Category Archives: family


Song Lyric of the Day:

Ev’ryone can see we’re together / As we walk on by / (FLY!) and we fly just like birds of a feather / I won’t tell no lie / (ALL!) all of the people around us they say / Can they be that close / Just let me state for the record / We’re giving love in a family dose

Sister Sledge / “We Are Family

On Saturday we celebrated my niece Miranda’s first birthday party. We met at Build-a-Bear, where Coraline surprised everyone by not choosing Hello Kitty but instead choosing a pink snowflake-covered bear Rich and I, in a stroke of genius, named Snowflake since Coraline wouldn’t commit to a name for the birth certificate (and yes, I took the opportunity to remind Mom about this again). After Build-a-Bear, the kids hitched a ride on the train that runs around the mall, making Coraline’s day because she LOVES riding that train.

We then adjourned to Chili’s for lunch to be followed by birthday cake, which Coraline and her big cousins Elliott and Stephen all wanted as their main course. Like that was going to happen. And then, by the grace of God and my family — who helped do the wrangling — I got a picture of all five cousins together. Sure, they weren’t all looking right at the camera at the same time, but I got a shot of all five of them. Together. In one photo with five takes. Finally.

The kids had a blast spending time together this weekend, and I love seeing my baby girl having so much fun with my other babies. For all intents and purposes, these kids are each other’s best friends. I hope they know how lucky they are to be close enough to get to see their cousins as often as they do, something my sisters and I were not as fortunate to enjoy growing up. They’re lucky, lucky kids.


Here are a few shots from Saturday’s festivities. You can see all the photos here.

Coraline's bear gets stuffed


Coraline squeezes her eyes shut tight while holding her bear's heart in her hands and wishing good wishes for her. I love that she looks like she's praying.

Sleeping Miranda

Birthday girl Miranda, who has a little cold, fell asleep waiting for lunch. It looks like she's saying grace.

Frosting muzzle

Miranda gets her sugar rush on


Clockwise: Coraline, Stephen, Elliott, Sabrina, Miranda. This was the fifth shot I got of all of them. They were so over it by then.

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Filed under coraline, family, personal, photography

My Valentines

Happy Valentine’s Day to my two favorite people on earth, Rich and Coraline. I love you both to the moon and back.

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Song Lyric of the Day:

Words don’t come easily / When most I need them / I do not have a key / I am breaking in / There’s people / People going out of their mind / Right into each others’ arms

A Silent Film / “Driven By Their Beating Hearts

Our weekend started out well enough. Fun family time, a movie with my sisters. Everything changed with a phone call from my mother-in-law late in the afternoon. In a panic, I listened as Rich’s voice rose, his mother’s crying audible from several feet away. I let Coraline continue happily watching Olivia even as I burst into tears when Rich repeated the news to me; I didn’t want her to get scared.

A young member of our extended family had died unexpectedly, on his 23rd birthday. I didn’t know him very well, but every time I saw him, he was so happy and so sweet and so fun to be around. I’m trying to process how someone I met when he was only 8 1/2 years old is gone. And his family … my God, I can’t even begin to imagine what his family, especially his parents and siblings are going through. Except that I can. I can imagine it. I’m a parent now, I have siblings.  And I start crying all over again for them, for their loss, for our whole family’s loss. Life can be so unfair. Right now it seems exceptionally cruel that these wonderful people, people who I love, who greeted me with open arms from day one, who have invited me into and hosted me in their home, are going through every parent’s worst nightmare. My heart breaks into another million pieces every time I think of what they and their other children are facing. And it’s all so very unfair.


Filed under family, grief

Mother’s Day 2012

Song Lyric of the Day:

That’s my daughter in the water / Every thing she owns i bought her / Every thing she owns / That’s my daughter in the water / Every thing she knows i taught her / Every thing she knows

Loudon Wainwright III / “Daughter

When I woke up yesterday morning and came upstairs (after having moved downstairs to our guest room with ear plugs so I could sleep in), Rich and Coraline were in the kitchen where Rich was busy cooking bacon. Coraline was wearing a tiny tiara and her purple footie pajamas, pushing the Swiffer around; she looked like a tiny Queen of Clean. After Rich assured me we could still go out for Mother’s Day, I of course jumped at the chance to go to Tomato Head (as I did last Mother’s Day). But before we headed out, Rich and Coraline presented me with my Mother’s Day gifts. Coraline gave me a cute Minnie Mouse card and recycling bins for the downstairs kitchenette, since she knows how I try to recycle as much as possible. She also gave me some exotic hot chocolate mixes, including a pink Hello Kitty powder; that one should be interesting. Rich gave me a couple of beautiful tealight lanterns for our bedroom, a bag of tealights, and a fancy French fry cutter (he knows me so well).

