Wisdom Comes Suddenly

Postcards from the Cottage, Vol. 3

November 25th, 2014 · 2 Comments


The winds knock them over, I set them back up. The winds knock them over, I set them back up. Repeat. Again. Tell myself I must weight them down with something, and that’s what I get for buying them on clearance at Big Lots. Get lazy and decide maybe they look kind of cute on their sides. Curse the wind and the early snow. Repeat.

Ideas for weighting down outdoor decorations? Please don’t tell Greg I need to do it. He’ll attach concrete blocks to the bases and try to convince me it looks just fine.

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Sara’s Textured Guest Room

November 21st, 2014 · 5 Comments


Greg’s parents are coming for Thanksgiving, and while the Guest Room was nowhere on the “moving budget” priority list, I couldn’t help but want to fix it up a bit. I went to “the bank” (aka GREG), and inquired about the balance remaining in la budget de moving. The automated recording (which sounded a whole lot like a dude I know named GREG) said, “Zero dollars AND zero cents”. Huh. I could have sworn I started out with way more than that? So I decided to shake my penny bank (also, it looks suspiciously like someone named Greg), and I did manage to find a few dollars and a few cents. “Few” being the key words in this project.

I then went to my in-residence decorator, aka Sara. She quickly pulled out her Franck accent from “Father of the Bride” and said, “That’s NOT MUCH, but we do it anyway, and it will be FABOOLUS.”


The girls and I sat in this room, awaiting inspiration. And we sat. And we sat. Finally, I dozed off, and Kelly put a duck on my head. I woke up with a 32 year old stuffed animal on my face. Pleasant. We took stock of what we had: 2 gallons of clay beige paint, left over from the first floor, and one old duck. Huh. Not much. Sara said, “I GOT IT! Textures. This room should be nothing but layers of textures. Not entirely monochromatic, but close.” Kelly said, “BORING”, and stomped out, taking my duck with her. But I immediately knew Sara was on the right track.


The word “texture” was the inspiration we needed. I’ve noticed that while many things from the old house just doesn’t match the new house, some of it DOES fit, just not in its original order. Sara and I took our little budget and headed to Target, because they sell a lot of wood, and white, and “textured” things. We rummaged through the house and gathered what we had. We felt like we were on HGTV, but that show doesn’t lie: we did have some things to use: a mirror, a bureau, a lamp, curtains, and grasses.


Primarily, we had plenty of this fabric. This heavy, horrible, almost-ended-my-marriage fabric (kidding, but I still don’t think Greg’s forgiven me for not finishing the old curtain project). I saved for months to buy just a ridiculous amount of this extremely thick decorator fabric to make curtains for our old home. I lined them and I sewed and sewed and sewed. I didn’t even get through half the project before I nearly blew out my thumb joint, which to this day, has yet to fully heal. But I’ll be darned if this isn’t the prettiest brown textured fabric…and bonus, I think it’s bullet-proof. The curtains came with us, so 2 panels went up on a new rod.


I had plenty still on the bolt, and after brainstorming with Greg, we designed a faux  fabric headboard. Greg created a sliding system using 45 degree angles and wood, so essentially, the headboard just slides onto the wall. It doesn’t have legs. and my wild plan to glue it to the wall wasn’t so great. I’m kidding…I wouldn’t have really glued it to the wall (but pre-marriage, I TOTALLY would have glued it to the wall).


Making fabric headboards is not rocket-sewing. One large piece of plywood, 4 boards cut at corresponding angles, and a staple gun. I used 3 layers of batting, wrapped the middle with the contrasting cream fabric (also bought many years ago and never used…ugh). and then made my design on the front with my brown fabric. I had to sew the edges by hand in a few places, but luckily, I still own the “world’s largest needle”, which one needs to get through this fabric. It’s less like a needle, and more like a steak knife.

Did I re-injure my hand? Of course I did.


Was it worth it? Oh yeah! The mirror was a gift from my Grandparents when I bought my first home. The bedding we bought at Target, along with the wreath and the tree pictures. The light I scored at Lowe’s, on sale, plus I used a coupon. I ordered $7 worth of risers to lift the bed. I always, always lift beds: A) you can fit things underneath them, and B) beds just look prettier lifted.


The bedside tables also came from Target, again, on sale and I had a coupon. The trays I picked up for $6 at Home Goods, because to quote my friend Sumi, “EVERYONE needs little silver bedside trays with reindeer heads”. Even though parts of this room have a winter/Xmas theme, I’m leaving it up year ’round. Antlers are a year-rounder in cold weather climates; it’s written into our state laws.


