Lazy Day

I spent most the day cooking. We are heading to a friend’s house tomorrow as we are still without water in our kitchen. So I cooked and hauled dishes back and forth to the bathroom most of the day.


We had other plans today, but the girls asked if we could just stay home and have a lazy day. It’s such a treat to do almost nothing all day and not leave the house. I did finally make them get dressed by 1pm. I’m not sure why I made them get dressed, but their jammie bodies and messed up hair started driving me insane by then.


So they dressed but we still didn’t leave the house. We cooked and cleaned a bit and watched Lean On Me OnDemand, but most of the day they spent in their rooms playing. Eloise and Astrid made a movie that they won’t let me see yet. I hope to share it with you all soon.


Astrid also drew several pictures for me. She drew a koala for me(named Astrid), and this koala has a bicycle for transportation. Miss Astrid Koala gets on her bicycle and travels to her cabin in the woods, and then to the White House, and then she rides her bicycle onto a boat to go to Paris and the Eiffel Tower. These are the places that Miss Astrid Koala wants to see this year. I think it’s a good plan. Also, Miss Astrid Koala has some pretty amazing handwriting.


I don’t save much from the kids…but these I will stash away carefully in her memory box. I wonder if she’ll remember these drawings when she opens the box someday. I wonder if she’ll remember the story that goes along with the drawings. I wonder if she’ll remember the first time she sees the Eiffel Tower.


So now the kids are in bed and I’m eating almost all of the Party Mix that I made before I go to bed too.


I hope all of your Thanksgiving preparations went well today.


I hope you got to be a bit lazy.



Brain Chase Summer Learning Adventure Giveaway! #BrainChase

This post is sponsored by The Motherhood and Brain Chase.


I was so thrilled to introduce you all to Brain Chase earlier this Spring.


As a reminder, we as a family are going on a Brain Chase. Brain Chase is a 5-week online summer learning challenge disguised as a HUGE global treasure hunt for 2nd through 8th graders. Each summer, a golden mechanical treasure will be buried somewhere on earth – and it will contain the key to a safety deposit box holding a $10,000 college scholarship fund. Participants who complete an hour of online summer learning activities each day will unlock secret animated webisodes that hold the clues to the treasure’s whereabouts. Pinpoint the treasure’s location first, and you’ll be the one on a plane to dig it up!!


I’ve already signed my kids up and my 10 year old has asked me DAILY when the Summer Challenge begins! I kid you not. She is ready to find the Sunstone of Cortes! Brain Chase just released their first sneak peek at the actual Sunstone. It is about 12 inches in diameter and has mechanically rotating components that open to reveal the center compartment, where the key to retrieve the $10,000 will be hidden!

Brain Chase starts on June 22, 2015 and continues with 5 weeks of structured challenges on reading and math websites, weekly writing exercises, and exclusive access to an original animated adventure series loaded with hidden puzzles and clues. You and your children participate in a massive global treasure hunt for the big prize of a lifetime!


Each week the adventurers have 4 tasks to complete – a reading task, a writing entry, math points, and a bonus challenge(typically 4-5 hours of total weekly work). When they are done, they unlock the next webisode which contains hidden pictures, numbers, and riddles to help them guess the treasure’s location! The webisodes are so cool as they travel around the world exposing your kids to even more cool adventures!  And don’t worry if you are going on your own adventure or to camp during this time – as Brain Chase allows you to make-up your work at anytime during the 5 weeks!


There are a few new and exciting announcements surrounding this Summer’s Learning Adventure to share – One is that Brain Chase has partnered with Rosetta Stone! All Brain Chase registrants will now have the opportunity to chose to participate in a language module as part of their online academic work. Students will be allowed to choose from 30+ languages when they register! This is truly amazing and just deepens the global studies aspect of Brain Chase!


The next new piece of Brain Chase is a teacher referral reward program. Brain Chase is offering $15 to teachers for each of their students they refer to Brain Chase. Registrants who hear about Brain Chase from a teacher can simply enter that teacher’s name and school name at registration. Kids fight summer brain drain to win a treasure – and now teachers win too! You can download flyers to share with your students here!


And if you child is like mine and is counting down the days until the Brain Chase adventure begins(44 days to be exact), well you can check out the new dashboard demo for a hands on look at Brain Chase and interact with last year’s dashboard for detailed explanations about how your kids’ work is tracked during the program’s five weeks.


Now is the time to register and get ready for some family fun, adventure, and learning!


I’m also THRILLED to offer ONE FREE REGISTRATION(A $199 value) to a lucky reader!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Just comment on this blog post with what excites you the most about Brain Chase, and then enter with the Rafflecopter widget to win!


And let your summer adventures begin!


Sponsored by The Motherhood and Brain Chase. All words and opinions are my own.


28 Days Of Play

Today I’m feeling like a parenting failure. Not just today, but it’s my overriding theme this winter. We are busy, there aren’t enough hours in the day, and frankly by 7pm all I want to do is sit in a chair under a big blanket and watch mindless TV as I can’t even keep my eyes open long enough to read a book or write something.


My kids at nearly bedtime(if we are not running to dance or music or voice or gymnastics or to a school function) are milling around me. One is doing homework(or maybe Facetiming with a friend), one is reading while petting the cats on her lap, and one is either dancing around me or coloring. They’ve gotten used to me lately not being completely in the moment with them.


I sit heavy with guilt as I want to engage and be present, but it feels hard and exhausting. I try to remind myself that this is short-lived – our moving houses, our busy. But it feels like forever.


I try to make myself feel better and think about the dance party we had a few days ago, or the game of Beat The Parents that we played. Or when we all zip-lined on Friday night and played hide and go seek together. Play doesn’t have to be Candy Land. Play can be a walk around the block together, right?


After 12 years of parenting, I know that I am not my child’s playmate – I’m their mom. But sometimes(especially now) I wish I could just lighten up a bit and be more fun. Instead I make lists of things that aren’t done – Christmas thank you notes, dishes, laundry, cleaning the litter box, grocery shopping.


That is not a game.


I was honored to be asked by Rachel of You Plus 2 Parenting to write an essay about play as part of her 28 Days Of Play series during the month of February.


It opened my eyes to how I play with my kids – and how it’s easier now that they are older, but still at times awkward for me. And reading the other essays this month from other parents has given me more to think about as I try to be present in my kids’ lives – and maybe playing make believe doesn’t have to be part of that to define being fun.


My essay is live today – and I’d love for you to hop over and read it and share. And maybe challenge me a game to cribbage next time we are together.

(comments closed here)


Time Flies

It’s been a busy Fall. Even Astrid is feeling overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time. And I think that starting kindergarten has made her realize that we have to prioritize things. In the lazy days of preschool we had lots of downtime and fun time. Now our lives are scheduled. If we aren’t heading to an activity, we are running errands, or making lists. Sometimes she will whisper to me “I just miss snuggling with nothing to do.” And then all of a sudden it’s bedtime and we didn’t do anything meaningful just for us.


I hate that she’s thinking about how we seem to have so little time to just “be” lately. Five year olds shouldn’t worry so. But this too shall pass I keep saying. Will the busy end? Or is this just the tip of the iceberg that is bringing us down into a spiral of busy with three kids getting older?


“Mommy..” Astrid says to me from the back of the van. “Time just passes so quickly these days.”


Oh honey, just wait until you are old like me. Time passes so fast you just cannot believe the ticking by of days and weeks and years. Enjoy your time now when time goes more slowly.


“It doesn’t seem slowly though, Mommy. Like the yesterday before yesterday seems like years ago already. And the tomorrow after tomorrow will be here too soonly.” She says with a hint of concern and worry that should not exist at her age.


Oh Love, don’t worry about the tomorrow after tomorrow. Just enjoy today.


“I just want it all to go more slower. But it’s just so fast these days.” She almost whispers this as she glances out the window.


I know. It’s too fast.


“I bet when you’re dead though time moves like so so so so slowly. So I don’t want time to be that slow. Like dead slow. I want alive slow. Not dead slow. Do you know what dead time slow would be like. Like it would be today forever. Today forever would be worse than the tomorrow after tomorrow after tomorrow after tomorrow coming today before I’d even get to enjoy today. Whew. Time is so weird. Now my head hurts. I suppose that’s going to make my day just go so fast too.”



This Is Childhood – Five

We are continuing our weekly This Is Childhood series today with FIVE.

Esther at Five

The brilliant Allison Slater Tate brings five to us today. Her words jump off the page with life – because that’s what five is – so busy, so big, such a big year of childhood – kindergarten, reading, making friends for life, keeping up with siblings, yet still snuggling with mom


Five is beautiful.

Each Tuesday please join us and visit another writer as they show you that age through the beauty of their voices in print.

..Please come back each week for our amazing stories as we count up for ‘This Is Childhood’

TWO – Kristen Levithan
THREE – Nina Badzin
FOUR – Galit Breen
FIVE – Allison Slater Tate
SIX – Bethany Meyer
SEVEN – Tracy Morrison(me)
EIGHT – Amanda Magee
NINE – Denise Ullem
TEN – Lindsey Mead


You can also find me today over at ‘3 Things For Mom‘ sharing a truth, a tip and a find. I love this format and feel inspired each day that I visit Lauren’s new blog. You need to add 3Things to your daily reads. Promise me that. xo


(comments closed)


This Is Childhood- Four

We are continuing our ‘This Is Childhood” series this week with FOUR. Galit beautifully describes FOUR for us today.


I truthfully loved four. It was one of my favorite ages and I do believe it was my favorite age of all time until we found ten this year.


What is your favorite age?


Go visit Galit and discover the magic of four.  (comments closed here)

.Please come back each week for our amazing stories as we count up for ‘This Is Childhood’ TWO – Kristen Levithan
THREE – Nina Badzin
FOUR – Galit Breen
FIVE – Allison Slater Tate
SIX – Bethany Meyer
SEVEN – Tracy Morrison(me)
EIGHT – Amanda Magee
NINE – Denise Ullem
TEN – Lindsey Mead



Why We Have An American Girl Doll Collection

I posted this picture on Facebook immediately after Christmas. The girls had just opened American Girl Dolls #10 and #11(and I admitted having dolls #12 and #13 already purchased still in boxes ready for the next holiday).

And the comments came as expected..

“That’s not a doll collection, that’s a mortgage payment!”

“Call me next time before you buy so I can buy stock in Mattel!”

“I don’t see dolls, I see dollar signs.”

“That’s a crazy amount of money sitting there!”

And then the simple…




and a few

“Adopt me!”

“Can I be your child in my next life?”


“Don’t show this to my girls as they will want every single one of those!”


And to all of those comments I say “No kidding! I completely agree!” I think I look kind of crazy….

We seem to have an addiction and a love for American Girl Dolls.  Are they expensive? Yes. But are they worth it? Very much so.


And with three daughters and now six years of buying dolls – well 11, and soon 13 dolls doesn’t seem all that crazy to me.


You want to know why? It is the only gift my girls ask for each year – for their birthdays or Christmas. They ask for a doll or some clothing or accessories…and that is it. They are the only gifts they find under the tree each year and the only store they ask to visit at the mall.


And if I have an almost eight year old and a newly 10 year old and they don’t ask for nor do they own – iPods, iPhones, iPads, phones, TVs, gaming devices, iTouches, DS’s, laptops, computers, or any electronic device AT ALL – but they ask for dolls to play with…well they are going to get dolls. And they want dolls that come with books and stories and they sit and read with their dolls…are you kidding. This is beautiful.

I played with dolls until seventh grade and I can only hope the same for my kids. The longer they love imaginative play how amazing for them, right? Let them be little girls and have positive messages to carry them into their tween and teen years.


Even if it means that their dolls have a better wardrobe than I do.


It’s worth it. Every dime I spend at American Girl is worth it.


And if it’s the only gift they ever ask for and ever get – well it doesn’t seem like that much money to me.

My Living Room Is Now American Girl Doll Land

But it doesn’t really matter what I think. Or what you think.


It’s what they think – and watching them play with their dolls and watching them tuck them into bed each night, well…..


I think another visit to the American Girl Doll store is in order.


Because I have this three year old who is still going to be playing dolls for at least another 10 years. And I guess she will look a little crazy-spoiled with 13 dolls in her sole possession once her sisters leave for college. But she’s my baby… I’m hoping it all seems quite normal.


Do You Eat Crisco Right From The Can…

Sometimes I think about the treats my mother would give us when we were little.

And I would wonder why she could not just bake us a nice cookie maybe?


Oh right, she could not bake. Bless her heart.

So my mom would give us a spoon of Crisco dipped in granulated sugar.


40 years later I need to know if any of your mothers passed off Crisco and sugar as a treat to you?

Also I need to know if you ate it. Because we did. And by god we loved it.


Come to think of it, her second favorite treat to offer was a knife and a Dixie cup of white sugar as she told us to go cut some rhubarb stalks back by the garage.

And we would sit there and dip freshly cut rhubarb into sugar and take yummy sour bites.


Perhaps dreaming about cookies.


I tried to offer my girls rhubarb dipped in sugar and they thought I lost my mind.

They don’t know what they are missing.


But whenever I run across a very old recipe for cookies that is meant to be made with Crisco….I make it and it tastes just like my childhood.


And you bet I sneak a fingertip full of Crisco dipped in sugar when nobody is looking.

While I thank my mom for the simple things in life.

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Crisp Cookies

6 T shortening

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

4 T granulated sugar

1 egg

1/2 t vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1/2 t salt

1/4 t soda

1 1/2 cups oatmeal

Typical instructions – cream the wets and add the dry and mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 until flat and crispy and melt in mouth delicious. Bound to remind you of the Summer of 1972.


Unless of course you were not born yet..that would be freaky for you to think about the Summer of 1972 if you were not alive. But trust was good.


Am I Too Old To Be a Princess?

The eve of Halloween was filled with drama at our home.


Costumes already purchased were questioned. The dress-up chest was open and tulle, feathers, glitter and lace could be found from one end of our home to the other.  Items tried on and discarded. Tiaras and witch hats intermingled on the table.

Nothing was right.


It was like getting ready for the prom times three.


I was out of wine.


Tears were shed. Not just mine.


This game of dress-up had turned into something much more serious and important – looking for the perfect Halloween ensemble.


No matter that it would be dark when they actually wore it and coats would be on over it.

And eventually after four hours, they all settled on the original costumes they picked out in August because they are little women – so don’t question their methods.


But this was after the biggest heartbreak of the day.

Esther came out of the bathroom sobbing as she threw her Rapunzel dress across the room.


What’s wrong? I asked gently as she tried to curl-up completely on my lap. Her long legs hanging over the edge of the couch as her bony elbows dug in my ribs and her head equal with mine.


The dress..she stammered..the dress doesn’t fit me anymore..and now I just look like a big kid trying to still be a little kid in a dress-up outfit…I don’t look like the princess that I used to be when I put that dress on.


Oh hon...I whispered..I am quite sure you are still a beautiful princess with or without that dress on.


And she cried for a bit more and then looked up at me with her tear filled blue eyes and said…mom, I’m afraid that if I grow too big that I may never be a princess again.


And my mother heart broke into a million pieces for her.


And that night I ordered four size 8/10 princess dresses with all the trimmings so she never has to give up her princess dreams.


Now if I could just promise her a forever of happily ever after.

One more day to link-up your Halloween Costume Pictures with BOO! In the Blogosphere for fabulous Treats!


The Northern Girl…

I saw the old farm dog approaching me. He trotted towards me on the dirt road and was carrying something small in his mouth.  His tail wagged as he got closer and he proudly dropped it at my feet.


A black kitten. Barely a week old. With a broken neck.


I ran to the barn and climbed the ladder to the hay loft looking for the mama cat and her four black kittens. The kittens were gone and the mama was crying as she paced and sniffed around the hay.


A dog can’t climb a ladder.


I was sobbing as I ran to the farmer’s house and pounded on their door yelling “Mr. Winters, Mr. Winters – the kittens…they’re gone….they’re dead. Please come help!!!!”


