Wisdom Comes Suddenly

Why I Won’t Wear My Cancer Ribbon

June 19th, 2014 · 2 Comments



My latest piece for Indy’s Child was written on the eve of a 2nd opinion on my skin cancer treatment. I wish darkness weren’t so inspiring, but the truth of the matter is, it’s our challenges that mold us. Challenges bring the truth into the light. I’m glad I listened to my gut that said, “This isn’t healing correctly. This whole line of immunotherapy isn’t going well. I can’t do this again.” Because my gut was right. My immune system DOES need some help calming down. My skin cancer IS primarily gone. What’s left MIGHT need treatment in the future, but immunotherapy is NOT a good option for me. With great pomp and circumstance I shall be tossing it into the trash tonight.

It’s a new day readers. I’m on a new path now. And I am indeed becoming more than a diagnosis. I’m turning back into a human. A human who should wear sunscreen, just like everyone else.

You can read my post here: Why I Won’t Wear My Cancer Ribbon, which are my thoughts on setting boundaries on my healthcare.

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The Poop Pile & The Shit Box

June 17th, 2014 · 4 Comments


So how’s it going at the apartment?! I get asked this question a lot from friends and family. They usually walk away from the conversation by dragging me to the closest wine shop, where they uncork a nice Chianti and just start pouring it down my throat. NUMB YOURSELF WOMAN!! YOU HAVE 3 MONTHS TO GO!

The picture above is the average morning scene from my back porch. That’s George. We’re friends now. He’s cool. Unfortunately, I’ve found my back doors don’t have a mute button, and the massive equipment that ripped down our (once pleasant and shady) tree line is not quiet. The wood chipper? Also…not on the quiet side. I’m not one to calculate decibels, but I will say it’s purposeless to turn on the Today Show. That’s actually a good thing, because as you know, I cannot both watch the Today Show and make bacon at the same time. Unless I want to lose all power in the first 45 seconds of sizzlin’.

I was thinking…”I have GOT to make this better!” So the girls and I planted a ton of flowers on the back porch, put up a huge shade umbrella, and even stained the fence. It was black and green, and had that “abandoned building”-esque appearance. I figured a slap of stain might be prettier when gazing out of my windows. We enjoyed it one full night before I heard through the grapevine my fence is also coming down. I might stage a sit-in, which feels a bit over-the-top for a fence barely standing, that I don’t even own. Still…one must have principles.


The morning we decided to turn the porch into a piazza. Clearly, this is our before picture. At least I hope it’s clear!

Last week I started calling the apartment, “The Shit Box”. I’d had it. Every attempt at making this place a cozy and quaint memory of “the summer we walked to ice cream” has turned into a nightmare. Literally. The spiders and bugs evicted from our tree line had to go somewhere. Apparently our little abode seemed the most welcoming, because if you thought those hornets were wild, you should have seen my expression the morning I “evicted” 5 DIFFERENT species of spiders (none were Bob, whom has oddly disappeared, making me fear a larger Bob has eaten him). The Maintenance Guy showed up on my porch about 10 minutes later, with the spider guy in tow…no call from me. He’s now reading my mind. I have a telepathic maintenance man named Brian, so I’ve got that going for me.

They fix everything here so quickly, I’m wondering if the Maintenance Department was once a team of CIA Cleaners. Out of deference for their (possible) service to our country, I started feeling guilty about my Shit Box nickname. After a few nights of restless sleep, dreaming spiders were biting my feet (that might have actually happened, but my feet are covered in fence stain, so it’s hard to tell), I thought our apartment might be better named, “The Bug Box”. More kid-sy. More cute-sy. It’s all in the attitude, right? I said “Bug Box” out loud as I walked to the pantry to grab some salt today and then I had an immediate, “WHAT IS THAT FEELING UNDERNEATH MY FEET?!!!” sensation. One could have assumed a wet feeling might be cat puke. It’s been that kind of a summer. But it was just water. Whew. Just Water. Wait….HOLD THE PHONES…there is WATER EVERYWHERE. On second thought, “SARA!! DO NOT HOLD THE PHONES! GRAB THE PHONE! GIVE ME THE PHONE!!!” Water was suddenly leaking up through every floorboard and around baseboards…and SQUISH. I’m no flooring expert, but I’m pretty sure they should never squish.

