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Caught in the Act
...of hiding.

...of nose picking.

...of being a grandpa.

...of watching a plane go by.

...of losing a shoe.

...of flying.

...of ... who knows, but he certainly looks guilty.

...of smiling.

By the way, I've gone red. What do you think?

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Jealousy on Toast
Me (having a conversation with Grandma): "Blah, blah, blah, something about jealousy."

Hollis: "Mommy, we're not supposed to say that."

Me: "Say what, Hollis? Jealousy?"

Hollis: "Yeah. Jealousy's a bad word."

Me: "Says who, sweetie?"

Hollis: "Miss 'Rie." (His sitter, Marie.)

Me: "Is it that you're not supposed to say jealous, or you're not supposed to get jealous."

Hollis: "I'm not supposed to get jealous."

Me: "Oh."

For a moment I contemplated the maturity of my 3 year old, who could apparently somewhat comprehend the complicated emotion that is jealousy.

Hollis: "Jealousy goes on bread and peanut butter."

Oh well.

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What's Up With All the Photos?
I know many of you are wondering why my posts have been lacking in substance lately. I've been neglecting all of the blogs I write for lately. There are some things going on with me that I haven't been brave enough to share here yet. Partly because I'm a 'fraidy cat and partly because I feel like I'm whining whenever I complain about anything in my life. When other people share their troubles, I'm awed by their honesty and ability to open up and share their feelings. When I do it, I'm whining. I'm my harshest critic.

So until I ball up, I give you yet another photo series. This is another one from our trip to Yorktown with Lauren from Not Exactly A Princess, who has also been neglecting her blog lately. (No pressure, Lauren.)

How to Exhaust Three Toddlers in Two Hours:


The task? To exhaust these children into compliant little Stepford tots.

The secret? Running, running, and more running.

Lauren engages in man-to-man defense.

Lauren quickly switches to a zone defense. Why? Because Lawyer Mama was too busy taking photos to mind the children.

Off they go.


Mission complete.

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At the Playground
I have a new review up for personalized books for children on my review blog.

I've got more photos from the Mommy-Hollis play day to share. I'll be back tomorrow. Enjoy!

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Heard from the Boys
Scene: Family sitting in Cracker Barrel restaurant, near the fireplace.

Hollis spies deer head with large antlers over the fireplace.

"Look, Mommy! It's a reindeer!" Begins singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer while his parents pray that he won't ask why Rudolph has been decapitated and placed on the wall.

The kid is obsessed with Rudolph. Oh, the therapy he will need.

Scene: Family sitting around kitchen table eating dinner. Daddy passes around rolls he was supposed to let thaw and rise overnight, but actually just stuck in the oven frozen.

Holden tries to bite into his beloved carbohydrate unsuccessfully.

He tries again.

He knocks on the outside of the roll.

"Daddy, it's a rock!"

Mommy busts out laughing.
And more cuteness:

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Cutest Reindeer Ever
I'm off to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for the weekend visiting friends. Hollis wants it to snow so badly while we're up there, Mother Nature better make it happen! While I'm gone, I'll be regaling you with cuteness. I spent Thursday morning at Hollis's pre-school Christmas party and then we had a Mommy and Hollis afternoon. Of course, I took 5000 photos, but I'll only make you suffer through 10 or so over the weekend!

I give you the cutest reindeer ever:

That's Hollis with the football on the back of his red and blue sweater.

Look what Emily nominated me for!

My site was nominated for Best Geek Blog!

And apparently this nomination from Queen of the Mayhem from last year carried forward:

My site was nominated for Hottest Mommy Blogger!

Go vote for me. Please???

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"I think I'm too big, Mommy."

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Christmas in Omaha
I've been strangely silent about what happened in an Omaha mall last week. Some of you know that I lived in Omaha for 10 years and that my parents still live there. It's where I met and married T. We moved from Omaha to D.C. for law school at GWU.

