Monday, December 31, 2012

New everything

The new year is a time for a new beginning. This blog is ever-evolving and now seemed just as good a time as any to make a few changes. I was never really happy with the name "Snakes, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails" and it has been driving me crazy. Though the expression is totally befitting of a mom of two boys, I could never quite shake the fact that I don't particularly care for dogs. At all. Which is probably no big deal, but it always seemed to me that people likely thought this was a dog blog, if such a thing exists, and to know me is to know that I would probably never own a dog, much less blog about them. It's not as if I had a better name in mind, I just knew that one didn't quite fit. And so months ago I began to think about what this blog is, about what it means to me, and I kept coming back to the fact that whenever anybody asks me what I write about I tell them, oh, you know, a little of this, a little of that. And so it now is. This blog is me, it tells my story as a wife and a "boy mom". And the fact of the matter is that I am all over the place most all of the time. My only hope is to capture some of it along the way.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sometimes the details are worth the effort

Fifty years together is a long time and a couple of weeks back I was honored to help my parents celebrate what is, in this day and age, nothing short of a miraculous feat. The party was the most fun I've ever planned, no doubt because of how deeply personal it was, right down to the fact that we held it in my brother's back yard. Everythign we designed, we designed for them and with the help of some amazing friends (thank you, Natalie and Jihan!) and very crafty family members we pulled off what was a simple yet elegant party for just under 100 guests. I am still in awe that the giant 50 my sister and I made out of coffee filters, card board, spray paint and glitter was the show stealer. Thank God no one peeked behind to see the massive amounts of duct tape involved. Too funny. There were speeches, a wall of hand-written memories sent in by guests, a slide show and more than a few partculary fabulous dance moves. It was a most perfect night full of love, music, and memories and one that neither my parents nor my family will soon forget.
all photos by Natalie Moser: Natalie Moser Photography
balloons: Geronimo
inspiration for the 50: found here, via pinterest
inspiration for the photo garlands: Angela Hardison
flowers and flower boxes: DIY

Friday, December 7, 2012

I need a little Christmas cheer


Christmas is my favorite. My favorite. Yet for some reason I'm having a hard time getting in to the whole spirit of the season this year. The tree is up, the lights are hung, the carols are playing and most of the shopping is complete, yet I'm simply not feeling it. I know it's the time of year to put others first, but I think that's just it- I spend so much time shopping, creating, planning, and doing for everyone else that I lose myself along the way. As much as I enjoy all of the output, it allows very little time to just relax and enjoy Christmas with my own little family.

I bring much of it upon myself, that is without question. I rarely say no, and feel guilty when I do, and the procrastinator in me just won't cut me a break. And the fact that money is tight (is it ever not?) only forces me to be creative in my gift-giving which honestly, sometimes, is just so much better in theory than reality. And my decorations? Don't even let me think about how much I can't stand 90% of the decorations I own but continue to put up year after year because at Christmas time I'd rather spend my money on gifts than decor only to complain about it the following December.

But what is the alternative? Would it be Christmas if we didn't all stand in front of the tripod all dressed up taking literally hundreds of photos in an effort to capture just one where we are all in the frame and no one is screaming so that we can send them to 100 people who will toss them aside because they have absolutely no idea what is involved in photographing, creating, and printing your own cards? The answer is no. No it wouldn't. And so tomorrow after a few more Christmas-related errands (not for myself) and hopefully finishing off some homemade gifts we will don our gay apparel and turn the living room into a photo studio and I will, even if I have to pretend, get in the spirit. For 'tis the season and I am going to make every effort over the next few days to begin to feel the joy. If we have to bake two dozen gingerbread men and visit Candycane Lane seventeen times, I will find my Christmas cheer this year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Ralph showed up bright and early Saturday morning as he does every year in the week following Thanksgiving. He's a sneaky little guy, that elf, and we never know quite when he'll find his way home. He keeps an eye on all of us throughout the days leading up to Christmas and makes sure that we are all on our best behavior. He's kind of the best thing that happens all year and, quite frankly, we start talking about him pretty early around here.

