Lessons from Moving to Mars

1) There is a benefit to being the teacher's pet. On the last day of school in MN, Madeline's teacher asked if she could keep Madeline in her classroom for lunch and order her pizza from a pizza place. She allowed her to bring two friends as well.....I wonder how come my teachers never ordered me pizza???? (Don't answer that teachers…..)

2) If you are going to attempt to fix your numerous dried out, deeply cracked and bleeding fingers by dousing them with liquid bandage in order to make packing easier, make sure you grab the right bottle and not the Clear Away Wart Remover. (And seriously Medicine Cabinet, where did THAT even come from?!?!) On the plus side, I will never have warts on my fingers because I believe the Clear Away mixed with my DNA somewhere in there….at least it felt like it.

3) If the moving companies say they will need two 24 foot trucks to move your stuff, don't think you can fit it all into one 26 foot truck if you just pack well. (I think this was Kurt's way of secretly forcing us to get rid of even more than we already did!)

4) Saving $8000 by moving yourself can cost close to $15,000 later (you know, when you have to replace all your furniture…..)

5) Do not try to buy beer in Mars between the time church gets out and a Steelers game. (That line at the store would give Space Mountain during peak season at Disney a run for its money…..glad I planned ahead!)

6) The logic here fails me: You can only buy 12 beers at a time in the grocery store in PA. However, if you go right next door to the state-run wine and spirits store, you could buy two 24 foot truck loads of wine and liquor all at once, no problem. (But you'd still have to replace all your furniture.)

7)  Minimalism (i.e. purging ones belongings) is a life long pursuit but well worth the effort. (You know, if you enjoy those terrible dreams where you keep running and running toward your goal and the more you run the longer the road becomes to get there…..and if you ever do arrive you realize that what's there isn't what you thought you were running after and then you see what it was you wanted in the distance so you start running and running again only to find THAT road getting longer and longer and so on and so forth…..)

8) Not all cardboard boxes are created equally. (And if your only option is cheap Wal-Mart boxes versus carrying it all by arm, carry it:  Every.Last.Piece! See #7 for help with that!)

9) Moving can bring on the crazy like nothing else I know.

10) I love space. (This view from my kitchen window is well worth what it took to get here...)

Looking out from the porch off of the family room

The horse farm across the way

Happy New Year from Mars.
(Seriously, it just doesn't get old!)


Merry Christmas from Mars

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, especially not a bearded dragon because…..well wait, let me start from the beginning….

In case you are wondering how moving right before Christmas effects a person's sanity, let me tell you my tale of woe.

You see, Lily wanted a Flying Squirrel for Christmas and while I am totally agreeable to the idea, finding a Flying Squirrel breeder, or a vet who will doctor them, here in western PA (or probably anywhere for that matter) is like something right out of the bible. No really, it is. It was so important that I think Jesus mentioned it in Matthew, Mark and Luke when he said, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than finding a Flying Squirrel breeder right before Christmas in the kingdom of God," or something along those lines.

At any rate, I had checked with the pet stores in the area, asked around about vets for exotics, and was having no luck when I saw that one of the pet stores was having a sale on Bearded Dragons. A light went on in my head as I thought, surely Lily would love having a dragon instead of a squirrel. "Lily and her Dragon" -- Doesn't that have a nice ring to it? (Yes folks, I have issues, let's move on.)

So there it was, two days before Christmas and I was in the store with my seven year old daughter buying a bearded dragon. The alarms are already going off by the time I make it to the register but I forge ahead, full steam, ready for the happiness that will abound. And then we got home and it hit me: I JUST BROUGHT HOME A FLIPPING DRAGON! I go into full panic mode while I set the terrarium up, completely freaking out over the fact that now, not only do I still have a new house to get in order, but I have this random reptile whose temperatures I am going to have to monitor and what the heck was I thinking?!?! It didn't help that I hadn't eaten all day, had been running on two or three cups of espresso and coffee beverages and my blood sugar started totally dropping out. I started shaking like I might pass out while wondering how do you keep one side of a tank cool and one side hot WITH A TWO YEAR OLD TURNING THE TERRARIUM LIGHTS ON AND OFF REPEATEDLY!

Kurt got home and, being the only half reasonable and responsible party in the entire scene, he turned on the heat lamp that I had placed on top of the cage like it showed in the pictures. Meanwhile, I frantically called the pet store to see if I could bring the darn thing back, less than three hours after having brought it home. It was already 9:00 at night and we seriously are 20 minutes away from civilization but luckily due to special holiday hours the pet store was open until 10. When the store clerk answered, I was about to tell her I would pay them to just take everything back when the very calm voice on the other end said, "Hey Karen, it's no problem. Just bring it back and we will totally take care of it for you."

I quickly scurried up to tell my heartbroken little girl that it was a mistake, that "we have to return it right this very second and WHY AREN'T YOU IN BED CHILD?!" when I find (after throwing the cat OFF OF THE SCREENED LID ON TOP OF THE TERRARIUM FOR THE SECOND TIME!) that the heat lamp was in the process of melting the darn thing and melted plastic was beginning to drip down the edges of the lid and oh, the stench....

Really though, if you think about it, my panic attack was a blessing in disguise because surely it saved us from burning our brand new house to the ground (ok, maybe a wee bit over dramatic here) or at the very least, saved a baby dragon from its demise via overweight and very eager cat. And to top it off, the pet store took the entire thing back, melted plastic and all, for a total refund. (I'll love them forever.) And as for Lily, all she really wanted was a 'doctor's kit' after all. (Grrrrrr….)

So, dear readers, if you ever feel like your life is crazy, just think of me and it will set you straight. You're welcome. Oh, and Merry Christmas. 


This House: Part Three

On the eve of our move to Mars…..

Dear House,

The last few days have been entirely crazy. I had wanted to have a chance to thank you for all the years you have kept us warm and safe, for the growth that has taken place, for the incredible journey we have shared under your roof, but really, let's be honest, we just packed up our entire house, WITHOUT MOVERS and loaded most of it on a truck (I say most because apparently when the moving companies said we needed TWO 26 foot trucks, they were saying so because THAT'S HOW MUCH SPACE WE WOULD NEED TO ACTUALLY TAKE EVERYTHING!) …. So house, really, WHO HAS TIME FOR THIS?!?!?