Brian came over so fast in his golf cart I’m now nearly certain he has a past in law enforcement (or law evading? It’s just too hard to say…mad skills, this dude). Everything was pulled out of everywhere while he investigated in and around under. And finally, in a fit of desperation, the entire vanity in the half-bath was pulled out of the wall. The girls and I had to leave for ice skating lessons, and he promised to leave a note as to what was happening, and what I’d need to do when I got home. I found a small scribble of paper on my table 2 hours later that read, “condensation, wet caulk”. The floor is not entirely dry, but the vanity looks as if no one even touched it. AMAZING. I’m not sure what to do with instructions reading “condensation”, but if this floor peels up in the night, I’m going to time Brian on his repair. I have theories to confirm, you’all.


This is our Piazza After Picture. You can see my distress about taking it down. KIDDING! This is a picture I took on the veranda at Ruth Lilly’s Estate, Twin Oaks.

“I want to go to there.” -Liz Lemen

I spoke too soon on the “just water” blessing. I ran upstairs to grab a sweater and change into a clean tshirt I recalled tossing near my closet last night. Why am I re-wearing clothes I threw on the floor? Because screw it you guys. SCREW IT. I threw on a tshirt, and in one swift motion (and whiff), I realized a cat had pooped on both my tshirt and sweater. I was WEARING CAT POOP and staring at piles of cat poop on my sweater, lying innocently on the floor. Is Sydney protesting my inability to hang up my clothes? Is Sydney protesting living in a Bug Box?

No time to think about this now…ice skating lessons…first floor covered in water…wood chipper screaming in my ears. FOCUS LORI! I changed clothes and ran for the door (with a crying child who was wearing a coat, a winter hat, and gloves on a 97 degree day…Kelly/Ice-Skating/Not Yet A Match Made In Heaven), but not before Special Agent Brian caught me for one, last, horrible conversation: “Lori, this flyer fell out of your door. Next week we’re upgrading the cable lines in your apartment. We need access to every room and we need to put some holes in the wall. We’ll repair them! It will take up to 5 days, and here is a blue print of every wall we need to you take furniture off of. Clean everything out of your washer and dryer closet too. And you’ll need to do something with your pets.”

OOOOOOHHHHHH………MYYYYYYYYYYYY…….GODDDDDDD. OHMAGAWD. OHSWEETJESUS. YOU.HAVE.GOT.TO.BE.JOKING. Tell them to wear earplugs! Tell those cable guys to bring bug spray! Tell them they’ll now need creek-stompin’ boots just to safely get across my floors! Sunscreen is advisable now that the shade is gone! Dress for summer because the AC only cools the first floor! DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT try to check the TV and computer while the microwave and/or stove are running. If you see my spider Bob, ask him where the HELL HAS HE BEEN? And if you’re bothered by that odd smell emanating from the furnace closet, YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE!

I’m starting to think this apartment does not need an International Spy Repairman. It needs a Priest and an exorcism. It does NOT need a Cable Guy unless he is in need of 2 pissed off cats, in which case, we may have a match made in heaven. And if anyone wants to know why I decorated a back porch I don’t own, which is sitting directly on a construction site…I WAS TRYING TO BE THINK POSITIVELY!!!

How are things going at the apartment, you ask? Well, let me answer a question, with a question, if I may be so bold. Do you have any Chianti?




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June 16th, 2014 · 1 Comment


Next copy



Indianapolis is a volunteer’s town, this much I’ve learned. It seems there is no end to reading, learning, interacting with, and experiencing philanthropic endeavors in our city. I do so love my town. I’ve learned local charities are great at swapping great ideas, but every once in a while, you run into something so new…so novel…it stops you in your tracks.

And so it was when my friend Lily Pai (of Lily Pai Designs) talked to me about a new initiative at the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana. They are a CICF Fund (Central Indiana Community Fund ), which is known for transformative philanthropy. Much like their parent organization, not only do they serve fish, but they also teach people to fish, teach them how to find water, how to build a pole and a boat, and then how to turn fishing into a sustainable business thereby changing the trajectory of a community. But what makes the Women’s Fund so intriguing is their focus on not just teaching people to fish, but in teaching others how to become better fishing instructors.