The grasses used to sit on the mantel at the old house, and after much looking around for a table to sit them on, I found this candle holder in the back of the clearance section at Home Goods. I took out the insert and turned it into a vase, because with cats, these grassed needed to be IN something (unless I want to see them in liquid form on my living room carpet).


The lamp will eventually be replaced with a white lamp, but I have always loved the one which sits there now. Greg got a good laugh when I sat it on my cutting board shaped like Nantucket, but tradition is tradition: all rooms have one antique (my Great Aunt Mildred’s bureau), and one inspiration from Nantucket (my other home). The eggs in the bowl I bought in a dead lady’s basement many moons ago. Different from the dead lady’s basement where I bought the base of Sara’s Halloween costume. Do I LIKE estate sales? In the same way everyone needs antler heads in their guest rooms!


NOW I’m ready for Thanksgiving. I’m excited about Sara’s potential should she choose to go into interior design. Sara sees colors and combinations in a way similar to her Aunt Jenny, meaning, she just “gets it”. Last week I was dressing for an event, and knew my ensemble wasn’t working. I asked for Sara’s help, to which I received, “Well, if you were trying to go ALL 80’s, just got there, that’s for sure. Take out those hot pink earrings because the embroidered sleeves of that sweater are the focal point. Put in your brown crystal earrings and switch out the hot pink shoes for your brown and black leather wedges. But keep the hot pink Chanel crossover bag. That just works. NOW you’re ready.”

DUDE. We cannot lose Sara. We NEED her MIND! (Again, “Father of the Bride”, because those quotes work everywhere.) Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you are anticipating guests, good food, time spent near a hearth with a nice glass of wine, and days full of good times. Godspeed, my friends. Godspeed.


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By Hook Or Crook, We Have A Winner!

November 19th, 2014 · 3 Comments


I chose this picture because it was taken moments after Sara ate her very first Bark Cookie. She swears she remembers this moment, as it was one of the best days of her life. I quickly realized I’d given her a form of Kiddie-Crack, because she picked up this stack of wrapping paper and told me she was going to wrap all the presents. And decorate the tree. And call Santa. And, “HEY! Boppa! Tam I hab nover chocy tookie? I NEEB IT. PWEEESSE.” (“Hey! Momma! Can I have another chocolate cookie? I NEED IT! Please.”) Kelly was in her exersaucer, watching Sara dash from one end of the living room to the other, chanting, “Chock-ee Tookie, Chock-ee Tookie”. Ah yes, the Bark Cookies. I’ve seen them have this effect on adults as well. The recipe can be found here, and they are deceptively easy to make. I have no idea why they push people over the edge into pure joy (as I’ve never tasted them due to my chocolate allergy), but they are my most requested item. I’ve literally made thousands in my lifetime.

NOW…let’s get to the naming! While I enjoyed the many, many names which rolled in, one reminded me so much of the theme of this house and my naming conventions, that it stuck:

SO, our WINNER IS!….M3 with “Hook and Crook!!!

Hook and Crook are the ovens’ nicknames, as they are now collectively known as “The Brotherhood of Thieves”. The name dates back to 1844 when a Nantucket Native wrote a pamphlet, raging against the atrocities of slavery. Nantucket, at that time (and since its inception), was where one lived if he or she had a spirit independent of the current American standards. The name was the inspiration for a restaurant which opened the year of my birth named “The Brotherhood of Thieves”, a restaurant still open to this day. I have whiled away many happy hours there, eating chowder and cheeseburgers, drinking cider, and laughing with my friends. As Nantucket is a fishing island, Hook and Crook paired with The Brotherhood of Thieves felt right. My cars have always had Nantucket-themed names (The Grey Lady, The Chicken Box), and because I built this house to remind me of a Nantucket Cottage, this collection of names matches my decorating!

The entries were great. I long thought the ovens WOULD be named Julie and Julia, or something French (more on why closer to the holidays). I considered naming them after my favorite chefs, but Colicchio and Voltaggio are a mouthful. Certainly naming them after my favorite restaurants would be fun too, but again, “Black Eye Susans” and “The Cru Cafe” are too long. Meshach and Shadrach were so great, and ironic, and Biblical. And well…Brian? I know you wanted it most. Don’t worry…I won’t forget Team Barth this holiday season. Old people names match my cats, and Smoky and the Bandit was so cute. I loved ALL of the ideas! For whatever reason, the girls voted for John Henry! They are such good Americans. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone for having fun with me this week.

By Hook & Crook, we’ll have another contest soon, I’m sure! And M3, I’ll be in touch! I’d tell you to gift these to the twins’ teachers, but I know you love chocolate. I’m so happy a famous chocoholic is going to get a box of Bark Cookies this Christmas! It’s officially Holiday Baking Season! GO! GO! GO!




