Sophie is fiveMost every morning, she climbs quietly out of her bed and up into mine. I don’t even have to open my eyes to situate her in just the right spot, tucked under my arm, her legs curled against my belly.

She loves to go to school, but does not appreciate the value of routine. Especially when her toys beckon to be played with and her teeth have no interest in being brushed.

She is VERY independent and is constantly flexing those muscles. Which, while frustrating a lot of the time, is also quite awesome. Because she is courageous – fearless, really. Like when she told Marc to take the training wheels off her bike and wobbled and scraped her way around our cul-de-sac until she could ride on two wheels like the big kids.

Spaghetti and pizza are her favorite foods. Along with pretty much anything sweet, especially “vacation” cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Speaking of spaghetti, one of my favorite Sophie-words is “sa-lahn-ya,” which means lasagna.

Others I can’t bring myself to correct:
“calapiddar” = caterpillar
“buh-member” = remember
“mur-ee-oh” = burrito

Her big sister is the center of her universe, and she wants to do pretty much everything Lily does. All the time. She also is the only one who can get Lily really laughing good. The deep-down-in-your-belly-eyes-watering laughter.

She tells really bad jokes, takes great pride in styling her hair ALL BY MYSELF into a side ponytail and gives really good kisses (with sound effects).

She loves to build — with Legos, magna-tiles, tanagrams, her old baby blocks — and makes the most amazing creations.

She is the light of our lives. A hilarious, clever, brilliant ray of sunshine.

Happy birthday number five, sweet Sophie Muriel.

Lily lately

Lily hikingLatest questions for Siri (she calls her “Serious”):
What does cheese taste like?
How does a clock work?
Where do flowers come from?
What color is your hair?
Is Beyoncé your favorite?
Where do porcupines live?

On the rare day that her little sister doesn’t drive her crazy: 
I think I’m going to marry Sophie!

On trying an egg sandwich:
I’ll try it someday soon. And I mean when I’m 99.

After vacation: 
I am SO not ready to go back to school tomorrow. I’m going to miss waking up and having a cartoon in my face.

On her superhero creation, “Super Tootie Girl”:
My toots are really stinky and I toot on the bad guys and they pass out.

In the backseat of the car: 
Ugh! Sophie, you are so complicating!

On worst-case scenarios:
Imagine if you were allergic to cheese puffs and chocolate. What a life that would be!

On best-case scenarios: 
Wouldn’t it be so nice if you could wear yoga pants to work with a pillow strapped to your head and your jammy shirt and slippers?

When driving through a college campus, noticing that the buildings were named after people:
So that means one day there could be a Lily Maxine building!

When exasperated from being sick so often: 
Me: Are you tired of me asking you how you’re feeling?
Lily: I’m just plain tired.

Counseling a sobbing Sophie through a strep test: 
Guess what Sophie!? When I go to college I’m going to invent a strep throat laser beam in science class. So then they won’t put that horrible stick down your throat any more!

Finding beauty in the less-than-beautiful (because it’s all around)

glitter Easter eggsApril is almost here.

And at least one member of our little family — sometimes two at a time — has been sick with a stomach virus (and “cousins” of the virus, according to our pediatrician) nearly every single day in March.

So as this month winds down, I have some choices:

I could keep wallowing (out loud).

I could hug the wet blanket of depression even tighter around my shoulders.

I could polish off five boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Oh wait.

Or, I could open my eyes and be grateful.

My children are well. At last. My husband and I are well. When it comes down to it, the worst month of illness on record for our family is really no big deal, especially considering (which I do, often) how much worse our situation could be.

And, at the ripe old age of 40, I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last 30 days. Such as: being averse to change does me no good.

I can’t tell you how defeating it was to plan each week and then watch it fall apart. I’d panic, re-plan, then panic all over again as those plans crumbled. So I finally (truly) accepted the unpredictability of our situation and quit trying to control it. Taking one day at a time felt so nice, on the occasion that I could really relax into that frame of mind.

Of course I haven’t magically transitioned from Type-A into someone who easily rolls with the punches, but I’ve seen the other side and I have to say it’s actually quite nice.

Also, our house has never been cleaner.

Same goes for the girls’ hands. We have a new obsession with washing hands properly, now that everybody fully understands how important it is. No more squirt-soap-rinse-and-dash for these two.

Another bit of silver lining? The snuggles.

To just be still and hold my girls was such a gift. I feel more connected to them than ever, in a new, stronger way. More worried, of course. But also more in tune with them and their little bodies.

And I can recite lines from the movie “Barbie: Spy Squad.” Which, to my girls, counts as a major win from this experience.

We might get sick again after I hit “publish” on this post. We might not (please let it be so). But it’s important to me to try to find the positive.

And to feel hope as a new month — a new season — is finally upon us.

Instagram Favorites: Furry Friends Edition

I love (LOVE) Instagram. Besides keeping up with friends and family near and far, I really enjoy following celebrity/fashion/lifestyle accounts.

And yes, animals.

Especially the lovely Fuzzberta. Her feed always puts a smile on my face. Because how could a picture of a guinea pig pushing a teeny-tiny shopping cart *not* brighten your day?

Fuzzberta on Instagram

I also adore Daily Danger, who his humans describe as “party animal nugget of love toasted marshmallow.” Just look at this scrumptiousness:

daily danger on Instagram

Another of my favorite feeds features adorable humans *and* animals (win-win). In fact, the book Naptime with Theo and Beau came from this feed, and it looks like another book will be published in 2016. Although I can’t fathom the logistics of napping a baby with a snuggly dog (for us, it was crib-napping in very dark rooms with very loud white noise machines), these photos are breathtaking.

mommasgonecity on instagramWhich are your favorite animal feeds on Instagram? Do share! Because I need as much distraction as possible from real-world news (especially in this election year).

