A Whole Hand

Hayley is five now. I’ve been a mother for five whole years. We’ve been a family for half a decade. Something about all that just gets to me, you know?

Five feels so big. The age she’ll begin kindergarten. The age she’ll likely start reading. The age she’ll learn to swim. The age she’ll show me she’s been paying attention these past five years, and “it’s ok, mom, I can do this myself.” Five is still plenty little, I know that. But it just feels like the start of something. Something big.

Hayley had school on her birthday so I’d planned to be the parent helper that day. The night before I made some cupcakes and hung up a happy birthday banner we have because even though her party wouldn’t be until the weekend I wanted it to still be festive for the actual day.

Since we were having an under the sea themed party her class got these totally naturally blue cupcakes with fish sprinkles.

Since we were having an under the sea themed party her class got these totally naturally blue cupcakes with fish sprinkles.

On a whim I decided to use some of her sidewalk chalk outside the front door to write her a little happy birthday note and this ended up being a BIG hit. So simple! Cost nothing!

Raise your hand if you are surprised to learn this is STILL outside our door.

Raise your hand if you are surprised to learn this is STILL outside our door.

The morning of her birthday she bounced out of bed and cheerfully got ready for school. Hayley loves school; there aren’t usually battles to get up in the morning on school days, but she seemed especially excited this day. She wore the new shirt she picked out at Disney on Ice which she’d gone to a couple days before with Geoff. She asked for Anna hair that day so I dutifully gave her two braids before we headed downstairs. She had requested blueberry coffee cake for her birthday breakfast, so I’d baked that the night before since I wouldn’t have time the morning of.

The first of many candle-blowing opportunities.

The first of many candle-blowing opportunities.

After breakfast she opened a couple of gifts and we headed to school. I’d noticed by then that she didn’t seem to be her usual self- and Damien had been sick all week. Since neither had a fever at any point I crossed my fingers and kept an eye on her at school. She loved all the attention that goes along with a school-day birthday and enjoyed sharing the cupcakes with her classmates. During recess she ran up to me holding out a little yellow flower she’d picked for me. Something about her little hands holding out this cheerful flower to give me, on her birthday, made me tear up.

Sometimes I'm convinced she's made of pure sweetness.

Sometimes I’m convinced she’s made of pure sweetness.

After school we were all supposed to go out to lunch but Geoff and I decided neither kid seemed up to it. Instead, we stopped at Toys R Us for our traditional birthday trip, which was very brief and hurried this time around but Hayley picked out a cute My Little Pony Spike doll and we headed out. She asked if we could pick up Subway to take home for lunch, and who am I to say no to the birthday girl? Though I maybe wish I had because THE CHATTIEST lady was behind me in line.

Anyway, after lunch we made the decision to postpone Hayley’s party to the following weekend. We just really didn’t want to get anyone sick, and we wanted her to be well enough to really enjoy the day. She took the news well, thankfully. We gave her another gift, a Razor scooter, which is just what you need when you’re sick.

At least it was a beautiful day.

At least it was a beautiful day.

She requested breakfast for dinner, so after nap I made up some pancakes, eggs, and bacon and let her have some chocolate milk to go with it. Instead of a cake, Hayley wanted fondue for her birthday dessert. Well, you don’t have to ask me twice!

Good call, birthday girl.

Good call, birthday girl.

Then it was time for her final gift. She hated it, obviously.

She has quite the poker face.

She has quite the poker face.

Geoff hunted down a Princess Peach game she could play on her own, which is just what she did for pretty much the remainder of the night.

Geoff maybe enjoyed it as much as she.

Geoff maybe enjoyed it as much as she.

Though the party was postponed, some of my family didn’t want to wait to see the birthday girl and give her some gifts so they came over the next day. One of the things my mom gave her is this little table cover that fits over a card table to make a play house. The kids spent all weekend in there. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

No, really. Cutest.

No, really. Cutest.

So, that following week we’d scheduled well checks for both kids and while they both seem super healthy, Hayley spectacularly failed the eye exam. I tried to explain that while I don’t doubt one or both of our kid(s) will need glasses at some point, I wasn’t convinced that Hayley was having trouble seeing the chart. You see, Hayley hates doing the wrong thing. That means she doesn’t like breaking rules, and she doesn’t like being incorrect. She’d rather just do nothing or not try. Which is what I suspected was going on during the exam. We’ll take her in for another appointment to see what’s going on, but in the meantime Hayley made up her own eye chart to practice.

