Showing posts from 2011


Jackson grab that lunch box to take your lunch to camp today.
This one? The Toy Story one?
Is it mine?
To keep?
To keep forever?
Yes. Forever and ever.

Chim chim che-roo

I always did wonder how Bert and Mary Poppins knew each other.
Well, Bert is a scallywag.

December Update

I have been waiting to put together an update because Eli had his Echo, EKG and two month appointment today.
To catch up, Eli had his SoonerStart assessment last week. It was quite a process and exhausted him (and me!).
While he has made a lot of progress physically, like being able to hold his head up when on his tummy, he still ended up qualifying for SoonerStart care. He does not display a few reflexes, particularly the walking reflex. While he did not track for them (he has for me at times at home) he did however show excellent hearing. They will begin coming to the house in January for therapy sessions. In the meantime, we are to start working on grasping, reaching out, smiling, tracking and more tummy time.
Eli also had an extra appointment last week at the pediatricians due to an infected tear duct and a herniated belly button.This kid cannot catch a break. On a positive note, while getting some drops for his eye the doctor and I discussed his spitting up and constant crying. She…

Merry Christmas

Best. Christmas. Ever.
Wishing you all the joys of the season.


Mama! Did you see that train?


The blue and yellow one?

No. I didn't.

But I thought you said you had eyes in the back of your head....

Oh. Right. Well...uh... I guess I didn't have them turned on?

One Month

As if on cue for his one-month birthday Eli began tracking. As if suddenly awake, Eli has begun checking things out. He seems to notice us more and more. His big blue eyes stare at our faces as if trying to figure out who these people really are. Of course this happens for about 15 minutes and then he is back to discussing dinner or sleeping.
It takes a bit of convincing - but he does eventually sleep for a bit.
In the meantime, Eli is still spitting up a lot. He is quite fussy when it comes to eating. He is either not happy because he hasn't gotten enough, or he is grumpy because he is so uncomfortable until he spits up what seems like half of what he has just eaten. Then he is furious because now he is hungry again since half of breakfast is down his shirt. And so we start all over again. It is has been really hard to get him on any kind of schedule with this unpredictable mess.
Plus it is no fun to see your newborn so unhappy. This morning was the worst as he got so upset he spit…

A Few Of Eli's Favorite Things

1. Vacuum cleaner
2. Bathroom vent
3. Hair dryer
4. Clothes dryer

I. C. E.- in case of emergency

Before leaving for school this morning Jackson made sure to tell me:

Mama, if Eli spits up or throws up you just call me at school. You just tell them at school what happened and they will come get me and I will come home to help, ok? You just call me.

Managing the Crazy

Well I made it almost three days.
My parents left Sunday morning and I made it until this afternoon before taking Eli to the doctor.
He has had some congestion and I swear I keep hearing him go back to making those tiny grunting sounds that he made when he was born and had such trouble breathing. Eric heard the grunting sound over the phone and I consider myself lucky to have a spouse that encouraged me to call the doctor instead of telling me I was imagining things (entirely possible we all know considering our situation).
So I took him in and the good news is that Eli is gaining weight. He is now 9 pounds. The bad news was that Eli probably does have a cold. However, the doctor decided to be extra cautious and take his pulse ox which was 98 - good news. Also at this time his lungs sound good - however since he is more susceptible to respiratory distress, the doctor wants to keep an eye on his little cold. As if I'm not keeping a crazy eye on him all the time anyway.
When my parents …

Birthday Boy

Today is yet another birthday milestone.
Today is not only Eli's three week birthday, but it is the day he was actually supposed to arrive.
My dad picked up a tiny cupcake to celebrate.
Eli celebrated with a bath.
His first sorta-real bath. He didn't seem to mind at all and enjoyed the water.
Eli is also celebrating today by finally having some eyebrows and eyelashes appear. Such a good boy.
We have even caught his dimple during a few fleeting smiles.
Happy the boys have matching dimples. Jackson is even excited to one day wear matching outfits. I plan to take advantage of this before he changes his mind. Jackson is so in love with his tiny brother. He loves to kiss the top of his head and I catch him breathing in his brother's scent. He is so happy to tell him all about Christmas.
In the meantime Eli's appointments are shaping up. Eli will have his echo cardiogram and chest x-ray at the end of the month as well as his SoonerStart evaluation. Hopefully all will go well.


Thanksgiving has always been my most favorite holiday.
It's always been a time for family and reflection.
A time to be thankful for all of our blessings.
This year it has become even more so.
To have our baby home for the holiday, was the greatest blessing of all.
We are so lucky.
We were sad to not see all of our family over the holiday and kept sweet Stella in our hearts - sending thanksgiving prayers to Conway every day.
Since Eli can only handle a short time in the car seat we decided against the five hour drive to Arkansas. But we were so lucky to have my parents here helping us with everything. It made for a lovely holiday and mom managed to create a true Thanksgiving feast.
Eli has been doing well. He has been nursing frequently. We were instructed to nurse Eli on demand, which can make for a crazy schedule. But we are just thrilled that he wants to eat. Not all of it stays in, of course. He spits up a lot and he gets the hiccups all the time - numerous times a day, really. They sa…

