Tag Archives: family

Done Went and Had a Baby

Song Lyric of the Day:

Like when I close my eyes and don’t even care if anyone sees me dancing / Like I can fly, and don’t even think of touching the ground / Like a heartbeat skip, like an open page / Like a one way trip on an aeroplane / It’s the way that I feel when I’m with you, brand new

Ben Rector / “Brand New

I logged in to my blog the other day, trying to remember if my last post was in the spring (I could have sworn it was), only to be shocked to see the last time I posted was the day before Sebastian was born. That’s right – I now have a second kid, Coraline is a (fabulous) big sister, and Rich has his very own Mini Me. My unintentionally long, almost year-long blogging break reminded me of the short-lived show Up All Night, when Will Arnett’s character reminds Christina Applegate’s character that she last updated Facebook the night before their baby was born, and that people probably thought she’d died. As with me, that was happily not the case.

So what have I been up to these last 11 months? The first six weeks after Sebastian was born were all about surviving an ungodly level of exhaustion. There were nights he would wake up after only 20 minutes of catnapping; I can’t rightly call what he was doing sleeping. Why was he up so often? Because we didn’t get really good at nursing until he was about 6 weeks old. Once he started latching correctly each time, he would get nice and full and then he would sleep. It was such a relief to finally get more than 20-minute catnaps. We’d get two-, three-, even four-hour stretches. It was glorious.

In hindsight, I never should have said Coraline was a bad sleeper as a baby, because sweet 6-pound, 8-ounce baby Jesus, Sebastian made his sister look like a fricking sleep Olympian. But we survived. Although at times it felt like I wouldn’t. I had several days where I would cry purely from exhaustion, as well as days I’d cry that it looked like he wasn’t putting on weight no matter how much I nursed him. Once we hit that 6-week mark, though, everything improved across the board. And boy, has breastfeeding this time around been an experience. I’ll try to write more about that another time; I promise it won’t be 11 months from now.

I admit that I was ready to try for a second kid a couple of years ago, but needing the spouse to be on board with that kind of thing is a pretty big deal. And, you know, kind of important. Coraline had of course been lobbying for a sibling for about three years prior to Sebastian being born. Originally she wanted a sister we would name Elsa. Then she decided a brother wouldn’t be so bad. Then she decided one of each would be great. I shot that idea down pretty quickly. She’s a great age to be a big sister, though. She’s been helpful from the get-go, getting me things she knew I’d need (wipes, the Boppy pillow, a burp cloth) before I asked for them. She’s also great with Sebastian and has even been able to soothe him at times when Rich and I couldn’t; it makes me believe that she really can understand his baby talk and interpret what he’s telling her. Sebastian is also pretty fond of her. Watching them interact is one of my life’s greatest joys. They’re also not yet old enough to fight, so I’m enjoying every second of their current peaceful existence.

I hope to get back into updating my blog semi-regularly. I’ve missed it — and writing in general. (My sincere thanks to the one reader who still checks in occasionally.) For now, though, I’m going to call it a night as I haven’t slept more than six hours straight in almost a year. Luckily it’s been for a very good reason.

My babies

Cora reads to (then 3-month-old) Sebastian

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Our beloved brindle pit, Caleb, died suddenly and unexpectedly Friday night. I was already in bed asleep when Rich burst into our bedroom and said, “I think Caleb may have just died.” By the time we both ran downstairs to the den it was clear Caleb was already gone.