It is 4:30 a.m. and within just a few hours we will be trekking across the country, in the middle of a snow storm, to hopefully arrive at our new home in time for Christmas. So, while I could say a whole bunch of beautiful things, I really need more sleep because HOLY SMOKES! We are going to be moving across the country in a snow storm!!!!

Anyway, sweet, sweet House, we will miss you. And one day, I will spend some time to actually thank you appropriately, without the anxiety (read: total irritation) that I am feeling at this moment.

Thanks for understanding House. (Although, you are a house, I am pretty sure you don't really care, at all, about anything.)



This House: Part Two

The second letter was written in the spring of 2007, right before we moved away to California. Kurt had held onto the first letter and he responded to it with a letter of his own.


Dear Karen,

I love our house too. I'm not much of a writer, but as we spend our last few days in our home, I can't help but be saddened to the point of tears, and wanted to do my best to repay you for the sweet letter you gave me soon after we moved in.

This is the first house we've ever owned as a couple, and two of the best years of our lives have been spent in this house. This was the house Lily was born in, and the only home that Madeline, and most likely Aidan, can remember. This house sits in the only community I've ever felt we truly integrated into. This is the house I saw one of our kids (Aidan) run out to play with one of his friends from…..something I've looked forward to for as long as I can remember. The image of Aidan and Nile standing in the neighbor's yard in between our two houses is worth every penny we ever spent on this home.

This is the house we've worked through issues in, grew as people and grew as a couple. We moved into this house with me stressed about money and my career, and we move out with those worries quickly fading into nothingness. This is the first house we lived in when I started to feel optimistic that I can turn things around. When we moved into this house, every flaw annoyed me and made me miserable. Now I know the flaws and have grown to love them as character flaws in a house that is home to a guy who shares the attribute of countless character flaws, but also the attribute of trying his/its best to give a better life to everyone else in the home.

As I said at the start, and you already know, I'm not much of a writer, and I haven't thought through the words that I want to say, but the bottom line is that as much as I was troubled by this house when we moved in, I'm as troubled finding a way to let go of it.  And, although I know my efforts to be a better person, a happier person, a better husband, better dad, better friend, etcetera, have no end, I feel like my time in this house has helped me move quickly down that path -- which will make our next home that much better and that much more filled with love. Only time will tell if you ever "get over" the loss of a house, but I know one way or the other, this house will be a part of the rest of our lives. I also know that, as much as it hurts to leave, we will soon be happier and equally in love with another home, because I don't think it was the house that we loved, it was the people who made it home, and that is something we will never lose.



This House: Part One

In the following few days, before we leave this home and begin a new adventure somewhere else, I want to share with you a series of three letters written about this house. Think of them as our love letters to this house, or at least, about it. The first was written somewhere in mid-2005, when we were having issues with the house and with life and it seemed like we spent so much time longing for something different, for things to be what they were not, that we forgot the blessing that was this home. And then one day, something changed, something in me and in us and well, the rest is history.


Dear Kurt,

I love our house. It is just right. It is big, but not too big. It is beautiful, but not too beautiful. When the kids and I come home and walk through the door, it wraps its big, warm frame around us and holds us securely. It is just right.

It is cozy but not complete. It has room for more, yet is content with less. It is calm at times and brilliant (read chaotic) at others. It is just enough, maybe more. It is just right.

At first, I thought the yard was small. Then I watered it by hand. It is in fact a big yard. Today, we laid down in the grass and let the blades tickle our bodies. We watched the clouds roll overhead and heard mosquitoes buzz by our ears. We swatted at them and rolled over, getting up to run around the trees and through the bushes, like the wind which swirled our hair into a sticky mess. We tiptoed over the gravel and filled the birdbath with water. We hope for birds but will probably breed mosquitoes (like the apple we put out for the rabbits that only collected ants.) We watched the chipmunk dodging to and fro and the rabbits passing by. We sang songs with the robins and the sparrows that live in the hole in the side of our house and that little yellow bird I don't know the name of yet. The yard isn't small. It is busy and friendly. It is just right.

When we came back inside, we ran in circles on the hard wood floors which felt cool under our sticky, bare feet. We sat on the cushy, carpeted stairs and watched through the big windows how the wind ruffled the trees and the sky became gray and ominous. We watched how the storm made its way, slowly this time, toward our big, beautiful, warm, cozy, sometimes calm, sometimes brilliant (read chaotic) house. We were safe and it felt just right.

And when you walk through the front door after your day at work, whether it has been a stressful day for you or for us, or not, this house is ready and waiting to wrap you up in its big, warm frame and hold you securely, too. And we become more complete. And everything is just right.

We love you. And we love our house. And even when things don't go quite like we want them to, we still love you, and we still love our house. We hope you do, too.

Karen, the kids
(and the house)


The Rest of the Story

I know you are all on the edge of your seats wondering how the 'paint all over the new carpet while we are in the middle of a huge move' story ends…..

Outside of Solomon being grounded until he is able to leave home (we would just take away Santa but Santa gave him the finger months ago) I quickly drove (as quick as you can on icy roads anyway) to Home Depot to pick up the best invention ever: The Traffic Master. I spoke to the paint people there who looked at me with grim, horror stricken faces, gave me some mumbled words of advice (something about getting all the paint out or it will dry crunchy, as if that were the worst of it!) and sent me on my way.

An hour later, the bright blue blotch (and by blotch I mean a 3 feet by 2 feet area) was completely gone and the carpet, although completely soaked, was as good as new, kind of.

Kurt, on the other hand, had died a little inside. And by the time I had put the two little ones to bed, gotten the four 10 year old boys in the house quieted down and made my way upstairs, he was in a sound, but fitful, sleep.

Solomon awoke the next morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, and made his way downstairs before us, ate half the donuts that were intended for the big kids, and later started singing: You'd Better Watch Out, You'd Better Not Cry…..mixed in with a little What Does the Fox Say.

I will tell you what the fox says: NO SANTA FOR YOU KID! NOT EVER, EVER, EVER! Tra la la la la la la la la!

Solly Strikes Again

How to Give Your Husband a Heart Attack in Two Simple Steps**

1. On Friday, one week before moving day, pay almost $4k to have brand new high end carpets installed in the entire basement level of your home.
2. On Saturday, during your ten-year old's sleepover party, allow two-year old access to a quart of bright blue professional wall paint and let him accidentally dump it all over aforementioned new carpets.


**Please don't try this at home unless you want to cause a scene right out of the Incredible Hulk meets Psycho.**


What IS Wrong With Me? (Please don't answer that….)