Follow Up

Today was Eli's first doctor appointment after his NICU release.
He has gained a tiny bit of weight and is now 20 inches long. He was not thrilled about the cold stethoscope, but the doctor was able to get through his outburst. He is still a tiny bit jaundiced right now, but nothing abnormal.
While the doctor did not hear a heart murmur at this time, Eli will have a follow up echocardiogram in three months to see if the hole in his heart has closed. The hole should close naturally in time, but she wants to be totally sure due to his rough start. Hopefully, it will close on its own and it won't have to be surgically corrected.
Tomorrow, Eric and I will have to take the NICU's required CPR class. And in February, Eli will have his NICU follow up clinic where they will assess his developmental progress. We have started his PT exercises at home. He doesn't seem to mind them too much, but the pacifier really helps the overall process.
Jackson is positively thrilled to have his …


Mama, why is Eli crying?

I'm not sure.

Is it because he doesn't know you are his new mama?

I don't really know.

Maybe you should tell him your name.

What do you mean?

Maybe you should tell him your name so he knows who you are. Tell him you are Amanda Houk-Copley and you're his mama.

Oh, ok. Eli my name is Amanda Houk-Copley and I am your new mama.


Where do I begin?
Maybe I'll start at the end.
Today, Eli came home.
Today our family is complete - all together under one roof.
When we arrived at the NICU this morning. Eli was in the middle of his car seat tolerance test. This is a 90 minute process where his vitals must remain stable. He did so well the first hour but his oxygen saturation level took a dip at the end of the test. So we had to wait for the doctor to approve his results.
In the meantime, Eli had to try to nurse again. Today, he only nursed for 5 minutes but they weighed him before and after eating and he had eaten 25mls in those few minutes. The lactation consultant was very pleased.
Next Eli had to have his PT assessment. He passed some areas but is having trouble with some reflexes. Not sure what is going on but the PT said there may be some developmental issues or nervous system issues. We will have to start weekly therapy and begin his PT work. Not sure what lies ahead for Eli, but we are ready to start therapy a…


Yesterday, I got another chance to nurse Eli. He was able to nurse for nine minutes before tiring out. Definitely progress.
I am on my way to the NICU right now but when I called this morning they said he took 50mls of milk last night. His biggest meal yet.
We also had his first physical therapy session yesterday. He will have to continue pt for a while considering he was early and was sedated for so long. It really tires him out and I hate making him do these exercises but I know he needs them.
He also has gained a tiny bit of weight.
They will weigh him again this morning and we will see if he is using his all of his food.


Once again, Eli is full of surprises.
Today was his one week birthday, yet he was passing out the gifts.
This morning they removed the cannula forcing air into his nose. So far he has not needed it back and is breathing room air. His breaths per minute remain unstable and he still has episodes where he stops breathing. But we are so proud of his progress we will cut him some slack.
The NICU offered us another surprise this morning when they told me I could try to nurse Eli.
How can I explain what it meant to me to be able to nourish my sick baby? To provide for him? I simply can't express the joy.
Of course the lactation consultant said it would have to be brief, but I was still thrilled. He did so well and nursed for four minutes. It was four amazing moments that during our darkest times I thought would never happen.
He had a little choking difficulty afterward, but we will keep practicing. The nurses were mostly just pleased he didn't tire out during the brief session.
Later this e…


Today was a very special day.
There were many tiny NICU milestones. First, Eli's heated bed was turned off to see if he could regulate his own temperature. He was able to do so all morning so they decided he was ready to move to a bassinet. Also, now that he is controlling his own temperature, today was the first day he could wear a tiny tee, socks and be wrapped in a blanket.
These are such simple things, I know. But to see him in these things is so comforting to me. Instead of a sedated, unclothed baby covered in painful looking wires and tubes, he is beginning to look more comforted.
They started the regular feeds again this morning. He is only eating 5ml at a time. And while he isn't using everything he is given, so far they have not pulled any more blood from his stomach. So maybe his system is starting to learn to digest a tiny bit. We will find out more tomorrow. They are taking it very slowly.
He is still on a bit of oxygen to help his air flow. He hasn't mastered his…


Eli has been hard at work.
At 5 this morning, they decided to start taking him off of the vent. Eric and I were terrified. It is hard to let go of a machine that has been keeping your baby alive. But the doctors explain that a vent, while helping you breathe, continues to bruise your lungs, so much so it will take more than a month to recover from a vent.
When we arrived at the NICU, he was still off the vent. A big accomplishment. As of this blog entry he is still off of the vent.
I must admit I waited to write this post as I am so afraid that at the end of these graphs, something bad will happen. Every time we walk into the NICU we steel ourselves for the worst. But so far today, Eli has been working hard. His tiny chest struggles with each breath but he is doing it. He is working those lungs. It looks like so much effort but he must learn.
We pray that Eli keeps up this hard work. He tires easily and once during his occupational therapy session he stopped breathing. After a gentle remi…