But what you don't know is that I worked at Westroads Mall during college. I'm intimately familiar with the mall. In fact, I remember when the Von Maur department store opened and how excited we all were. I would go sit in the atrium and listen to the piano player in the store, which, at the age of 20, I thought was the height of elegance. Yes, the atrium where people died.

You also don't know that my husband's family knew one of the victims. A man originally from their small corner of Southwest Nebraska, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time doing some Christmas shopping at the end of a business trip. His funeral was earlier this week.

Honestly, I've been struggling with what to say.

The fabulously honest DD wrote about the Omaha shootings earlier this week and she said many of the things I want to say. This kind of random violence can happen anywhere. The Omaha metropolitan area has more than 1 million people. There are drugs, and gangs, and poverty, and social problems that would curl your toes in Omaha. Just like there are in every city and town in America. Midwestern town does not equal problem free town. People of America, particularly those of you who are in the media, please stop acting so damn surprised.

There are many more things about the media coverage of the shooting in Omaha that anger me. Just as there are many things about sensationalist media coverage of any tragedy that anger me. But what has been unexpected to me is how frustrated I am at the attempt of every community, national and local, to "own" this tragedy.

Now in some ways, feeling personally touched by a horrible event half way across the country or half way around the world is wonderful. Americans follow the news anxiously if a child falls down a well or a country is overwhelmed by a tidal wave. This support can be wonderful for parents, communities, and countries. It can motivate politicians, presidents, and policy.

But this support has a dark side.

The night of the Omaha shooting, our local news channel ran a lead story about the shooting, followed by a segment on protecting yourself at the mall. I have no doubt that news stations across the country ran similar stories. Of course local stations and the broadcast networks are going to cover the shooting. Of course, they are going to address issues that come up peripherally. But they don't have to make it sensationalist. They don't have to put the fear of God in every viewer. They don't have to lead with "Can it happen here? We ask local experts." We shouldn't have to experience 5 straight hours of CNN coverage that makes us think, "Oh. My. God. I will never enter a mall again without an Uzi to protect myself and my children!"

I call this the Fox News Effect.

I know that media outlets are responding to interest in a tragedy when they run segments like this, but these stories do two things: (1) they make us more fearful than is necessary; and (2) they trivialize the tragedies themselves.

Can it happen to you? Or you, or you, or you? Yes, of course it can. Is it likely? Um, no. Instead of focusing on the fear, why can't we have a rational discussion about mental illness? Even better, why can't we talk about how yellow journalism can drive people to do things like this in an attempt to become "famous?"

This focus on fear also moves the focus of the story (and the support of the viewing public) from where it should be - support of the victims, their families, their communities, and the underlying social problems that cause this sort of violence - to us, the viewing public, and what we can do to protect ourselves.

I know that if we stopped watching and voiced our displeasure, news outlets would stop. They run these stories because we watch them. But these stories play into our personal fears. Fears newly awakened by watching frightened and crying customers shivering in the parking lot in the aftermath. We start to think about ourselves instead of others.

In some ways, I felt the same after 9/11. I lived in D.C. I worked at the Pentagon during law school. My friends and colleagues were in that building. So were some of T's. We, and pretty much everyone we knew, were touched by death and despair. We knew the families, the wives, husbands, and children left behind. We drove past the gaping hole in the side of that imposing building every day. We saw the smoke. We felt the impact. We lived with the aftermath. We picked up the pieces and struggled to get on the Metro every day without fear. We boarded planes and pretended to be nonchalant as we prepared for take off.

Meanwhile, every small town in America started fighting over Homeland Security funds and freaking out about guarding the local water supply for a town of 500.

I'm not entirely sure why this made me so angry. But whenever I heard stories about things like that I just wanted to scream. It made me feel as if what had happened to my world was not important. As if what had happened in New York and D.C. was not as important as some hypothetical attack on Kansas City.