I just got an email from my dear friend in China who, after reading my latest post, emailed me to ask one simple question:

What is wrong with you?!?!

I had to scroll down to see that she was responding to my blog about dead bunny pictures and that is when I actually reread the post and realized there were two, not one, but TWO MAJOR TYPOS in the very beginning of that post. (ARGH! SAY IT AIN'T SO!!!!!)

WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO, DEAR READERS?????? I don't know what is wrong with me, Dawn….first dead bunny pictures (well, if he keeps napping in the middle of the yard there will be dead bunny pictures…..) And now this! Of course, maybe the question isn't what is wrong with me but what is wrong with that blasted rabbit?!?!

I am assuming her email was referring to me trying to take those pictures and not about the fact that I failed to properly edit that post. Either way, my apologies to all. If you saw the condition under which I was writing recently you would have far more compassion for my ridiculous oversights….And anyway, it's not a huge deal, I mean, no one died. (Not even a bunny.)

But, for Solomon's sake, I hope I don't forget to double check the boxes, too!

Dead Bunnies and Other Musings

The other day I saw a small bunny laying in the neighbors yard. Sure he was dead, and quite irritated with my cat, whom I was also sure had been the offender in the crime, I grabbed my camera and ran outside to take a picture. As I approached however, the bunny jumped up from his restful position and darted off into the shrubs. Walking back to the house it occurred to me that I was just about to take pictures of a dead bunny. I am not 100% sure when someone is considered to be warped but I believe this might be heading in that direction if not already certifiable.

Anyway, I went back in to continue working on one of my other current issues. You see, I am trying to get rid of the crib, I really am. I am not holding onto it in hopes of having another baby (although I will admit I could be talked into it....not a sentiment shared by my husband and alas, that time has passed.) The problem is that there is a new crib recall like every ten seconds it seems and for all sorts of random things. Slats too wide, slats too close, crib side drops down, color doesn't match the ideal baby color of the day (or maybe it was just toxic paint, whatever); you name it, I am sure there is a recall.

So, even though our beautiful, EXTREMELY expensive high-end-because-we-were-first-time-parents-and-didn't-have-a-clue-but-good-thing-we-were-clueless-because-it-lasted-through-5-kids-(plus-someone-else-paid-for-it) crib has safely cradled (or in the case of Solomon, imprisoned) at least five sleeping babies, not to mention guests, for over 10 years, it has been recalled because apparently some company made a flawed drop-down sided crib that someone probably put together wrong in the first place and it squished their baby. I am not undermining the tragedy in this but I do take issue with ALL cribs of a particular style being recalled because of what is probably just one or two poor manufacturers and several hundred lawyers. Which brings me back to my issue: we cannot sell our crib or even donate it due to liability reasons and this is such a shame because it is still a fine piece of furniture.

After typing a very brief version of the above to a group of friends whom I have recently been giving all my worldly possessions to (save one or two....hundred), I got a request for pictures, because a friend of a friend of a friend might be interested.

I spent half an hour sifting through almost 9000 pictures before I finally found one with the crib in it.....

And yet, I would have had no problem sending her a picture of a dead bunny….you know, had it not still been alive.

Priorities people, priorities.


One Sided Conversations

Here is a sampling of things I have found myself saying in the last 7 days:

"Get out of the freezer Solly,…..no, all the way out…."

"Solly, what did you do with the rest of my guitar case?"

"Solomon, no poking a million tiny holes in the moving boxes! Give me that screwdriver!……(ten minutes later)…. SOLLLLY! No digging a gigantic hole in the boxes either! Where did you get that second screwdriver?!?!"

"Solomon, where is your diaper? Wait, NOOOOO! We don't pee on the carpets!!!!!"

At the doctors: "No hanging from the Sharps container Solomon!"

To Solly's teacher (as I am running out the door): "Um, sorry about the tape measurer……and the basting brush….and good luck getting that coat on him!"

It is so much fun having a Solomonster. Really. I don't know what we'd do without him…..other than be calmer and possibly more relaxed and be able to move to Mars without Swiss Cheese-like boxes…...



Madeline: What does ADD mean?
Aidan: Attention Deficit......(He pauses, gazing off into the near distance with a hazy stare).....um....



How Many is Too Many?

A friend recently commented that whenever he reads my posts he gets the feeling that my life is completely frantic and full of frenzy, or something like that.....I thought about inviting him to trade places for a couple of days so he could see for himself, but decided to just try for calm instead. So, after I finish my deep breathing, I shall dedicate this post (that I wrote almost a week ago before the Renovation Storm hit our home and one thing after another has been piling up ever since, God help us all!) to him. Here it goes.....

How Many is Too Many?

This isn't going to be a rhetorical post on drinking too much, as the title might suggest (although that might not be too far off topic). I just wanted to share a funny story from church today. (And no, I am not implying that church and intoxication have anything at all in common....patience my dear reader, patience.)

Today during Sunday School the teacher asked the preschoolers how many kids were in their families. The three year old next to Solomon proudly answered:

"There are two kids in my family."

The teachers looked at Solomon and asked him how many kids were in his family.

"Too many," he replied.

While I can't argue with his answer, after all, there are days (or is it far too many moments in each and every day!....doh, scratch that.....calm, calm, deep calming breaths....) where I share the same sentiment, what Solomon fails to understand just yet is that he is in fact the "too" in our "many." Let's be honest: no one questioned our having the first one, two, or even three kids. Yes, a few people got a little concerned when we announced the fourth was on his way. But it wasn't until the fifth that the majority of people did one of three things: laugh, question our sanity, or question our understanding of basic biology. (And then there are those who did all three!)

But really, while it is our fifth child who inspired us (read: pushed us over the edge) to buy into a membership at the local wine store, it is also our fifth who leaves us questioning why we ever decided to stop having kids. (No, no, you do not need to remind me of the 'why' here.....we have no intention of reversing what has already been done....sheesh, you'd think I just announced we were planning another!) He is that kind of kid though; the kind you love more than you thought possible even though he is a complete disaster who wrecks havoc at least most of the time and in all situations possible. I think this is kind of how God must feel: Hey, look at the incredible chaos I created! I can't help but love it to pieces.....Now Eve, put down that fruit.....Adam, didn't I tell you not to.....Gaaaaah! Dang kids....