Because that's just the kind of kid she is.

Because she’s just that kind of kid.

Finally it was the weekend of the party and time for me to start putting all my plans into motion. On Saturday I made some fishbowls

Maybe my favorite.

Maybe my favorite.

and baking sand dollar cookies

Ok, no, these were.

Ok, no, these were.

and then once the kids went to sleep Geoff and I finished up the decorating.

I need to remember to only use my nice words when it is midnight and I'm asking for help...

I need to remember to only use my nice words when it is midnight and I’m asking for help…

At bedtime the night before the party Hayley was stalling and I finally just said, ” I need you to go to bed. I have a lot to do to get ready for your party.” She asked why and I told her that I love her and want her to have a special day to celebrate how special I think she is. So she agreed and went to bed. The next morning she came downstairs and looked at everything, then said to Geoff, “This is all for me? Mommy did this for me??” And I couldn’t jump over the stupid baby gate in the kitchen fast enough to swoop her up in my arms and say, “YES. It’s all for you, baby girl.”

However, back in the kitchen I was prepping some components for the cupcakes and I started to really re-evaluate some of my life choices.

I mean, really. Can you BE anymore of a pain in the ass?

I mean, really. Can you BE anymore of a pain in the ass?

But I pushed on and made some really cute under the sea cupcakes.

Sea turtles!

Sea turtles!



Teddy Grahams rafting! And sun-bathing!

Teddy Grahams tubing! And sun-bathing!

The rest of the menu was pretty normal kid party food, but with silly themed names. Seaweed (spinach) Dip, Octopus’s garden veggies and dip, sea cucumber sandwiches, peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches, and baked cheesy shells.

And sea life cheese crackers, of course. And Swedish fish. Stuff like that.

And sea life shaped cheese crackers, of course. And Swedish fish. Stuff like that.

Hayley wanted to do a pinata this year, which was exciting because I know I really loved them as a kid and it felt like such a Grown Up thing to do, filling the pinata the night before. However. She wouldn’t budge on what she wanted for the shape of the pinata. I offered a dozen alternatives. She refused them all. Which is how we came to the dolphin beat down portion of the party.

Poor little guy. I tried, I swear.

Poor little guy. I tried, I swear.

Then we all sang her happy birthday one more time and she got to make her final wish on that “5″ candle. It was a great party, we all had such a good time. Hayley loves getting all her people together so she was thrilled so many were able to make it.

Sigh. Five.

Sigh. Five.


Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m excited to see what all is still in store for our family. Like I said, 5 really feels like the start of something. The next something.

The last something brought me my girl.

My girl who writes me love notes.

I love you, too, sweetheart.

I love you, too, sweetheart.

My girl who takes care of me when I don’t feel well.

You can't see the stuffed animals she brought for me to snuggle.

You can’t see the stuffed animals she brought for me to snuggle.

My girl, who is now five.

My girl

A Day in My Life

Well, because I’ve seen a few of these around lately, and I’ve enjoyed reading them, I’ve recorded my day to share with y’all. And, ok, also because it was a pretty mindless post to put together.

February 19, 2014

2:00-3:05 I listen to Damien cough his little head off for an hour. It’s every few minutes and when I go in he’s seemingly sleeping through his own coughing. That takes skill. At 3 I go in again and wake him enough to offer some water. He takes a small sip to oblige and conks back out. I have no such luck when I get back to bed.

5:04 I hear Damien whimpering a bit over the monitor. Then I hear him call for me and I rush in. Again, he’s seemingly asleep.

6:03 The alarm on my cell phone goes off. I grab it, end the alarm and snuggle my phone until the next alarm does off.

6:12 Second alarm goes off and I get up for the day. I’m really, really tired (and inexplicably sore in my arms) so I sort of rush through my routine to get ready for work- no energy for anything beyond the bare minimum. Pee, brush teeth, wash face, get dressed, and I’m out of there.

6:25 Everyone else is still asleep for another couple hours so I try to be quiet on my way down the stairs and out the door. I was surprised to see we got a little rain overnight. I get in my car and head to the bus.

