Thursday, 10/23/14

All you can eat community

I had an amazing weekend this past week… Henry and Natalie are traveling for her 10th birthday (for the record I can’t remember what I got for turning double-digits, but I’m pretty sure it was a party as opposed to an entire TRIP!). I thought it’d be fun to take Ainsley (and Ryan and Piper) to Northern Virginia to see her best friend from when we lived there.  Of course, this meant I would see my good friends too.

Cheers really had something right – - it’s a great feeling when people know your name. And when I say know, I mean KNOW. It’s been really difficult for me to make good friends here in Pittsburgh. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the people here are really friendly, they are just so established already (generations upon generations live here – a testament to how great a place this is to live) and don’t have the bandwidth for more relationships. I was the same way in Virginia and that is where I find the people that know me best. I don’t have to bring them up to speed on how many kids I have, what their ages are, the trauma we went through with Ryan’s diagnosis and birth, and all that….   and it felt so good to spend a weekend with that community of friends.

I spent the weekend with Heather and her kids (her hubby was away too!), playing and drinking tea and going to kids’ sports games. Similar to what I’d do at home, just with better weather – ha! Saturday night we kidnapped Bridget and drug her to Nordstrom Rack (I’m pretty sure I almost teared up when I walked in and I’m not even a shopper!) Then we headed to a Mexican restaurant for some grub and margaritas, not in that particular order.


Sunday morning I left to meet Courtney early before my kids were awake. (Thanks, Heather!) We had exactly 1 hour. We spent it talking about REAL things. I could’ve used a few more hours to catch up on the surface stuff! Love that girl!


I grabbed the kids from Heather’s and headed to church where we attended for 12 years before moving to Pittsburgh. Too many hugs and hellos to count.  And one hug with my friend and mentor, Jaye, who I don’t have a picture of. I actually started crying when I was hugging her because I was so overwhelmed with feeling loved… and known.

We finished by having lunch in the park with a group of folks from the same church and caught up with more friends.

I texted Courtney as I was leaving town to say I felt like I’d eaten at a buffet of community and was rolling out of town completely full (next time I’m wearing my sweatpants, it was that filling!)

Wednesday, 10/22/14

Pee for me


Many times, as a mom, I’ve had to set aside a physical need to meet the needs of one of my spawn. Sometimes I put me first, but more often than not I put me on the back burner. Case in point: the other day I had to pee like a race horse but Piper was loudly telling me she was very hungry after having slept through the night…. I chose nursing her over using the restroom because, hello!, we should reward sleeping through the night, right?

Ryan came in where I was nursing to change out of his pjs and into clothes for the day and began doing the pee pee dance. “I have to go potty!”  he said through gritted teeth.

“Then get to the potty, silly,” I said, “And go for me, will ya? I have to pee like crazy!”

He looked at me, puzzled. “Go potty for you?”

“Yeah, go for me while you’re in there,” I said, smiling as he rushed to the bathroom.  A few minutes later her returned. “I didn’t go potty for you, okay mommy? I just went for me,” he said.

I laughed, “You didn’t have enough for me and you?”

“No. Just enough for me. You have to go for yourself.”

He said this so sweetly and so genuinely that I had to remind myself that my humor doesn’t transfer well to kids. And then, yes, when I was done nursing, I went pee for myself.

Tuesday, 10/21/14

Watching her blossom….

I’ve loved watching Ainsley come out of her shell this fall. Let me explain. For the past 3 years, the girls have gone door-to-door selling Girl Scout nuts/candy and cookies for their two annual fundraisers. Natalie always brings home the flier and makes it her goal to sell the top incentive amount – $1500. Seriously, she’s all about selling for the first few nights and has to practically drag Ainsley out with her (I’ve insisted they share all their sales up til now). This year, Natalie has been kindof meh about the whole thing. She wanted to sell some, but puh-lease – $1500? No way, Jose. No, this year, it’s Ainsley who’s gung-ho, dragging Nat out and about trying to get her to sell. My Ains, who typically only wants to sell enough to get the first stuffed animal on the list came home with the goal of the $1500 mark.


Mind you, we typically sell about $250 per girl no matter what their goal is.

Natalie sold her $250. She’s done, literally and figuratively. She’s traveling with her dad these next two weeks and the sale is over at the end of this week.