Or something like that.

p.s. I don't have an answer to the question "how many is too many" because some days, one feels like too many, while others, well wait, come to think of it, one is usually too many.....

Just kidding, just kidding. The answer is definitely 3. (No, no it isn't. But I bet the Old Woman would know....you know, the one living in the shoe....) Ok, I'll stop now.

(Wasn't this just oozing calm?! It was like a bucket of calm just got poured out over the page.....can't you just feel it?) Seriously. I'm done.

Have a great weekend, friends!


Killing the Inner Pack-Rat: Step 6

In Which We Were Entirely Ready to Have God Remove All These Defects of Character 

Woo hoo! BEST. STEP. EVER! Ok, God. Ready.... Set.... GO!

Um....hellooooo? I said I'm ready and since I obviously have a flaw or two (thousand) why are they still here? What's that? You're less magic/David Copperfield and more hammer/chisel/Michaelangelo?


You had probably thought (perhaps you had hoped) I was done with the inner pack rat series.


Summer and then the start of school were fairly big set backs in terms of decluttering the clutter-bug (and blogging for that matter.) Something about 6 kids (remember the cousin?) and traveling and then school and um, still 5 kids and suddenly it's Halloween and OH MY GOSH WE ARE MOVING IN LESS THAN TWO MONTHS.....no stress....

At any rate, now that Mars is on the horizon, (and Venus has lined up with Jupiter to create a great sphere of magical bliss where light changes and birds fly south and go ahead and stop reading now before it is too late) it is essential to get out the trash bags and fill 'em on up. And instead of starting back at the very beginning of the process when I fell off the wagon a little, we are going to forge ahead, which actually addresses one of my very real character defects: not finishing what I start when what I start suddenly seems like more work than I had anticipated or is no longer very interesting.

Don't get me wrong. I am no stranger to working hard. I run marathons after all and that gets to be a lot like work. Except it costs money instead of making it, and there are no long term consequences on anyone but myself when I choose to sit one out.....so really, it is not like work at all but simply a really effort-filled and costly hobby.....

But I digress. While I can't claim to be a lazy person, per say, I will admit to having the occasional selective work ethic: work hard at the things I love to do and then slack on the stuff I really need to do but don't really care to do. Both things add value (i.e. running adds value by making me a calmer and healthier person; decluttering adds value by making our house a cozier and more functional environment) and yet only one of these is a top priority for me day in and day out. (Hint: it includes my running shoes, not boxes or rooms of junk.....)

So, today's step is asking God to remove our "defects of character" (had it been just general defects I would totally have gone with those things that were damaged by pregnancy but alas, that wasn't an option.)  My guess though, is that the answer to this request includes a lot of work on my part:

"Go and wash your face in the river Jordan and then spread the word of my name amongst all in bloggerland, with the potential of torture and possible death.....no pressure...." or something like that....

And so, without further adieu, I shall leave this land and go back to the very thing I am procrastinating from by writing this post....

Watch out Clutter (and anything else that happens to still be in the house)! Here I come!


More Short Stories


There are some coyotes who must live close to the school because we see them out playing in the mornings on the days we miss the bus. (We see them a lot.....)

Madeline: Ahhh, they are so cute. Can we have one as a pet?
Me: No, they are not domesticated animals and would be too wild.
Lily: Ahhhh, but I want a coyote!
Madeline: Ok, Lily. All you have to do is catch him and then train him. He might eat your hand off but after that it will be great.


Save your feelings of pride over the fact that your two year old took the initiative to mop the entire kitchen floor after breakfast until you make sure he didn't use milk to do the mopping.


Liam's new favorite song in three different versions:

Liam's version: "Weeeeee are the champions......there is not any room for any losers......" (Oh, so close!)

Solly's 1st version: "Weeeeee are the losers, weeeeee are the losers, weeeeee are the losers of the world." (Makes a mom proud doesn't it?)

Solly's 2nd version: "We are the champions and we are the losers because we don't have any batteries..." (Um.....your guess is as good as mine.)


One day during soccer practice as I was talking to my assistant coach, Lily ran up and asked, "Mom, can we go to the bar after practice?"

After a brief pause, I realized she was talking about the snack bar and clarified to the other coach that I didn't make it a habit to frequent "the bar" with my kids. Laughs all around.

Yesterday, Madeline walked through the room singing:

"But after...one round with Jose Cuervo, I caught my boots tapping 'long with the beat, and after, two rounds with Jose Cuervo...."

Well, apparently I do make a habit of singing country music too often.....


Madeline: Mom, when can we go to the Costume Store to get our Halloween Costumes???

Me: We aren't getting costumes this year. We need to save money for our move plus, costumes are like wedding dresses, they are overrated, you wear them once and then never again and is that really worth it?

Madeline: Ha ha ha.....wait, let me see your face.....oh, you aren't just kidding..... 


Boston Marathon: Six Months Later

I don't know why people have to die. And I especially don't know why they have to die in such ridiculous ways. I don't know why free will is so important to God that God doesn't do more smiting of evil doers before they can do so much harm. (Maybe that is why I am not God....that and the fact that if I were I would have a bumper sticker that read: Why yes, my son DOES walk on water....oh and it would probably be dangerous for God to have so many random hormone fluctuations.....and then there would be the problem of forgiveness: "Seriously? You want me to forgive you AGAIN? You've done the same dang thing like a dozen flipping times! Just be grateful I don't throw your a$$ in the Lion's Den!".... but I digress....) What I do know is that humankind has proven, time and again, to overcome evil with goodness and love. And that even after all the craziness in the world, after all the terror, the heartbreak, the shock, fear and pain, for the lucky ones, and that is most of us, life just kind of goes on. Sometimes with gusto.

In the days following the Boston bombing, so many people expressed to me how sorry they were that my first Boston experience was so traumatic. Honestly though, I don't see it that way. (I will admit the anxiety and heartburn issues were not so wonderful....especially since it has been six months now and I am still not fully recovered....I think I may have given myself an ulcer actually.....yay stupidity.)

In actuality, the entire experience put things back into perspective. I hadn't realized how far off I had gotten. Before the bombings, I felt remorse for my slightly slower time. I agonized over those three seconds per mile. Seriously. It is sick.

Afterwards I felt a tinge of guilt: How could I have been the least bit upset with my running performance when I walked away unscathed? How could I walk away with an inflated Boston-Qualifying ego when so many people were hurt, some now unable to walk without prosthetics? When people lost their children, their loved ones? It was a powerful and extreme reality check. One that forced me to ask, if I had been one of the unlucky ones, if those had been my last few days on earth, would I have left the legacy I want to leave? Do I even know what legacy I hope to leave behind?