At Tomato Head we enjoyed a delicious brunch, where Coraline deconstructed my Belgian waffle square by square and berry by berry, and I got, let’s say, tipsy, after drinking a Mimosa. Turns out when you stop drinking save for one drink a year, it doesn’t take a lot to make the room spin. Since it was raining, we skipped our usual post-brunch downtown walk and came home so Coraline could nap and I could pass out. Despite trying for two hours to sleep, my nap was a no-go. We then enjoyed a nice dinner of leftovers from the 40th wedding anniversary party we hosted for my parents the day before (and which I’ll write about later this week). Basically we just spent a nice family day together, which made it a perfect Mother’s Day.

I like to think since my first Mother’s Day (look how tiny Coraline was — and how short her hair was!), I’ve become more confident in my parenting. I’ve certainly embraced how lucky I am to have such an even-tempered daughter, particularly when you know how, um, passionate, her parents can be at times. Sure, she gets mad when we tell her no, but does she sulk or pout? Nah, she moves on to the next thing. Which makes my job as her mom a whole lot easier. But even on Coraline’s worst day, it’s still my privilege to be mother to such a sweet, smart, funny, and gutsy little girl.

Princesses for Mother's Day (5/13/12)


Filed under coraline, family

Road Tripping With Abuelo

Song Lyric of the Day:

You show the lights that stop me turn to stone / You shine It when I’m alone / And so I tell myself that I’ll be strong / And dreaming when they’re gone

Ellie Goulding / “Lights

On Saturday, Coraline and I drove with my dad, her abuelo, down to Alabama so she and I could finally meet Miranda, her new cousin and my new (and first) niece. Cora and I got up at the same time we do on weekdays, got to my parents’ house at 8:30AM, and were on the road by 9AM. Three hours of salsa music later (¡Ay caramba! — it all sounds the same to me. Guess who picked the radio station?), we pulled into Ken and Vanessa’s driveway, where my nephew Elliott ran out shouting, “Auntie Pattie, I missed you!” before hurling himself into my arms. Not too shabby a greeting. Then he hopped into the backseat of my car to say hi to Coraline, who was groggy as she was just waking up from a two-hour nap. We made our way inside, where I finally got to meet and hold Miranda, who is 10 weeks old today. And if I do say so — in my completely unbiased opinion, of course — she’s a little beauty. See?

Happy Miranda (4/28/12)

Not only was Coraline giddy to see and hang out with her cousin Elliott, she fell in love with Miranda. Coraline loves babies, and her new cousin was no exception. She kissed her so many times while we were there she reminded me of one of those little glass drinking bird thingies, constantly standing up then bending over to kiss Miranda.

Coraline kisses her new cousin, Miranda, for the hundredth time.

While there, we enjoyed lunch at a Mexican restaurant, a trip to Barnes & Noble where I picked out books from me and Rich to Elliott and Miranda (Elliott’s unexpected selection was Angry Birds Space), and a fruitless-for-me visit to DSW. After hanging out another couple of hours back at their house, it was time for me, Dad, and Coraline to head back home. For the return drive, I selected The Airborne Toxic Event on my iPod, my preemptive strike against more salsa music. We stopped for dinner at a Quiznos, where Coraline wasted time playing with olives and cucumber slices before deigning to eat any of the turkey and cheddar slider I got her. Dad took over driving from there, so it was back to the salsa music. Sigh.

Even though this was just a day trip, it meant a  lot to me, not only because I got to see my sister and her family, who we’ve missed since they moved, but because — believe it or not — this was my first-ever road trip with my dad. And despite having fears of not knowing what to talk about (Dad’s not a chatter), it was actually fun for me and Dad and I did have some nice talks. Coraline won’t remember this trip, but it made a big impression on her: Saturday night was the first night she slept with her little baby doll, who Rich took great care to tuck in under the blanket next to her.


Filed under family, travel

Meat on a Stick, Motorcycle-Riding Moms, Family Time, & a Non-Napping Baby

Song Lyric of the Day:
No, I won’t change / Another thing / I cracked the bell / I tried to ring / A scissor runner stole my heart