6:30 I arrive at the Park and Ride lot and easily find a parking space. This is not always the case. This lot is heavily used and I HAVE to be there early to get a spot. Sometimes if I’m tired I’ll still get up early and drive to the lot and then nap in my car until catching a later bus to work. I maybe have a blanket on my passenger seat for this reason. Maybe.

6:42 Today is not a nap in the car day, so I board my bus to campus. The commute by car is about 45 minutes, same as by bus. However, my employer charters buses for employees in an effort to have fewer people driving and parking on campus. Additionally, they provide the bus for free and actually pay employees to not purchase a campus parking permit. I’ve been commuting to work in some way other than by personal vehicle for 8 or 9 years now. On the bus I get caught up with Twitter and IG, iMessage with friends, and snooze a bit.

7:28 We arrive at my stop, the end of the line, which is the Main Quad. From there I walk to my office.

7:38 Arrive at my desk. It’s pretty quiet around here until about 8:30. I like that.

8:35 Realize I haven’t had any coffee yet. I remedy that immediately.

8:39 Receive a picture of Damien from Geoff. Seems the poor guy was extremely disinterested in waking up this morning so Hayley could be taken to school. Geoff and I keep in touch throughout the day. I love/hate it. I LOVE getting updates (and pictures!) from home, but I hate how it makes me want to be there with them.

8:40-10:30 Work, work, work. There are emails to be written/responded to, surveys to create, parents to calm down, and students to fret about.

10:30 Realize I haven’t eaten. So I toast a frozen waffle and top it with peanut butter and jelly- my favorite. Then do more work stuffs. No meetings today which is good? I guess?

11:50 My boss had the idea to celebrate President’s Day by bringing pies in to share with colleagues around lunch time. He’s in a meeting so I go set that up for everyone. We have both apple and cherry pie. And presidential decor.

12:15 I begin creating a short cut for myself that I’ve been meaning to do for literal years.

12:19 I finish creating said short cut. You see that, self? FOUR MINUTES. You couldn’t spare FOUR MINUTES ages ago??

12:35 Guess I should go heat up my lunch, even though it feels like my waffle wasn’t long ago. Lunch is leftover sun dried tomato and chicken pasta bake. Good stuff. I eat at my desk which is always a mistake because I get interrupted a million times and never take a true break. I can be mid-bite and someone will come up all, “Hey, you got a sec?” Um. Well… you see….. ok, sure.

12:57 Geoff chats at me to let me know Hayley calls Cheetos Puffs “fat Cheetos” and my whole day is made. Fat Cheetos!

12:58 – 2:12 More work, work, work. And a little dinking around online.

2:12 I haven’t had any pie. But pie and coffee sounds awesome (I mean, I was paying attention during Gilmore Girls. I know whats up.) so I go to the break room to make a cup of coffee and get a slice of pie. Two slices. I couldn’t decide which flavor and then I realized I didn’t have to. All the pie for me! Suddenly, I don’t mind the creepy presidents masks all over because they are just a consequence of having pie available.

2:15 Get a call from my mom that tomorrow’s Family Dinner is cancelled because my step-dad has been sick all week. Bummer. (We have Family Dinner once a week. It’s us, my mom, my step-dad, and my sister. It’s a highlight of the week for all of us.)

2:24 Answer the parent helpline and spend TWENTY MINUTES talking with a concerned parent. That’s all I can say about that.

2:56 Quickly type up the post I’ve been meaning to publish about some of the cute things Damien has been saying lately. When I’m done I decide to make it a regular feature because there is just too much I know I’ll forget some day. So, look out for more of those in a reader near you soon!

3:57 Begin impatiently checking the clock to see if it is time to head out yet.

4:15 Log off and head out to catch my bus home.

4:26-5:12 Ride the bus back to the Park and Ride. Amazingly, I experienced my first delay while crossing the bridge during my commute, due to an accident, since beginning this new routine last May.

5:22 I get home and immediately throw some tater tots in the oven. We’re going for a quick dinner tonight because Geoff and Hayley have to head out by 6:30 to go see Disney On Ice as an early birthday treat for Hayley. So, meatloaf sandwiches made with the night before’s leftovers and tater tots it is! Damien and Hayley wake from nap just minutes after I get home so we go get them up before having dinner at about 6.