I don’t know where to start. Like I said, it was sudden. And unexpected. He behaved normally all Friday, eating, drinking, playing, napping as usual. Rich said that after I went to bed that night Caleb came to get petted and kissed, then went back to playing with Troubadour. They laid down to sleep and just like that Caleb slipped away. It’s some comfort that he went so quickly and without suffering. But what I find more comforting is knowing that he died after doing his favorite thing in the whole world: playing with Troubadour. While Caleb loved his big sister Snoops with all his heart, his relationship with Troubadour was on a whole other level. They literally became inseparable, with Caleb starving himself then quitting drinking water when they were apart for a few days a few years back. We took them for vet checkups on the same day because they couldn’t stand being home alone without each other. When Troubadour got a time-out in his crate, Caleb would kiss you and give you the eyes to get him released. They slept on the same bed together. They drank in tandem. They often peed in tandem. They didn’t even like going out in the backyard without each other. Which is why it’s now so hard to watch Troubadour processing what happened. He spent all Saturday obsessively checking the backyard to see if he’d somehow missed Caleb, even though he’d seen Rich carry Caleb’s body out the door that morning for that final visit to the vet. It was the only time in his life that he’s ever remained completely silent when his brother went out the front door without him.

I can’t express how much we are all going to miss Caleb. How much we already do. How hard it was telling Coraline and hearing her little heart break when she started crying and saying his name over and over. He was loved by everyone in our family and so many of our friends. Throughout his life he changed a lot of people’s minds about pit bulls, showing them what good dogs they inherently are. He loved peanut butter-filled Kongs. He loved chewing/eating/destroying tree branches. He loved kissing our hands and faces. He loved playing with Frisbees, ropes, and Boobah dolls. He loved wrestling with Troubadour, preferably in front of an audience. He loved everyone in our family. He loved our friends. He loved his little brother and his cat, Buster. He loved me. He loved Coraline. But most of all he loved Rich, his favorite person, the one who picked him out of all those puppies all those years ago.

Caleb smiled, but he’d only do it on command for Coraline. I already miss that goofy smile so much. I could write so much more about what I’ll miss about him, but it could easily turn into an endless post. I’ve cried so much since his passing it’s hard to believe I haven’t dehydrated by now.

We are now a family with one dog and one cat. And it’s for Caleb that we’ll take extra-special care of that one dog, the one who was crying tonight as if in physical pain because he can’t find his big brother.

Caleb would have turned 13 years old tomorrow. We are so honored and proud to have been his family since bringing him home as that tiny 13-pound 13-week-old rescue. You were a good boy, Caleb. Such a good boy.

Baby Caleb

I always thought of this as Caleb’s official baby portrait.

New Puppy

Getting comfy in his new daddy’s lap.


Caleb was one hell of a patient big brother.


Sleeping brothers

Caleb frisbee

This is maybe my favorite photo of Caleb. His personality really shines through here.






Filed under Uncategorized

Is This Thing Still On?

Song Lyric of the Day:

I guess I can’t believe you really came / And that we’re sitting on this pier / See, I’m smiling / That means I’m happy that you’re here

Sherie René Scott / “See I’m Smiling

I haven’t blogged in months. I haven’t even read blogs in months. Not that I haven’t wanted to, but life has been busybusybusy, which is nothing new, right? Regardless, I’m still alive. That’s something, right? So what’s been going on?


In early September I was in lovely Toronto, Ontario, for the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. I first went to the festival in 2009, and after much hemming and hawing for the past several months, Rich finally convinced me to go ahead and take the trip. So off I went. And yes, I was boo-hooing just a few months ago that I didn’t think I’d get to go anywhere this year. I had, however, been saving for several months for a new camera, which is the money I used to pay for my trip, which turned out to be as much fun as I’d hoped and then some. I will *try* to write about it more in depth soon. The Wi-Fi situation was not good, to put it mildly, while I was in Toronto, so I didn’t get to post anything here and barely managed to FaceTime and/or Skype with Rich and Coraline. In between seeing all those movies, that is.

This Is (Insert Old Age Here)

I hit a milestone birthday not long after I got back from Toronto, one which I have yet to celebrate with any sort of party because I was focused on a certain curly-haired bambina’s upcoming 4th birthday. Besides, my Toronto trip was pretty much my early birthday present to myself.

In honor of my 56th* birthday, I took a selfie. *Would you believe ... 57?