It's a daunting question.

The day before we left for Boston I was expressing my worries to Liam's preschool teacher about whether or not I would get through the race. She texted me later to tell me she knew I could do it: "Just put one foot in front of the other like a gagillion times," she said, a phrase that became a mantra during the race itself. And life is kind of like that, too. How do we get through? We just have to put one foot in front of the other, like a gagillion times, until we cross the finish. But, that's not the entire story either because the question should never be can we finish (we all will, one way or another). The question is how will the world be better because we were in it? And along those lines, how will we respond to the details of the course? Who will we love? How will we live? How can we leave the world better than we found it?

Six months later, I am still searching for my own answers to those questions. As we prepare our family for our move, as we give away and sell and donate our belongings, as we choose what we will keep in our lives and what we will purge, Boston remains imbedded in my thoughts (probably because it wasn't too long ago that I registered for 2014.....you know, like I said I would NEVER do.....sheesh.....). And yet still, as I watch our large pieces of furniture and other big items leave our home to be loved by others, I find I get stuck on little details (like the picture frames I used to love but haven't had out for FIVE YEARS!) and it causes disproportionate angst. But in the midst of sorting out the details and weeding through the junk, attempting to keep my eye on the bigger picture, the questions are still loud and clear:

How can I help make the world a better place? How can I leave it better than I found it? And what can I do this very minute to set myself along that path? And then repeat those steps, like a gagillion times.....


Why We Don't Have a Baby Vole

Great question. Why don't we have a baby vole?

The short answer? Kurt.

There I was, running along, when Kurt called with important and pressing life decisions like whether or not to buy a really good but expensive tractor for our new farm home....(uh, yes....really not sure why he thought he had to ask me this question.) And since I was all, 'Yes, yes, yes, whatever you think best, how could we pass up such a great deal on a tractor, yes' and so on and so forth, I thought it would be the perfect time to turn around and ask my own really important question:

Me: Ok, so now that we have that decided, would it be okay if I brought home a baby vole?

Him: (slight pause) No. (He didn't say it very emphatically but I am certain I heard the tone going that direction.)

Me: Oh good, then I chose correctly and did the right thing by putting it back.

Of course, I said this while I was on my way back to find the cutest little baby vole I have ever seen. Granted, it is the only baby vole I have ever seen but it was darn cute.

Ok, let me back up. Solly and I were on a run around the lake when out popped the cutest darn baby vole ever seen! (Did I mention how cute it was?) Ok, so, it really didn't pop out of anywhere.....more like struggled to move across the path and I nearly squished it.

"Solly, dump out your Popchips and give me that bowl!" I said, coming to a screeching and swerving halt, almost giddy about what I almost ran over.

"No," he said, because apparently Kurt has already bribed him: ("Solly, if your mother ever asks you to give up your bowl so that she can bring home wild animals, just say no and I will give you a lollipop.")

After he finished his Popchips, he handed me the bowl anyway (so there Kurt! plbbbbbbb!) and I scooped up Baby Vo.

Ever seen a vole in a bowl? (I swear this has Dr. Seuss written all over it!) No? Well then, it's your lucky day!

And yes, Baby Vo is as soft as the ball of gray cotton it appears to be! After I pet it oh so gently, and then let Solly do the same (minus the gentle part), I had to make the toughest decision of the day: Take it or leave it. Argh!

I could hear the voice of reason in my head telling me how much the other kids would LOVE to see this little guy and that it was only fair and seriously, do you even WANT to be the coolest Mom around or are you just completely clueless because THIS IS YOUR ONE AND ONLY CHANCE?!?!

Oh wait, no, that wasn't reason.....that was the other one.

But, then I heard Kurt's voice, literally, telling me no, I shouldn't do that.

So, Solomon and I found the perfect little spot to let Baby Vo go and then, after a sweet goodbye (that included me saving the voles life yet again, this time from the hands of a two year old) off we went.....but half way around the lake, I had a sudden moment of doubt and we ran right back around to where we left the little guy and spent 20 minutes looking for him. (Yes, I do in fact have a teensy tiny time management problem.)

After finding him again, curled up on a leaf, snorting his little nose around in the ground, I managed to convince myself that I had made the right decision the first time and we should really let him go now before I talked myself out of leaving him there. He appeared to agree because as soon as we left his side he scooted his way under a big leaf as if to say, 'See? I'm hiding now. You can't find me so go away.'

Baby Voles are so cute when they play peek-a-boo.

And in case you ever run across a baby vole on your own and decide to make a different (BETTER) decision, here is a great chat board on baby vole care I found where you can learn how to care for them until they are old enough to survive on their own (unlike us, who just left it to die.....seriously, how do we live with ourselves! My rational side said, 'Take it, take it, help it grow up and teach it to survive in this cruel world' but no.....he's probably freezing his little vole haunches off as I type if he hasn't already been found and eaten......poor thing.....maybe we should go back for it tomorrow.....)

And that is why we don't have a baby vole.

But clearly, we should.

Baby Vo before hurrying off to hide.....and by hurrying I mean he was faster than a slug, maybe.....
(This post could have also been titled: Why I Don't Ever Finish My To-Do List)


Some Days Are Just Like That

How I envisioned my morning (for the visual learner):

Order, beauty, peace, calm.....with a hint of glory....

Here's how it actually happened:

You know, with less pretty colors and far more unruly explosives.....

I found myself withholding an extreme case of maniacal laughter when the front desk lady at the school told the kids (directed at me of course), "Well, I can't excuse a tardy for that." And instead of making some snide comment back I looked at her with a pleasant smile and replied with a big shrug: "Great, you don't have to!" (Read: I don't care!) But I knew my day was going the wrong direction when not even five minutes later I found my car blocked in by two school buses waiting to pick up a class for their field trip. And when I asked nicely and the bus driver wouldn't move, not even an inch, to let me out, I started to wonder if getting up today was even worth it. (And had to force myself to think happy thoughts so that I didn't end up on the nightly news: Angry Mom in jail tonight over bus incident.....in which she repeatedly rammed into the side of a school bus because he wouldn't move out of her way.)