They don’t just create philanthropy…they create philanthropists. And that could be anyone. I think most people have the heart to serve, but find it’s hard to know where to start, or how to make their contribution matter. It never crossed my mind to seek out an education on volunteerism. Education’s usefulness knows no end, does it?

But the Women’s Fund didn’t stop there. They thought BIGGER. I had to read it a few times just to get my head around it. What is bigger than changing EVERYONE? The Women’s Fund of Central Indiana is kicking off a 10 year initiative known as “NEXT”. What’s BIGGER is NEXT. They identified Indianapolis has a service gap for women aged 18-24; women transitioning out of youth programs, foster care, high school, etc. To quote from their website, “NEXT is a 10-year initiative to attract talented, visionary entrepreneurs who can develop solutions to help emerging adult women move toward economic stability. With your support, these innovators will create viable solutions, and Women’s Fund will invest in their transformative ideas.”

If it has been your dream to start an organization which will provide innovative services to women in this late adolescent through early adulthood age bracket, transitioning them into a lifetime of economic stability, but you weren’t sure where to start with funding…you should start HERE. The Women’s Fund of Central Indiana is taking Statements of Intent through September, and they will be holding a Webinar on June 25th. Statements of intent applicants will be notified in December, and full applications are due in the Spring. Accepted applications will receive full funding for their initiatives and salary. It’s bold. It’s impressive. It’s quite real. And with a 10 year timeline, NEXT has the ability to change the face of the services available to an entire sector of women in our community.

Like I said. BIGGER. TRANSFORMATIVE. By impacting women ages 18-24, you impact the nexus. You create Mothers, Providers, and Families. And from there, you create stable GENERATIONS, and that is the end of poverty. There are those with the road map to change the entire face of need, if we’re only willing to join the journey. If you’re interested in giving to this initiative and/or the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, you can start HERE.

Thank you to Lily for sharing this story with me, and allowing me to share it with you. Goodness is everywhere, and spreading it is my sunshine. Godspeed to you all.

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Bye Bye Baby

June 12th, 2014 · 7 Comments



My Dearest Ducky,


It’s with complete (yet not surprising) irony that as we left your last Dermatology appointment yesterday, Ingrid Michaelson’s “Morning Lullabies” began to play on my phone. It’s “our” song, one I discovered on a rainy day the first week I quit my job to become your…everything. If my fuzzy memory serves correctly, I was overheard saying, “I’m just going to stay home long enough to get Sara straightened out”. It only took me 6 years to learn one does not “straighten out” children. We guide, we steer, we fret, we sweat the small stuff…but there is no “straight” anything in family life. However, with God’s blessings, and after 9 years of desperate prayers on my knees late in the night when our family is asleep, God has granted me the ability to enjoy the curvy road (or, at least, it no longer kicks my ass every time the winds change). This much I know: God has been so good to us.


I woke up
With your head on my arm
My hand was numb
Circulation gone
But I dared not move
The pretty sleeping one

It was raining again, as the song began to play yesterday, and my mind reeled over our new reality: you have NO specialty doctors. You have NO therapists. You currently (and perhaps just temporarily, but still…) have NO tutors. When your Dermatologist declared your Lichens Sclerosis in remission, and our regular appointments now complete, my mind played its usual trick: FOCUS LORI! Switch gears. What Sara-mystery do we un-peel next? Who do I need to call? Who will be my guide now?


The sun had painted
Patterns on your face
As you breathe Sunday air

But I drew a blank. My thinking mind heard nothing but the gentle sound of rain and the windshield wipers. I glanced into the back seat; I suppose I imagined a bright halo of light would surround you and this new reality, but you were buried in your iPad, trying to beat your best time on a Math Facts game. You were doing MATH. Without any begging. Without a word from me whatsoever. In fact, I never have to ask you to do your daily math anymore. You even help your sister as she groans through hers.