In honor of my 56th* birthday, I took a selfie.
*Would you believe … 57?

She’s 4 Now

Coraline turned 4 six days after my birthday. We celebrated with a bounce house party here at our house, which was a relief. Coraline has been to every kind of birthday party imaginable this year — Chuck E. Cheese, Ijams Nature Center, The Little Gym, The Pony Party, The Knoxville Zoo, to name a few — so Rich and I were surprised that she really wanted a party at home. And who were we to argue? She’s 4 now, after all, which she constantly reminds us of. Constantly. Did I mention she’s 4 now? Because she’s 4 now.

Coraline clowning around on her 4th birthday

Coraline clowning around on her 4th birthday

Working Title

One of the main things that has kept me from blogging and reading blogs these last several weeks is that I have been writing. As in really writing and working on my book. I’ve made good progress and am happy with the direction it’s taking. It’s fiction, so I’m really enjoying letting my imagination run wild. I’ve been researching PTSD in combat veterans — triggers and treatments — so that my main character is believable, although I’m putting the poor bastard through the wringer. Now I just need a title that’s not complete crap like the one I originally slapped on it.

Did I mention that in my head this is what my main character looks like? I'm already casting the movie version. Image of this hot man courtesy of a Google search and Sebastian Stan's mother.

Did I mention that in my head this is what my main character looks like? I’m already casting the movie version.
Image courtesy of a Google search and beautiful man courtesy of Sebastian Stan’s mother.

I also have a new baby niece, Adriana, and Rich started a new job with a new company today. So now you know some of the main highlights of the last few months. Really, though, I’ve enjoyed spending time with my two favorite peeps and focusing more on living life offline. Or as the old-timers called it back in the day, life.


Finn decided to photobomb the family portrait we took on Coraline’s 4th birthday (9/23/14).

Leave a Comment

Filed under blogging, personal

The Mountain Birthday Party

Song Lyric of the Day:

High on a mountain top / We live, we love, and we laugh a lot / Folks up here know what they got / High on a mountain top

Loretta Lynn / “High On a Mountain Top

Last summer our friends hosted a party at their family’s mountain house, and since then Coraline has been obsessed with the idea of a “mountain party.” So you can imagine her delight when Rich decided to rent that same house for his 40th birthday party this past weekend. Friday night we hosted family, and Saturday night we hosted friends. We were running late both nights (maybe my fault as I put the pro in procrastination), but we managed to pull off a pretty great party each time.

Friday I made herb-crusted pork tenderloin, roasted garlic-ranch potatoes, salad, and my patented garlic rolls for a sit-down family dinner. Saturday night I made some of my better appetizers/finger foods (per Rich’s special request), while friends brought some sides and sweets. I stayed primarily indoors Saturday night instead of hanging outside by the bonfire since I was having too much fun gabbing with friends (while keeping an eye on Coraline) to head out into the cold.

Sunday turned out to be an unusually warm day, so for our last day at the cabin we enjoyed a nice bike ride, then walked to a nearby family-style restaurant for breakfast. I am still kicking myself for not grabbing my camera like I planned, since I thought, “Oh, it’s such a short walk and it’s only breakfast.” Which is why when we saw the bald eagle that had just flown over our cabin perched in a tree on the way to the restaurant I only had my phone handy to take pictures. Always take your camera, Pattie: I KNOW this. Ugh.

The best shot of the wild bald eagle I could get with my camera phone.

The best shot of the wild bald eagle I could get with my camera phone.

What I loved most about staying at the cabin was the quiet. Even though we were close to the main drag, it was so quiet most of the time that you could hear a pin drop. It was glorious. And it was a perfect setting in which to host family and friends. It means a lot to us that so many people took the time to head out there to celebrate my old man getting officially older.

All in all, I think Rich had a great time celebrating the big 4-0 this year. I know I (and Coraline) certainly enjoyed helping him usher in a new year.

Coraline helps Rich finish off the mandarin orange cake I made for his birthday.

