Heard around the house.

When your youngest child has difficulty pronouncing family names, yet no one can keep from poking fun at him.

Nora: “Rowan, say ‘Nora.'”

Rowan: “Nor-nor.”

Nora and Frances: (giggling)

Nora: “No, Rowan. Not Nor-nor. Nor-UH. Now, say ‘Nor.'”

Rowan: “Nor.”

Nora: “Say ‘Uh'”

Rowan: “Uh.”

Nora: “Good, now put them together: Nor-UH.”

Rowan: “Nor-nor!”

Nora and Frances (cracking up): “Nooo!”

This went on like this for about five rounds, each time with Rowan saying the parts correctly, but resorting to ‘Nor-nor’ when prompted to string the syllables together, much to the girls’ frustration and delight. Finally, he countered with Nor-NUH, which we all deemed was progress.


And, while he can’t say his name correctly, he can certainly HEAR when his name is being said back to him incorrectly.

Nora: “Rowan, what’s your name?”

Rowan: “Oh-nin”

Nora (giggling): “Oh-nin?”

Rowan (also giggling): “No! ‘Ooooh-nin.'”

As if elongating the long /o/ sound somehow makes the silent /r/ more audible.

Nora (mockingly): “Oh, so your name is Oh-nin.”

Rowan: “No! ‘Ooooooh-nin.'”

Hahaha. We have a lot of fun around here. Poor guy. 🙂

The origin of the dingle pepper. 

The other night, as I was prepping for dinner, Frances offered to help, as she often does these days. I asked her to get me some onions and garlic, which she did. We then had a lengthy and very deep conversation about why garlic skin was white and onion skin brown. I was essentially making things up for which I had no answer, or like my friend Bridget claims about her own mother, faking my way through parenting.

Following that, I took a red bell pepper from the fridge. I asked Frances if she knew what kind of vegetable it was.

“A pepper!” she exclaimed proudly. (This from a kid, who when I asked her last week what her favorite vegetable was, replied—chocolate cake.)

I then asked her if she knew what kind of pepper it was. Her triumphant smile faded into a look of true puzzlement. 

“Dingle?” she replied, not nearly as certain as before.

“Huh?” I said, trying to conceal the laughter that was threatening to erupt (our girls are very sensitive to any kind of perceived mockery).

“A dingle pepper?” she repeated again, sounding slightly more confident.

It should be noted here that dingle is a word I have used, and Liam has adopted simply because of my overuse of it, to describe one of the kids doing or saying something foolish. Kind of like the way in which one would use the word doofus

As in: “That shoe is on the wrong foot, ya dingle.” 

Yes, I know. It sounds dangerously short for dingleberry. And I admit, that might have been my intention in using the moniker in the first place. However, at no time has that word ever been used to refer to a species of pepper we use to cook with weekly.

“Hmmm. I’ve never heard of that kind of pepper before,” I said, still dying inside, waiting for any adult to come through the door so I could relay the then-present conversation taking place.

“You know,” she continued, trying to substantiate her claim. “The kind we grew in the garden this summer. The dingle peppers?” she said.

What was this girl talking about?! 

“Ummm, no. We grew jalapeño peppers in the garden, but no dingle peppers that I can recall. This one is called a bell pepper,” I said.

“Oh, yeah. Now I remember,” Frances said, with a bashful little chuckle.

For the life of me, I cannot make the connection to explain her misunderstanding. And I’m usually pretty good at following those little kiddo lines of thought. Maybe bell pepper—which she couldn’t quite recall—made her think of Jingle Bells, and jingle rhymes with dingle?  That’s all I got.

In any case, it’s definitely sticking. Dingle pepper it is, from now on, folks. We just might even try to grow some in the garden this coming season.

Bedtime play.

The girls were so tickled by my retelling of the events that led to their brother charging into their bedroom the other night, that I thought it best to capture the moment here before it’s soon forgotten. 

Typically, Rowan falls asleep nursing. Calmly and dependably usually. However, the past few days he’s been like a wild animal at bedtime. It could be due to the fact he’s overtired since we’ve been on vacation time. Or maybe it’s the opposite—he’s getting older and just doesn’t require as much sleep. Or maybe I can just blame it on my usual culprit—teething. Who really knows. 

Anyway, the other night, after Rowan had performed several acrobatic feats while somehow miraculously staying latched, he’d decided he was going to be finished with the nursing business, yet remain quite wide awake. 

We played a little game of turn-taking, with me asking him to put his head down and him saying a whiny ‘no.’ Then, he’d proceed to roll around on the bed. Following that, he crawled way down under the covers until he disappeared, popped his head out, and then crawled back in again. He also spun around in circles, breakdance style, stopping with his head at the opposite end of the bed and doing a few—nicely executed I might say—rounds of downward dog. 