This is not to say that the rest of the country had no right to be scared or that no support was rallied. I think we all know how wonderful it was to live in the United States in the wake of 9/11, despite the fear. Americans pulled together in a way we rarely do. I also don't think everyone should act as if another 9/11 scale attack couldn't happen again and do nothing. But for God's sake, when I hear someone from a tiny town in the Northwest talking about the possibility of a terrorist attack at their local Piggly Wiggly, I just want to shake them. I want to shake them until they see the world beyond their personal space.

I know that the people of Omaha will pick up the pieces and move on. But I also know that they'll remember the victims this Christmas while they're in church and while they're gathered with their families, despite the lingering stories.

I know that many people in Omaha will be thinking of those families that are now missing a loved one. They'll be pulling together in support, true support, of those families. That is a facet of the Midwest that I know will always be the same, no matter how many journalists descend on the area.

What also gives me comfort is the knowledge that, despite what happened, the next time I go into Von Maur, or any store in Westroads Mall, I'll be greeted again with a sunny smile and a warm welcome. Because that's just how the people of Omaha roll.

This is for Julie's Hump Day Hmmm for the week. She tasked us with writing about our unique pet peeves.

I have a new review up of the Autolite Flareglo on my review blog. If you're safety conscious, you'll want this for your emergency car kit.

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Southern Snow
Here in the land of Dixie, we don't see much snow. At least not in our corner of Southeast Virginia. We live right on the coast, so the weather is just too mild for the white stuff, although we did get a couple sprinklings of night time snow last year. It's usually gone by 9 or 10 am.

Unfortunately, the kids have started to notice that they're missing out on some Winter fun here in Virginia. Last week in the car, Hollis decided to interrogate me about that white stuff he sees all over the Christmas specials on TV.

Hollis: "Mommy, you know my movie Toy Story? Not the one with the horse, the other one with Buzz?" (Never mind that Buzz is in both of them.) "Woody and Buzz got snow, right?"

Me: "Yes, sweetie, it does snow at the end of the movie. It's Christmas."

Hollis: "When Santa comes?"

Me: "Yes, sweetie."

Hollis: "In his sleighdd?"

He's not quite clear on exactly what a "sleigh" is yet. Right now it's all mixed up with sled. Understandable, I think.

Me: "Ummm hmmm."

Trying to figure out where this is going....

Hollis: "Where's our snow?"

Me: "Well, it's usually too warm to snow here, sweetie, but it might snow this year. We usually get a few sprinklings of snow every year."

Hollis: "Sprinkledings?"

Ooh, too complicated. Simplify, Steph, simplify.

Me: "Yes, sweets, we just get a little bit of snow that melts right away. But if it snows this year, I promise you can go out and play in it."

And then I immediately started praying to God that I wouldn't have to get up at 4am to let him play in some snow before it melts.

Hollis: "Santa lands in the snow. Right?"

Ooh, crap. Now I see where this is going.

Me: "Yes, babe, but he can also land just about anywhere."

Hollis: "Can he land in sand?"

Me: "Of course he can, sweetie."

Hollis: "OK."

I guess Hollis will have a white Christmas no matter what.

Southern Snow:

This is my first try at Painted Maypole's Monday Mission. This week the task was to get creative with photo shop. All of these photos were edited with Photo Shop and I added a "glow" to the photos. If you want to know how, just let me know.

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Breaking the Rules
Sign? What sign?

Holden, Hollis, and The Pumpkin on the (closed) Yorktown pier.

I have a new review of the That Baby DVD and That Baby CD up on my review site. If you're looking for a happy medium between canned kids' music and songs about drugs, sex, and other fun behaviors currently on the radio, check it out!


I use Gmail for my Lawyer Mama and blog related email. I can usually automatically visually screen out the random, content related ads that appear all over the damn page, but a few just pop out at me.