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Postcards from the Cottage, Vol. 2

November 16th, 2014 · No Comments


The above color palette (Benjamin Moore, 2014 Palette) is the launching point for the house. Only Kelly is allowed to deviate from these colors. It goes back to the pillow, because once I find a Muse, I’m Muse-Loyal (often to my detriment).

So far, everything we’ve done has followed different groupings of these colors. There are plenty here! I never thought I’d be the kind of person to fall in love with neutral paint, but once you go neutral, you don’t go back. It’s just too versatile. Get it on the walls, and you can literally go anywhere with the room. If one idea falls apart, you aren’t stuck making something work that should be tossed. I know my Decorator Sister thinks I’m never listening, but after 42 years in her presence, I’m not just paying attention these days: I’m taking careful notes.

SOMEDAY…ugh…someday…we’ll start the “reupholstering” project. It’s well above my skill set, so I’ll have to save my pennies to outsource the couches and chairs. The paint was chosen to go with the fabrics, which I love so much! I can’t wait to pull the first floor together, but alas…those darned pennies.


Living Room:



Couch and Chair


Rocking Chair

“Mommy’s Room” (Sitting Room where my girlfriends and I shall forever drink wine/coffee/tea. I plan on velvet-roping out the children.)


Blackberry Velvet for the fronts of the Queen Anne Chairs


Backs of the Queen Anne Chairs


High-back loveseat

I hope you like the pieces and parts of what will eventually be the home. If your computer colors are as wonky as mine, the colors can best be described as: clay-beige (a type of grey-beige), blackberry (kind of a rich, brown-grey-purple, but not plum, because it make my wood floors too pink), creams, with touches of apple green. I’m in no hurry, really. Meeting this house was like meeting my husband. I felt as if I’d known this home forever from the first moment I walked in the doors. The “undone” of it just doesn’t eat at me, which is such a refreshingly old and familiar feeling. My first home and our home in Florida had that sensation. Our last home? Not so much. God knows I tried, but in the end, I’ve loved this home more in 3 weeks than I loved our last home in the 9 years we were there. It’s unfair; that home treated us like kings and queens. But HERE is where I’m meant to be.

Don’t forget to enter my Oven-Naming Contest! Bidders on last year’s chocolate in the school auction are throwing in names, so I promise you’ll like my Bark Cookies! Contest ends Wednesday at Noon. And stay tuned. I’m a breath away from finishing the Guest Room, which DOES involve my upholstery work. It was Sara’s idea to use some leftover clay-being paint, and use “textures” as our theme. Sara’s inherited her Aunt’s skill set. Thank God, because I sure didn’t!. We’re having TONS of fun!

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The Oven-Naming Contest

November 12th, 2014 · 24 Comments


Kitchen By Day

I should admit I do have ONE room done, and to no one’s surprise, it is the kitchen. It was tough to complete. I had to hire a painter. ANNNDDDD, we’re DONE. Much to my decorator family’s dismay, I don’t accessorize or otherwise “stage” my kitchens. I keep them plain, aka “wipe-able”. I am an unholy mess in a kitchen. Flunked mis en place…twice.


The wall color is rather hard to describe, other than it’s perfect, and was the inspiration for the entire first floor. The cabinets are a bit of a creamy, with a hint of butterscotch, or maybe maple. The fabric throughout the first floor will be a clay-beige (the primary paint color), deep purples, creams, with an occasional splash of apple green. My favorite color is purple, but only my decorator sister is wise enough to use it in a home without it looking like a stripper lounge. Honesty is my policy, and let’s face it…you say purple, and people think bright crayola crayon velvet. When we told Greg we were painting the kitchen purple? That was a fun day. The color above is Sherwin-Williams’ “Chinchilla”. It’s not purple, it’s not brown, it’s not grey. It’s all 3. And as luck would have it, there are flecks of this color in the granite.


Finding a beige that would not turn yellow on us, and definitely not turn green, and while we’re at it, not be a light-sucker, was a neat trick. I think we looked at hundreds of beige samples. Jenny finally found it in Benjamin Moore’s neutral collection: Clay-Beige. You can almost see it off to the right, as it’s covering the rest of the first floor.


Kitchen By Night

The most important part of this kitchen is not the colors, the counter tops, or the paint. The key to this kitchen is that it WORKS. Slam-dunk, this kitchen rocks the cooking party. It’s the most ergonomic space I have ever had. Sometimes, I turn on my Pandora Cure Radio Station, and I dance to The Smiths until I can’t dance no mo’. The range is so easy to clean, which is a HUGE bonus for those of us who love griddles and fried green tomatoes. I never have to average oven temperatures and adjust cooking times, and while I balked at getting an electric “convection-like” set of ovens, I can report that we’ve made fast friends. My ovens are so sweet, I’m going to name them.