This weekend was packed, the kind of busy that has me wishing today was a day off just so I could recover. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Friday night Rich and I went to Brazeiros Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse that opened a few months ago, to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. Talk about eating your fill. The concept is basically that you have a little circle card, one side red, one side green, and you flip it over to get started. Once you have it green side up, you can start with the unlimited salad bar. Then sides are brought to you: carmelized bananas, cheese bread, garlic mashed potatoes, and crispy polenta. The real fun begins when they start bringing the meat. Good lord, the meat. Brought out by gaucho chefs, there are about a dozen different types of meat, ranging from leg of lamb to sausage to sirloin to filet mignon to chicken breast wrapped in bacon — lots of meat. You turn the card back over so it’s red side up when you need a break or, in my case, fear you might vomit from eating so much. Seriously — I ate for almost an hour straight. I’m still full and it’s three days later. I really think I ate my own weight in meat. You get the drift. Aside from a great restaurant experience and a wonderful date night with the hubby, I got my belated 10th anniversary gift, to boot. Behold my anniversary ring:


The service at Brazeiros was fantastic, too. I made a point to tell the manager on duty how great all our gaucho chefs were — they made a point to come back to me with well-done meat whenever something wasn’t as cooked as I would’ve liked. Now that’s good customer service.

Saturday afternoon was spent with the family celebrating our nephew Stephen’s second birthday party at his Grandma Jane and Grandpa Bruce’s house.

Coraline made friends with Grandma Jane:

New friends
Stephen’s favorite one of our gifts to him was the little basketball:
Still flushed from playing outside
The Big Gift was Stephen’s very own Ford F150, complete with personalized plates:
Sweet ride
The Big Gift led to a carjacking by cousin Elliott, with Stephen giving chase:
Vanessa tries to stop Elliott as Stephen runs behind yelling, “Stop! Stop!”
And my mom fulfilled a lifelong wish and got to go for a ride on Bruce’s motorcycle:
That’s actually my dad with mom, not Bruce. And Michael’s the one who took her for a spin. Got that?
Rich and I managed to have a quiet moment with the birthday boy:
It’s a Stephen sandwich!
Then last night we had a very last-minute, impromptu dinner at our house with my father-in-law, Papa Doug, Rich’s sister, Kirsten, and our brother-in-law Chris (Momma Carol’s in Iowa right now). I made turkey arrabiata lasagna for the main course and a marble pistachio cake for dessert, complete with ice cream on the side.
Coraline lounges in Uncle Chris’s arms while Auntie Kirsten looks on.
Oh, as for the non-napping baby, Coraline was awake on Saturday from about 9:15AM until 7:30PM. She dozed maybe 20 minutes in the car after Stephen’s party and refused to nap at all once home. I’m pretty sure that’s her new personal record for hours spent awake. Stubborn, stubborn child. Wonder where she gets it from …

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Filed under anniversary, birthday party, family, personal

Photoblogging: Family Photo Booth


Filed under family, photoblogging, photography

Giving Thanks

Song Lyric of the Day:

You didn’t have to love me like you did / But you did, but you did / And I thank you / You didn’t have to squeeze me like you did / But you did, but you did / And I thank you

Sam & Dave / “I Thank You

I talked to my friend, Caren, tonight, who reminded me to update my blog as my last published post was “kind of sad.” (She also inadvertently reminded me about a couple of short posts I’d started and abandoned.) But it’s true about that last post — I was really, really scared and upset. Three days into my hospital stay, I cracked. I think it was inevitable that I’d finally give in to the fears I had, not to mention the solitary discomfort of being confined and tethered to a hospital bed.

Besides the fabulous baby shower our friends and sister hosted (which I’ll recap later on), we wouldn’t have made it through these last several days without the help and support of our family and friends. From family and friends stopping by the hospital, to my sister-in-law, K, staying overnight at our house to help keep her brother calm, to phone calls from far-away friends, to K and her hubby C driving to Chattanooga to pick up Caren, to our parents popping by with groceries and to walk and feed the dogs, we’ve definitely benefited from the support of our “village.” Add to that the fact that Caren was already scheduled to stay at our house this past weekend for the baby shower, giving me the peace of mind that Rich wasn’t left alone long enough to fall apart. And for those reasons, I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who’s pitched in — both physically and emotionally — the last few days. We wouldn’t have made it without you.

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July 4th Weekend Postmortem

Song Lyric of the Day:

Counting on the night for a beautiful day / I shake it your way, I shake it your way

Kings of Leon / “Use Somebody

Our July 4th weekend was busy. Busy as in our first day back at work today was the coming-down-from-the-weekend-busy. You know — busy.

