Sunday, October 28, 2012


Folks, it's time to say goodbye to Two Kids and a Beagle.

I'm ready to be off Blogger and, with the loss of Maggie, it was time for a new name.

Meet me at This Suburban Life for our continued adventures!

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Return Of The Redhead

I grew up with hair that was titian red and I hated it. I mean, I despised it. I hated being teased for it, I hated that it made me different, I hated everything about it. I wished almost every day that it was different.

Then, I grew up and got over it. Then I grew up some more and decided I liked it.  Then I grew up all the way and it became a treasured part of my identity.

That is until I had kids at which point it got duller with each passing year. Instead of going gray I'm simply going dull and boring.  What was once unmistakably red is now headed straight for a dazzling shade of mud.  And each passing year I hate that it's happening more and more.

I finally gave in and made an appointment to have my hair colored - something I swore I would never do until I was gray.  I didn't feel like myself and I was tired of people looking at me and saying "Where did Jamie get his red hair?" and being confused when I said "Me."

Today was D-Day (Dye Day) and I was really keyed up and nervous this morning. I trust my hair dresser very much and he has never steered me wrong but still - this was a big deal!  Also, I was going to have him chop 3 inches off my hair in an attempt to tame its increasingly unruly nature.

I couldn't be happier with the results.


Huzzah! I'm me again!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mother Nature Is Showing Off

Today was one of my rare days in which both kids were gone for an extended period of time. I had the day planned out and then unexpectedly found myself with a block of free time.  So I grabbed my camera bag, hopped in the car, and went on a drive looking for spectacular fall color.

I didn't have to look very hard. Mother Nature is putting on quite the show this year. (click on the photo to make it bigger)

The intrepid photographer

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Sometimes I wonder about the sagacity of giving Jamie the power of speech. Lately he's been coming out with some doozies. Other times, he's just hilarious.

Jamie thinks that discipline is funny. This presents all manner of problems, of course.  One evening, I scolded him for something (I don't remember what) and he started to laugh at me.

"You're not funny, Jamie," I said sternly.

"Oh, I funny, Mommy," he replied.

Yeah. You're a riot, Alice.

This morning we were on our way home from the grocery store and Jamie was in the backseat repeating "Hai-ya! Hai-ya! Hai-ya ya ya!" over and over again.

So I said it right back to him.

"Stop that, Mommy, that's annoying," he said.


I took Jamie to lunch at Eat n Park (a perennial favorite of my children) and when his milk came to the table he grabbed a straw to put in it.  As he was tearing off the wrapper...

*gasp* "A bendy straw?!" he said.

"Yes, a bendy straw," I replied.

"For me?!"

"For you."


Who knew bendy straws were that exciting?


When he's not being a smart ass he's being stubborn. I hear "no" and "I don't want to" an awful lot around here. He's got an opinion on just about everything and he's not afraid to voice it. I love this child to distraction and he can be sweet and adorable and loving. I try to remind myself that there will come a day when stubborn self-confidence will serve him well and in the meantime, I just have to civilize his savage side.

As my mother said on the phone today, "You can't strip to a loincloth, paint yourself blue, and attack the neighbors, kid."


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Magnolia Dumplin' 2002-2012

We had hoped that we had more months with Maggie, but the medication didn't seem to work for her and months became weeks. This morning, Maggie ended her journey with us by her side.  We at least had time for everyone to say goodbye.

She was there each time we brought a new child home from the hospital and she accepted each of them as part of her pack. They loved her fiercely in return. She's been a companion and a part of the family for 10 years and it's going to be hard to adjust to life without her.

We'll miss you, darling girl. You'll never know how much.

Baby Liam and Maggie

Liam's first Halloween; Maggie ashamed.

What *IS* this thing I'm wearing, Ma?!

A boy and his dog.

She always did love burrowing in blankets.

Ms. Flippy Ear

Maggie and her toy crocodile. It was the only toy she never managed to fully destroy.

Jamie always wanted to help feed Maggie.

Maggie is ashamed of her doggie Snuggie.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


It was the summer of 1999. A few months earlier I had broken off the engagement to my college boyfriend after a 3 year relationship and just 2 months before our planned wedding. I was out of college and working full time but not really finding the right guys to date and still very gun shy about the whole thing.

Enter my sister and her friend, Anna, who had hatched a plan to play matchmaker between me and Anna's best friend. 