Rode on to my open arms
I became your pillow
You let me smooth your hair

So instead, I let my mind skip through our last 8 years: the Educational Psychologist, who led us to the Occupational Therapist, who led us the Neuro-Optometrist, and the teachers who led us to the Math Tutor, while we darted in and out of every Pediatric Urologist I could find, while keeping our Pediatrician on speed dial, and hoping I wasn’t bugging my old ADHD colleagues too much, followed by the wild day I pieced together your leaky bladder was connected to your ADHD, [insert the cries of "Will this child ever sleep through the night?!", which were finally answered at Year #5], trying to stay upbeat as we were warned you may never add or ride a bike, the devastating spring we decided to hold you back a grade (our best decision, so I guess it’s intuitive it was our hardest), leaking leaking bladder, when will it ever stop, and then the rash began (and the counselor who was of no help whatsoever). Oh God, that terrible November when we could not longer stay on top of the rashes. 14 long months to the diagnosis, filled with months of migraines and the vomiting, and then the 6 months of treatments so much a part of our routine, I had to create a nursing medication chart. Praise God for making me an RN.


I will sing you morning lullabies
You are beautiful, and peaceful this way

And just like that, on a rainy Tuesday in June of 2014, after 6 years “on leave from work”, I have no one to call. No one to pay! (That’s for Daddy, who just nods and smiles at this point in the financial game. He would say only one thing Duck, “It was worth every last penny for my Sara-Bear. Every one of those 4.5 million pennies.”) Our days are no longer metered by creams, exercises, and appointments. If there were Master’s Degrees given in Motherhood, I would have at least TWO in “Appointment Keeping”. In fact, I think all Mothers, no matter the child, quickly learn the art of getting to and from appointments, in and around school hours, snacks, extracurriculars, and that relentlessly immovable thing known as “dinner”. It’s a choreographed dance…an awkward, horrible, not-in-the-least-way-graceful dance.


I know you have to close your eyes
On everyone, let me help you,
I’ll sing you to sleep
With morning lullabies

And through these chaotic and unpredictable years, you’ve wanted only one thing: you just wanted to swim. Always the swimming, year ’round, just let me swim Momma. When you were a baby (a rather cranky baby, I may add), I would say, “If you have a crab, stick it in water”, and there you’d splash and giggle until the water turned cold. I went over-the-top decorating your bathroom simply because I spent so much time in it. Add in your croup episodes, and the bright, beach-themed bathroom became our clubhouse. We both swear we’ll never forget the night you were “pooking” into the toilet and Kelly was next to you in an infant swing, and you lifted your head up just long enough to laugh and scream, “Ke-way pit up a toy Momma! Ke-way tan ube her hands!” Kelly picked up a toy Momma! Kelly can use her hands! She was so tiny, but you two looked at each other and laughed and laughed. That’s the night you nicknamed her “Your Boo Boo Chicken”. That tub saw countless nights of giggling from you two. It was hard to say goodbye to our indoor water park.


Let me lie in the curve
Of your body tonight
And I will hear you
Tumble into sleep
I will watch you heal
I will watch you heal with me

So it was with unparalleled gratitude that it was just the two of us cuddled up at Steak and Shake after your first swim meet. We could hardly speak (a first for both of us!). You leaned into me and whispered, “I can’t believe we’re here. We finally made it Momma. I’m on a real swim team. I’ve been in a real swim meet. I don’t care at all if I won anything. I thought we’d never get here.” I KNOW. I know. Swim lessons followed by the odd rejection from the first team, followed by the hard day we realized the closest swim teams were 30 miles away, followed by the for sale sign in the yard, followed by the move…the insane move, and the “restful” 25 minutes from the moment we moved into the apartment and your swim team tryout. The team who took one, quick look and saw what we’ve seen all along: this girl was born to SWIM.


I will sing you morning lullabies
You are beautiful, and peaceful this way
I know you have to close your eyes on everyone
Let me help you, I’ll sing you to sleep
With morning lullabies

So you can imagine it came as no surprise when your teachers at school came to me in the weeks following your entry onto the swim team and told me how much you were blossoming. Socially, academically…even your handwriting changed. We weren’t surprised because we were…we are living it. Your CONFIDENCE…it’s splashing and spilling over your life. It makes sense: if challenges can spill onto everything, so can successes.


I know you have to close your eyes on everyone
Let me help you
I’ll sing you to sleep
With morning lullabye..bye baby

While I can understand swim meets may feel quite long to some, it felt like mere minutes to me. Joy was bursting out of your every seam. I know it’s not my best trait, but I have been secretly a little jealous and irritated at parents who complain about early practices and long hours spent in the soccer fields and at the poolsides. For the Momma who waited almost 9 years to get here, I was up well before your first morning practice, and I sat smiling ear-to-ear poolside the entire time. I dream of the day this new life is so routine, I grump about it.