Today I am being discharged from the hospital. Today we are going home without our baby. This is the hardest thing we have ever had to do. We take comfort knowing that Eli continues to get exceptional care and in knowing that we will be calling the NICU every 30 seconds.
Eli's numbers have remained the same which is good. In fact, it means the doctors were ready to start weaning various medicines.
Last night they began slowly weaning the two blood pressure medications. By this afternoon he is off the blood pressure medications.
They also decided to start weaning the nitric oxide. His level was at 20 and they began taking down the level by one every hour. At midnight he was at level 18 and the weaning was going well. By 6 a.m. however his blood gas came back and they decided to go back to the nitric level of 20.
This is the NICU roller coaster. The one step forward one step back dance.
Because this afternoon they wanted to try weaning the nitric again. His level has been taken down to…


Eli's numbers, machines, blood gases, pulse ox and oxygen rate have had no change.
We have been told this is a good thing. While there have been no major improvements...there have been no further deteriorations. This is how we get closer to stable.
The long term goal is to get him stable and then eventually wean him off his numerous medications and machines.
But for now, we focus on the fact that his information stayed the same throughout the night.
It is difficult to see him like this. Every time we visit him we want to scoop him up into our arms.
It is impossible to believe that I have yet to hold my baby.
But I know he is where he needs to be. Those machines are tiny miracles.
The nitric oxide is our miracle. We have even heard the NICU nurses refer to Eli as The Nitric Baby. So far it appears as though the nitric is working to relax his artery.
Our happiest moment came early this morning when we learned they had decided to start giving him small feeds of breast milk. We would lik…

Eli Fletcher Copley

Things can change in an instant.
Our baby boy was born Nov 9 at 10:35. He weighed 7 pounds and 13 ounces. He arrived three weeks early. But appeared to have enough poundage for a safe delivery.
He arrived with quite a healthy cry. His healthy cry gave everyone a sigh of relief. We were thrilled to hear those healthy sounds. Eric stayed with him while the doctor finished my surgery.
We would all meet up in the recovery room.
When I was wheeled in to the recovery room, no one was there.
I was told Eli had to be taken to the special care nursery because he had started grunting to get the fluid out of his lungs.
Everyone remained positive.
After an hour the nurses came back to explain he was not absorbing the oxygen he was receiving and they bumped his intake. Eventually they would put him on a cpap.
He was taken to the NICU.
By the end of the night he was put on a ventilator.
Things can change in an instant.
That night he was monitored and it appeared he was going to be able to be weaned off the ve…


Amanda Houk-Copley Our son Eli was born a few weeks early yesterday at 10:35a.m. He is 7'13". Sadly he is in the NICU and is fighting for each breath. It would mean a lot to us if you would send him some positive energy and say a prayer or two for him to get well.

Party Over

You know it was a good birthday party when on the way home you had to briskly pull over into a car dealership parking lot because your newly and now overly excited four year old thought he might throw up so you scurried your pregnant ass out into the 123 degree heat and around to the back of the car to snatch a Spiderman gift bag out of the pile of gifts, remove the gift and shove it in his face when suddenly the moment passes and oh mama may I have one of these lovely balloons flying above the used cars?


Some of Jackson most dramatic moments include phrases such as:

Mama, this is not gonna heal for a 100 years!
(And when I put a tiny dab of alcohol on his skinned knee he then cries out: Oh no! It's poison! It's poison!)
During one of his first nights in the new house we heard numerous times from his bunk bed:
Hey guys? I'm scared for my whole life! If you don't come up here right now, I am going to come down those stairs and call the cops!


Four arrived in early August and everything seems so much more grown up.
It was as if Jackson had been waiting for four his whole life. This birthday was a big one. So many milestones: a big boy party at BounceU with all of his friends, Pre-K starting days later, a big-boy bed, a big-boy bike, tennis shoes that light up, becoming a big brother, etc. He was so excited to turn four it was as if he was being given the keys to the car in the morning. The night before his actual birthday we mistakenly told him, "Jackson, when you wake up in the morning you will be 4!" Well, sleep became impossible the instant this realization sunk in. He was so electrified by the concept, he eventually crept out of bed and down the hall with a grave look of concern on his still-three-year-old face. "Mama? I better change into some bigger pjs. These might not fit when I turn four in the night. They might get too tight."

Did You Know

One my personal favorite stages is the current Did You Know phase: Mama, did you know that the smaller blueberries have more flavor than the bigger blueberries?
Mama, I need to tell you something right now. Did you know that you can't see China but I can with my special eyes and that it is right next to Thailand? And one of my faves occurred while Jackson was having a conversation with our realtor and by conversation I mean he was correcting her: Actually, Ms. Jennifer roaches don't have disease, they carry disease.

Hunger Pains

Mama can I please have that sucker? No, Jack. Not right now. Please? No. But I am so hungry. You can have it after supper. But Mama! I am sucker hungry!

Oh hi there!

We have surfaced from under a sea of cardboard to finally locate the computer and internet access. Truly a miracle considering I still haven't found all of Jackson's clothes, Elvis' leash, the fake lemons I had in a bowl in the old kitchen, etc.
Dishtowels though. I have found all of those. Who knew we had so many dish towels?
So many things have happened since forever ago which is when I think I last posted.
The biggest item on the list is that we have moved.
It has been a long process of major decision making and worrying and waiting and recalculating but in the end I think we have made the right decision.
We loved our little Midtown home.
It was just right for us and in a great location to all of our friends and fun stuff happening in our area. Sure, it was going to be a bit tighter with the baby on the way, but we thought maybe we could make do.
But now Jackson is approaching school age and we began to consider our options, districts, transfers, etc. They didn't loo…


We've had a lot going on lately.
Can't wait to fill you in.


