day (in this insane heat) and while his left arm is in a cast. The exam was several hours long and he didn't come home until late.
I heard him quietly walk in the door. Grab a drink from the fridge and enjoy his first beer as a licensed journeyman.
Things taste different when you're official.
I'm so proud of him.

I guess the real question now is:
Anybody need an electrician?

More Star Power

For more fabulous photos of the family event, visit here and scroll down:

I've Always Wanted to go to Spain

So, we are in the early stages of potty training.
That's right - if you're squeamish bail out now.
While I am just thrilled that Jack is getting the concept, giving me a heads up when he's gotta go and enjoying using the "big potty," it is actually a lot of work for the parents.
There's the running to the potty, the flinging off of the diaper, helping him teeter delicately on the giant bowl and so on.
Many times by the time you get in to position it is too late or he has realized maybe it was a false alarm.
All these things we have to take in stride as he learns his personal ... ahem ... timing.
However, in the race to use the potty sometimes things get a little crazy.
Out of control, if you will.
Tonight, Jackson tells me he's got to go "poopie."
"Yay!" I say and we race down the hall.
Which is a hilarious sight to behold - his joyous romp to the bathroom. When is the last time you skipped your way to the potty?
Anyway, we get the step st…

Star Power

This link pretty much sums up the weekend:


Good friends, great food and a city that just won't quit.

Check out our Chicago adventures set here: