A Big-Family FAQ

So, like most people (at least I think like most people), who I am today is largely the result of a precise blend of nature v. nurture. I definitely inherited plenty of traits from my parents and grandparents, but my perspective on life was certainly shaped by my childhood, and the boisterous, hectic, big-a$$ family of mine.

Mind you, we’re not as big as the famous “Duggars”, but we give them a run for their money. I have the honor of being the oldest of 13 (yes 10 + 3) children. It was a wonderful way to grow up, and though this surprises some, we were downright normal. We played Little League, went to public school, had family vacations, and though we might have been on a tighter budget, we didn’t suffer.


Often I am asked “what was it like?” (All 13 of us get this question, and many others.) so, my witty and eloquent brother Dan posted the following: “Since You Asked: 20 Things You’re Dying to Know About My Huge Family.” Head on over to his blog “Speak of the Daniel” and check it out!



Celebrating My 100th Post

 At the beginning of 2011, I began this blog, and joined the WordPress “Post A Week” Challenge. Nearly 14 months have come and gone, and now WordPress tells me that this is my 100th post!

Hmmm, how should I commemorate this important occasion?

Should I revive some of my more memorable posts (memorable for me, anyway)? I could bring back the one I wrote about my mother last Mother’s Day – 13 Things You Should Know About my Mom. Or I could remind you of the love story I told about my grandparents around Valentines Day – Step One: Get the Girl. I could even resurrect the blog post that somehow managed to hit the Freshly Pressed Radar,  Mom, I Know Lots of Words,  about my son learning to read. Dear God, I was gushing with pride then, I’m almost a little embarrassed by it now.

Kindergarten Homework
Kindergarten Homework













When I look back at my posts, I realize that there is a lot of variety in my blog. (Translation: I have no direction!) I’ve shared some sappy stories about my kids, and family, as well as one or two Bad Parenting Moments.

Bad Parenting Moments Logo







I’ve thrown in a few travel posts, mostly about my family vacation. I tried, once or twice, to give some advice on SMART goals, and business skills…as if I know! I’ve even shared a few recipes, like the one for my Kahlua Chocolate Chip muffins. Those things should be illegal!

Maybe I should use my 100th post to give you a list of my blogging resolutions, or some of my plans for upcoming posts (as if I have some).

However, what I should really do is come up with some fresh material.

12 Days Til Christmas Countdown – My Holiday To Do List – Day 12

This is such a busy time of year. Without lists of lists, and plenty of planning, I am pretty sure that Santa would forget to leave any presents for either child under the tree. Or, I would probably forget to buy groceries (or perhaps more importantly – wine) for Christmas Dinner. So I’ve decided to break down the last “12 Days Til Christmas” into a daily list of tasks. If I follow this plan, most certainly some things that remain undone. However, I don’t think I’ll forget anything that will traumatize my children for life. 

On Day 12: Its time to do the Christmas Cards. 

I love Christmas Cards. When I was little I always raced to the mailbox to see how big the stack of cards might be. I would rip them open before my mother could stop me, checking out the designs, reading the little notes from distant relatives and pondering over the pictures of second and third cousins whom I barely knew. Even now, it’s so much nicer to receive a card in the mail than a bill. I love those days when the cards outnumber bills and junk mail, and I still really enjoy ripping open the envelopes (when my children don’t beat me to it). 

Christmas Cards
Time to Address the Envelopes

But sending cards is still a chore, no matter how you slice it. 

Of course, before you can mail the cards, you must buy them. Selecting the cards and family photos is at least as time-consuming as addressing all the envelopes. By a stroke of luck, I remembered to do this over the weekend. As we usually do, I selected and purchased the cards online. Online ordering is convenient, but I still managed to overdo it by visiting three websites, and testing out three separate card designs, with photos, on each site. I finally settled on the cards from the national pharmacy chain. Not only were they MUCH less expensive than another well-known online photo brand, but I was able to pick them up at the store the next day.  

Now, I just need to address them. This would be an easy task I suppose, if only I had managed to keep up-to-date with all the address changes for friends and family this year. Each year I vow to make sure that I update all address changes in a central online address book, complete with a “last updated” date for tracking purposes. But did I? Of course not. It would also be easier if our printer weren’t broken, and I could just update last year’s label file. 

So, it’s clearly time for me to sign off. I should have all the addresses sussed out in an hour or so… then it’s on to hand addressing the envelopes. “Writers’ Cramp” be damned! 

Real Life Angry Birds of Cape Cod: There is no App For That!

I have been attacked by some real life angry birds.

It’s Day Number Two of our Cape Cod Vacation. I’ve decided to take advantage of the breezy, overcast sky (and some free time while the family naps) to grab a few photos of the choppy tide and the grassy dunes. I stroll down the boardwalk from our cottage to the shoreline. It’s a pleasant sandy stroll, and I pause to take a few shots of the cordoned off area of the beach intended to protect a few of the Cape’s threatened bird species, the Piping Plover and the Common Tern.
What happens next takes me completely by surprise. A bird lands a few feet in front of me and immediately takes off again. Then I hear a persistent squawking sound, and I look up to see the same bird swooping over my head. I duck. No big deal right?
Apparently it was a big deal for these birds. I was now a predator encroaching on their nesting area, and they would have none of it. Suddenly two or three birds begin to chase me, aiming for the back of my head. I quickly realize that these little white birds mean business and I break into a run. Once I get out about ten yards from their nesting ground they back off and seemingly disappear.
I am still not convinced that I have actually been chased by these little birds. I am probably just imagining it. Who gets attacked by birds, really? Plus, there are several families sitting along the beach; surely they took the same path as me, right?

Common Tern
They seem so gentle, until they attack!

So after I spend about 15 minutes taking some photos along the shoreline, I decide to make my way up the boardwalk to our cottage. Sure enough, just as I get within five yards of the nesting area, two birds come right at my head, squawking and swooning and scaring the daylights out of me! The folks on the beach must think I am a certifiable crazy person, running around ducking and dodging  and covering my head.
Now I have a real dilemma, about 50 yards of sand, two Common Terns, and a few Piping Plovers are standing between me and my cottage. I tell myself that I am a grown adult and should be able to get past a few little birds, right? I start walking, trying to stay a bit wide of the nesting area. It’s no good. They attack again!

Clearly, I will have to outsmart these birds. Finally, I decide to shed the bright green t-shirt I have on over my swimsuit, and my pink Red Sox cap. I also decide to strategically hike well to the other side of the nesting area, pitting an unassuming 4-year old boy playing in the sand between me and these birds. It’s not the straightest walk back to the cottage, but it gets the job done.

Me: 1.    Common Tern: 0.

When I arrive back at the cottage, still in disbelief that I have been stalked by two little white birds, I do a little research on these protected bird species making their home at our vacation destination. I soon learn that Common Terns have been known to attack humans. According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife:

Common Terns attack human intruders by diving at them, pecking exposed body parts, and defecating on them. … Common Terns also distinguish between individual humans, and familiar humans are attacked more vigorously.

Great. So now these birds know me! I am in big trouble. I think I will have to find a new beach.