Across the hall, he heard Liam begin reading bedtime stories to the girls and he stilled to listen. Then, he crawled backwards down off the bed and headed for the door, not wanting to miss out on any fun they might be having without him. 

“No,” I warned firmly. He disregarded me and walked to the door leading to the connecting bathroom. He jiggled the knob this way and that, unable to maneuver his small wrist the quarter turn necessary to pop open the door.

Not one to give up quickly, he tried the other bedroom door, which led to the hallway. Jiggle jiggle. Jiggle jiggle. No luck.

So, he climbed back into bed, which is generally a real struggle and fun to watch, with the joint effort of hands gripping the sheets and feet kick-climbing up the mattress.

Then, we began again:

“Rowan, put your head down.”


“It’s time for bed. You need to close your eyes.”


Roll around. Under the covers and out again. Spin, spin. Crawl backwards down from the bed. Walk to bathroom door. Jiggle jiggle. Doesn’t budge. Walk to hallway door. Jiggle jiggle. No luck. Climb and scurry back into bed. Repeat, repeat.

After about five rounds of in and out of bed, he finally managed to jiggle jiggle one of the doors open. He took two seconds to look back at me as if asking permission. I gave him a stern look, although how I wasn’t cracking up, I don’t know. He took my lack of words as a go-ahead, and wasted no more time. He headed off in the direction of the girls’ room.

I heard them all squeal when they saw him: “Rowan?! What are you doing in here?”

He was pleased as punch to be there, and did not appreciate at all being removed a minute later. As I had had quite enough of his bedtime shenanigans, I let Liam take over. Of course, he had Rowan to bed in under ten minutes then. “It’s because you don’t walk him around,” he explained when I gave him a disdainful look.

No, I don’t. It’s not the mother’s job to walk the kid around. It’s the mother’s job to nurse if she chooses. And if that doesn’t work, well hell if I’m going to do anything extra. 

Anyway, I climbed into bed with the girls and told them all about how Rowan jiggle-jiggled the doors about a hundred times, climbing back into bed between rounds, before opening one and making his great escape. Their giggles were proof they were so genuinely delighted by the imagined actions of their little brother. I couldn’t help but laugh along with them.

Heard Around the House

Nora: (runs upstairs) “Mommy? Can we have a cookie?”

Me: “No.”

Nora: “How about some apples?”

Me: “Sure.”

Nora: (runs back downstairs, shouting as she does) “We were right, Daddy. She said no we can’t have any cookies. But yes, we can have apples.”

I love that I’m so predictable.


While out hiking on a trail in the woods.

Frances: “Mommy? Look at my walking stick. It has a tail. I’m petting it. See?”

Me: (chuckles; notices the bunch of green pine needles to which she’s referring) “Yep. I see.”

Frances: (leans in close to whisper) “For real life Mommy, it’s just a branch, not a tail.”

No one will ever say my kids lack imagination.


Getting ready for bed.

Nora: (in tearful hysterics) “I want footie pajamas, Mommy!”

Me: “Well I’m sorry, but they’re in the washing machine.”

Nora: “I’m as mad as mad can be at you! As mad as can be! And it’s not fair!”

Me: “Well, life is not fair.”

Nora: “I want footie pajamas!”

Me: “I understand you’re disappointed. And tired. What else would you like to wear instead?”

Nora: (throws herself on bed) “I’m not disappointed! And I’m not tired! And I don’t want to wear anything else!”

Me: (runs downstairs to retrieve clean, but wet pajamas from the laundry machine to add insult to injury) “Fine. Here. Wear them then.” (hands over pajamas)

Nora: (suddenly stops fitful rage, inspects garment, proceeds to put on) “Hmmmm. They’re not as bad as I thought they’d be.”

Me: (shocked she’s actually going through with it) “That’s because they’re made of fleece.”

Nora: (pauses, realizes she’s a tad bit uncomfortable) “Well, maybe they’ll be dry tomorrow and tonight I’ll just wear something else.”

Me: Finally. The voice of reason.

She ended up insisting on wearing socks, and tucking them into her pants, as well as tucking her shirt into her pants so that she could mimic as best she could the appearance and feeling of being in a one-piece.

Drama, drama, footie pajama. Bedtime now for this mama!

Must I write?

A few weeks ago, as I was walking down the hallway at the community college where I’m currently teaching two nights a week, I was distracted by some bold words I noticed hanging on the wall. The words were part of a quote that had been taped to the office door of an English professor.

I stopped to read the quote because I was compelled to answer the question I saw posted there:

“Ask yourself in the most silent hours of your night: Must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple I must, then build your life in accordance with this necessity.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke

It seemed to me that the sign had been posted there for my eyes and my eyes alone. Yes, I must write, I answered confidently. Urgently.