Mr. Winters came to the door and knelt down to wipe my tears and comfort me.  This man who I spent almost every moment with after school, on weekends, during Summer vacation. This man who had his wife bake cookies for me and would take me for rides on his tractor. This man who would help me save all the county cats and bring them back to his barn to be my playmates. This man who made this Yankee girl from the big city up North who moved to this small town just north of the Missouri Compromise feel like this could be home.


And then he told me he broke those n*gg*r kitten necks because he didn’t want any of them around his farm.


I walked away sobbing even harder. Not for those kittens but because I just lost my best friend in the whole world.


The cats were the last straw in trying to accept or ignore the hate in that town. The town that according to the 2000 census is still 99.9% white.


The first straw may have been the way this nine year old was called a Yankee in 1977. Or hearing the n word used like it was just an everyday noun. By children.  Maybe it was the way I was made fun of for my Northern accent. Or maybe because this girl who knew Catholicism was suddenly Methodist..because wasn’t everybody?


Or maybe it was the way our school principal made an announcement when an Asian family moved to town that we were not suppose to talk to the children if they showed up at school. Or maybe it was how that family left 24 hours later. Maybe it was the way everyone would stop and stare if they saw an African American family drive through town on their way somewhere else. Quickly.


And I was only nine and ten and then eleven and then twelve. And I just stood there angry. SO DAMN ANGRY at that town for what they were. And what they said. And how they treated people. And for what they taught their children. MY FRIENDS.


So I escaped it all..and spent my days up at the old barn. Feeding and chasing cats, making ‘wine’ from the old farmer’s grape vines, enjoying honeysuckle butter, playing hide and seek among the rows of corn, and chasing the cows in the pasture.  Spending time with my best friends – a 60 year old farmer and his wife.


Until the day he broke my heart beyond repair.


This was written as a Memoir for the following prompt for Write on Edge.

We all have them.

Memories that we wish we could forget…things that we wish we could banish from our minds.

Imagine that writing down your worst memory will free you of it.

What is it?

Why does it haunt you?

What could you have done differently?”




Cheerios, Hula Hoops and Ladybug Picnics…

I could not help but think of my childhood this weekend.  I remember being a very little girl, eating a very early breakfast and watching the Royal Wedding.

And even watching that real princess, I knew I just wanted something simple, quiet and easy in life.  My memories are simple and happy. Uncomplicated.






This weekend made me realize that my girls do not need a prince on a white horse or a castle or a diamond tiara to make them happy.

They need to know they are loved, nourishment for their body and soul, the ability to run around in the backyard, to learn how to hula hoop..

..and most importantly the confidence to wear a tiara for 4 days straight because they know they are already a princess.


I Heart Faces – Shadows..

We had our first Spring sunshine last week. We went outside without coats.

Astrid saw her shadow for the first time.  She chased it for an hour.  They even played patty-cake.

She also kept jumping on mommy’s shadow.

Simple sunny and Spring brilliance.

Do you remember the smile on your face the moment your child discovered their shadow.

Now they know they will never be alone.

(not included in photo challenge, as there isn’t a face and we can only enter one photo – but I’ve already won just by holding her hand, so I had to include it just for me)


Make a Wish…

“Mama – wouldn’t it be amazing if I pressed the jewel on my ring, my wishes would come true?” Esther asked.

“Why don’t you try, Esther and see what happens?” I replied
“No, I don’t think it will?” Esther answered shaking her head.

“Why not?” I prodded.

“Because I really want a unicorn of my own…do you really think I can have one if I wish hard enough?” She perked up. (note, I am now getting slightly concerned about Esther’s obsession with unicorns.)

“Of course you can!” I answered.


So Esther pressed her ring and closed her eyes and when she opened them she excitedly said “I see him – I really do – do you think he’ll take me anywhere I want to go like over the rainbow and around the world?  Oh mom, I cannot believe he is here!”

A little later when Esther tired of playing with her pet unicorn, she came and snuggled on my lap and quietly said “mom, why don’t you press the jewel on your ring and make your wishes come true?  Maybe you can have a pet unicorn.”

“Oh I don’t need to do that” I replied “all my wishes have already been granted and you are one of them.”