Sure it is exciting to announce a new baby. But what can be more exciting than talking to your older cousin Davis?


Multiple Appendages

Amanda: Honey, when you pick up Elvis to put him on the bed be sure to do it like how you pick up a calf.

Eric: Ok.

Amanda: You know, with just your forearms.

Jackson: No mama! Daddy doesn't have four arms, he has two!


One of the things I love about Jackson is his dedication. He works to finish a job.
Not only does he love to be helpful and is thrilled to participate in yard work, house cleaning, etc. But he also knows how to commit to a theme.When his school called for it to be Cowboy Day the boy wants to be 100% authentic. He wanted to wear jeans and really deck out in the western wear. But I had to convince him that the 105 degree temperatures just don't agree with the theme de jour. So he settled for shorts and a neck tie.But what really warms my heart is that at the end of the day when I came to collect him from school my boy is not only sweaty, tuckered out and romping around in the gym in his cowboy boots, but he still has on his 10-gallon white cowboy hat.Dedicated to the end.If there is one shared gene that Eric and are sure to have passed on, it is Theme-Commitment.

Getting My Money's Worth

Mama God makes people. Not you and Daddy.Ok.You don’t put all those parts together in there to make someone. God makes someone.Mmhmm.So who made God and Jesus?Uh … well ... let’s call your godfather.Yeah, ‘cause he’s like God.Well, no … but this is why I hired him.

Second Verse

How can I write about all that has happened in the past year? How can I explain or relive some of those sad times? some of those happy times?
I've thought about how to put it all into words and sometimes it is too daunting to even approach. I relive some of it every day.
The sadness, the procedures, the beginning of beginnings. But it is too draining to locate and pluck out just the right words.
So I realized the best way to sum up the last year would be through the retelling of a conversation I had with Jackson on a car ride back from Fort Smith.
We had just visited Eric's parents for Memorial Day weekend. On the way back, it became apparent to us that Jackson had been listening to some of our grown-up conversations because the conversation started like this:

Mama, you're not pregnant. You have to have a baby in there to be pregnant.

But I am pregnant.

No, you just ate a lot.

No, there is a baby in there.

No Mama, you don't have a baby. You had a baby, but it didn't work…

Maybe Just One

Jackson you are so silly!

No I'm not. Not even one tiny drop.


Mama, is it a boy or a girl?

Do you think you are going to have a little sister or a little brother?

A little brother.

Well, you're right! It's a boy.

When can I see the baby?

Would you like to see the pictures?

Yes. ... How come you can see his penis?

Because the picture shows everything and that's how we find out if it is a boy or girl.

Where are his clothes?

He doesn't have any.

He is naked in there?!

That's right.

Doesn't he get cold?

Slip and Slide

Daddy, mama can't do the slip and slide because it will squish that baby like mashed potatoes.

What's In A Name

Mama, I have a lot of names.

I know. That's because people sometimes like to call you Jackson or Jack or JT or Jax.


So which one do you prefer? Jackson, Jack, JT, Jay, Jack-Jack, Jax?

Um .... I want to be called J-Man.


This Thanksgiving we will have even more to be thankful for.


Are you taking my temperature.

Yes, Mama. Hold still.

And? What is my temp?


Safety First

During his visit with my parents, my mom started peeling a zucchini. Jackson wanted to particpate but she warned it was kind of dangerous.
He disappeared only to return wearing his bicycle helmet.
Ready for kitchen duty:

They'll Get You Every Time

Mama, can you take my towel to the bathroom please?


Watch out for that Daddy in there.


Mam: Oh Jackson you should wear this shirt. It's blue. It will really bring out your eyes.

Jackson: You know I'm a boy, right Mam?


Jackson, where are you? I can't hear you.

It's ok Mam. I'm in your room messin' with stuff I'm not supposed to be messin' with.

Got Milk?

Hey Mam, did you know that the milk that falls out of a cow's lady parts is good to eat?

Can You Hear Me Now?

Jackson, you need to listen to what mama and daddy tell you. Do you have your listening ears on?*

No, mama my listening ears broke and I had to order new ones and the package hasn't come in the mail yet.


Eric, did you hear me?


Are you listening to me?

Not really, but I think some of it got in anyway.

*That is the phrase they use at school.


I love how every time an airplane flies overhead Jackson waves at it and says, "Hey granddad!"
I always ask if he saw granddad in the plane.
"No, but he always flashes the lights at me."



Is it weird that I cry during the Twilight Bark scene in the movie 101 Dalmatians every time? Call me crazy, but when Pongo is all "We're going to have to take matters into our own hands..." I start getting the trembly lip.
And then when The Great Dane gets word and the passing along of's just too much!
Makes me weepy every time.
Once, in my teens, when I was baby sitting a little girl during the summer, I took her to see the re-release of the movie in the theaters. During the Twilight Bark, she could barely contain herself and began to bark herself. Loudly.
Disney can be intense.