Coraline helps Rich finish off the mandarin orange cake I made for his birthday.

You can see some pictures from Rich’s long birthday weekend here.

Leave a Comment

Filed under birthday, family, marriage, personal, relationship

The Birthday Boy and the Ballerina

Song Lyric of the Day:

I just want you to dance with me tonight / So come on, oh baby / I just want you to dance with me tonight

Olly Murs / “Dance With Me Tonight

Tuesday night Rich, Coraline, and I celebrated Rich’s 40th birthday. It was a tiny celebration, just our little family, with a bigger celebration planned for the weekend. But we had to mark Rich’s big day on the day of. I made sure to preorder a German chocolate (Rich’s favorite) torte, since birthday cake at a birthday party is sacrosanct to Coraline, and we couldn’t have a devastated 3-year-old bringing down Rich’s birthday. And did I mention that German chocolate is Rich’s favorite? Coraline also insisted on having themed plates because, again, those are absolutely necessary for a birthday. I managed to find some Justice League plates to satisfy Rich’s request for Superman (he politely passed on Coraline’s suggestions of Woody or Buzz plates) and mismatched Avengers napkins since that was what was in stock. When Coraline and I picked up the cake, we also got a Mylar balloon that said “Happy Birthday” on it (she wanted to be traditional), a balloon which is now being moved around our upstairs by one very happy, oddball tabby cat. Coraline and I sang the birthday song, we tore into that cake, and Rich opened his presents.  All in all, I think it was a nice little celebration with just the three of us.

Can you tell who was most excited to be celebrating Rich's birthday?

Can you tell who was most excited to be celebrating Rich’s birthday?

Rich and Coraline pose for a birthday photo.

Rich and Coraline pose for a birthday photo.

Last night was a big night for Coraline (and us as well): her first ballet class. Technically it was a tap/ballet/creative movement/gymnastic class, since dance studios’ ballet season doesn’t begin until August. But to Coraline, it was all about the ballet; she’s been asking to take classes for months and now she’s finally old enough.

Ready to head to her first ballet class

Ready to head to her first ballet class

Of course, being old enough to take ballet doesn’t guarantee her paying attention to the teacher, which was a given. Despite her squirrelly attention span, though, she gave it her enthusiastic all. Plus, she was absolutely adorable to watch, as were her classmates — bright tutus everywhere.

Tap shoes on and ready to dance

Tap shoes on and ready to dance

Coraline enjoyed the class so much that she was actually pissed off when it ended and we told her it was time to leave. She sat down with her back to us, crossed her arms, and sulked. She brightened considerably when we told her she could go again. Now Rich and I just need to figure out which class schedule will work best for us.

Practicing making some noise with her tap shoes

Practicing making some noise with her tap shoes

At the end of each day, I ask Coraline what her favorite part of her day was. Some days it’s playing outside at daycare, others it’s hanging out with her grandma, doing artwork, or riding the train at the mall. Last night when I asked her that question, she smiled and said simply, “Ballet.”


Filed under birthday, birthday party, coraline, family, family time, personal, rich

Happy 40th Birthday to My Blue-Eyed Boy

Today is Rich’s birthday, the 17th one I’ve celebrated with him. And it’s a biggie: his 40th. While I think I said everything there was to say last year, I still want to wish him all the happiness in the world and that all his birthday wishes come true. He’s my best friend, a fantastic father to Coraline, and the best husband I could ask for. Here’s to many more happy birthdays to you, my love.

Rich with a statue Coraline calls the Penguin of Death.

Rich with a statue Coraline calls the Penguin of Death.