Ainsley has sold $511 worth. What? For starters, when Natalie didn’t want to go to some of the houses, I allowed her to sit in the car while Ainsley made those sales on her own. I decided this year they’re old enough to figure out what they want to sell and I didn’t want one to be hindered by the other… no matter who wanted to do the selling in that moment. Secondly, Ainsley’s still home this week, so we went selling again last night. She does NOT want to stop!

We talked last night about her goal…. how $1500 might be stretching it with only 5 nights left to sell. AND we’re running out of houses in our neighborhood!  She agreed and revised her goal to $800.  Again – this is a child who has only ever really sold $250. The fun part is she’s only $300 away from her goal. I actually think it’s doable if I can find another neighborhood without a selling Girl Scout. Oh the things we do for these kids to encourage leadership, goal setting, and business skills!

Anyone out there want to help a precious Girl Scout make her goal? She’s selling nuts/candy (which you can have shipped to you), or better yet, she’s also selling magazine subscriptions and photo books (similar to Shutterfly or Snapfish) both of which make great Christmas presents. Email me if you want the link and her troop info. Meanwhile, I’ll be out driving around the Burgh watching a little girl sell her heart out.

Thursday, 10/9/14


I don’t know where to start. It’s been weeks since I’ve sat down to write consistently. It’s almost as if my brain has maple syrup in it, making my synapses stick… before allowing the neurons to speed on to where they were intended to go. Practically I’m in “get it done” mode. Ryan goes to preschool every afternoon and Piper sleeps for about 1 hr of it… during that hour I frantically try to wade through the projects (and by projects I don’t mean fun ones!) that have piled up over the last few months. I think I’ve almost dug down to the bottom of the summer pile. Whoot! Whoot!

Meanwhile I have thoughts streaming – almost steadily – through my brain.. processing everything I’ve been confronting since early August…. well, really since the Spring. It just came on so slow, I didn’t realize the snowball until I was hit full in the face with it.

I’m realizing things about myself at such a rate that I hardly have time to process before my brain jumps to the next. I’ve forgotten half my “epiphanies”, although I do think knowing them has changed my behavior so at least I’ve got that part down.

If I had a gazillion free hours, I’d sit and journal and think and pray myself through this mess, but I don’t. I have very little time to reflect so it comes to me in waves throughout my days of laundry, dishes, errands, paperwork, and child-rearing.

Truth be told, the heaviness that was so prevalent during August has lessened a bit as the task master in me focuses on the “Okay, now that you know that, what now?”  What’s next? What should I do? That’s always been me and hasn’t changed the slightest.

The only thing keeping me sane is regular exercise, a focused few minutes each day with God and my Bible, and my kids.  Onward and upward!

Tuesday, 10/7/14

Piper – 10 months

I can’t believe it’s been another month. We’ve been on the go this month and as the fourth child, Piper is dragged to all sorts of things (as are all the others!).  Here she is playing with Natalie while we wait to be called back for an x-ray on Natalie’s ankle.


She’s still pulling up and cruising – getting into things and making more messes. She especially loves her bath toys.

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She’s a total wiggle-worm… and can hardly sit still for a minute. She’s constantly turning in her seat, either to get a better view or to gnaw on the seat back. Teething much?


While she still won’t take a bottle, it’s getting harder to nurse her as she’s easily distracted. I’m looking forward to the 12-month mark when we can start to try things other than formula. I have a feeling this isn’t going to be an easy process though.


I’ve been starting her drinking from a shot glass. We start ‘em young in this house. Kidding, of course. The truth is I read somewhere shot glasses are a perfect transition for a baby to a real cup as they are small (less spillage, easy to hold) and are hard to break. Piper LOVES drinking water from “her” cup. Granted, she gets water all over her front, but hey, all in good time, right?


She’s just plain cute. What can I say?



Stats – 17 lbs., still waking up 2-3 times per night, eating lots of table food, Loves Cheerios and spaghetti, obsessed with Taurus the cat. Has a signing vocabulary of one – her own modified sign for “more” which looks more like the sign for milk, but I’ll take it for now.


Thursday, 10/2/14

Piper’s Eye

Piper is definitely the cutest thing since baby kittens; however, she’s always had problems with gunky eyes (much like kittens now that I think of it). Both her tear ducts were blocked when she was born. We’ve spent countless hours massaging, washing, and uncrusting her eyes. (with a blocked tear duct, the tears have no where to drain so they backup in the duct and often end up infected and goopy. Yuck!)  Her right duct opened up right around her 6-month mark, but her left eye was adamant on staying blocked.