Hooray for Dollywood
Friday we hit Dollywood with our friends Elaine and Dale. We start
ed the day out by taking the train ride around the park, rode the swings, then hit our first water ride for the day, River Rampage. Since we were all pretty soaked at that point, Dale, Elaine, and I rode our next water ride, Slidewinder; Rich took a pass on it to keep an eye on our backpack. Walking around in our soaking-wet clothes after, we hit a couple of roller coasters next, Mystery Mine and Thunderhead. Being the evil people that we are, Rich and I got Elaine on Mystery Mine without letting on how steep the inclines and drops are; she enjoyed it and she and I even rode it again before we left the park for the day. (We made a point to sit on either side of Rich to give him the full effect of the Surround Scream.) Dale had to sit out some rides due to motion sickness, but he enjoyed all the water rides with us (River Battle left us all dripping wet) and the Blazing Fury roller coaster, which now seems like a kiddie ride after Mystery Mine. Rich, Elaine, and I also rode the Tennessee Tornado, which did indeed leave us all a bit dizzy. We had a blast running around the park and riding almost everything, which left us exhausted for the drive home. You can check out some of the Dollywood pics I took here. (Rich — season passes for our Valentine’s Day gift this year? Awesome.)
Taking a Swim and a Soak
After a crazy family lunch (more below) Saturday afternoon, that evening Rich and I made our way over to Fran and Don’s house (Elaine’s parents) to enjoy a swim and a soak in their hot tub. Added bonus of soaking in the hot tub? We ended up with a great vantage point for watching 4th of July fireworks. A special bonus for me? Being in the ho
t tub was also the perfect opportunity for me to bring up this Eddie Murphy SNL skit.

It’s Raining Babies

Last week my brother and his family moved to Knoxville
from Puerto Rico. And just like that, Insta-Nephew and Insta-Niece were added to the family (along with Insta-Sis). Ricky Jr. is three-and-a-half years old, while Gabriella is five months old. We met the kids and Maria, our sister-in-law, for the first time at lunch on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed another get-together during Mom and Dad’s Sunday cookout.

Like Elliott and Stepen, Ricky Jr. and Gabriella are also ridiculously cute. I’ll need to grab some of Rich’s photos of Ricky Jr. since the little guy moves at the speed of light. But I got some cute photos of the others, as you can see for yourself.

Placeholder for Ricky Jr.

Stephen, 3 m.o. Occupation: Baby. Hobby: Cowboy. Alias: The Really Lil’ Kid.

Gabriella, 5 m.o. Likes: Sucking on fingers. Dislikes: None.

Elliott, 10 m.o. Personal quote: “I’d rather be standing.”

Told you they were cute, didn’t I? 🙂


Filed under dollywood, family, july 4, july 4th

My Life’s in Turnaround

Song Lyric of the Day:

Whenever I look back / On the best days of my life / I think I saw them all on T.V. / I am so homesick now for / Someone that I never knew / I am so homesick for / Someplace I will never be

The Bravery / “Time Won’t Let Me Go”

In addition to losing Yum Yum and Snoops this summer, my first boss recently passed away, too. He was a really great man, the kind of person you’re fortunate to have as your first boss at your first job. I’m glad I got to see him not too long ago; I only wish I’d talked to him a bit longer.
Still, not everything of late has been doom and gloom. To wit:

  • I celebrated yet another birthday recently (September 17)
  • Our two new sofas were finally delivered (Frankencouch© was happily accepted by our dog nephew, Moose). And it only took nine weeks (two to five weeks my ass)
  • Several home improvement projects are coming to completion
  • My dream closet is 75% (if you ask Rich, 80% if you ask me) complete — I could sleep in there, there’s so much room!
  • Satan has not yet reclaimed Troubadour as his puppy
  • I’m reconnecting with old friends
  • We now have two dual-tuner HD DVRs, so I’m on TV overload

One of the best things to happen of late was that my husband reminded me why I married him: he’s an awesome, kickass guy. Sneaky, too. He organized a surprise birthday party for me the Sunday before my birthday. The kicker? He got everyone to chip in and buy me my Pottery Barn desk as my present. (I kept putting off buying it since I’m making headway with my last remaining credit card. Being practical can be a real drag.) My new desk is awesome — and huge! I can invite a few friends over, and we can play Fort under it, it’s so big. So thanks again to Rich for being the best husband in the world, and thanks also to my family and friends who chipped in and made my birthday far better than I expected, or deserved, for it to be this year.

Hands-down, though, the best thing to happen lately is that my nephew, Elliott, was born healthy and happy on September 2. He inadvertently stole my sister, Samantha’s, birthday thunder, but she’s OK about that — she gets to be the “cool” aunt with whom he’ll always share the big day. I, however, will always have gum. Here’s the first picture I took of him; I had to use my camera phone since Vanessa ended up having an emergency C-section and it’s all I had with me.

He’s now 27 days old and the newest love of my life. He’s happy and healthy, and Vanessa and Ken have taken very naturally, and admirably, to parenthood. I can’t wait to see the personality the little guy develops.

El Burrito Elliott


Filed under baby, family, home improvement, life, nephew