Making homemade play dough together

Making homemade play dough together

Coraline and her poppa laughing it up

Coraline and her poppa laughing it up

Our little family

Our little family


Filed under marriage, personal

The 3-Day Playdate

Song Lyric of the Day:

They’re in the car, on the highway / It’s so magical, feeling, that no one’s got a hold / You’re a catalyst to your happiness you know / This is your heart, it’s alive / It’s pumpin’ blood / It’s your heart, it’s alive / It’s pumpin’ blood / And the whole wide world is whistling

NONONO / “Pumpin Blood

This past Saturday I drove Coraline and her cousin Stephen down to Alabama to visit my other sister’s family and for the kids to have some quality cousin time. We started off by meeting Vanessa and her family and a couple of friends at the Huntsville Botanical Garden (which is gorgeous). Elliott almost plotzed himself when he saw Stephen since he thought only Coraline and I were coming to visit. During the drive down, Stephen had even said, “I’m cuzzie’s surprise.” (They call each other cuzzie.) The weather was mild and beautiful, perfect for wandering the Garden’s substantial grounds. If I hadn’t been helping wrangle four kids, I’m sure I could’ve taken even more photos than I did.  Vanessa kept talking about a huge slide she’d seen on their last visit there, so we spent a good deal of time walking the grounds looking for it. After a while I became convinced the slide was like Atlantis, never to be found again. In all our walking looking for it we passed a graveyard full of unmarked graves for all the parents who’d gone before us and perished looking for that damn slide. Maybe we’ll find it next time. Or maybe we’ll just find Atlantis.

Miranda, Coraline, Elliott, and Stephen in the Nature Center (11/2/13).

After the Garden we headed to Vanessa’s house where the kids all managed to not nap. Coraline was so tired she passed out around 7:15PM local time (Alabama’s on Central, Tennessee’s on Eastern), slumping over my arm as I read books to her and her little cousin Miranda. I carried her up to the guest room and tucked her in, pleased as punch that bedtime had been so easy. My rejoicing was short-lived, though, because when I checked on her a short while later she was sitting up smiling and said, “Mommy, I have to go potty.” After which she headed back downstairs to play some more with her cousins. Ken inflated a queen-sized air mattress for the kids to sleep on in the living room, Coraline’s first sleepover with both her big cousins. Stephen had slept over in her room at home the night before, her first-ever cousin sleepover. They were so excited about our road trip in the morning that Rich could barely get them to go to sleep. I’m pretty sure he spontaneously self-sterilized that night.

Outwardly Coraline appeared done for the night. But really she was just recharging her batteries to thwart my attempts at getting her to bed at a decent hour (11/2/13).

Elliott, Coraline, and Stephen sleep off the day (11/2/13).

Coraline and I were seriously dragging on Sunday (mostly me, anyway). We’d gained an hour driving down to Alabama, then gained another hour thanks to Daylight Saving Time. I know I certainly felt like it was two hours later than the clock said it was. The fact that all four kids were up and at it by 8AM didn’t help. We stayed close to home that day, with playground time and lunch out our big adventures for the day. Of course, the kids were all about playing together, so it didn’t really matter to them where we went as long as they were together.

At the playground Sunday (11/3/13). Right after I said it looked like they were acting out a scene from The Breakfast Club, one of the boys punched both fists in the air.

Yesterday Vanessa, Coraline, Stephen, Miranda, and I had a nice breakfast together (Ken was at work and Elliott was at school). We picked up Elliott from school a bit early to give the kids more time together before we had to head home. We set out at 3PM EST so we’d get home around dinnertime. I can’t tell you how many times I had to ask what time it was this past weekend — too many time changes. The drive home was blissfully uneventful, with Coraline and Stephen watching Monsters vs Aliens for the billionth time on the portable DVD player my sister Samantha thought to send with Stephen (Thanks, Sam!). Coraline ended up sleeping for just under two hours, while Stephen stayed awake the whole time, watching Madagascar during the final stretch.

I can’t tell you how happy I was to finally get home. I loved spending time with all my babies, but dear lord, they have a frightening amount of energy. I’m convinced that collectively their energy could provide electricity to a small town via toddler-sized hamster wheels. Also, Coraline is a horrible bed hog who kicked the living shit out of me Sunday night into Monday. As crazy as the kids are when they get together, I look forward to some more weekend-long playdates for them. The best thing about being around them? I never forget to take my birth control pill on time.

