Halloween Part I: Pumpkin Carving

We finally got to carve pumpkins this year after two years of missing out. Honestly, without Hurricane Sandy spreading her nastiness and giving everyone a day off I’m not sure I would have found the time. But since everyone was home on Tuesday with nothing to do we carved.

I started out working with Jamie who helped me design his pumpkin and then I went to work carving it. I have to say, that one was a total pain in the ass because the pumpkin had very thick walls and it was tough to safely get a knife through it. I was grateful for a simple design.

Then I moved on to helping Liam. He drew his own face on his pumpkin and even got to do some of the carving this year. I was so happy for him. I loved to carve pumpkins as a kid so I’m glad he’s old enough to start learning how to do it himself.


Once he had completed his, I moved on to mine. I decided to actually carve a picture instead of a face and I sort of freehanded it while looking at one of those paper designs. It was too much work to actually pin the design to the pumpkin and do it like the directions tell you to.

L-R, Jamie’s, mine, Liam’s. Not too shabby!

Finally, I pulled out the stick on decorations left over from last year and told Liam to go to town on the one pumpkin we managed to salvage from our summer as pumpkin farmers (the second one rotted on the vine before I could harvest it).

Here’s all four pumpkins on the front steps.

Due to hurricane delays, we won’t be trick-or-treating until Saturday night. Stay tuned for pictures of the boys in costume!


A Whole New Look

As if new hair weren’t enough I have finally made the decision to migrate my blog off of Blogger. I’ve been there for 3 years now and there were a lot of things about Blogger that bugged me. I had been considering moving for a long time. Then we lost Maggie and “Two Kids and a Beagle” no longer had its beagle. It was time for something new.

Did you know that naming a new blog is damn near impossible? It totally is.

Anyway, I decided to go with WordPress because it’s free and a lot of my blogging friends use it so a) I have help if I get stuck and b) they all seem to love it. I’m sure I’ll find things that bother me but hopefully it’ll be a little less kludgy than Blogger was.  It’s likely that there will be some mucking around with the appearance of this place over the next little while – probably no major theme changes but certainly other things as I discover widgets and the like.

So there you have it. Welcome to This Suburban Life.

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!!

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


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.”


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.


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!