Whenever I clean out my spam box, I get links to Spam recipes up at the top of the page. Gingered Spam, Spam Quiche, Spam Breakfast Burritos, and Vineyard Spam Salad are all recipes links that have appeared on my Gmail account over the last few days. I can't stand Spam, but now I'm on the hunt for the most unlikely Spam recipe. Hell, the gingered Spam actually sounds yummy. Except for, you know, the whole Spam part.

Occasionally, other ads will catch my eye as well. Then I wonder what the Google Gods are trying to tell me:

Angry, Violent Child?
Trusted behavior modification program can help. Free trial.

Conservatives Speak Up
The Silent Majority Now Has A Voice Join Us To Support Progress!

(I think the software needs a little tweaking....)

NY Eyelid Surgery
Preserving Ethnic Identity Through Cosmetic Surgery. 2 NYC Locations!

Funny-Offensive T Shirts
Buy 2 & Get One Free. Custom Made T Shirts Just for You. Order Today.

And my personal favorite:

The Newest Colon Cleanse
What is known. What is unknown. Real cleansing photos. You decide.

I'll leave you with this:

(I don't know what's up with the subtitles.)


Ripping Casey Off Again
Casey just did a post about where the Moosh got her blond, curly hair. Because it wasn't enough for me to copy Casey's series about infertility and pregnancy, I had to copy this too.

It drives me absolutely insane that everyone is always telling me how much the boys look like T. Yes, Hollis does look like a little mini-T. I'll acknowledge that. But Holden? With his brown eyes and blond, wavy (would be curly if his dad would friggin leave it alone) hair?

Well, why don't you be the judge:

Me and my mother


Have I mentioned that T has dark brown, stick straight hair?

And my hair now:

Me with Oh The Joys and Redneck Mommy at BlogHer '07.
Gotta love the bra showing. Classy, Steph. Classy.

Does that settle it?

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3-2-1- Blast Off!
I love the Discovery Channel Store. They always have the coolest toys, for grown ups and children. In fact, my husband has a robot and a remote control helicopter from the store sitting in our sun room right now. We've both been eying the talking globe for some time, trying to figure out just how old the boys need to be before we can justify buying it for ourselves the kids.

So when PBN gave me the opportunity to review one the Discovery Store's latest pre-school toys, I was thrilled! Discovery Store didn't disappoint me. Paz's Lift-Off Rocket is pretty cool. Read More....

The DC Metro Moms are discussing breastfeeding and boobs today. Pop on over and check out the discussion.

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Blunt and Blue
This is the final chapter of my Baby Chase series. If you haven't read the earlier posts, I've linked Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V for your reading pleasure.

Cleaning out the drawers in my desk this morning, I found my diary. I've neglected my poor diary since my children, and my blogs, were born. The last entries relate to my unsuccessful pregnancies. They were all so full of hope. Every single one. And then they end before Hollis. Because by the time I became pregnant with Hollis I was afraid to jinx myself by writing down my hope, by making it real.

In my last post I wrapped everything up with a nice little bow, didn't I?

The truth is, in my rush to get to the happy ending, I left out everything that was messy and indistinct. I left out the parts where I cried. I left out the parts where T became frustrated with my inability to leave our losses behind me and unable to understand my obsession with knowing as much information as possible. I left out the parts where I was hormonal and mercurial and weepy and timid and scared and angry and confident, all at the same time.

It's easier to leave out the mess, isn't it? To state that we had "decided" not to do IVF. To say that a little vacation made it happen. (Is there anything more annoying than hearing that?) In reality, it really wasn't like that at all. It certainly wasn't that easy. It was hard.

Everything was hard.

Sometimes it was hard to get up in the morning, to brush my teeth, to breathe.

Only by looking back through time can I blur the edges of what happened and what I felt and the fear.

Let's talk about the fear.

The cycle that worked? I didn't expect it to work. I just needed to be trying. I needed to have that 2 week wait to look forward to. I measured my life in small conception-related increments. It was my way of taking it day by day. I charted and temped. At the right time, I peed on sticks. I went to the doctor. I started over again.