1 Comment

Filed under family, personal

Photoblogging: A Book of Memories

This is the beautiful hardbound book my aunt-in-law sent Coraline commemorating her meeting her Great-Grandma Lee for the first time. We think Coraline will grow to love this book as much as we already do.

Leave a Comment

Filed under coraline, personal, photoblogging

Grandma Lee

Song Lyric of the Day:

Somebody saved me from the world you left / If you’re gonna cry my tears / If you’re gonna hold my breath / If you’re gonna let me see the sun you set / Oh, I am lost and found / Oh, I am lost and found

Katie Herzig / “Lost and Found

My grandmother-in-law is being laid to rest this morning in Iowa. Grandma Lee passed away last Thursday after suffering a stroke. And even though she reached the impressive age of 99, I think I took it for granted that she would live forever — she was just so spunky and full of life that it’s hard to imagine that life would ever come to an end.

I first met her back in 1998 when I accompanied Rich to Iowa for the first time. Grandma Lee was a tiny little thing — tiny but mighty. Mighty enough to have raised four kids. Mighty enough to have been a nurse. Mighty enough to beat breast cancer. And lord, was that woman quick with a comeback. Her snappy wit could (and probably did) cause whiplash in those fortunate enough to be witness to it.

The last time I saw her was September 2011. It’s really hitting home for me that the last time I saw her was truly the last time I would ever see her. Which is why I’m writing this through yet more tears. But I was lucky enough that my last visit with her was also the first (and only) time she would meet her great-granddaughter Coraline, which was a wonderful thing to behold. Coraline was almost 1 year old and more interested in running around the nursing home than sitting still, but I still managed to get some nice shots of her with Grandma Lee. While Grandma Lee didn’t quite remember me, she did remember her grandson Rich and knew that Coraline was his daughter.

I wish with all my heart I could be there with our family in Iowa to not only say my final farewell to Grandma Lee, who treated me like one of her own grandkids, but to be there to console my husband and father-in-law and our many other relatives as they lay this sweet, incredibly beloved woman to rest. I may be mourning from afar, but I hope everyone there knows I’m with them in spirit.

After our visit to Iowa, Rich’s Aunt Linda sent Coraline the most amazing birthday present, a hardbound book of photos from our visit with Grandma Lee. And while Coraline will never remember on her own meeting her great-grandma, Rich and I will never forget.

1 Comment

Filed under family, grandma, grandmas, grandparents, grief, personal

Photoblogging: Mother’s Day 2013

Today was pretty much the best Mother’s Day I could have hoped for. I thanked Rich and Coraline repeatedly throughout the day for making my day so incredibly special, fun, and memorable. Getting to swing by my parents’ house to wish Mom a happy Mother’s Day was the icing on the cake. And now, because it’s late at night and I have to get ready for bed and work tomorrow, I’m just doing a quick little post to commemorate the day. I’ll *try* to write more in depth tomorrow night since we did a lot today. I hope all my fellow moms had a great day, too.

Me and Mom Mother's Day 2013

Me with my mom, who I am lucky enough to live close to. Notice the tiny person popping up in the lower right-hand corner.

Mom, Coraline and Me Mother's Day 2013

I absolutely love this photo of me, Mom, and Coraline. She's still wrapping her head around the fact that her Abuela is MY mom.

Coraline and Abuela Mother's Day 2013

I love this photo of Coraline and her abuela more than I can say.

Cora and Mommy Mother's Day 2013

During bedtime, I realized I forgot to ask Rich to take a picture of me and Coraline, so I set my camera's timer since Rich wasn't around right then. I got Coraline to smile like this by promising we'd work on a puzzle together. This sweet little girl is my heart and made my Mother's Day so wonderful. (With help from her dad, of course.)




Filed under coraline, personal