My thoughts on the film Room (in no particular order)


  1. My house has never seemed bigger.
  2. Brie Larson is amazing. I also adored her character in Trainwreck (which is a much easier movie to watch, FYI.)
  3. Little Jacob Tremblay also is breathtaking. How he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar is beyond me.
  4. Despite my voracious curiosity about this film, it was probably the worst possible choice for me, an anxious mother who has a child almost exactly the same age as the kid in the film. Way to think it out, Suzanne.
  5. I had one nightmare after I watched it and woke up “seeing” bad guys in my room (of course on a night Marc was out of town), which was really delightful.
  6. I couldn’t stop thinking about Room the day after, calculating all the ways I would have tried to escape, marveling over how people like the film’s villain really do exist in the world, and realizing that I will probably always be suspicious of garden sheds.
  7. Three days later, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I need to find my empathy “off-switch” and quit trying to put myself in “Ma’s” shoes. (Can you even imagine, though?)
  8. I admire how the story was told from little Jack’s perspective; there was such beauty in his imagination. But it’s a double-edged sword. In one way, it kept the movie from being super grisly and (even more) disturbing, but also, seeing it through a child’s eyes made it all the more painful.
  9. There are few things more powerful or all-consuming than a mother’s love.
  10. I am only watching romantic comedies for the rest of my life.

Recovering from Sophie’s hospitalization, mom-guilt and a whole new level of worry

It’s been a week since Sophie’s hospitalization, and I still feel jittery. Especially at night.

Every sound she makes (from across the hall behind a closed door) wakes me up. And last night, when she cried out in her sleep from a bad dream or something equally benign, I flung myself out of bed and sprinted to her room at a pace that surely would qualify me for the Olympics.

The thing is, Sophie is better. She’s more than better, actually. She’s back to her old self.

But I can’t stop thinking about our experience, especially the kids on her hall at the children’s hospital who are still there. Who might have been there for a while before we arrived and have no chance of going home anytime soon. Being in that setting for 24 hours freaked me out and flooded me with gratitude at the exact same time.

Here’s how we got there:

Sophie started vomiting out of nowhere on a Saturday afternoon. It continued through Sunday afternoon, then she got a reprieve. Gatorade stayed down. Graham cracker bites stayed down. She got off the couch and started acting goofy, which is always a good sign. I figured we’d hit the 24-hour mark and the tide was turning.

So when she threw up a few bites of banana later that night, we figured it was just too heavy, no big deal. Off to bed she went, and we settled in to watch the Oscars and enjoy the peace.

At around midnight, though, little Soph woke with a scream and threw up again. It continued ALL NIGHT. We’ve been through our fair share of stomach bugs, but I’ve never experienced one so awful. Sophie would doze off for just a few minutes, then start heaving again. We were glued to each other all night, and by the time the early morning light mercifully peeked around the edges of her curtains, she looked like a ghost of herself.

Pale, lethargic, her belly caving in instead of pooching out. And the vomit — what little bit came up — started to look scary, like dirt. I took her to the doctor as soon as they opened, and after a hop on the scale and a quick once-over, he sent us to the hospital. Sophie had lost 10 percent of her body weight and was severely dehydrated. He explained to me that with children, once they get to this point of constant vomiting, their little bodies are unable to stop it without help.

I should have known. I should have acted sooner. These thoughts — the mom-guilt — plagued me all the way to the hospital as I fought back tears and kept one eye on the rear-view mirror aimed at my daughter who could barely hold up her head.

She vomited again right by the emergency room doors, and when we got inside, we discovered a room filled with kids holding barf bags. She took a Zofran tablet in triage, which stopped her heaving. We finally got a bed two hours later.

I want to stop here to say how wonderful everyone at Wake Med Children’s Hospital was — the nurses, doctors, patient advocate, techs — everyone. Also amazing that day? My sweet husband. He brought Sophie’s favorite lovey and a sandwich for me, snuggled her in the ER bed, talked to the doctor, handled all of the Lily-logistics and generally kept me calm (which was no small feat).

Soon after Sophie’s IV went in (which was AWFUL), she fell into a deep sleep. We moved to her overnight room in a wheelchair together, and as the sun began to set, I curled up with her, so teeny-tiny in that hospital bed, and tried to close my eyes. It was pointless. So I just stared at her. Listened to her breathe. Held her hand. And cried.

The IV was magical. Sophie woke up later that night a new little person. She ate (and kept down) dry Cheerios and Jell-O before falling back asleep, and she even gobbled down a piece of bacon (!!!) at breakfast the following morning. It’s taken her the better part of the last week to fully regain her appetite (and to poop), but now she is well. Thank God.

I know how easy — how small — our hospital experience was compared to those of really sick kids. And I am more aware than ever of how lucky we are to have healthy children. But I can’t relax in that knowledge. I want more than anything to stop worrying, to stop imagining what could happen to my girls, to just live without constantly looking over my shoulder.

This is classic Suzanne. Worry, imagine the worst, worry some more. I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember, and it really grew legs after I became a mother. The silver lining? I’m aware. I’m getting help for my anxiety. And I’m trying to take care of myself (more sleep, less sugar).

But I haven’t been able to shake this jolt (yet). And now I feel more raw than ever.

Sophie hospitalization


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