Twenty minutes later, when I was checking out of the grocery store, trying to go really fast in order to make it to Solomon's school on time for drop-off, and I had a problem with the self-service scanner and the employee who was supposed to be there to help said I'd have to wait for her to finish stocking the entire lottery machine because she certainly couldn't leave it open for a second and apparently there is no other way like closing it up and helping customers and then opening it up again....oh wait, there IS another way.... I looked to the heavens (by way of rolling my eyes toward my forehead with a deep, deep breath) and saw God winking at me.

God can be a real jerk.

Here's hoping for a better start tomorrow!


Moving to Mars

I don't know why it is but every time I say I will never do something, I always end up doing just that. Sometimes it is years and years later but I swear, the word 'never' must be a trigger to the force watching over us. It's like, "Oooooooh, reeeeeally? You will never _________???" (Insert mocking James Earl Jones-like voice which you can somehow feel taking notes on a gigantic notepad app in the sky.)

You see, once upon a time, I swore I would never live in Pittsburgh, home of the greatest sports fans (and teams) on earth. Why might you ask? 99% because I am a sunshine loving girl from Florida, the state to which all former Pittsburgh residents seem to flock (there must be a reason right?) and Pittsburgh, well, I understand it is a teensy tiny bit GRAY compared to what I know and love.

But, I also swore at one time that I would never live in MN (ahem) and yet, well, you can see how that turned out. I could go on and on and on. But I will spare you the list.

So when Minnesota raised its state income tax to almost 10% and Kurt brought up the idea of moving this past year, we began to explore our options. We started with Wyoming (0% income tax, great skiing), then thought maybe Colorado would be better (until we made the trip out anyway), passed over Tennessee (where I think I left my heart on the way home to FL this summer) and North Carolina (you think FL is hot and muggy? Try Charlotte in a heat wave!). But I knew, the second I asked the question, "Why aren't we considering PA?" that there would be no place else. The surprised excitement in Kurt's eyes, the second and third round of "Are you sure?" questioning.....his utter delight in the very idea of moving close to his hometown told me that he could not think of a better option: not one, single, better place on earth.

And so, at the end of the calendar year, we are moving to Mars. Yes, you read that right. And I will take great joy in being able to say it again, and again, and again because HOW FUNNY (and perfect) IS THAT?! While it is really Mars Borough, PA, in Adams Township, in the north hills of Pittsburgh, I can still say we are moving to Mars. And that, in and of itself, makes it worth every bit of stress that comes with a huge move.

Kurt: You know I will never refer to it as Mars. It will always be Adams Township.
Me: That's funny because you know I will never refer to it as Adams Township. It will always be Mars....As a matter of fact, I won't move if it isn't to Mars. (So there!.... If he thinks that is bad, just wait until he sees our return address labels!)

I can't go into all the details now, but I will tell you this: they include almost 8 acres of land, an incredible house and the potential for lots of chickens (well, at least some chickens...and maybe a horse....and a flying squirrel....yes, I am serious about that too; what can I say, Lily will always be Lily!)

"Hey Mom, look! A flying saucer."
So worth it.

P.S. I will never win the lottery...... (Hey, it's worth a shot!)


Eleven Stories in Three Sentences or Less


1. Sleepovers

I hate them.
The end.


2. Crickets

A cricket moved into the corner of our basement recently.
He's a little schmuck.


3. Solomon

I have never considered the "terrible twos" to be so terrible. Then Solomon, who apparently takes after the cricket, entered his 'twos'. (I pretty much feel the same way about both of them.)


4. Sharing

Me: Well Solly, maybe Liam is nice enough to share with you if you ask politely.
Liam: No....I'm not.


5. Lesson Learned (Again)

No matter how sneaky you think you are, never try to out maneuver a urinating five year old boy. Trust me when I tell you, this is not one of those places to 'try, try again' because even if you successfully get those shoes and clothes off once, you will lose eventually. And I promise you, it simply ain't worth it folks!


6. Potty Training

Potty training is typically not much fun for parents. It is even less so when your stubborn two year old won't accept bribes incentives. Seriously, what kid turns down M&Ms as a reward????


7. Answer (To #6)

Mine does. Please refer to story #3 for a more thorough explanation.


8. First Message From the 3rd Grade Writing Teacher

"The first month will be highly focused on writing a good sentence into a good paragraph. We will also start into a diary of an animal project during the first month."

Um, I'm kind of thinking I should have my third grader volunteer to teach the class.


9. True Confessions of a Skeptical Mom

I have yet to turn in a single health form for my four school-aged kids this year. They are completely filled out and sitting in my car but I thought I'd see how long it takes before our "rigorous charter school, which holds all students and staff to the highest of standards and expects extreme accountability blah blah blah" realizes the oversight. So far, it seems that they care about the forms about as much as I cared to fill them out.


10. My Shampoo

The shampoo I use proudly boasts that it is Sulfate Free, Paraben Free, Gluten Free and 100% Vegan.
Apparently I am supposed to eat it.....? (If only it was Kosher because everyone knows Kosher soap tastes far better than its non-kosher competitors!)


11. On Blogging

It is much easier when you don't actually post anything (duh).

Please know I have had my reasons for neglecting the blog: reasons for good, not for evil (for the most part), reasons to bring on a more hopeful future.... I will bring you more regular posts once those reasons settle down into their routine and we begin to function like a normal family of seven (who is preparing for yet another gigantic move)......


Have a great week, my friends!

p.s. I dedicate this post to my dear friend Kim who thinks any post/email/text over, say, four sentences should be punishable by law. At least the stories were short, right? ;)


You May Not be Cut Out to be a Photographer if.....

You might not be cut out to be a photographer if you can't get the smiliest kid in the universe to smile for the camera.

I'm not here to judge mind you. I have no special skills when it comes to photography. And when school pictures come along, I obviously have issues even dressing my kids appropriately as I learned, once again, this year when I sent Liam to his school pictures wearing his Fried Egg and Bacon Smiley Face shirt. It would have been great had they captured the entire shirt but since all they got were the eggs well......see for yourself....

I'm thinking maybe I need to get a shirt like this to help me in that particular department!

So, I am not judging mind you. We all have our strengths and weaknesses but if you are a professional photographer and the best you can elicit from Guy Smiley is this (see Liam in Kurt's arms, not even paying attention, much less smiling!) I really do have to question your calling.

At any rate, here is our summer so far in pictures since I obviously can't find the words or time to write about any of it!

Love a helpful big brother! (We have FINALLY arrived!)
You can run in it.....you can cool off in it.....

