The refrigerator was empty.

Before that there was options for meals in the cabinets and freezer.

Before that there was also bread, deli meat, cheese, and the promise of a sandwich.

Before that there was also a tomato to slice.

Before that there was also apples and carrots sticks for the kids to snack on.

Before that there was also a carton of milk and eggs to cook with.

Before that there was also lettuce, cucumber, and a yellow pepper to make a salad.

Before that there was also pepperoni and a package of mozzarella cheese to make a pizza.

Before that there was also a pound of ground beef and whole wheat tortillas to make burritos.

Before that there was also blueberries and strawberries to eat on cereal.

Before that there was also V-8 and orange juice to drink.

Before that there was also yogurt to pack for lunch.

Before that there was also bagels and pita bread.

Before that there was also a pork tenderloin to cook for the family.

Before that there was kitchen filled with possibilities.

Before that He asked her when She was going to the store.

Opening up this Spring

I went for a three-mile run this morning after I dropped the kids off at pre-school. It’s the first three miler I have run in months, and boy was it rejuvenating. As it seems, spring is about to officially arrive this week with warmer temperatures. In tandem with the start of a new weather-related season, I am entering a bright, new season in my life — one filled with openness to the world around me, yet not without tentativeness when I think about exposure and vulnerability.

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Eyes in the back of my head

About a month ago I started telling Lance about the “eyes in the back of my head” and told him that all moms them. I told him we have them so we always know what our kids are up to, especially when they are misbehaving.

He’s been chewing on this ever since, and has even occasionally referenced them. For example, the other day he got in trouble for pushing Vivian down and asked me if I saw him do it with my real eyes or the ones in the back of my head.

I was beginning to think he bought the idea because he seemed extra careful to adhere to the rules, even when I may have seemed distracted. But today at the park, after requesting I watch him jump off a little step over and over, he ultimately got in trouble for advancing to a walkway far too high to jump from. That is, high enough that I saw enough potential danger should a slip occur.

He listened and came down, but his interest in seeing how high up he could jump from lingered. Boldly, he went back up and yelled, “Hey Mommy! Watch!” As I turned and gave him a stern look, he looked back exasperatedly and said, “No Mommy, not with those eyes. With the ones in the back of your head.”

I daresay he outsmarted me.


Fun fact: Did you know that in addition to having eight legs, spiders have eight eyes? Now that’s a lot of parental supervision!


List of Seven on Sunday 4.8: OPPORTUNITY

1. Newsworthy —

The Petrich Family is moving to Pennsylvania!

"Settle down it'll all be clear…" (Phillip Phillips)

In the words of Phillip Phillips, “Settle down it’ll all be clear…”

2. Personal progress —

We traveled up to PA on Wednesday, looked at houses all day on Thursday, made an offer on our favorite house on Friday, and after negotiations on the long car ride home yesterday the contract was officially initialed and signed by both parties a little after 10 p.m. last night.

3. Writer’s world —

I am not sure what is going to happen with the Banter over the next few months because it is hard to predict writing inspiration during times of transition — either I’ll be flooded with content and adventurous stories of our move, or I’ll be overwhelmed and hide away from writing until I feel settled.

4. Photo of the week —

We outsourced big brother before we left on our house hunting trip, but this little girl got to come along for the excitement.


She does NOT travel light.

 5. Picture-less moment —

Our prolonged (note the baby above) trip up north was tiring, and though we’ve always made the best of every excursion back and forth from Virginia to see family, there is a deep feeling of peace that now exists in my mind knowing these arduous trips will be no-longer.

6. Parenting thought —

Making a major move with two small children is certainly going to present challenges, but as I parent I am thankful to give my kids the gift of closer proximity to family due to Jan’s well-deserved career advancement.

7. Humor —

The best way I can describe our bitter-sweet decision to make this major move is, when opportunity knocks, open the door!

With a little help from my friends, I am ready to make this transition with poise.

With a little help from my friends, I have faith that the courage to “start over” will be free-flowing.