Hey! Let’s do that. Let’s name the ovens! Best name gets the first batch of Bark Cookies this holiday season! I’ll warn you: I’m looking for creative. Many of you will recall my sewing machine is named Peter Pan (because I am always sewing shadows back onto precocious little girls). If you haven’t already had my bark cookies, I can tell you I haven’t had them either. I’m allergic to chocolate. HOWEVER, every batch is taste-tested by chocolate experts (who are always losing their shadows!). They sold for hundreds of dollars in last year’s school auction, so I have solid data that they are delicious.

“Name Lori’s First Double-Ovens Contest” ends next Wednesday at high noon! Cookies will be delivered between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Enter as many times as you wish. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Postcards From The Cottage, Vol. 1

November 11th, 2014 · Comments Off


For years, I’ve referred to our home as “here at the ranch”. We didn’t actually live on a ranch, or even a farm. And in architectural terms, I’m fairly certain a 2-story home with a partial basement is in no way…a ranch. But we did live in a rural corner of the city, and we were surrounded by fields and farms. Now? We’re in a cottage. Bonafide pitched-roof, stone exterior with clapboard shingles COTTAGE. My 2 favorite homes are Cottages and Colonials, and now I live in a Cottage Exterior with a Colonial interior. I’m almost in heaven (full-on heaven involves this house being situated just off of Surfside beach in Nantucket).

I keep receiving requests for pictures, and WOW, do I ever want to share pictures! But of what? The furniture matches nothing. So much so, we’ve put most of it in the basement, which now looks like a used furniture store. Everything above the basement is slated to be sold or completely refinished, so some rooms are just empty. Others are very hodge-podge. VERY. While the unpacking has gone well, the decorating is going to take some sweet time. In the meantime, let’s do postcards. Small shots of life in this house I’ve loved since it was only a dream on paper. Before the first box was opened, I was HOME, and even in its state of complete mismatch, I love it down to the studs.

I’ll do larger posts of furniture refinishing and the doing of each and every room. I’m starting one this week (guest room goes first, because it’s easy, and hard to screw up). Please come along with me. Little posts, bigger posts, medium posts, we’re sure to have a lot of laughs as I work my way through this now-empty house. Trust me, as soon as I start stripping antiques, we’re going to pee our pants with laughter. Why? Because me against an entire dining room of “stuff”? That can’t possibly happen without some drama. I might even do video. My sister thinks I’m funnier in person. I’m just glad after 42 years of putting up with me, she still finds me humorous. I can be a handful. No need to feign surprise. I live with me EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

Let’s get started! I’ve got my blue painter’s tape in hand!



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The Human Peacock (Halloween 2014)

November 9th, 2014 · 1 Comment


Every year, I do a recap of Sara’s wild Halloween requests. Let me state right up front, this has nothing to do with favoritism. Kelly, as you well know, despises Halloween and all its accoutrements. Even more than wanting nothing to do with Halloween, she wants even LESS to do with Momma’s handmade costumes. If she MUST participate in the fringes of this hellfire holiday, she will be doing it high, store-bought style. I don’t mind even one little bit, because the years they both want handmade? I lose a full month. My entire life becomes a circus of thread, notions, and ripped up bridesmaid dresses. And you thought you’d never wear them again!


Sara was very specific that she did not want to be “just a peacock”. She wanted to be a “human peacock”. I’m sure you recall our little gal asking last year “NOT to be an particular character from the movie ‘Epic’, but rather, the way that movie made her feel“. I told under under NO circumstances would I be creating anything during a move. Halloween fell exactly one week after the move and NO WAY, NO HOW. Find it, buy it, but I’m not making it. I even ordered the mask you see above to prove my point.


So when my friend found the vintage semiformal dress in a dead woman’s basement during an estate sale, turned around and said, “Lori! Look! It’s a human peacock!” Next came threads, notions, ripped up dresses, hot glue guns…you know the drill. I took in the dress (quickly and horridly, because my sewing machine table is broken, the darned thing almost fit her, and I’m not winning any 4H ribbons at my age). I found the blue “tail” fabric as a remnant, along with the green tulle (cleverly used to disguise how horribly I tacked the skirt onto the dress). Smoke and mirrors my friends; theater costuming is all about smoke and mirrors.