We first began talking over email because I still lived in Michigan while he lived in Pittsburgh.  After a few weeks I gave him my phone number and he called me for the first time. When I asked "how are you?" he said "Nervous."  

That phone call lasted 2 hours.

We talked on the phone almost every day after that for hours at a time.  Finally, I was going to be in Columbus visiting my sister on a weekend that he would also be there visiting Anna. A meeting was arranged.

He brought me Betsy Ann chocolates and became the first man to ever bring me chocolates.

We had our first date that weekend at The Columbus Zoo. When I asked how the koalas could sleep in the trees without falling out he said "They're fully koala-ified." Between the puns and the giant land tortoise sex it was a successful first date.

Two years later, on this day in October 2001, we got married.  

Today we celebrate our eleventh anniversary and in the last year life has challenged us in ways I wasn't prepared for. But all the frayed nerves and stress haven't driven a wedge between us. Instead we have weathered it all as a team, supporting each other and tackling everything that's been thrown at us. Sometimes I feel like our marriage is made of steel because it's been tempered in fire. 

I'm sure there were people wondering if we would make it this far especially when we got engaged only a year after I broke it off with my ex-fiancee. I'm sure my parents worried that I was making another mistake by jumping into such a serious relationship so soon after my previous one.  But I got lucky and found my partner. I found the man who would become a great Dad to our kids. I found the person that complements me in ways I didn't know were possible.

There is nowhere else I'd rather be.

Husband and Wife!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Crisis Of Last Week

On Monday morning last week, I had a vet appointment scheduled for Maggie. She was due for her checkup and vaccinations but there were other concerns I had to discuss with the vet. She's been showing some signs that not all is quite right with her and it seemed more than just being a slightly senile 10 year old neurotic beagle.

I had thought that maybe I was crazy and I was imagining her symptoms. But then she stepped on the scale at the vet and she'd lost 4 pounds. Being as we have always kept a close eye on Maggie's weight so that she wouldn't give into Portly Beagle Syndrome, this was not a good sign for her. She really didn't have 4 pounds to spare.

The vet and I discussed possibilites and ways to go about diagnosing them. Then they got a blood and urine sample from her and sent us home to await the results.

Good gravy, it was a long wait. By the end of the day Tuesday I had a migraine so vicious that I would have thrown up except I hadn't eaten so there was nothing to come up.

When we finally heard back from the vet things were a little unclear.  We ruled out the most likely possibility but the remaining possibility wasn't sunshine and roses either. The vet said she would have the pathologist take a closer look at the cells in her urine sample to see if we could determine anything more and that she would let us know in a couple of days.

Thursday we found out we were still in limbo and the vet was recommending more expensive tests. We're talking upwards of $500 worth of diagnostic testing and we'd already spent a few hundred dollars on Monday.

This is the point where my parents being veterinarians comes in so handy. While they live too far away to treat Maggie, they have been so wonderful in helping us over the phone, talking over diagnostic options, talking to us about treatment options, and running the whole gamut of scenarios with us.

After a lot of conversations between Scot and I and my parents, we decided that we were 80% of the way there with diagnosis and spending $500 to get 100% there was not really smart. Especially when there isn't much we can do.

Maggie has bladder cancer.

It's not very common in dogs but it is slightly more common in beagles. It is generally inoperable because it tends to occur in a section of the bladder that makes it nigh inaccesible.  While chemo treatments might exist, I just can't put my dog through something so rotten that she won't understand.  There is one treatment available to us.  Many dogs respond to it and it is surprisingly affordable. But we cannot cure her. The treatment will alleviate her symptoms for a period of months.  Then the symptoms will return and it will be time to let Maggie go.  We don't know how many months she has. Dad has seen some dogs go 18 months to 2 years but the research literature says 6 months. So, it's anyone's guess.  We started the medication on Saturday and we'll see how things progress.

It was not an easy week last week and it was especially difficult trying to keep all of this from the kids until we had an answer. Once we did, we sat down and told Liam who was heartbroken. He took it as well as he could have and I think he understands that the loving thing to do is let Maggie go before it gets really bad.

In some ways, I'm so grateful for knowing we only have months because it means everyone has a chance to say goodbye and make a few last memories with her and to adjust to the idea that we are going to lose her sooner rather than later.  But no matter when it happens, we will all miss her terribly.