Have a pleasant week filled with joy,

The Banter Lady

List of Seven on Sunday 4.6: BUTTER

1. Newsworthy —

We went from enough snow to sled ride in last week to gorgeous and warm, sunny days to bike ride in this week.



No snow in sight.

Light weight coats optional in the afternoon.

2. Personal progress —

Thank goodness the Olympics are almost over. I have been staying up way too late watching athletes from around the world compete in Sochi for the last two weeks.

I’ve gotten nothing done except for:

  • Watching the Olympics.
  • Watching the Olympics some more.
  • Being quite concerned for Bob Costas’ eye infection.
  • Wanting to go to the Netherlands to learn to speed skate.
  • Wanting to put cute, little Russian figure skater, Yulia Lipnitskaya, in my pocket.
  • Continually wishing I was a figure skater. (That happens every four years).
  • Occasionally folding laundry while watching the Olympics.
  • Annoying my husband with selective listening as I watch the Olympics.
  • Crying over stories about amazing athletes like Alex Bilodeau, Sarah Burke, and Jessica Long.
  • Tallying the U.S. medal count.
  • Staying up too late.
  • Watching the Olympics.
  • Pretending I was in Sochi when the U.S. men swept the podium in slope style skiing.
  • Wanting to go skiing.
  • Wanting to ride in a bobsled with Jeremy Holm.
  • Wanting to watch the movie Cool Runnings again.
  • Not wanting to be a women’s skeleton racer. Ever.
  • Being tired the next day from watching the Olympics.

So long Sochi — I need sleep!

3. Writer’s world —

One of my regular readers commented last week that she has liked reading my weekly picture-less moments in number five on the list. It’s made me think that in the future, perhaps I can expand some of these stories into essays  instead of small blurbs. Like say, when I am writing for more of a career and I need story ideas. Mental note, check.

4. Photo of the week —

This is an odd photo to include, but I was the first one to open a new container of spreadable butter last week, and gosh darn it, I just love an unscathed container of  spreadable butter.

Look at all the creamy, goodness all swirled into perfection. I kind of wanted to frame it, I kind of wanted to lick it, I kind of wanted to stick my finger in the center of it, I kind of wanted to apply for a job at Country Crock so I could learn how to make this lovely creation, but since all of those things would be weird, I just went ahead and buttered my toast.


5. Picture-less moment —

Last Halloween Lance was a ghost for Halloween. He set his mind on being a ghost about a month before Halloween and never looked back. He was a happy, little ghost on Halloween night, and throughly enjoyed himself as he racked up a bag full of candy. Together we named him Astor the Ghost, after our street name. Once Halloween was over I didn’t hear too much more about ghosts.

Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went, and I didn’t really give Astor a second thought. But at some point last month Astor returned in the form of an imaginary ghost. Astor now hangs out with us almost everyday. I’ve learned he is obedient and usually does what Lance tells him to do. Although at times, he floats around too far out of Lance’s comfort zone so Lance tapes him to the floor in our home. If we go places, Astor drives his own car alongside of our car.

I haven’t had the chance to research what it means (do I want to know?) when a child establishes an imaginary friend (or ghost), but I’m not too concerned. Amused maybe, but not concerned.

My best guess for Astor’s presence in our home revolves around Lance’s need for control (he tells Astor what to do), his desire to punish (he tapes Astor to the floor), and his longing to put the pedal to the metal (he feels the need to speed!). If this is his way of mimicking me, I swear I have never taped either of my children to the floor. I may have wanted to at times, but I’ve never actually gone through with the idea.

Float on Astor. Float on.

6. Parenting thought —

I enjoyed some really good snuggle time with Lance the other day while I was writing. He had just woken up from a nap and was super receptive to some hugs so I pulled him onto my lap. For the first time, I opened up two windows side by side — a doc for me and a PBS kids clip for him.

As I wrote and he watched and we snuggled I thought, Yeah life is good, and I can really intertwine this parenting world with this writing world. 

That was until he snapped me out of my Kumbayah moment by saying with irritation, “Stop pushing those buttons, Mommy!”

Typing and children do not mix. I should know this by now because many a time, my keyboard has been flung to the ground by grubby, grabby little hands.