The funny thing about Ralph and all of his elf friends is all the controversy around them. Who knew these little guys could cause such a ruckus? They are just Christmas elves, for goodness sake. I keep hearing about parents who are overly concerned about the message being sent by "lying to their kids" and by telling their kids the elf is watching them and reporting their behavior to Santa. People who find the whole idea manipulative and wrong.  I've even heard that the whole concept is outrageous because giving should not be associated with behavior. Which, in my mind, is ridiculous because giving should be directly related to behavior. Why would anyone want to reach out and give to people who are ill-behaved? And who doesn't want to go out of their way to help and reward those who are honorable, respectable, and well-mannered?  Are these people not being, perhaps, a bit over-dramatic? He's an elf. He's Santa's helper. How else can Santa "see you when you're sleeping and know when you're awake"? Or maybe these people are the same ones who don't allow their children to believe in Santa. And is there anything more sad, really?

My kids are little. They love Santa. They love everything about the Christmas. Yes, they understand it's Jesus' birthday (well, as much as they can at this age anyway, though Anderson has been singing "Happy Birthday" for a few days now to get ready for the "big party"). Yes, I teach them that is a time to give and be grateful and enjoy everything with which they have been blessed. And they also believe in Ralph, the magic Christmas elf who watches their every move and flies home to the North Pole every night to give the big guy a full report on the day's happenings. It's fun. And every morning Anderson eagerly looks for Ralph to see where he has decided to perch himself for the day. Though, sadly, there are sometimes days where Ralph doesn't move at all because maybe he just had such a great view the day before. And sometimes, just maybe, there are frantic early morning text messages confirming Ralph's arrival because it is a well-known fact that Ralph is one of Santa's lazier helpers and sometimes he just doesn't feel like making the long journey up north. Yes, that totally happens.

And so we welcome Ralph, master manipulator. Because for the 24 days leading up to Christmas there are few things that work better to straighten Anderson's attitude than the threat of walking up to Ralph and whispering in his ear. In just the same way I was afraid of Santa seeing me throw a temper tantrum, Anderson is afraid of receiving a bad report. If that makes us bad parents, so be it. I'm sure we have done worse. Magic is magic at any time of the year and maybe those parents who find such things to be detrimental and manipulative just need to remember what it is like to be little and to believe.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

As it were

Pre-Target bagel date.
It's often I find myself neglecting to take a moment to reflect and write because, quite frankly, nothing seems so exciting that it is worth the time, effort, or energy to remember. But isn't that just the point? Isn't that why I started this blog- so as to take it all in and write it all down? This place is for the ordinary, the daily, the uneventful. Too often I let days pass without taking a few minutes to write because it seems silly to want to remember that we did nothing more exciting than make no less than 3 trips to Target this week or that we had pancakes for dinner because it required the least amount of effort. But these are the moments that make up our life. These blurry snapshots and Instagram photos are us.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

For so much I am thankful

I all but completely dropped the ball on my 30 Days of Thanks posts due to one of the busiest weeks of my life since my wedding. With Thanksgiving and my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party only two days apart, there were tasks to be accomplished, projects to be completed, and out of town guests to visit. Needless to say I am beyond thankful for every last bit of it. My goal is to catch up on posts in the next couple of days but the truth is I am still in decompression mode.
p.s. Why is it that the older I get the harder it is to take a decent photo? Seriously, I can not remember the last time I looked even remotely decent in a picture. Sheesh. I try not to be overly critical of myself, but I can't help of think of that episode of Friends where Chandler and Monica are taking  photos and he looks like he is being poked by needles in every single one. I am Chandler. And I am off to practice angled chin poses right now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

11.19 & 20.12

Today I am grateful my internet is working again.

Yesterday I was thankful all day that it was only a two day work week.