I know you SAID it wasn’t your goal to place in your first meet, and we both knew it was a wacky long shot. Swimming is far more competitive than I realized. Swimming is an entirely new world we both must learn, but Lord knows we’re not the least bit intimidated. We’ve learned LOTS of new things together. Here’s the upside to a tough start: your first (almost) 9 years also came bearing gifts. You understand hard work and mental toughness more than kids twice your age. You DID ribbon in your first meet; it was as if even the Universe had been waiting to grant you a day in the sun. No child on earth will ever be so happy to receive a 6th place ribbon as you are. The world can just hang onto to those Blue-Red-and-Whites for now. 6th place is sweet enough for us. As we watched the results scroll across my iPhone in those late hours at the Steak-n-Shake deep in the cornfields of Where The Hell Are We, Indiana…we said not a word. We breathed deep, and took a long, relaxing exhale.

Close your eyes
And I will sing you
Morning lullabies

Oh. So this is what you’ve been begging to do all along. I’m so glad I ignored the therapist who recommended, “Whatever you do, DO NOT put her on a competitive swim team”. I’m glad you taught me sometimes it’s OK to “close my eyes on everyone”, and just let you help me see the light. I’m starting to suspect it was you who came to straighten me out, and not the other way around.

To quote my favorite chanteuse, “With morning lullabye…bye baby”. Bye bye Baby Sara Bear.

It’s time for us to follow you now. You know which way to go.


Our Endless Admiration At Your Strength & Courage,

Boppa & Daddeee (aka, Mommy and Daddy)

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Getting To Yum Games (Volume 5)

June 8th, 2014 · 1 Comment


I was debating which part of “Getting To Yum” to illustrate first, when Sara made the decision for me. As our summer started, she said, “I don’t know why, but I’m just in the mood to COOK something Momma. Can I?” Well…ABSOLUTELY! Our apartment kitchen is tidy and tiny, making it rather kid-friendly, but it’s not “multi-person” friendly. Also good news. I’ll have to steer clear, because my girls are ready to fly a bit solo.

I stood in the doorway and instructed Sara on dinner (Red Beans & Rice with Cornbread), but I kept my helping hands out of it. Greg swore it tasted identical to mine, and it absolutely did. Sara is capable of DINNER. This is HUGE.


Sara was so excited after making dinner, she started posting sticky notes on the fridge with lists of things she felt she “needed” to make. She completed her list the first week, and as the Momma who has posted fridge menus for years, I was obviously thrilled to see her imitating me. These are precious moments for a Mom.


To taste-train with games, it was good to start with something familiar the girls enjoy, and then segue into a recipe they’ve tried, but haven’t accepted: guacamole. I serve it often, but even with it hidden under tomatoes, they had yet to really eat it. I planned to incorporate it into a game from “Getting To Yum” (the book has 20 games which illustrate how to incorporate your family’s taste-training into kid-friendly activities), and I laughed out loud when I reviewed the game list: making guacamole is the nexus of many of the gaming concepts. Five Senses, Five Flavors, Tasty Taste Buds, Smell-Taste, Mystery Smell, Terrific Textures, The Same Food Three Ways…apparently guacamole is the top of the taste-training pyramid. Who knew?!


Kelly ran upstairs. She wanted nothing to do with avocados, and most certainly NOTHING to do with guacamole. Yuck! Nowhere close to Yum. We let her go without argument, and just went on with our business of cutting and scooping. Sara did a great job of yelling, “EWWW…it’s so squishy! This is so easy to scoop! This texture is so cool! Can I try some?” Kelly was downstairs before we got to the 3rd avocado. We gave her one to scoop, but when I turned around, I found her face inside of it. Kelly was INHALING an avocado! Kelly has been known to gag at the mere sight of an avocado!


It got a little messy from there. By the time Daddy got home for his birthday dinner, we had a gargantuan bowl of guacamole waiting, and we even let him eat a little bit of it. Sara and Kelly had pretty full bellies of guacamole before we got the first shrimp taco on the plates, but it was worth it. Kelly is standing behind me at this very second, giggling into my ear and singing, “Yummy Mommy. That picture makes me feel yummy.” Glad to hear it, because “Getting To Yum” has an entire chapter devoted to avocado recipes!