7. Humor —

Earlier this month Vivian went to the doctor for her 12 month check-up. The big one year check-up requires four shots and a blood sample. Not fun for anyone, let alone a small baby who has no idea what is coming.

Lance has accompanied Vivian to all her doctor’s appointments. At first he was indifferent, then he was eager to see her cry (children are mean) when they stuck the needle in, but this last visit he was pretty upset by what they “did to her.” One nurse held Vivian while the second nurse quickly and skillfully ejected two needles into her thighs. Of course, Little Sister wailed and screamed her lungs out. Poor Lance got even more bent out of shape then I did.

It’s funny really, watching my kids get shots has never bothered me too much even though it upsets them. The way I see it, it’s over quickly, it ultimately benefits them, and it’s only the first of many uncomfortable situations they will endure in their lifetime. Also, I am pretty helpless to them during the whole encounter so the more detached I am from it the better.

That’s why Lance’s reaction this last visit surprised me. After watching them stick her for a whole year, I didn’t think it would bother him, but I guess he has become more protective over time. Or maybe he understands pain more. Or maybe he understands nice and not nice better. Either way, he was not happy with the nurses that he normally loves so much. So not happy that when they finished he looked straight up at the one who administered the shots and said with a furrowed brow and sternness in his voice, “Are you going to tell her you’re sorry?” He practically demanded her to oblige and (after she chuckled) she apologized to Vivian. That seemed to pacify him, and a shirt full of stickers later she was back on his good side.

Big Brother stuck up for Little Sister. So it begins.

As for Vivi, she is of course, fine and dandy.


Have great week that is smooth like butter.

The Banter Lady

List of Seven on Sunday 4.5: SCHNEE

1. Newsworthy —

Last week in Southside Virginia we got some snow, or “Schnee” as they say in Germany. Snow sounded way too obvious and boring a description for this post, so I took the liberty of spicing things up with a linguistic challenge for the non-German speaking folks.


February 12, 2014

* February 12, 2014 *

The Schnee was kind of a big deal for this region of Virginia. It was certainly the most (7 inches) I’ve seen since moving to the area almost five years ago.

2. Personal progress —

I am finally catching up on some photo projects that got pushed to the side last year. I’ve been kind of obsessive lately about getting prints made, creating some online albums, editing, and sorting images. On top of that, the photo book I made for Vivian’s First Year just arrived yesterday. It’s been a labor of love, but I am happy with the way it turned out.

3. Writer’s world —

As I mentioned last week, I am pleased with the way List of Seven is working out this year, but I do know there are some draw backs to list style writing. Mostly, it’s viewed as an overused tactic. Think about it — how many top tens or twenty ways or five tips do you see in print these days? Heck, even to Paul Simon sang a song about 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. Lists are everywhere.

The point is though, that while lists are sometimes overused, there are still advantages to this writing style. WordPress writer michelle w. of the Daily Post validated that for me last week in a blog post titled Three Reasons to Love Lists (No, Really!).

The three reasons?

(My commentary is in parenthesis because I like parenthesis almost as much as I like lists).

  1. Lists help you organize your own thoughts (Hooray, I made that point last week!)
  2. List are highly sharable (Aha, readers!)
  3. Lists are comedy gold (I knew I was funny!)

With that, I will provide a-completely-unrelated-to-anything-I-have-just-said number four. Number four in my list of seven, that is. Not not number four in the Three Reasons to Love Lists because that would be too many reasons.

Geesh, maybe there are too many lists out there….



4. Photo of the week —

In the calm before the snow, we ventured out to the Greensboro Children’s Museum. The kids had a blast!


Whatchu doin’ on my roof?

5. Picture-less moment —

When I put clean sheets on our bed last week, I realized that one of the pillow cases was actually being used on Lance’s pillow because I changed his pillow case a few days prior due to snot and drool. I didn’t change his sheets because I had just put them on, but the pillow case demanded attention. The sheets could stay. The pillow case had to go.