She didn’t have to put a black shirt under it, but it was a little itchy, and it snowed on Halloween. Snowed. I can’t even think about it. Everyone wore layers that day. I ordered the peacock feathers in a large lot of 100 and simply hot glued them onto the skirt. I was shocked at how well that went. I was fully prepared for Dante’s 7th layer of hell to descend upon me as I heated up the gun. At any rate, the entire thing start to finish probably took about 4 hours, and cost me about $40. She walked that parade like she owned the world, and it was wonderful to see her so happy in her creation. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Sara’s creative ideas.


I’m equally a sucker for Kelly’s grand visions and hoop skirts. This girl knows how to pull off the Queen look. I had to hold her hand so tightly through the entire parade (she walked it!), so I couldn’t get any shots of her! When I tried, her friends all crowded in for hugs, so I have a lot of just her face, surrounded by blurry love. Beyond adorable. I love this picture, because walking in front of her are 2 of her dearest friends, and because “Harry” and “Vanellope” were right beside her, she braved the day.


I was lucky enough to get her to pose for pictures the day she chose the dress. She changed her title about 10x, and was everything from “The Queen of Stuffed Animals” to “The Snow Queen”, to finally, “The Queen of Everything”. Sounds about right. Overall, Kelly’s anxiety response to Halloween this year was at least 25% improved over prior years. As her belief in fantasy begins to fade, so does her fear of this dark holiday.


But luckily her belief in the magical-mystical-world is still present. She wanted me to let you know that not only did the Unicorns SURVIVE the dreaded aidrocardinoids plague, but Unicorn 2nd from Left MAGICALLY reappeared! He went missing many, many months before the move. Where did he go? It’s hard to say. I’ve let Kelly imagine how we could have shown up 3 addresses later. Maybe someday, when she’s grown, I’ll tell of her how 2nd Unicorn From the Left got tucked into a fitted sheet during laundry, and that sheet was folded and put away on a high shelf, not hitting the rotation again until long after we’d left our home. Maybe Momma threw the sheet in the wash to freshen it up, and discovered this little guy, tucked tightly into a corner. For now, let’s imagine he was off fighting Chimera or Medusa, and after many illustrious victories, has returned home to his herd.

I hope your Halloweens were grand, and much, much warmer than ours. We spent it with lovely friends, eating delicious soups, and allowing the Dads to make the freezing neighborhood rounds. So I guess, I can’t complain! Ours was warm in spirit! Until next year…oh heavens…what will they think of in 2015?!


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For Those Just Joining The Club

November 7th, 2014 · 4 Comments


It’s fall, so many of you waited for my post about apple picking, while others waited patiently for me to complain about scary, un-kid-friendly Halloween decorations. I hope I did not disappoint. I know my over-wrought autumn mantel is tradition, and this year, it’s nothing more than a Rubbermaid in the corner of the basement. We shall call it “the naked autumn”, and we shall embrace its minimalist flavor. Yuck…that sounded overtly sexual, and not in a good way. Moving on…

My mantel and apple pies are just pieces of the fall tradition. I also think about those of you facing the new school year with a “label” rising up within your family. ADHD. Learning Differences. Dyslexia. Anxiety Disorder. “On the spectrum”. Language Processing Disorder. Sensory Processing Disorder. I could go on, but there’s no need. You have the insurance forms to remind you. My calendar books up this time each year with Moms who have questions and fears (deep, deep fears…I know them well); the start of school is always “busy season” for kids with learning challenges.

I think about you, and all you are going through. I want to tell you it’s going to be OK, and you’ll get through it. Mostly, I want you to know you are NOT ALONE. I write a post similar to this one every fall, but it bears repeating:


When did you first suspect? When did you NOT suspect? You’ve always known, even before the first word was uttered. There was a quiet nudging in your gut, suggesting if there were a center space in the big game of parenting, you weren’t on it. Everybody else was passing go and collecting $200, and you were like, “Wait? Are we playing Monopoly? Because I think my kid is playing Risk. Or Battleships. Maybe Checkers? I’m not sure.”


Milestones weren’t blips. They were brick walls. Moods were more intense. Tears were harder to soothe. Sleep was the most elusive gift on the planet. Yep, you knew it, but who were you to tell? Your family? Nothing like being called a Type A overanxious parent just one more time, as if your parenting self-esteem wasn’t taking a daily nosedive by the first birthday party. Your child is FINE, but YOU. YOU are DOING IT WRONG.


Nonetheless, sitting beside the quiet whispers were blessings. There is a creativity within her, unlike any you’ve ever seen. A knack for creating games out of thin air. An inquisitive nature far deeper than those of her peers. Bright children are precocious. Everyone knows this. It will iron itself out over time. Toddlers are hard. Everyone knows this. Maybe there is no mystery to be solved, other than the confused yearnings of a worn-out Momma. Of course, you always knew that wasn’t true, but the false-bottomed affirmations occasionally shut down the whispers.