There is so much left to learn this summer, I can hardly wait. Food dyes give Sara migraines, so we’ll probably do some of the Color Confusion and Marketing Awareness games next. We’ll see where our adventures take us!


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Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

June 3rd, 2014 · 7 Comments


Happy Birthday to my laughter. My love. My joy.


Happy Birthday to our sun, our moon, our guiding star, who just keeps smiling and keepin’ on the keepin’ on. Time and time again, I’ve sworn the world has ended, but you were right:


It all turned out just fine. Just like you said it would.


We all know Sydney wants to wish you the Happiest of Birthdays. She kind of did when she vomited at your feet at 2 am. I thought by the sound of it, she was chucking up her heart to give to you as a present. Leave it to your Cat-Wife to upstage the awesome briefcase I got you.


I am perpetually stunned by your loyalty, wisdom, and commitment to our journey. I am unconditionally grateful for every day of our life together.


But as the partner leading the way in aging, I’ve noticed recently you’ve started naming your aches and pains. Last night you called your knee pain, “patellar tendonitis”. Last fall you realized your side ache was something called, “a broken rib”. As a person who perpetually calls her skin cancer, “those pesky rashes”, let me tell you: aging ain’t for the weak. Birthdays can easily become a list of things you’ve survived, washed down with champagne and an eye-roll towards the Universe who is trying to kill you.

I’m kidding. You’re tougher than the Universe, and I’m fairly certain the Fates fear you.

But should those douche-canoes forget whose boss, I’ve got your back Baby. I fear no aches. I fear no pains. And I most certainly fear nothing with you at my side.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart! Your ladies love you!

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Resilience Comes Suddenly?

June 1st, 2014 · 2 Comments


We moved into temporary housing, A) Because we needed to break the girls out of their comfort zone and develop some resilience, and B) Well? We really didn’t have a choice. Unless we want to live here:


As you can see, the house is coming along…quickly (if you are plotting its progress against the bell curve of “days since humans began to roam the earth”). It’s currently an adobe-style, or perhaps a dugout, Little House On The Prairie Style. Wait? No…it’s just dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. I’m sure the excavators think we’re hilarious, standing curbside cheering them on with every scoopful of dirt. GO! GO GO GO!!! We live in a town house sinking into the center! GOOOOO!!!!


But perhaps the hardest part of the move is my realization that it was I who needed to break out of my comfort zone. I’m the one who notices every smell, every small inconvenience, every irritation of living on top of each other and waking up covered in cat. And yet, even with my frustration (of watching my bed sink to the center of the room), I can’t help but be happy here. Last weekend, as we piled into our seats for the 500 Festival parade, I thought, “I’m just so happy”. We got home and the girls created a fort in the small wood line behind our apartment. It was so reminiscent of my own childhood, I realized just how much I missed having trees.


After a full day of play, we walked to the ice cream store, and meandered back through some of the most quaint streets Indy has to offer. And I thought, “I’m just so happy here”. I’m equally glad I packed my ridiculous stash of felt and let the girls create carpets and bedrooms in their fort. We spent the rest of the weekend poolside with our friends, drinking in the delight of living merely minutes from our gang of pals. Happy, happy.


OK, so what if water runs right off my counters onto the floor? So what if the washer and dryer are so small I have to do twice the  number of loads of laundry to keep up? I can walk everywhere! We walk to brunch as a family every weekend! It’s like a movie! So what if I am now reminded that “children of the woods” get poison oak and ticks? That’s childhood…we’re RESILIENT. Put on some cortaid and let’s WALK to the Farmer’s Market! Let’s get out of the apartment which exists in a perpetual state of “pick up” in order to walk through the rooms! I can FINALLY get back and forth between home and school several times per day. No more packing up at 6 am, knowing I’ll be living inside my minivan for a 12-hour stretch. HAPPY!