What are you using your magic rings to wish for?

Linking up with Darcy at Sweet Shot Tuesday.


Dear Eloise…

..on the eve of 2nd grade.
I love you because you have accepted me as a slacker this year. I know it has been a bit rough with the needy baby and all. So when I asked you what you wanted me to fix you for your extra special, night before school politely said “take out Chinese.”  I really take no offense to that whatsoever.  I know after almost a year of little cooking as needy baby has the attention span of a gnat, cooking must be done in about 3.4 minutes…so take-out seems very appealing these days.

So thank you for making my life easier.
I love you because you accept me as a slacker this year, and when you asked if I bought you something special for your first day of school(because I always do), you saw that look of panic on my face and said…”Mom, how about if we just go to Target together and I can pick something out for myself?  Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to cost more than $15.”

So thank you for being okay with that.
I love you because you are 7, and being 7 is still such a very little girl.  You have this lovely and pure innocence about you.  I want to bottle it up and keep it there..and keep you as you are right now forever.  I know this sweet innocence won’t last forever…but I think it is okay to keep it for as long as possible. Right?

You have the whole rest of your life to be a tween, a teen, an adult, and to deal with all of the icky stuff you will have to deal with.  So why not now just enjoy the innocence of childhood a little longer.
We don’t have cable TV, and when you have caught some i-Carly or Hannah while visiting others, I turn it off and really don’t see the need in watching that.  You have no idea who the Jonas brothers are or what the heck Camp Rock is, you have never heard of Justin Bieber and don’t even know concerts exist.

You came home from a recent trip asking to watch You Tube on the computer and I just about died. You started reciting “potty” jokes from these You Tube videos and I wanted to just erase them from you mind.  I kindly told you that we don’t have You Tube on our computer and any computer time you have is always strictly monitored by moi.

One of your best friends, who is 7, came up to us this Summer, struck a pose and said “aren’t I sexy?” – my jaw hit the ground and you politely asked “what does sexy mean?”  She replied “I am not sure” and I said “EXACTLY – do not ever use that term again unless you know what it means AND really want that kind of attention.”

I love you because you think the difference between boys and girls is that boys have shorter hair.

I love you and I do not believe I am trying to overprotect you in anyway…YOU ARE ONLY SEVEN and WHY, why should you know about these things now.  You are SEVEN.  You are only in 2nd grade. You are still my sweet innocent child.  And probably will be my only one.  You will be 13 when the baby is 7, so YOU will be censored then!

Please, please just enjoy the short time you have left in childhood.  Eat ice cream, play hopscotch, play with dolls, read good books, laugh with your friends, play chase, help your sisters, snuggle with you momma for a little while longer.
It all comes to an end quickly enough, so go enjoy 2nd grade sweet girl before you are all grown-up too soon.  I am so proud of you.

I love you,



Linking up with Darcy at Sweet Shot Tuesday.
Sweet Shot Day
..and I am celebrating the small things today..
tuesdays unwrapped at cats


Sharing a Book from Dr. Seuss..

I was 4 the Summer of 1973.  During that Summer both my Aunt Sandy and my cousin Betsy sat down with me and my brother and we wrote our own book.
My Book About Me by Dr. Seuss.

(still in it’s first 1969 edition….)
This was always on my bookshelf – through school, college and has traveled with me around the country and world as I have moved as an adult.   A few times a year I open up the pages and laugh and remember.
I bought a copy for Eloise immediately after her birth and have kept it neatly next to mine for 7 years.
Last weekend I pulled them both off the shelf and the girls and I filled the pages
They had a ball.
Listing their favorite foods and counting forks.(please do not feed Esther birdseed)
Tracing their feet and counting the steps to the nearest tree and mailbox.
Finding the country they live in and dreaming about their career as an adult.  (Eloise wants to be a mom and a teacher.  Esther wants to be a baker. (I wanted to work at Dairy Queen)
They now have a treasure to keep and remember what they were thinking in 2010, how little their feet were, and what their home was like.  What they were dreaming about, and basically just a little picture of their life one day when they were little.

I highly recommend this book to you all.

xoxo, t