I frequently ask the kids if Piper is awake or asleep when we’re driving in the car (the scheduler in me just has to know). Once Ryan responded, “One eye is awake.”

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This morning, we went in to have a little surgical procedure where they open the tear duct with a tiny wire. The doctor said he definitely felt the resistance of a membrane that he then popped. Hopefully all will be good from now on. She’s on eye drops for the next week to clear up the infection from the backed up tears. After that, we should be good to go.




Monday, 9/29/14

Gettin’ my fix on. {Stitch Fix #6}

I was super excited last week when a Stitch Fix arrived on my front step.


With the cooler fall weather coming, it has me in the mood to add a few things to my wardrobe. I had been trying to spruce things up before getting pregnant with Piper, and now that I’m getting back to my pre-baby size, I’m ready to get going again.  As someone who put off shopping with kids for YEARS, Stitch Fix is a great way to bring the store to me…. it’s so much easier trying everything on while the babes are sleeping/at school, than dragging infants and preschoolers to the store. It just is. And since this is my stage of life right now, I’m rolling with punches. All that to say, I couldn’t wait to try everything on. I took a look at the first item and thought, “Yep, I can do this.”


First item up is this peasant top with dark purple embroidery.


I think it’s cute and it adds a sweet bohemian piece to my closet. Next up is this v-neck tank.


I’m not a big fan. It’s a little boxy and reminds me of something my mom wore when I was a kid. I’m passing on this one. My stylist suggested pairing it with a little chevon skirt that was included.


The skirt is a little small in the waist so it’s going back. And I’m a little iffy if it’s cute anyway.

These dark green cords hit the mark. Unfortunately, I just bought a pair of dark green jeans a month ago… I actually like the texture of the cords better, but I’ve already worn the jeans so they’re staying and the cords are going. Being that I bought the exact same color and fit of pants that my stylist sent me made my day. Could it be I’m getting better at this style-thing?


Last, but not least, is this asymmetrical zip cardigan. I was torn on this one…


Henry does not love it, and while I don’t always dress for him, it’s nice to have pieces in my closet that he at least likes!  However, I thought it paired really well with my black striped tee and green pants. So it’s staying. I live enough of my life with him at work that I’ll have plenty of places to wear it.


What do we think of it zipped?

I have one more fix scheduled for the fall/winter to see if I can round things out a bit. Have you tried Stitch Fix yet? Let me know if you liked it. Or if you’re curious, click on the picture below to see what it’s all about. Here’s my first fix which explains how the whole process works.


Wednesday, 9/24/14


I’ve been all over the map lately. Very emotional. Very busy. Very distracted… just very. Some days I feel great and others I’m processing all day… things from the past that affect how I live the now. Here are a few of the things I’ve been up to.

Reading this.

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I’m learning so much about myself and how my growing up experiences taught me how to communicate or how not to… this book is helping me put into perspective some healthy boundaries. I’ve said before, there’s a difference between having a voice and being a bull in a china shop. I’m striving for balance. I’ve found the content of Boundaries in Marriage very insightful and enlightening.

Also reading this:

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My sister found this online devotional. It’s helping me stay on a reading plan. I’m liking it although I have to be honest, I fell a bit behind over the weekend and am catching up. I ordered the journal and think it’s a good supplement to the online devotional; however, it’s costly for the amount of time you spend using it ($21 for a 2 wk study… yikes!)

Henry had a guys night on Saturday. I made the food and enjoyed the leftovers (I love good party leftovers!). We made bacon wrapped dates with goat cheese and jalapeno dip among other things. Yummy!

Keeping up with these folks:


Ryan is so cute with the Pirates. He LOVES them. He comes down every morning and says, “Where’s your phone. I want to ask who won the game last night.”   Then he asks when the next one is..

Ryan: When do the Pirates play a game?
Siri: The Pirates play the Braves tonight at 7:35 eastern standard time.
Ryan: Fank you.
Siri: No problem.

The first morning Siri talked back to him he came to me and said, “Who’s in your phone?”  I told him it was a computer. He said, “But who’s talking?”  I explained again it was a computer talking.  These kids… they have no idea they’re living in the cartoon “The Jetsons.”

Too bad I don’t have a Rosey to do all my work.

Wednesday, 9/17/14

Happy Hump Day.

I posted the other day that Piper is doing a little better at night, sleeping until my wake up time of 5 am then going back to sleep for a few hours. Hahahahahaha!  I posted that and then true to every-kid-form, she changed her mind. For the past two days, she’s gotten up at 4 am. Which to my body signals it’s time to get up. But it’s not, I tell you, it’s NOT! My adrenaline says, “ooh, 6 hrs, time to get up,” and my brain says, “Nooooo, I want seven hrs.”