You can even drink it....win win win.
What happens when Hypochondriac Mom meets Birthday. Seriously, have you ever thought about how much spit gets blown onto a cake at kid parties? Ewwww.

He's just prepping for his rock climbing life.

Coach Kurt

On our nature walk

The zoo has nothing on us....

God help us all when this day truly arrives.....

Probably the most fitting picture I have ever taken. Ever!

All good moms give fire to their five year olds so that they can chase their siblings with it.  Fact.

"Can we keep it?" (No.)

"Well can we just play with it a little?"

What a little humidity can do for you!

"Seriously lady. We've got to do something about this mop on my head!"

If there's a will, there's a way.

"Hey Solly, whatcha doin'?"
"Oh nothing much. Just wrecking havoc. Giving you another headache. You know, the usual."

Have a great weekend!


Out of the Gizzard, Part Two

We are slowly coming up for air from the Gizzard stay-cation. We have been down to FL to help celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary, brought back my nephew for the summer (yes, I know that means we now have 6 kids in the house and no, I am not insane. This made total sense at the time and so far it has been terrific, minus a few little incidents here and there as they adjusted to one another and he adapted to life with a few more rules and regulations and, um....competition), and then we made it through several ridiculous weeks of camps and sports (and sport camps) that included me needing to get four kids to three very different places at the same time each morning. Breathe.....

But in the midst of the craziness, I have learned an awful lot:

1. Liam can read.

No, he is not sitting there for hours delighting in the depths of Tolkein but apparently the kid taught himself to read. (Because God knows I can't take the credit!) Put a BOB phonics based book in front of him and he is golden. And when 'Mat sits on Sam', he just laughs and laughs while I marvel at him long enough for my wondering of "How on earth did I miss this??" to turn to "WOO HOO! LESS WORK IN KINDERGARTEN!"

2. You can eat Flowering Kale.

This may not be important to you. However, to someone like me whose favorite food is a vegetable that every last darn plant nursery sold out of "just yesterday, you just missed the last tray...." and so the only option was to plant flowering kale rather than edible kale in hopes that maybe all those plant people were wrong and you could in fact eat it, well, YEEEEEEEEEE HAW! I will so totally eat the flowering kale out of my garden. I will eat it here and there, I will eat it EVERYWHERE! And for the record, the little leaves on the flowering kale are just the right size to make perfect kale chips. Score! (In your face plant people!)

3. It's never a good idea to try to take off a little boy's shoes when he is trying to urinate.

Just trust me on this one. (In your face silly mom!)

4. You can slip on a banana peel just like in the cartoons.

And it is so much funnier when the 5 year old comes up laughing because well, duh, he just slipped on a banana peel just like in the cartoons! (Right back atcha kid!)

5. My windows are super squeaky clean!

And that might be the least truthful thing I have ever written here given the 2- and 5-year old boys who seem to think exchanging their mucus and saliva for whatever might be on the glass is a daily must. But today, when Solly found a little bitty bird gasping for air on our deck, in pure shock from his crash into the very high window (clean only because the kids haven't figured out how to get up there yet....) I had to marvel just a little at how often this happens. Solly, of course, immediately pet it and then ran to get the lid for the Smokey Joe (think: tiny grill sitting on our deck) which I had to force him to take away from the bird as we were not catching it or hiding it or anything of the sort SOLOMONSTER! Liam wanted his picture taken with it and the bird just graciously sat there through it all, enjoying our company, not eating the crumbs we offered (courtesy of the girls) but at one point it got so comfy with us that it even closed its little eyes to take a nap. Liam, wanting to know if it was dead, clapped his hands really loud next to the bird's face while Solly ran down to the sandbox to get a shovel (I know he was thinking something up.... I just don't know what). It had been a good ten minutes by the time Solly got there with his shovel and that's when the bird came to his senses, (i.e. had the $h!t scared out of him) and flew off. We all cheered. And I vowed to send the kids up a ladder to smear up the high windows too....after all, it's for the birds....

Have a great weekend and I hope to get back to more regular updates....especially with the possibility of big changes (think relocation) in our future!


Out of the Gizzard: Part One

Someone asked me the other day why I hadn't posted recently.

Um, maybe because life swallowed us whole, ground us up in its gizzard and has yet to decide whether to regurgitate us back out the way we came or pass us out the other end?

Here's a little sampling from the last few weeks:

La ti da....I was working out with a trainer one day when I realized I was completely short of breath....the pain in my chest that started pre-marathon was ever present.....a friend suggested I see a doctor perhaps, you know, like a normal person.

Not wanting to end up in some crazy story about that "marathon running mom of 5 who keeled over at the gym of a random heart attack due to an undiagnosed heart defect" I called to make an appointment with a family doc.

Apparently they take chest pain with shortness of breath very seriously, even when the semi-young and very healthy person has good explanations for both. Sigh. So after convincing the triage nurse that I was not going to call 911 because there was no real need, after all, I just ran ten miles the day before, and someone had soccer or something that night and it was kind of an inconvenience, etc. etc., I got in the very next day.

Unfortunately, I had a coffee date with a friend that morning and forgot to ask for decaf so by the time I got to my appointment, I was jacked up on caffeine, my pulse was racing, my blood pressure was slightly high and the doctor worried himself over my "very significant heart murmur." He ordered an EKG and chest ex-ray and a bunch of blood work. As I was waiting for the nurse to come back to do the EKG, I got a call from Liam's geneticist.

Geneticist: Well, all of Liam's blood work came back normal except for this one test we ran which came back just slightly abnormal. Now, I want you to know that it is an indicator of this very, very bad thing called Fanconi Anemia but I don't really think he has it. However, I know you are going to look it up on the internet because that's what I would do and I want you to know it is ridiculously scary, but don't worry. I really don't think he has it.

Me: Um, ok. Could you spell that please?

Geneticist (after spelling it): Really, try not to worry about it. We will run more blood work when you come back in October. Ok? Great. Have a nice day!

Enter nurse, stage left, to run the EKG to verify the heart attack I am now having...... Actually, at that point I hadn't looked up the ridiculous, rare genetic disorder that our kid "probably doesn't have" but that he happens to meet like HALF OF THE CRITERIA FOR depending on what site you go to.