Such little things, both of them, but both brought much needed tranquility at the beginning of a very busy week.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Out with the tide

Last Monday, after a rough morning, we loaded the boys up and headed down the coast to get our minds off of things. After a nice lunch in Coron del Mar albeit a tad stressful as small restaurants with rambunctious boys can be we made our way to the tide pools in Laguna Beach. The chill in the air made for one of those great days where you go to the beach for less than an hour, kick off your shoes, and simply roll up your pants. In retrospect, maybe a towel or an extra pair of pants for the boys would have been nice. Though Anderson in his undies is still one of the cutest things I have ever seen so it really was no big deal.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

11.18 & 19.12

Yesterday I was so exhausted that although I really, truly did think about that for which I was grateful, I just didn't have it in me to actually get it written.

Yesterday I was grateful for the couple of hours of kid and husband-free time I had to actually tackle a couple of party projects. It's amazing how much I can accomplish in less than 3 hours when there is nobody around! Surely that makes me sound like a bad mom and wife, but I am totally OK with it. Because spray adhesive and little boys do not mix.

Today I am thankful for a couple of things: that sweet spot on my pillow this morning that was the perfect mix of cool crisp cotton and fluffy down where I felt I could hold my head forever (until a certain little boy knuckled me in the side of the head anyway); a very productive day in terms of party projects even with aforementioned little guy helping to spray paint and "gently apply the glitter" oh my gosh how does the lid just happen to fall off the bottle when in his little hands?!; and finally, I am forever thankful that my dad taught me how to make the best spaghetti sauce. Seriously, so easy and so good. Which also, I guess, makes me thankful that I don't have to be one of those people who buys pasta sauce in a jar. 

Friday, November 16, 2012


Today I am thankful for a sister that thinks like I do. Togther we dream big, chat too much, and accomplish too little.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Today I am grateful for the little bit of free time I have between the time the boys go to bed and the time I do. It is never quite as much as I need, but surely it is more than I deserve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The best and worst kind of day

Monday was such a dichotomy of days. A day off from work, gorgeous weather, and happy kids only served as a distraction from the heaviness that weighed upon me as I had to say goodbye to my sweet kitty. I am not ordinarily a very sentimental person when it comes to animals, but this was hard. I got Chachi at 3 weeks old, just a couple of weeks before my first teaching job. He lived with me in multiple houses and was around long before my husband. He was so like me in every way- loving when he wanted and stand-offish much of the time, more than content to be alone, and always around when you needed him. He gave of himself on his own terms. He was not the snuggly, in-your-face, lay-in-your-lap kind of cat I had always wanted, but he was so perfectly mine. When he fell sick a year ago I knew it was only a matter of time before things would progress. Lately he had simply been too weak and too sick to do anything. He was miserable. I know the decision we made was the right one and though we miss him I know that his quality of life was a punishment these last couple of weeks.

Situations like this are inevitable. I know that. Many will be the times that I will be faced with difficult decisions and the even more excruciating task of explaining such decisions to my kids. It's all a part of the deal. I can only hope that I will always be surrounded by the love of my family to ease the pain that I sometimes am not even aware exists just barely beneath the surface.


Today I am thankful for the amazing sunrise that started my day. Up until a week and a half ago I missed the sunrise every morning because I arrived at work before even the slightest hint of it could be seen. Since the time change, however, my mornings have been a little more inspired.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Today I am especially thankful for Rosa who takes such amazing care of the boys on Tuesdays. I will never understand how she can accomplish in one day what takes me a week in this house.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Today, though my heart is heavy, I am especially grateful for the 13+ years I had with my big orange kitty Chachi. What a tough morning.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Today I am thankful for those who serve our country. No sacrifice is greater than that made by so many to protect our freedom and defend our country.