No buddy, I don't think you can reach the waffles in the deep freezer.

Yes I can, Daddy. Can't you see how tall my hands are?

Island Attire

My co-worker got married in Jamaica a few weeks ago. Last weekend they held a reception for the locals.
Jackson was taken with the island theme.
He also made the dance floor his own.

Rough Night

Ready for Spring to work out her issues.

Cutting for Stone

I finished reading this about two weeks ago and it is still sitting with me. I still think about the characters and wonder how they are holding up. I worry about Dr. Stone's relationship with his son. And how is Marion's mother?

It is a story of Ethiopia's past while following twins born joined at head. Crazy, huh?
Family and friends work at the mission hospital and the author is able to transform medical procedures into poetry.
I'll stop there.
I almost hate giving a brief recap because a general overview actually makes the tale sound unappealing to me. In fact, when my mother recommended it to me I was all, "Meh."
Nothing about it made me want to start it.
I'm not really into African history and politics. And medical stuff? No way.

But I trust her recommendations. She knows my reading tastes.
So I picked it up and eventually could never put it down.
It was amazing.
Verghese is truly skilled at gently birthing each character from nothing. His simple writing techni…

Color Coded

Overheard from the backyard....

Granddad reassures Jackson: Don't worry, Jack. It's not blood. Blood is red. That's green.

Pick Up Line

Over Mother's Day weekend we attended one of Jackson's friends birthday parties. It was a lovely day and the kids enjoyed a giant water slide in the birthday girl's backyard. Most of the children were older than Jackson but he still jumped right in and enjoyed the sunshine and water.
After a bit, a little girl arrived who was Jackson's age. In her little green and white striped bathing suit, she slowly ventured over to the slide.
Later, I turned away from grown-up discussions about crazy cats and book clubs, to see the two of them sitting alone together in a corner of the play area deep in conversation.
Her mother and I studied their body language and surmised they were comparing wounds.
With such serious faces, they were swapping injury stories. Jackson had some impressive scrapes from recently slipping out of a tree and she had acquired a few band aids on her knee from a tumble at school. They were like two tiny, water-soaked vets one-upping each other.
They talked until …



This past weekend marked a triumphant milestone in not only Jackson's life but ours as well.
We've noticed it has been happening little by little but over the weekend it solidified in to a true ability and it may just well be one of the greatest moments of my life.
Jackson can secure himself in and out his car seat completely by himself.
This is no small feat as my mother is still only 80% skilled at it.
These contraptions are not only so complicated and intricate, but require large amounts of dexterity and obscene wrist strength.
Plus he still dose not weigh enough to move into the simpler car seat designs, so we have been using the same car seat for quite some time.
So when Jackson finally informed me he can buckle up himself, a joyful tear or two slid down my cheek.


Mama, when do you go to college?

After high school.


What college do you plan to go to?

Um ... That way.


Mama, I cannot even embarrass how good this cookie is!

No Shoes. No Service.

Hey mama, did you know that they don't let monsters into the restaurant?

Maid Service

After returning from his trip to the zoo with Ms. Niki and Co., Jackson takes a look around the house: "It's so nice of you guys to clean up the house."

Mud Tracks in the Sunroom

Mama! Come here. I have GOT to show you something. This is serious. I'm serious. Come here right now!


Mama, did you know that the letter G looks like a french horn?

Oh yeah, it kinda does.

It goes doo-do-do-doo!


Mama? My tummy hurts.

What's wrong?

I think I have allergies.

Oh. What are you allergic to?

I think I am allergic to you.

Dream Big

Oh, hey Jackie. Are you asleep?


Were you dreaming?


What were you dreaming about?


Front Porch Theater

I've got a call in to Garrison Keillor.


Is there ever a time when this isn't funny?


While staying home and recovering, Jackson requested a few youtube videos, in particular Rhinestone Cowboy. After a few replays of Glen, he noticed some Easter videos in the sidebar. After I reviewed them (youtube can be deceiving) I let him watch a few. Turns out they were craft videos. They were 2 or 3 minutes of people explaining how to decorate an Easter basket, or eggs or candy, etc. He loved them. He watched them over and over. I thought he might start taking notes. I’m debating introducing him to HGTV.


Jackson had scarlet fever over the weekend. Not fun. All is well now and he is doing fine. In fact, his biggest concern was a throat culture and a hospital gown covered in sleeping tigers. But a few stories and Thomas the Train stickers cured most of it.


Yesterday afternoon Jackson wrote his first song.
He has been working on it for a while.
While strumming his guitar in the living room, he began stringing together phrases he has picked up from various songs with what I think may be actual day-to-day experiences.
When I realized an actual song was formulating, I grabbed a pen and paper to jot down the finished product. What was even more hysterical, was that in between jam sessions he would walk over to peruse my notes and check the lyrics before starting over from the top again.
Unfortunately, I didn't get the finished product on video. I was too busy filling out his liner notes.

His title: Old Song Running Down the Road Turn the Page

When I came home,
You were here.
I love you.

Like a ball fell in my head.
Like a rock and roll.

Baby, baby,
Like a talking bowl.
I love you.


Do you even know how to put up a tent?

I can figure it out.

So, no then?

I have a penis.