6:24 I snuggle in on the couch with Damien to watch some ‘toons while Geoff and Hayley take off. Since Damien isn’t feeling well he pretty much gets as much screen time as he wants. We watch a few things on Netflix, broken up by some book reading and truck playing.

8:20 After giving me a total tantrum over a sippy cup of milk, I decide it’s bedtime for Damien. His routine with me after a diaper change, pjs, and brushing his teeth is we sit in the rocking chair to read two books, sing a couple songs, and then it’s lights off for some final snuggles before I place him in his crib.

8:47 With Damien in his crib I do my nightly routine of washing my face (with my Clarisonic Mia), brushing my teeth, and flossing. I used to haaaaate flossing and then I was introduced to this. Game changer. Now I actually look forward to flossing. TO FLOSSING. After all this I get in bed to watch some fluff and dink around on my phone a bit.

9:45 I get word that Geoff and Hayley are on their way home, but I’m fading fast. I fall asleep before they get home at 10:15.

10:35 I’ve heard a little recap about the show from Hayley and she’s done her bedtime routine. I just about pass out after tucking Hayley into her bed for the night.



Because he’s growing so fast I want to capture some of my favorite things Damien has been saying lately. Feel free to ignore this, as it’s really just for the sake of (forgetful) future Miranda.

  • “Straw-buh-berries” and “blue-buh-berries.” He likes adding another syllable to lots of words, but those are two of my favorites. Oh, “mamamellow” (marshmallow) is another good one.
  • “So full!” means he’s done with something. “So full Thomas, daddy.”
  • When he wants to rough-house he asks, “Boombox?” I have no idea where this came from. As he runs and tackles someone “boombox” is his battle cry.
  • He lives for smiling and having fun. When that is achieved he walks around saying, “Happy!” This Pharrell song is SO HIM. He also declares things to be the “Best! Ever!”
  • Despite not having seen the movie, he is obsessed with the music from “Frozen.” We have the soundtrack and he sings along to it all and it’s all just the best. His rendition of “Let It Go” is awesome, but I have to say that his little thumbs up at “hang in there, Joan” during “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” takes the cake. Hayley will sometimes want to play Elsa and Olaf with him and he goes around saying, “Happy snowman!”
  • He says “Nummy!” while eating something he likes, and delicious comes out at “de-widget!”
  • He’s discovering lots of things he loves. Like Thomas (while watching cartoons, “Thomas come up!”), Dinosaurs (he calls them “dinosaur bones” no matter what), and Transformers (he makes the classic transforming noise, and his favorite is the dinobot Grimlock). He also likes to tell jokes. His favorite is “You know what?..Chicken butt!”
  • When he wakes up and Geoff goes to get him his first question is, “Hayley, mommy?” He also imitates Geoff sometimes and will call out to get my attention, “Baaaaabe!”
  • He can recognize his numbers from 1-5, and can recite them from 1-20, but he clearly doesn’t fully grasp the concept because “one more” (with little pointed finger) book inevitably means at least 5 more books.
  • He’s got pretty great manners for a 2 year old. When Geoff sneezes he says, “Bless you daddy!” and when Geoff thanks him he replies “nelcome!” If he hears someone burp he says, “pardon me!” And if you prompt him to say thank you he goes, “thankyounelcome.”
  • As he continues to explore his world we hear a lot of, “What?? How??”
  • Just so you know, all buttons say “boop.”
  • A couple weeks ago Geoff was changing Damien’s diaper and Damien started mumbling something. Eventually Geoff worked out “grandpa” “dumptruck” and “bathroom.” He was either listing off a few of his favorite things or playing his own little game of Clue. We all now shout “grandpa, dumptruck, bathroom!” for no reason at all except it’s funny.
  • You’ll notice I used A LOT of exclamation points here. That’s because Damien just lives his life from one exclamation point to another. When he can’t contain his excitement (read: often) he runs around while shouting “YEAAAAH!!”
  • At night, during snuggles, Damien whisper sings me the little song I’ve sung to him since he was born, “Mama loves you, baby boy.”

That’s right my boy, mama sure does.


I’m going to make “Forget-me-nots” a semi-regular feature here because there is just too much I fear not remembering. Bear with me.