Ok, seriously people. I don't know about you but I am fine with the withholding of information when there is like a .0000000001% chance of something....maybe that is just me but she could've just ruled the darn thing out without worrying us. And what's with waiting until October to finish the testing? Really? She will realize how ridiculous THAT is once she has that baby who's currently about to burst her seams.

Anyway, the family doctor referred me to a cardiologist and sent me on my way but not before telling me I shouldn't do any more running until being "cleared" by the heart doc. Sheesh, doctors.

I got in to see the cardiologist the very next day.

Cardiologist: So, let me get this straight, you have five kids and run marathons and were in Boston and  are like half the age of every patient I have seen in like the last ten years....why are you here?

He kindly listened to my story and then to my heart and lungs and then ordered an echocardiogram and a coronary angio complete with contrast dye......yes, I am serious.

Cardiologist: Oh, and I think you should probably hold off on the ten milers until we get you all checked out.

Me: Well, can I run five?

Cardiologist: Let's just have you not run until after these tests.

Me: Well, can I work out at all?

Cardiologist (getting a wee bit exasperated): What kind of working out?

Me: Um, weights? Lunges? Pull-ups, push-ups, dips, core, anything not too cardio-intensive?

Cardiologist: Why don't you just chill out with your 5 kids until after we get through the testing. I think that is enough of a work out and it's best not to stress you out right now.

Me (fighting the urge to explain that not getting in a good workout is what's stressing me out right now!): Ok, can I get in later today or tomorrow then?

Cardiologist: ____________(insert long frustrated silence) We'll see what we can do.

Long story short: They got me in two days later, added a pulmonary embolism series to the day (I mean shoot, why not, this chick has great insurance!) and then a few hours later, I was on my way TO THE GYM because I assumed that since they let me out of the hospital, everything looked good.

And it did. The nurse called me the following Monday to tell me there was not even evidence of the murmur, everything looked perfect (well, DUH!) but that if I wanted they could run a 24 hour monitor to double check heart rhythms. (Uh, I'll pass, thanks.)

And THAT my friends is what too much caffeine (and stubbornly not using your inhaler to control your asthma) can do for you.

As for Liam, well, we are going on faith here that the doctor is just covering her rear end and that there is nothing to worry about. I suppose time will tell.


The Staples

I am a little behind....the end of the school year is kind of like that.

This story takes place on Mother's Day. It was 6 p.m. and Kurt and Aidan had just come home from a two day swim meet in Chicago. Kurt was apologizing for having done nothing for Mother's Day (which isn't true at all since he did get me a card last year that apparently his brother picked out and that Kurt forgot to give me and so he saved it for this year, or something like that....and it was the perfect card, simple and funny. Thanks Al, I mean, Kurt!)

Anyway, I told him all I really wanted was to take a short little twenty minute run to relieve the stress of a very busy weekend parenting alone. And within about 10 seconds I was out the door, with half a mind to just keep running and running.....forever and ever....

But, fearing for the kids and the house and Kurt's sanity, I returned home. As I was freshening up in the bathroom I heard a scream and a brief moment of crying followed by silence. And then Madeline shouted:

"Oh my GOSH! Look at all the blood!"

Oh. Joy.

So, up from basement came Madeline with Solly who was sporting a very bad, and very red, hair do. He was not crying anymore and so I took my time examining the somewhat small laceration.

"What happened?" we asked Madeline.

"Well, Solomon ran into a jump rope," she said hesitantly.

"Ok, and what is the rest of the story?" we asked.

Turns out, it happened to be a jump rope with weighted handles that Madeline happened to be swinging lasso-style over her head.....and Solomon happened to "run into it" (apparently backwards) with his head.....and that is where the blood happened to enter the story....

Not wanting to spend the evening in the ER, I walked Solly over to my neighbor's house where both the husband and wife are doctors. They tried to tie his hair together over the cut. His fine, baby-like hair was uncooperative and stubbornly refused to stay knotted. (I made a mental note to shave it all off later. Stupid, useless hair.) I then asked if our dear friend Crazy Glue might do the trick and they both agreed it would probably be best to take him in for a staple or two. (Ugh. Doctors.)

So, I walked him back home and enthusiastically asked if he wanted to go on a car ride. He was so excited that when I turned the car on he exclaimed: "YAY! The car has gas!" (Tells you something about the reliability of my car starting.....)

At any rate, the hospital ER was the best ending to Mother's Day, which is a bit of an exaggeration but none the less, the ER was practically empty, they took us right in and Solomon was so calm; he never once even flinched. And really, it was very quiet and peaceful. So much so that I asked if we could just stay the night. They said no. I told them I would volunteer to scrub the bathrooms. Still no. So we went out for cupcakes instead.

Nothing a good staple gun (and a cupcake or two) can't fix!


The Best Field Trip Ever

Seriously, these last few weeks have been full of all sorts of learning for the kids. First there was the brutal butterfly butchery and then the malicious murder of that dear little bird.

Then, on Friday I went with Lily's class to the zoo. I was happy to see the excitement on Lily's little face when she first saw me and Solomon there and I was full of gladness that this little bit of effort made her so happy but I must admit, I wasn't entirely thrilled to spend my birthday at the zoo. Not initially anyway....
I kept circling the place not understanding where I was supposed to go. Then I saw this sign and realized they understood we were coming and prepped a parking lot just for us....because otherwise we wouldn't know to just park where all the other people were parking. Thanks zoo!
Once inside, we first introduced Solomon to some of his lesser known extended family:
Meet Solly's second cousin.....don't mind the 'stache, he's from over seas.

And Lily found herself back to back with Solly's long lost twin.....
This picture means nothing unless you know what he was so mesmerized watching.....

You see, there was a little baby Orangutang going to see his mommy.....

Mommy Orangutan wasn't interested in snuggling so she sent him down to get a shower.....

He opened his mouth nice and wide.....


See Kids, I am NOT the worst mommy in the world! (But don't try me.....I now have a fresh bag of tricks.....) 
And then, as if that weren't enough grossness for one outing, we headed over to see the giraffes where we witnessed their personal reenactment of the Orangutans! Only, they don't climb so one just peed in the face of the other.....seriously, why would you put your face there???? He's just asking for it!

No, I am not making this up. I am not that creative.....or that disgusting (contrary to popular opinion)....

Lily and her peeps....apparently she is the only one who cared about the picture.....

And a fun time was had by all.....(Solly took this picture....no, not really. He'd be more likely to try to eat the camera and then smash it to the floor....)
Have a lovely Monday!