Glen Campbell Is My Hero

Jackson is a whiner.
He knows every crack in the dirty sidewalks of Whineville.
Yes, I will admit this is an inherited trait.
My parents have regaled me with tales of my never-ending whining. So as the cycle continues, now it is my turn to hear the whiny-whine-whine that comes with snack requests, bedtime stalling, fears, don't-want-tos, etc.
Whining is the name of his game.
We tried some traditional tactics like pretending not to hear him when the first syllable whines its way out of his mouth. It worked sometimes but was really hit or miss. And his frustration from feeling as though he wasn't being heard would overcome any thoughts about actually stopping the whine.
So then we tried mapping out a plan and explaining thoroughly that "every time you whine, we are going to ignore it." He agreed. But again the strategy to de-whine the boy was never consistent.
There's been a load of compromising. It's almost as though he can't help it. He doesn't even realize …

Deadly Delivery

Man, I am really bummed about my verbena dying.


Yes, it's dead. Got too cold for it.

It's dead?

Yes. We'll have to pull it up.

Yeah. My friend Carlos's dad died.


Yup. He died.

Do you know what that means?

Yes ... What does it mean?

It means to be gone forever. So be careful saying that about people, ok? It's not nice to just toss around about people if it isn't true.

It's true. He died.



Ok then, how did he die?

He got killed.

By whom?

Uh .... UPS?

Sidenote: Jackson has no friend named Carlos. He does however, have enemies in the postal industry.

The Roo? Kanga's Demise.

Once there was a boy who had asked me out many times but we were always in the wrong place: geographically and emotionally. So when things finally did get lined up I was excited to get this party started. He took me to a fancy spot for dinner. It was a Swiss-Italian restaurant that had an ever-changing menu.
During conversations at parties or over the phone or even through mail, we always clicked and shared the same interests and sense of humor so I felt this would be an evening of good conversation.
A major dating plus.
Things were off to a good start. Lots of chatting, Lots of witty repartee. He was polite, chivalrous yet smart and funny.
And then we perused the menu.
One seasonal menu item that sparked some dialogue was a meal of kangaroo.
Yes, Kanga. Roo.
I realize people around the globe eat kangaroo. But, I was dismayed. As an animal lover, I expressed distaste for such an item. While not a vegetarian, I thought the beastly choice was over the top.
I said as much.
My date laughed and beg…


This bacon is getting kind of old. Hey Eric, does bacon go bad?

No, bacon doesn't go bad. Hello! Bacon Bits!

Jesus' Work Shop

Mama how did Jesus make bottoms?

Well ... I guess ... uh ... really, God made the whole body all together so he just added bottoms, too.

Yeah but how does he do it?


Like how does he make them? On a table or a floor or a rug or a couch or outside or on a porch?



Jackson is enamored with Toy Story 3. He has never seen the other movies but close friends of ours (Niki and Tim) gave him the movie and he has watched it over and over.
While I love the overall message and the endearing characters, I'm not thrilled with the name calling.
But who doesn't love Toy Story? I swear, I cry every time we watch it.
I also love the fact that Jackson has a Woody cowboy (also from Niki and Tim) and a Buzz Lightyear (garage-sale find) that he pals around with.
The other night, while tucking Jackson in for bed I picked up Woody and tucked him under my arm to put away.
Jackson was most concerned.

"Mama! Woody does not like being in your armpit!"


Healthy Self-Esteem

Granddaddy? Why do you love me?

Well, why do you love us?

Is it 'cause I'm wonderful?

Boss Man

I try to watch my language around Jackson.
I really do.
But everybody knows some things just fly from your lips before your brain can calculate the damage. Especially in the middle of an elaborate tale or heated discussion.
Who doesn't love some colorful language every now and then?
We are, and have been, pretty careful around Jackson. So much so that really the only word he catches me with is "freakin'."
I say "catches" because Jackson has declared himself The Boss of Bad Words, The BBW.
The BBW runs a strict program. His tight regimen includes checking to ensure we aren't saying "weird" or "kill" or "dead" or "shoot" and so forth. It seems our efforts to keep him from name calling or using not-so-nice phrases with his friends has started to backfire.
However, when you get down to it, a three-year-old has so little power in the household, we allow The BBW his rule.
But I'm beginning to worry there has been a coup d&#…

Lights Out



Can you come turn the light on in the bathroom? I hafta go potty.

Sure. ... Jackson! The light is already on.

I know. I teased ya!



Hey there. This yellow polo looks good on you.


Yeah. You look so ... tall.



You think this yellow polo is making me look tall?


I think maybe your glass of wine is making me look tall.