By the time the preschool applications started rolling in, the whispers got much louder, if just to match the decibels of your child when she got overstimulated. Please don’t give her too much candy! She can’t handle the noise! No big crowds! She can’t handle new smells! She is happier at home…so that’s where you stayed, and “home” became more of a “self-sustaining compound”. But at least there was a little more peace there, and no judging eyes of strangers who wondered why your child just wouldn’t join in, or sit still, or stop crying…


You waffled back and forth between “everything’s fine”, and “everything’s on fire” so many times, you’ve forgotten where the doubts even started. School will be the answer. Once school begins…we’ll see what this bright little squirt can do. She’ll show them. She’ll blossom for sure.


And she did! And she didn’t. She’s bright, yes, but other things just didn’t click. Low energy? Low maturity? What is it? If she’s so bright, why can’t she keep up in class? How can one person both ace and fail the same subject within a week? Why does she have her spelling words down cold one day, and then completely forget them the next? The whispers just turned into shouts. The calls started coming. You know what I mean by “the calls”….


After her teachers confirmed your worries, the fears started splashing about, getting on everything and everyone. Top of the list are always the medications, followed closely by cost, followed by the worst pain any parent feels: the fear that this child simply won’t “be OK”. Will she go to college? Will she live in your basement at 30, working odd jobs, and living on a diet of reality TV and Mountain Dew? Will she be the kid who wrecks the car the first week she has a license? Will she be able to make wise choices? I could go on…but you don’t need my list. It matches yours. Maybe your daughter and my daughter can share a basement. Or get the Nobel Prize. It feels like it’s going to be one or the other, but at this point, it’s hard to say.


And what of her happiness and self-confidence? How on earth could anyone teach a child to love a list of challenges this long? And while we’re talking about happiness, what is happening to our family, or more directly, the dreams we had for how we thought this family would look? We’re supposed to be wearing matching khaki outfits with smart little boots in a field somewhere, taking a Christmas picture and catching hay fever! Why am I in this Child Psychologist’s office? THIS IS AWFUL! I WANT TO BE A CHRISTMAS CARD! I PLANNED TO BE A CHRISTMAS CARD!


There is mourning, at least for most. Mourning is OK. Mourning is healthy. It allows you to walk through the forest of what isn’t, and step out into the sunshine of what can be. It’s OK to admit you had plans, however misguided. I know LOTS of people who had plans. Leukemia had other plans, or pancreatic cancer did. Or there were the plans that were completely rewritten after the brain cancer diagnosis. There is nothing life hates more than a well-laid plan. Your plans weren’t any more or less sacred than the family’s next door. It just feels that way, because they get to laugh on the edge of the soccer field and go out for ice cream, and your kid is hiding under the bleachers and begging to go home. But you can’t go home, because you’re already late for Occupational Therapy Appointment #114.

Don’t go to the land of comparison, I beg you. No one gets off this earth unscathed. Take your journey as it’s presented to you. It was chosen for you for a reason, even when other journeys are cleverly disguised as perfectly layered scarves and this year’s latest boots. Get off your friends’ paths and back on your own…there is work to be done…


The hardest part is always the labeling, or the diagnosing, or the unpeeling of the rose…however you wish to think of it. The shouts are now reverberating through your entire being, as you accept that thing you knew on Day #1: something is amiss. SOMETHING will need to be addressed. This “something” comes with a its own suitcase of fears, the kind that shake you right down to your soul. But you’ll have to face them head on. There is simply no other way. Wishing it away is not a plan. Ignoring the shouts of your conscious is not a plan. Being influenced by the latest fad in treatment is not a plan. There. I’ve said it. I’m amazed by people who won’t try conventional treatments because they don’t want their child to be a “guinea pig”, and then rub oils on their kid’s head. Hey, rub the oils I say, but trying things being sold out of your girlfriend’s garage is the definition of guinea pig. I’ve done it, and I’ll do it again, but I won’t turn down sound science in the same breath.


So you gotta face the diagnosis list. Just do it. Get it over with. Schedule the appointments, fill out the scales, try the medications (or whatever it is you decide to try first…diet, therapy, glasses…whatever…it’s your story to write). Hire the tutor. Repeat the grade. Get flexible on clothing choices. Ask for the accommodations. Wade through side effects and dosage changes. You gotta do it, because it get’s so much easier from here. The sun can’t find you if you stay stuck under the clouds. When you get tired, look over at your child. See that stubborn and obstinate nature? Hate those things less, because she’ll need those attributes.