I’m working on my “bright side”. I’m trying, I really am. After all, we’re still in Indy, the city of love to pieces. My kids are still at the school they love to pieces. We’re heading into a summer which won’t involve hours in the car, just trying to get to a single play date. So what if I’m living in a house so full of insects, I’ve decided to make friends with them? There is a spider who crawls diagonally up my wall behind the computer every single day at 11 am. I call him Bob. We’re cool. And the ants? I give up. They were here first, so who am I plant my flag in their busy season?


Resilience. Flexibility. Resourcefulness. Those words were flying across my lips when I looked out my bedroom window after hearing very loud sounds last week. What is that….? Dump trucks? Are those men tearing down the TREES?! I ran outside and met a very nice construction foreman who informed me the tranquil field and woods behind my building is turning into 5 apartment buildings. The tennis court where my girls roller skate? It’s coming down, along with their fort. Stop….no. I did not utter the word “Resilience” at that exact moment. There were words in my head, but they weren’t happy words. Crap-tastic? That was one word. But what was I to do? Pick up Bob and fling him at the dump trucks? I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Bob hates violence, and we’ve grown close. I need my allies around me now.


What’s next? I’ve stopped predicting (but I’m guessing it will involve some kind of smell). Greg got the bikes out of storage and encouraged me to grab my music and take a long walk on the trail system. Happy. We ran out of popcorn on family movie night and Greg made it to the store and back in 7 minutes. Happy. We stopped by the house and sang happy songs over the concrete footers. Happy. Resilient. Flexible. Grateful….finding the bright side. And it’s BRIGHT, because apparently I’m LOSING my shade…sorry. Resilience isn’t coming quickly. It isn’t coming without sweat equity. Maybe, if I’m lucky, resilience will come suddenly?

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An Addict’s Muse

May 29th, 2014 · 3 Comments


Here’s a bright side to living in a temporary apartment: I cannot shop! There is simply no place to put new furniture, shoes, or…food. Greg has been trying to give away my jam for a week, and I’m about to muzzle the poor man. Storage is full as well, in case you were imagining those spaces weren’t packed to the ceilings with the second couch, my dining room table, and Kelly’s stuffed animal collection.

SPEAKING of Kelly’s stuffed animal collection…our little plush addict has requested her new room be decorated in a “stuffed animal theme”. Nice. Another word for this theme would be “chaos”, perhaps “messy”, or if you’re feeling fancy, let’s call it “visual cacophony”. But as luck would have it, both girls know my parents refused to allow my mallard duck bedroom when I was their age, and they are using this info wisely. Or shrewdly, as the case may be.

I’ve been very open-minded about her idea, and I’ve let both girls know the proper way to do a theme is to choose colors, and work the theme in via pictures, pillows, and accents. One should not feel compelled to choose a theme and then puke it all over a room. My father’s work partnered him with an interior designer for decades, and while I may not have a talent for decorating, I wasn’t in a coma through my childhood.

So, armed with my past (and still lacking that duck bedroom), Kelly and I put our heads together. We have spent hours on Houzz (talk about addicting!). And while we had some solid ideas, it wasn’t until I ran across this pillow in a small vintage shop that it all came together. One must have a MUSE, in my personal opinion. One must start somewhere. Kelly has been adamant about “no hot pink”, so taking the almost bubble gum pink from this (quite awesome) pillow, we will paint the ceiling and approximately one foot of the wall below the ceiling. We will then add a small chair rail, painted barely cream, along with the remaining wall. Barely cream bookshelves in the form of free-hanging open boxes will adorn her walls, with the insides painted in the blue, pink, and purple in the pillow. These will house her animals. Her bed is antique white, as will be her quilt, barely edged in color, but covered in pillows which enhance our pièce-de-résistance: Our Elephant “Up” Pillow.

I cannot decide between a vintage-style chandelier or something Ikea-esque modern. Her furniture is traditional, so I’m leaning towards a chandelier, but I can’t help but think there is a more whimsically-conservative middle-ground. Thoughts? And also, do you use central pieces to inspire you? Tell me about your favorite!


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We Have A “Getting To Yum” Winner! (Volume 4)

May 26th, 2014 · Comments Off


Congratulations to Kate! We have a winner of Getting To Yum, The 7 Secrets Of Raising Eater Eaters! I ran the numbers days ago, but wasn’t able to find 5 minutes to tell you the good news. You may have heard about a small car race occurring every year in Indianapolis, but what some folks don’t know, is the race is only a few hours of the Festival. We start celebrating the race in early May (I start in January at Princess selection time), and by the time we hear “Gentlemen and Ladies, Start Your Engines!”, we’ve nearly passed out (some take that too literally) from Community Days, Kids Days, a Snakepit Ball, countless parties and fundraisers, one of the world’s largest parades, a mini-marathon…shall I go on? No, I won’t. I’m wearing you out.