This is it. This is the moment.
I am sitting on the far corner of the couch and you are curled up like a kitten on my chest. Still sleepy. Fresh from your afternoon nap, your mop of bedhead rests just under my chin, your arms at my sides. It is silent. We say nothing.
There is just holding. There is just being held.
Suddenly from the right, the setting sun bursts forth with its last call.
In its slow fall toward the horizon, it has slipped a step and stretches between the tree branches and through the blinds. Its last breath casts a warm glow across the whole room. It catches the top of your head. It cuffs you on the ear. It holds my hand on your back. It has captured something. Something I know that in seconds will disappear behind the tree branches. The ones already turning black in their Sunday-evening silhouettes.
And I realize this is it. I am still, but my heart races. I run my fingers through your hair, quickly before we lose the light. I watch the sun rifle through it like late-sum…


Jackson discovered his piggy bank. He has also discovered an amazing ability to find loose change all over our house. Dimes, pennies, apparently they are hiding everywhere. At least in hidden places a three-year-old frequents.
We explained that he may save his change and at the end of each month he may take one dollar from his treasure to purchase any item he would like from the Dollar Store. The rest will go into his own savings account at the bank. Each month it will start all over again.
He agreed to the deal and finally at the end of the month he carefully placed his quarters into a zip lock bag and carried them into the Dollar Store. You would have thought he had won a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. He was practically giddy and could only just contain himself.
He danced into the store and right away he latched onto a bag of jelly beans before even glancing around and I had to intervene.
We decided to do a little browsing before making any heavy decisions. Event…

My Valentine

Truly enjoys reviewing his cards over and over. It's good for the self-esteem. I choo-choo-choose you.

Showtime - A Movie Review in Three Sentences or Less

(warning! spoiler alert!)

With nary a single contraction in the colorful dialogue, the movie stays so true to the book, we felt we had read the original piece afterwards.
The Dude skillfully brings it home one-eyed-Rooster style like nobody's business, and the Arkansas references made us smile even causing one audience member (not us) to audibly provide a Hogs shout out.
The horse dies; I sobbed.

We give this movie four out of five apostrophes.


Daddy? You should listen to a three-year-old sometimes.

Laundry Day

While I was folding laundry, Jackson wandered into the room playing with his toy airplane. I asked him to take a pair of Eric's rolled up socks to the sock drawer for me.
He said, "No, mama. I'm playing with my airplane right now."
So I playfully tossed the socks to him anyway.
Apparently during the time the socks left my hand and landed in Jackson's general direction, he became 13 years old.
He looked down at the socks now resting at his feet, then up at me and said:
"Really, mama? You're going to throw those socks at me? Really?"



Mama, do you know what is 'dramatic'? This is dramatic: WAAAAA! WAAAAAA! That's dramatic.

Taste the Rainbow

Mama? Can I have some of my Skittles?

Yes, you can have a few.

(quietly munching) Mama? How can I get these Skittles out of my belly?


Yes, how will they get out of my belly?

Well, I guess ... when ... you ... go to the bathroom? (I immediately regretted my answer as I instantly foresaw unsanitary fact-finding missions in the bathroom. But it was too late. The damage was done.)

There are Skittles in my poop!

No! I mean ... no. Not really. They are kind of ... well ...

Oh mama! I know! They're melted in my poop?

Right. Melted.

If I can't even handle a poop talk, how will I handle the birds and bees?

Hearing Test

Jackson, can you hear me?


Can you hear me like this?


Can you hear this?


How about this?

No, mama. I can't hear that.



Career Day

Mama, I am all about construction.

Yes, I know.

When I grow up, can I be a construction man?

(sigh) Of course you can.

Mama, I want to be an engineer.

Oh yes, let's be that.

I want to be an engineer AND a giant excavator man.

Well, you can always have a double major.


Handy Jackie

We are in the process of remodeling the hall bathroom. Something that we have divided into four phases. Phase two was last weekend and involved putting in a new vanity and then realizing we needed a new toilet as well. I'm sure we made more than 15 trips to Lowe's during this ordeal. While Eric and his friend worked on installing, uninstalling and re-installing things, Jackson was in a frenzied state. He loves nothing more then helping, observing and working with Daddy during home projects. And whenever safety allows, Eric is always willing to let him participate. But there were a few stages of the project - specifically when it came time to use the saw - that meant Jackson had to stand back.
Not one to consider this restriction a set back, Jackson set to work on his own project.
I gave him a few of the big pieces from the giant cardboard box the new vanity came in and explained that we needed several holes put into it. Jackson agreed to the task. I left the room having no idea…

Literate Fowl

Jackson has been reviewing his collection of Valentine's from his friends. He takes them all out of his little bag and studies them over and over again. He really enjoys looking at the pictures and discussing their various features.
The other night while perusing the tiny cards, he slowly started to examine one in particular. I thought he was inspecting the mermaid floating across the top but instead he was studying the letters below.

"Mama!" he shouted. "This one is from Kelsey. Look it says 'Kelsey'."

"Let me see," I examine the pink and blue Valentine. "Why yes, it is from her. Jackson! Do you know what you just did?"


"You just READ her name," I shout, practically jumping up and down. "You were READING!"