So when I changed our sheets we were short a pillow case. I actually have a third set of sheets, but they were also dirty just like the ones I stripped off. There I was, left with clean sheets on our bed minus one pillow case — Jan’s, of course. You didn’t think I would short myself I pillow case did you?! I think not.

The moral to this convoluted story? Jan is now using Lance’s formerly drooly/snotty pillow case that I washed in the interim. (Promise honey!).

What I am trying to say here is that when I look at Jan laying his head down on an ABC pillow case it kind of makes me chuckle. Not so much for Lance though. He exclaimed with shock, “Hey! That’s my pillow case!” at first sight of it on our bed. Jan responded by telling him he had to borrow it, which made me chuckle even more.

You may need to be a parent to appreciate the humor in the situation, but it’s like borrowing money out of your kids piggy bank because you need cash to pay the pizza man. Or using one of your kids’ toothbrushes after yours falls into the toilet.

In the end, we’re a family that helps each other in times of dire need. Even if the help is coming in the form of an ABC pillow case.

Bonus moral to this convoluted story? If you are looking for a reason to have kids, I would put borrowing from them high on your list. The pizza man will get paid, and you will be cavity-free.

6. Parenting thought —

We’ve had so much fun in the snow. Jan and my childhood winter memories relived through our kids who don’t know much about snow. Even Vivian took a run down the hill in a sled with me. Of course, Lance was the one who couldn’t get enough. After getting stuck under a bush (oops) on his initial slide down the hill, the tears quickly dried (or maybe they froze?), and he was officially initiated.

His favorite sled quickly became an inner tube style one that he coined the “gummy sled.” From there on out, it was all about sliding and more sliding, building “Sam” the Snowman, digging, “ice skating” on frozen puddles, exploring snow banks, and “checking conditions” on a walk the day after the “big” snow.

Let is Schnee!

Let is Schnee!

I’d say snow suits my two guys.


The day after the snow storm, we called the “Virginia clean-up crew” to plow this mess, but I think the sun did most of the work.


Hard at work.

7. Humor —

Parental Warning: On Valentine’s Day, if you see your three-year-old son’s hands pressed purposely together on his little sister’s cheeks so hard that he’s giving her a fish face, he’s probably putting conversation stickers on her.

She didn't seem to mind at all.

Hugs! Kisses! Call me! You’re mine!

May your cheeks be rosy from the chill of playing in the snow this week. Or may your cheeks upturn in a smile similar to Vivian’s at the sight of sun peaking through grey skies to melt the snow (especially in the Northeast).

Have great week,

The Banter Lady

Thankful: Aunts, uncles, and all the fixin’s

During these last few days leading up to Thanksgiving I go into full-fledged count-my-blessings mode. I try to slow down and pay attention to the many wonderful people and experiences that make up my life. The simple signs of beauty and grace that are there when I take time stop and look around. Yesterday at (Ascension Lutheran) church, I remembered that it was the last Sunday of the church year. For this reason I get extremely aggravated by signs of Christmas before we officially reach the First Sunday in Advent.

I’ll admit I cheated last week and listened to O Holy Night on the radio (once) before changing the station, and I already bought two Christmas gifts. And okay, I have been secretly working on molding my Christmas shopping list, but I try my darndest to look the other way at all things Christmas until after this special time of thanks has passed. Oh all right fine – last confession – I already let my kids (gasp) sit on Santa’s lap for one minuscule moment of opportunity.


By and large I harness my reindeer until after I’ve celebrated properly with a Thanksgiving feast surrounded by family and purposeful acknowledgement of blessings. Every year I feel like I am fighting a losing battle with majority – just go into any department store, big-box store, grocery store, or any neighborhood and you will find pictures of red bows, Christmas sale signs, decorations, trees, lights, and I bet you might even run into Santa Claus himself. I did.

This week I can only make decisions for myself and my family on how we approach Thanksgiving and our decision to silent our wish lists until December. There are so many things I am thankful for in my life. I agree with the importance of being thankful everyday of the year, but I still enjoy this special Thursday in November when families in America gather round the table and savor the tastes of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casseroles, and more until we are full to the point of needing an immediate nap in front of a TV streaming NFL games. Or better yet maybe a leisure walk outside in the blustering fresh air with family. Then later gather round the same table one more time for pumpkin pie and far too many other desserts. The night might end with wild children, loud and happy adults after too much wine, a house full of warmth, and possible musical entertainment.