Yet—it’s been many, many months since I’ve enjoyed a regular writing routine. Busy life has made it so most days I feel mentally unable to give anything to my creative endeavors, yet totally capable of binge watching hours and hours of Netflix series. I can see now my priorities have been misplaced.

So, in an effort to restore some balance, this post is a baby step in building my life in accordance with the necessity that I must write.




The games I play in my head that no one knows about. Until now.

You know that urban legend about gangsters driving around at night with their headlights off, just waiting for passersby to flash them, only to follow said passersby home and later murder them? Well, my story’s related. Kind of. Minus the whole gangster/murder thing.


While it’s often one of the first things I do after starting the engine and buckling my own seatbelt, I sometimes forget to turn on my car’s headlights. I’m talking about daytime headlights here—a habit I’ve gotten into the past few years or so, deeming it safe practice to just keep the lights on all the time. (Nighttime’s another story. Then, it’s pretty obvious to me when the lights aren’t on, because I see terribly in the dark to begin with.)

Anyway. Back to daytime headlights. I sometimes forget to turn them on straightaway. I often won’t realize I’ve neglected to turn them on until I’m driving and I notice another car—one coming from the opposite direction—turn on its headlights. When I witness this action, I almost always look to my dashboard to see if my lights are on. If they are—yay! And if not, I turn them on.

This has happened enough times—I witness one car in a long string of others turn on its lights, then I turn on mine—that I figure it should work in reverse, right?

Like, say I’m driving along. I realize that my lights are off, so I switch them on. My own experience tells me that chances are good another car coming the opposite way and driving without headlights is likely to see me turn on my lights, and then do the same. Right? Right?!

Wrong! For three years—give or take a little—I have been having this competition in my head between me and other unsuspecting drivers. In fact, it has now become an official item on my bucket list, to influence another driver out there to turn on his or her headlights by initiating turning on mine, and be able to witness it all go down.

It’s not like I haven’t done all I can to increase my chances in those moments. When I realize I’ve not turned on my lights, I wait before turning them on, for a long line of unlit cars. I just figure, if there are several drivers who are able to see my lights spring into action, there are several chances for me to win my contest. One of those drivers should feel moved to do the right thing. The safe thing.

But no!


They haven’t!

They elude me to this day!

I’ve attempted to coerce drivers with my actions at least fifty or sixty times thus far. Not that I’m counting or anything. It’s just a rough estimate. And all for naught. I’m telling you. The day I switch on my lights and cause someone else coming the opposite way to do the same, will be a day of grand celebration. I’m talking huge fist pumps in the air. Maybe a loud ‘whoop whoop’ and a thumbs up out the window to show my appreciation that finally—finally—someone had the good sense to follow my lead. And maybe—just maybe—a glass of bubbly to mark the occasion when I get home.

If this all sounds a little bit desperate and silly to you, don’t worry. It’s OK. It sounds that way to me too. This is what it’s like to live inside my head. Feel free to report back about your own experiences. If you are someone whose car-headlight-influencing skills are far greater than mine, do you have any tips or tricks to share? If so, I’d appreciate hearing them!


#1: We are homeowners! Very exciting news, I know. And the reason why you’ve not heard from me for over two months. I’m still here, and will write on, but I’ve had to take some time to pack, unpack, organize and be a mom/wife! I’ve been fairly cranky about it all, but life has settled somewhat and we are very happy with our new home. Pictures to come, I hope.

#2: Nora and Frances will be starting school in just over a month. Nora will be in kindergarten! And little Franny will be starting a preschool program full time. That, I just can’t imagine, but she will do great I’m sure.

#3: Frances—while not totally potty-trained—has taken to wearing shorts and pants sans diapers AND sans undies, and peeing outside in the grass. She’s still terrified of going on any kind of toilet/training seat/potty chair, but I’m thinking of it as progress. I don’t know why she doesn’t like undies. Nor do I know why she prefers the tickling of grass on her bum to the plush comfort of the potty ring plastic. Please help.

#4: Rowan is officially a walker. I was sure he’d be walking at nine months. And though he’s known how to since April, he’s just this past month started walking more than crawling. He’s hysterical to watch. Today he tried running for the first time. He was like an out of control drunk person trapped in a sixteen-month-old’s body.

#5: In addition to teaching full time at a local elementary school, I am going to try teaching a community college class two nights a week this fall. I hope I’m not in over my head, but I wanted to try it out and see how things go. We need the extra income as we will likely be replacing not one, but TWO furnaces in the next year. No more relying on the good old landlords to get the job done.

#6: I’ve started writing a book! Well, at least I’ve got a working title, an introductory sentence (that’s right, I said sentence!), and an idea. So, um, yeah. Maybe in a decade or two I’ll have enough to work with to figure something out.

Until then, I’ll keep typing away at the Roost!