I think it’s proper to start the summer produce and cooking season with a poem about food, written by our own little Kelly (dressed as a monarch, apologies for the weird picture, but I needed something as wacky as Kelly’s poem; her own words are in bold italics):

I run Kelly’s ice cream store,

There are flavors in my freezer you have never seen before,

Divine creations too delicious to resist,

Why not do yourself a favor, try the flavors on my list:

Cricket Minty Custard,

Kitty Fur Blue Mustard.

Carrot Broccoli Eel,

Apple Banana Peel.

Sunshine Orange Juice Whale,

Fancy Nickel Pail.

I run Kelly’s Ice Cream Store,

Taste a flavor from my freezer, you will sure ask for more.

Wow. You won’t find these flavor combos in Getting To Yum. It’s going to be a crazy summer in the kitchen. Congratulations to Kate, and a huge thank you to everyone who entered in the contest. Consider ordering the book, because my kids woke up complaint-free to vegetable omelets for breakfast. This gift of teaching my daughters to eat good food will last forever. Please join us as we start our newest food adventure!

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Vicious Carrots! (Volume 3)

May 22nd, 2014 · 4 Comments


Kelly has been begging me for “fish, anything with fish…please Mommy”, as of late. Monday night seemed like a good night for a potato-encrusted cod, paired with asparagus and Karen Le Billon’s “Vicious Carrots”. Oh how I love those Vicious Carrots (properly pronounced is Vichy Carrots, but a friend mispronounced them while visiting for dinner, and so delighted her daughters, that this dish will forever be known as “Vicious Carrots” in the Le Billon household).

I am quoted in Getting To Yum as saying, “Wow. The prep was so simple, and I can’t say enough about the texture. You were right…it took cooked carrots to an entirely different level.” I was worried about making them in this little apartment on an electric stove top, after struggling to make so many of my favorite foods outside of my usual surroundings. But, as luck would have it, they were scrumptious. Easy to prepare, gorgeous to devour.


My point here is this: if you cannot imagine your children licking a plate of cod, asparagus, and carrots, then enter my giveaway for Karen’s latest book. You can leave a simple comment here, and you are entered to win Getting To Yum, The 7 Secrets Of Raising Eager Eaters. I did not magically wake up one morning to children begging for fish and asparagus. I used Karen’s loving and simple steps to train their taste buds to love good food. I say “good food”, not “healthy food”, because healthy makes me think of iceberg lettuce with a wedge of tomato, begrudgingly chewed while wearing sweaty gym clothes. Ugh. Beautifully-prepared, thoughtful, real food IS healthy food. Sitting down to candles and the wonderful scents of a family dinner (see Karen’s book, French Kids Eat Everything for these hints) IS healthy living.

Join me, as this summer we’ll be working our way through this book, and sharing our stories with each other.

My basic dinner prep is as follows:

You can encrust your own fish, which is best done in advance, and thrown in the fridge. It will most likely require a frying pan. There are countless recipes for encrusted fish, and I do enjoy making them. BUT, on a MONDAY (when we’re all tired from not sleeping well on Sunday night), you could stop by your favorite fish market and BUY freshly encrusted fish, and just bake it. And you thought I made everything from scratch. Ha! The prep was the 10 seconds it took me to open the package and put it on the baking dish.

Rice pilaf: there are plenty of boxes of this stuff without any added dyes, flavorings, using non-GMO rice.

Asparagus: Snap at the ends at the natural break. I lightly peel or scrub, depending on how much time I have. Cook bacon until it’s 75% done, and wrap around serving size bundles. Lightly drizzle with grape seed oil (olive oil works too, but I’ve found grape seed to be my favorite with asparagus…I used it accidentally a few months ago, and have never looked back). Salt and pepper. Throw it in with the fish for the last 7-10 minutes of baking.

Vicious Carrots: Get the book. You won’t be sorry.




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