If you dare to face “the something”, will “the label” go away? Nope. Will it become a distant memory? Nope. Will you have regrets? Yep. Will you screw some stuff up? Yep. Will you have big highs? Yep. Will you have real lows? Yep. Will she start to find her own way? Yep. Will she always need a little extra help? Probably. Will the bone-chilling fears go away? Mostly, with time and a few wins under your belt. Each time the lows come, you’ll have a landscape to survey, and you’ll start to gain confidence in your story.


How would I know?! The above list of questions is true for every parent through history, for all children, healthy or otherwise! I don’t know the end of the story! If I knew the end of the story, I promise you friends….I WOULD TELL YOU. We’re close like that!


But I do know you can’t get anywhere by standing still. I know the road is hard, but it was always hard. I know it wasn’t what we planned. I know there is a part of you which will always wonder what caused it. I know the future will always be that THING…HANGING OUT THERE….taunting us, daring us to fail at parenting. To fail a sick child? Oh yeah, I’m poking right at my soft spot now!



Does it sound awful? It’s not. It’s completely wonderful. My Sara is blossoming right in front of me. She has her own plans, and they have absolutely nothing to do with any of her challenges. In fact, to meet her, you’d never guess they even existed. After getting comfortable with the twist in my storyline, I folded up those old dreams and packed them away, as I have no use for them any longer. I’m now living in a splendidly authentic love story. Slap that label on us while you’re at it.

If this post speaks to you, welcome to the club. The beginning is hard, I know. But there are helpers and guideposts everywhere. Plus, there is your miraculous child, gifted to you by God, who has faith you’ll get it right. No pressure. Just God, trusting you won’t screw up his gorgeous creation. Kidding! No…I’m not. But no need to worry. You’re incredible! Having doubts? Here. I’ll make you a t-shirt. Strike that. I’ll pour you some wine. Strike that…whiskey. We might need whiskey. In any case, we have each other, and that will be enough.

Godspeed, my friends. As always, Godspeed.

Similar Posts Regarding Diagnosing and Decision-Making With Exceptional Children:

The Gift Of A Year

The Gift Of A Year, Continued (where I tell myself after so much action to sit still for a change!)

The Truth

The Unfinish Line

Why Strattera?






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We Have A Movie Winner!

November 3rd, 2014 · Comments Off


Congratulations Jennie Henry! You are the winner of Wisdom Comes Suddenly Movie Giveaway! I’ll contact you via email to send you your prize. Jennie’s entry was for Sandra Bullock in either “The Blind Side” or “The Proposal”. Apparently, the Random Number Generator agreed with her.

I had a great time reading your entries. I certainly have some new movies to watch (cannot wait!). “Lars and the Real Girl”, “The Town”…sounds like good stuff. I believe Ashley M. and I are movie-watching twins. She wrote “Reality Bites”. No more needs to be said. Except, “N! NEWSTAND! He used to work at a NEWSTAND! That’s amazing.”

The good energy generated this past week fueled me through Halloween and a Family Reunion. Today, I finally unpacked our bedroom. Being told to “clean my room” felt teenage-esque and horrible, but it sure was nice to find my shoes. Next, I plan on tackling the room which will eventually become the family office/project space/sewing room. Right now it’s known as “The Bonus Room”, but there’s nothing bonus-y about it. It looks like our entire life threw up inside of a bus. It’s a daily workout trying to reach my computer desk, but as it’s the only clean horizontal surface in the house, it’s a pleasant place to sit.

So many of you have been so nice as to write or call and ask how it’s going at the new house. It’s AMAZING. So gorgeous, even better than we imagined. We’re in love with it…all of us. Even the cats. Greg has turned into some kind of engine, running home to work on projects left and right. I’m slower in my approach. I like to introduce myself as I go (thank you Diane Lane from “Under The Tuscan Sun”), and I unpack very carefully. When I finish a space, it’s done. The girls have settled in as if the 6 months of completely freaking out never happened. Good for them!

With a couple of cold and rainy days off of school this week, we have only one big plan: we’re going to curl up on the couch and watch movies. Thanks again for participating in my giveaway! I appreciate all of the comments and links!

*Per Blogger-Land-Law, I must disclose who supported or gave products to this giveaway. The answer is: no one. I’ve had enough Large Corporate Bureaucracy Bulls&*^ to last for years, so I wasn’t in the mood to hit up any big companies to trade advertising. This blog rides alone this week folks. This blog rides alone.*

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A Movie Giveaway!

October 29th, 2014 · 32 Comments

The choosing of a wedding planner in “Father of the Bride”


Let’s have some FUN! I’m ready to laugh a little. Plus, if I keep my eyes directed at the screen, I can pretend the mess behind me doesn’t exist. I’ve seen hoarders will cleaner office spaces. So let’s walk away from the boxes and enjoy ourselves!