There was a long pause while Jackson processed this new piece of information. Or at least I thought that's what he was doing, when he finally lifted his head from inspecting the card and with a …

SPF 1,000,000

It's official.
We are grown-ups.
Eric and I now have yearly appointments to a dermatologist.
Being pale and freckled, I started going two years ago.
With weekends at the lake, visits to Gulf Shores, Ocean City, hanging at the pool and maybe even a few tanning beds (like maybe once before prom...ok times....) I've collected plenty of sunburns in my portfolio of skin damage.
I stopped sunning ages ago, slap on the SPF and am as pale as the piles of snow we are still digging out of. I've tried to learn to embrace my paleness. But those rays from bygone days are catching up with me. So much so I had to have a few freckles removed. While they weren't unsightly, they were something to catch early.
But did it have to be Valentine’s Day weekend?
So for our romantic dinner that same night, we made reservations for three: Eric, Me and the band-aid slapped across my face.
And I'm not sure if it was the sheer thrill of being able to go to a restaurant that didn't hav…

A Dose of Chamomile Tea

Not sure if you remember our previous adventures with Peter Rabbit?(
But with this outrageously cold weather we have been having, I was getting a little worried about him and his home underneath the deck. And while he and Eric may disagree about who is actually in charge of the tomato garden during the summer months, it has been below zero for days and blizzard conditions for weeks now and I hated to think of him hungry and cold. So the other afternoon I sprinkled a little bit of bird food on the mound of snow that is currently our deck. We waited. And waited. I started getting nervous. I could see the greedy, beady eyes of the squirrels starting to eye the sprinkling of seeds from the corners of our yard. You know how they always beat everyone to the buffet. So, were was Peter? Was he a rabbit-icicle? Were we too late?
Sure enough, just after sunset, Peter was very grateful.


Jackson, don't chase the dog with your balloon.


Jackson, don't chase Elvis with your book.


Jackson, do not chase the dog with your truck.

Ooooo-kay. Mama?


Can I chase him with my feet?


Yes, it is the saddest little sled you ever did see.
However, he had a blast. We have no proper sledding devices. So, I sprayed Pam on the bottom of an old cookie sheet. Turns out we had no rope or twine either so I folded up some duct tape and threaded it through the hole. I pulled the boy down the street in this ridiculous homemade ride. But to him it was a chariot fit for a snow-king.
And it also made a perfect batch of snow cookies.
Mandatory snow angel pic:

JTC Photography

Jackson got a camera for Christmas.
Ever wandered what the world looked like from a three-year-old's perspective?
Check it out:

Clever Boy

You are so very clever.

No, mama. I'm not clever. I'm Jackson.

I know. I meant you are clever. Clever means intelligent.

I am not intelligent. I'm Jackson. I am your son. You know this.

Thank You?

Hey Mama?


When I was a baby, I was in your tummy.

That's right.

And when I was in there, it smelled good in there.

It did? Uh ... What did it smell like?

It smelled like cookies.


Jackson: Ouch! Ouch! Mama!

Me: What is it? What's wrong?

Jackson: My foot.

Me: Oh, you just woke up in your car seat. Maybe your foot is asleep?

Jackson: No, it isn't.

Me: Then did you do something to it?

Jackson: No.

Eric: Is it stinging?

Jackson: No.

Eric: Is it like tingling?

Jackson: No.

(long pause while shaking his foot)

Jackson: It's like.... like.....whiskies!

Lil' Helper

Mama? Where are you?

I'm in the potty.

Oh. (long pause) Do you need any help in there?


Eric, what is that smell? It smells like candy. Are you eating candy?


What is that? It smells so sweet.

I farted.

Shop Till You Drop

After the holidays, I needed to return a pair of boots. Jackson ventured with me to the mall and once inside the shoe store Famous Footwear, he got comfy on one of the large red stools they have in the middle of the store. He sprawled out and closed his eyes.

Jackson, what are you doing?

I'm resting for a little bit.

Ok, but come over here with me now. I've got to check out.

But I've traveled such a long way and am so very tired.

What are you Frodo?



"Mama, can you undo this? Grown-ups are really good at undoing things."


I know lots of sign language, mama.

You do?

Yes, wanna hear some?


Cold News

Sometimes when my hands get icy cold, I will creep around a corner, surprise Jackson and tell him in a sing-songy voice, “I’ve got some bad news!”
Then, I’ll take my cold hands and warm them on his neck before he dashes off in a chase around the house.
It always ends in a good game of chase and lots of giggles.
He has started doing it to me and Eric as well.
When he gets a case of icy toes, he’ll scrunch next to me on the couch, tuck a few under my leg and sing out, “Hey Maaa-Maaaaa! I’ve got bad news!”
It was just a silly game and I thought nothing of it until we went to a birthday party over the weekend and I heard Jackson say to another parent, “My mama, she always has bad news.”


"Smell the top of his head. It smells like someone rubbed a brownie in there!"

My Guitar Man

Jackson: Mama, will you play the roller skate song? (Brand New Key)

Mama: Ok .... Oh look, she's playing a guitar.

Jackson: Yeah, I'm all about guitars.


Early Christmas morning, Jackson stumbled out of bed and quietly toddled into the living room. His first comment was one of disappointment:

"I didn't have any sugar plum fairies dancing in my head last night."

After examining Jackson's wild bed head, my dad disagreed.


Each night before going to bed, Jackson and I would admire the Christmas tree and select our favorite ornament for the day.
Sometimes he would pick the same ornament each night, sometimes he was partial to the ones that featured photos of himself, and sometimes there would be much walking around the tree to find just the right one.
One night, we were curled up on the couch while trying to pick that day's ornament when Jackson turned to me and said:

Mama, do you know what my favorite ornament is?



Does this kid have my number or what?


Unfortunately, he may love this gift most of all.