Anyway, let’s let that dead horse lie and move on to food. One of my favorite subjects.

When you’re up at 4 am by 9 you’re pretty much ready for lunch and a nap. It’s a shame McDonald’s doesn’t serve double cheeseburgers before 11. Between Insanity, nursing, and getting up before the sun, I’m ravenous. One can only eat so many eggs and trail mix (separately, not together, because eeewww).

Speaking of eggs and trail mix, I’m having so much fun dressing Piper. Girl’s hair and clothes are so much more fun than boys. Sorry. It’s a fact. She has the cutest little denim jeggins that I’m having fun pairing with adorable tops…. It’s a shame really. This child has no idea how cute she is.

Clothes brings me to the weirdest thing to happen to me today – - I came home from dropping the girls at school and hung up my jean jacket (just a second, my phone’s ringing. I think it’s the 1980s) I have a t-shirt on and was a little chilly without my jacket so I grabbed a grey sweater that was hanging in the closet. As I did so, I immediately, and I mean immediately, thought of Mr. Rogers hanging up his coat every day to put on his sweater. I felt like I should break out into song, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor….”  And it is a beautiful sunny day in the Burgh….. I then noticed there’s a hole in the elbow of my sweater, which explained everything about Mr. Rogers having elbow patches on his.

Welp, enough of this banter. I’ve got people to see and places to go. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, 9/16/14

There is no where I can go that is too far.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night.” Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee.”

Psalm 139:11-12


The other weekend we lost Ryan. We had some friends up and between the two couples we have 7 kids. Somehow in the transfer from playing at the park and walking across the parking lot to a restaurant, we forgot Ryan. (I actually thought he was with us the whole time and walked back to the park, but he informed me that we left him there. Poor boy!)

At some point while waiting for our table, I realized I hadn’t seen Ryan for quite some time. 10 minutes?  At least. I turned to my friend Katie and said, “Where’s Ryan?” We immediately began looking.

I walked to the edge of the patio and looked down at the older children who were studying the lily pads growing at the water’s edge. No Ryan. I called to them to ask if he’d been with them. Negative.

For a split second I looked at the five children playing by the pond, thinking about how I would have to leave them by the water’s edge without supervision to look for my son. A split second – and then I turned and walked very fast through the restaurant looking at every table for his sweet little face. Seeing if perhaps he was standing with elbow propped on a table, his chin in his hands watching his beloved Pirates on one of the tvs. He wasn’t there.

I made my way from the front of the place to the back. There was no sign of little boy blue. Henry and Kevin were at the bar watching the game. I asked if they’d see him. The look on Henry’s face told me “no.” His look of concern mirrored the seriousness in my own face as I searched every nook and cranny around the bar.

Bathrooms. We split up looking in each and met out front, my chest tightening with every minute. No little boy. Without many words, just phrases like, “Nothing.” We split again. I retraced my steps back through the restaurant to the back patio and by the water. I scanned the lake praying I wouldn’t see him in the water.  Back out to the front, to the parking lot, hoping to spot his little white shirt bobbing through the cars. I thought about calling the police.

“Leighann! Katie’s got him!” Kevin yelled. He was weaving through the cars coming from the park where we’d just been playing. Ryan was at the park and Katie had him. That’s all I had to know for my heart to find peace. He’d been found!

As I had raced through the restaurant I couldn’t help but think of how Jesus leaves the 99 sheep safely grazing to search out the one who is lost (Matthew 18:12). I wonder if he has a split-second thought as he scans the safe ones, wondering as He turns to search if one of these will find themselves in trouble. If He does, I’m sure like me He only hesitates for second as His concern for the lost one drives His every action.  He is compelled to find the one who is wandering. Compelled by love.

And then this morning I read this and it brought it all together for me, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night.’ Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee.”   And the verse before these: “And thy right hand will lay hold of me.”

It hit me afresh. Even in the darkest places, whether they be the depths of sin or the depths of despair, God is not afraid to go there to rescue me. Darkness doesn’t cause him anxiety like it does us. There’s nowhere I can sink to that the right hand of God can’t reach to pull me out. Hallelujah. Praise the King. He will sit with me in the darkness and lead me out when I’m ready to grasp His hand. Waiting ever so patiently, the Father is always there.  For you and for me.