The other day, I started thinking about my top favorite performances in film (great way to pass they time while hanging up every piece of clothing we own). I could change my list every time I reconsider it, but nonetheless, I love thinking about actors in movies. I brought this topic up with the girls over a long lunch at Steak n’ Shake, and after scribbling our thoughts on a paper place mat, I decided a giveaway would be a GREAT way to kick off the first week in the new house. The girls have a couple days off of school soon, and I’m going to introduce them to “Father of the Bride” (clip above). Martin Short’s performance as Franck Eggelhoffer is on my Top 10 List for Favorite Performances.

I want to hear about your “favorite performances”, not necessarily your “favorite movies”. They often go hand-in-hand, but not always. Ensemble performances don’t count; it has to be a singular, stand-out performance, in which the actor really stretched his/her talents. It would be easy to make up a list of amazing performances (i.e. Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”), but I made a list of performances I could watch OVER and OVER and OVER again. Performances that spoke to me (all art is in the eye of the beholder…no judgements!), so while you CAN love Citizen Kane and be my friend, it is not REQUIRED. There are no lines in the sands of coolness on this blog (to quote Ben Stiller from “Reality Bites”).

John Cusack discovering his childhood home has turned into a convenience store.

My List Is As Follows (and changes every time I think about it):

(1) Jared Leto as Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club” (Dark movie, unbelievably nuanced performance.)

(2) George Clooney as Matt King in “The Descendants” (If you would have told me 3 years ago I would like George Clooney in anything outside of “Ocean’s Eleven”, I would have laughed all over your morning coffee.)

(3) Jon Cryer as Ducky Dale in “Pretty in Pink”. (Because the 80’s matter deeply to me…along with Ducky.)

(4) John Goodman as Walter Sobchak in “The Big Lebowski”

(5) Martin Short as Franck Eggelhoffer in “Father of the Bride”

(6) John Cusack as Martin Blank in “Grosse Pointe Blank” (Also quite possibly my all-time favorite movie, and most certainly, my favorite soundtrack.)

(7) Eddie Murphy as Donkey in “Shrek”

(8) Olympia Dukakis in both “Steel Magnolias” and “Moonstruck”

(9) Rosie O’Donnell as Gina Barrisano in “Beautiful Girls”

(10) Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson in “The Help”

One of my favorite movie monologues: Rosie O’Donnell in “Beautiful Girls”


 The Girls List:

(1) Eddie Murphy as Mushu in “Mulan”

(2) Jerry Seinfeld as Barry B. Benson in “The Bee Movie”

(3) Joshua Gad as Olaf in “Frozen” (Kelly knew his real name, which I found interesting.)

(4) Lindsey Lohan as both Hallie Parker and Annie James in “The Parent Trap” (So sad…she had such promise.)

(5) Mara Wilson as Matilda in “Matilda”

(6) Jennifer Lopez as Mary Fiore in “The Wedding Planner”

(7) Robin Williams as The Genie in “Aladdin”

(8) Kristen Wiig as Lucy in “Despicable Me 2″ (They were blown away when I told them she also voiced Miss Hattie in Part I.)

(9) Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook in “Hook”

(10) Tom McGrath as Skipper in the “Madagascar” series (the head penguin)

Eddie Murphy as Mushu, the world’s funniest dragon.

 Greg’s List (very boy indeed):

(1) Patrick Swayze as Dalton in “Road House”

(2) Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp in “Tombstone” (One of the best scripts ever written…I agree with Greg on this one.)

(3) Raul Julia as Gomez Addams in ‘The Addams Family”

(4) Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills in “Taken” (Fairly certain your testicles are “taken” if you’re a dude and don’t love this movie.)

(5) Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepherd in “The American President”

(6) Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln in “Lincoln”

(7) Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in “Fight Club” (Again, manhood can be removed for guys not worshiping this film.)

(8) Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski in “Gran Turino”

(9) Bill Murray as Steve Zissou in Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”

(10) Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in “Zoolander”

Oh Ben Stiller…we just love you.

So here are the oh-so-complicated rules: leave a comment ON THE BLOG (FB comments are fun, but won’t enter you into the contest) and tell me your favorite performances in film. Every comment is an entry, so leave as many as you like (if you want to make a list, enter them as separate comments and increase your chance of winning). It’s still an entry if your list of faves match any of ours printed above. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator at 8 pm on Sunday, November 2nd, EST. The winner will be able to choose between a gift card to their favorite theater, a fandango gift card, or an Amazon Gift Card to buy a movie online, value $20.

I can’t wait to see your lists!! I just love movies. Way more than boxes. Way, way, WAY more than boxes….

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