When I found out I was pregnant in January of 2007 I was not expecting it. Not at all. I'd had the world's longest cycle, coupled with the plane stress, and at that point I wasn't on Clomid or doing injectables. We were flying solo.

My first beta was great. My progesterone was not. It was 13. If you recall from my earlier posts, my doctor liked to see a 20 with the first beta. So I started taking progesterone, even though there is no consensus in the medical community that progesterone actually helps maintain a pregnancy if it's started after a positive pregnancy test. But I took it anyway.

At 7 weeks, we saw a heartbeat.

It was the first time we'd ever seen a beating heart in my belly.

I finally got a grainy black and white ultrasound image to take home.

My heart flipped. Then landed with a thud. The baby was small for its gestational age. I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It came in the form of a positive prenatal screen. T was in Florida. My doctor's office called and told me I had to come in that day for an amnio. My test results had given me a 1 in 31 chance of Down Syndrome. I called T and shared the news. We made our decision very quickly. I would have the test.

There is a back story here, but it is one that's not really mine to tell. You see, our nephew has Down Syndrome. Perhaps our decision was made easier by the fact that our nephew, S, is the sweetest most wonderful boy to have blessed the family. Perhaps our decision was made easier by watching K and J with their son, by seeing the love and joy he brought to their lives. Personally, I think our decision was made long before I had a positive AFP. It was made when I held S for the first time and smelled his precious little baby smell.

But why have the amnio if you didn't intend to "terminate," you ask?

Because there are a whole host of complications that usually accompany the birth of such a child. S had to be airlifted to a hospital half way across the state, leaving his terrified parents behind. Even I, 1500 miles away was completely terrified. We weren't going to let that happen. S's parents and doctors had no way of knowing. J's prenatal screening had been negative. But we had the power to know. And so we would.

I had the amnio that afternoon, with a nurse holding my hand for support. Then I drove myself home and slept. And waited an agonizing 10 days for the results.

Everything was fine. We were having a boy.

And for the first time, at 20 weeks, I let myself believe that we were actually having a baby.

Then came the gestational diabetes, the insulin shots, the twice weekly ultrasounds and biophysical profiles, the early disintegration of the placenta, the oligohydramnios, the intra-uterine growth retardation diagnosis and, finally, the emergency c-section. And there I go again, glossing over the fear.

The end result was completely worth it. Every agonizing, wonderful moment.

For this.*

and this

That's not to say that holding a baby healed all my wounds. It didn't. But the pain, once sharp and green, with time, became blunt and muted blue. An ache in my chest for what might have been, rather than despair for what might not be.

I still think of them, the children that weren't. Their names are written in the back of my diary, written when I was irrationally holding onto hope for each of them.

I watch Hollis and Holden thrusting through life and it's hard to regret my path to motherhood. How could I regret what brought me my boys? But still, I'll never forget.

"What about Holden?" you ask. Holden will get a post all his own....

*Sorry about that bit of gore in the background in the OR picture. I blurred it with Photo Shop, but just try to avoid clicking on the photo to enlarge, m'kay?

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HP Photosmart Compact Photo Printer
I take far too many pictures. I've taken more than 5000 photos since Hollis was born a little over 3 years ago. That averages out to about 4-5 every day for his entire life.

That's the wonder of digital photography. You can take a million photos and just print out the best ones instead of just praying that at least 1 photo on your roll of film came out all right.

But if you're anything like me you no longer have time to print out those "best" photos. I'm a scrapbooker. So for the first 9 months of Hollis's life I diligently printed out photos and created original scrapbook pages for each milestone in his infanthood. But when Hollis was about 9 months old, I really entered the throes of my second pregnancy and the paper scrapbook fell by the wayside. Hollis's scrap book stops at 9 months and Holden's never really got started.

Read More....

The brand new New York City Moms Blog has officially launched! Go check out all the great writers.

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