And, finally, Halloween

Halloween was pretty fabulous this year. There is something to be said for the first time your baby goes up to a house all by himself, knocks on the door, and says "trick or treat" that is overwhelmingly heart-melting. It was too cute for words, really. 
We were fortunate that the boys got to wear their costumes earlier in the week for a test run at Grandma's office trick-or-treating party before the big night as Beck clearly needed some time to warm up to the idea of sporting plumage. Once they were dressed, however, all was well and aside from Anderson's hot head and Beck's bothersome owl eyes, things went off without a hitch.
We spent our evening as we have every Halloween since having kids- walking the streets of simply the most fabulous Halloween neighborhood ever. This year's theme was Wizard of Oz and it did not disappoint, though my terrible pictures do it nothing close to justice. Somehow we began our journey in Oz and worked our way backward, though even in reverse it was pretty fantastic. With everything from flying monkeys on zip lines to numerous Dorothies acting out individual scenes, the whole story was brought to life from beginning to end or from end to beginning as it were, reminding me that it has been much too long since I have sat down and actually watched the movie. The night ended with much too much candy, sensory overload, and two very sleepy little guys.
 It's amazing how much I have grown to love this holiday over the last few years. To be able to experience such things through the ayes of your child is something remarkable. My heart swells and yet I become anxious as I think about the profound impact that the memories we are creating will one day have on my boys. With each passing year our actions have become traditions and we have created something all our own. Funny how that happens without even the smallest of intentions, really.  
Now that Halloween has passed and the decorations have been stashed away we are enjoying the little bit of rest and relaxation that exist in the couple of weeks between holidays. The weather is cool, the evenings much darker, and the anticipation of the next big day so great we can hardly contain ourselves. 

A little note so as to never forget: Anderson was the same thing last year. No amount of convincing would get him to change his mind. He had other options which he briefly entertained (a pirate, a turtle, a homemade robot), but in the end the nearly too small pincher bug won out. A creature of comfort, that boy is. I'm placing my bet now that Beck will be a bug next year as well. Thank goodness it's cute.


I am especially thankful for Saturday nights on the couch with my husband, Thai take-out and Mad Men. The most perfect kind of evening.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Today I am feeling thankful for the crisp fall air that has finally arrived! It is just the inspiration I need to get in the spirit around here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I am thankful for the drive-thru at Starbucks that allowed me to stay dry as I got my coffee on my way to work this morning.


Today I am thankful for the influence and control I still have over my young boys. Gabe and I were fortunate to go to a screening of the heart-wrenching documentary Bully tonight and were made painfully aware of the reality that exists when you send your kids out into the world.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And so we walked

It was just over 2 years ago at the age of 4 when Sully was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and life as he and the family knew it forever changed. He is one strong little boy, that nephew of mine. Though things have become more routine and many questions have been answered, I'm not sure that it will ever be much easier for Sully. I love that boy through and through and I could not have been more honored to join his tream and walk to raise money in support of a cure for this awful disease. Team Sully proudly raised over $2000 this year and together we showed one little boy just how much he is loved and supported.


Today I am thankful for my freedom, for my right to vote, and for my tiny voice being heard.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Today I am thankful for the public library. So much for all of us and all for free. On a related note: I am not overly thankful, however, that today Anderson insisted on checking out a book entitled  "Where is Grandpa?" about a boy who loses his grandpa. I am crossing everything I've got to keep him from asking questions about that one.

Pumpkin Cookies

I know it exists- that perfect combination of oatmeal, pumpkin, and chocolate chips all wrapped up in a sufficiently dense, perfectly puffed and slightly crunchy, yet not-too-sweet cookie; I just have yet to find it. So far I've tried two recipes and, while good, they just aren't it. As a matter of fact, I cannot remember the last time I actually threw a couple of cookies away because they didn't get eaten; not because they were bad, they just weren't good enough to justify the calories. The first was too moist and flat and the second (in the pictures), while better, was just not as dense as I had hoped for. Later this week I am going to take matters into my own hands and try modifying my own chocolate chip recipe to see if it yields better results. Because there is nothing wrong with trying out cookie recipes until you get right. Baby Beck clearly agrees.