This is not a public service announcement, but…  To all who wear the red, white, and blue: Gather round with whoever is at your table on Thursday. Catch up on life and celebrate relationships no matter how crazy, dysfunctional, happy, sad, funny, or frustrating your relatives and friends might be. Thanksgiving is a specific day to, well, give thanks. So turn off your Christmas lights for another four days. Four days, people.

I am thankful…

For healthy, sleeping children after a long day of growth and play…

No doubt dreaming of his Christmas wish list.

I can only hope he is not dreaming of his Christmas wish list.

Processing newfound tricks and sensory information. It's all quite a bit to take in really.

Processing newfound tricks, sights, and sounds from the busy world that surrounds my baby.

For the ability to write and the freedom of self-expression. Everyone has a dream. Right? Write! My dream has always been to become a writer. I am thankful for my kids who have given me the bravery to write and share my life because they are something that fill me with courage and love. The kind of love I want to share. The kind of love I am not ashamed of. The kind of love that only children can infect those around them with.

My mom...

Thankful for my Mom who continues to take pictures of me so I don’t always look like an absent Mama in my family albums because I am behind the camera.

For aunts and uncles who have always believed in me. All of them, even the one too early departed. I can confidently share that all my aunts and uncles are aware of my deep interest in writing. They read my blog and follow when they have time to catch up on the banter.

Last Friday we had a special visit from my Aunt Claire and Uncle Rick. I saw them regularly growing up and when I lived in Florida, but over the last several years our get-togethers have become far too infrequent because of the miles that separate us. Nonetheless they are always there for me in a less literal version of closeness. Or like on Friday when they were here in the flesh!

Uncle Rick and Aunt Claire

Uncle Rick and Aunt Claire, who happen to be my Godparents.

For Grandparents.

Great-grandpa to my kids.

Great-grandpa to my kids.

For Dad’s. My own and my children’s, neither of which care to be mentioned too often on my blog 🙂

For Mom’s. All of them.

For cousins and second cousins.

For son’s and the silly things they say. In the last week I’ve learned that “Engine Noodle” really means Ninja Turtle and “thermometer” actually means harmonica in Lance’s world.

For daughter’s and the new skills they learn. Like Vivian crawling under tables or toward me with eager, loving eyes meant only for my gaze.



Why yes, I believe that is dust under my coffee table. I’m quite  thankful for it, really.



For friends.

For pugs and other members of the animal kingdom.

For health.

For trees.

For bologna sandwiches.

For almonds.

For microwaves.

For Bob Dylan.

For pencils.

For Downton Abbey.

You get the point, right? I’m a little thankful, and a whole lot loony today.

Oh wait, that’s everyday.

In order to really appreciate this holiday season (Thanksgiving first and Christmas second, lest I haven’t been clear), for the next few months I might blog and picture-take less. I might run less. I might move so quickly from activity to activity less. I might travel less. I might say yes to social engagements less. I might use the computer less.

On the other hand, I might cook more. I might read more (library books). I might rest more. I might watch old movies more. I might journal more.

I don’t have a third hand, but I will pretend I do for the sake of practicing what I preach to Lance about the fun of pretending. So if I did have a third hand I would say I might not to all of the above. I just hate tying myself down, ya know?

Good, I thought so.

One thing is for sure though. For the rest of the week, and especially on Thursday, I will look away from all things red/green and from those far-too-festive, for my taste, souls.

Now then. It’s time to turn my grumble, grumbles in GOBBLE, GOBBLES with a side of bountiful blessings.

Dig in everyone.

Love, Us.

Love from Us.

Early afternoon shadow.

Love from our November afternoon shadows.

Thankfully yours,

The Banter Lady

Editor’s Note: I’d like to dedicate the word “fixin’s” in the title to all my southern friends.